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Will I Find Love on a Cruise?

by Douglas Terhune

A woman I work with just came back from her first cruise. Carol is divorced, in her 40s and booked the cruise with a few girlfriends. The local travel agency booked a group of people, most of which were single, first time travelers. I presented Carol with several articles concerning cruises - from how to prepare for a cruise to reviews of the ship she went on.

I guess I thought I did all I could do to help insure that she had a good time. When she returned, I went to her office to ask how everything went. Now Carol is a pretty straight forward woman and as I saw her eyes light up to tell me her stories aboard the ship, I could also detect the slight disappointment she was about to tell me.

"There were no single men" she explained. "We went to a Country Western party in the main lounge one night and the Cruise Director asked how many single men were out there, and I could see no men's hands raised. Then he asked how many single women were out there, and lots of hands were raised," said Carol.

Yes she had a good time, but just possibly Carol, like many of us, had watched too many Love Boat episodes in which everyone walks off the ship with a new or rekindled romance. This is where I failed. After cruising nearly 20 times, one knows that a cruise is just a hit or miss thing in terms of meeting either the 'right' person, or, finding a shipboard fling.

And now, with the romantic movie Titanic covering our movie screens, the idea that 'love' blooms on cruise ships has never been more apparent. Cruises are already reporting record bookings for the first two months of 1998, and say that the rest of the year looks even better. No longer are we limiting our search for that perfect person to strictly bars, nightclubs, work, church, grocery stores or the White House. Love on the high seas - aaaahhhhhhh!!!

Myth or Reality?

If you sail as a single person, certainly one has to have members of their gender preference on board the ship to help increase their odds of finding someone special. Next, those preferences must also be in a preferable age category. Doing your homework before you book a cruise can help supply yourself with the proper mix of guests - but, I warn you that there are really no fail safe ways to insure that your requests will be fulfilled.

Singles Cruises are a myth. Occasionally you may find a Travel Agency that is putting together a group of local single people for a trip, or sometimes even a multi-state group of friends may book together, but with the average ship holding 2000 passengers nowadays, a group of 50 single people, for example, does little to change the demographics of the passenger list. Several travel companies also arrange 'single cruises', but they are only blocking out a small portion of the ship. If a cruise were to be a truly 'singles cruise', the cruise line would have to dedicate that sailing as completely for singles - and, except for Windjammer Barefoot Cruises, I have yet to hear about that.

So why do so many people think that there are singles cruises? Well, from this armchair Captains seat, I believe that the myths of cruising are very potent. We as a population want to believe that romance can be found someplace outside the day in and day out surroundings of our homes and offices. And what a better place to think about than a cruise ship slicing her way through warm tropical waters?


The world has always been fascinated with the powers of the oceans. Tranquillity, sea air, fresh breezes, dramatic views and majestic sunsets are all things that can be related to oceans. Now, add to that, a magnificent vessel that you call home for 7 days where you never have to pull out your wallet for dinner, never have to worry about driving home, get to dress up to the nines with your mate or friends, receive service far superior to that of service on land, and are entertained day and night!! Well, let's just say that if love was a recipe, then you have just about all the right ingredients.

But, you are still wanting to know if you will 'find love' or 'rekindle' love, right? On a cruise, your chances are enhanced because of all the aforementioned ingredients. But, one must be realistic about this and not allow yourself to set too high of an expectation. I cannot tell you how many people I have encountered in my 20 years of cruising that apparently set themselves up for certain failure.

Expectations of finding 'love' on a ship has as much to do as anything with a cruise. If you expect to find love - than you probably won't. When you expect love to greet you, you look like you're expecting love to greet you. After 40 years on this planet, my take on this subject is that love typically finds you - but I am certainly not suggesting you stay in your cabin, order room service and watch movies all night.

So How Do I Find A Shipboard Romance?

There is a bunch you can do to help induce the romance process before you go:

  • Define on paper which cruise you want to go on - i.e. itinerary, cruise line, cost, date, etc.

  • Look for a ship that has people in your age category. A good rule of thumb is the higher cost you pay, the older the crowd is. If you are using a travel agency, ask several of the employees there for their opinion on the proper line for you. Call one or two other agencies and ask them the same question. Be a smart shopper and shop around for information.

  • Look in the local papers and on the web for cruise specials and ask several agencies about any upcoming group cruises.

  • If you are single and traveling solo or with single friends, going with a local group of people does have it's advantages. Many times I have seen the groups vigorously looking for another single person(s) for the single person already in their group.

And what can I do on board to make myself known?

  • Get tons of exposure by volunteering at the games near the pool or in the lounges. Tell people where you are from and that you are single.

