Yes, you read that right friends! I recently returned from my first solo cruise with Princess Cruises, on board the Emerald Princess. Who wouldn’t want to cruise solo on the ship that is known to us baby boomers as the Loveboat? You gotta love being in the midst of all of that love in the air. This was my fifth cruise with Princess, but my first solo cruise, and boy it was fantastic!
Solo (or Singles) Supplement
What is a singles supplement?
A singles supplement is an additional charge to solo travellers which is typically charged by the cruise line or resort. It is assumed that two people will be occupying a cabin or room.
If you are travelling solo, whether on a cruise or an all-inclusive resort, it is important to determine if a singles supplement will be added to your bill (this can be up to double the cost).
With the growing number of solo cruisers, many of the cruise lines have converted a certain number of their inside rooms to accommodate the solo cruiser. With these solo rooms, the singles supplement has either been reduced or waived altogether. Many of the cruise lines have gone one step further, and have added a room where solo cruisers can gather for coffee, tea and snacks, or just to hang out and meet other solo cruisers. Unfortunately, Princess has not yet jumped on board and begun to offer solo cruise packages.
Solo Cabin or Balcony Cabin
When booking your cruise, you will have to determine whether you want an inside cabin or a balcony cabin. Most ships have not converted their balcony cabins to solo rooms yet, and will charge the singles supplement. That is not to say that you can’t get a balcony room for a good price, it will just take patience and flexibility.
PRO TIP: Do you have a tendency to get sea-sick? Choose a room as close to the middle of the ship as possible to limit the motion of the ship.
My personal preference when cruising, is to book a balcony cabin. This does cause a problem when taking price into consideration, as balcony rooms can be substantially more expensive. Even more so when travelling solo. If you don’t spend a lot of time on your balcony, or if you don’t mind hanging out in one of the many public areas, then there is certainly nothing wrong with an inside cabin, and in fact, I would recommend that you do book the inside cabin. I tend to enjoy relaxing on my balcony, and taking in the peace and quiet with a glass of wine in hand, while reading a book.
PRO TIP: Princess allows each passenger of age to bring 1 bottle of wine on board. Ensure that you take advantage of this, as the price of wine on the ship can be expensive.
My most recent, and first solo cruise, was the Alaskan Inside Passage. It was a dream come true for me! In order to be in a position to afford the higher than normal rates, I frequently visited the Princess website. There are always promotions and sales on certain sailings. I finally hit the jackpot.
- Canadian money at par for booking
- $50.00 shipboard credit per person
- Upgrade on location of my room
- Pre-paid daily tips
I immediately contacted my travel agent to get it booked before I missed out. In order to make my dream come true, I kept an open mind and I researched other cruise lines who offered solo rates. How excited was I when I managed to get my dream vacation on the Loveboat for a much lower rate.
PRO TIP: The trick is to be patient and watch for price drops or promotions. You eventually will find a cruise that fits your budget, and if you are lucky you may even find one with additional perks. Princess often will have promotions that include prepaid tips, on board spending credits, etc.
As a solo traveller, security is always at the forefront of my mind. Even though I have travelled solo to many countries, I had never cruised solo before; however, having cruised many times with companions, I knew what to expect as far as the security of cruising solo. In fact, if you want to step into the world of solo travel, I would highly recommend that you begin your journey by taking a solo cruise.
Since I was very familiar with the Princess cruise line, I was not in the least apprehensive about cruising solo. I always felt safe and never alone. How can you feel alone with over 3,000 people on board? The security to board the ship was much like being at an airport, so I felt secure in knowing that all passengers had been cleared by customs, as well as by the ship’s security team. Boarding can be hectic and overwhelming to put it frankly. In the past, I have always arrived at the port a few hours prior to sailing and the wait seemed endless. This time, I arrived at 2:30, two hours before sailing, and I was in my room, on my balcony, with a glass of wine in hand within an hour.
PRO TIP: Fly to your port destination the day before and don’t rush to the port on the day of sailing.
