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olemissreb

Solo Cruising - how to get started?

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I'm an empty nester and while I still have to pay a couple more years of college tuition for my youngest son, I'm looking forward to solo cruising.  I am a balcony snob, so unless there is a ship out there that has solo balcony rooms, I'm not interested in a solo room.  I've been on several cruises and usually book through the cruiseline websites.  I also prefer to do independent excursions as I find they are worth the money.

 

All that being said, my questions are:

 

1 - what do you recommend as a first time solo cruise?  Caribbean? Mexico?

2 - Big ship (Anthem, Oasis and the like)? or something smaller?

3 - Do you book as a single? Or do you book as a double to take advantage of any discounts for second passenger?  If the latter, I assume you would have to let them know that your "roommate" will be a no show when you check in?

4 - Best way to find the lowest single supplements?

 

I think that's all I have for now.  Cruising is my favorite form of vacation and I don't want to always have to try and get someone to go with me.

 

Thanks for all the help!

 

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50 minutes ago, olemissreb said:

1 - what do you recommend as a first time solo cruise?  Caribbean? Mexico

 

Since you live in Mississippi, a trip to a port for a Caribbean cruise would probably be easier and less costly to do than one to the west coast for Mexico.  Although, you might enjoy the Mexican ports on the nation's Caribbean side.  What's your interests?  That's what you have to decide.

 

50 minutes ago, olemissreb said:

2 - Big ship (Anthem, Oasis and the like)? or something smaller?

 

Do you want the "big ship" amusement park-type amenities?  If so:  Oasis, etc. would be OK.  Otherwise, consider some other smaller vessels that offer the amenities that you would prefer.

 

51 minutes ago, olemissreb said:

3 - Do you book as a single?

 

Yes.  No interest in any share.  And, I have no interest in trying to book a double and then have to explain why my phantom travel mate didn't show.

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Good morning. I have been sailing solo for many years (it is the only way I cruise). I have no desire to share a cabin and when I book I know I will pay more but it is worth to me.

 

As for the ships and sizes, I prefer smaller but that is me. If you like dozens of restaurant choices (a long with 1,0000'S more people) there are plenty of BIG ships to choose from.

 

I enjoy the the intimacy and service of smaller vessels.  

 

There are lots of Choices out there and everyone has their preferences.  Have fun researching😀

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19 hours ago, olemissreb said:

1 - what do you recommend as a first time solo cruise?  Caribbean? Mexico?

2 - Big ship (Anthem, Oasis and the like)? or something smaller?

3 - Do you book as a single? Or do you book as a double to take advantage of any discounts for second passenger?  If the latter, I assume you would have to let them know that your "roommate" will be a no show when you check in?

4 - Best way to find the lowest single supplements?

 

1 - what do you recommend as a first time solo cruise?  Caribbean? Mexico?

I think it's all a matter of the ports and what you want to do in each. I like to see what's available in the ports to do, even if I'm not taking an excursion and go from there. Also, take into consideration length of nights, how many cruising vs. port days, and what you are looking to get out of it. These trips are definitely more party than say a trip to Alaska - something else to keep in mind.

 

2 - Big ship (Anthem, Oasis and the like)? or something smaller?

I like the big ships as it gives me lots of places to go but also can find my own spot. I still see a lot of the same people so having that connection is nice when I want it. The bigger ships also have solo balcony cabins you can sometimes get a good price on.

 

3 - Do you book as a single? Or do you book as a double to take advantage of any discounts for second passenger?  If the latter, I assume you would have to let them know that your "roommate" will be a no show when you check in?

I book as a single. A lot of the time the second passenger discount is applied anyway. The best way to find pricing is to pretend to do a booking. Or I've had my best luck calling the cruise line sometimes.

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19 hours ago, olemissreb said:

1 - what do you recommend as a first time solo cruise?  Caribbean? Mexico?

2 - Big ship (Anthem, Oasis and the like)? or something smaller?

3 - Do you book as a single? Or do you book as a double to take advantage of any discounts for second passenger?  If the latter, I assume you would have to let them know that your "roommate" will be a no show when you check in?

4 - Best way to find the lowest single supplements?

