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Singles Cruising? A How-to Guide
The old show "The Love Boat" left an indelible impression on me. Merrill Stubing had the wisdom of Soloman and the fallibility of Achilles. Cruise Director Julie? Who can't love a guileless ingenue with the courage of her convictions?

The only thing wrong is the show was a fantasy. Nearly every plot involved people coming aboard solo and leaving adue, somehow finding true love between Mazatlan and the San Pedro harbor. The show created the image of cruises as the magic elixer for soul mates, and in the minds of many non-cruisers, that image still exists! A relative we were recently trying to get on a family cruise said, "I wouldn't trust my husband on a cruise ship."

Oh, the power of television. I didn't know whether to laugh or scream -- not for the sake or her marriage, but because the truth is that cruising is an experience far more enjoyable when you have someone to share it with. I estimate the number of people sailing solo onboard almost any cruise ship is under 5%. I dare say some sailings go out with no solo cruisers on them at all.

But that doesn't mean single people don't go on cruises -- they just rarely go solo. In fact, the image of the Love Boat is alive and well in the form of organized singles group cruises. There are many companies organizing these groups where single people come together on specific sailings and travel together. It's a great idea, and one that has become especially successful in the last few years.

Why do these organized groups work so well? Well, let's look at what doesn't work.
I once cruised solo and because I had nothing in common with my dinner tablemates,
I didn't have a decent conversation with anyone all week long. When I spoke to couples
I got five minute conversations; the women seemingly thinking I was trying to pick them up, and the men just giving me odd looks. The few other single people onboard were widowed by natural causes.

There are other drawbacks to being a solo cruiser. You must pay a "singles supplement" if you want a cabin to yourself, which means you pay twice the "per person" fare. The only way around that is to have a roommate - with a few exceptions. Some cruise lines have lower singles supplements, and one cruise line (Holland America) will even match you up with a roommate if you ask, but we don't really recommend it.

What we do recommend is going to CruiseMates' Singles Area and looking at the list of operators offering singles cruises, look through our message boards of people seeking out cruise companions (for the purposes of sharing a cabin to save money, nothing else is implied), and read Pat Hagan's most recent article about her organized singles cruise on Carnival Triumph.

The benefit of going on an organized singles' cruise is that they use a number of criteria to match you up with a (same sex) roommate and save you money. You get the chance to meet your future cruisemates online in message boards before you go, which is a great way to find out what you might have in common. Onboard they have events like "meet & greet" and even "speed-dating" so you can get a sense of any possible chemistry. Some people actually find love on these cruises. Pat's article speaks of marriages and even babies. Some find companionship, and at the very least, you have people to talk to no matter what.

Most people who go on these singles cruises swear by them because they like the benefit of having a large group of people to mingle with. However, I also know people who seek out roommates online, pick their own cruises and also get along famously. I also know people who go on cruises alone, pay the second fare supplement and enjoy the solitude, though as I have said, that is not for me.

As stated, the one thing I personally do not recommend is letting the cruise line match you up with a roommate. As far as I know all cruise lines have ended this practice except for Holland America. Don't get me wrong, I love Holland America's ships for cruising as a couple. But the only criteria they ask singles is "smoking preference" and the truth is Holland America ships are mostly retired-age+ and among the 99% couples crowd. Your roommate will likely be a widow, and if you don't get along, you're stuck. gray hr

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new feature articles

Romance and Friendship at Sea
A sailing demonstrates the benefits of traveling alone in a group. blue arrows

Staying Connected an Ocean Away
Cellphones and wireless Internet access . A line by line wrapup of recent improvements. blue arrows

Working Aboard a Cruise Ship
Working aboard cruise ships is not a bad life if you're single and want to see the world. blue arrows

Random Comments from Readers
OK, we know who we are, but do these people? Down to earth and out of this world comments and letters we receive in this crazy business! blue arrows

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