Norwegian Cruise Line is making a major effort to embrace and encourage the solo cruiser market with the announcement that close to 1,000 staterooms will soon be rebranded as solo cabins.
Three stateroom categories earmarked for solo guests will open for bookings this week across the line’s fleet of 19 ships.
More Studio Staterooms Available in Early 2024
Responding to recent data showing the solo traveler market is significantly widening, Norwegian Cruise Line rolled out three new cabin categories just for solo guests: Solo Inside, Solo Oceanview, and Solo Balcony.
The cruise line unveiled the new accommodations option on October 3, 2023, and this week is opening bookings of the new category on cruises with departure dates starting on January 2, 2024.
“We strive to provide our guests with diverse offerings to create their dream vacation,” said David J. Herrera, president of Norwegian Cruise Line.
Currently, just nine ships in the Norwegian Cruise Line fleet offer solo cabins, including its newest ship, Norwegian Viva, which launch in August 2023. Guests booking solo cabins enjoy key card access to a Studio Lounge (on ships where available), which features a bar, lounge area, and daily snacks.
“Since we first launched our solo staterooms in 2010 with Norwegian Epic, they have been quite popular with single travelers. We are continuously listening to our guests to deliver the experience they want. After realizing the growing demand of individuals looking to travel on their own, we have now expanded single occupancy staterooms across our fleet,” Herrera added.
On October 3, 2023, the “dates and prices” links for various 2024 cruises on the Norwegian Cruise Line website show a “studio” category indicating “solo guests only,” but has no live cruise fares posted yet.
Itinerary, Demand Will Affect Solo Fares
The cruise line’s announcement indicates that pricing and availability will be based on destination and on demand for solo cabins, but solo guests will most likely pay a lower fare than if they booked a double occupancy stateroom.
Generally, solo cruisers without access to dedicated solo cabins typically pay a hefty single supplement fee if they book a double cabin. The fee can bring a solo guest’s fare as high as the full cruise fare for two people sharing a double cabin.
Cruise lines sometimes waive single supplement fees during special, limited-time marketing promotions. Virgin Vacations, for instance, in May waived single supplements on all of its summer 2023 sailings in Europe.
Spike Seen in Solo Traveler Bookings, Searches
Norwegian Cruise Line’s decision to add nearly 1,000 solo guest cabins to its fleet follows a notable spike in solo travel across the travel industry, while the cruise line’s own reservations data revealed an increase in solo cruisers booking non-studio accommodations.
The cruise line, a brand of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, said the trend was revealed in bookings between 2019 and 2022. In the wider tourism industry, a study by the global distribution system Travelport found that solo travel comprises nearly 18% of global bookings.
In another sign of a healthy solo travel market, Radical Storage, a global luggage storage network, revealed a 267% spike in online searches for “solo travel.” The finding was gleaned from searches conducted from late 2020 to spring 2022.
Norwegian Cruise Line’s sister brand, upmarket Oceania Cruises, also hopped on the solo stateroom bandwagon in 2022, when it designated 56 cabins as solo accommodations onboard four ships.
Each of Oceania’s ships, Regatta, Nautica, Insignia, and Sirena, added 14 solo oceanview staterooms, while the line’s newest ship, Vista, which entered service after her christening in May 2023, features six Concierge Level Solo Veranda Staterooms.