Cruising Solo: What It’s Like to Go on a Viking River Cruise Alone

Viking Akun on the Volga River in Russia

I am no stranger to solo travel. In fact, in the past five years, the majority of my travel has been on my own.

I’ve done all sorts of things solo: train trips, city breaks, adventure tours, and more. But one thing I had not done before was go on a cruise by myself.

To be honest, I never used to think cruises were good for solo travel; they’re typically something you do with a partner or family members, and I wasn’t convinced they could be enjoyable for a solo traveler.

But when Viking River Cruises invited me to try out their “Waterways of the Tsars” cruise through Russia in October and I couldn’t find a travel buddy able to join me, I decided to just go on my own.

Viking Akun in Russia

Having traveled with Viking before, I knew what to expect going in – and I was relatively confident that it wouldn’t be *too* awkward as a solo traveler.

And you know what? I actually LOVED it!

The pros to cruising solo

I’m a bit of an introvert to begin with, so I actually enjoyed having a cabin all to myself to retreat to for a relaxing cup of tea after dinner, or in between excursions to edit some photos or just watch the news. The state rooms on Viking’s ships are more than large enough for one person to spread out in, and after a few weeks of changing hotels every 1 or 2 days, I was SUPER excited to unpack and hang all my clothes up in a closet!

State room on the Viking Akun

My lovely shipboard retreat

Being on my own also made getting to know people on my cruise extremely easy. When you are both the youngest person on the ship AND traveling alone, you tend to draw a lot of curious inquiries. Meaning I met a ton of fascinating travelers and had some great conversations – especially over meals. Since Viking doesn’t do assigned seating for anything, I often joined different people at each meal.

I wasn’t sure if it would feel awkward to be alone on a luxury cruise like this, but it actually wasn’t awkward at all. In a group of 190 people, you’re bound to find at least a few that you’ll click with, if not more.

And, because I didn’t have to take into account another person’s interests or preferences, I had complete control over my time. I could sign up for the tours I wanted, listen to the lectures that sounded interesting to me (an hourlong presentation on the Romanov dynasty? yes, please!), take naps in the afternoon if I felt like it, and even wander off on my own for a few hours like I did in St. Petersburg.

Inside Saint Isaac's Cathedral in St. Petersburg

One thing I did on my own was visit St. Isaac’s Cathedral

Viking offers plenty of things to keep you entertained both on and off the ship, but there’s never any pressure to do any of it. So even though I was on a cruise with escorted tours offered, I still felt like I was able to do my own thing, too.

The cons to cruising solo

Remember how I said that being a solo traveler makes it super easy to talk to people? Well, the downside of this is that you’ll probably answer all the same questions over and over – mainly about what you do and why in the world you’re on your own. As a frequent traveler (and blogger), I’m kind of used to this, though, and usually take it in stride. And thankfully most people thought the whole travel blogging gig sounded pretty cool!

REALTED: Exploring Russia with Viking River Cruises: The Highlights

The biggest downside to doing a river cruise solo is the dreaded single supplement fee. This is when you have to pay for two people (or at least pay extra) even if it’s just you traveling. Many travel companies assess this extra fee if you want your own room, so it’s not something exclusive to Viking or cruise lines in general. There ARE ways around this – last year, Viking offered some great rates for solo travelers on some of its more popular itineraries, and there are other river cruise lines that offer dedicated state rooms for single travelers (they just aren’t always advertised). You can also look out for 2-for-1 deals, which would essentially have you paying a normal fare.

Amanda in Red Square at night

Other than that, though, my solo cruise experience was really positive. And hopefully as river cruising becomes more and more popular, more cruise lines will get on board (pun intended) with reducing or eliminating that single supplement.

Who would enjoy a solo river cruise?

I think you would enjoy a solo river cruise if…

  • … you enjoy spending quiet time on your own.
  • … you like a little more independence when you travel.
  • … you’re outgoing enough to sit down and introduce yourself to strangers at meals.
  • … you want to go on a river cruise but don’t have anybody to go with.

