Things NCL Should Change About Their Solo Cruising Program

Years ago, cruising was not a great option for solo travelers, primarily due to the fact they were usually required to pay for double occupancy. Nowadays this is called “the solo supplement.”

Then, in 2009, Norwegian Cruise Lines introduced the Studio category of cabin when they launched the Norwegian Epic. This new category of inside stateroom is available to solo travelers only. Solo travelers flocked to the product and NCL has included studios in almost all of their new ships since.

Unlike most other lines, NCL has daily HOSTED solo traveler meetings. These meetings are hosted by a member of the Cruise Director’s Staff. Having been on eight NCL cruises as a solo one thing I can say for sure is the solo experience can be made or broken by the Solo Host. Here are some ideas that I think would help the Solo Host give NCL’s solo travelers an even better experience:

First thing to mention is as the Solo Host is part of the Cruise Director’s Staff, the Cruise Director (CD) and/or Assistant Cruise Director (ACD) makes the schedule as to who will be the Solo Host for that cruise AND their schedule for all their other Cruise Director Staff work.

  1. NCL needs to adopt a policy directing the CD/ACD to NEVER assign a person as Solo Host until it is at least their third or fourth cruise as a member of the CD Staff. I had a cruise last year where the Solo Host was on her FIRST cruise of her FIRST contract with NCL! Yea, it didn’t go so well.
  2. The Solo Hosts need to be trained (see #1) to never ever say the word “Singles.” There are many solo cruisers who are not “single” when it comes to their relationship status AND there are a LOT of solo cruisers who are not interested in any sort of hook-up. Sure, there are those of us (notice I said US) who are interested, but don’t worry; we’ll find each-other.
  3. As it is now, it seems that the Solo Host has NO idea how many people might show-up. I was on the transatlantic of the NCL Getaway in June of 2022. Even though there were only 780 passengers on the whole ship (really) about 100 people showed-up to the solo meeting. That poor kid looked like a deer in headlights. To his credit though, he called for help and the ACD came and helped.  This problem could be somewhat curtailed by NCL doing a simple query of their data for each cruise:  “Show me how many records there are where the number of people on the reservation equals one.” Sure, not all those people are going come but they might if…
  4. Armed with the data from #3 the Solo Host should send a letter to each cabin on embarkation days that says “Hi I’m ____ and I will be the Solo Host for this cruise! Please join us at (place/time) this evening and each evening” or something like that.  Why?  There are solo travelers who don’t notice the solo meeting in the Freestyle Daily. It will also make the solo meetup a friendly and welcoming place for new solo travelers who might be anxious about joining.
  5. Never “swap-out” the Solo Host. I was on a cruise where on about day four a different cruise staffer showed-up. She said “oh he was needed to host some game show” Um… why couldn’t you host it and let us have our regular guy?
  6. The solo host needs to arrange for the solo travelers to have dinner together on night one at the mina dining room… and the maître d’ needs to accommodate them.
  7. By the cruise ends the solo travelers have usually established a relationship with the Solo Host. As a matter of policy NCL needs to direct the CD/ACD’s to allow enough time on the last evening of the cruise for the Solo Host to have dinner with the solo travelers.
  8. The Solo Meetup should be at 6pm fleet-wide; not 6pm on some ships and 5pm on others.

Please don’t get me wrong: I love the NCL Solo Community and it’s the main reason I keep cruising NCL. There are just a couple “polish” things they could do to make it better.

Until We Meet Again, May You Avoid the Kraken and Have Fairs Winds and Following Seas.

Eric Cable

May 9, 2023

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