|by JD Rinne||Cruises, Innovations||11|
The Epic launches this July and will be sailing seven-night itineraries out of Miami, with stops in the Caribbean (Nassau, in the Bahamas, and St. Maarten are just two of the numerous stops).
The studios start at $799 and are built for just one person. Instead of solo travelers having to pay a single supplement (sometimes up to 200 percent of the cruise cost) to stay in a regular cabin, they can book a studio and pay the going rate—no single supplement required.
Standard inside cabins on the Epic are going for $649 per person (that's $1,298 total for double occupancy). If we assumed that a solo traveler would pay a 200 percent single supplement for a standard cabin, that solo traveler would be out $1,298. For almost $500 less than what a standard cabin would cost a solo traveler, he or she gets a studio. Granted, the studio suites are smaller than regular inside cabins (they are about 100 square feet, compared to 128 square feet for regular cabins), but solo cruisers do get access to the exclusive Studio Lounge, a public area for meet-ups and general hanging out, and most of the studios are able to be connected—ideal for a few un-coupled cruisers who might be traveling together and don't want to share a room.
Cruise lines will sometimes waive single supplements for a special promotion. But often, single travelers get hit with surcharges and extra fees. The studio rooms on Norwegian's ship are a rarity.
In a Reuters article, Margie Jordan, spokesperson for the American Society of Travel Agents, said "The tour industry is making way for the single traveler. This is nothing that's going to go away. The single traveler is going to have as many opportunities as anyone else."
The 128 studios are about 100 square feet each (smaller than a standard cabin), with a full-size bed and separate bathroom. Travelers booking the studios will also have access to the private Studio Lounge. The studios are available for booking; I spotted some available at the $799 rate on Norwegian's website.
The Epic will hold 4,200 passengers and will feature entertainment like the Blue Man Group (its first time at sea), Second City improv comedy, and a dueling piano show.