Skip to main content

I took my first solo on MSC Cruises. After 4 nights, here are the pros and cons of cruising alone


Have you ever considered solo cruising? I had the opportunity to take my first solo cruise on MSC Divina, and the experience surprised me. So what is it like to cruise all by yourself? Fun? Lonely? Scary? Maybe a little bit of everything! 

I have cruised a number of times with my family and traveled a little on my own, but this was a new experience, and I was not sure how I would fare on my own, especially in the bustling port of Nassau. 

As it turns out, cruising on your own does have both pros and cons, but it is something I would definitely do again. It is a fantastic adventure for those willing to step outside of their comfort zone. 

Here is how my cruise went, as well as the top pros and cons solo cruisers need to know. 

Itinerary and cost 

Bahamas Seascape

For my inaugural solo cruise, I booked a 4-night cruise on MSC Divina. The extended weekend cruise included a stop in Nassau, as well as two days at Ocean Cay. A limited itinerary, but I was particularly excited to spend a night docked at the cruiseline’s private island in the Bahamas, which is one of my favorite port stops. 

Read more: 30 top tips and tricks for MSC Ocean Cay

One of the biggest reasons I booked this cruise was the price. Solo cruising can be expensive, but my travel agent found an incredible deal that came to a total of $371.26, plus $100 in taxes. 

This cruise was a quick add-on to another trip, so I did not do too much research. I figured it was worth the gamble at such a low price and short cruise. If you're not sure about cruising on your own, a weekend cruise can be a good way to go. MSC Cruises advertises some fantastic prices, which definitely caught my attention, and this deal was simply too good to give up. 

MSC Divina 

Divina Ocean Cay

One of the reasons for such a great cruise price is that MSC Divina is slightly older, having launched in 2012. For solo cruisers looking for a deal, an older ship can be a great value, especially if you don’t care if it has the newest of everything. 

The ship is a pretty good size, having a capacity for size 4,345 passengers, and we were pretty close to that on our sailing. 

MSC Divina is large enough to provide traditional cruise ship amenities such as pools, shows, casinos, lounges, entertainment, dining, and more. I was excited to see what the ship would be like in person. 

Pre-cruise transportation 


Since I was traveling a good distance for my cruise, with 2 flights connecting through the very busy Toronto airport, I flew in a day in advance. As delays tend to accumulate throughout the day, I like an earlier flight, which landed on a warm afternoon in Miami.

One of the things I strive for, especially when journeying on my own, is to be able to easily manage my luggage without help. For this trip, I had a medium-sized suitcase (since I was staying in Florida after the cruise) and a good travel knapsack that I could slide over the handle. I also love the ease of this on disembarkation day, as I can easily roll my own bags off instead of putting them out the night before. 

Read more: 20 cruise ship disembarkation day mistakes to avoid

I definitely do not like random taxis in the best of circumstances, but even less when solo. There is always that fear of being scammed, taking a ridiculously long route, or having cars that look like they are on their last leg. 

Ride-share services are a fantastic alternative, and I have both Lyft and Uber apps for ease. This has generally worked well, although at first I was overwhelmed with the number of location pick-up options in the vast Miami airport, but I quickly got the hang of it. 

Hotel in Miami 

Miami Hampton Inn

Since I was arriving at a good time day in Miami, I booked a hotel in the mid-beach area, so I could easily walk to a restaurant for dinner. Miami, especially South Beach, is a major tourist hot spot, and I wanted to take advantage of the city and enjoy some sights. 

Just staying slightly north at the Hampton Inn Miami Beach provided me with great flexibility for food, and it is a convenient area to get a Lyft or Uber for a ride to the port. It is also one block from the famed Miami Beach.  

I loved the location (versus the cost of staying further south) and felt safe in the hotel. The staff were helpful, and a nice bonus, they are part of the Hilton Honours loyalty program, which I am already a member of. 

Boarding day 


After enjoying some great food and the beach in Miami, I was very excited to embark. The Miami cruise port is a fairly busy spot, and I always like to leave plenty of time to get there. MSC does not allow you to pick your check-in time, as with some other cruise lines. I was allocated 12:30. Traffic in Miami is unpredictable, and luckily this time, it was an uneventful ride, but I arrived early, about 25 minutes before my check-in time.

This proved to be no problem at all, and there were tons of agents checking people in. The process was simple and fast, and within 10 minutes, I was on the ship. One of the unusual things about MSC is that you need to print out your boarding pass; you can’t just show your phone, so you will want to plan ahead. If you don't think you will be able to print it out at your hotel, make sure you do so before leaving home! 

