Back in October 17 we were lucky enough to cruise onboard NCL Epic and one of the party had a solo stateroom allowing us to get a first hand look at the solo experience. Here's what we wrote then on our Facebook page and it's every bit as relevant today as we launch our new Cruise Line Solo Passenger Policy Page as the latest addition of our Inside Info section:
NORWEGIAN CRUISE SUPPORT FOR SOLO CRUISER SECOND TO NONE!
Life can be difficult as a solo cruiser! Often you have to pay anything up to twice as much as your fellow cruiser
and then on board it can be a little difficult to integrate however with Norwegian Cruise Line things are different and on no other cruise line is a solo passenger more supported and valued! As it should be!!
Let's start with the cabins! They are approximately 100sq ft each, as comparison a double cabin is something like 135sq ft but not a huge amount bigger! These solo cabins or 'studios' as they are known are perfectly formed. They include a double bed, flatscreen TV, a separate toilet and shower and even mood lighting (which we love!)! There's plenty of storage space and even a portal window onto the corridor, though don't panic, it's one way so no-one can peer in, and you can you use the shutters or neatly designed blinds too! The studio area is only accessible via key card so is very secure and exclusive!
As an extension of your cabin NCL have provided an exclusive Studio Lounge, a great area with which to relax, read a book, watch the TV screens, or have a complimentary coffee & cookie! It's also a fantastic place to meet your fellow solo passengers giving you easy opportunities to meet others. This is also the venue for the daily 'happy hour' at 6pm whereby solo passengers can meet and make plans for the evening or the next day.
Further to this NCL provide a solo co-ordinator who makes sure that each night there's a programme of events for a solo group from dinner to the shows, deck parties to drinks receptions or just someone to link with if you need anything. In short everything is thought of to help support the solo traveller to ensure a fantastic onboard experience and rightly so!
So do you have to pay more for this experience? Thankfully not much more! NCL state there is no solo supplement which is great...but what does this mean? Well in general solo travellers can expect to pay more than the standard inside pp rate on any cruise line up to 200%. With NCL you're not paying that but you will pay slightly more than the couple next to you... with this cruise a solo passenger we know paid approximately 25% more than the per passenger rate for an inside.
Another issue can be the lack of solo cabins and again this means having to book very early; not great if you just wake up one morning and decide you need to get away (happens to us a lot!!!) However on the NCL Epic you have an industry leading 128 studio cabins on board!! We would still recommend booking early as possible but still, you've a chance of getting a cabin at a late date.
There's no doubt then that NCL are leading the way in supporting the solo traveller and we would urge more cruise lines to follow their example! Things are improving but slowly! Hopefully as new ships are built this situation will improve.
However for now, if you're looking to getaway as a solo passenger NCL should be your first port of call!