Cruising alone doesn’t mean being alone.
Think about it: on some of the newest ships you may be cruising with 2,600, 3,600 …or even 5,400 fellow travelers – all of whom opted for the same ship and itinerary you did. So even if you are traveling solo, you’re hardly alone.
The writers at AllThingsCruise often travel solo, either by choice or by assignment, and they have excellent advice on how to enjoy being on a trip by yourself.
Here are their tips for cruising solo:
1. A cruise – no matter the size of the vessel – can be as sociable as you want. You may occasionally opt for dinner in your cabin, but most often meal times are shared experiences- and those are the best experiences. Whether the ship offers alternative dining options or the traditional fixed time and place dining, you can select to sit with as many as nine other people.
In the course of a cruise, it’s not unusual to develop friendships where you meet for a drink before dinner, attend a show or even take a shore excursion together. Email addresses and phone numbers are often exchanged during a cruise; I still get holiday cards from a couple I met on a cruise in the 80s.
On a recent MSC Poesia cruise I sat with a man from Gdansk, Poland and his teenaged son, a couple in their 80s from Delray Beach, FL, and a retired policeman from Australia. After two days we were a forged group, and meals times became a time to share the day’s experiences and learn about life in other places while we enjoyed each other’s company.
Every sailing has a complimentary cocktail party or scheduled lectures – other popular places to meet shipmates. I once met a woman, as short as I, when we were lined up in front at a boat drill. She, too, was traveling alone and we had dinner together each night.
The thought of traveling alone is often daunting to people who have never done so. You might think your best company may be an e-book reader and an iPod, (and I never leave home without them,) but make an effort to meet other passengers. Often all you need to do that is a pleasant smile. – Marcia Levin
2. Sail on small ships- the smaller the better. The passengers on these vessels are usually veteran travelers who are interested in the destination and good company rather than meeting their next spouse. They enjoy making new friends and don’t care if you are alone or with someone.
The open seating for meals on small ships lends itself to meeting new people. The shore excursions, usually included, mix everyone up. Any solo traveler can be comfortable on a small ship. – Cynthia Boal Janssens
3.For solo cruisers, the first issue is that dreaded single supplement (usually about 150 percent). It can be avoided on the Norwegian Epic by booking one of the studio cabins, which are stylish, well-designed, with the “perk” of a dedicated lounge.
Another option: shop around. If travel plans are flexible, you can sometimes find cruises where the supplement is waived. Also, the supplement can be gentler on luxury lines like Seabourn and Crystal. – Lillian Africano
4. When I am alone on a ship, I usually choose to eat dinner at a group table in a dining room where I can eat whenever I want. I let the maître d’ in that dining room know that I’d like a large table and that I am looking for interesting people. Then, I just show up and see what happens. Some nights, I get a table full of boring people, but that is rare. Most of the time, each evening brings new conversations. On a long voyage, such as a trans-Atlantic cruise, I often see many of the same people each night, because most of us are creatures of habit and tend to eat at about the same time every day. – David Molyneaux
5. Meals can be tricky when you’re sailing solo. If you’re on a ship with flexible seatings and/or restaurants, you might ask a new friend from a tour excursion if you can join them for a meal? Not a huge commitment, but you might enjoy it. Or someone you meet at a lecture or in the spa. It takes a bit of courage if you’re not outgoing, but it often makes for a fun evening. Then move on the next day and meet new people.
Being a party of one can have its advantages. If a tour or lecture or spa treatment is wait listed, you have a much better chance of getting in as a single than if two people were waiting to be added. – Betsa Marsh
6. When I board, the first place I head is the dining room. I chat up the maitre d’ and let him know who I am and that I am traveling solo. I ask him to see if he can sit me with a group of compatible people, preferably a mix of couples and singles at a large table. That way I get to meet other singles but also couples in my age range who can be good company. Also, if you have a good relationship with that maitre d’, he may be more willing to help you change to another table if that one proves to be boring or uncomfortable.
Sign up for trivia, dance classes, cooking classes, all places where it feels very comfortable to be solo, and where you can meet new people.
I think that cruising is the best way to travel solo. It’s safe, there are many opportunities to meet other people, and there is no stigma to traveling solo. – Barbara Ramsay Orr
7. Sign up for shore excursions. Cruise ships now offer so many shore excursions that it is easy to find some activity that you really enjoy and want to do. That should give you something in common with others on the same excursion and will be a good conversation starter – while you are on the tour and after you return to the ship.
Many shore excursions start with a brief – or sometimes long – bus ride. That is another great place to meet people in a smaller group.
As a solo traveler, I have met so many wonderful people on interesting shore excursions. In Jamaica on a Ruby Princess cruise, for example, I signed up for a dog bobsled ride when the ship docked. The experience was fascinating. These dogs are adopted from shelters and they are now healthy and obviously loving what they do.
After the excursion, passengers who experienced the bobsled ride with me would stop to chat about it on the ship. Some passengers who didn’t take the excursion would ask me about it because they were thinking about doing it on a future cruise. I don’t know many people who don’t like dogs or don’t have dog stories so the bobsled ride was a definite ice breaker with strangers. – Jackie Sheckler Finch
It is obvious that cruising solo can be comfortable, fun and interesting. Don’t pass up your chance to cruise because you fear going alone this WAVE season.