As everyone is different, there is no 'one size fits all' answer to the question "Which cruise line is the best for solo travellers?". We do have a few recommendations though!
Best of the Best: Crystal Cruises, Silversea & Regent Seven Seas Cruises
The all-inclusive 'Best of the Best' cruise lines are a good choice if you are travelling alone. You avoid the hassle of constantly signing for things, and also the embarrassment of organising who is going to buy the wine at dinner, or host a round of cocktails in the bar. You can flit from group to group without feeling the obligation to return the kindness of a drink bought.
Crystal is a top choice for solos for a number of reasons: the ships are large enough to have a lot going on, with an excellent selection of onboard activities, classes and entertainment, and some great shore excursions. Large tables hosted by officers and ambassadors are often available in Waterside, and the alternative restaurants have special solo nights to enable you to join others and enjoy the fantastic menus in Prego and the superb Umi Uma. Importantly, solo fares on Crystal are very attractive, with rates starting from just 15% single supplement on certain cruises.
Silversea's fleet include both classic cruises and expedition itineraries, and this breadth of choice means that there is sure to be a voyage that appeals. You can expect an ultra-luxury experience on spacious small ships, with a hint of Italian style to the hospitality on board, and a cosmopolitan and sophisticated passenger mix makes meeting fellow travellers easy. There is a welcome Champagne reception for those travelling independently aboard every voyage, and on selected voyages Silversea hosts are available as dance partners or dinner companions for female guests. Silversea also have a compelling solo fare structure, with some promotional voyages offering a 0% single supplement, and typical solo fares with a supplement of between 10% and 30%.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises may not be an obvious choice for those travelling independently, but you can be sure that once on board you'll enjoy superb food, friendly and welcoming service and a superbly comfortable ship. Regent is also the most inclusive of all-inclusive cruise lines, with a choice of complimentary shore excursions in every port, making it easy to enjoy busy days ashore and meet your fellow travellers. Some itineraries offer pre- and post-cruise tour options, and all include flights and transfers, helping to take the stress out of your travel arrangements before and after the cruise. Although solo fares are usually high, Regent have recently started to offer a reduced single supplement of 10% on selected voyages, making it a choice worthy of consideration.
Best for river cruising: Tauck & AmaWaterways
River cruising is an excellent choice if you are quite a traveller, and are seeking out ways to explore the world on your own: from the safe environment of your river vessel, carrying you from place to place as the perfect convenient base, you can sally forth alone or with others to get to know the beautiful towns and cities en route.
Tauck offer meticulously planned itineraries and have unique relationships to offer 'uncommon access' - experiences that you simply couldn't get with another company. They also waive single supplements on their lead-in room grade for all European river cruises. Everything is included on board and there is a very social environment, particularly prior to dinner.
AmaWaterways offer a wide range of river cruises across Europe and beyond. Fares are slightly less inclusive than Tauck, with alcholic drinks included at meal times and during the 'Sip and Sail' cocktail hour, but you can expect excellent quality and incredibly good value. On board there is a welcome party for solo guests and the Maitre D's are on hand in the evening to enable solo guests to join other tables if they wish to.
AmaWaterways reserve two cabins for solo occupancy on each ship: lead-in window grades on AmaBella and AmaVerde, and French balcony grades on AmaLyra, AmaDolce and AmaDante, which sail the Danube, Rhine, Rhone, Moselle, Seine and the Dutch waterways. These cabins have no single supplement, while the supplement for other grades, across the entire European fleet, start at 25% for window rooms, increasing to 50% for balcony grades and 100% for suites.
Best for small ship cruising: Hebridean Island Cruises
Some people travelling alone prefer to avoid the very small ships, for fear of being surrounded by couples. On Hebridean Princess this will definitely not be the case: this tiny Scottish country house hotel at sea embraces all its guests like old friends, and you will be welcomed as a valued guest at a very special house party.
Those travelling alone dine at a hosted table in the centre of the intimate dining room, having chosen one of the perfectly designed single cabins as their comfy home from home. By the end of the first day, you will be on first name terms with everyone.
Best for no-fly cruises from the UK: Saga
One concern flagged by many solo travellers is the worry about getting to your ship, so choosing a ship leaving from the UK is a great option. Saga's fleet has undergone a significant upgrade with the introduction of the brand new 999-guest Spirit of Discovery in 2019, to be followed by sister ship Spirit of Adventure in 2020. On board you can expect a sociable atmosphere that will instantly put you at ease, and all cabins have a private balcony, including more than 100 dedicated solo cabins. There are many exclusive events and activities just for single guests, such as the 'Singles Mingle' drinks party, and a special Singles Luncheon. If it's a port day then there is a singles meet-up, enabling you to go ashore in company.
A return chauffeur service from your home is included on every cruise from Dover or Southampton, as well as all meals and entertainment, wine with lunch and dinner, onboard gratuities, WiFi and even travel insurance, so budgeting is easy, and both ships will be fully all-inclusive from 2020.