Why Solo Cruise Passengers Need to Find a Cruise Buddy

Published: 24th July 2007
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While cruise vacations are excellent values and have many wonderful things to recommend them, most single people know the dark little secret of the cruise industry. It's hard to cruise alone. That's not because cruise lines don't want single passengers. It's just that they're not really set up to accommomdate them!

In fact, most cruise lines actually impose a bit of a penalty on the solo cruise vacationer. If you want to cruise alone, you certainly are free to do so, but you will end up paying an upcharge to get your stateroom.

Staterooms on a cruise ship are almost always listed as double occupancy, meaning each room is priced with the assumption that two people will take the same room. For example, if your cruise package costs $800, double occupancy, the cruise line is assuming that it will take in $1,600 for the room.

You can always pay two fares and get a stateroom all to yourself. Some cruise lines are more accommodating and charge you a partial of the second fare. (After all, you're taking up space for two people but you're probably not eating for two.)

Cruising solo is probably not the best way to go, even beyond the merely financial vantage point. A cruise is fun when you can share the experience. Furthermore, individuals traveling alone on a cruise ship may find meals, shows, excursions,a nd other programs are just not as fun for them as singles as they would be if they were with a partner or a small group.

If you're interested in a cruise but do not know who you would go with, accelerate the hunt for a cruise buddy, even before you finalize your cruise plans.

A cruise buddy has to be a person who has the financial resources and the time to join you. Since you're going solo, you want to avoid focusing too much time or attention on people who would only cruise with partners, spouses, best friends, and so on. Look for other singles.

Ask around at work, in social organizations, at church, and at school. Don't overlook the "secondary network." That's where you express interest in going on a cruise to people who may be able to play matchmaker. Perhaps your neighbor isn't a potential cruise buddy, but her sister-in-law might be; a colleague at work may be able to point out another colleague who has been mooning over cruise brochures.

In your initial conversations, just talk about cruises or destinations. You don't need to offer to go on a cruise with a person, carte blanche. Just talking about cruise vacations is a good way to see who else is interested in the subject.

It is a good idea if your cruise ideas match, but if you find potential cruise buddies, remember you may have to compromise a bit to find the ideal package for both of you.

More important, your cruise styles should be similar. If you love to party, stay up late, drink a lot, and intend on partying like a pirate, you're probably not the best buddy for a church lady type. Even things like biorhythms (early risers, night owls) and smoking habits can be very important.

One great aspect about the cruise ship is that there is such a wealth of onboard and shore activities, you can easily do things you want with or without your buddy. Thus, a couch potato and an athlete could team up for a cruise and both do the sorts of thing they enjoy.

But remember that staterooms onboard ship are not spacious and you and your cruise buddy must be able to share these tight quarters well for whatever time you're together there. Sleep schedules, alcohol use, and tobacco consumption are very important factors to harmonize. Other things (like whether you prefer to snorkel or shop) are probably less important.

If possible, make your first cruise excursion with your new-found buddy short. Shop around for a short three or four day cruise deal so you can test the waters and see if you and your cruise buddy are compatible; going on a long trip with a new cruise buddy might stretch your limits in case you do not get along well together.

Although it may seem foolish, a great way to get along with a cruise buddy, new or veteran, is to set up some pretty basic ground rules. Make sure you share and share alike. Nothing tips the balance of any relationship like perceived inequity. Each of you should pay your own way, divide the closet space in half, and not hog the towels or the TV. Far from being unkind, being extremely fair is the best way to make sure everybody relaxes.

Make sure you understand what you expect of the other. For instance, cruise buddies may decide to go their own way by day but meet for dinner and the show each evening. Other cruise buddies may want to do everything together, from the spa to the beach excursion. While you don't need formal rules about this, discussing it upfront can help prevent hurt feelings later on.

It must also be mentioned that a cruise buddy is also a safety net. Cruise ships are like floating cities. Although it is very rare, it is not unheard of for cruise passengers to encounter problems or even be robbed or hurt. Such incidents occur almost always when a cruise passenger is off by herself. Having a buddy gives you a check point. For instance, a solo passenger who misses the boat at a port may not be discovered right away, but that would not be the case for cruise passengers with friends on board.

Cruising can be addictive. Most people who cruise once end up becoming lifelong cruisers. For that reason, single travelers should launch a search to find a cruise buddy. There's no reason for lone travelers to miss out on cruising, especially since there are probably some great cruise buddies right under your nose.


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Mandy Karlik has lots to say about cruises at http://www.thecruise-shopper.com . She's a freelance writer and blogs at http://www.cruiselinenews.blogspot.com . Her next cruise is going to Mexico.


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