I’ve finally given in to all the hype and started watching the TV police drama, Line of Duty. Any of you familiar with it will not be surprised when I say the first episode went straight over my head. Was the CHIS anything to do with MIT or TFC? And as for the IRV? OMG! By the end of an hour, my brain was spinning.
The shorthand speech got me thinking that cruises should have their own set of acronyms. I’ve come up with two - PY and FFL - that sum up what makes a cruise so PFSC (in case you can’t guess, that’s Please Yourself, Friends For Life and Perfect For Solo Cruisers).
Think about it. You become part of a ready-made ‘family’ of crew and cruisers, you are in a safe environment, there’s no end of entertainment (be that lavish shows, interesting lectures or fun quizzes) and if you’re nervous about going ashore alone, you can join fellow passengers on an excursion. Leisurely sightseeing, cooking classes, wine-tasting, cycling trips. All the cruise lines offer something for everyone.
I am lucky enough to cruise several times a year for work and most of the time I go alone. Know what? I love it! My husband and I have a great time cruising together but it’s so liberating when he’s not there as I only have to think about myself. I can get up when I like, have lunch when I’m peckish, pick the excursions I fancy, sit where I want at the show (and shhh, don’t tell him, sometimes even skip the show altogether!)
It’s much easier to make friends, invariably with people who are also cruising alone because we are all more gregarious when we are on our own and not focusing attention on companions. I know that moment of walking into a restaurant alone, especially on day one of a cruise, is daunting, particularly if it’s open seating but the maître d’ can help break the ice by introducing you to other diners.
On both ocean and river cruises, I’ve found myself on a ‘singles’ table for dinner and noticed we are always the last to leave the restaurant. You get to a point where you run out of things to talk about to a spouse or friend you’ve been with all day. With a table of strangers from different parts of the UK or other countries, there’s much more to natter about - where they come from, their work, other cruises they’ve done, their favourite on board restaurants. The conversation just flows.
After all these months in lockdown, starved of friends and family, those long dinner conversations will go on even longer. I certainly can’t wait to get back on a cruise, meeting real people instead of staring at a frozen Zoom screen and, great cook that he is, eating something that my husband hasn't cooked (in my defence, he says the same thing!)
Saga and Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines have always been a top choice for solo travellers, providing lots of single accommodation (Saga’s new ships have 109 single cabins each; Fred. Olsen’s new Borealis and Bolette, the former Holland America duo Amsterdam and Rotterdam, have more than 100 between them) and ensure that while folk might be travelling alone, they are never lonely. Fred. Olsen tells me that as COVID restrictions will be in place during their cruises around the UK this summer, solo travellers will be ‘bubbled up’ with others who are on their own (if they wish, of course) so they are not alone.
P&O Cruises and Cunard have ramped up their single cabin count recently, making them a good choice for folk cruising alone and Hurtigruten’s ships are great for lone travellers in search of adventure. For when we can finally fly to the States again, American Cruise Lines has single cabins on its new-look modern riverboats sailing the Mississippi and Columbia and Snake Rivers in America’s Northwest Pacific region.