Readers of this blog already know that there are many good reasons to travel solo, including doing the activities you want to do and when you want to do them, waking up and going to sleep on your schedule and meeting new people. These reasons work really well if you are backpacking through Europe, but do they translate to cruises?
Well, yes they do. A cruise is like being on a floating city that visits other cities. It offers the ability to form a real sense of community and form real friendships with others as you share the journey. On a cruise, you can travel by yourself, but never have to be alone.
Look for ships that don't charge a single supplement. The supplement typically doubles the quoted fare since the cabin is made for double occupancy. A few cruise ships have set aside special rooms and prices for solo travelers including Norwegian Cruise Line's Epic and P&O Cruise's Azura. Some lines such as American Cruise Lines include singles rates on every cruise, while other lines will run special promotions that reduce the single supplement. Find a knowledgeable travel agent to help you sort through all of the options.
Find a roommate! If you don't mind sharing a room, this may be a good option to bypass the whole supplement issue. Use cruise-focused social networks, or general social networks, such as Twitter and Facebook, to see who might be interested in going. Also, ask your travel agent or the cruise lines to help find you a roommate. For example, Holland America Line will help match you with a roommate of the same sex, upon request.
Go on a theme cruise. Interested in Poker? Dance Music? A fan of the New Kids on the Block? Or want to be around fellow gay travelers? There is a theme cruise for just about any interest and passion out there. The biggest benefit of a theme cruise is you will be traveling with others who without a doubt have at least one thing in common with you. Check out ThemeCruiseFinder.com which lists hundreds of these cruises. Another advantage is that the travel agencies that produce these theme cruises will help you find a roommate if you need one. For example, SinglesCruise.com will “match singles with roommates of the same gender and similar age,” upon request.
Tip the maitre’d. Dining alone can be one of biggest hurdles people have of cruising solo. There is a simple fix, which I myself used on a Bahamas cruise several years ago: On the first day of the cruise, I went to the main dining room a few hours before dinner and asked the Maitre’d to seat me at a large table with other solo (or single travelers). I gave him $10 as a token of my appreciation and it was done! He found me a table of 10 with a few couples, singles and other solo travelers. Each dinner had lively conversation and several of us continued the conversation into the piano bar. Even if you don’t tip, simply request to be seated at a table with others and you will find cruise staff to be very accommodating.