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Best advice for first time solo cruiser

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5 hours ago, QMG said:

 

Long Beach, LA, San Diego, Encenada.  thanks.  Quincy

Sorry, these fragments don't work well for us.

 

That's a cruise itinerary?  Long Beach is synonymous with LA as far as cruising and is more often than not the beginning and end of the cruise, it's where Carnival's cruise port is (the other is in San Pedro, NCL and Princess).  Is this only a 3-4 day cruise with stops in SD and Ensenada?  Are these just cities you want to see while cruising? 

 

Do you want to see city sights?  Are you comfortable with self-guiding a tour, would you prefer the "safety" of a ship excursion?

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2 hours ago, Truluv said:

Also, RCL's online system  doesn't let solos make a dinner reservation for a specialty restaurants.

Maybe Royal's system is different from NCL's but I found on NCL that the smallest tables in specialty restaurants are for two people so it doesn't really matter if you book for one or two, it's the same size table.  The same applies for 3/4 - I booked a table for 4, for a party of 3, rather than updating once we boarded (since the system only allows even number bookings) we just arrived at our reserved time and when prompted about the 4th we said we were only 3, the Maitre'd indicated it didn't really matter as we would get the same size table either way.  This is, of course, in general as there is one specialty that has a cover charge rather than being a-la-carte, and seating is in larger groups since it's the Japanese Hibachi-style.

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9 hours ago, hallux said:

Sorry, these fragments don't work well for us.

 

That's a cruise itinerary?  Long Beach is synonymous with LA as far as cruising and is more often than not the beginning and end of the cruise, it's where Carnival's cruise port is (the other is in San Pedro, NCL and Princess).  Is this only a 3-4 day cruise with stops in SD and Ensenada?  Are these just cities you want to see while cruising? 

 

Do you want to see city sights?  Are you comfortable with self-guiding a tour, would you prefer the "safety" of a ship excursion?

 

 Hallux:  Sorry for the confusion:  PC cruise 3/22 to 3/29 SF to Ensenada with stops at Santa Barbara, LA, San Diego, MX.  Independent touring.  Have been researching online via best 10 sites, chamber of commerces, public transportation, YouTube.  Will appreciate your input.  Quincy

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20 hours ago, LandlockedCruiser01 said:

 . . . . .You will have lonely moments even if you make new friends, so mentally prepare yourself.  They're most likely to come up on embarkation night, after dinner and shows ended, but before you meet people to hang out informally with.  You can preempt that by carefully reading through the activity newsletter, to find activities that have high odds of bringing people together.  Or you can just call it a night early on the first night, to avoid putting yourself in a lonely situation in the first place . . .

 

 

Thank you for taking the time to respond with your thoughts - especially for the honesty in the quote above.  I am expecting to enjoy the trip for the most part, and I am encouraged by all the positive comments about why people enjoy solo cruising. But it's good to know that I still might have some lonely moments and can prepare for them.

 

And thanks to all on this board for sharing their experiences, which seem to be mostly good.  😀

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Hallux:  RCL's online reservation system requires the names of each passenger booking a specialty dinner, excursion, etc.  With only one name, the system wouldn't process a reservation for Wonderland.  I got a pop-up to call RCL to finish the reservation.  (Their system is based on names, not tabletop size.)  The RCL rep who completed my reservation said she was aware of this glitch.  Apparently I'm not the only solo cruiser who has whined about RCL's online computerized reservation system 😝, and she said it sometimes happens with certain excursions too.  

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12 hours ago, Truluv said:

Hallux:  RCL's online reservation system requires the names of each passenger booking a specialty dinner, excursion, etc.  With only one name, the system wouldn't process a reservation for Wonderland.  I got a pop-up to call RCL to finish the reservation.  (Their system is based on names, not tabletop size.)  The RCL rep who completed my reservation said she was aware of this glitch.  Apparently I'm not the only solo cruiser who has whined about RCL's online computerized reservation system 😝, and she said it sometimes happens with certain excursions too.  

 

Wow, that's pretty disconcerting!  I've contemplated giving RCI a shot, but now I'm reconsidering.  I don't care too much for specialty restaurants, but I do care about excursions.  This is reminiscent of Costa and MSC covertly banning solos.  What would happen if I entered a fake name to book, say, Wonderland?  Would it let me, or do I need a booking number with each name?  And can I fake that too?

 

I've been talking negatively about NCL for not having assigning dining, but RCI is even worse here.  Especially considering how calling a company is like pulling teeth, with 1-hour hold times and voice recognition systems that don't understand less than 100% perfect pronunciation.

Edited by LandlockedCruiser01

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5 hours ago, LandlockedCruiser01 said:

What would happen if I entered a fake name to book, say, Wonderland?  Would it let me, or do I need a booking number with each name?  And can I fake that too?

 

Unfortunately, names are linked to booking numbers so you need both.  But it's easy to book online or it only takes a few minutes to get to a pleasant rep on the phone.  Hopefully RCL is fixing this glitch.  

