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Super-long solo European adventure - need encouragement, reassurance, tips!


Joanne G.
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Due to covid-related re-scheduling,  I ended up with a Carnival cruise in early September of 2022 and an NCL cruise late that same month - both in Europe.   I have been thinking about when to retire, and I have come to think August of 2022 may be a good time.   😉   

 

I recently booked a 2nd Carnival cruise for a back-to-back experience.   The first cruise is London to Rome with stops in Spain and Portugal, and the 2nd cruise is round-trip Rome to Greece, Turkey, Naples, and Messina.   If I continue my adventure, I will then have 5 days to get from Rome to Copenhagen for the NCL cruise to northern European cities in Norway, Denmark, and Sweden.   The entire trip will total about 5-6 weeks, depending on whether I spend any time in London, where the first one starts and the last one ends.    There are enough sea days on all the cruises to give me some time to rest, which I will probably need!

 

I have been on many cruises, mostly in the Caribbean, also a couple in Europe and one in Hawaii, mostly with my sister but a few with friends.  Never solo.  My first two planned solo cruises were canceled due to covid, so this will be a new experience to me.  I do a lot by myself - day trips, go to shows, a beach vacation - but never anything this long nor out of the country.   I feel cruises are inherently social, so I hope to meet people, but I am introverted, so this will have me out of my comfort zone a bit.  I have wanted for years to see more of Europe, and when it didn't work out to have a companion, I decided to go it alone.   

 

All the cruises have refundable or transferable deposits, so I have some flexibility while I get used to the idea of this long solo adventure.   If and when I get comfortable with the idea of doing this, then I will start thinking of the practical issues of packing for temperatures ranging from late summer in the Mediterranean to early fall in Oslo!   

 

What do you experienced - or newbie - solo cruisers think?   Be honest!   Thanks.   

 

 

 

 

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Hi Joanne, first, congrats on your upcoming retirement😃 and 2nd.......it sounds like a FANSTASTIC trip👍 and I highly encourage you to take it!   I have been sailing solo for nearly 20 years now and I LOVE IT.

(it is the only way I cruise).  I haven't been gone 5 weeks straight (yet) but it is coming LOL......

I retired in Dec 2019 and was supposed to be away for about 30 days to celebrate my retirement but then Covid happened and of course, as you mentioned, everything got cancelled. 

 

My trip was going to be a TA crossing....then a few days in Europe followed by river cruise with a couple of more days post cruise in Europe.   

 

As for seeing different parts of Europe? There definitely is so much to see and so much history to soak in.......and for me? A cruise is the way to travel.  Easy peasy........once you board the ship and unpack....all the rest is taken care of.  I will suggest you see if there are roll calls for your cruises. It is a great way to meet others (if you are so inclined) and many times people are looking for others to share in private tours.  I have been part of them but I have also taken ship excursions. I know many folks don't like them but overall, in my years of cruising I have found some very positive ones. That would really depend on you and what you prefer. 

 

Your itineraries sound really good to me!   Again, if you are in the position to do this........you get a BIG thumbs up from me.........👍🙂 and I agree cruises are simply awesome. I can't wait to sail again. I leave in 18 days for a cruise around the Greek Islands! (yes, solo) LOL.........

 

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4 hours ago, Joanne G. said:

Due to covid-related re-scheduling,  I ended up with a Carnival cruise in early September of 2022 and an NCL cruise late that same month - both in Europe.   I have been thinking about when to retire, and I have come to think August of 2022 may be a good time.   😉   

 

I recently booked a 2nd Carnival cruise for a back-to-back experience.   The first cruise is London to Rome with stops in Spain and Portugal, and the 2nd cruise is round-trip Rome to Greece, Turkey, Naples, and Messina.   If I continue my adventure, I will then have 5 days to get from Rome to Copenhagen for the NCL cruise to northern European cities in Norway, Denmark, and Sweden.   The entire trip will total about 5-6 weeks, depending on whether I spend any time in London, where the first one starts and the last one ends.    There are enough sea days on all the cruises to give me some time to rest, which I will probably need!

