The "single supplement" frustrates many solo cruisers – it can mean paying almost double the fare that's offered when you're travelling on a twin-share basis – but thankfully cruise lines are now building ships that have dedicated single cabins. While these cabins are relatively few and far between, several ocean and river companies regularly waive the single supplement or offer special deals for singles.
P&O Cruises World Cruising's Azura, which made its debut in 2010, has 18 single cabins and the just-launched Britannia has 27, including 15 with balconies. Ventura has 18 single cabins and other ships in the line are being retrofitted with single cabins during refurbishments.
Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Epic, built in 2010, was the first ship in the fleet to feature studio cabins (128); the newer Breakaway and Getaway each have 59 and Norwegian Escape, which is due to launch in October, will have 82.
Royal Caribbean's newest ships, Quantum and Anthem of the Seas, each have 28 studio cabins, some with "virtual balconies" – inside cabins fitted with TV screens showing real-time views of the outside world. Costa Cruises' newest vessels, Costa Favolosa and Costa Fascinosa, each have 17 dedicated single cabins.
The Solo Zone on Cruise Express's website offers information on solo-friendly cruise lines as well as specific deals – check cruiseexpress.com.au/solo-cruising for the latest offers. Cruise Express recommends Crystal Cruises for its range of onboard activities; Ponant for its single staterooms; Cunard for its "gentlemen hosts" on longer cruises; and various river cruise lines for their all-inclusive fares and low passenger numbers (most vary from 120 to a maximum of 190) which makes it very easy to meet people.
River cruise lines often reduce or waive the single supplement at the beginning and end of the European season (March and November) – check with the individual cruise lines or your travel agent for details and book as far in advance as possible to snag the best bargains.
If you don't mind sharing a cabin but don't have a partner or friend available to cruise when you want to go, Companion Cruising is a specialised agency that puts like-minded travellers together. That way you not only save money but you may make a friend for life. See companioncruising.com.au.
MEET THE CREW
NAME Jude Cathcart, Australian
POSITION Cruise Director, APT's AmaReina and AmaVista, Budapest to Amsterdam
MY JOB I look after our guests' every needs, from coordinating daily sightseeing to answering questions and arranging onboard entertainment.
MY TYPICAL DAY … begins at 6.30am. It is always a fast-paced start as I need to get everyone organised and out on their various excursions. Once the guests are looked after, I start planning for the following day. Then I catch up the with the captain, hotel manager and other crew members to check everything is running smoothly. Afternoons are my favourite time as I welcome all my guests back on board and hear about what they've been doing. I round the day off with an evening briefing.
FAVOURITE CRUISE MOMENT Taking guests to one of our three stand-out Royal Invitation experiences. It's especially amazing when we go to Namedy Castle and Princess Heide is at home. Seeing everyone's faces light up when they realise they are going to meet German royalty is just priceless.
FAVOURITE CRUISE PORT Nuremberg – it's a gorgeous medieval city that also has a family connection as it is my mother's birthplace.
TIP FOR PASSENGERS If you are travelling on your own always let your cruise director know – we can put you in touch with other solo travellers and introduce you to other like-minded guests.
TIP Royal Caribbean International and Princess Cruises offer discounts on their cruises for Australian and New Zealand military personnel – check with your local CLIA travel agent (click on the "Find an Agent" tab at cruising.org.au) or the cruise lines for details.
Anthem of the Seas is on its way to Southampton for its inaugural season – its maiden voyage is an eight-night cruise to France and Spain, departing April 22. Anthem of the Seas, virtually identical to Quantum (which launched last November), is the second of three 4180-passenger Quantum-class ships for Royal Caribbean – Ovation of the Seas is due to launch mid-2016. Meanwhile, the even bigger, Oasis-class Harmony of the Seas will also spend its first season cruising in Europe, from April 2016.
The newest addition to Seabourn's fleet of ultra-luxury, small ships, Seabourn Encore, will cruise Australian waters during its first season. Following a gala naming ceremony in Singapore on January 7, 2017, the 604-passenger ship will make its official maiden voyage, a 10-day cruise to Bali. The next stop will be Australia, where Seabourn Encore will make nine maiden calls to ports from Darwin to Geelong between January and March 2017. Seabourn Encore will depart Sydney on March 6, cruising back to Singapore via Mooloolaba, Hamilton Island, Townsville, Cairns and Darwin before heading to Europe for its inaugural northern summer season.
Lindblad Expeditions is the latest cruise company to change hands – Norwegian Cruise Line bought Regent Seven Seas and Oceania Cruises in 2013, Genting Hong Kong (which owns Star Cruises) bought Crystal Cruises earlier this month and now adventure cruise line Lindblad will be half-owned by a US investment company. "Expedition travel is among the fastest-growing segments in the travel industry … Lindblad is exactly the kind of investment opportunity that we were looking for," said Mark Ein, chairman and CEO of Capitol. They say current management, led by Sven-Olof Lindblad, will be retained.
DEAL OF THE WEEK
Book a 2016 APT India river cruise holiday of 15 days or longer by June 30 and return flights to India are part of the package. The 20-day Wonders of India combines a 12-night land journey visiting Mumbai, Udaipur, Jaipur, the Taj Mahal and Varanasi with a seven-night lower Ganges river cruise aboard RV Ganges Voyager. From $16,195; phone 1300 196 420, see aptouring.com.au.
PRINCESS CRUISES Save up to 40 per cent on the Sydney-Dubai segment of Sea Princess's world cruise, departing May 22, 2015. Up to $300 onboard credit is also on offer, when booked by April 5. From $2799; phone 13 24 88, see princess.com.
CONTOURS TRAVEL is offering savings on four- and six-day adventure cruises in Patagonia and Chile on board Skorpios II and III. Book by June 30 for departures between September 2015 and May 2016; fares start at $2253. Phone 1300 135 391, see contourstravel.com.au.