The Truth About Single Cruising

| 08.24.12

You can find romance on the high seas as long as your looking in all the right places.

Singles on a singles cruise Cruises are great vacations - but the uninitiated often mistakenly believe they are nothing more than a seagoing Bacchanalian orgy of drinking, dining and dalliance - like an episode of "Sex and the City," except at sea.

We can partly thank the old TV show "The Love Boat" for that image; everyone on that show was hooked up by the final wink from "Mr. Clean." But in reality, cruise ships are almost the complete opposite: mostly wholesome vacations with activities that appeal to kids of all ages.

Regular cruisers already know this, but a single person who books a cruise without doing the research I am offering here could be completely blind-sided by a boatload of middle-aged married couples and their kids. For that reason, I want to tell you what a regular cruise can be like for a solo traveler, and show you where to find those "Love Boat" cruise experiences instead.

Most Singles Crave Company

"There are plenty of fish in the sea" is a common dating adage, and we don't need a biology lesson to know what single people want, but the thing we want to avoid here is the misconception that any cruise will provide limitless opportunities to cast a line and haul in one of those "fishes."

Cruises just aren't that way in the vast number of cases. Ships are mostly populated with couples and families traveling together -- and a romantic connection with a stranger is the last thing on their minds. A situation that is hardly ideal for a single person looking for even a casual conversation, let alone a love connection. But even though the romantic trysts served up on the "Love Boat" were totally fictional, that doesn't mean single people cannot find Love Boat-style cruises if they know where to look.

So if you are single, I want to warn you that taking "just any cruise" with expectations of romantic encounters is not realistic. It could happen, but it's more likely that your best friend on the cruise will be a paperback novel. On the other hand, read on to find cruises for single people where "The Love Boat" concept is the raison d' être.

Better Choices for Single Cruisers

Because cruises are targeted at couples and families, with only a few exceptions all passenger cabins come with one bed for two people and are only sold as "double occupancy" -- meaning the standard cruise fare is charged to both of two persons sharing a room. That bed can be separated into two single beds, but unlike hotel rooms, if you want to occupy that room alone you have to pay for both beds. The surcharge is called a "single's supplement" that is typically stated as 200%. So if a double occupancy stateroom is selling for $500 per person, your price is 200% of that, or $1,000.

But there are alternatives. Two cruise lines, Holland America and Princess, now have roommate matching services although the best these do is fill the empty bed. Some cruise lines will occasionally offer sale prices for solo cruisers, with a lower single's supplement of 125%, 150% or 175% - mostly luxury cruise lines. On those cruises, it is common for widowed ladies to sail alone, but the cruise line will often provide "gentlemen hosts" to dance and dine with them.

But there are more fun ways to avoid that singles supplement.

Find a Cruise Mate

Here in CruiseMates there is a large community of solo cruisers looking to share a stateroom with compatible people on various cruises. You can find them in our "seeking cruise companion" forum. But let us not stray into the Bacchanalian territory again: Most of our people here are primarily interested in finding same-sex roommates with compatible personalities -- people of a similar age, smokers or non-smokers, etc.

Although we do not limit our listings to same sex or in any other way, in fact we only provide the platform for people to meet; we do not get involved in matching them up. We only have one rule here - no solicitations for sexual encounters.

Some CruiseMates get along fabulously and will eventually cruise together many times. Some don't. But very rarely do we hear of bad situations - e.g., where a person misrepresented his or her true nature before the cruise - although it does happen. The good thing about finding a cruise mate in CruiseMates is that you have plenty of time to discuss your mutual interests by email, then by telephone, and you can do your best to determine compatibility before you commit to anything.

With every cruise mate, it is important to have a few ground rules. Each person pays for the cruise separately, each brings enough money to cover individual expenses on the cruise, and neither a lender nor a borrower be. One should consider the preferences of the other for nightlife, drinking, time alone in the stateroom -- or at least not hogging the bathroom. It is good to clarify whether you are looking for someone to hang out with for tours and dining, or whether you are a loner whose sole objective is to save money.

Tell us about your single experiences here: Single Cruising Forum

Go on a Singles Cruise

The next option is where the real fun begins. For the people truly seeking the "Love Boat" experience there are "singles cruise" operators who specialize in filling large numbers of cabins on specific sailings with single people. These singles cruise travel agents will help you find a compatible same sex roommate, then during the cruise they organize events where you can meet the other singles in your group. They may have cocktail parties, speed dating, and/or dining experiences just for your group.

Halloween is a particularly popular time for singles cruises - one singles cruise operator told me her 2012 Halloween cruise is twice the size of last year. But singles cruises occur all year round in all price ranges, and go to many different destinations. Here is a list of some of the more popular hosted singles cruise providers:

Last Option: Norwegian Epic

Norwegian Cruise Line's largest cruise ship, Norwegian Epic, was the first vessel designed with a dedicated section solely for solo cruisers. The ship has 128 "studio staterooms," all aligned on a corridor leading to a shared "living room" where you can congregate with other singles for free coffee and snacks, big screen TVs and the all-important blackboard to list all the scheduled events for singles during the cruise.

The staterooms are built for one with a double bed in a mere 100 square feet, but they are very utile, cozy, comfortable, and downright romantic. They come with mood lighting and shower glass designed to cover just the "naughty bits." These staterooms were a revolutionary step for solo cruising and I recommend them highly, although they are not as cheap as sharing a regular stateroom. The line's new ship Norwegian Breakaway, scheduled for an April 2013 debut, also contains 59 studio staterooms.

Summing Up Solo Cruising

Even if you go on a singles cruise, you should be aware that single cruisers tend to be median age or above, with most in their 40s or 50s. There will be some younger and some older - but cruises are not inexpensive vacations for 20-year olds. You should also know that not everyone will be on there to "hook up." Some people just want a studio or shared stateroom to save money.

But most solo cruisers will be well-educated, employed, independent and energetic. You will meet quality people, but do not let your guard down and become too gullible; never lend money, for example. Still, cruises are great vacations for solos for many reasons - especially that everyone is on for the full trip, so you have some time to get something real started. It is even true that many couples have met on cruise ships and ended up married. Not many other vacation options for singles can say that.

Tell us about your single experiences here: Single Cruising Forum

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