 

I have been on many cruises, mostly in the Caribbean, also a couple in Europe and one in Hawaii, mostly with my sister but a few with friends.  Never solo.  My first two planned solo cruises were canceled due to covid, so this will be a new experience to me.  I do a lot by myself - day trips, go to shows, a beach vacation - but never anything this long nor out of the country.   I feel cruises are inherently social, so I hope to meet people, but I am introverted, so this will have me out of my comfort zone a bit.  I have wanted for years to see more of Europe, and when it didn't work out to have a companion, I decided to go it alone.   

 

All the cruises have refundable or transferable deposits, so I have some flexibility while I get used to the idea of this long solo adventure.   If and when I get comfortable with the idea of doing this, then I will start thinking of the practical issues of packing for temperatures ranging from late summer in the Mediterranean to early fall in Oslo!   

 

What do you experienced - or newbie - solo cruisers think?   Be honest!   Thanks.   

 

 

 

 

 

This sounds like a wonderful journey.  I was reminded this past year that I should do as much as I can while I can -- you just don't know what will get in the way.  So I have decided not to waste any time waiting for other to be available.  I have booked my first solo cruise and look forward to the day when I can do an extended trip like yours.  I hope you will report back how it goes.

 

 

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8 minutes ago, mchell810 said:

 

This sounds like a wonderful journey.  I was reminded this past year that I should do as much as I can while I can -- you just don't know what will get in the way.  So I have decided not to waste any time waiting for other to be available.  I have booked my first solo cruise and look forward to the day when I can do an extended trip like yours.  I hope you will report back how it goes.

 

 

I hope you have a wonderful time on your first solo cruise😃

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2 minutes ago, Lois R said:

I hope you have a wonderful time on your first solo cruise😃

 

Thank you.  It's on Silversea so I eagerly await posting about your upcoming trip. 

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9 minutes ago, mchell810 said:

 

Thank you.  It's on Silversea so I eagerly await posting about your upcoming trip. 

Oh you are going on SS? You will LOVE IT😃...this will be my 4th cruise with them and I have 3 more booked!  If you have any questions, let me know!

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5 hours ago, Joanne G. said:

What do you experienced - or newbie - solo cruisers think?   Be honest! 

 

Your planned itinerary is awesome!  Such a diverse itinerary on different cruise lines which will add more variety to your adventure.  

 

As Lois R suggested, sign-up on the Roll Calls for the cruises.  This will help you to "meet and get to know" some of your shipmates before you embark.  As a solo cruiser, I have never had problems of meeting/conversing with others during my cruises.  As I first time visitor to Europe, particularly in cities such as Rome, Copenhagen, Istanbul, Oslo, Stockholm, a better use of your time might be to book your ship's shore excursions than to just DIY.  Rome and Istanbul can be intimidating to first time visitors (at least they were for me).  I have also booked private tours in conjunction with others whom I met on my Roll Calls.  I have had mixed success with these as to satisfaction.  

 

Packing for such a range of climates?  Yes, that will be a challenge.  It is not something that others have faced, however.    Plan to do laundry during your cruises.  Using the ship's laundry services is safe to do and, while not inexpensive, I don't go on a cruise to spend time in the laundromat.  I suggest that you visit CC's World Cruise Message Board and post your questions about how to pack.  There have been world cruises that have visited the South Pacific as well as Northern Europe (or even Japan/China during the Winter) on the same itinerary.  Some who have sailed on such an itinerary may be able to provide some suggestions for you.

 

What a wonderful way to begin your retirement!  

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1 hour ago, Lois R said:

Oh you are going on SS? You will LOVE IT😃...this will be my 4th cruise with them and I have 3 more booked!  If you have any questions, let me know!

 

I will definitely reach out if I have questions.  I have done a lot of reading on the SS board (I mostly lurk 😉) so for now I think I have a good sense of things. 

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1 hour ago, mchell810 said:

 

I will definitely reach out if I have questions.  I have done a lot of reading on the SS board (I mostly lurk 😉) so for now I think I have a good sense of things. 

OK🙂👍

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My first European cruise was for 24 days, 20 days of which were port stops.  I was informed that this would not be like a Caribbean cruise, with only a few port stops, mainly at islands with nothing much to do other than stay at the beach or ride around and view the scenery.  In Europe, the port stops are cities, sometimes major cities, with many activities.

 

"A shore excursion is an option, not an obligation."  That was what I was told.  I was warned that if I spent every day and every available evening running around the ports, by the end of the journey I would be exhausted and resentful.  