I have been sailing solo for about 15 years, and love it.  It's the only way I cruise now, though I have met some cruise friends that I meet onboard sometimes. 

 

1) I don't think the location matters with respect to it being a first time solo cruise -- my first solo cruise was a transatlantic.  I think the more important things to consider are how long you want to cruise for, and what time of year.   In other words, pick a cruise you'd like, not a cruise you think is best for a solo.

 

2) Also personal preference and not about being solo.  I don't like the large ships and large crowds, but I don't like things too small either; my sweet spot is about 800-900 passengers. 

 

3) Book as a single; if you book for 2 and show up solo, they will charge you the difference anyway. 

 

4) you can check cruiseplum.com -- there's a section for solo rates that lists several cruise lines (but not all) and their solo rates (including sales).  That's an information site, not a travel agent, so you'll still have to contact the cruise line directly (or a travel agent).  FYI, Crystal offers 30% solo supplements on window cabins and 35% on balcony cabins on virtually all of their voyages; it's what I consider the best value for solo travellers unless you're able to find a sale that meets your wishes and available time.  It's a luxury line, so it looks more expensive, but for solos it's often really not. 

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Thank you all so much!  I'm going to start my research and hopefully by 2022, I'll have taken my first solo cruise.  I love the Caribbean, so I'll probably head there.  I've wanted to experience a mega-ship, so depending on price, I may do just that.  Will probably have to work on some things on land first - like going to dinner or a bar by myself (although I did do the bar thing on my last cruise while my mom was sleeping) - got to get over those issues so I don't spend all my time in the cabin even if it's with a balcony! 

 

Thanks again!  Maybe I'll meet some of y'all on the high seas!

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2 hours ago, olemissreb said:

Will probably have to work on some things on land first - like going to dinner or a bar by myself

Although I've been travelling solo for about 30 years, I find eating out alone to be the most difficult, so that's a good idea to get used to that.  You may or may not find nice people you want to dine with on board, but you should still be comfortable sitting in a restaurant by yourself and enjoying dinner. 

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2 hours ago, olemissreb said:

I've wanted to experience a mega-ship, so depending on price, I may do just that.  Will probably have to work on some things on land first - like going to dinner or a bar by myself (although I did do the bar thing on my last cruise while my mom was sleeping) - got to get over those issues so I don't spend all my time in the cabin even if it's with a balcony! 

I really like the mega ships, feels more free to me.

 

For dinner - I'll bring a book with me and my journal to write in, which also gives me a space to catalog the photos I took that day because I don't want to forget why I took them. Also, after a day of excursions I found going to the buffet (whatever that may be in the future), and Solarium Bistro on Royal, a great option. Met lots of random people that way. 

 

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Posted (edited)

Big ship with solo balcony cabins... Time to check out Royal Caribbean! I think there are single-occupancy balcony cabins available on select other ships (I thought HAL had them or was planning to?), but your best bet are the RC Quantum class ships. They have a small number of Studio Balcony cabins - small rooms but with full-sized balconies. 
 

In fact, I just cancelled my May 2021 Alaska cruise in an NCL Studio (inside cabin) and am replacing it with a June 2021 in a Studio Balcony on Quantum of the Seas. It’s about the same per-person fare as a standard balcony, but of course, no solo supplement.

 

On other ships, you’ve either got to look for those reduced solo supplements on regular cabins or just grit your teeth and pay double. I’m paying the full price on my next two cruises - even though both are on NCL ships with Studio areas, I am officially hooked on balconies now. 
 

Unfortunately we’re not allowed to mention travel agent sites but there are some which let you see solo supplement rates. A bit of Googling on solo supplements should turn up some options. 

Edited by coastcat

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5 hours ago, olemissreb said:

Will probably have to work on some things on land first - like going to dinner or a bar by myself

 

Dining on a cruise will provide you with companions as often as you wish.  You need not be or feel alone.  Fixed seating dining will provide people with whom you get to know for better or worse during your cruise, if they usually appear for dinner.  Open seating dining will allow you to meet a wider variety of people, if you wish.  You can also specify what size of table you would like for open seating (as well as for fixed seating, too).  I recommend a round table for 6 or 8.  Why a round table?  It is much easier to carry on a conversation with others than at a rectangular table for 6 or 8 (or larger).  