If you have read my previous blogs, you will know that for me the worst part of travelling solo are mealtimes. At no time during my cruise did I feel uncomfortable going into the restaurants alone. There were so many choices and I honestly wanted to try them all. For breakfast every morning, I took advantage of the free 24 hour room service, and had my cereal and coffee on my balcony. This was always my favourite part of the day. I did order room service one other time for dinner and it was fantastic! Princess offers Anytime Dining for dinners, which allows you to eat anytime between 5:15 and 10:00. There is no preset dining time. You also have the option of dining with others or on your own. I usually opted for eating with others, as I am social like that lol. During the entire cruise, I only once had to say Just One, and that was the one night that I opted to dine alone. If the thought of eating alone intimidates you, follow these 10 tips which should make eating alone a lot easier.
- TIP: If I could offer all service personnel one piece of advice, it would be to never assume that there is more than one if only one person arrives.
It is insulting to the customer and may cause him or her never to return.
PRO TIP: Go to the restaurants as soon as they open or right before they close in order to avoid the lineups and wait times.
Princess Cruises offers the following eating options:
- Anytime Dining: this allows you to eat in the restaurant at anytime between 5:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. You will have the option of eating alone, or joining others. Dress code is smart casual.
- Set Dining: this is a great option if you tend to prefer routine and consistency. You will have a choice of your time of dining, and you will be paired with dining partners. You will dine at the same time and with the same people every evening.
- Specialty Dining: each of the Princess ships offers specialty dining, which can include pasta, steak and/or seafood. Reservations are required, and I HIGHLY recommend that these reservations be made prior to embarkation, as they fill up fast. There is a cover charge at the specialty dining restaurants. Prices vary, but it is typically around $25.00 per person. Dress code is smart casual.
- Buffet: the buffet is the perfect place to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner, if you want to grab a quick bite and don’t want to get all dolled up. Dress code is casual, but bathing suits must be covered and sandals must be worn.
- Fast Food: There are various fast food options scattered throughout the ship. If you want to remain at the pool, you can grab pizza, hamburgs, hotdogs, fries, icecream, etc. without having to get changed. Most, if not all, of the ships now have a coffee bar in the lobby, which also serves sandwiches, salads, pastries, etc.
- Room Service: Last but not least, my favourite, most of the ships offer anytime room service, free of charge. I have had breakfast, lunch and dinner served through room service and all of the food has been fantastic. In fact, if you want a ceasar salad or clubhouse sandwich, this is the place to get it! I also order coffee to be delivered to my room each morning, as the cabins are not equipped with coffee makers.
As you can see, you will have your choice of dining options throughout your cruise. You will have the choice of picking the option which best suits your comfort level.
Although I am quite content to sit back and relax and enjoy the passing scenery, I do get antsy and want to get off the ship. When in port, I always make the most of it. I will either book a tour, or just explore on my own. When cruising solo, I book all of my port tours directly with cruise line. This way I am guaranteed that I will be safe and assured that if the tour was delayed, I would not be left behind.
PRO TIP: I always book and pay for all port tours, water and alcohol prior to embarking the ship. This is done directly on the Princess website.
Booking a tour through the cruise line is also the perfect way to meet other cruisers. This way you will never be alone!
- TIP: Perhaps Princess would consider arranging solo socials, much like they do for the LGBTQ community. This would make everything perfect!
In my opinion, and based on my previous solo adventures, Princess offers the perfect solo cruising experience, despite being a cruise line known as the Loveboat and having love in the air. The only thing that would make it better, would be if Princess would begin to offer solo cruising packages.
To prepare you for your 1st solo cruise, you may also like:
- MUST HAVE CARRY-ON ESSENTIALS FOR THE 1ST TIME CRUISER
- Solo Travel; Escaping Your Comfort Zone
- Let’s Get Ready for Takeoff
Have you had the opportunity to cruise solo? I would love to hear about your experience and any tips that you might have.