Sometimes travel agents, as well as cruise ships, will offer special low rates to singles for sharing a cabin. A few years ago NCL offered "quad shares." This meant four people could share a cabin and split the price four ways. It was a good bargain way to travel. It was also a learning experience. And, from that, I developed my own top ten list which I have found makes for smooth sailing with someone you have never met before.
- AGE: Always ask when booking your cruise to be paired with someone in your age group. It does make a difference. A "youngster" might annoyingly awaken an "oldster" coming in from the Disco at 3 a.m., and the "oldster" may do the same when leaving for 6 a.m. coffee on the deck. I like to opt for no more than a ten-year spread in age.
- ETHNICS: If you would have a problem sharing with someone of another race, nationality, or religion, by all means make this fact known to your travel agent or the cruise line. It would be socially incorrect, as well as downright rude to complain once onboard.
- ALCOHOL: If you are a strict tea totaler, and it would bother you to be around someone who enjoys a drink in the cabin before dinner, ask to be paired with a non-drinker.
- SMOKING: The importance of this cannot be emphasized strongly enough. Whether you do or don't smoke, make that fact known when booking.
- EARLY RISERS VS. NIGHT OWLS: People in the same age groups can still have different sleep patterns. I once cruised with someone who insisted on 6 a.m. room service, which was quite annoying as the phone rang each morning at 5:45 a.m. to tell her it was on the way. When I am on vacation, 5:45 only comes once a day, and that's in the evening! Try to establish some ground rules between you and your cabin mate when it comes to rise and shine.
- ENTERTAINING: If you have a problem with your roomie inviting members of the opposite sex to your quarters, say so. Otherwise you might return to your cabin one evening to find a towel on the doorknob and wind up sitting in a deck chair till all hours waiting for her company to leave.
- CHOOSING SIDES: Maybe your cabin is very small and space at a premium. So what to do if your roomie has brought twice as many clothes as you and enough makeup to stock a cosmetics counter at Bloomie's? Be accommodating and make sure she/he has the largest closet and storage available. Offer to share space you have left over after unpacking.
- CABIN CHARGES: Check with the purser's office before the last day of the cruise to make sure all charges have been correctly posted to each person's account so there will be no misunderstanding at the last minute.
- SNORING: Okay, sometimes it happens regardless of gender or age. So just in case you wind up with someone who sounds like a fog horn and keeps you awake all night, tuck a few of those little nose strips in your bag and very tactfully tell roomie you'd appreciate him/her giving them a try. Chances are, they'll be grateful, because they may not realize they have a problem.
- SCHEDULE BATH TIMES: This is very important, especially for women who need extra time to do their hair and makeup. Agree on times when the bathroom is exclusively reserved for one person's bathing and dressing and stick to it.
Of course, you can probably think of other things to make for smoother sailing with a total stranger. Just jot down all your ideas and present them when you have that bon voyage toast with your new traveling partner.
And, remember, both of you are onboard to have the time of your life. Don't let little annoyances stand in the way.