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  #1  
Old August 12th, 2013, 03:58 PM
columbofan columbofan is offline
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Default My first cruise - how/where's best to meet people? (confronting social anxiety)

Hi,

My first cruise is this coming Sunday (Adventure of the Seas, RCI, 18/8, to Norway). I am really nervous, scared even.

I will be travelling solo, unfortunately my cabin is one of the inner ones as it'd be too expensive for a balcony so can't enjoy the view and am worried I might go claustrophobic with no window?

I have social anxiety and OCD. I took this cruise because
(a) it's always something i wanted to do, enjoy the views of the sky and river, enjoying the breeze whilst relaxing;
(b) on a personal level, I want to confront my fears, jump outside my comfort zone, and do something entirely new, in being able to meet people. When meeting people, especially women, I get so badly nervous, short of having panic attacks.

I wish to ask:
(1) what's the best way to meet people, especially solo travellers? I have signed up on the roll-call but it seems every other post I see has the pronoun of 'we' instead of 'I', I am worried I'll be the only solo aboard 3600 people!
(2) where are the best places to meet people, especially solo travellers, without feeling you're 'disturbing' a group?
(3) other than the basics - such as where you're from, what excursions you're going to do - what other conversation topics is good to talk about? I like to use this cruise as a test for myself in improving my social skills.
(4) how do you deal with people who will either ask why you're alone or judge you in some way (calling it 'brave', 'pathetic', 'lonely' etc), and how do you respond and handle it if they make you feel embarassed?
(5) how do you deal with situations where you feel the 'odd' one out? For example, people are in groups, splitting into couples/families in group activities and you're not with anyone. I like to play some games on there but don't want people pointing and laughing at me.

And to add to my nervousness, this will be my first travel outside my home country since 1991!

Thanks
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Old August 12th, 2013, 04:11 PM
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I completely empathize with your concerns. My husband of 54 years died last October and I no longer have the security of being part of a couple. I did in a small way what you are doing, force myself to put myself out there. To my complete amazement everyone whom I interacted with was kind, receptive and seemed genuinely caring. I know it's hard to push yourself, but you're doing the right thing by trying. You don't have to make a million lifetime best friends, casual acquaintances can sometimes turn into friends. Give people a chance. Believe me some of them are having the same misgivings as you. Be yourself, start small, Each encounter will become easier. If you do run into an unkind soul , say nice to have met you and go on to the next person. Most of all try to develop a positive outlook and Enjoy !!!
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Old August 12th, 2013, 04:44 PM
columbofan columbofan is offline
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One of my concerns is dining. I wanted the 'my time' dining reservation but the website won't let me, so am worried I'd be stuck with couples etc who'd judge me and make me feel miserable. I'll phone the cruise liner up tomorrow asking to be seated with solo's, hopefully that'll help.
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Old August 12th, 2013, 05:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hal_9000 View Post
Hi,

My first cruise is this coming Sunday (Adventure of the Seas, RCI, 18/8, to Norway). I am really nervous, scared even.

I will be travelling solo, unfortunately my cabin is one of the inner ones as it'd be too expensive for a balcony so can't enjoy the view and am worried I might go claustrophobic with no window?

I have social anxiety and OCD. I took this cruise because
(a) it's always something i wanted to do, enjoy the views of the sky and river, enjoying the breeze whilst relaxing;
(b) on a personal level, I want to confront my fears, jump outside my comfort zone, and do something entirely new, in being able to meet people. When meeting people, especially women, I get so badly nervous, short of having panic attacks.

I wish to ask:
(1) what's the best way to meet people, especially solo travellers? I have signed up on the roll-call but it seems every other post I see has the pronoun of 'we' instead of 'I', I am worried I'll be the only solo aboard 3600 people!
(2) where are the best places to meet people, especially solo travellers, without feeling you're 'disturbing' a group?
(3) other than the basics - such as where you're from, what excursions you're going to do - what other conversation topics is good to talk about? I like to use this cruise as a test for myself in improving my social skills.
(4) how do you deal with people who will either ask why you're alone or judge you in some way (calling it 'brave', 'pathetic', 'lonely' etc), and how do you respond and handle it if they make you feel embarassed?
(5) how do you deal with situations where you feel the 'odd' one out? For example, people are in groups, splitting into couples/families in group activities and you're not with anyone. I like to play some games on there but don't want people pointing and laughing at me.

And to add to my nervousness, this will be my first travel outside my home country since 1991!