 

From what you have posted, you have already learned that the best place for a solo guest to be in order to be able to easily interact with fellow guests and the bar staff is at the bar and not sitting at a table somewhere in the lounge.

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For many years I did fixed dining but over the last few? I have dined on what most cruise lines consider "open dining"....

I did enjoy it for what it was and at the time most people showed up every night.  As time progressed, you can have an 8 top, but only 3 may show up. (with all the other options offered).

My more recent sailings have all been on ships that hold less than 600 people and 2 river cruises........those held 

less than 150..........VERY easy to meet people and go to dinner together. 

Not sure I would ever go back to fixed dining anymore.  I won't every say "never" as circumstances may call for it

but I definitely enjoy the smaller venues......so much easier to meet others and really easy to set up dinner plans!

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2 hours ago, Lois R said:

Not sure I would ever go back to fixed dining anymore.

An alternate view -- I would love to go back to fixed dining.  If there weren't others I'd met and had dinner plans with, I still had familiar faces to dine with in the MDR at least, and I didn't have to go through the same introductory questions and small talk every time.  I don't meet people easily and don't like to feel I have to troll the cocktail lounge looking for dining companions to avoid eating alone.   And, while I can comfortably eat alone, I don't enjoy it nearly as much.  Even if there are only 3 or 4 of the 8 people at dinner that night. 

 

(Yes, I know the phrase "trolling.....for dining companions" may seem hyperbolic, but that's what it feels like to me.)

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Lois R said:

Not sure I would ever go back to fixed dining anymore. 

 

Agreed! For solo dining I enjoy being able to go to dinner at whatever time I want. For me it all depends on the day, the ports, etc. I find it a more relaxing way to travel.

Edited by bhsolo

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43 minutes ago, calliopecruiser said:

An alternate view -- I would love to go back to fixed dining.  If there weren't others I'd met and had dinner plans with, I still had familiar faces to dine with in the MDR at least, and I didn't have to go through the same introductory questions and small talk every time.  I don't meet people easily and don't like to feel I have to troll the cocktail lounge looking for dining companions to avoid eating alone.   And, while I can comfortably eat alone, I don't enjoy it nearly as much.  Even if there are only 3 or 4 of the 8 people at dinner that night. 

 

(Yes, I know the phrase "trolling.....for dining companions" may seem hyperbolic, but that's what it feels like to me.)

I agree with your view in the sense of you have to do what is best for you.  I would not attempt to tell someone to do

something that they know would make them uncomfortable.   I do meet people very easily and always have.........

My last 5 cruises have been on Silversea' and river cruises.......SS has a wonderful way they treat solos and offer

dining together if you are so inclined. You can join in (or not).  As for river cruising? The amount of folks is so small,

it is just so easy to meet other people. Everyone is off the boat during the day and the tours are 

so small----it is a very relaxed way to get to know other folks.

 

 

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25 minutes ago, Lois R said:

river cruising

I agree river cruising is a different beast all together -- I really see no comparison between river and ocean cruising except both are on floating vessels. 

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27 minutes ago, calliopecruiser said:

I agree river cruising is a different beast all together -- I really see no comparison between river and ocean cruising except both are on floating vessels. 

I was just trying to point out the dining part.........they are different.   It is only open dining.  

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River cruising is something else on my cruising bucket list.  I think I'll get comfortable with solo ocean cruising first before attempting river cruising. Although, a cruise up/down the Mississippi is highly intriguing.

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8 hours ago, Lois R said:

As time progressed, you can have an 8 top, but only 3 may show up. (with all the other options offered).

 

That is one of the major changes in dining that has taken place in cruising.  It's good to have the options available.  I enjoy them as much as anyone.  But, for someone who prefers fixed seating times for dinner, it has become a disappointment when all or most of my fellow dining companions fail to appear.  I think it is courteous to inform one's dining companions and stewards, if possible, the evening before someone expects to dine at an alternate restaurant.  That rarely seems to happen anymore.  

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I also used to do fixed seating but as a previous poster mentioned, after the first night or 2, most people did not show up.  So now I do any time dining or go to the buffet.  I have met other solo travelers, a mother and daughter and several women traveling together that I have dined with.  The best advice I can give you is to make conversation with people. You never know who you will meet and can become friendly with during your cruise.  

