River Cruising for Solo Travelers

When it comes to travel, I prefer small over large.

Small hotels. Small pubs. Small groups. Small ships.

Small keeps me closer to the ground. The experience is more intimate. Access to the local culture more direct.

River cruises meet my “small” criteria. With 150 passengers on average, they are small, but not too small.

I’m pleased to say that Premier River Cruises is dedicated to providing cruises and support specifically for solo travelers. They are sponsoring our blog in February, March and April. I caught up with Rick Kaplan, president of Premier River Cruises to chat about why a river cruise is great for solo travelers and what about the single supplement. I wanted to understand the benefits of river cruising and, while it was not on my radar before, it definitely is now. Yes, I’m still committed to independent travel  but read on to see how river cruising supports this.

Why a River Cruise?

River cruises manage the logistics of moving from one city to another for you without you ever having to repack a bag. River cruise ships are known to have the amenities of mega-liners but the intimacy of a boutique hotel. In size, they max out at 443 feet, or about 1 1/2 football fields. This is so that they can get through the lock systems of the rivers – events in themselves.

A key benefit, in my mind, is that they dock in safe areas in the center of town. With fewer people on board and landing in the center of things, river cruising is for the traveler who wants to experience the a destination in depth which they can do independently or in one of the many free shore excursions that are led by English speaking locals guides. In addition, river cruises offer:


  • daily entertainment including local cultural shows
  • intimate dining venues featuring regional fresh cuisine prepared fresh daily by European trained chefs. (I can imagine the difference in quality when the kitchen is cooking for 150 rather than 4000.)
  • complimentary fine wines and beers of the region
  • Well appointed cabins that are larger than those of ocean liners and, note, they are all outside cabins.
  • workout facilities
  • large public lounges.

In addition, Premier River Cruises publish their Compass Point guide series that is written by staff and give you the information you need from the time you book to the time you return home. Everything you want to know is covered from where to go and where not to go, unusual restaurants to try, safety and, always a favorite of mine, packing light.

Why a River Cruise for Solo Travelers?

About 8% of those on board a river cruise are traveling solo. So, working with averages, of 150 passengers, 12 are traveling alone. I traveled on the Navimag ferry in Patagonia last year and I can confirm that this ratio is perfect.

With the small number of passengers, the crew gets to know everyone within about 24 hours. They are particularly focused on knowing the solo travelers and looking out for them whether its ensuring that they are happy with their dinner arrangements (solo, with another person or at a large table) or making sure that he or she has returned safely on board after an excursion.

Again, thanks to the size, passengers tend to recognize the solo travelers and watch out for them as well. I have often been adopted by traveling couples and, according to Rick, this is what happens aboard a river cruise. For the solo traveler, river cruises offer:

  • the support of a crew that gets to know you quickly.
  • safety thanks to the knowledge of the crew, free group shore excursions, crew and passengers watching out for you.
  • a naturally social environment.
  • dinner companions if that’s your preference.
  • the freedom to explore on your own if that’s  what you’d prefer.

What about the Single Supplement?

Recognizing the importance of the solo travel market, Premier River Cruises has a number of informative articles about the solo travel and river cruising on their site. There’s even a page dedicated to trips for solo travelers that waive the single supplement. They don’t match you with a companion to waive the supplement, they simply waive it. They also make a point of the fact that they don’t sell “singles’ cruises”. I like that. I’m interested in travel not hooking up on vacation. Premier River Cruises go to a variety of destinations including Europe, Russia, China and Southeast Asia.

Thanks to Rick Kaplan and Premier River Cruises for supporting solo travelers and for sponsoring our blog.


  • http://GreenGlobalTravel.com/ Green Global Travel

    Never considered a river cruise before, but they look like they’re well worth looking into. Sounds like they might be more environmentally economical as well! Interesting post!

  • Lorraine

    I have been traveling solo for several years & prefer it. I have requested room sharing 3 times but all 3 were disasters, so I don’t want to share a room with a stranger again.

    I would love to take a river cruise of eastern Europe/Russia but I had a mild stroke in November & I’m concerned it might happen again, especially during the night when I am alone. I am in good health otherwsie & have not had a recurrence, but….

    I always have travel medical insurance & always have an emergency contact list in my wallet, but how can one prepare for a medical emergency when alone & in foreign countries? Do river cruise ships typically have a medical staff/clinic? Do cabins usually have telephones? emergency call buttons?

    I have ordered a couple personal alarms, one for my key chain & another to put next to me bed, but is there anything else I can do/get before I go?

    My other concern is making arrangements to get home should I end up in hospital?

    Thanks for you advice…

  • Dobrien58

    I took a river cruise 2 years ago and it was the best solo travel experience I have had- and I have had several. The advantages you mentioned- being familiar with everyone quickly, feeling safe etc- were certainly true. The river as a travel venue far exceeds the MUCH larger bodies of water, allowing an intimate view of the countryside. THe small group meant excellent food and service. Of approx 130 people on board, I had interesting conversations with about 120 or so. I made it a point to sit at the largest dinner table, and it became the social center of the dining room. Docking in the heart of cities and villages made solo excursions off the ship very easy. For anyone who worries about seasickness, the movement of the boat was imperceptible. The accomadations were spacious for a solo and there isn’t a huge difference in the lowest to the highest class- except price, of course. I will definitely do this again, perhaps even in destinations that I probably would not normally consider going solo- anyone sailed the Nile ?  

  • Rickkaplan

    Hi Patty,
    Glad you enjoyed the article.  There’s many other articles specifically written to assist solo travelers on the Premier Website.  We look forward to working with you to plan that “perfect” solo vacation.
    Rick Kaplan

  • http://solotravelerblog.com Janice Waugh

    Yes, it takes time but people eventually get to understand the benefits of going solo. :)

  • http://solotravelerblog.com Janice Waugh

    Make sure you check out the Deals page http://solotravelerblog.com/solo-travel-deals/ as they have a special on if you use a code.

  • http://solotravelerblog.com Janice Waugh

    Thanks for sharing your experience. It really helps other readers.

  • http://solotravelerblog.com Janice Waugh

    I’m glad it helped. I haven’t yet gone on a river cruise but hope to this spring. It was great interviewing Rick for this article.

  • http://solotravelerblog.com Janice Waugh

    That sounds very cool.

  • Patty

    I have been thinking of river cruising for awhile but had some reservations. I have traveled on large cruise ships with others and was concerned how I would feel solo on a smaller ship but this article really helps. Thanks!

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  • Scott

    One of the true and great experiences of my life was spending a month in my own boat (27 feet) on the canals and rivers south of Paris.

  • Bree28

    I have done 2 river cruises solo and I highly recommend them.  I have always found my fellow passengers to be inclusive of solo travelers.  Since it is a smaller group, you really get to know others easily.  I could explore on my own or with others if I wished.  I always enjoyed meeting up with others at dinner to discuss what we had done that day.  Sometimes river levels can impact the itinerary, but all in all it is a great way to travel.

  • Paperclips_ca

    the timing of the article is right for me ……… i’m thinking of riverboating in France ……so I shall see

  • Leelaurino

    brava,  i have taken trans atlantic crossing the past 3 years and found them wonderful.  yes there is the “ARK” effect where everyone is paired up but you can work around it.
    and after a very long crossing, people were telling me they wish they could do whatever they wanted,  as the second half was calling,  where are we going now…