Small ship voyages are so inclusive

Expedition cruises offer some great options for solo travellers

Who can resist the allure of the sea? Boarding a ship and sailing to distant lands like the explorers of old is a dream for many. And, while the world might be a lot smaller now than it once was, the fascination we have with travel remains undimmed. 

Expedition cruising – an area that has boomed in the last few years – is arguably at the forefront of adventure holidays. How else can you visit remote nations that aren’t easily accessible by air? How else can you visit Antarctica? Or indeed, how else can you visit multiple countries in one holiday?

For years, expedition cruising has been out of reach of solo travellers. However, the seas finally seem to be changing and a number of operators are jumping on the fast emerging trend.

Coral Expeditions, which specialises in expedition cruises in far-flung destinations such as Australia, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand, doesn’t charge a single supplement on its three and four-night sailings around the Great Barrier Reef – a cruise that proves popular with couples and solos alike. The short sailing offers one of the best itineraries on the market when it comes to exploring the fast disappearing reef – one of the natural wonders of the world. It can form a great part of a longer itinerary, too. 

“The guest environment on Coral Expeditions is very conducive for solo travellers as we embrace the intimacy that a small ship provides,” explains Jan Jepsen, the company’s UK representative. “Our guests get to know each other and welcome the single traveller to talk, walk and dine together. They don’t feel left out.”

This overall change is big news for solo travellers. One of the most common factors stopping solo travellers from taking an expedition cruise has always been the single supplement. According to research by Travelzoo, single supplements are prohibitive to 36 per cent of travellers. That comes second only to the number one fear: eating alone, which stops 42 per cent of people from travelling. Booking a solo traveller with an operator who thinks about dedicated tables for solos is a good sign that they’ll get other aspects of the holiday right, too. 

Aurora Expeditions, which offers cruises to destinations including Antarctica, the Kimberley and the Galapagos, has had a no single supplement option for solo travellers for years. The company offers a ‘cabin mate finding service’ through which single passengers can be paired up with another solo traveller of the same sex. If a suitable partner can’t be found then passengers only pay the single fair for the entire room.

Those who want their own cabin will pay a 1.7 single supplement rate. However, by giving customers this option – and making a private room seem like a more luxurious option –
they are changing the optics through which passengers look at their accommodation. 

Another good option for solo passengers wanting to sample far-flung destinations is Crystal Cruises, which will be launching its first purpose-built expedition vessel, Crystal Endeavor, next year. The line often runs offers across its ocean and river fleet for solo passengers with solo fares ranging from 125 to 130 per cent of a single fare. This includes cruises around South America, South Africa and the Pacific Islands. 

Regardless of where your solo customer wishes to go next – be it a far-flung destination or one closer to home – it is well worth digging a little deeper. You might be surprised what you can unearth. 

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