Should I take a singles cruise?
Solo travel can be so transformative. Going it alone means adventure and spontaneity, but sometimes it’s good to have company around to share in the experience. Singles cruises can offer the best of both worlds – a cruise line provides comfort, convenience and a fully organized program with shore excursions, while still maintaining enough individual freedom to do your own thing. As an unattached single, travel can be a liberating experience, so why not broaden your horizons and your social circle at the same time. A singles cruise can meet the need of travelers who want to experience the joys of travel on their own terms but with all the pluses and zero pitfalls. Solo cruising as a single can be an inspirational journey but is it absolutely right for you?
What is a singles cruise?
Firstly, sailing as a solo cruiser or embarking on an organized singles cruise are two very different propositions. A singles cruise is specifically marketed to unattached singletons of varying age ranges keen to make social or perhaps romantic connections. Organized events and activities are geared towards breaking the ice, starting with getting to know you social gatherings, parties, enriching shore excursions, dance lessons and even fun speed dating events.
Very few if any sailings are populated with nothing but single cruisers. An organized sailing will block-book anything from 50 to perhaps 200 or more places on a conventional cruise, so you will be sharing the cruising experience not only with your fellow singletons but also with young families, couples and perhaps a few solo passengers who prefer to do their own thing independently. You’ll get full access to all shipboard amenities for the duration of the sailing as well as exclusive spaces reserved for your singles group at scheduled times such as separate dining and socializing areas. Shore excursions will be hosted and organized separately as a group too. On the newer 5,000 plus passenger vessels, your singles group may make up only a small proportion of the overall passenger capacity.
Why choose a singles only cruise?
There is something quite liberating about solo travel, and you’ll not only explore intriguing new destinations, but likely learn quite a lot about yourself too. Solo travelers tend to have a more open-minded outlook on life and are more inclined to climb out of their comfort zone and just go for it – far from those disapproving looks of family and friends back home. The moment you step aboard the ship, you’ll be in good company. Every other person in the group is potentially your kindred spirit with similar goals; to meet, mingle and have fun without the unknown quantity of an independent solo trip. Social interaction is a key part of any singles only cruise but is not forced, so you’ll have the freedom to dip in and out of the singles social scene at your leisure. It makes for a rewarding getaway on a solo cruise, and who knows, you might just find your Mr. or Mrs. Right.
What is included in my singles cruise fare?
Each singles only cruise company has its own policy on what’s covered but all include stateroom lodging, all the cruise line’s standard ship amenities as well as access to all exclusive singles-specific events such as single-mingle dining, dancing lessons, group games, cocktail parties, and group shore excursions. These are private hosted happenings closed to other cruise line passengers. Some also offer meet and greets at a pre-cruise hotel the night before departure and private messaging so you can get to know a little about your cruise mates before stepping off terra firma.
Beware of single supplements
The dreaded single supplement is the first major stumbling block for solo cruisers unsure whether a singles cruise is right for them. While the sanctuary of a stateroom all to yourself is a nice perk, the extra fee – a cruise line may impose 50%-100% more – can serious dampen the vacation mood. The number of cruise lines offering dedicated single occupancy cabins is growing but you’ll need to act fast and book early or you’ll literally miss the boat. You can take advantage of roommate-matching services where you’ll be paired with a fellow cruiser of the same sex, and perhaps of a similar age range which will help keep costs down for both of you.
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Choosing the right cruise ship
Once you have found the right time to cruise and a destination preference, the big decision to make is what cruise line and type of ship ambience will suit you best. There is no right or wrong answer here: it’s all about what will make you most comfortable as this will be your home for the next few days. As mentioned earlier, you’ll be part of an organized singles group that may make up just a small proportion of a vessel’s total number of passengers. The larger cruise line ships resemble floating cities nowadays offering a huge variety of dining options, bars, and wellness facilities and even thrill rides. Surf simulators, vertigo-inducing water slides and go-karting are all great icebreakers. You are among relative strangers so cut loose and have fun.
The sheer scale of these ships offers both advantages and drawbacks depending on what exactly you want to get out of your solo cruise. There will be plenty of time to explore the ship away from the organized program, and you’ll not be short of inspiration in trying out something new. For some solo travelers, the big ships can make one feel a little anonymous and merely a face in a very large crowd. Early in the cruise, you may strike up a friendship with a nice couple (or another solo traveler not in your singles group) and the odds are you may never run into them again.