Thanks
Ah, good old Royal Carib. for your first Solo. That was mine also some 10 years ago now and believe me I had the same concerns and worries but they really never happened. I did have people ask me why or how I travelled Solo but I just replied that this was how I intended to fill my bucket list and everyone left that alone other than becoming interested in my bucket list which will draw peoples interest. I had a travel agent who told me to join a large table for supper whether they were couples or triples or who ever but that this would allow me to join in and share the conversation and it has worked great for me and I now look forward to meeting new people and joining in and remember everyone is curious about your situation but I have never yet had to explain myself so I now just change the subject if someone gets too curious. I have travelled on RCI, Hal, Celebrity and Princess and I found Celebrity and Princess and I think RCI all had single meetings posted on their daily agenda's. Go to them join in and find out what they are doing and if it interests you ask to participate and remember they are just like you and will welcome you aboard. I now join other couples for morning coffee, breakfast, lunch and supper of course but I also find out what tours they are looking at and will sometimes join them also so after doing this for some years now I quite often meet those same people on other cruises and we pick up where we left off. Be yourself, be happy and keep smiling. You will be accepted without question as everyone on your ship is all there for the same reason. Doing what your doing. Good Luck and it does get easier with time.
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Old August 12th, 2013, 05:16 PM
calliopecruiser calliopecruiser is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hal_9000 View Post
I wish to ask:
(1) what's the best way to meet people, especially solo travellers? I have signed up on the roll-call but it seems every other post I see has the pronoun of 'we' instead of 'I', I am worried I'll be the only solo aboard 3600 people!
(2) where are the best places to meet people, especially solo travellers, without feeling you're 'disturbing' a group?
(3) other than the basics - such as where you're from, what excursions you're going to do - what other conversation topics is good to talk about? I like to use this cruise as a test for myself in improving my social skills.
(4) how do you deal with people who will either ask why you're alone or judge you in some way (calling it 'brave', 'pathetic', 'lonely' etc), and how do you respond and handle it if they make you feel embarassed?
(5) how do you deal with situations where you feel the 'odd' one out? For example, people are in groups, splitting into couples/families in group activities and you're not with anyone. I like to play some games on there but don't want people pointing and laughing at me.
I have been traveling on my own for a long time, so I can't really relate, but I can still offer some advice for what I think will help make a good solo trip:

Don't think meeting solo travelers will necessarily be better than meeting those traveling with family or as a couple. Not all couples, for instance, want to spend all their time talking with their partner and are happy to chat with a solo traveler. My tablemates on my last cruise were a family (elderly parents and adult daughter), a married couple, and a pair of female friends traveling together -- and I spent most of my time talking with one or the other of the married couple. They were just the two that I felt I had more to chat about with, and the fact that they were married didn't matter. Don't limit yourself by thinking only solo people will enjoy chatting with solos, and don't think that every "we" is a married (or romantic) couple - some of those "we" groups could be friends or family. And, sometimes, solo travelers are happy on their own and don't want to meet new people. My last cruise had one solo traveler who was always on her own and didn't want to share meals, drinks, or activities with anyone.

Don't worry about disturbing a group, because some people are very happy to have others casually join in their group (large or small). Be aware of their reaction and you'll be able to judge if they want you there (do they look at you in conversation, or ignore you?). Sometimes I'll take an empty seat in the lounge even if it's right beside a couple or group and say "do you mind if I sit here? Hi." while smiling and looking them in the eyes. Then the ball is in their court and they can either include me (they want to meet new people) or ignore me (they don't want to meet new people), but I've made the first move towards a casual meeting. If they ignore me, I still sit there and enjoy my drink and people-watch for a while.

Where to meet them? It depends on what facilities are on your ship and what activities do you enjoy - are you in the gym, by the pool, or walking the decks for fresh air? Or are you in the casino, or relaxing in the lounge with a drink, or stopping by for a snack?

Small talk is a skill that can be learned, and it's good you're going to practice it - remember not to talk about religion, money, or politics with strangers or new acquaintances. You can ask about their hometown, the ports, past cruises, and spin that into talking about your hometown, or places you want to visit. Or if something they said reminds you of a movie or a book. Don't feel you need to fill every silence, but look people in the eye when you speak to them or when they're speaking to you.....it's amazing how many people don't, and it looks like they're biding time with you while they wait for something better to do (don't be that person).

As for people who ask me why I'm alone, I tell them. I'm not embarrassed to be traveling alone, and people can't make you feel embarrassed without your permission. If someone does say something rude (like saying it's pathetic), simply look at them and ask "why would you say something rude like that?" People judge me all the time, all over, and I don't care about the judgements of 90% of them. Ask yourself why you would care about the judgement of a stranger on a cruise ship - so let them judge you, and don't let negative judgements bother you. Only really rude people will let those judgements be apparent anyway, and if they're that rude, you don't want to know they anyway. Don't try to please all the people all the time - it's a futile effort, and it has no benefit.

