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This article on solo cruising is a guest post by Jenni Fielding who runs the cruise blog CruiseMummy.co.uk.
Solo cruising has been growing in popularity over recent years. If you think that solo cruisers are all lonely widows and middle-aged divorcés, you’d be wrong. Solo cruising is popular with people of all ages and relationship statuses. Read on to find the best tips for solo cruising.
Cruising solo isn’t just for extroverts either. Whether you delight in propping up the bar and sparking up a conversation with everyone who walks by, or prefer a quiet corner with earphones and a book, a cruise is one of the best ways to travel solo.
Taking a cruise by yourself isn’t without its pitfalls, though. So read on for some top tips for cruising on your own.
8 Best Tips for Solo Cruising
1. Choose your Cruising Ship Carefully
Choosing the right ship is one of the most important aspects of any cruise, but when you’re cruising solo, it becomes even more important.
Modern mega ships which carry upwards of 5,000 people are very popular with couples and families, but one key problem with choosing such a large ship is that it makes it unlikely that you’ll bump into the same people twice.
Read more: How big is a cruise ship?
Of course, if your desire to cruise solo is fuelled by a love of your own company, then the anonymity that comes with such a large ship could be just what you need. But, if you would like to spend time with new-found friends, then a smaller ship would be better.
The smallest cruise ships are river cruise ships, which accommodate 100 to 200 passengers. A river cruise is certainly an option to consider if you prefer a more intimate atmosphere on board.
2. Book your Solo Cruise As Far in Advance as you Can
Most cruise ships have solo cabins, which are great because they don’t come with the dreaded single supplement. On some ships, these are all located on a single corridor, which makes it easy for single travellers to meet up.
Unfortunately, even on the newest cruise ships, the number of single cabins is still lagging behind the demand for them, which means that they sell out fast.
For the best chance of securing a single cabin on the ship of your choice, you should aim to book your cruise as soon as the itineraries go on sale, which is usually 12 to 24 months ahead of the sailing date.
3. Consider a Double Cabin for your Solo Cruise
If you’ve left it too late to secure a single cabin, don’t worry. In many cases, double cabins for single occupancy can work out to be a similar price to a single cabin. Sometimes, it can even be cheaper to get a double cabin and pay the single supplement than it is to book a single cabin!
Ultra luxury cruise lines such as Seabourn usually offer one or two staterooms with a reduced single supplement on every sailing. Other luxury cruise lines may have promotions where single supplements are waived all together.
It’s a good idea to sign up for cruise line and travel agent emails so that you can keep an eye out for any special offers for solo travellers.
4. Find a Roommate for your Solo Cruise
If the thought of paying double for your cruise just because you want to travel alone is just too annoying to deal with, then there is another option. Each year, thousands of people make friends with others online so that they can arrange to share a cruise cabin. Compared with paying a single supplement, this can make your cruise up to 50% cheaper.
There are several groups on Facebook where solo travellers can make friends and arrange to book cruises together.
If you do cruise with a stranger, it’s worth setting some ground rules before you book to make sure that you’re both in agreement over the details. For example, are you going to spend all your time together, or do your own thing and only see each other in the cabin? For most people, it will be somewhere in between, but it’s good to know what the other person’s expectations are before you go.
5. Choose your Dining Arrangements Carefully when Solo Cruising
Pre-2020, most cruise lines gave passengers the option to share tables with others or dine alone. Whilst we don’t know for sure how table-sharing will work in 2021 and beyond, it’s an important thing for solo cruisers to consider.
Ordinarily, you would be given the option of early dining, late dining or anytime dining. With the first two options you would be seated with the same people every day. With anytime dining, you would sit with whoever arrives at the dining room at the same time as you, or you may request a table for one if you prefer.
Whilst eating with different people every day can seem fun, in reality the conversation never has the chance to move past the initial get-to-know-you stages. Solo cruisers will usually do better to choose either the early or late dining sitting, so that they can be placed on a table with the same people every day and build relationships.It’s usually the case that the solo travellers are all seated together too.
If you have a choice of table size, you should always go for the largest possible. Some nights your companions will choose to eat in the buffet or a speciality restaurant, meaning that you could be left alone. A large table makes this less likely to happen, and also makes it more likely that you’ll meet people who are on your wavelength.
6. Go to the Solo Cruiser Events
Be sure to check your daily cruise schedule for details of any solo traveller meet ups. Even if you’re adamant that you don’t want to make friends on your cruise, it can be nice to see who else is travelling alone.
You never know, you may get bored a few days in. If you then decide to go to one of the events, it will be easier to join in if you’ve met some of the other solo travellers on the first day of the cruise.
7. Take Excursions with your Cruise Line
Taking excursions is a great way to get to know your fellow cruisers, and the crazier the excursion the better, as it’ll give you more to talk about. If you’re feeling shy, once you’re with a group of people and having fun, you should find it easier to relax and join in the conversations.
One big advantage of taking group excursions is that it’s safer than doing your own thing, particularly after dark. If you’re a solo female traveller and are wary about exploring unknown cities by yourself, sticking to the guided tours offered by your cruise line is the safest, and least stressful way to see the best parts of your destinations.
8. Don’t Be Too Polite on your Solo Cruise
It’s important to remember that this is your vacation and you’re free to spend your time however you wish to. Don’t feel bad about declining an invitation to the pub quiz if that’s not your thing.
Many solo travellers have partners at home which they could travel with – they choose to travel alone because they enjoy the freedom to do as they please. This freedom is so valuable, don’t give it up to be a people-pleaser.
Conversely, if you try to make friends and someone shows no interest in chatting, don’t take it personally. Just move on to someone friendlier.
Concluding Thoughts About Solo Cruising
Whether you want to make new friends or spend some quality time on your own, a cruise offers something for everyone. Some solo travellers are put off by the thought of paying single supplements, but you can get around this by booking early enough to secure a single cabin or by finding another solo traveller to cruise with.
Whatever you end up doing, the most important thing is that you have fun. Taking a solo cruise is an opportunity to put yourself first and spend your time exactly how you want to.
Jenni Fielding is a cruise blogger from the UK. She has worked in the cruise industry since 2015 and loves to spend as much time at sea as possible. Her blog, CruiseMummy.co.uk has cruise tips for families, couples, and solo travellers.
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If you’re considering a cruise, read additional tips:
- 14 Cruise Tips Every Cruiser Should Know
- 11 Tips for a Smooth Disembarkation Day
- 5 Ways to Cruise on a Budget
- Essential Cruise Embarkation Tips for the First Time Cruiser