Out of 40 cruises, I have done about half by myself. Don’t pity me, it’s my job – but it’s allowed me to learn many ways to handle the seemingly strange situation of sailing solo…
Below are my top 10 tips for scaredy cats, gathered over the past five years.
1. Don’t be afraid
Get a grip. You won’t be only single/widowed/independent traveller on the ship. You’ll meet the other solo passengers, you’ll meet friendly couples (not everyone wants to talk only to their spouse all day and night), as well as lively groups of friends and lovely crew (who give you extra special attention).
2. Grab a bar stool
Unlike your home town, perhaps, there is no shame in sitting alone at the bar. You won’t look like a hooker – or an alcoholic! The bartender and fellow cruisers will chat to you within 35 seconds – I guarantee it! It helps to stick with the same bar around the same time, so the bar staff look out for you. They’ll ward off anyone who’s annoying you.
3. Do the activities
It’s also no big deal to walk in alone to the lectures or yoga or to go on a shore excursion by yourself. Nobody’s staring at you. Get over it and get involved.
4. Befriend the maitre-d
In the main restaurant, when you walk in to be seated, say (with a big smile) that you would like to join a large, fun table. The maitre-d knows exactly where you should sit to have a good time, without crashing a romantic anniversary dinner.
5. Avoid the stalkers
You may end up sitting with a person who takes an unwelcome interest in your awesomeness (whether you’re male or female). Grin and bear it, but not for too long. You shouldn’t let anyone, or your manners, ruin your holiday! The best way to escape from someone, without appearing too rude, is to fake seasickness. This is perfectly acceptable on a cruise! Then run away, my dear, run away!!! The faster you run, the more convincing you look and the quicker you are free. Win-win!
6. Suck up the supplement
Of course, the worst part is paying so much more $$ for a double cabin on your lonesome. But if you can afford the extra cost of the single supplement, it might be the last time you ever have to do it. If you make a friend on your cruise (see below), you can share your cabin next time. Or just keep an eye out for special deals when cruise lines reduce or totally ditch the SS – it happens!
7. Make a bestie
When you do meet other singles, make an effort. Speak up and suggest you meet one/some of them later for a drink or to form a trivia team or go on a shore excursion. You might end up with a new best friend. I have seen women hit it off with other women, then next thing you know, they’re planning to go on their next cruise together!
8. Solo gatherings
Choose a company that organises meet-and-greet events – usually a coffee or cocktail party. This is the best way to meet that new bestie! But don’t expect any romance. Anytime I’ve gone along, only females have turned up. What’s the problem, men??
9. Spoil yourself
On days that you don’t feel like socialising, become a spoiled hermit. Stay in your cabin, order room service (it’s often free), put on a movie or sit on your balcony and relish the indulgence of doing exactly what YOU want to do. When I was upgraded to a suite on Azamara, I had in-room three-course dinners – yes, table for one! My butler even poured the wine and put on mood music.
10. Plan ahead
Sign up for ‘roll calls’ on Cruise Critic or MeetOnCruise.com, search for cruise groups on Facebook, book lots of shore excursions, research your destinations, pack a few books, bring an iPad/iPod, start writing your memoirs or a few postcards – heck, get cracking on your Christmas cards or learn to play bridge (for some reason, the most popular game on cruises) – whatever it is that will keep you occupied. Preparation is confidence.
You can do this, cruisers! The alternative is staying home and missing out on one of the best experiences of your life! Now, THAT would be sad and lonely.
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