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

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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.

Autumn in St. Petersburg

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.

 

"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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

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  1. How does one find out about single cruises on Viking? I have cruised solo to Alaska on Celebrity before and it was fine.

      You just need to keep an eye on their website/sign up to get info about their deals. They don’t run the special solo fares all the time (for example, right now they don’t seem to be offering any), so I would say just keep an eye out for those solo fares.

    I have booked a solo river cruise. Any comments on others experiences would be appreciated

    I haven’t travelled solo with Viking yet will be looking to travel next year.

    My past two cruises with Viking (Ocean) had been solo since my usual travel companion (my mom) passed. At first I thought it wouldn’t be fun without her but as you have noted, once the other passengers realize you’re dining alone, they engage you in conversation and even “adopt” you for a while especially if they see you often around meal times or excursions. And when you’ve had enough group time, you can go “escape” to the room you have all to yourself (perk – no waiting for turn – hahaha). Just wished that there were more offers of single-supplement reduction. I’m going to try and see if the “last-minute” deals with Viking have them next year. They were offering some for the places I wanted but just not the year I’d like to go (next instead of this year). Anyway, glad to read your post. Maybe someday I’d be on the same boat (cruise line and all) and we can both chat it up. 🙂

      I hope more cruise lines start offering some single supplement-waived cabins on every cruise!

        Thank you, Amanda, for this message and for the tips. I have always wanted to do a European River Cruise and have wondered if I’d enjoy it on my own. I have both an extroverted and introverted side. I enjoy breaks to myself, naps, reading, a tea break and balance it with getting to know others and having great conversation. I like a more historical/educational approach and as public broadcasting fan, their ads are frequent and thus Viking stands out. And I completely enjoy the retired crowd, prefer it over 20 somethings who want to party. Thank you for providing a great platform for others to share their experiences so I can go forward more informed beyond what I can research on my own. The personal experiences give a more real sense I appreciate. Though I expect these small cruises to be primarily retired couples, I am glad to know there are likely to be other solo travelers, especially for those going ashore and extra excursion opportunities. If ever a group of singles decides to organize and write a river cruise company, requesting more equity for single travelers, I’d love to help out and advocate. We are a growing part of the population and have an impact in the travel industry.

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