 

I've cruised a lot over the years.  My 1st cruise was about 30 + years ago, when I went on the Russian cruise ship Kazahkstan out of NYC to Bermuda.  It was in the US on an exchange visit of some kind.  After getting married & having kids, Carnival was our family favorite for years.  I have fond memories of my late spouse, a closet rocker with gray hair who wore suits for a living, breaking into an amazing Risky Business dance at sunrise one morning on the pool deck to the backround rock n' roll MUZAK -- and the workers putting out pool chairs broke into applause).   Eventually we got to the point where we knew all the Carnival cruise director jokes by heart, etc.   We then went on several cruises on Celebrity (too stuffy) and NCL (too crowded & noisy) before landing on RCL.  Now I'm  trying HAL.  I have my 2nd HAL cruise to AK in the Fall, along with Feb birthday cruises on RCL in 2020 & 2021.  I've thought about going back to Carnival, but I'm not sure if it fits my demographic anymore...(retired lawyer, late 60s outside but 20s inside).  Each line has some pluses & negatives that are fun to discover.  I do think cruising offers wonderful options for everyone -- whether solo or with others, and discovering the differences between cruise lines to pick your own favorite  is part of the fun..

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Re the comments about not being able to book a speciality restaurant online with Royal Caribbean... I booked one last year via my online cruise planner. It was the best experience of the cruise... I hated the main dining room and felt really out of place. 

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On 1/29/2020 at 12:58 AM, Joanne G. said:

 

Since you brought it up . . . 

 

After 20-some cruises, mostly with my sister plus a few with friends, I am going solo for the first time this coming May.  It's an itinerary I am really excited about - around the British Isles - but the closer it gets, the more concerned I get about feeling lonely.   I do a lot by myself, such as visit museums or go to shows, and once I spent a week alone at a beach resort.  But this will be a long time to be alone - a 14-day cruise with one day pre-cruise and one day post-cruise, plus those long transatlantic flights.

 

I think I will be busy enough in the ports - and there a lot of them - not to feel lonely.  I am mostly taking ship-sponsored  excursions, so I will be with other people, and I expect some casual conversations about what we are seeing or doing.   But I am not sure what I will be doing during the sea days and the evenings, when my sister or my friends and I can gab for hours over coffee or wine.   

 

And then dinners - that's what I am most apprehensive about.  The cruise is on NCL, so no option for assigned seating.  For all that I do alone, going to a sit-down restaurant alone is not something I do.  

 

Any advice from the experienced solo cruisers?   I am introverted, but I don't want to spend too much time reading in my cabin.

 

Have you joined the roll call for your sailing? I make an effort to chat online pre-cruise to ensure I have at least one new friend to meet on board and this has worked well for me up to now.

NCL have a nightly solo meetup and they arrange a dining table for those solos who wish to dine together. It's usually early, so I generally don't eat with the group. The group itself can be a bit hit or miss from cruise to cruise and that's why I try to get to know a few people pre-cruise. 

 

Chat to people on your excursions too and look at the Freestyle Daily for activities that you can join in with. I like to sit at the bar and then if there's a quiet moment the bar staff will chat to you... and generally just smile and be approachable and you'll soon find yourself with company. My last cruise turned out to be really sociable and I had very little time alone... to the point I had to take myself off to a quiet space just to have some me time lol 

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On 1/28/2020 at 7:58 PM, Joanne G. said:

 

...

 

Any advice from the experienced solo cruisers?   I am introverted, but I don't want to spend too much time reading in my cabin.

 

I've done two solo TAs on Cunard, and have some tips (especially when you're dealing with lots of sea days.) 

 

- Go to the talks/activities/classes that they're offering. Check your daily schedule to see what's on offer, and check some of them out. Even if it's something you wouldn't normally try, you're never going to see these people again (unless you meet someone you really click with), so put yourself out there. 

- Instead of reading in your cabin, try reading in one of the lounges or bars (or multiples, until you find the one that feels 'home' to you.) 

- When you arrive to dinner, ask the maitre'd if you can be seated at a table with others. 

- One of my favourite ways to pass the time is to knit, so if you're a crafter (of any portable sort) take your craft along. There have been afternoon crafting circles on both of my TAs, and they're not all knitters - I've seen a few cross-stitchers, a few needlepointers, and I've even been tempted to pull out my drop spindle at times. 

 

Enjoy your cruise! 14 days sounds like heaven. 

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18 hours ago, neeuqdrazil said:

Even if it's something you wouldn't normally try, you're never going to see these people again (unless you meet someone you really click with), so put yourself out there. 

 

This made me chuckle.  I don't imagine a British Isles cruise will have salsa or line dance classes as I have watched on some Caribbean cruises, but if such a thing is offered, this is my chance to try it!

 

22 hours ago, CazV said:

NCL have a nightly solo meetup and they arrange a dining table for those solos who wish to dine together.

 

I have heard about that.   I hope it's true even on the older NCL ships that don't have the solo studio cabins.   I would do that, and if it's early, that's fine with me.  This itinerary has a lot of ports, so I envision easy conversation about port activities. 

