|Photo by Freeimages.com/Robert Linder|
Saffron Alexander, The Daily Telegraph, August 4, 2015
The number of cruisers choosing to travel alone is steadily increasing. Saffron Alexander explores the appeal of going solo.
The spending power the over-50s possess is not to be underestimated. They control more than 75 per cent of all wealth in the UK, travel more than younger holidaymakers and account for the majority of travel and tourism expenditure in the country. In 2012, over-50s households spent £25 billion on travel and tourism, a £14 billion increase from 2002. Research reveals that the cruise industry contributes significantly to this spending.
In 2013, 66 per cent of UK cruise passengers were aged 55, this translates to more than 1.1 million passengers who spent an estimated £1.6 billion in total. And, whilst those who go on cruises still tend to travel in pairs or groups, cruise companies have noticed an increase in the number of solo travellers over the last few years. A consumer study of North American cruises from the Cruise Lines International Association indicated found that 2.4 per cent of guests in 2014 was solo travellers.
Adam also cites the prevalance of social media as a reason for a rise in solo travellers. Before the rise of social media, those considering travelling on a cruise would feel hesistant about going alone, now "people are able to find out everything about the ship before they board. From reading first person accounts to finding the itinerary" people are no longer going on cruises not knowing what to expect.
As well as finding out what they should expect from everything to activities to catering, solo cruisers are also able to find fellow guests online. Cruise Critic offer a ' Roll Call ' tool, which allows cruisers to find and talk to other solo travellers who are taking the same cruise.
57-year-old Lois Rosenfeld started cruising alone in 2003 and has been on around 45 cruises since then, visiting the Caribbean, Alaska, Bermuda and Turkey to name a few destinations.
Lois, a divorcee without children, initially decided to start cruising alone because she had "been on my own for almost 90 per cent of my adult life. I am quite independent so I do most things on my own."
"I was anxious and excited, rather than apprehensive, when I went on my first solo cruise. Though when I took that first cruise, I knew immediately that I would be going again and again - I actually haven't been on a land vacation since I started cruising. I try to go at least twice and year, maybe three if I can fit it in."
On her travels Lois has met many other solo cruisers, though she doesn't think it is an important factor to enjoying her holiday, "many solos want to be around other solos, though I'm not in that category. I have never been shy and it is quite easy for me to meet people and, on a cruise, it is very easy to meet other folks. I enjoy my “me time” too. If I find a lounger, a good book and a drink, I am happy.
The only complaint Lois has with cruises is the infamous single supplement : "I wish cruiselines would decrease it. I realise it is a business and they want two people in every cabin, but it would be nice if solo travellers were offered a lower single supplement."
Despite the single supplement, Lois believes cruises are still the best value for money: "I would definitely recommend cruising alone, I think it's a fabulous holiday and is the best value for money. You unpack just once and then you are pampered for a week or two. I can do what I want, or don't want, and it is wonderful."
Cruise Critic's Tips for Solo Sailing Success
Big ship vs small ship
If you are looking to meet people, the sheer quantity of people on larger ships can make it a challenge, yet, conversely, some of the new large ships specialise in accommodating solo travellers. For example, Norwegian Cruise Line’s Epic, Getaway and Breakaway offer studio cabins specifically designed and priced for solo cruisers, and offer access to an exclusive lounge where daily gatherings are hosted.
Small ships can make it easy to meet new people thanks to open-seating dinners, smaller excursion numbers and interactive activities, such as game playing and trivia. Research the ship beforehand to ensure it fits your needs.
Avoiding solo dining awkwardness
Dining can create a dilemma for solo cruisers. One of the best ways to make friends onboard, according to a Cruise Critic poll, is dining with other cruisers. Opting for traditional onboard dining, with an assigned time and table, means you’ll spend time with the same people, and can establish friendships. Request seating with other solo cruisers, and if you’re keen to avoid families, dine later. For those preferring to eat alone, ships that offer flexible dining plans give you the choice to dine solo or with company.
Meeting new people
Put in groundwork by signing up to a Cruise Critic Roll Call, which enables you to meet people online prior to your cruise. Once on the ship, attend a Cruise Critic “Meet and Mingle" to meet everyone in person. Don't restrict yourself to formal "singles” parties, as not all solo travellers attend these. Check the daily programme and participate in activities that float your boat, which is a great way to meet like-minded people.
This article was written by Saffron Alexander from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.