The item below comes from Mark Tre, the Cruise Examiner. I have already written about the new single cabins on the Norwegian Epic and here is more information on the same topic.
A Move Back to Single Cabins
While Fred Olsen Cruise Lines have included a number of single cabins in all of their ships for some time, P&O and NCL are now joining them with the new Azura and Norwegian Epic, and others such as Voyages to Antiquity are joining as well, while several lines continue to offer no single supplements on certain departures.
P&O’s Azura enters service today with 18 single cabins, 6 inside and 12 outside, These singles are so popular that they are sold out for all of 2010. But Norwegian Epic will far outstrip this, with 128 single cabins out of a total of 2,100. These so-called “studio” cabins are all inside and measure about 100 square feet each, smaller than the 120 square feet of first generation cruise ships but big enough for one person, and certainly a good way of using less desirable inside space to generate additional revenue from a singles market that has been clamoring for such accommodation for decades. The cost of a single cabin is usually more than the per person charge in a double, although on Norwegian Epic there will be no surcharge and studio customers will also get their own exclusive singles lounge.
Until the Norwegian Epic, the Saga Ruby claimed the largest number of single cabins, with 70 (Saga Rose, now retired, had 60). Fred Olsen’s Balmoral was next with 63, while the Black Watch and Boudicca have 42 each and the Braemar 27, for 174 single cabins in a single fleet. In 2009, Fred Olsen booked 7,700 single passengers, almost two-thirds of which were female, and they accounted for 8% of their passenger carryings. This compares to about 3.5% for P&O.
Voyages to Antiquity has also joined the movement with 16 cabins on board their new Aegean Odyssey out of a total of 198. The little Hebridean Spirit, however, has the highest ratio of all, with 11 single cabins out of 30, or more than a third.
Until now, many lines have been charging single supplements of 75% or even 100%, which has just pushed away the business in favor of couples. The feeling that a single might spend only half as much as two in a cabin now seems to be giving way slowly to an attitude that catering to the singles market might indeed bring them some revenue that they did not have before. After all, although each cabin must be serviced, a studio cabin occupies only about 55% of the space of a more standard 180-square foot cabin, which has been the norm on some lines for many years now.
This is far different from the attitude that prevailed ten years ago, when the Queen Mary 2 was designed with nothing but double cabins despite the fact that her predecessor Queen Elizabeth 2 had offered 125 single cabins. The reason given at the time was shipbuilding methods and prefabricated cabins but singles now seem to be gaining some favour again in the cruise market.