Tina is not only new to cruising, but she’s also a solo traveller. Kay O’Sullivan has some great tips on how not to feel left out and how to avoid the dreaded single supplement.
I love your cruise coverage. I am a ‘newbie’ to cruising and am keen to book a cruise to New Zealand or around the South Pacific, but as I am a single female, I am concerned about feeling left out with most passengers probably being couples.
So, how do I choose a line that caters for singles? How do you know up front that they will do this well? And is there any way of avoiding the punitive singles supplement?
A. I agree with you wholeheartedly that the thought of travelling on your own is daunting. But the good news is the cruise industry has become keenly aware of solo travellers and has changed its ways, and even the ships, to make us feel right at home.
Also, the destinations you mention, South Pacific and New Zealand, are two of the most popular cruise destinations, which means plenty of choice, on ships with staff that take wonderful care of solo travellers.
I’m a fan of smaller ships when travelling solo, as it’s easier to become friendly with people when you keep on seeing them. While the new breed of superliners – 4000-plus guests – have many fascinating attractions, you could wander around for a week without seeing anyone you’ve met before.
I’ve spoken to a number of travel industry gurus, cruise experts and travel agents and they tend to agree that you are more likely to chum up with other solo travellers on a mid-size or small ship.
For instance, APT’s fleet of three ocean ships, the MS Caledonian Sky, the MS Island Sky and the MS Hebridean Sky, hold a maximum of 114 guests. Perfect. The spokeswoman for APT also suggests that themed cruises, such as those offered by Botanica World Discoveries exploring the world’s great gardens, are another great way to bond, as you are mixing with like-minded people.
Question, question, question
Chance may be a fine thing, but there are some basic facts you need to know before plonking down your deposit. First off, I’d ask whether the cruise line and itinerary you fancy has get-togethers for solo travellers. These really make it easy for you to meet people. On Cunard ships, solo travellers can look forward to special activities organised by the ships’ social hostesses, including a welcome reception, coffee and cookies every sea-day morning, and specially organised meeting points and excursions on port days. P&O Cruises World Cruising ships also feature coffee mornings for passengers travelling by themselves.
Monique Van Gelder, the national marketing manager for cruise specialist Cruiseabout, says to also ask about seating arrangements for dinner.
“We see more older travellers cruising solo, and for this market the traditional cruise ships from Cunard or Holland America Line tend to suit best. On these ships, passengers have the choice between open dining or set seating, so those with a sociable disposition can mingle, while those who want the certainty of an assigned seat can get to know their dining companions.
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