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2 hours ago, Joanne G. said:

I have heard about that.   I hope it's true even on the older NCL ships that don't have the solo studio cabins.   I would do that, and if it's early, that's fine with me.  This itinerary has a lot of ports, so I envision easy conversation about port activities. 

Every NCL sailing (or at least every NCL daily sheet I've seen posted on CC) includes a daily solo gathering. The quality of the gathering will depend on the people and setting, though.

 

  • NCL Bliss: The official daily solo gathering was held in the Studio Lounge (all solos welcome, though) before dinner, with group dinners organized every night in one of the MDRs.
  • NCL Joy: No Studio area, so the gatherings were held in one of the bars.

I much preferred the Bliss version. The solo director was cheerful and the lounge was set up well for casual conversation. On Joy, the bar was so noisy that I could barely hear the people next to me, and the solo director was the exuberant extrovert type of person that makes me want to run away! I went the first night, left as soon as I could extract myself, and never returned. That solo director noted that on the prior sailing there were no solos at all, so she wasn't quite prepared for the two dozen or so who showed up on this one.

 

I haven't decided if I'm going to attend the scheduled solo gatherings on my next trip. Maybe, but probably not.

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5 hours ago, Joanne G. said:

I have heard about that.   I hope it's true even on the older NCL ships that don't have the solo studio cabins.   I would do that, and if it's early, that's fine with me.  This itinerary has a lot of ports, so I envision easy conversation about port activities. 

Yep all ships have them... how they turn out is dependent on the solo host and the particular group of solos on board. I've only sailed on the big ships with the studios but I know from chatting to others that sometimes the groups on the smaller ships can be just as good. 🙂 I'll be honest and say my experiences with the solo groups haven't been great on my last couple of cruises, but it hasn't mattered because of chatting to people pre-cruise and having arrangements in place. I already have dinner arrangements for 3 nights of my upcoming cruise with someone I've been chatting to online... but I'll still go along to the first solo meeting to see who shows up. 

Edited by CazV

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On 1/29/2020 at 5:58 PM, QMG said:

 

PC cruise 3/22 to 3/29 SF to Ensenada with stops at Santa Barbara, LA, San Diego, MX. 

 

I don't have any advice for you that hasn't been said here, but I wanted to note that we're on this cruise together.

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Following this as someone also considering my first potential solo cruise :)

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Many excellent suggestions here. Thanks to everyone for sharing them. I've just booked my first cruise (May 2021) and will be solo. It's been 9 years since I last travelled on my own so a bit nervous but excited about the cruise and the opportunity to nudge myself out of my introvert comfort zone. In the past when travelling alone, I always had a book or magazine with me for meals so I didn't feel like the odd person in a restaurant packed with couples, families and groups. Please keep the advice coming. It's great for my planning. 

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On 1/22/2020 at 12:56 PM, califsealion said:

I carry a small paperback with me whenever I am out and about.  That way I can happily sit and read if there is no one that wants to chat.  I'm an introvert, so often I'm happier if no one wants to chat and I can enjoy my book! 😀

 

In Cozumel there is a great bench by the port from where you can see the giant ships.  I frequently sit there and read a good book.

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Solo does not mean single.  As a 59 year old I know better but on the cruise I forgot to make sure.  It may not matter to you but it does to me.  I did not find out someone was married until we got back home from the cruise.  We went to night clubs on the ship, did shore excursions together and seen each other in London after the cruise.  Then when I got home found out they were married.

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On 3/30/2020 at 8:11 AM, crusinpsychRN said:

I've never had anyone show up at the solo meetings.

I have found it depends on the cruise line and where the cruise is.  On my Princess cruises the Solo Gatherings were empty of a couple of people the first day then nothing.  On the NCL cruise there were between 40 and 100 people at the gatherings.  We had 40 at dinner every night.  On Celebrity there were about 20 but we ended up landing with different groups by the 3 day.

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On 1/29/2020 at 2:58 PM, QMG said:

PC cruise 3/22 to 3/29 SF to Ensenada with stops at Santa Barbara, LA, San Diego, MX.

I am from Fresno and have done Ensenada and San Diego several times on cruises.  I have had the most fun in Ensenada walking the town.  Town is close enough to walk and Ensenada is a safe town.  I liked eating the street food and looking at the street art.  In San Diego right next to the port is the train/tram station.  I like to take it to Old Town San Diego.  I enjoy eating and shopping in Old Town.  I cannot help with SD or LA.

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Dear Mike and/or Nick:  thanks for info.  I've researched a ton of stuff to do in San Diego and LA so I think I'll be busy.  I'm single and traveling solo AND do not expect any extraordinary events.

Puzzled and anxious regarding situation.  Currently on double lockdown.  Health and disturbances in street, unfortunately, it is uncomfortably close.  Trust you are bothered with former only and heat.  Quincy

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This is a great thread.  Have not cruised solo yet but hope to someday for at least 14 days.  Thank you to the veterans for all the words of wisdom!

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