Read more: 12 things I loved and hated about my first MSC cruise 

There was also a quick health questionnaire to be completed-- a few standard questions about feeling well, etc. I also printed this out ahead of time, although I heard some passengers were getting the forms at the port. 

Initial impressions

Divina atrium

Once onboard, I headed to the atrium area, which is a hub of activity and full of light and classic Italian décor. Swarovski-laden staircases are a signature detail on MSC Cruises, and they make a perfect backdrop for pictures. 

While wandering around, I stumbled upon a secondary internet desk (with no one in line) where a nice crew member was able to connect me within a minute. MSC’s internet setup process is a little different than other cruises I have taken, so it was nice to have someone walk me through the process. 

An important point about MSC wi-fi is that it is only for one device. Unlike other cruise ships, you cannot sign in and out on another device, like a laptop. So choose wisely-- your first choice is the one you have to live with. Also, some of the older MSC ships do not support the MSC for ME, the cruiseline’s app. 

My cabin 

Divina interior cabin

For this journey, I was booked in an interior cabin on deck 12, which turned out to be quite quiet, and although being farther back on the ship, I did feel the rocky weather more than I was accustomed to on previous ships. 

The stateroom was a little dated with orange carpet but had a decent amount of space, with a queen bed, sitting area, desk, and lots of drawers and closet space. The area flowed well, and cruising solo, it was definitely enough room for me. It was immaculate, always a good sign for me. This attention to cleanliness continued throughout my cruise, and my friendly room attendant came twice a day.

Divina cabin

In general, I have found that MSC cabins have plenty of storage. The cabinetry looked newer than the décor, and I had tons of drawers and shelves. My suitcase fit under my bed, providing extra space in the cabin. The small desk was useable, and I also had a chair and table where I could sit and watch tv. The compact bathroom was a very bright white with a good amount of storage. Bath products included shampoo and shower gel but no conditioner.

Meeting other solo cruisers  


Somewhat surprising to me was that dinner became a major meet-up activity for my first solo adventure. Although I guess I should not be surprised, as food is a great way to bring people together. 

I was lucky enough to get an early dinner seating in the main dining room, and I was seated at a large table right by the window. Three other guests (also cruising solo) joined me, which turned out to be a fun group.  

The first night, service was a bit slow, so I was very happy to have some tablemates to chat with and get to know. My first meal onboard, an Indian bean dish with roti, was fantastic, and I was pleased to have such great company. We had dinner together every night, often going to shows and other activities in the evening. 

Other solo activities 

MSC Daily

As with many cruise ships, there are designated solo activities and casual meet-ups in bars. However, I ended up doing lots of activities with my table mates from dinner and never made it to one of the formal get-togethers.

Trivia, shows, listening to live music, and spa treatments are all great activities that can be enjoyed as a solo cruiser. It was quite nice to be able to do whatever I wanted to do when I wanted to without having to worry about other members in my travel group. 

MSC Divina does not support the MSC for Me app, so guests receive a Daily Program with a schedule of activities and other relevant information. Although sometimes I missed the convenience of checking activities and schedules on my phone, it was fine. This also means that you cannot communicate with other passengers onboard unless you have internet/cell access. 

Nassau on my own 


Nassau is not a favorite port of call for many cruisers. I was fortunate to visit there often as a child with my grandparents and have fond memories of the island. The Bahamian people can be very warm and friendly, and they are famous for a number of their seafood dishes. 

Some vendors can be a little pushy. Maybe that's being too polite, but no worse than some other places I have visited. I planned out some options of places I wanted to visit in town and the best way to get there on foot. Based on my other travels, I never want to stop and look like I don’t know where I am going, so I try to walk as confidently as possible and keep an eye on major streets and landmarks.  

I browsed the main areas of downtown Nassau, unbothered by people, although I think the stormy weather was also partly responsible for that. Luckily I had a list of rainy-day activities, and there are a few good options beyond shopping. 

I visited the Pirate Museum (which is quite fun), as well as spent some time at the Pirate Republic Brewing Company, where I enjoyed some tasty conch fritters, craft beer, and some local steel drum music. I did not see any real pirates at either place. 

