How to Convert Shipboard Friendships into Longer Ones


Accelerated relationships are one of the great benefits of cruise travel. Instead of seeing someone a few minutes a day on the commuter train, you are in close proximity 24/7 for your entire vacation. Broadly speaking, although your fellow passengers may come from several nationalities, they are more similar than different. You’ve met someone and want to keep in touch after the ship docks. How do you do that?

What are We Talking About?

Romance is an obvious example. Ten seasons of Love Boat taught us people connect at sea. You might meet people who are potential career or business connections. You might realize “These folks are great travel companions!” Seven days at sea might have laid the foundation for a long friendship. There are plenty of reasons you don’t want to lose this connection at the end of your trip.

How do I Get Contact Information?

Most people should be open to sharing. Just in case, here are several ways you can initiate the process without coming across as creepy or a stalker.

  1. Social media. It’s the obvious option. “I’d like to keep in touch. Are you on LinkedIn? Can I send you an invite?” Face Book theoretically has 2.41 billion monthly active users according to Zephoria Digital Marketing. (1)
  2. Passing around the menu. Ay your final dinner, you mention you would like to stay in touch. Would your tablemates mind sharing contact information? You each pass menus around. Everyone writes. You must include all your tablemates. It’s “Old School.” Quoting a line from the TV Drama NCIS, “Old school works.”
  3. Give a reason, get a connection. “I got some great pictures of the two of you cliff diving. I’ll send them to you. Is text or e-mail better?” They will likely share photos they took too.

OK, I’m Home. Now What?

Ever go to a great industry conference or convention? You hear a great speaker. You get great ideas. You write stuff down. The next week you are back at your office. Work has piled up in your absence. It’s back to your normal routine. Those great ideas get stuck in a drawer.

Back home, you and your friends are back to the regular routine. Like dating, you need to make the first move. There are short term and long term strategies that should not come across as pushy or intrusive.

  1. Social media. Post pictures for all your friends to see. Say “We met some great people!” Let your travel mates know you’ve posted.
  2. Christmas cards. Another ‘Old School” idea that works. You send one in early December, possibly with your Christmas letter. The letter refreshes “who you are.” They will likely add you to their list or quickly buy a single card and send one back.
  3. Something to share. They are wine fans. You are wine fans. They only live a couple of hours away. Invite them to your home for dinner. Include your neighbors who are fellow wine fans. That’s how our neighbors introduced us to a couple living in Norther New Jersey who they met on a Viking River Cruise.
  4. Future vacation together. You travel. They travel. Keep in touch, sharing your travel plans. Your future get togethers take place on cruises. The 1981 movie Four Seasons had the premise three couples got into the habit of seeing each other on scheduled vacations. On Cunard, I’ve met British people who don’t live near each other, but choose to regroup on extended voyages.
  5. Invite them over. They live at a distance. They travel. Invite them to stay as houseguests. Our trip to New Zealand was organized around an invitation from people we met on a transatlantic crossing who invited us to stay at their home. They acted as tour guides.
  6. Let them know when you are in their town. You travel for business. You’ve got a trip planned to NYC. Tell your NYC based couple you met at sea. Invite them to dinner as your guest. They will likely insist you visit them, allowing them to host.
  7. Great cruise fares. You subscribe to lots of travel sites. You come across a deal too good to miss. It doesn’t work for your schedule, but you want to share this idea. You forward the e-mail to your new friend.

Why Am I Doing All The Work?

Ever ask a couple married for a long time: “What’s your secret?” There are many answers, but they often include: “You must put effort into the relationship.” Some people are good at keeping in touch, others aren’t. The Hallmark Channel often features romantic movies where two people made a great connection, yet the contact information they exchanged was somehow lost. Make the effort. See what happens.

Story courtesy of Bryce Sanders. 

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