You may think taking a vacation by yourself sounds about as exciting as reading through Encyclopedias A-Z on your weekends off. But taking a cruise is a different kind of “alone.” It gives you the option of joining activities to meet other people, or blissfully catching up on novels while catching some rays.
Below are some helpful tips to make the most of the experience.
1. Meet & Greet
Meeting new people on a cruise isn’t as hard as you might think, even when 95 percent of them came with someone else (according to Holland America statistics). Meal times are a great opportunity to meet someone from a different state or country and create some memorable conversations. And, unlike the high school cafeteria, you don’t have to worry about where to set down your tray. The maître d’ will place you at a table where there are lots of different people to meet, usually in your age group. So, you don’t have to worry about being a third wheel at a family reunion table.
2. Don’t Latch On
Once you meet some people you connect with, it can be human nature to want to spend more time with them. But you’d be doing yourself a disservice (not to mention probably overstaying your welcome) if you latch onto the first group of people you meet and stick to them like glue for the remainder of the trip. If you found a great group of people at one meal, imagine all the other interesting people you have yet to meet on the ship.
3. Keep Things Open
On the other hand, if you’re invited by another couple to go hiking with them or join them the next day for breakfast there’s no harm in accepting an invitation. Likewise, if you meet another solo traveler early on and you two have the same interests it would be nice to have a companion to do activities with. Just make sure the camaraderie isn’t one-sided and you’ll be fine.
4. Find the Right Cruise Line
There are plenty of cruise lines that cater to solo cruisers, so do some research to find the one that appeals to you the most. Holland America features lots of gatherings for solo travelers early in the itinerary, along with hands-on-workshops, programs, wine tastings, and culinary events for both couples and individuals to experience without feeling out of place. European river cruising also provides daily itineraries filled with cultural excursions for those traveling solo. Set activities like these will help you meet others you have common interests with.
5. Bigger Isn’t Always Better
Many solo travelers may think the bigger the cruise ship, the more they will blend in than stand out. While this is true, smaller vessels can offer a more intimate experience that bigger ships can’t provide. While these voyages may cost more, you’ll get more one-on-one attention from staff and feel more like you’re at a large dinner party (think less than 50 people) than part of a moving sea of thousands of travelers.
6. Shack up with Another Single
Cruises factor in total pricing based on double occupancy rates. That can be tough when you travel solo, as you end up getting stuck with double the bill. Over the past few years, many cruise lines have looked for ways to cater to single passengers, offering to match you up with a same-sex roommate to save on costs. Viking River Cruises offers some of the most solo-friendly pricing policies along with additional seasonal specials. River cruises have the added factor of plenty of socialization opportunities during shore excursions or aboard the boat if that’s the sort of cruise you’re looking for.
7. Seeking a Cultural Experience?
If you’re looking for a solo cruise to open your mind and expand your horizons, look into Tauck cruises. They offer shore excursions to museums, castles and other cultural experiences, in addition to lectures on board the ship. It’s a great way to learn a lot while you socialize and travel.