No one will point and laugh at you. Period. Yes, some group activities are intended for set groups or pairs of people, and sometimes it makes them hard to do - so oftentimes those are the things I don't try to do. I went alone to the trivia game on the ship (on my last cruise), and I approached 2 or 3 groups asking if they wanted a fourth player - and they all looked panicked and said that they already had a pre-formed group and I couldn't join them. I felt horrible and left-out.......for about a minute and a half until I went to do something else and struck trivia games off my list of things to do on the cruise. Life's like that, and you can't fit in everywhere all the time. I went somewhere else, did something else, and totally forgot that I had wanted to play trivia. I didn't think about it until after the cruise was over and someone asked me about it.
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Old August 12th, 2013, 05:20 PM
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Excellent remarks by calliopecruiser.

He has been there and done that too.
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Old August 12th, 2013, 06:27 PM
columbofan columbofan is offline
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Good stuff, thanks for this.

The reason why I'm worried about such judgements from strangers is that I am worried that later on they might see me and start 'targeting' me again or make me feel bad or even guilty by giving me that 'look' and others will catch it and it'll spread around the ship. It's unfortunate that months ago, I was excited about finally booking this cruise which is soemthing I wanted to do for years. In recent weeks that later turned to nervousness. And now, in truth, dread. This will probably be the only cruise I'll do because it's extremely expensive for me.

I am worried about people (couples, families, friend circles, women) judging me and making me feel embarassed about travelling by myself. It's abit like in school, in P.E. class where pupils join up in pairs for some exercising activity and I'm the remaining one standing in the middle of the hall. Then there's the excursions; couples going off together, romanticising the moment, and you're there all alone watching helplessly, wishing you could enjoy that too.

What can I do, or say to myself, to turn my feelings back around again, to be excited again about this holiday, as opposed to dreading it? Also I'll also worry about feeling left out in that everyone around me will be drinking in the evening with friends/families etc and I'd feel left out and alone, feeling miserable. Like, a 'pressure' in that I'm supposed to be out there too, enjoying myself (for a person with social anxiety, it's actually hard to find the meaning of this when with other people as opposed to being on your own). In truth I don't like to drink that much and don't want to spend irresponsibly, I like quiet nights. I want to go to the theatre/cinema/comedy club/live shows on evenings. I also feel in trying to meet people there on the ship, noone wants to meet 'that loner', especially ladies. You could say this post shows how sadly self-conscious I am - my counsellor says this is a result of an anxiety disorder with OCD, going together with my social phobia/anxiety. But she's been really supportive of me taking a big step in doing something as big as this and daring to follow the dream of experiencing the sea in summer.

Rehearsed scenario:
Traveller: 'you travel alone? *** is wrong with you? why you travel alone?'
Me: 'I personally feel there's nothing wrong with travelling by yourself; there are no compromises to make, you can do what you want, when you want, the freedom is luxurious, it's liberating, and in taking the adventure on your own you are learning more about yourself as a person, as a human being, and expanding yourself in jumping out your comfort zone and not afraid to do something you always wanted to do'.
Traveller: 'er...I got educated'
!!

Last edited by columbofan; August 12th, 2013 at 06:41 PM.
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Old August 12th, 2013, 07:37 PM
zpdw484 zpdw484 is offline
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I will tell you one thing I learned on my first solo cruise. Yes you will definitely hear "oh my god you're by yourself" or something in those regards many times. But don't totally count these people out as potential "friends" or people to have good conversations with. Most people are just kinda "shocked" when you tell them you are solo and don't really know how to respond. They may respond with something that makes you feel totally "out of place" and not mean anything by it. On my cruise I got the "shocked" response from some of the people that I became good friends with and ended up spending quiet a bit of time with over the cruise. I still keep in touch with some of these same people via facebook, etc. So don't immediately count people out as potential "cruise buddies" if you get a "socked" response when you tell them you are rolling solo! Also, you will hear many "well good for you" or "I wish I had done things like that when I was your age" type responses too.

Joining your roll call is also a good idea. On my first solo cruise my roll call was very active and I hit it off with some people that was close to my age and seemed to share a lot in common with so we planned excursions, etc. Once onboard I met these people and had a great time with them, so the roll call definitely helped me out. But on the flip side I am sailing the freedom of the seas in less than 3 weeks and we have a super active roll call, but I haven't really hit it off with any people (most are in a much different age bracket, celebrating retirements, anniversaries, etc) so it's still up in the air whether I will go to the meet and mingle or not.

