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Norwegian Breakaway's specially designed studio for the single traveler features a full size bed, private bathroom, sink and shower.

Photo courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Breakaway's specially designed studio for the single traveler features a full size bed, private bathroom, sink and shower.

How solo cruisers can avoid a single supplement

Learn the tricks to getting around single supplement fees on your next cruise

If you go solo on a cruise, it might mean you pay almost double for your trip. Solo travelers thinking about taking a cruise might be surprised to learn that most cruise lines will charge a single supplement. This premium is charged to travelers who book a cabin for only one person.

The reasons behind this are simple: Cruise lines are counting on two people per cabin (at least) and they are prepared to charge a fee for those who want to occupy a stateroom solo. This means the cost of a single supplement can almost double the cruise fare.

While such a fee is waived on some cruise lines, it isn't often the norm. Single cruise supplements are at the discretion of the cruise line and in some cases, to promote bookings, cruise lines will waive the fee to generate sales. If a passenger is charged a single supplement, it is usually for the cruise fare only, not taxes or port charges on the second berth (bed) in the room.

Go for a solo stroll in the tropics on your Windstar cruise.
Courtesy of Windstar CruisesA solo traveler strolls a tropical beach on a Windstar cruise.

How cruise lines accommodate solo cruisers

The easiest way to skirt the single supplement is to find a studio cabin built for one guest. They're smaller, yes, but considerably less expensive. For example, a studio on a Norwegian ship might cost $1,099 compared to the cost of booking a double-occupancy room with a single supplement that sets you back $1,898.

Norwegian Cruise Line has been at the forefront of catering to solo travelers. Norwegian Bliss, which launches next month, and Norwegian Escape both offer 82 studio staterooms. Norwegian Epic has the most studio cabins at sea, 128. Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway both offer 59 studio rooms. The studios are about 100 square feet and include entry to a common area, the Studio Lounge, which sports a bar, television screens and complimentary coffee and snacks.

Royal Caribbean also offers studio cabins, chiefly on its newest ships. Harmony of the Seas, the world's largest cruise ship, offers 15 studio interior or ocean-view staterooms that range from 96 to 104 square feet. Anthem of the Seas features 14 studio interior staterooms that measure 101 square feet and have virtual balconies. A slight upgrade scores you 119 square feet in one of a dozen Super Studios. Ovation of the Seas and Quantum of the Seas both offer 16 studios and 12 Super Studio Ocean View staterooms with balcony. And you'll find a handful of single rooms on the older Royal ships. 

Holland America's new Koningsdam pampers its passengers in a dozen ocean-view cabins designed for singles. You’ll sleep on the line's signature Mariner's Dream beds — in a cloud of luxury — and enjoy great amenities like plush bathrobes and complimentary fruit baskets. The cabins are located together on the forward main deck of the ship and range from 127 to 172 square feet.

The classic ocean liner Queen Mary 2 from Cunard now has 15 ocean-view cabins for solo travelers.

Some of the smaller cruise lines also offer deals. Windstar Cruises recently reduced their single supplement to as little as 15 percent on some itineraries. 

Share a cabin with another single

Match programs are also a way to take the sting out of paying for a supplement, and are often arranged by tour companies such as Rick Steves' Europe and G Adventures. These programs help same-sex singles get paired up with roommates in order to lower costs. 

One way to find a roommate for a cruise is to search for a hosted singles cruise. These special groups are put together by travel agencies or companies specializing in single cruises.

Booking a cruise far in advance can also help solo travelers avoid a single supplement. For example, Avalon Waterways offers discounted prices for those who book a cruise the year before they plan on traveling. 

Your take

Have you taken a cruise as a solo traveler? What did you think?

Updated from an earlier version. Help improve this article! See anything wrong? What did we overlook? Be a co-creator!

Carrie Finley-Bajak
I'm a cruise journalist, blogger, CLIA Accredited Cruise Counselor and a columnist for Travel Weekly. Follow me on Twitter, Google Plus, Pinterest and Instagram.