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21 hours ago, WELDON said:

The best advice I can give you is to make conversation with people. You never know who you will meet and can become friendly with during your cruise.  

 

Absolutely true!  And those shipboard friends may continue to be friends for many years after your cruise.  

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Posted (edited)

Make sure you understand the difference between solo cabin and single occupancy of a double. Solos are notorious for no discounts and selling out early.

Since you've been on several cruises- pick the ship that had the most activities you liked, at a price you can afford. You're more likely to find people who share your interests. In my experience, the more expensive the ship and the more grandiose the promises, the bigger the disappointment.

Edited by Dancer Bob

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11 hours ago, Dancer Bob said:

Make sure you understand the difference between solo cabin and single occupancy of a double. Solos are notorious for no discounts and selling out early.

Since you've been on several cruises- pick the ship that had the most activities you liked, at a price you can afford. You're more likely to find people who share your interests. In my experience, the more expensive the ship and the more grandiose the promises, the bigger the disappointment.

I do understand the difference between solos and single occupancy.  I have noticed that the solos don't fit the bill for me as most are inside cabins and I am a balcony snob, so it's single occupancy for me. 

 

I've been looking at several cruises for Jan. 2022 and I think the largest one is the Freedom of the Seas.  The others are smaller ships.  The mega ships don't do 7 day Southern Caribbean cruises and the Southern is my favorite route.  I figure if I'm going to cruise solo, the least I can do is cruise my favorite route.  Airfare to Puerto Rico from Memphis is ridiculous, but I can at least drive to Atlanta and get a reasonable rate from there and see my mom in the process. :)

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The very first cruise I ever took was a B2B Caribbean cruise in 2010 - solo!  I was 38 years old, and as a single woman I got tired of waiting for friends to be able to travel with me.  They either couldn't get the time off when I could, or didn't have the money when I did.  So I bit the bullet and booked myself for 14 days glorious days of cruising all alone.  I still consider it to be one of the best experiences of my life.  I enjoyed having "alone" time, but never felt lonely.  Doing the things that I wanted to do, when I wanted to do them, was amazing. 

 

I found cruise critic when I was researching about cruising for that first trip. Stumbled upon the Roll Call section, joined the group for my sailing, and mostly just observed what all the other members were posting.  They had arranged a meet and greet for the first night of the cruise in the Crows Nest (was sailing on HAL).  I almost didn't go.  A bit of the nerves kicked in about walking in to a fairly big event without knowing a soul.  But I did go.  I met some of the nicest people.  10 years later I am still in contact with 4 of the people I met that day.  We would run in to one another around the ship, and someone would inevitably say 'Hey, want to meet up for a drink before dinner an all go together?". 

 

I also booked excursions through the ship.  That first time I was more particular about only booking excursions through the ship for safety in unknown places, but I've been back to some places for additional visits and feel more comfortable branching out on other adventures. I met friendly people on the excursions, in the casino, at the buffets, at the shows... everywhere really.

 

It all just starts with a smile and a hello to a stranger.

 

The last few years I have been taken cruises with friends, parents, and my adult son, BUT...I have booked myself a cruise for September 2021 to to the Mexican Riviera and cannot wait for that next SOLO adventure!!!

 

Happy cruising!!

 

 

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Posted (edited)

The old Love Boat route huh?  🤣🤣  That's on my bucket list - just to say I did it!  Your first solo trip sounds amazing.  I wish I could do something like that, but alas college tuition is killing my budget.  3 more years until my son graduates and just maybe I can pull it off.  One of these days, I'll be on these boards asking about the B2B procedures!

Edited by olemissreb

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23 hours ago, olemissreb said:

but alas college tuition is killing my budget.  3 more years until my son graduates and just maybe I can pull it off.  One of these days, I'll be on these boards asking about the B2B procedures!

 

Hang in there!  A college education is an investment in your son's future as you recognize, I am sure.  It's worth the cost!  Believe me!  And, believe this as well:  one day you will be on these boards asking about the b2b procedures!  It's good and mentally beneficial, particularly during times like these, to have goals towards which to work.  

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