The Best Adventure Cruises for Solo Travelers

Penguins at Tierra del Fuego, Patagonia
Photo: Courtesy of Original Travel

I have two vacation interests that are constantly at war with each other: The need to adventure, and the genuine desire to explore on my own. As a frequent solo traveler, I've learned one crucial truth about other traveling parties-of-one. People who travel alone are solo travelers by choice rather than by necessity. Solo travel isn't just a default setting because you're single, nor is it a pursuit chased solely by digital nomads or lifelong wanderers. Solo travel is for those who have endless travel goals and are hungry for exposure to new places, new cultures, new everything. They say not all who wander are lost, and similarly, I think not all who travel alone are lonely. Some of us have loftier travel goals than our significant others, and that's OK. Others only have vacation days at specific times of year and don't want to wait for a travel partner to go exploring. And yes, some solo travelers are single and don't want to wait for a meaningful relationship before booking a plane ticket. One thing is certain: Solo travelers are not waiting for the perfect travel companion or the perfect jet-setting moment. We are choosing our destinations based solely on where we want to go, and then booking without waiting for anyone else's approval. Every year, I set a travel goal, and often I end up fulfilling that goal on my own, simply because my chosen travel partner (whether that's my significant other or an immediate family member) doesn't share that goal, or our timing doesn't align. This year, my travel goal is to make it to a new continent, and I have my sights set on Africa — specifically, Egypt. I'm opting for a cruise on the S.S. Sudan through Egypt with Original Travel for one obvious reason: On a cruise, all the logistics are taken care of for you. And when I'm traveling alone, that's a huge perk, because planning a far-flung international itinerary solo is a monstrous undertaking. This way, I'll get to set sail on the Nile, see the Red Sea, visit the Pyramids of Giza — but Original Travel takes care of getting us from point A to point B to point C. It satisfies my craving for adventure, but also gives me a safety net of a planned itinerary and a tour group. If you're scouting an adventure cruise for one this year, here are 10 great options.

01 of 10

Crystal Symphony’s Alaskan Discovery Cruise

Crystal Symphony at the Hubbard Glacier in Alaska
Courtesy of Crystal Cruises

Leaving from Vancouver, British Columbia, this round-trip Crystal Cruises exploration brings you to Juneau, Skagway, and Ketchikan, Alaska. For seven days, you’ll take in the Alaskan wilderness, and Crystal Destination Discoveries can facilitate adventures like alpine lake canoeing and heli-hiking in Skagway, and glacier-view sea kayaking in Juneau.

The solo adventure you can’t miss: A glacier point wilderness safari in Skagway. You’ll take a catamaran to a 31-foot canoe for an exploration of the Davidson Glacier, all while scouting whales, seals, fjords, and waterfalls.

02 of 10

Original Travel’s Ply the Nile and Dive the Red Sea Cruise

Cruising the Nile with Original Travel
Courtesy of Original Travel

This 12-day cruise starts in Cairo, touring one of the seven wonders of the world: The pyramids of Giza. Cruisers then take a one-hour flight to Aswan, where Original Travel participants then board the S.S. Sudan on the Nile. While cruising down the Nile, you’ll visit 2,000-year-old temples in Luxor and the Valley of Kings, famed burial ground of Tutankhamen.

The solo adventure you can’t miss: Diving the Red Sea. On the last two days of the cruise, Original Travel arranges for travelers to explore the depths of the Red Sea, scouting turtles, barracudas, and even dolphins.

03 of 10

Backroads’ Venice to Croatia Ocean Cruise Bike Tour

Cycling in Konvale, Croatia
Nino Marcutti/Alamy

For the solo traveler looking to see more of Europe, a multi-country itinerary like Backroads’ Venice to Croatia tour is a perfect fit. After ambling along the Venice canals, you’ll sail to Croatia and spend the day biking through the medieval town of Korčula and the Lumbarda wine region. Later in the trip, you’ll head to Montenegro where you can hike the scenic Vrmac ridge along the Bay of Kotor.

The solo adventure you can’t miss: Biking through Croatia’s Konavle region along the coast of the Adriatic Sea.

04 of 10

Regent Seven Seas Cruises "Way of Emperors" Shanghai to Tokyo Cruise

Ferry on the canal in Kyoto during cherry blossom season
Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images

Starting your 18-night “Way of the Emperors” voyage in Shanghai, you’ll venture along the East China Sea to Beijing before sailing the Yellow Sea to South Korea. The S. S. Mariner will take you to Jeju, South Korea’s “Island of the Gods,” Hiroshima, where travelers can explore the Peace Memorial Park, and Kyoto, home to Nara Park and the Kasuga Grand Shrine.

