Make new friends, greet old friends and enjoy vacation destinations in an all-inclusive, floating luxury hotel with other like-minded singulars.
Some people love getting lost in a crowd, while others wouldn’t think of traveling anywhere without their best friend. But when it comes to cruise ship adventures, most experienced voyagers will tell you it’s simply more fun when you do go with a group of like-minded people. And if you’re single, that means not being stuck on a cruise where you’re the odd man out in a sea of couples.
Still, classic stereotypical thinking has led to common (almost laughable) misperceptions about what a single group cruise is all about. Some explanations are right out of a James Bond novel, where every solo single is either a die-hard party girl or a playboy. Then there’s the cliché shy single, who is forced to mingle, by well-meaning cruise staff. Last, but not least, is the trite storybook cruise ending, where soul mates finally meet and go on to live “happily ever after” at sea. But nothing could be further from the truth. The golden thread that binds today’s single cruisers is their love of travel.
“I had your normal apprehension about going on a single’s cruise for the first time because it was something new,” said D.Miller, who will embark on his sixth singles group tour in December. He says he now finds traveling solo on group singles cruises a very liberating experience. “I did chat online with some fellow cruisers before my first trip and they seemed so nice that those feelings quickly passed.”
The cruise connection begins for many passengers when they meet their fellow shipmates at a pre-cruise accommodation. Once on board, there are many “Meet and Greet” socials, themed parties, poolside get-togethers and games, all which create fertile ground for creating new friendships.
“A group singles cruise, hosted by professional cruise directors, provides a memorable vacation experience for singles looking for fun and adventure with new travel companions,” says Vickie Meeuwsen, marketing and communications manager at SinglesCruise.com. “About our singles cruise vacation experience we always say, ‘You’re traveling single, but never alone.’”
First-time singles group cruisers quickly learn that being part of the club can save you money on a vacation getaway because it’s similar to an all-inclusive vacation.
“Your accommodations, meals, entertainment, amenities and singles cruise program are included in the basic per-person price, making it so much easier to stick to your vacation budget,” says Meeuwsen, who books the majority of her company’s sailings on singles-friendly Carnival Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean International.
So where do you start? For many, the whole process of going on a single’s group cruise begins by doing a Google search under “singles cruise companies.” Others first timers have friends who have gone on a singles cruise before and inspire them to come along on their next voyage.
“Our surveys show that most members make the decision to go on a single’s group cruise because they are looking for a particular destination or have a specific time frame to travel,” said Tammy Weiler, president of Singles Travel International. “But once they’ve gone on a cruise, they often choose the next one based on where their new friends are going.”
The price of a cruise depends upon the destination, the time of the year and the length of the cruise. But a very popular date, in spite of the higher seasonal price, is a New Year’s Eve cruise and also cruises during Spring Break where people up North can escape from the cold weather.
Looking for the best deals? Cruise prices tend to be lower in locations that have many ships that offer a similar itinerary, such as an Eastern, Western or Southern Caribbean cruise.
Seasoned single cruisers, whose true goal is to see the world with special friends they’ve met on previous cruises, often enjoy coaching the next generation of cruise junkies on ways to keep a handle on the cruise budget. Among their suggestions are to depart from a port that’s near to one’s hometown, see ports-of-call on foot and always keep an open mind when it comes to sharing a cabin with a compatible cruiser via the roommate matching system.
“If you’re matched up with another single, you can cut the price in half,” said Meeuwsen, whose company goal is to make it easy and comfortable for singles to get acquainted within the group. “We also coordinate optional shore excursions and have a private Message Board for our guests to join prior to their cruise departure.”
According to Meeuwsen, singles will find a 50/50 ratio of men and women. Their Halloween cruises, for example, can draw as many as 500 singulars. She says the best cruise advice is to pack proper clothing for your cruise trip adventure and along with it, a positive attitude.
“A single’s cruise is first and foremost what you make of it,” said Miller, who credits SinglesCruise.com for no longer feeling like he’s a “fifth wheel” on his cruise ship adventures. “You can be involved in things or you can relax and just watch. The choice is yours. You make the rules.”
Solo cruisers typically sign up for singles cruises for reasons as unique as they are. On a SinglesCruise.com trip, there are usually 400 singles on a given cruise, who board the ship excited about all they will do and see while on their vacation. Some pack elaborate costumes to wear to theme parties, while others focus on the fun of seeing their previous cruise buddies at the private cocktail mixers.
Because of its growing popularity, more and more cruise lines are tapping into the solo single’s market to meet the needs of today’s single travelers and make cruising more attractive.
“My favorite excursions are the beach parties because lots of people attend,” said Patty Kay, a legal secretary who has been on 10 Carnival singles cruises throughout the Caribbean in the past three years. “I love to play Pictionary and volleyball or just relax in a lounge chair on a beautiful beach.”
In terms of brand loyalty, it all comes down to how much a single cruiser has enjoyed their trip.
“Our singles are very loyal because they love our programs and our staff,” said Meeuwsen. “Once they get to know our team and the other cruises, we become part of their family.”
According to Weiler of Singles Travel International, the best way to fast-track new friendships is to take a singles cruise.
“It may take 2-3 days before you find some companions on board on a regular cruise trip and by then your vacation is half over,” said Weiler, who refers to herself as the President of Fun and Adventure. “A good singles travel concierge makes singles feel welcome right from the beginning and does whatever it takes to assist members so they have a hassle free, stress-free and fun vacation.”
“I’m really blessed,” said Miller, who has attended “cruise reunions” in Chicago, Phoenix and New York City to meet up with her cruise pals. “On a single’s cruise you make friends with every race, color and creed of people. But they’re more than just part of a single’s cruise group to me; they are some of my dearest friends.”
Copyright © 2013 Singular Communications, LLC.