Making the Best of Solo Cruises

| Saturday, 21 Mar. 2009

So your worst nightmare has happened: You've walked every inch of the ship since you boarded, you've been to the lifeboat drill, and you didn't see anybody other than a few teenagers who wasn't one-half of a couple. You've introduced yourself to the Maitre 'D, he checked the dining list, and nobody is eating alone. Even the Cruise Director apologizes because the get-acquainted party for singles has been canceled. It's too far to swim back to shore, but don't despair. Here are 10 suggestions that can help make for a terrific cruise anyway.

  1. Refuse to stay in your cabin and get that rest you promised yourself in case you didn't find the cast of "Friends" onboard. Read that book you brought along only when you're sunning by the pool.


  2. Remember that a person doesn't have to be traveling alone in order for you to make friends and have a good time with them. Trust me, there are plenty of women who are bored to tears with their mates and would love to have a gal-pal to hang out with. Ditto for the guys, who never seem to have difficulty bonding.


  3. If you find you have absolutely nothing in common with the people at your dining table, move elsewhere. You don't want to waste your time (or your cruise) on people you do not enjoy. Experiment with all the optional dining opportunities the ship offers.


  4. Check out the gym. Maybe you didn't put "sweat" on your things-to-do-on-a-cruise list, but it's a great way to meet people. Strike up a conversation, and the next thing you know you'll be invited to sit with a group at one of shows.


  5. Explore the crew. I generally don't encourage dalliances with crew members, but if you gals spot an officer, band member, cruise staffer, waiter or whatever who strikes your fancy, go for it--but keep things in perspective and remember that you're the one out for a good time here. As for you guys, you can check out the women employees as well. Almost all the shop girls are single.


  6. Know before you go exactly where it is you're going. In other words, read everything you can find on the ports. Not only does this make you interesting to others when you strike up a conversation, but if you do find yourself going ashore alone, the day won't be lost. You will know where to find the shopping treasures and which sights are not to be missed.


  7. Sign up for games. On the quiet side, there are always tournaments going on, from Scrabble to Bridge. If you're so inclined, take part in volleyball, ping pong or basketball. Also, there are organized walks/hikes if your itinerary takes you to one of the private islands for a beach day.


  8. Take advantage of everything activity the ship has to offer, from napkin folding and ice-sculptures to makeovers and self-improvement lectures. Always try to sit next to someone. Who knows? That stranger might turn out to be a best friend whom you'll keep in touch with long after the cruise is over.


  9. If you enjoy a glass of wine before dinner (as I do), a great way to meet people is to choose a bar and become a regular. When I was on the Majesty of the Seas, I found myself the only single person onboard. I went to the Champagne Bar, bought a whole bottle that could be re-corked to preserve the bubbles, and savored it over the course of the cruise. So did a couple of dozen other people. We had a great time every evening, and I felt like part of an old "Cheers" sitcom.


  10. Finally, put on a happy face and get out there and mingle, mingle, mingle. Who knows? You might make friends with somebody who will one day be single. But at the very least, you'll enjoy your cruise and be glad you went, even if you were the "lone cruiser."


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