Small Ship Cruising Perfect For The Solo Traveller

by Ming Tappin

Cruising solo shouldn't be scary - pick a small ship or river cruise

Included excursions on river cruises mean being with the same small group daily 

Small ship cruising facilitates camaraderie as you dine with the same people each day

Size matters - it is easier to meet and get to know your fellow guests on a small ship

Do you have clients looking to go away on their own but are wary of travelling by themselves in unfamiliar countries and have concerns about safety or are uncomfortable about meeting fellow travellers? Cruising on a small ship might just be the answer. Now, I'm not talking about singles looking for party ships or their next date -  the target client here is the mature traveller of any marital status, looking to explore the world in comfort and style. 

I can appreciate the apprehension some travellers may have about taking a solo trip. The thought of not having anyone to talk to, dining alone and standing out from the crowd is intimidating. I certainly had these thoughts as I embarked on my Cuba cruise a few weeks ago. I have never taken a week-long cruise by myself, and I was slightly nervous about the potential awkwardness. But these fears were quickly dispelled the moment I stepped onboard.

It was surprisingly easy to meet new friends, even though most guests were couples. I met people on the 1st night and continued to socialize with them throughout the cruise. By the end of the week, there were several small groups who had met onboard, and frequently met for drinks and had dinner together. On the last day, e-mail addresses were exchanged and hugs went all around as we parted ways, a little richer in our lives.

A key factor to such great camaraderie is the small ship size. There were just over 500 guests onboard my sailing. I loved the fact that I saw the same people every day. On a large ship you may meet someone on Day 1 and may never see them again for the rest of the cruise.  Even on a previous cruise onboard a 1,200-guest ship, there was an agent friend on the same sailing, and we never saw each other the entire 10 days. I finally had to phone her cabin to arrange dinner together on our last evening.

In addition, I find guests on small ships tend to be more social and congenial. Since the demographic on smaller vessels tends to be older, travellers are interested in meeting new people and sharing experiences. Many fellow cruisers welcomed me at their table for dinner and other activities and some even looked for me to make sure I wasn't dining alone or missing the tour bus. Most of all, everyone was curious as to why I was travelling alone, which in itself was a good icebreaker.

River cruises as well as small ocean ships are ideal for solo travellers because meals are in single-seating format, allowing guests to mix and mingle. And since there aren't 10+ bars and lounges to get lost in, it means ample opportunities to run into people you've met. River cruises, as well as my Cuba cruise, also include an excursion at every port, providing another opportunity to see the same travellers as invariably you will end up on the same tour buses. 

Lastly, the additional benefits of cruising - unpacking once, the consistency of great accommodations, food and service every day without fuss seal the deal for the perfect solo vacation. As long as one is social and willing to meet others, small ships are perfect in my opinion for the mature solo cruiser. Please suggest it to your clients, they will have a wonderful time! 

Ming  Tappin is a cruise veteran with over 20 years’ experience in the industry and has sailed on 38 cruises and counting. Based in Vancouver, Ming is Owner of

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