There are more than a few misconceptions about traveling solo. Not everyone comes with a ready-built traveling companion. Sometimes you just need to have some “me” time away from those nearest and dearest to your heart back home. After being cooped up together during the pandemic, you may just need to have a little space. Others just enjoy the freedom that comes with traveling solo. You can do what you want, when you want. Traveling solo can be richly rewarding and have wonderful benefits you may not  have even considered.

But first let’s clear up a few misconceptions about traveling independently:

Traveling misconceptions

  • You do not always have to pay double to have a single room.

Unlike most hotel rooms which often cost the same no matter how many people are in the room, most river cruise ships have rooms especially set aside for the single traveler at less than the price of a standard double.

  • Traveling independently does not send out signals you are lonely and alone.

More and more travelers are feeling empowered to travel alone, knowing they can have more control over their vacation time. Solo travelers are an increasing demographic as people are realizing the benefits of traveling solo and willing to do what makes them happy without being concerned what other people think. Life is short, take that bucket list, check some boxes, and have some fun!

pearl mist cruise lines single
Single cabin aboard the Pearl Mist

Benefits of traveling alone

Let’s face it, not everyone makes a great traveling companion. The joy of traveling is seeing new places with someone else who appreciates traveling at the same pace as you do. You may not travel well with someone you love if that someone wants to hike every mountain and swim every stream, while you may prefer experiencing the cuisine at a local restaurant or wander into shops and slowly peruse a museum. Conversely, you may feel someone else is holding you back if you’d rather go parasailing while they want to visit a cathedral. Traveling alone, you can travel at your own pace. You can join shore excursions that will take you on adventures, or you can opt out.

A photo of gourmet flatbread pizza
Gourmet dining while on board

Dining as a single

On the big ships, you are probably going to be assigned seating and be “stuck” with the same people at every meal. On a smaller river cruise ship, there is no assigned seating. You may choose to eat by yourself and read, or use that time to write in your journal, or you may prefer sitting with someone new you met onboard or during an excursion. This is your time to make new friends, but not feel obligated to sit with someone with whom you don’t have anything in common. That’s okay. People come in all different forms, and you won’t “click” with everyone. You’re more likely to meet someone who has something in common with you, as you both chose to travel on a specific cruise to a specific region of the US. Most people who cruise on small ships are heading to destinations because of a particular interest in the area which can open up great topics of conversation.

uncruise kayaker alaska
Kayaking on an Uncruise vacation

Expert Guides

Expert guides aboard a small ship can take the stress out of traveling alone. No road trips with potential car trouble. No walking around big cities alone. Planned itineraries can help you make decisions before you leave. Small cruise ships have a high staff to guest ratio, meaning you are more likely to get that personalized experience to help you create an enjoyable vacation. Small ship operators really know their locations – they’ll be out there right alongside you showing you the places they love the best. You won’t be dumped at the port, left to explore on your own (unless you want to!)

Small Ship Cruises and the Solo Traveler

Usually, smaller ship cruises are less likely to be filled with children. While children are welcome of course, if you are looking for some time away from the kids – no pools filled with children screaming and laughing, no misbehaving children at dinner, no hallways used as racecourses, a small ship cruise may be for you.

Small ship cruises appeal to many different age groups. Generally though, people in their 20s, 30s, and 40s, can’t afford to take more than a week away on vacation at one time, so the shorter cruises may potentially have a younger guest list, while the longer cruises may have more seasoned travelers aboard.

Photo of the Barge Lady L'artdevivre
River cruising in France

Best Cruises For Independent Travelers:

Find something in common with your fellow passengers on a themed cruise – you can find themes based on interests such as quilting, art, or volunteering, or try one of these popular themed cruises:

For the Foodie: Culinary cruises are always popular – with demonstrations and specialty local foods that match the destination. Small river cruise ships make every effort to include local specialties on their menus, sourcing local ingredients, and elevating your dining experience to a new level.

There are special departures set aside for culinary focus taking you through the heart of America’s BBQ country, on a journey for the taste buds. You may also enjoy a cruise to Maine and be treated to some of the best lobster around. Perhaps a wine themed cruise in the Pacific Northwest?

For the adventurous:  The west coast is the destination of choice for the adventurous nature lovers. Go whale watching by kayak in the San Juan Islands. Walk on glaciers in Alaska. Snorkel among the fish in Hawaii. Hike in the rain forests of Costa Rica. Paddleboarding in Baja. There are so many options for those that prefer getting out on a vacation and doing – not just watching.

For the music lover:  there is nothing like taking a small ship cruise filled with people all sharing the same love of music. Cruises that head to Nashville, Memphis, or New Orleans are filled with fellow travelers who love blues, country, soul, rock, folk, cajun, and the roots of American music. Cruise ships will book local talent for on-board entertainment everyone will enjoy.  The Music City cruise is a good option. Many river cruises offer a limited number of specialty themed cruises – perhaps a 70s music theme or a country music lovers cruise would inspire you! Call us for information on specific themed sailings.

For the horse lover:  The ship will be filled with people who love going to the races and seeing the beautiful horses. The Kentucky Derby is a great specialty cruise that will take you to the green, rolling hills of Kentucky horse country and includes tickets to see the race in person.

For the Romantic: Did you read a book or watch a movie set in the romantic times in Ireland or France? How about a small barge cruise where you can travel the canals of France while sipping wine on the top deck. Perhaps an inland small river cruise of Ireland where you can explore romantic castle ruins and unchanged villages. Wander the cobbled streets where it is so easy to picture history coming alive. The picturesque and romantic countryside of France is perfect for a slow cruise, as you glide through Burgundy in France’s wine country.

Maine Coast & Harbor-American Eagle

Roundtrip Portland

Book Now More Info
Save this story for reference on Pinterest:
traveling while solo on a cruise