The solo adventure you can’t miss: Climbing to the summit of Mt. Sakurajima, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, during your Kagoshima stop.

05 of 10

REI Adventures’ Discover Sri Lanka—Temples, Tea Trails, and Safaris Cruise

Hiking in Sri Lanka with REI Adventures
Courtesy of REI Adventures

This 12-day exploration of Sri Lanka will bring you up-close and personal with wildlife and provides plenty of hiking and cycling opportunities through the Sri Lankan countryside. Of the many hiking sights, you’ll trek Campbell’s Lane Forest Reserve, Dumbara Valley, and Gal Oya National Park. You can also visit with elephants at Gal Oya Lake, and take a cooking class with the locals in Kandy town.

The solo adventure you can’t miss: Going on safari in Yala National Park, where travelers will track leopards and stay overnight in a safari lodge within the park.

06 of 10

Royal Caribbean Spice Route Cruise

Royal Caribbean cruise ship in Singapore
Courtesy of Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean’s Spice Route Cruise provides a tour of the Middle East before taking you to Asian destinations like India and Singapore. You’ll likely want to plan for an extra day or two in Dubai before setting sail and heading toward Oman. There are two stops in India, including one in the independent state of Kerala, and a respite in Penang, Malaysia, before arriving in Singapore on day 14.

The solo adventure you can’t miss: Jet-skiing in Malaysia. When you dock in Penang, visit Batu Ferringhi Beach for a day of relaxing in the sand and a jet-ski lesson.

07 of 10

Crystal Cruises Jewels of the Indian Ocean

Crystal Serenity ship at sea
Courtesy of Crystal Cruises

If, like me, you’re trying to make it to every continent by 30, Crystal Cruises voyage from Australia to Cape Town can help you cross two continents off your list. Departing from the west coast of Australia on the Crystal Serenity, you’ll visit Mauritius and Madagascar as you cross the Indian Ocean en route to South Africa.

The solo adventure you can’t miss: Going on safari in Richards Bay, South Africa. You’ll scout wildlife and stay overnight at Thanda Private Game Reserve.

08 of 10

Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line’s Cruise and Stay Excursions

Cruise and Stay in the Bahamas with Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line
Courtesy of Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line

Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line is going out of their way to welcome solo travelers by waiving single-supplement fees altogether. Instead of charging a solo cruiser a double occupancy rate, Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line has oceanview rooms for one and hosts a welcome reception specifically for solo travelers on their cruises. Their cruise and stay trips will take you from Palm Beach, Florida to Grand Bahama Island, where you’ll stay for either two or four nights before returning to Florida.

The solo adventure you can’t miss: The Inland Blue Hole snorkel adventure, which includes snorkeling Owl’s Hole and hiking Lucayan National Park.

09 of 10

Original Travel’s Antarctica in a Nutshell Cruise

Penguins at Tierra del Fuego, Patagonia
Courtesy of Original Travel

This is another cruise for those looking to hit multiple continents in one solo adventure. After two days exploring Buenos Aires, you’ll fly to the southernmost city on the planet: Ushuaia. You’ll then set sail on Original Travel’s Antarctic cruise, passed Tierra del Fuego along the Drake Passage before four days of exploring the South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula. These Antarctic exploration days are all about capitalizing on the long stretches of daylight while taking in glaciers and penguin colonies.

The solo adventure you can’t miss: Camping on the ice for a night in Antarctica. Original Travel takes care of the camping logistics for you, saying “Wrapped up warm against the elements you will have the chance to build a snowman under the midnight sun and snap away taking photos in the fabled 'golden hour' light that lasts all night long.”

10 of 10

Celebrity Cruises’ Galapagos Outer Loop and Machu Picchu

Sea turtle swimming off Floreana Island in the Galapagos
Norbert Probst/Getty Images

Machu Picchu is a bucket-list trip for so many adventure travelers, and you don’t need to wait for a travel entourage to make it happen. The best part is with this Celebrity Cruises itinerary, you’ll explore Quito, Ecuador and the Galapagos Outer Loop on your way to Peru. The Galapagos are a treasure trove of adventure: You’ll visit Fernandina Island, with its black lava rocks and iguanas, Floreana Island with sea turtle nests, and Isabela Island, where you may see flamingos. This is all before your four days spent exploring Lima, the Sacred Valley, and Machu Picchu.

The solo adventure you can’t miss: Snorkeling “Champion Island” while docked at Floreana. It will be one of your best chances to swim with sea turtles.

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