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1st Cruise and solo to go with it!


MPSGSY
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Hi all...

Now booked on the Mariner of the seas departing and returning to Singapore 8th Feb 2018 for 7 nights.

Firstly this is all new to me, if I am already repeating a well trodden path on this forum elsewhere then I apologise, I have had a quick whizz through and found 1 post which provided some pointers but wanted to start my own post for getting some feedback.

As a mid 50's male I am familiar with solo travel (and solo travel in groups of solo's) as I have been doing that for the last 5 years (mostly roughing it in Africa or camping/trekking in the US), I don't mind my own company in places where people are limited in number, however, this cruise will be slightly different because although on my own, I will be completely surrounded by "couples and families". This I think may then just highlight the fact I am solo and maybe feel a little lost in a sea of people. 

I consider myself to be a normal sociable person and able to adapt to my immediate environment and always happy to meet new people of all ages etc but I hate to feel that I am possibly going to be imposing or interrupting someones else's holiday on this cruise.

So a few questions spring to mind:-

1) Is it worth making the staff know that I am on my own and would they generally be willing to assist in identifying other solo's to perhaps create an aggregated group for dining and doing land excursions, on board activities etc?

2) If nothing like question 1 is available,  what is the protocol at dinner to arranging a place at a table? do the waiters/maitre d' drag you along to a table and then request the other guests if "they mind if a stray sits with them" - that could be a bit embarrassing if they do! or do they have selected areas to place solos among other guests?

3) On shore excursions, how can I avoid becoming a "tail end charlie" as everyone else goes off and "does their thing"?

Most experiences are better if shared, on other group holidays I have been on, the sharing and associated chatter etc has always been a great part of it during and afterwards, but I am a little concerned that this may not be quite the same.

Thanks in anticipation

Martin

 

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I'm actually doing my first solo cruise on Anthem of the Seas on June 22nd, so I can offer my interpretations of your questions:

 

1) Usually in the Cruise Compass there will be a listing of an event or two specifically geared toward Solo travelers. Definitely be sure to attend those, and attend other events (trivia, etc) because you may spot other solo travelers there with whom you can strike up a conversation.

2) Unless you are at a speciality restaurant with a reservation for 1, you'll be placed at a table with as few as 1 other to as many as 5 other people, so you won't really need to ask if you can join a group, you'll just be placed at a table with another group. It's common on cruises to do that since it encourages mingling and getting to know other folks. 

3) That's a good question... I'd say strike up conversations with the folks going on the trip as you're standing on the pier waiting for the group to fully assemble. You may find a group that would be keen to have you tag along. 

I look forward to hearing about your cruise experience, and I'll be live blogging my cruise on Anthem later this month! 

 

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22 hours ago, MPSGSY said:

Hi all...

Now booked on the Mariner of the seas departing and returning to Singapore 8th Feb 2018 for 7 nights.

Firstly this is all new to me, if I am already repeating a well trodden path on this forum elsewhere then I apologise, I have had a quick whizz through and found 1 post which provided some pointers but wanted to start my own post for getting some feedback.

As a mid 50's male I am familiar with solo travel (and solo travel in groups of solo's) as I have been doing that for the last 5 years (mostly roughing it in Africa or camping/trekking in the US), I don't mind my own company in places where people are limited in number, however, this cruise will be slightly different because although on my own, I will be completely surrounded by "couples and families". This I think may then just highlight the fact I am solo and maybe feel a little lost in a sea of people. 

I consider myself to be a normal sociable person and able to adapt to my immediate environment and always happy to meet new people of all ages etc but I hate to feel that I am possibly going to be imposing or interrupting someones else's holiday on this cruise.

So a few questions spring to mind:-

1) Is it worth making the staff know that I am on my own and would they generally be willing to assist in identifying other solo's to perhaps create an aggregated group for dining and doing land excursions, on board activities etc?

2) If nothing like question 1 is available,  what is the protocol at dinner to arranging a place at a table? do the waiters/maitre d' drag you along to a table and then request the other guests if "they mind if a stray sits with them" - that could be a bit embarrassing if they do! or do they have selected areas to place solos among other guests?

3) On shore excursions, how can I avoid becoming a "tail end charlie" as everyone else goes off and "does their thing"?

Most experiences are better if shared, on other group holidays I have been on, the sharing and associated chatter etc has always been a great part of it during and afterwards, but I am a little concerned that this may not be quite the same.

Thanks in anticipation

Martin

 

Martin,

Remember that strangers are just friends you haven't met yet. I'm sure with the number of people that are on any given cruise, you will be able to find some people to spend time with. I know on some of the ships and I'm assuming all of them, they have a community bulletin board near the guest services desk that people will post notices for special groups on board. Maybe somebody will post something there for a singles group or you could start one. Just an idea.I give you a lot of credit. I am not confident and/or brave enough to travel alone. It's a long way off, but have fun and enjoy your first cruise. I know the excitement as we will be going on our first cruise this Oct.