I believe that the number 1 thing to do to ensure you have a great trip is to go with the right mindset. If you go with the attitude that you are going to have a great time no matter what anyone else thinks (which you should) you will have a great time! If you go with the attitude that you are going to be miserable and start feeling sorry for yourself then you will probably not have a very good trip. So keep your head up, go with the right mindset, and have a great cruise!
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  #9  
Old August 12th, 2013, 07:47 PM
WELDON WELDON is offline
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Everyone is anxious on their first solo cruise. This isn't school and there are no bullies on a cruise. Most people aren't going to judge you. They are on vacation and couldn't care less if you are solo. Try to book a large table for dinner. Join in the conversation and don't just sit looking at your food. You can talk about your hometown, what you do for work, if you have any hobbies. On my last cruise in June, I was sitting on the lido deck after sailaway. A woman sat at the next table and we started talking. She was sailing with her daughter, son and GD. We became very friendly and looked for each other around the pool area. We would just sit and talk or walk around the ship. If she saw me in the theater, I would sit with her and her family. If you see someone alone, you may need to make the first effort in striking up a conversation. You can also go to one of the bars and after a couple of times, the bartender will get to know you. That's also a good place to talk with people.
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Old August 12th, 2013, 08:14 PM
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Agree with just about all the previous posts. My first solo cruise on Princess was really awful, was treated horribly by the ships staff and passengers. Bothered me a bit (ok more than a bit) at the time but I laugh hysterically about it now. This wonderful board is one of the reasons I tried solo cruising again and have my third one coming up in Oct. People can't make you feel small unless you let them.

For what my opinion is worth a couple thoughts:

Drink if you want to and if you don't that's fine too, if concerned about looking like you are not drinking order a tonic with lime. Nobody will know what it is.

The quote about not looking to make a million lifetime friends is so true. I am a total introvert by nature, if I talk to people that are interesting that's great but if not that is really ok too.

Trust me I know it's easy to feel like there is a giant spotlight on you when solo but most people could care less about your status. Having said that people will undoubtedly comment in ways you find hurtful. The aforementioned "you are so brave, must be lonely, friendless etc". On my last land based resort vacation a woman stated to me "why I earth would anyone travel alone for vacation?". I looked her right in the eye and said "because I can", she walked away without another word and I never saw her again for the rest of my trip.

My goal every day is to find at least one moment of joy. Some days easier said than done at best. On vacation you can look to the marvels all around you and hopefully take pride and joy in doing something different than your normal everyday life presents.

You can do this! Hoping to hear back when you return.
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Old August 12th, 2013, 08:24 PM
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You've gotten lots of good advice in the previous posts. Let me add a few suggestions.

A large dining table is essential. If you aren't happy with your assignment, go to the Maitre D' and change it.

You didn't mention excursions. Hopefully you are signed up for them. It's a good opportunity to meet others.

Don't spend any time in your cabin. Go to the MDR for breakfast and join a group table. On sea days eat lunch in the MDR at a group table. Hang out in the Cafe Promenade or the Viking Crown with a book. Don't miss the meet and mingle.

Keep the independent solo mindset. From what you've said, you are not a single looking to hook up with someone on the cruise. I've found that there are a surprising number of folks on any cruise who may be sharing a cabin with someone, but are not attached at the hip and are looking to meet others.
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Old August 12th, 2013, 09:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Pstcrik View Post
Excellent remarks by calliopecruiser.

He has been there and done that too.
I'm a she, not a he.....but it doesn't really matter.
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Old August 12th, 2013, 10:00 PM
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I think solo cruisers are cool and the few I have met have impressed me with their willingness to put themselves out there. One of the many things I like like about cruising is the ease of striking up conversations with people around you.
It's just part of the magic of cruising.

Good for you for trying something outside your comfort zone. Have a great cruise.
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Old August 13th, 2013, 07:16 AM
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I'm just thinking...is it a good idea to put up something outside my door saying I'm a solo traveller and am looking to meet new people and make new friends, feel free to knock? Or is putting up such a sign outside your door not permitted?

What about noticeboards? If so where's the best place for that on a Royal Caribbean cruise?

