I thought it might be helpful for those of you cruising "solo" - especially if you are about to cruise for the first time - to give some hints on how solo cruisers might meet fellow cruisers. Fellow cruisers, even if they are married couples, are likely to introduce you to their acquaintances, including some who may be cruising "solo."
Here are my suggestions on how to meet new friends while cruising:
You can start right at the airport - either your gateway airport (if a major one), your stopover airport or your arrival airport. Look at other people's bags - you're likely to see some cruise baggage tags for your very cruise. Say hello to these people - they're probably just like you: a bit reluctant to initiate the first contact.
Taking a pre-cruise package from the cruise line is a guaranteed way of meeting others. You'll likely be on some transfer or tour busses with 30 - 40 others who'll be on your cruise, and it's easy to start talking to them.
Consider any line-up (especially when boarding the ship), to be an opportunity to meet those in front or behind you in the line-up.
Wear your own custom-designed T-shirts. Put something novel on your shirt(s) - maybe on the front "I'm Cruising Solo", and on the back "I'm worth 5 million dollars" - with perhaps in very small print underneath "in my own mind".
If you come from a small town, like Wallingford CT, put your town's name on your T-shirt. Anybody else from there, or living nearby, or having visited there, will for sure start talking to you. No, this idea won't work if you wear an LA T-shirt.
Put something on your T-shirt about your interests like "I Love Snorkeling," or "I Love Ballroom Dancing" or "I Love Scrabble." Fellow enthusiasts are bound to talk to you.
Ask your travel agent to request that the ship put you at a "singles" table. While this often doesn't work, it will NEVER work if you don't ask.
Request LARGE Table
You definitely want to have your agent request the largest-sized table for you to dine at (usually for 8 people). There's 7 people you will get to know very well. After the first night, try getting to dinner early, and pick a different chair at your table from the night before. This helps to discourage your tablemates from always sitting in the same spot, and increases the chance of you being able to have a good talk with those on either side of you.
Breakfast and Lunch
While it's easy to have breakfast or lunch on deck or at the buffet, having breakfast and lunch in the dining room will increase the number of people you meet. Typically, breakfast and lunch on cruise ships is "open seating", meaning the maitre d' or head waiter will seat you at the first available table, not the table where you are assigned for dinner.
Just like the pre-cruise package, any ship's shore excursion that you take will give you the chance to meet some of the 30 - 40 people who'll be on the same tour as you.
Sit at the Bar
Sitting at a ship's bar is a guaranteed way to meet people. Unlike on shore, there's no stigma to a single lady sitting at a ship's bar. And you don't have to drink alcohol, just because you're sitting at a bar.
While it's a "natural" to go to the ship's singles party (usually on the first or second night of the cruise), keep in mind that all singles won't necessarily go to that party. Also keep in mind that "singles" include everyone from 30-year old Doug, to Martha, the 85 year-old widow.
Join the Entertainment
Check the daily newspaper on board thoroughly, and attend all the shows you can, including the daytime "contests" and bingo, and sit right in the front. You never know when you might be called up on stage. You might feel nervous that you'll be made a fool of, but everybody else in the audience is happy it's not them on stage. If you do end up on stage, you'll be surprised how many people start talking to you the next day.
Singing and Dancing
If you're talented (or even semi-talented) at singing, get up on karaoke night. You may not remember too many of the audience, but they'll remember you. If you're a male, and an average or better dancer - especially a ballroom dancer - you'll have a great time on board, as there are any number of ladies (single or otherwise) who'll be delighted if you ask them to dance. Unlike a dance venue on shore, the chance of you being turned down for a dance on board is very small. Dancing choices usually include ballroom dancing before and after dinner, 50's, 60's and 70's music in the late evening, and current stuff in the late, late evening.
If you try out any of my ideas, be sure to let me know how successful you are!
Originally from Australia, Alan has for some time been permanently settled in Vancouver where he is a practicing Attorney. He has been a SeaLetter columnist, reviewer and our resident humorist for some time now.
To find all of Alan's SeaLetter columns, featured and humorous articles, and cruise and port reviews, visit our SeaLetter COLUMNISTS Index.
Alan loves email, and can be reached at: Alan@sealetter.com.
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