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FManke - thanks for the tip about the bulletin board and yes I would be happy to look out for or start one..

I love travelling solo (once you do it you feel like you have conquered the world and its a big confidence boost)  but  I also love to share experiences with others, normally I book with a "solo's" based tour operator to visit my chosen destination and then meet with the others as travel/holiday buddies - its a great way to meet people of all ages and nationalities, however, the tour/cruise operators do not yet seem to have cottoned on to the massive solos market, or, those that do offer them are not very exotic or extremely expensive. I guess its because of the economics of creating maximum profits from selling double cabins on a boat!

Yes its a long way off yet and I think I may have to go camping in August for a couple of weeks in the UK to fill in the gap!

I have also started to read some pretty negative reports about the Mariner but I guess its like every review site you get mixed opinions, you get what you pay for and this was pretty cheap in comparison to many of the offerings, I could end up in some flea ridden cabin - not for the first time though having traveled round Kenya/Egypt/Madagascar in cheap accommodation!

 

 

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14 minutes ago, MPSGSY said:

I have also started to read some pretty negative reports about the Mariner but I guess its like every review site you get mixed opinions, you get what you pay for and this was pretty cheap in comparison to many of the offerings, I could end up in some flea ridden cabin

All I can say, never having cruised before, is that a lot of negative reviews tend to come from peoples previous experiences on a given ship. I've read some reviews like, "It wasn't as nice as it was, 10yrs ago when we sailed on her." Really?  Like anything, as things get older, they tend to show their age and aren't as new and shiny as they once were. This blog has been a great source of information for me and I would think will come in handy for you, leading up to your cruise. I think people give their honest opinions, albeit, some would admit, slightly slanted toward RCCL. It is after all a RCCL blog. From what you have described of your previous holidays, I don't believe you will be roughing it on your cruise. It sounds like you are someone who has a pretty open mind and reasonable expectations.

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I would be interested to hear your views once you get back from your first cruise as to whether it met your expectations.

Yes I'm pretty adaptable to most situations and try to take the positives from any given problem - so if my shower doesn't work I will use the swimming pool!

This was my bed for 6 weeks in Madagascar, the hut was shared between 3 of us...

Onsite(221).JPG

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7 hours ago, MPSGSY said:

I would be interested to hear your views once you get back from your first cruise as to whether it met your expectations.

Yes I'm pretty adaptable to most situations and try to take the positives from any given problem - so if my shower doesn't work I will use the swimming pool!

This was my bed for 6 weeks in Madagascar, the hut was shared between 3 of us...

Onsite(221).JPG

Well that looks interesting!:14_relaxed:

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Hi Martin,

I have been a solo cruiser for about 7 or 8 years. I love it. 

First I would suggest finding your Roll Call for your cruise on cruise critic's website. You can join other passengers on the same cruise and talk to them for a year or longer before your cruise. At the same time sign up for the Meet and Greet that Royal will have. These are all ways of getting to know who you are sailing with.

The Cruise Compass will list any solo events, there is always one before dinner time and from the event many solo cruisers go to dinner together.

On Royal's website when you book a cruise it will ask you what time you want to dine and then what size table. I always pick the largest table so I can get to know people, usually very interesting conversations. For breakfast and lunch if you go to the dining room they will ask do you mind sitting with others, just say that will be fine.

As Matt said, cruise ship excursions are for passengers so you will be mixed in with others.

I have made several life long friends from dining with other passengers and going on a shore excursions with them.

You will be surprised at how many solo travelers there are.

Any more questions just ask me.

Candie

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Thanks firegal

"First I would suggest finding your Roll Call for your cruise on cruise critic's website" - OK not heard of this so will check it out, I have registered on the RC website to check my booking but I guess this is something else completely.

Yes I had read about the "cruise compass" but was not aware that they did specifically refer to solo's before dinner, it sounds like a perfect way to blend in.

Breakfast and lunch I am happy to go it alone but of course if after a day or so I have established some connections then  all the better.

 

"You will be surprised at how many solo travelers there are" - what is your opinion on solo's gender mix is it 50/50? obviously you can never tell but many times on other holiday types  I have found that there are more female solo's, is that your experience with cruises?

I'm sure I will think of more so be prepared!!

Thanks again

Martin

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Martin,

It is my experience that there are more female solo cruisers. Sorry to say that men in general die earlier than women. Women have come out of their shell about doing things solo. I have also found out that women are scared to cruise solo. Worried about their safety, which everyone, not just solo or women cruisers, should be. Everyone should follow basic safety, don't go out of any main routes in a port. If you can book an excursion with a group, you should, don't wander off alone. It is all just common sense.

