Even Singles Cruises Have Rules

| June 9, 2003

Out of the 336 singles onboard Carnival's Imagination for the recent Memorial Day cruise, the youngest was 22 and the oldest 76. Sandwiched in between were mostly the 30-40's crowd, and, outnumbered by the guys, the gals were happy to declare, "So many men, so little time!"

This was a four-night cruise. Since we were in port in Key West the first day, the group fanned out and I didn't see the usual camaraderie that you'll find when everyone has a chance to meet and mingle on a day at sea. However, a few couples had managed to bond at the get-acquainted cocktail party, and they melted away from the crowd to begin their shipboard romance.

There was a strong rumor that one of the girls was showing off a brand new engagement ring after visiting the second port of Cozumel, but Barry Helfenbein, primary coordinator for agency organizer SinglesCruise.com, says it is not rare for romance to blossom so quickly. "A couple came up to me as I was waiting to board on a recent cruise and asked if I remembered them. I said I did-from the last cruise a couple of months earlier. They held up their hands to display wedding rings and said they were back this time for their honeymoon."

Though party-hearty was the theme for the weekend, there were still a few incidents to cast a small shadow on the festivities-the usual "roll-em-onboard" passengers who had one too many at Cozumel's infamous "Carlos and Charlie's." And in Key West, a passenger who had been causing problems with his drinking was put ashore by Carnival officials and told to find his way home.

Another sort of unpleasant situation came when singles who had booked through other agencies tried to crash the private events open only to those booking through SinglesCruise.com. I witnessed several on the verge of going postal when they were denied admission to the cocktail parties because they weren't wearing the identifying blue plastic wrist bands issued by SinglesCruise.com. According to owner/agent Debbie Popick, this is happening on each of her cruises and necessitates having security guards at the doors. "They (party crashers) are furious with me and my onboard coordinators for not allowing them into our events. They said their travel agent told them they could attend. I told them to take this up with their travel agent, because they were misinformed. They need to know that our events are not provided by Carnival and are not open to the public."

On another note, I should point out to the ladies that sequins and other fancy cocktail attire appear to be a thing of the past, at least on a holiday weekend cruise. On formal night, my cabin-mate and I got on an elevator wearing sequins; an older male passenger stepped on a few floors later, took one look at us, and sarcastically inquired, "Is the Captain coming in here for his party?" We decided maybe he was underdressed in his pullover and khakis, but later, observing a sea of simple black dresses, we wondered if we had wandered into the midst of a girl's choir and decided we needed to rethink our wardrobe for the next cruise.

The popularity of organized singles cruises is growing, and I am surprised to see so many repeat passengers. I asked one guy whom I'd seen on two other cruises in the last year why he kept coming back. Couldn't he find a girl? "Sure," was his response with a twinkle in his eye, "I find one every cruise."

Oh, well. Wasn't it me who said the only difference in a one-night stand and a cruise is the number of nights?

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