Solo travel is changing. In the past, solo traveling was tied to single’s travels. The “solo” market was the young single person traveling on their own, or the wealthy widow. Travel companies who based their cost (and their pricing) on double occupancy, commonly charged a 100% single supplement fee for solo travelers.
In a scene of the romantic comedy “Shirley Valentine,” Shirley (a solo traveler) is “rescued” from dining alone. Elderly women often traveled with others of their age group and social circles to avoid the single supplement fees. Cruise lines hosted single parties, but made non-single solo travelers feel unwelcome. Carnival Cruise Lines advertised their single parties as “for the needy not the greedy.”
Today, solo traveling is seen as a niche and singles are no longer the definition. Many solo travelers are married but for various reasons are traveling alone.
In 1900 only 4% of the population was 65 and over, in 1950 that had risen to 8.1%, in 2000 it climbed higher to 14.2% and a 2010 estimate places that group at 16.5% of the population. But more importantly is the difference in apparent age. When you compare medical and physical qualities of today’s 65 year old to 65 years old two decades ago, current 65 year old’s are at least 10 years younger. The average person in their 60s today are doing things that 20 years ago those in their 50s said they were too old to do.
Men and women over 60 are frequently traveling in groups or with a friend, but more frequently they are traveling solo. According to CLIA, roughly 10% of cruisers are solo. Cruise lines are now making adjustments with more single staterooms on ships and lower single supplement fees. Norwegian Cruise Lines has created “studio” staterooms on their newest ship that open into a private lounge.
A solo traveler will find a great deal of freedom on a cruise. They can make arrangements to sit at a large table to meet others or at a smaller table, and there is always the opportunity to dine at one of the alternative dining venues. There are a number of activities to take part in which provide a relaxed atmosphere to meet people if you wish.
Group shore excursions provide a way to sight see without roaming alone. While traveling solo on a cruise today, what you do is entirely up to you. If you want to expand your interests and try rock climbing, there are a number of cruise ships that have a wall built on the ship.
A recurring question is, are cruises safe for a solo traveler? While there are always risks with any type of travel, the risk for a solo traveler is much less on a cruise ship than at a land based resort or an escorted tour.