Solo Cruisers: 7 handy tips for first timers

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The popularity of ocean and river cruises has soared in recent years. It’s estimated that 23 million holiday makers will have taken to the high seas in 2015, with many choosing to cruise alone – where they can do as little or as much as they want.

While cruise holidays may have previously been associated with couples and families, the opportunity to travel on major liners in single cabins has never been more appealing. In fact, we’ve seen a 47 per cent year-on-year increase in single-person bookings. If you’re thinking about taking a solo adventure, check out our seven helpful hints.

1. Do your research

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Looking for inspiration… our cruise experts can help you pick out the perfect itinerary.

A little research goes a long way, so think about what kind of cruise meets your needs. Do you want to travel to tropical locations or sightsee along the rivers of Europe? Whatever continent, cruising is a great way for the solo traveler to experience new and exciting destinations.

Remember, you can travel far and wide, with many cruise lines offering packages with no single supplement charges on selected cabins and cruises – like Fred Olsen, P&O Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line. You shape your holiday, so you choose whether you’d like to dine alone or join a table of guests. But, if you’re looking to meet new people, many of the cruise lines mentioned hold fun, dedicated events such as singles drinks receptions and excursions.

2. Go Tropical

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Most cruises focus on the western, eastern or southern parts of the Caribbean.

The Caribbean is a popular destination for singles and one of its draws is the chance to relax on the beach at almost every port. If you’re the type of solo cruiser who enjoys the company of others on board but prefers to explore the shores alone, then Caribbean cruises might be for you.

The beautiful beaches of the Caribbean are a safe haven for single travelers, and you don’t have to stroll far from the ship to enjoy tropical paradise. One day you could be snorkeling with stingrays off Grand Cayman, on another climbing waterfalls in Jamaica, or zip-lining over St Lucia’s rainforest canopy. You can cruise the Caribbean all year-round, but the best time is between November and May.

3. Head to the Med

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In cruising terms, Mediterranean cruises stretch from the Iberian Peninsula east to Turkey, and south to North Africa.

Whether you want to sample the ancient archaeological delights of the Aegean or the modern club facilities of the Balearics, cruising the Med provides the ideal opportunity to enjoy both. With most cruise lines sailing the Mediterranean 365 days of the year, the list of destinations is endless.

But, wherever you go, expect warm hospitality and delicious food – ideal for first-time single cruisers. The best time to set sail is May to October due to the high temperatures and low rainfall.

Look out for studio cabins on-board with Norwegian Cruise Line – single cruises have been taken to a whole new level with Norwegian. Cabins include a full size bed, a one-way window (with blinds) and separate areas for the toilet, sink and shower. In addition, they are located in a private keycard-access complex with their own studio lounge and bar – all designed with single cruisers in mind.

4. USA Getaway

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Cunard, Silversea and Holland America have gentleman dance hosts for companionship in the ballroom.

For the holiday of a lifetime, consider booking a transatlantic cruise – crossing the Atlantic Ocean is something you will never forget. For true shopaholics, an eastbound trip may be your preferred choice as there are no luggage allowances. If you’re in search of the ultimate New York experience, then a westbound sailing from Southampton to New York is ideal. Wake up early on the morning you disembark if you want to catch a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty as the sun rises over the city that never sleeps.

Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 has scheduled transatlantic sailings to and from Southampton and, best of all, single travelers can bring along their dogs for some pampering too. In fact, luxury upgrades for your furry friends can even include a private butler.

The Big Apple Greeter is a great way for solo travelers to meet local New Yorkers – a not-for-profit organisation that is run by more than 300 volunteers who meet with tourists to show them the true sights and sounds of New York – and it’s free.

5. Don’t forget about Europe

Explore Europe with Emerald Waterways.

If the open ocean doesn’t float your boat, how about a river cruise? River cruises are a great way to get into the heart of a country, and are a relaxing and time-efficient way of seeing fascinating cities, historic landmarks and beautiful scenery. One of the benefits of a river cruise is that once you unpack, your hotel travels with you – most ships spend half a day sailing and half a day on shore, giving you the best of both worlds. These smaller cruises are also a great way of meeting new people.  As there tends to be only one restaurant and lounge, you’re sure to bump into the same friendly faces each evening.

There are a number of river cruises along the Rhine and Moselle, and some even travel further afield to Russia, Egypt and China. Like their big sisters of the ocean, river cruise lines have invested in solo cabins following a surge in popularity from those wanting to start a solo adventure or meet new people.

6. World Cruise

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P&O’s Aurora World Circumnavigation cruise departs Southampton on 9th January 2017 and visits 43 ports.

A world cruise can tick all of the destinations on your bucket list and, for someone wanting to travel the world alone, exploring by cruise is a luxurious way to do it. It’s a safe way of visiting all of those places that you have always longed to visit like Russia, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil and Mumbai. You name it, there’s a world cruise itinerary that goes there – and with guests hopping on and off over the months, you’re guaranteed to meet other like minded travelers.

7. Food and Entertainment

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Some cruise ships host celebrity chefs to create delicious food that suits all tastes.

One of the main highlights for all cruisers is the culinary voyage and endless array of delectable food and drink available. Many solo cruisers enjoy socialising and meeting new friends on board, and on larger cruises, most will automatically be seated at a larger table with other diners. Should you want to sit alone for dinner, many liners will endeavour to accommodate your request.

Just about every cruise has a dress code – but don’t worry, as cruises have become more diverse, so have the rules. Most are happy with casual clothes during the day and something a little smarter at night such as a nice cocktail dress or suit. It’s a great chance to wear that outfit you’ve saved for a special occasion and dance the night away with new friends.

If you don’t fancy dancing then sit back and enjoy the vast amount of entertainment available on both small and large ships including anything from art and cookery classes, guest speakers, gardening, cinemas and stage shows – there’s never a dull moment.

Published 17th February 2016

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