Posted August 12th, 2013, 06:16 PM
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.