If you are single and thinking about a cruise but worried about going alone, toss your fears overboard.
A cruise is the ideal vacation for singles. I know, because I've cruised solo, to date, eighteen times and can't wait to do it again.
However, it might be easier for me, because I am naturally an outgoing kind of person and don't know a stranger. For others, getting out and mingling might present a problem. Just tell yourself (over and over, if need be) that you are on vacation and try to make up your mind to have a good time.
There are a lot of ways to meet people on a cruise, and here are a few tips that work for me:
As soon as you board the ship, find the maitre'd and ask if you can have dining room seating with other singles. Sometimes it isn't possible, but I've still made lots of friends with couples at my table.
There is usually a singles party the very first night, but make it a priority to meet the cruise director and inquire about other activities specifically for singles. If there are none, ask him/her to arrange special things like dance classes, card games, or even a private party. Offer to help organize and spread the word.
When out and about the ship, if you see someone sitting alone, ask if you can join them to chat. If it's a member of the opposite sex, don't worry about looking like a pickup. But should they react like they think you are--and you aren't--move on.
If dining on deck is available at lunch, make it a habit to take one of your meals there every day. Before going through the buffet line, look around and see who has a table to themselves. Ask if you can join them. If they say they're waiting for someone, you won't be standing there holding your tray and feeling rejected. But on a positive note, I've been turned away very few times, because most cruisers are in a friendly mode. Every once in a while you'll encounter a stinker, but don't take it personal.
Most ships offer dance classes. Go! You can be sure someone only went to please their partner and will be glad to sit one out and let you take the floor.
Be sure to take along a small address book you can tuck in your purse or pocket. When you meet someone you genuinely enjoy and want to stay in touch with, you won't have to fumble for paper and pen. Also carry your own cards. You can print them yourself with a simple and inexpensive software program for your PC.
Other ways to enjoy yourself: Attend any self-improvement classes offered, as well as makeover sessions. Be sure to check the schedule in the game room for anyone seeking a partner. Post a note yourself.
My own experiences cruising alone has also taught me some things to avoid. First on the list would be negative people. You might sit down next to a smiley face only to discover they want to vent about what a horrible cruise they are having. Remember, some people aren't happy unless they are miserable...and they love company. I recall two women at an outdoor cafe feverishly making notes of complaint in anticipation of filling out their comment cards the last day...and this was only day two. Every time one would think of something else to gripe about, they both squealed with delight and began scribbling.
As for romance, I will write a whole column on that in the near future, but I did want to share one of my most delightful memories. I had met some nice people on a cruise to San Juan. One evening in a nightclub they dared me to approach a rather austere-looking Norwegian officer and ask him to dance. I did so, only to have him bluntly tell me that, yes, he would dance with me, but he did not do American fast dances. I said fine. The band was playing a slow song.
We moved onto the floor. After a time, he asked what I did in America. I replied I was a motorsports journalist covering NASCAR stock car racing. He said he had never heard of that. I asked, "But haven't you ever heard of Richard Petty?"
Just then the music changed to another beat, and he curtly thanked me for the dance and walked away. The next afternoon when I was on the sun deck, he came up to ask if I would like to meet him later that evening. I said sure, but I thought he didn't like me since he'd left me on the dance floor. I still laugh to recall his response: "I told you I don't do American fast dances, and I do not know how to do the Richard Petty."
Till next time, cruise solo .... and love it!