So you are thinking about or have decided to go on a cruise by yourself? or as most in the travel industry call it a Solo Cruise.
First of all congratulations, if you have never travelled solo before, it will be as fulfilling as you make it, or if you are an experienced solo traveller, please feel free to comment or add your tips in the comments section.
In this blog post I am only going to talk about solo cruising, and the top 5 tips I would have liked to have known before I went on my first solo cruise.
Also, I am not fully 100% up to play with which exact cruise lines offer solo subsidies, or what their solo traveller program is once on board, so whilst I am trying to make this as generic as possible, full disclaimer, I have only ever travelled on Norwegian Cruise Lines as a solo so can speak from some experience from their solo program, however I am not sure what other lines do, that may be something you the reader has to investigate yourself, but I would love to know, so please make comments out for those of us who don't know.
So here we go! My top 5 solo cruise tips for you.
1: Get on Social Media.
Before you cruise, find out about your cruise online.
There are websites such as Cruise Critic and Facebook where you can go and search for your cruise, these are called roll calls. For instance on Cruise Critic you can go onto their website, look for the roll call tab and then you can search your cruise line, date of departure, and there will usually be a roll call for your cruise, this will then correspond to a Facebook group page for your cruise (you can search this in Facebook groups, for example the cruise I went on earlier in 2019 https://www.facebook.com/groups/842923219398255/).
This is also just a good tip for people cruising in groups as well.
On these forums or groups they will usually have someone organising the group and they will have a get together, you can introduce yourself to the group, and state that you are travelling solo, there usually is some others that are travelling solo too, and they may connect with you. I have had lots of people message me, and we've virtually met up via messenger or whatnot before the cruise, then once on board met in person.
2: What to do on embarkation day?
So you've arrived at the pier and checked in, usually the check in staff will give you a paper version of the daily schedule, this will give you an idea of what events, or shows are on, and it also has on NCL a time and place to meet up for solo travellers, its usually in a bar somewhere on the first day.
(This is how the Norwegian Freestyle Daily looks, its also available on their app)
Once you've attended the solo travellers meet and greet usually there will be a solo host who is part of the entertainment staff, they will let you know where the meet up will be daily, and can help you book activities, show times, make group dinner reservations for you and the other solo travellers. Some are really good, and some not so good, its been hit and miss with the solo hosts, but I don't get too worried about them, if they are helpful and willing its a bonus as far as I am concerned.
I have found usually at the initial meet and greet you may have a drink, everyone will introduce themselves, where they are form, how many cruises they have been on etc, you'll be surprised how many cruises some of the others have been on, especially if you are new to cruising, the group will vary in age, from young to older, there's usually a few from each kind of age bracket for you.
From the meet up you can go for dinner with the others, I find on the first night it is good as you'll go to the main dining room usually, and wont have to wait in line for a table, here you can chat further with other cruisers, and who knows may find some others who are going on the same excursions or have similar interests to you, so you can go with them on the excursions, or meet up back on board. (NCL doesn't have set dining times in their main dining rooms, they do Freestyle Dining, so you can eat when you want).
3: Talk to Other People.
Following on from the last tip, talk to the other people in the solo group, there will be many with a lot of experience who are happy to answer your questions.
Talk to the cruise staff, its their job to help ensure you have a great time, if you are a little overwhelmed with all the people and announcements and everything else that goes along, head to guest services and ask for help, the staff are usually very friendly and helpful.
If you are on an excursion or at a bar on board, strike up a conversation with others around you, chances are if they are doing the same excursion as you are they share similar interests. I rarely have trouble getting chatting to people, its in my nature to be chatty (real world job) plus I am from New Zealand, so for a lot of people my accent is really different, so often people will simply start a conversation with me, its really easy to say Hi, how are you enjoying your cruise so far, where are you from and so on.
4: Have Fun.
There are a lot of activities to do on shore days, such as organised tours or excursions, or perhaps you want to stay on board and lay in the sun and enjoy the cruise ship whilst it is much quieter, it is really up to you, its your Holiday, enjoy doing whatever you want to do.
Plus once back on board each night there may be a theme party or an event or game show, bingo, slot, blackjack, or poker tournament in the casino, there is so much to do, so my advice to you is go with the flow and have some fun! But be aware of any time zone changes that you may have whilst sailing overnight, you could miss your booked excursion if you sleep in after partying too hard the night before, I have known people to miss their excursion because of this and it can be a bit of a downer if you miss the special place you travelled half way around the world to see.
5: Look for the best deals
Cruises for solo's can be expensive! For some reason the cruise lines can charge you basically or almost double the fare, so you end up paying a solo supplement. Some cruise lines are doing solo cabins now such as Norwegian, Holland America, Royal Caribbean, and P&O are the ones I have seen that do offer solo cabins, however not on all of their ships, that you will have to figure out on your own, or a good travel agent who specialises in Cruises should be able to help you out.
So essentially, you will often see the price per person when booking a cruise, however when you book the cruise with a specific solo cabin, the price shouldn't be as expensive as if there were two people in the cabin. My best advice is to shop around, talk to a travel agent, or to the cruise lines directly, they all have booking agents to help you, and find out when the best deals, or the best solo trips are coming up and make it work for you and your budget.
(This is what the Solo cabin looks like on the NCL Bliss)
That's all for this post, stay tuned the podcast will be up in the next couple of days as will the YouTube Vlog, trying to get it all working properly.
I'm getting ready for a trip to Samoa on the 5th of January, so will be getting some more overseas content up soon.
Enjoy, and safe travels.