Overall, I really enjoyed my solo river cruise. The Viking staff was so nice and accommodating, I loved having my own floating hotel room for 12 nights, and I met a lot of really cool people. (And, on top of that, I was in Russia! It’s pretty cool!)

RELATED: 8 Things That Surprised Me About Russia

Amanda in Sergiev Posad, Russia

So, even though I didn’t expect to be saying this, I would absolutely consider doing another solo cruise in the future!

So what do you think? Would YOU ever consider going on a cruise solo?

 

Going on a Viking River Cruise solo

 

*Note: I was a guest of Viking River Cruises on this trip to Russia, and received a complimentary cruise. As always, though, all opinions are 100% my own.

 

35 Comments

  • Brian says:

    So, while I most certainly want to do a river cruise, I don’t think I’d want to do it solo. I feel like cruising in general, is one of those things that you want to be with another person to partake in all the fun with. But, I totally understand the appeal, time to yourself, no set agenda, no pressure. All in all though, looks like it was a good trip, thanks for sharing!
    Brian recently posted..Backpacking through the High Sierra Camps | Yosemite National Park, California

    • Amanda says:

      I felt the same exact way until I actually committed to doing it solo. It was a lot more fun than I thought it would be – and I can now tell people who ask that yes, you definitely CAN do a river cruise on your own.

  • sher says:

    funny enough i just went on my first solo cruise too! i did the fathom cuba trip and they don’t have assigned dinner seating either so your comment about being the youngest person peppered with (often the same) questions made me chuckle.

    i liked it but i also wished that i had someone to go with on the shore excursions. that part got a tad lonely!

    • Amanda says:

      With Viking, the “excursions” are usually things like walking and historical tours, so I didn’t mind being on my own for those. But now if it had been a lot of activities? Then I could definitely see wanting to have someone along with me!

  • Dale says:

    oh sure you liked it. it was free. who wouldn’t? this is a commercial for Viking. those river cruises are terribly over priced. the 2 for 1 or supplement discount is when THEY want you travel not when i want to travel.
    changing hotels rooms every day or two days IS NOT the way to travel solo or otherwise. stay at least two nights no matter where you go really enjoy it. and pack lighter…

    • Amanda says:

      Appreciate the opinion, Dale, but I’m not paid to write a particular opinion on this blog. Ever. It’s not “a commercial for Viking.” I didn’t have to write this post in the first place, but wanted to share my personal experience of going on a cruise by myself. If a river cruise isn’t for you, that’s totally fine! But no need to be so negative about it, OR judge the way anyone else chooses to travel.

    • Michelle says:

      Dale,
      I went on this same cruise a month prior to Amanda but with a different company & my single supplement was waived & I travelled when I wanted to as well.
      In fact my Russian river cruise & my entire time in Russia was cheaper than my recent two week holiday to Uluru & central Australia, my home country. Sad when it’s cheaper to go to Russia on the other side of the world than your own country.

  • Mamalimai Fantaztik says:

    Your work is always inspiring.I have done some little cruising trip solo and I like it because I am free to choose what I want to do.How was your experience with the Russians since they are having some conflicts now with the USA Government after the Trump elected?Thank you and keep it up.Stay safe.

  • Rebecca says:

    If any company charges a single supplement, they have lost me as a customer, no matter what the trip. I do all my travels solo and while I would love to do a river cruise, paying more for being solo just goes against everything I believe in. Glad you had a good time, Russia is on my bucket list!

    • Amanda says:

      Unfortunately a lot of tour companies still charge that single supplement. 🙁

      • Will says:

        Thanks for the info. I have done several big ship solo cruises and was able to make friends, i
        I take the dinner anytime and sit with different people also, and even on the big ship cruises some excursion get lonely but all in all you are traveling. And YES, biggest downer is that nasty Single Supplements ☹️️

  • Anne Morgan says:

    The posts you’ve written about your river cruise so far make it seem really appealing. And travelling solo wouldn’t bother me either – I’m used to people telling me how brave I am(!) The only thing that puts me off is the dreaded single supplement. So the more posts there are like this and the more comments there are then maybe the tour companies will start taking some notice and realise what a big market they’re missing out on.
    Anne Morgan recently posted..Looking Back on 2016

    • Amanda says:

      I really hope so! I know there are certainly more companies in 2017 that offer supplement-free travel for singles than there were a few years ago, but I really hope that number keeps going up!

