What is a cruise single supplement and how can you avoid it?

Cruising solo needn’t break the bank. Discover the ways you can reduce the solo supplement and enjoy a fabulous cruise.

Perhaps the worst thing about being a solo cruiser is the dreaded single supplement.

Cruise cabins are generally designed for two (or more) passengers and cruise lines price them on this basis. So, when you book one as a solo cruiser, the cruise line may charge you extra to make up for the loss of revenue it would have received at double occupancy.

While you can understand why they do this, it is still a little frustrating. It’s more than a little annoying having to pay potentially up to twice (and in some cases maybe more) the standard fare for solo occupancy.

However, don’t let that put you off cruising. It is a great way to travel, especially for solo travellers. I’ve often cruised solo and have found it a great way to see the world and meet new people. 

Ways to reduce or avoid a single supplement

Here are some ways you can avoid, or at least minimise, the solo supplement when booking your cruise. 

image of a girl standing in front of a cruise ship with her arms aloft wearing a hat and backpack

Choose a cruise line that has solo cabins

Solo cruising is becoming increasingly popular and cruise lines are beginning to recognise this. More and more cruise ships have dedicated solo cabins. Either built into the design of new ships or retrofitted to older ships.

As their name suggests these cabins are designed for one person. They may be smaller than a standard cabin but they will have all the comforts you need when cruising solo

Fares for these are priced for solo cruisers and avoid the traditional solo supplement. That said, from my experience, these cabins can sometimes come with a bit of a premium. So, you do need to do some research before jumping in and booking. 

I’ve seen standard cabins at single occupancy come in significantly cheaper than the single cabins so it is worth watching out for that. There is no point spending more than you need to and a bigger cabin for a cheaper fare is a no-brainer. 

Cruise lines to consider when looking for a solo cabin include

  • P&O Cruisessolo travellers with P&O have the choice of both balcony and inside single cabins which can be found on many of their ships including their newest two Arvia and Iona
  • Virgin Voyages  – their solo insider, which while it is probably the most compact solo cabin I’ve stayed in, is perfectly formed with everything you need. There is just not much floor space!
  • Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) – the first line to introduce solo cabins over 10 years ago, NCL announced in 2023 they are increasing the number of solo cabins across their fleet. They also offer a lounge for exclusive use by solo cruisers.

image of an inside single cabin on P&O Cruises Britannia. A single bed is pushed up against the wall with a dressing table next to it and TV screen on the wall

Read more | Discover what the inside solo cabin on P&O Cruises Britannia are like

Book your cruise early

If you do decide to go for a single cabin, I recommend booking as soon as you can. 

Cruise ships may have hundreds, or maybe even thousands, of cabins however single cabins will make up a very small proportion of those. They will sell out very quickly, particularly the balcony cabins or if they are priced competitively. 

You may also find the fares for cabins lower the earlier you book. Once the cruise ship starts to fill up, fares may increase and it is less likely you’ll get a reduced single supplement.

Look out for any promotions or special deals

With solo cruising being a growing market for cruise lines, it is worth keeping an eye out for promotions and deals that target solo travellers. 

Sometimes cruise lines offer a reduced or no single supplement on particular cruises or for a short amount of time.

I’ve managed to book a couple of cruises this way. They had no single supplement making them much more affordable. One cruise line in particular, I don’t think I would have been able to travel with at their usual solo prices.  So, it is well worth looking out for these offers.

Read more | Why I cruise solo with P&O Cruises.

Consider cruising either side of the peak season

If you’d like to cruise around a particularly popular destination, you might find the prices expensive for solo cruisers during the peak season. 

For example, the Mediterranean during the summer months or Norway during the height of the Norwegian Fjords season.

If this is the case, look for deals during the shoulder season. This is the period before or just after the main peak season. Fares here can be lower and you may be able to grab a much better deal while still enjoying the destination you wish to see. 

As an added bonus, you are likely to find ships and ports slightly less busy outside the main season.

Book via a travel agent

While many people like to book their travel themselves these days there are many good reasons to use a travel agent or cruise specialist.

As well as them taking the hassle of keeping on top of the booking, you can ask them to flag any solo promotions or cruises with no solo upplement. They may also have access to other deals that you don’t have as an independent booker. 

Read more | What are the challenges of cruising solo and how can you overcome them?

The Last Word

It is great to see cruise lines beginning to cater to solo cruisers more. As single travellers, cruising is a great way to explore the world or have a relaxing holiday and shouldn’t be out of reach.

While there is more that could be done, there is also things us solo’s can do to find reasonable and affordable fares.

From keeping an eye out for fares with no single supplement to cruising at quieter times when cabins need to be filled, there are many ways you can try to reduce the additional you may incur. 

It just takes a little bit of research and keeping on top of any deals and promotions cruise lines offer. Doing this will help you find a solo cruise at a price you are happy to pay. 

Happy cruising!

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