 

I took the advice and included rest days in the schedule.  At Saint-Tropez, in the morning, I visited the laundromat right at the cruise ship dock.  The rest of the day was spent in a reclining chair enjoying the warm weather and sea breezes.  This was the best advice I ever received regarding a cruise.  I encourage you to consider rest days, even during port stops.

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Sounds like a jam-packed trip.....have fun!   I've been cruising solo for over 10 years or so, but I've never done a European cruise (I prefer lots and lots of sea days).  I did do a 6 week solo trip to Italy 18 months ago, and it was so fabulous I want to go back again. 

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17 hours ago, Stuart Suss said:

That was what I was told.  I was warned that if I spent every day and every available evening running around the ports, by the end of the journey I would be exhausted and resentful.  

 

In my younger days, such a packed itinerary ashore or aboard ship would not have been an issue for me.  To do such now, I would need a "vacation from my vacation" when I arrive home.  

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Posted (edited)
On 6/20/2021 at 1:46 PM, Joanne G. said:

Due to covid-related re-scheduling,  I ended up with a Carnival cruise in early September of 2022 and an NCL cruise late that same month - both in Europe.   I have been thinking about when to retire, and I have come to think August of 2022 may be a good time.   😉   

 

I recently booked a 2nd Carnival cruise for a back-to-back experience.   The first cruise is London to Rome with stops in Spain and Portugal, and the 2nd cruise is round-trip Rome to Greece, Turkey, Naples, and Messina.   If I continue my adventure, I will then have 5 days to get from Rome to Copenhagen for the NCL cruise to northern European cities in Norway, Denmark, and Sweden.   The entire trip will total about 5-6 weeks, depending on whether I spend any time in London, where the first one starts and the last one ends.    There are enough sea days on all the cruises to give me some time to rest, which I will probably need!

 

I have been on many cruises, mostly in the Caribbean, also a couple in Europe and one in Hawaii, mostly with my sister but a few with friends.  Never solo.  My first two planned solo cruises were canceled due to covid, so this will be a new experience to me.  I do a lot by myself - day trips, go to shows, a beach vacation - but never anything this long nor out of the country.   I feel cruises are inherently social, so I hope to meet people, but I am introverted, so this will have me out of my comfort zone a bit.  I have wanted for years to see more of Europe, and when it didn't work out to have a companion, I decided to go it alone.   

 

All the cruises have refundable or transferable deposits, so I have some flexibility while I get used to the idea of this long solo adventure.   If and when I get comfortable with the idea of doing this, then I will start thinking of the practical issues of packing for temperatures ranging from late summer in the Mediterranean to early fall in Oslo!   

 

What do you experienced - or newbie - solo cruisers think?   Be honest!   Thanks.   

 

 

 

 

you will have a great time.    this winter i am doing 192 days back to back starting in BCN ending in BCN.   2 transatlantics and many days in the carribbean ..you can see the ships in my signature.   there are so many ships coming and going every day at FLL /POM that i can change ships on the same day with only 1 night in the 6 months at a hotel.  good luck

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28 minutes ago, ericfromri said:

you will have a great time.    this winter i am doing 192 days back to back starting in BCN ending in BCN.   2 transatlantics and many days in the carribbean ..you can see the ships in my signature.   there are so many ships coming and going every day at FLL /POM that i can change ships on the same day with only 1 night in the 6 months at a hotel.  good luck

Hi Eric.......so other than the TA crossings, all those other sailing are strictly Caribbean cruises??

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Posted (edited)
16 minutes ago, Lois R said:

Hi Eric.......so other than the TA crossings, all those other sailing are strictly Caribbean cruises??

3 are in europe, 2 trans, and 17 in carribbean   i will be booking may-oct as more cruises get posted as i will be staying in europe until the odyessy ta in late october    royal hasnt posted all the summer cruises next year in europe. the carribean is gonna be the only place for cruising this winter unless you want to go to s. america..  more will also be added in sep october this year, just waiting on my neck surgery date to book after recovery period

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The TA crossings and European cruises sound wonderful.  Not sure I would want to do 17 Caribbean cruises in row but I hope you enjoy all your sailings.🙂

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Your planned trip sounds wonderful!  My husband has lost his former enthusiasm for travel, so I usually travel alone (cruise or on land) while he is home with our pets. 

