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Single Traveler? Cruising Makes Connecting Easy

Apr 29, 2008
Many single travelers wonder if cruise travel is right for them. Will it be like the TV series "The Love Boat," where romance and naughtiness ruled the waves? Or will you be outnumbered by elderly couples in ball gowns and tuxedos? The reality is that cruising is ideal for people traveling alone because it's a safe and easy way to meet other people. So what's holding you back?

Who goes and what it costs

Singles cruising has come a long way from the days when doddering widows sailed off to sea with a good book and a ball of yarn. Today's single cruisers range in age from their early 20s to their late 70s, and they come from all walks of life. Some cruise to get away from it all, others to meet and mingle. In fact, the singles demographic aboard ship is pretty much what you'll find shoreside; the only difference is that the cruisers are on vacation.

There are two options for single cruisers: going alone or joining an organized tour group for singles. Going alone gives you some freedom and privacy, but it costs more because of the 'single supplement'. This supplement is an adjustment to the published cruise fare that compensates the cruise line for the loss of double occupancy in the stateroom. The supplement can be quite high, as much as double the regular per-person rate. The only way to beat the single supplement is to find a roommate for the cruise. If you can't persuade a friend to come with you, talk to the cruise line or to a travel agent who specializes in singles travel; either one can introduce you to a compatible traveling companion.

The chief advantage of traveling with an organized group is the pleasure of having someone else worry about managing the details of booking, shore excursions, seating, setting up shipboard activities and the rest. All you have to do is show up with your suitcase and your passport. Some groups also offer discounted fares.

What it's like aboard ship

It's not just bingo and shuffleboard anymore. On a cruise with many singles, you'll find an array of activities designed to help single adults meet and mingle. Enjoy golf, yoga, rock climbing, in-line skating, tennis, basketball or aerobics. Looking for something more conservative? Then take a cooking class, do a craft project or sign up for the onboard lectures. You will also find wine tastings, computer classes, card games, and art auctions aboard most ships. Other places to meet people are on shore excursions and at shipboard activities, which often include group-participation events like trivia contests, line dancing and even belly-flop exhibitions. You can do as much or as little as you choose. If you prefer solitary pursuits, there are plenty of nooks and crannies for reading, writing, daydreaming or just watching the waves. Want to pamper and spoil yourself? Enjoy a massage or a facial at the spa, or treat yourself to a special gift from one of the boutiques.

In the evenings, most ships have singles functions like cocktail parties where you can meet other guests. Once you meet someone, it is likely you'll meet up again (even on a large ship, the environment is small and friendly). Many cruise ships also offer the company of 'gentlemen hosts' for single women who enjoy dancing.

Most single cruisers say the best way to get to know people is over a meal. Sharing a table for dinner -- or any other meal -- offers many opportunities for fun and lively conversation. Tables for six are best, as larger tables lack intimacy -- and you may end up having to raise your voice to be heard across the table. If you aren't on a group cruise, just ask the maitre d' to place you at a table with other singles. It's a surefire way to make friends and enjoy the cruise with other singles.

Cruising offers singles fun, safety, comfort and convenience. There's no guarantee that you'll meet the perfect person on a cruise vacation, but you can certainly have fun trying!
About the Author
Anita Dunham-Potter is a Pittsburgh-based travel journalist specializing in cruise travel. Anita is a weekly travel columnist for http://MSNBC.com and Tripso, and she is a contributor to Fodor's "Complete Guide to Caribbean Cruises 2007".
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