Norwegian Epic's studio cabins seriously go after single cruisers
The studio stateroom is designed for single travelers aboard the new Norwegian Epic slated for debut in summer 2010 out of the Port of Miami. (NORWEGIAN)
Those studios are unlike anything else in the major-line cruise inventory. At 100 square feet they're smaller than even the typical river cruise cabins. In fact, they're about the same size as the rooms in Formule 1 and other low-end French motel chains, although each does have a separate shower, sink, and toilet. Cabins provide a full-size bed, flat-screen TV, and small desk. All studios are inside, and some have connecting doors to others. For more personal space, studio occupants have access to a dedicated two-story "studio lounge" where you can mingle with other singles or get a cup of morning coffee or an evening drink.
Pricing seems attractive to solo travelers. For summer seven-day cruises, studio cabins generally go for $150 to $200 more than the least expensive per-person rate for an inside cabin. Where the inside cabins start at $649 per person, the studios start at $799; when the inside cabins start at $799 per person, the studios start at $999. Those prices are the equivalent of a single supplement of 23 percent to 25 percent, a better deal than the 50 percent to 100 percent supplement most mass market cruise lines charge for single occupancy of a double cabin. Norwegian's studio cabins represent the best offering I've seen for travelers who really want to cruise solo.
Of course, you have alternatives.
-- Some other big-ship cruise line ships have at least a few cabins designed for single occupancy. Check with any of the big online cruise agencies for possibilities.
-- Carnival has a reputation for low single supplements. Several postings on the Website Cruise Critic (www.cruisecritic.com) report promotional single supplements that are often very low. And the high-end cruise lines generally charge small supplements -- or even none -- although even the no-supplement rates on these ships are far higher than you'd have to pay on a mass-market line. And some small-ship "niche" cruise line ships have single cabins.
-- If you're willing to share, many cruise lines or cruise agencies will match you with another single of the same sex, so you pay only the per-person rate. A few actually "guarantee" a match: If they can't find a match, you still get the per-person rate. Or if you prefer, you can arrange your own match through one of several travel-matching organizations. But many singles I know really don't want to share cabin accommodation with anyone, and the studio cabins represent an attractive option.
-- If you're willing to gamble on finding what you want, you can also wait until a month or so before you want to leave to check last-minute deals. I've often seen "no single supplement" or "reduced single supplement" deals on last-minute promotions. And I sometimes see per-person rates cut so much that even with a 50 percent supplement, single occupancy is a great deal.
Despite these options, many solo travelers will welcome Norwegian's new approach. If you're interested, contact Norwegian (www.ncl.com) or one of the big online agencies.
Send e-mail to Ed Perkins at firstname.lastname@example.org. Perkins' new book for small business and independent professionals, "Business Travel When It's Your Money," is now available through www.mybusinesstravel.com or www.amazon.com