A cruise vacation can be a very social experience, with some people making friends or just good conversation along the way.
Cruises are the vacation that has something for everybody. You’ll find everything from large family reunions to solo cruisers and everyone in between.
There are times I have been on the same ship with people I know and have not run into them once. I then see the photos they publish on social media and it was like we took a completely different vacation.
So, what do you do when you’re a solo cruiser or just want to meet people onboard? Where do you go? How do you strike up a conversation? Well, it’s easier than you think. Hopefully these tips will make it seem less overwhelming.
Before your cruise
You can get a head start on making connections before you even sail. Facebook groups that are created for your specific ship and sail date are extremely popular.
The groups are a great source of information for the ship and destinations but they also organize activities.
There’s usually a meet up on the first day for sail away. I have also been in groups that organize slot pulls in the casino and cabin crawls that allow members to see different room categories.
Bear in mind, some moderators keep their group more active than others but members always welcome to post questions or comments.
Ask for a large table at dinner
On embarkation day you will find a crew member outside of the main dining room handling special requests, including seating. Feel free to ask to be included at a large table. You’ll get to know your table mates and will be able to share your experiences together each night at dinner.
This option may not be available at the moment due to the Covid restrictions. It will definitely return and remains one of the best way to meet people onboard.
Communal seating at specialty restaurants
Two specialty restaurants on Royal Caribbean have seating for people at the same table that may not be part of your family.
Izumi hibachi and Chef's Table are both group experiences, where you will be seated at a large table. Assuming your group is not large enough to take up all the seats, the restaurant will usually fill in the other spots with other guests.
Since you're all seated together for a little while, a conversation might spark a friendship.
It's not just adults that can make friends on a cruise ship. Just like at school, kids will be together with other children when at the Adventure Ocean program and friendships are commonly made.
The key for facilitating friendships is for kids to go to Adventure Ocean on the first night of the cruise. Just like the first day of school, if everyone is new, it's easier to say hello and break the ice.
The same strategy is true of the teen club, where going the first day makes a difference in getting to know everyone.
Many people make connections with their fellow cruisers on excursions. Your group will be together for several hours so it’s only natural to strike up a conversation with the person next to you on the bus in between stops.
Some city tours also offer a lunch. That’s a great time to get to know others.
Trivia is offered on every ship several times throughout your cruise. Categories can include general knowledge, music, movies, geography and logos, just to name a few. Some ships feature a progressive trivia that has events throughout the cruise and the winner is determined on the last day.
I have met several people at trivia. Teams are usually up to 6 people. If you see a couple or group of four, feel free to introduce yourself and ask to join the team. Even if you’re not comfortable with the category, it will at least break the ice and get you talking.
The very popular adult scavenger hunt is a great place to meet people. It’s a team environment that requires audience participation. Everyone is there to laugh, make fools out of themselves and have fun. Just the nature of the competition is enough to have you bonding with your fellow teammates.
After the game, learn more about your new friends by celebrating your team’s victory at your favorite bar.
Whether it’s karaoke or listening to live music in the pub or Schooner, bars are by far the easiest places to meet people on a ship, just as they are on land.
The conversation can start by seeing someone with an interesting looking drink and asking what it is. Before you know it, you’ll be performing a duet in Studio B or the Star Lounge.
Diamond or Suite lounge
This is my personal favorite and definitely where I have met the most people. Tables in the lounges are typically designed for four or more people. My husband and I have frequently had others ask to sit at our table when it’s just the two of us travelling.
Conversation flows easily in the Diamond Lounge since everyone has the same interest, cruising. A lot! We’ll talk about trips we’ve been on, favorite ships and ports, and places on our bucket list we haven’t been to yet.
You’ll typically see the same people in the lounges night after night, before or after dinner times.
It’s not just the evening happy hour either! The lounges are always open. Some mornings we’ll go for a coffee or a bagel when we’re not in the mood for a huge breakfast.
We’ll also frequent the lounge during the day for some quiet time. There’s always people in there reading, chatting or planning their next cruise. It’s a very social venue.
The most important thing to keep in mind when looking to meet people is to be friendly and approachable. Be aware of the conversations going on around you. Feel free to add your thoughts. You’ll find most of your fellow cruisers are very friendly and will welcome your company.
If possible, try to be helpful. For example, just last weekend there was a new cruiser in the elevator that had no idea where to go for free coffee. She had already missed the floor for the Windjammer so I suggested she go to Café Promenade. She was under the impression they only sold specialty coffees. Since that’s where we were headed anyway, I walked with her there and pointed out where the crew member was serving the complimentary coffee. Little things like that are easy ice breakers and will get you remembered.
Whether you make friends for a lifetime or just the duration of your cruise, there are plenty of places to meet and get to know others. Then there’s always social media to help you stay in touch.