  • Go to the Singles Party. Here again, don't sit in the corner, come on up to the dance floor and join in some of the games. So often this is a great ice breaker.

  • If you have a shy demeanor, leave it back home. If you are sitting next to a nice looking person at the pool or at dinner, start up a conversation.

  • Check out the Shore Excursions and ask the folks who work at the Pursers office which activities usually book the most single people. In particular, the Catamaran tours and Booze Cruises also get single people from other ships in port - so if your ship has nothing to offer you, go meet passengers from the other ships!

  • Don't stick to one lounge the whole trip. Try the Piano Lounge, the Disco, the Casino Bar, the Live Music Lounge, etc.

What if I don't find love?

Well, chances are you won't, so you tell me? If the mere experience of a cruise is not enough to make you happy, then perhaps you should not go. If you think you'd like to take a cruise with your family , friends or by yourself, then do so. Be prepared to make the best of the situation and you will never be disappointed.

It amazes me to go on a cruise and see frumpy people. Here you have a sea going vessel designed and built around the requests and demands of the average John Doe traveler, and yet someone always finds a reason to complain. And it is one thing when you expect and pay for good service and get poor, versus expecting to meet the love of your life and going home solo every night. The cruise lines promise good service and food, not love and romance - that department is the responsibility of the passengers. The social directors cater to 2000 people, not you, so go out and make the best of it.

Will I Rekindle My Love?

Chances are that if you can leave your worries and troubles at the dock, that you just might. I traveled with my ex wife on two cruises and had a great time on each one. The mystique of a cruise is hard to fight. If it doesn't work, then in my humble opinion - if it doesn't work in paradise, than it has a pretty slim chance back on land.

One thing that I adore about cruising is seeing all the happy couples. Sure it's tough some days, but it also gives me hope. And what gets me more than anything, is the older couples having as much fun, if not more, than the younger couples!

And I don't think that there is any real big secret going on here either. Men like not having to pull out their wallets at each meal and seeing their wives in bathing suits, while women love seeing their man all dressed up and walking with them arm and arm on the top deck late at night with a tropical breeze in their faces. The ingredients are here. If you can't see that, then you need help!

And for those couples with children tagging along, the ships tend to do as much as they humanly can to allow you time to yourselves. The Kids programs on these ships allow for kid coverage up to 24 hours/day, with the daylight hours always covered. And don't feel guilty about having some time to yourselves, as kids have a ball in these Kids Programs. And I can honestly say that I have never seen an unhappy child on a ship (just tired!)

What Can You Do To Rekindle?

Lots. Lots of things. I guess I'd start out with the following:

  • Before you leave, if you are a man, buy your gal a nice new gown for one of the formal nights.

  • Encourage her to get a new hairdo, have her nails done, or visit the spa on board the ship for a facial or massage.

  • Request to have the beds put together each night.

  • Make dates. For example, if she wants to do the Art Auction, she should ask him to meet her there at a certain time. If he wants to have a beer and watch the sunset on the back of the ship, then he should buy the beer and have her meet him there.

  • Find a hot tub on the top deck to unwind in after the crowd has left the decks.

  • Dance. Dance every night. Hit the Disco - hit the Ballroom - hit the Nightclub.

  • Sing your favorite song to him/her in the Piano Lounge.

  • Take Black Jack lessons together.

  • Take a snorkeling excursion with another couple.

  • Surprise him/her with a little gift from one of the ports of call.

  • Drink champagne and watch the sun rise or set.

  • Have a portrait taken of you both on formal night.

  • Renew your vows.


Only one in ten Americans have cruised - and that means LOTS of you have yet to take the plunge. Most people have theories why they will not like a cruise - like getting seasick, eating too much, nothing to do, too much to do, etc. But if you can just get past these excuses, you will find, like all others who have cruised before you, that the most romantic place to find love or rekindle love is on a cruise ship.

But don't forget to do your homework, get lots of opinions, get involved and realistically manage your expectations. Leave your frumpy self at home and cross that "Gang Plank of Love" with a smile on your face. Your first job, if you accept this mission, is to have fun. Fun people attract fun people.

Best of luck and Bon Voyage!!


Doug TerhuneDoug Terhune is quite the experienced solo cruiser and is a regular columnist and reviewer for the SeaLetter. His Ship Tips columns are very popular with our readers.

Doug's special interest is interviewing various officers on his cruises, including interviews with the Tropicale's head chef, the Inspiration's Chief Engineer, and the Grandeur of the Sea's Captain. To find all of Doug's SeaLetter columns and cruise reviews, visit our SeaLetter COLUMNISTS Index.

Doug is always interested in your comments and suggestions and may be reached at: Doug@sealetter.com.

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