  • Dominique says:

    I would totally consider going on a cruise or tour by myself – I would probably even enjoy it more by myself as I can choose the activities I would like. I’ve never been on a cruise, but let’s see what the future holds.
    Dominique recently posted..Plans for 2017

  • Nicola says:

    This is an interesting post to me as I generally travel alone and have been consdiering doing a cruise for years – but like you say, they just seem like a couple thing. If I do do it, I think I’d go with Norwegian as I like that they specifically advertise their solo rooms and areas.

    Nicola // pink-confetti.co.uk

    • Amanda says:

      I haven’t done a big-ship cruise solo, but I think if you’re used to traveling that way and doing things on your own doesn’t bother you, why not?

  • I never thought about taking a cruise alone, but your post makes me re-consider it! I’d love to sign up for allllll the cool tours without having to worry about anyone else.

    • Amanda says:

      Exactly! I went on so many excursions/tours, and it was great not having to ask anyone else if they really wanted to do a 4-hour walking tour, or if they minded if we skipped out on the vodka tasting.

  • Veronica says:

    I recently returned from my first solo cruise. This was my fourth cruise overall so very nervous about doing it on my own since I’m very introvert. I had a great time. So much so that I want to cruise again solo. The fact that I had the cabin ALL to myself is wonderful. Dinners were great as I was seated at a large table and met a lot of people. The single supplement is a huge bummer though. I understand the double occupancy argument for cabin space (like a hotel room) but for cruises, the meals and entertainment are included. I don’t eat for 2 people and I don’t take 2 seats in the theater! That’s just not right.

    • Amanda says:

      Totally agree on the single supplement – it doesn’t make sense for cruise lines to charge it, especially because in most cases wouldn’t it be better to fill that room with one person rather than let it be empty? I could *maybe* understand in the case of very popular cruises that tend to sell out. But most of them are never totally at capacity.

  • Cruises have always freaked me out because I can get seasick and they just never appealed to me, but these river cruises actually sound pretty awesome! I really enjoy reading about them.

  • Julie says:

    While I don’t know if I’d ever want to do a big ship cruise alone, a river cruise solo actually seems ideal. I know they still tend to attract an older demographic (i.e. my parents who have gone on two of them 🙂 ) and I’m definitely an old person at heart with my likes and interests.

    I do love beating to my own drum when it comes to what I want to see and do in a place.
    Julie recently posted..The Best in Photos-2016

    • Amanda says:

      River cruises still do tend to draw a more mature crowd, but that doesn’t really bother me at all! Plus, the more people our age who start going on river cruises, the quicker that average age will go down!

  • Absolutely, if it weren’t for the single supplement, solo on a river cruise sounds pretty perfect to me!
    Leigh | Campfires & Concierges recently posted..Christmas Travel

  • Evelyne says:

    I’m starting to become more and more interested in going on a river cruise. The part where I can unpack once and still visit different cities on one trip is certainely appealling.

    • Amanda says:

      That’s a huge plus for me, too. It’s great to be able to see so many different cities, and yet not have to worry about the transport between them at all!

  • Jackie Rowan says:

    I am a 58 yrs old woman who would love to see a lot more of the world, so I really, really liked to read and see the pics on your solo cruise in Russia, and I think, it’s fantastic to let people know the opportunities out there. While I have never done solo travel, I know now I would definitely not feel daunted by it, and some day I will give it a go, Thanks Amanda for showing me the way.

  • Jack Hamm says:

    I’ve been dreaming of doing a solo Viking River Cruise. It seems so much more authentic than a big Caribbean cruise. You’ve inspired me to start planning.

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