Once seen as the domain of older travelers and those with small children, cruise lines have made great strides in improving their offerings for singles.
Traditionally, traveling as a single has its own bag of complications. While most cruise lines offer single occupancy booking, there is usually an added single supplement.
But fear not, great opportunities remain out there. 20-somethings and singles can get away at terrific value -- if they find the right cruise ship and itinerary. "First, you're bound to have fun with a boatload of your peers on a ship built for active, inquisitive, social travelers. Plus, the price can be as low as $100 per person per day for a floating hotel room, meals, entertainment and transportation to multiple destinations," says Chris Meyer, Expedia CruiseShipCenters Franchise Partner.
Abercrombie & Kent
These canal and river cruising departures combine luxury and authenticity on every departure, A&K is the perfect choice for 20-somethings looking for a truly luxurious, authentic and cultural experience with their friends -- particularly for celebrating a special occasion. Sip on specially chosen fine wines, served to complement the gourmet cuisine from a private chef on board, with friends and a panoramic view of Europe's hidden treasures. Canvas Europe's most serene and scenic stretches and take in the beauty of historic hilltop vineyards, lovely châteaux, quaint hamlets and country roads en route. It's really like a luxury villa experience -- but on the water.
Based on the research of Millennial Marketing, 20-somethings are, like everyone else, seeking adventure and authenticity in their travel experiences. Star Clippers' tall ship cruise line cruises the Caribbean in the winter months and the Mediterranean in the summer. As a small eco-friendly alternative to large cruises, Star Clippers can visit ports often untouched by larger cruise lines. Guests are treated to unique destinations and shore excursions and typically have many active options from water sports to kayaking to yoga on deck.
Carnival Live! Cruises
Carnival's shorter cruise itineraries are already known for their party atmosphere and singles scene. But now, offered on many shorter three to five day cruises out of Florida (Miami, Tampa, Port Canaveral, Jacksonville), Charleston, and LA, Carnival Live! concerts add another layer of appeal. "Attendance of the concert requires a small supplement of $20 to $40 depending on the band ($100 to $200 for VIP treatment), and you'll likely need to buy your tickets in advance since these concerts will be popular. True, many of the bands will appeal to an older crowd (Kansas, Foreigner, REO Speedwagon), but some younger, hipper acts are also included (Daughtry, Jennifer Hudson, and Lady Antebellum)," says Fodor's Travel Senior Editor of Cruises and Resorts, Doug Stallings.
The Cormorant and Ocean Spray are two luxury catamarans operated by Haugan Cruises that would be great options for a girlfriends getaway. Both boats are the newest fleets that cruise through the Galapagos Islands -- the Cormorant can accommodate 16 passengers and the Ocean Spray accommodates 10 passengers. Both catamarans offer four to eight day travel itineraries through the Galapagos Islands with alfresco dining, and on-deck jacuzzi and large cabins with big windows.
As a cruise line that's fun for singles. Variety is a yacht and small ship cruise line sailing throughout the Mediterranean, as well more exotic destinations like Seychelles, Costa Rica, Cape Verde and West Africa. For the fanny pack set, it's not. The average Variety ship is no more than 25-30 cabins and the ships dock at small ports at each destination, so cruisers avoid the large tourist-trap ports of call and get a much more authentic experience of each island. Also, from time to time, Variety offers theme cruises like Yoga Cruises, Rainbow Spirit Cruises, etc. that appeal to diverse audiences of all ages.
While Norwegian is fairly family-oriented, it's also known for its high-quality entertainment offerings, and these ships in particular have myriad choices that will appeal to young singles. "The casinos on these ships are extensive and are lined with a comedy club, blues club, and dueling pianos lounge, not to mention a wide variety of bars and other shows. And both ships have adults-only pool clubs," says Stallings. The New York-themed Breakaway and Miami-themed Getaway both are geared toward ingles. But perhaps the biggest draw for singles are the inexpensive single cabins that carry no supplement and give access to a shared lounge space. "Granted, these are cozy cabins at 100 square feet, but they do have porthole windows to the interior corridor and are exceptionally well designed and almost unique to the industry," says Stallings.
While similar to Norwegian's Breakaway-class ships, Epic has somewhat different entertainment offerings, including Blue Man Group, a popular East Village staple in NYC. "Nightlife and casino offerings are nearly as extensive as on the Breakway-class ships, and the single cabins with the shared lounge are available here as well," says Stallings.
Norwegian's Breakaway has its own take with twisting water slides, a Swedish-style ice bar, and a Cirque du Solei performance. "In Fat Cats Blues Club, guitarist Slam Allen is a talented musician and gregarious host who even invites to the stage those who dare to strum with his band!" says Meyer.
The Norwegian Epic will feature 128 studio cabins targets at and priced for solo cruisers. No additional single supplement. Single room occupants will have access to an exclusive, shared social space called the Studio Lounge.
Royal Caribbean's Allure/Oasis of the Seas
On Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas, you can get a workout on the onboard Flowrider surf simulator and rock-climbing wall, relax with a drink at the Rising Tide Bar, laugh it up at the comedy club, take in a performance of the Broadway hit "Chicago" and party until the wee hours with live bands, DJs and karaoke. "The ship is a destination in itself before you even reach the Caribbean islands it visits," says Meyer.
Most Royal Caribbean ships have features that appeal to younger, more active travelers, being the first to offer climbing walls and surfing pools, and the line has also made great strides to improve regular food offerings on its ships. Shore excursions often include more options that are more thrilling than the usual cruise line offerings. "But these behemoths have the widest array of features in the fleet and have set a standard for a big-ship experience that offers something for quite literally everyone. And the size of these ships allows adults ample opportunities to escape the kids on board," says Stallings. (Younger adults are also likely to appreciate the coming Quantum of the Seas, which sails this fall from New Jersey.)
Expedition cruise line Australis takes on Patagonia's fickle weather and strong currents. The Stella Australis ship has a glass-paneled gym for those who can't keep still; daily excursions with small Zodiac boats skimming the water past glaciers; and hot chocolate/whiskey with glacier ice that greets you at the end of each excursion. Try to stay standing on one of the unluckiest place on Earth -- the wind may just blow you over on Cape Horn.