Earlier this year Norwegian Cruise Lines surprised the travel world when, in an industry first, it included more than 100 solo occupancy cabins in their new ship, the Norwegian Epic. This was a welcome change for the thousands of people who actually prefer traveling alone. Previously, the only choice for a solo cruiser was to pay an obnoxious single supplement, not worth the extra money for most people. Not to be outdone, Royal Caribbean announced recently that they, too, are joining the solo revolution and will begin remodeling older ships to include berths for single individuals: three berths to be exact.
That’s right, on a ship with more than 2,100 passengers Royal Caribbean will have three windowless interior rooms for those who dare travel alone. Obviously, the cruise line is either worried the sun will hurt these poor, lonely people, or, more likely, they want to spare them the public ridicule of traveling solo.
There has always been a large number of people who travel alone, but traditionally the travel industry has not made it easy for them. Extra fees and marginalization have been the standard practice.
When Norwegian fully committed to the idea of solo travel, I thought “Finally! The cruise lines get it!” People who aren’t in a relationship or don’t want to cruise with their second cousin should be allowed to cruise affordably, too. Cruising is a great way to travel and can be one of the most budget friendly options out there—solo travelers would embrace a chance to take part. Then Royal Caribbean decided to slap them in the face.
If a company is going to commit to serving a segment of the travel population then they should, you know, commit. Three rooms?! How sad for those travelers, not even an even number of cabins, so that there’s always a guaranteed third wheel. Norwegian has events for their solo travelers and encourages them to meet fellow passengers. Royal Caribbean’s version of the solo travel experience reminds me of a high school dance—the wall flowers standing against the wall, sadly sipping their punch, while the lucky couples dance the night away.
Solo travelers aren’t sad, lonely people to pity, they’re tourists just like any one else with money in their pocket to spend on a relaxing vacation. If Norwegian can find success with the solo traveler, then so should every other major cruise line.