 

You don't have to be extroverted to enjoy solo travel, as it can be easier to meet others when traveling alone.  If you are part of a couple or a group, you tend to hang with them, and there's pressure to do what they want to do.  Traveling solo, you do whatever you want, when you want to do it.  I keep a journal when I am traveling, and if I find myself alone, I'm not lonely - I'm just taking a few minutes to jot notes or draw a quick sketch!

 

I love the cultural and historical sites and museums on your itineraries - easily enjoyed as a solo, but also easy to find someone else who'd want to do the same.  As others say - join the Roll Call for your cruises, "meet" some people before the cruise, and maybe find others to share a tour.

 

Often I like to take an early ship excursion bus tour (or a taxi might do the same) to get "the lay of the land," and help me decide what I want to see in detail later in the day.

 

Packing - for me as a solo traveler, it's important to pack wisely so I don't have more baggage than I can manage myself.  For me, this means my backpack and one suitcase on wheels, preferably one that fits in the overhead bin.  Think scarves, jewelry, neutral colors or clothes that can mix & match.

 

Occasionally I send things home, or have additional items sent to pick up mid-trip, especially if a long trip involves both tropical and cold places.  This can also be a great excuse to, say, buy a new winter coat when you arrive in a cold place.

 

 

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12 hours ago, Lois R said:

The TA crossings and European cruises sound wonderful.  Not sure I would want to do 17 Caribbean cruises in row but I hope you enjoy all your sailings.🙂

thanks it is not ideal, but is the best a person can do right now.... no winter europe cruises.   unless you do river cruises and 1 of them a year is enough.  you have to cruise by whats available and during my time frame, i got the best possible. normally i would be in australia but for the last year and a half they were closed.  at least the carribean ports are on different ships and go to different ports.  i have been  to almost every port in the world, except for a few in vietnam.  i get off the ship and walk around for 3-4 hours, or rent a car or motorcycle.

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21 hours ago, doctork said:

Occasionally I send things home,

 

That's a good tip and one that I keep forgetting.  I have done that as well.  During one long voyage, I collected quite a bit of stuff that I didn't have room to pack without buying another piece of luggage.  One of our last port calls was in Hawaii.  I took the stuff to a Post Office, put in a Priority Mail box, and let the USPS deliver it rather than me haul it back home.  I have also done the same thing when one of the final ports was in Canada.

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Thank you all for your comments about my - and your own - long solo adventure.  I like that I can reserve these cruises with only a down payment while I think through my plans and get use to the idea of that much time alone.   By the time final payments start coming due next May, I expect to be all fired up and ready to go.  And ready to retire!

 

The more I think about it, a cruise - or cruises, plural - seems like the best way for me to see a lot of Europe on one trip.  It's so much easier to plan than a long land vacation to multiple cities, and so much more relaxing than unpacking and repacking and spending hours on buses with a tour group.   And I know my family will worry less about me on a being on a couple of ships for that length of time compared to if I were bopping around Europe on my own.

 

Now I have to decide how and where to spend those 5 days between returning to Rome on Carnival and departing from Copenhagen on NCL.  I thought taking the train might be interesting, but it didn't take much research for me to realize that could be more complicated and would take much longer than I expected.   So, I will likely fly to Copenhagen after a couple days exploring - or relaxing - in Rome.  The relaxing is important, as others have said!

 

 

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21 hours ago, Joanne G. said:

Thank you all for your comments about my - and your own - long solo adventure.  I like that I can reserve these cruises with only a down payment while I think through my plans and get use to the idea of that much time alone.   By the time final payments start coming due next May, I expect to be all fired up and ready to go.  And ready to retire!

 

The more I think about it, a cruise - or cruises, plural - seems like the best way for me to see a lot of Europe on one trip.  It's so much easier to plan than a long land vacation to multiple cities, and so much more relaxing than unpacking and repacking and spending hours on buses with a tour group.   And I know my family will worry less about me on a being on a couple of ships for that length of time compared to if I were bopping around Europe on my own.

 

Now I have to decide how and where to spend those 5 days between returning to Rome on Carnival and departing from Copenhagen on NCL.  I thought taking the train might be interesting, but it didn't take much research for me to realize that could be more complicated and would take much longer than I expected.   So, I will likely fly to Copenhagen after a couple days exploring - or relaxing - in Rome.  The relaxing is important, as others have said!

