Have you ever had the urge to travel all on your own? Wouldn't it be nice to have your accommodations all to yourself, and to be able to do what you want to, when you want to, without having to consult anybody else? Have you never missed out on something you really wanted to do because your companion just wouldn't go along? The beauty of traveling solo is that you don't have to fit in with anybody else's plans, but the drawback is that you are alone and traveling is an experience that is enriched by sharing it with others. And that is why I love to cruise solo, I get the best of both worlds.
I have loved cruising ever since I took my first cruise with a close friend many years ago. I couldn't wait to take my next one, but I was having trouble finding someone who had the time or money to go with me. There I was, feeling sad and lonely, thinking I might miss my cruise if I couldn't find someone to go along, when suddenly it occurred to me I was placing an artificial restriction on myself. "I can go cruising any time I want to go cruising," I said to myself, as long as I can get over the fear of traveling alone.
And so I went on my first solo cruise, and I had the time of my life.
You need the right frame of mind to cruise single, and the good thing is that most of us already have it. The even better thing is that almost anyone can get it if they are willing to be open minded. Even though many people don't do well without having someone to lean on, especially when traveling, cruising is different because everyone there is sharing the same experience. You really are not alone, you are with many, many other possible friends.
I have found that I am much more likely to talk to new people when I am alone, much more so then when I am with the friend who is demanding all of my attention. There is an instant rapport with people on ships, even with strangers, because most everyone is in a receptive and happy mood. Indeed, I have found conversation to come to me so easily on ships I have to be careful that don't start talking to myself -- at least not in a crowd. I have even had some great serendipitious romances with men onboard ships, the kind that happen when you least expected to find it. I have also had cruises where everyone seemed to be a couple, but I still had fun with as many of these people were looking for someone to hang out with or talk to along with their mate, and some were traveling in a group with single friends.
Personally I believe that cruising single is the best way to go because I love spending time alone. There have been times at sea when I was ready to toss my cruise partner off our verandah, and even though I am sure that normally the Captain would frown on that, in one case I suspect he may have been tempted to help me with the push. All I wanted to do what I wanted and not have to consult with anyone else.
Unfortunately, most cruise lines make it very expensive to travel solo as they have what is called a "single's supplement" which really means that if you want a cabin all to yourself that is normally sold as "per person double occupancy" then you are going to have to pay more than the normal fare any single person. The supplement charge varies by cruise line, but it ranges between an additional 10% to 100% of the normal fair for one person sharing a cabin.
The only way I can afford to travel solo is to take the lowest category I can get, or if I can cruise at the last minute and manage to get my air fare for less than an arm and maybe a leg. The good news is with many cruise lines launching more and more ships, they are beginning to have trouble filling them, and with the help of a good travel agent I can get a very good deal, both with last minute, and advanced bookings. On some of the cruise agency websites one can even get a cabin based on single occupancy. Sure I would rather have a verandah, but it is worth giving that up to be able to do what I want in my own cabin when I want to, right down to taking a nap, a shower, or watching a movie. Not to mention all the closet and drawer space you get.
Some cruise lines have a "guaranteed share rate" where they will find a roommate for you (of the same sex) so you can pay the single fair. If you are lucky, the cruise line will not have a roommate available for you in which case they are obligated to give you the entire cabin to yourself at the same rate as if you were sharing it. Personally, I have never tried to guaranteed share program but I have met people who have tried it and have been satisfied.
Another great alternative is to travel with acquaintances, either close ones or possibly not so close, and I have found it to to be a fine alternative. For the friends that I am not so close to we mostly see each other only at dinner and late at night. As long as you find someone with a good disposition both of you can have a fantastic time without bothering the other very much at all.
And one last thing, I know some women are nervous about cruising single. My experience is that you are much safer on a ship than you are just about anywhere else. Everyone doesn't have to know you are alone, just the people you choose to tell. I have never had any problems being alone on a cruise, including on shore tours arranged by the ship, and during those times when I have just gotten off the ship on my own. Case in point, this last year I was in San Juan, where there are many places to see not far from the ship. Using the precautions I would normally use at home I got off the ship after dark, did some shopping, hit the casino, and talked to quite a few natives. I was never out of site of the ship (except in the casino), and was never nervous about it at all.
And so I guess you could say I am the confirmed single cruiser and plan to take many more cruises on my own until I can't cruise anymore, or until I marry Brad Pitt, whichever comes first.