Cruise Critic is a great website for all kinds of reviews. As I stated earlier, when you go to the website you can click on Community, up top, and it will take you to a page that you enter the cruise line, the ship and the month of your cruise to see if anyone has set up a Roll Call. 

Royal Caribbean Blog has helped me by answering questions and having suggestions before I even knew I was going to ask or know I needed that adapter, etc.

Trip Advisor is another great site for reviews of things to do in port and private shore excursion companies.

There are so many sites that do reviews and show pictures of cabins, decks, etc. You can Google all of them.

Candie

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Hello Martin -

Since you have done several solo vacations before, you shouldn't worry about the cruise being much different.  As others have stated, you will be put at a large table of people for dining and nobody will especially notice you are alone because they will all be new to each other.

Although I am married, my husband and I sometimes take separate shore excursions because we have different interests. We rented an apartment in Paris for a month and often went our separate ways during the day because he wanted to do X and I wanted to do Y.   When I was younger and working for a large company, I traveled a  lot for business and always tried to add a day to tour.  I've done London, Jerusalem and Caracas all by myself.  You seem to have the same perspective, so no worries!  Everyone is a stranger to everyone (except their immediate traveling companions) on a cruise so it's really easy.  When you are standing on the deck looking out at the port sail away, with a glass of champagne in your hand, everyone is just like you.  

I'm not a chatty person and I usually have to ease away from people who want to become my immediate best friend on a tour or cruise.  You will have no trouble finding a gab mate if you want one!

 

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On 6/3/2017 at 9:23 AM, MPSGSY said:

1) Is it worth making the staff know that I am on my own and would they generally be willing to assist in identifying other solo's to perhaps create an aggregated group for dining and doing land excursions, on board activities etc?

2) If nothing like question 1 is available,  what is the protocol at dinner to arranging a place at a table? do the waiters/maitre d' drag you along to a table and then request the other guests if "they mind if a stray sits with them" - that could be a bit embarrassing if they do! or do they have selected areas to place solos among other guests?

3) On shore excursions, how can I avoid becoming a "tail end charlie" as everyone else goes off and "does their thing"?

Most experiences are better if shared, on other group holidays I have been on, the sharing and associated chatter etc has always been a great part of it during and afterwards, but I am a little concerned that this may not be quite the same.

Thanks in anticipation

Martin

Hey Martin, I’ve cruised solo 6 times since November, and can understand what you're going through trying to figure out what Royal has to offer.  In a nutshell, they don't offer much for solo cruisers like other cruise lines do...but don't fret, you will still have a great time if you make the effort! 

1) While I always try to get to know as many of the crew members during a cruise, they generally have so many other things going on, they unlikely can assist you in identifying other solo travelers.  As mentioned before, they do have solo meetups listed in the Cruise Compass which occur a couple of times during the day. However, from my experience, and I've tried them on almost every ship since November, it's a waste of time. Hardly anyone shows up. You will have more luck hanging out at the bars or pubs onboard and talking with people.  As well as attending the trivia sessions. I can't tell you how many couples I've met onboard this way, and when they find out you're traveling solo, they invite you to join them at different events. 

2) As for dining, there are no solo areas for dining. You will be placed at a 2-topper or you can request to be seated at a larger table.  I always ask to be seated with someone, and I've never had a bad experience with people saying they didn't want me to sit with them.  Maybe after I left they said that but not before, lol

3) If you sign up for a Royal Caribbean tour, you will be placed in a group so you don't need to worry about that. 

Traveling solo does have it challenges, but to be honest, I love it.  Obviously, I'm a pretty social guy, so generally by the time my cruise comes to an end, I've made countless new friends.  That's what I love about cruising.  If you make the effort, you will have a great time.  Most everyone on a cruise is in a good mood, and they want you to have as much fun as they are having. 

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When I cruised last year a young Australian solo traveller asked to join our lunch table in the buffet.  He was very keen to engage us British ladies in political talk and what we thought would be the outcome of the then forthcoming UK Brexit vote!  He then started to get a bit obnoxious when we said talk of politics and religion can be very sensitive and we made our excuses to leave the table!! 

I know he was trying to have "proper" conversations but I don't feel that this was this to go about it and he certainly didn't endear himself to us!

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1 hour ago, Sarah said:

When I cruised last year a young Australian solo traveller asked to join our lunch table in the buffet.  He was very keen to engage us British ladies in political talk and what we thought would be the outcome of the then forthcoming UK Brexit vote!  He then started to get a bit obnoxious when we said talk of politics and religion can be very sensitive and we made our excuses to leave the table!!

Always avoid discussing politics and religion while on a cruise!

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