Small ship cruises for single travelers

Hefty single supplements suck. It’s why we wrote a no single supplement travel guide for explorers fed up with feeling like they’re facing a fine every time they choose to travel independently. After all, the number of people traveling solo is rising dramatically – and they’re not all teenage backpackers on their first adventure. Far from it.

There are loads of reasons why you might go on a small ship cruise on your own. Perhaps your friends or family aren’t free…or you want to be a few thousand miles away from your nearest and dearest for a week. Perhaps you’re a savvy traveler who knows well the value of solo travel. In fact, who needs a reason? Imagine standing on deck, breathing in the frost-thick Arctic air, and watching whales dive as you blow the steam off your coffee. Solo cruises are like a meditation – especially if you travel with an expert tour operator.
Organised cruises take the stress out of solo travel. Your travel arrangements are sorted for you by people who know where you should sail, when you should go and which boats you should travel on to avoid a single supplement. Plus, small ship cruises are sociable by nature. You’ve got a readymade group of shipmates and crew that you can join (or escape) whenever you fancy. Plus, the guides will have time to chat with you one-on-one. Keep reading to discover your options as a solo traveler on a small ship cruise.

Single cabin

Like your privacy? Single cabins are in the minority on small ships, as creative design maximises the limited space below decks. However, some larger Arctic and Antarctic expedition ships have a smattering of single cabins, while luxury yachts don’t always feel the need to fill up every cabin. We can put you in contact with a specialist small ship cruise operator that can tell you exactly which ships in their fleet have cabins for solo travelers.

Shared cabin

Most small ship cruises give you the option of booking a shared cabin. It’s just like a shared room on any small group vacation. You’ll be matched up with someone of the same sex – and if you’re really jammy, you might luck out and get no cabin mate at all. Cabins on small boats tend to be on the petite side, so make sure you’re content with sharing your personal space. You’ll get all the elbow room you need up on deck – along with head-turning views.

No single supplement

The small ship cruise industry seems to be slowly cottoning on that solo travel is on the up – and the trend isn’t going anywhere. Some trips have totally scrapped single supplements. Others do away with them at certain times of the year. Single supplements are sometimes dropped off-peak (for instance, May and October in the Mediterranean) to encourage passengers on board during their quiet shoulder seasons.
Lara Paxton at our partners The Small Cruise Ship Collection says:
“We are still developing single traveler issues because we feel that it is really unfair that single travelers have to pay a huge supplement to visit places, just because they are traveling on their own.”

Single supplement

This is our least favourite option, as we don’t think independent adventurers should be penalised for deciding to travel alone. So consider all the above workarounds first. The option of paying a single supplement is always there if you have the budget for it.

Our top Small ship cruising vacation Vacation

Southern Croatia cruise in comfort

Southern Croatia cruise in comfort

Cruise Croatia's beautiful islands on a small cruise ship

From £669 to £979 8 days ex flights
Small group travel:
2023: 10 Jun, 17 Jun, 24 Jun, 1 Jul, 8 Jul, 15 Jul, 22 Jul, 29 Jul, 5 Aug, 12 Aug, 19 Aug, 26 Aug, 2 Sep, 9 Sep, 16 Sep, 23 Sep, 30 Sep, 7 Oct, 14 Oct
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Small ship cruising vacation or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help.

Tips for single travelers on a small ship cruise

Travel off peak, when cruise companies are trying to fill cabins. This is when they’re more likely to offer deals that ditch the single supplement. In the Mediterranean that’s around May and June, or September and October. In the Caribbean, that’s either side of the hurricane season: April-May and early December. Find out more about the best time to go on a small ship cruise. Consider sharing a cabin to cut costs. Not confident about traveling solo? Small group tours will give you the balance of group travel and independence. You won’t be lonely. In fact, you’ll be surprised about how many people book a small ship cruise for one – especially on expensive, adventurous, off-the-edge-of-the-map voyages like Antarctic expeditions. It won’t be all doe-eyed couples paired up in the dining room; you’ll be among like-minded travelers who will be watching the polar bear loping over the horizon with exactly the same wide-eyed wonder as you. The camaraderie is real. Think about what you want from your cruise. Larger ships (say, a 150-person icebreaker) will give you the chance to mingle at the bar, spend time alone reading in the library and experience wildlife watching trips with others. Sailing yachts or traditional boats like Turkish gulets will have you sailing and eating elbow-to-elbow with your shipmates. Decide how close you want your company.
Photo credits: [Page banner: _dChris] [Top box: _dChris] [Boat cabin: Yacht Rent] [No single supplement: _dChris]