Get over the mistaken notion you’re on Noah’s Ark, where people are already paired two by two. Cruising offers unparalleled opportunities for singles— as well as couples and families—to find friends and make new travel companions. Think about it: Except for high school or college, when was the last time you were immersed in the same place, among people with similar interests, doing the same thing, at the same time?
Here are some tips:
Choose your ship
Larger ships generally offer more opportunities for socializing–more people, more lounges, and designated social directors to help with introductions.
Find your tribe before you board
Register with www.cruisecritic.com. Go to on the message boards and find the Roll Call for your ship. Talk to passengers on your upcoming cruise and arrange to meet when on board.
Conjure up conversation starters
While you’re still home packing, create a mental list of opening lines: Have you been on this ship before? Why did you choose this cruise? Where’s home for you?
Get thee to the Sailaway Party. Anyone who is social is going to be there, too. Strike up conversation in the self-service launderette with captives waiting out a wash or dry cycle. Sit on the empty stool next to someone at the bar.
Enroll in a course
Whether it’s history, wine, photography, Yoga, cooking or bridge, sign up for a class with people with common interests.
To maximize opportunity, opt for open seating and ask the maître D’ to seat you at the largest table in the dining room to. Chat it up with crew and guest lecturers, too.
Pay it forward
Follow up with that attractive brunette by offering her a photo op on the deck. Invite the couple that stood beside you at the muster drill to share your taxi at the next port.
Plan a second encounter
Invite prospects you’re met to dinner or for a drink at Happy Hour. Email them when you get home to make forever friends.
[Previously published in the Chicago Tribune - November 15, 2011]
- The most important trip you may take in life is meeting people halfway – Henry Boye, Editor Harvard Business Review