Read more: What to do in Nassau, Bahamas cruise port

Ocean Cay 

Palm Tree

Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve (Ocean Cay) is the cruiseline's private island in the Bahamas, just 65 miles east of Miami. Once an industrial site, MSC Cruises has redeveloped the island into a serene paradise for its cruise guests. I was beyond excited to visit, especially as we were scheduled to stay the night, so there was lots of time to enjoy the 8 beaches and water activities and late-night activities, like a dance party.

On our third day on the cruise, we were supposed to dock at Ocean Cay; however, the Captain advised that the seas were far too rough and it would be a sea day. Honestly, it was a disappointment, no one wants bad weather on a cruise, but it was not the end of the world, and I found things to do on the ship. 

Thankfully, the next morning, we docked early at Ocean Cay, the skies opening up with a warm golden sun, and I happily made my way off the ship. Ocean Cay is as stunning as it looks in pictures, and I loved how natural it was. This was definitely an easy way to spend a day as a solo cruiser. Walking all around the island, I enjoyed eating at a food truck and buffet, sipping a cocktail at one of the many seaside bars, and lounging at the beach.

Pros of solo cruising

Chantal MSC Cruises

Overall, I had an amazing time cruising on my own, and I would absolutely do it again. Here are some of the major pros: 

  • Do what you want - One of the best things about cruising solo is that you get to do whatever you want when you want. I love cruising with my family, but this sometimes means you have to compromise for the harmony of the group. 

    Solo cruising means you pick the restaurant, activity, what to do in port, and make your own schedule every day. I happen to be a morning person, contrary to most of my family, so I love the freedom that solo cruising provides. 

  • Cabin all to yourself - Cruise staterooms are generally not known for their size. There are a few massive suites, but often cruise cabins are smaller than many hotel rooms. Although most guests spend a lot of time outside of their cabin, when you do, it can feel rather cozy if you are more than one. 

    Having a cabin all to yourself adds to the relaxation you feel as a solo cruiser. Go to bed when you want, watch the tv, or lay in silence. It is all up to you since you aren't sharing a cabin.

  • An easy first step to solo travel - If you are thinking about vacationing on your own but are not sure where to begin, cruising is an ideal first step. The simplicity of this form of travel makes it quite manageable, especially if you are nervous or unsure about venturing out on your own in foreign destinations. 

    I found it to be one of the easiest ways to travel because so much is taken care of. Once you are on the ship, your food, entertainment, and daily activities are all there. No worries about finding a restaurant, which shows to watch, or getting a taxi back on your own late at night. 

  • Planning made simple - Another major perk to solo cruise travel is the logistics of getting to different destinations in a short amount of time are all taken care of by the cruise line. You go to sleep sailing and wake up in a new location. 

    The ease of cruising, in combination with a good travel agent, makes for a wonderful vacation. An experienced travel agent is always an excellent place to start and can help navigate the ins and out of cruising, especially for first-timers (and they don’t cost you a cent). 

Cons of cruising solo: 

  • Price - One of the biggest problems with cruising on your own is cost. Cruise fares are normally based on double occupancy, so many times, you end up paying double the price when you sail on your own. 

    I was lucky to have gotten such a great price on this cruise; MSC Cruises has a number of fantastic deals, although it is important to consider the ship and itinerary.

  • Traveling on your own - The logistics of travel, flying, and dealing with taxis, airport delays, and late-night arrivals,  is the less fun part of traveling, and when you are on your own, you have to deal with it all by yourself. 

    While there are ways to mitigate this, it is nice to have someone else to travel with and share experiences, and help get around. I am not the best person with directions. If you asked me at a given time, I could not point north. So for me, it was helpful to research where I was going to have a general idea of my destination.  

  • No one to watch your stuff - One of the biggest drawbacks to cruising on your own is that no one can watch your stuff for you. While cruising, I was having lunch at an overly crowded buffet and forgot to get butter for my bread. For such as common item, it was surprisingly elusive, and it took me a bit longer than expected, and when I got back, my plate was cleared. 

    This also goes for a time at the beach or lying about. While it is easy to ask fellow passengers to keep an eye out, that is really not something you can rely upon. For future solo cruises, I may invest in a secure bag that can be attached to a lounger. 

  • Navigating ports on your own - As I mentioned, I did a little research to prepare for my day in port in Nassau. It is easier to take a cruise line excursion, but these can be much more expensive or may not be the right activity. So in my case, I was able to make do, but it would have been easier in a group. 

    It is not a bad idea to have a sense of where you are going, check opening hours, and how best to get there. Many of these places don’t have Uber/ Lyft, and you can't always rely on free wi-fi. 

Loading Comments