Friends on a cruise

Regardless of what type of solo traveller you are, meeting your fellow shipmates can be a breeze – or it can be a challenge. Either way, you may find these tips useful for your next cruise.

There are three basic types of solo traveller: interactive, introspective, and hybrid. I would describe the interactive traveller as your buddy who comes home with a huge list of new contacts – and stories about each of them. Interactives enjoy the company of others, welcome new experiences, and are often viewed as the life of the party. Introspective travellers seek out some amount of solitude simply for quiet thoughts. They welcome new experiences on an individual basis and are comfortable exploring their surroundings alone. A hybrid is a combination of the two. Fun times with friends and a good book are both worthy goals for this traveller.

Whichever type you happen to be, you’ll probably want to meet, at the very least, a few new people on your trip. Here are some hints and tips for how to meet people on your next cruise vacation.

Size matters

If you want to make friends for the duration of the cruise (especially if you’re an interactive traveller), choose a smaller ship. Passenger lists ranging from a few hundred up to 1,000 will help you keep in touch with your new acquaintances. The mega-ships of 5,000-plus passengers pretty much guarantee new faces each and every day of your cruise (which may be better for the introspective traveller). You will, however, need to swap contact information in order to stay in touch on these larger vessels.

Virtual friends list

There are several reputable online companies that offer future solo cruisers the opportunity to ‘meet’ others on their specific voyage ahead of time. These online locations are ‘roll call’ or ‘meet on board’ forums. You can search by cruise line, ship, and departure date to message others cruising with you. When you arrive in port, you will already know the names of some new friends. You can pal around with this set, or start with a few and grow your ‘friends list’ as the days pass.

Hello, my name is…

On the first day, find the Cruise Director and introduce yourself. He or she is a valuable resource for ‘all things cruise’ on your ship and in ports of call. Next, find a reason to stop by the main desk and thank the staff for something. Sounds odd? Kindness is magic – use it! Also, talk to the folks around you during the muster drill (a required attendance policy item), on elevators, and at the ‘meet and greet’ party (where there is often free champagne). The first night, find the singles lounge or piano bar and talk with the bartender. A nice gratuity for the bartender at the beginning and end of your cruise is appreciated, and can help you feel connected.

The dinner bell

One of the best practices on a cruise ship is flexible dining. However, it can be a challenge for solo travellers. You may often eat alone. If this is not your style, ask to be included in the traditional set time and table dining. Some cruise lines will seat singles at a large table together. These fellow passengers will be your dinner companions for the whole cruise, so if you’re not compatible, simply ask the maître d’ to move your assignment. For the true solo dining experience, choose the buffet or one of the many speciality restaurants.

Birds of a feather

For all three types of travellers, I highly recommend a bit of research before booking your next cruise. Find on-board activities you like, shore excursions that are interesting, the right number of passengers, and possibly a theme itinerary. Nothing makes the ‘meeting new people’ experience more pleasant than finding something in common with others. Some of the best trips I’ve ever taken (which resulted in some lifelong friendships) happened around a common interest (in my case, adding birds to my life list!).

These, of course, are my own observations as an incurable hybrid!

Read here about some fun activities for solo cruisers, and learn more ways to meet people.