Ten years ago, studio cabins on cruise ships were virtually unheard of. Those looking to cruise alone had two options: find a traveling companion, or pay the dreaded “single supplement”, a fee that essentially doubles the average cruise fare. Nowadays, frugal solo travelers are delighted to learn small but economical staterooms are one of the fastest-growing trends in the cruise industry, with nearly all of the major cruise lines designing new ships (or refurbishing old ones) with studio cabins in mind.
Cruise ship studio cabins are best for...
Solo travelers who are 1) on a tight budget, and 2) don’t need a lot of space. Many new sailors don’t realize that cruise ship cabins aren’t priced like hotels: Cruise fares are per person, not per room. Families and larger groups won’t pay as much for the third or fourth person in a double-occupancy cabin, but the first two guests will be paying full price. Solo cruisers essentially pay for both passengers in a standard cabin. Technically, more than one person can book a studio, but since fares are per person (and the studio fare is higher than a standard cabin fare) it’s actually cheaper to book a standard stateroom.
Tip: Strangely enough, studio cabins are not
How big are studio cabins on cruise ships?
Much like regular staterooms, the size of studio cabins varies widely. With that said, the studios on most lines can make a New York City micro apartment look spacious. Sizes can be as small as 100 square feet — for comparison, oceanview and balcony cabins on mainstream cruise lines are typically at least 150 to 200 square feet.
How many studio cabins are on an average cruise ship?
While they are gaining popularity, studio cabins are still very limited. Norwegian Epic and Escape stand out from the crowd with 128 and 82 studios, but most ships will only have between 10 and 30 (if they have them at all), with select river vessels only offering one or two per ship. With this in mind, it’s best for solo travelers to book extremely early.
Which cruise lines have the best studio cabins?
Every line approaches studio cabins in a slightly different manner. Solo staterooms are by far the most common on mainstream lines (Norwegian and Royal Caribbean), but other premium and river lines are catching on to the trend as well. Here’s the breakdown by line:
1. Norwegian Cruise Line
Photo by Norwegian Cruise Line
Ships: Norwegian Epic, Norwegian Escape, Norwegian Breakaway, Norwegian Getaway, Pride of America, and the upcoming Norwegian Bliss
Features: Norwegian pioneered the studio cabin concept in 2010 aboard Norwegian Epic, and still has the most studio cabins of any major cruise line. These stylish personal staterooms come with flat screen TVs and full-sized beds, but the biggest draw is that all of Norwegian’s studios are clustered together into a private Studio Complex, complete with a social lounge and TV area where solo travelers can meet and mingle.
Size: 100 square feet
2. Royal Caribbean
Photo by Royal Caribbean
Ships: Brilliance of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas, Quantum of the Seas, Ovation of the Seas, and Harmony of the Seas
Features: Quantum-class ships have two studio cabin categories: balcony and interior.. Studio interior staterooms come with a unique innovation: a 80-inch floor-to-ceiling LED screen that displays images of the ocean and ports to make the room feel a little less cramped. And for those who prefer the real thing (and are willing to pay extra), Royal was the first line to roll out balcony studio cabins, each coming with a private 55-square foot balcony (except on Harmony of the Seas). Royal’s cabins aren’t clustered together like Norwegian’s, but some studios can be connected to adjoining full-sized staterooms, perfect for large groups that need an extra bed.
Beds: European-size double
Size: 101-119 square feet
3. Holland America Line
Photo by Holland America
Ships: Koningsdam and Prinsendam
Features: Koningsdam’s studio cabins are all ocean view. Prisendam’s three studio cabins are actually the same size as a standard stateroom, but have only one twin bed and a shower (no bathtub).
Size: 127 to 205 square feet
Photo by Cunard
Ships: Queen Elizabeth, Queen Victoria, and Queen Mary 2
Features: Cunard has some of the largest studio cabins at sea. Nearly all of them are ocean view, and each comes with plenty of storage space and a wardrobe.
Beds: Just under full-size
Size: 152 to 243 square feet
5. P&O Cruises
Photo by P&O Cruises
Ships: Azura, Arcadia, Aurora, Britannia, Oriana, and Ventura
Features: P&O has invested heavily into studio cabins, with five of it six ships featuring solo staterooms. Design varies heavily by ship, but all cabins are either interior or balcony.
Beds: Oversized single
Size: 118 to 206 square feet
Photo by AmaWaterways
Ships: AmaVerde, AmaBella, AmaLyra, AmaDolce, AmaDante and AmaCello
Features: There are only a handful of studio cabins on Ama vessels, but each is nearly comparable in size to the line’s standard cabins. All of their studio cabins have balconies.
Size: 140 square feet
7. Viking River Cruises
Ships: Viking Prestige and Viking Legend
Features: Every Viking studio cabin comes with floor-to-ceiling glass doors leading to a private balcony, and are only slightly smaller than an average double-occupancy stateroom.
Beds: Full-sized sofa bed
Size: 150 square feet
8. Costa Cruises
Ships: Costa Diadema, Costa Fascinosa, Costa Favolosa, Costa Pacifica, Costa Serena, Costa Magica, Costa Fortuna, Costa neoRomantica, and Costa neoClassica
Features: Costa’s studio cabins come in both inside and oceanview varieties.
Size: 102 to 199 square feet