Just signed up to the meet-n-mingle, seems everyone are in families etc. My post is the only one mentioning I'm solo.
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Old August 13th, 2013, 09:59 AM
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hi Hal. 9000,
Same you are not on my solo cruise with P&O in May!!!!I have booked a singel cabin and asked to be satwith other solos.I too am gong to Norway and I have been on Adventure in the past too.
I bet you will have a great time.I am so looking forward to my solo although it has taken me about nine years of cruising to build up confidence!!
I went on NCL Epic in June with extended family.I had my own cabin and did lots onmy own and so I thought I can go solo.
Many of my friends donot like cruising like I do ....or they do not like the same things that I do.averycgood friend who has come with me lots doesnt have he ££££££££££. And there is a limit to how many times I can pay for her.so alone it is!!!
I live alone and spend many hours a day alone so dnt think that I shallhave a problem!!!!the worst bit for me I think will be in the cruise terminal waiting alne to board but I shallhave my ipad at the ready!!!!!!
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Old August 13th, 2013, 10:06 AM
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I'm a she, not a he.....but it doesn't really matter.
I do apologize for that mistake.
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Old August 13th, 2013, 10:10 AM
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I'm just thinking...is it a good idea to put up something outside my door saying I'm a solo traveller and am looking to meet new people and make new friends, feel free to knock? Or is putting up such a sign outside your door not permitted?

What about noticeboards? If so where's the best place for that on a Royal Caribbean cruise?

Just signed up to the meet-n-mingle, seems everyone are in families etc. My post is the only one mentioning I'm solo.
I'm not sure I would put something on my door. But I would keep posting - you never know who is out there reading everything. Have you considered setting up an email account just for cruising? I have one and I post it in broken format so it isn't an email address that can be picked up easily without actually reading the post. I've had lurking solos and others contact me directly about dinner plans, tours, activities, etc.
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Old August 13th, 2013, 12:04 PM
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The answers to your questions are highlighted in red.

(1) what's the best way to meet people, especially solo travellers? I have signed up on the roll-call but it seems every other post I see has the pronoun of 'we' instead of 'I', I am worried I'll be the only solo aboard 3600 people!
Just start conversations in "forced" situations, like waiting in line, standing in a crowd waiting for your excursion bus to arrive, asking people to take your picture at tourist sites, etc. They may feel forced on land, but on a cruise, they're perfectly normal. Use that. If your social anxiety is mild enough and you know how, hit up a Latin dance event, and ask people (or be asked) to dance with you.

(2) where are the best places to meet people, especially solo travellers, without feeling you're 'disturbing' a group?
Assigned seating in the MDR, ship excursions, dance events, organized activities onboard, Senor Frog's bars in ports.

(3) other than the basics - such as where you're from, what excursions you're going to do - what other conversation topics is good to talk about? I like to use this cruise as a test for myself in improving my social skills.
Here are some I used:
1a. Is this your first cruise? ("No") What was your first one like?
1b. Is this your first cruise? ("Yes") How do you like it so far?
2. How did you pick [your ship's name]? (I had great conversations from this one)
3. What's your favorite line dance? (at a line dancing activity)
4. How long have you been cruising?

(4) how do you deal with people who will either ask why you're alone or judge you in some way (calling it 'brave', 'pathetic', 'lonely' etc), and how do you respond and handle it if they make you feel embarassed?
Just say "meh" or "so?".

(5) how do you deal with situations where you feel the 'odd' one out? For example, people are in groups, splitting into couples/families in group activities and you're not with anyone. I like to play some games on there but don't want people pointing and laughing at me.
I've had those from time to time on land, but never on a cruise. It's a whole different environment. More often that not, I got "adopted" by an existing group of friends or even a couple. I'm sure you will too.
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Old August 13th, 2013, 01:15 PM
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I have cruised solo many times since my hubby passed away. I have been with just me, with young kids, teens and grown children. If you want an explanation for why you cruise alone, there are many. It feels safe to be with a group but free to follow your own path. Frankly, I am not terribly interested in making an impression on others and I sure do not need company to relax and enjoy myself. When you travel alone, plan to socialize to meet your needs, not what you are projecting someone else needs may be. Conversation starters- get opinions, secrets of the ship, cruising ports, entertainment and future vacations. Being single will not make you the most unique person on the ship, so relax. Travel is fun when you see what you like about your own choices.
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Old August 13th, 2013, 01:42 PM
columbofan columbofan is offline
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Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: UK
Posts: 21
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Thanks. I pretty much have everything set and wish to know what tablets I'm allowed to take onboard. As well as paracetamol (or 'aspirin'), I also want to take some 'calmers' with me, it's designed to reduce stress, anxiety and worry. These are bought over the counter in any grocery store (as I'm in the UK, I got these from Asda), here's a link to it:

http://groceries.asda.com/asda-webst.../1000000467885

Will this be ok to take on the ship? Shall I carry it in my bag as opposed to my luggage case? Is this likely to raise suspicions when going through customs (at Southampton port)?

I spoke to RCI customer service and my doctor and travel agent, they all said it should be ok. I wish to get honest opinions from fellow travellers too. My doctor says no doctor's note is needed.

Thanks
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