A small ship cruise line on the other hand, offers a very different vibe. In many ways, smaller vessels, which may only run to just a few hundred passengers, make for more convivial socialising where you get to see the same faces time and again. If you have an adventurous spirit, small ship singles cruises are a good bet, offering off-the-radar destinations with one-of-a-kind shore excursions. They tend to provide more luxurious offerings with a more affluent, older age range clientele.
Singles cruises are not just floating parties
There are plenty of misconceptions surrounding singles cruises and the kind of clientele they attract. Many people mistakenly believe it’s a party-hearty nonstop social whirlwind of events designed only to find a soul mate. Sure, there are singles always open to new romantic encounters, but there are plenty of other guests who enjoy solo cruises for the simple pleasures of meeting new friends and sharing their experiences. Indeed, many women enjoy the safety in numbers a singles only cruise group can offer alongside like-minded females.
Again, contrary to general opinion there is no one size fits all policy when it comes to cruises for singles. There is a plethora of intriguing options available based on a specific age range – from young professionals to seniors – as well as for solo cruisers looking to meet and mingle with their peers through a special interest. Generally speaking, the dominant demographic is the 35-50+ age range but the market for young, single 20-something professionals is growing and cruise organizers are meeting this demand with age-specific sailings. If the goal is to literally rock the boat, some itineraries can resemble multi-day music festivals at sea with buzzing poolside deck parties and boozy diversions throughout the day.
In addition to partying, there are other aspects of a singles cruise that are just as enjoyable.
Get to know other solo cruisers through shore excursions
On land, guided shore excursions are equally as adventurous; expect zip lining, kayaking, jeep safaris and other equally breathless activities. Land tours and activities are an important part of the travel experience. They are generally designed to get people out of their comfort zone to try something new. This in turn breaks down those social barriers and encourages more interaction and teamwork. Many people begin to really open up amid spectacular scenery or trying adventurous new pursuits during a shore excursion. It can really enhance the social dynamic of the group.
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You can share your passion with other singles cruisers
For many first time singles cruisers, striking up sparkling conversation with complete strangers can be a daunting prospect. However the shipboard social dynamic can work to your advantage when you are able to indulge in a long-held passion, and able to share the experience with like-minded shipmates. Exclusive singles activities often encompass a wide range of interests from art history, food and wine, yoga, languages, lectures and much more. There is an entire ship filled with activities through which you can get to know your new best friends more intimately. You'll want to choose a voyage that is likely to lure other singles with similar interests to enjoy onboard and during shore excursions. Choose wisely and it can become a truly transformative experience.
Even though you're cruising solo, attend the social events
Do show up for the orientation mixer, cocktail parties, hosted dinners and group activities. These are perfect ice breakers, designed to get people interacting. Once you get beyond the initial apprehension of meeting new faces, you’ll soon develop a rapport and find it easier to throw yourself wholeheartedly into the social scene.
The key to a great singles cruise is an open mind
All your cruise mates may be unattached but that doesn’t mean they are all on the hunt for ‘the one.’ Obsessing over finding a new life partner could seriously impact your enjoyment. Lighten up, let the conversation flow and enjoy the company of your fellow solo cruise members. Everyone is literally in the same boat, all looking to have fun, socialize and share amazing travel experiences together.
Start connecting with other solo cruisers before sailing
You don’t have to wait until embarkation day to start socialising. Most solo cruise companies offer private messaging services so you can interact online with your fellow guests, weeks or even months ahead of departure. It’s an effective way to explore mutual interests, exchange tips and simply get to know each other better, or perhaps even find an ideal roommate. The online cruising community is also a fine resource for mining key information and advice for a fuss-free solo cruise. Check out the various cruising platform message boards, roll calls and individual cruise line Facebook pages. They are populated with extensive FAQs for first-time and solo cruisers.
A singles only cruise is perhaps not for everyone but is nevertheless a fun vacation for solo travelers keen to meet new friends and broaden their horizons together. How much mixing and mingling you do is entirely down to you. So get yourself out there and socialise; when you feel the need to take a break to kick back on your balcony and read a book, that’s cool too.