 

 

It's brave and scary but go for it! I've been lucky enough to travel quite extensively much of my life and did so with my partner by my side for 26 years before he sadly died 9 years ago. Since then I have done quite a few solo cruises and they are great. You have the sanctuary of your cabin but need never be alone unless you want to be. I sail mainly out of the UK and most of the cruise lines based here still offer the option of fixed dining times, which suits me. I always request a table of eight.

Although being sociable and outgoing, I've not been as confident about travelling in large overseas cities alone since being widowed, so the option of a ship's tour is great to have. I've also buddied up with other solos on the ship to wander around other cities.

Yes, do spend some time in Rome as it is a beautiful city which you cannot do justice in one day. Also, if you can, please do spend a few days in London. Obviously I am biased but it really is one of the world's great cities - and I am lucky to be only 30 minutes outside it by train!

I was due to do a 39-night sector of a world cruise earlier this year from San Francisco to Hong Kong to celebrate my retirement. None of us know what is around the corner. Go for it Joanne 😀

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21 hours ago, Britboys said:

 . . . . Also, if you can, please do spend a few days in London. Obviously I am biased but it really is one of the world's great cities - and I am lucky to be only 30 minutes outside it by train!

I was due to do a 39-night sector of a world cruise earlier this year from San Francisco to Hong Kong to celebrate my retirement. None of us know what is around the corner. Go for it Joanne 😀

 

A friend and I spent a couple days in London before a cruise in 2019, and we loved it so much that we planned a one-week land vacation there in 2020 - canceled due to covid, of course.   We had everything planned out - big touristy sights in the city and nearby, as well as simply taking walks and exploring neighborhoods.    😥   We still have our airline credit for that trip, good though the end of this year.   if the quarantine requirements are lifted, we hope to do that trip yet this year.    But for sure, I will include time in London before and after my long cruise adventure in 2022.   

 

You are so right that none of us know what is around the corner.  Covid certainly made that clear.   I have worked and saved for retirement, and I intend to enjoy it, solo or otherwise.   Thanks for the good wishes.  

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Your trip sounds amazing!  I look forward to the day I can do trips like that.  Definitely plan to layer for the cooler climates.  Plan for laundry - whether you sink wash things or let the ship's laundry take care of it for you.  Feel free to come report back on your experience and share the tips and tricks you learned from your extended vacation!

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  • 2 months later...
On 6/22/2021 at 3:45 PM, rkacruiser said:

I did the same thing in Singapore. I was doing a 24 night cruise starting in CA cruising to Hawaii, Guam, Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore. I spent a few days in Singapore and was flying to Ireland Nov. 1, 2019 from Singapore to join a tour.. I took my summer sandals and some clothes to the post office and shipped them home. I needed winter  stuff for Ireland so packing was difficult.

 

 

 

On 6/22/2021 at 3:45 PM, rkacruiser said:

That's a good tip and one that I keep forgetting.  I have done that as well.  During one long voyage, I collected quite a bit of stuff that I didn't have room to pack without buying another piece of luggage.  One of our last port calls was in Hawaii.  I took the stuff to a Post Office, put in a Priority Mail box, and let the USPS deliver it rather than me haul it back home.  I have also done the same thing when one of the final ports was in Canada.

 

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@Joanne G.   That is certainly an awesome trip you have planned.   

We are kinda opposites, I have done 6 cruises in Europe but not solo, and in December I will be doing my first B2B cruise as a solo in the Caribbean.   I have actually been to 53 countries (most NOT by cruise ship) but the farther south I have been is just across the border to Mexico from Arizona.   I lived in Europe for 9 years so I also had an advantage of knowing how to get around.   While you are wondering what to pack for Europe, I’m wondering what the pack for the Caribbean.   😅  I can tell you that I walked over 800 km (500 miles) carrying a backpack of less than 10KG, not once but twice across the top of Spain by myself and while I had my initial concerns of being alone, it turned out fantastic.   I met some amazing people.   In fact, one couple from New Zealand that I met during my pilgrimage have come to visit here in Canada since then.   In fact, since travelling solo, I have met more people than I did when I travelled with my spouse.    However this will be my first cruise solo and at times, still wonder if I will enjoy it.   But you only live once and tomorrow is promised to no one….so GO FOR IT!!!     It will be awesome!!!!   I look forward to hearing a post cruise report from you on your first solo.

 

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