Travelling as a 40+ single/solo person can be daunting, especially for females. There are a lot of unknowns to work through alone, your safety is always a big consideration, and loneliness can be a concern.
For a land-based vacation, you need to think about getting through an airport, arriving in a foreign destination and working out how to transfer to your accommodation. How does the currency work, who can you trust when it comes to taxis etc? Where should you go for food? Where are suitable activities or entertainment?
This is why cruises for singles over 40 can be your best choice…read on to find out why!
This is always the most important part of any holiday. My advice here is to speak to a Travel Agent. They have so much experience and can tell you which is the best cruise line and itinerary for a solo traveller. They can arrange all your transfers for you, ensure you have the correct paperwork and visas, book you the best seat on the plane (if you’re flying to the cruise), find the single cabins on the ships (or tell you which have reduced single supplements), assist you with shore excursions and basically think of all the things that you probably won’t!
Even more importantly, when you’re travelling alone it’s vital to have someone to call should your plans get cancelled or delayed, and a travel agent can help you in this situation.
I’ve been dropped off at a hotel I booked myself in Miami (pre cruise), by a taxi driver kindly informing me not to go out alone at nighttime, this isn’t a safe area for a single lady… Well, great, Booking.com didn’t tell me that. I ordered pizza and stayed in the room for the night, what a waste!
The good thing was that I knew I had no safety concerns as soon as I boarded the ship the following day. That’s one of my key selling points to solo travellers. There is a full security team on board (not that you’ll see them apart from at embark/disembark), and security cameras are everywhere. There are also crew members willing to help you out at any time, you’re rarely going to be completely alone.
You can’t be ripped off financially either, because there is no money being exchanged on the ship, everything is done on your key card and you can view your account on your TV screen to keep track.
Being single shouldn’t stop you from having great adventures! Whilst you could say that some of the ships are adventures in themselves (zip lining anyone?), they also give you the opportunity to see the world. Depending on the itinerary, you can pack quite a few countries into a couple of week’s vacation – you can’t do that on land easily! Check out a Med or Caribbean cruise if you’re into ticking off your bucket list quickly, or if you want to experience lots of outdoor adventures, maybe head to Norway for hiking, fishing, kayaking etc.
Personally, I hate dining alone. I can do breakfast, because it’s usually a speedy affair if you want it to be, and lunch can be a take away or quick sandwich or something, but dinners in restaurants alone…no thank you. I’ll choose room service every time.
However, on ships it’s the norm to share tables. This is a great way to firstly, not eat alone, and secondly, meet a whole load of new people! I’ve met so many great friends on cruises, people I’ve ended up hanging out with for the rest of the holiday, which has been great for the company and also to know someone is there for you if you have any issues (and remind you that you should have put your watch back an hour last night…!).
You can also change your allocated table if you don’t like the people you’re with – don’t be afraid to request this, cruising can attract all sorts, you don’t have to love everyone!
If you want to eat solo, you can do that too. Either ask for a single table in the restaurant or head to the buffet or a cafe, or you can order room service.
Most ships have a Singles Get Together event most nights, pre dinner. This is a demonstration of how many singles actually cruise – so don’t be thinking you’ll be the only one! Make the effort to go to these, especially on the first night. People tend to find their buddies within the first couple of nights and not continue to go regularly, so attending the first ones will introduce you to most people.
Often, groups get on really well and will continue to spend the rest of the evening together. It’s also been known for singles to leave the ship single no more…!!
In addition to the singles groups, check out the community notice board for additional get-togethers you may be interested in, such as craft, knitting, Bridge, Friends of Bill W, LGBTQI – almost everyone is catered for.
Activities and Entertainment
The best thing about cruise ships is that there’s no shortage of activities or entertainment! Depending on the cruise line and ship you choose, you can select from rock climbing, dodgem cars, go karts, ice-skating, bowling, cooking, mini golf, tennis, basketball…the list goes on. The activities team manage these so you never have to feel alone, or unsure what to do, there’s always someone on hand to help you.
When it comes to evening entertainment, grab a drink and find a comfy seat in the theatre or a lounge. Cruisers are generally a friendly bunch, it won’t be long until someone strikes up a conversation with you or asks you to join them – if you want.
Cruising can be the perfect time to get around to those fitness goals you keep setting! The gyms are free, but you can pay for a Personal Trainer or fitness class if you really want to go hard. You will find yoga classes, spinning, boxing, Pilates, Zumba, body pump and many more. Head to the gym on the first day and see what classes are on offer for your cruise as you may have to sign up early to get a spot.
Personally, aside from the gym I really love heading out onto the deck and doing laps in the morning to take in the fresh air. It’s a perfect way to start the day, and it won’t take long till you get to know the regulars and are saying hi to several people on your rounds!
Make the most of your time alone to utilize the ship’s Spa and relaxation areas. Many cruise lines offer free access to adult-only areas with hot tubs and pools for you to enjoy (Royal Caribbean’s Quantum Class are my faves), and if you want to treat yourself, maybe book in for a massage or facial.
You will also find lots of areas around the ship where you can grab a book and relax on a comfy sofa or hammock. Kick back and enjoy!
Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean
Whilst I often recommend that you book your own independent shore excursions to save money and have a more unique experience, as a solo traveller I actually recommend the ship’s tours. This gives you peace of mind in terms of not being stranded if anything goes wrong, not ending up in an area you shouldn’t be, and for the chance to meet more people.
However, you may meet some friends on board who you can book independent tours with as you go forwards, so maybe just book the first few days through the cruise line and see how you go.
Cruises are easy to budget for – on most cruise lines. You can choose from an all-inclusive cruise line, such as Oceania or Regent Seven Seas, or for a mid-range larger ship you will find cruise lines with most food, activities, and entertainment included, such as Royal Caribbean and NCL, so you just need to add on drinks and excursions.
The cruises to be wary of are the budget lines which hit you with everything once you get on board. P&O Australia are notorious for this (not to be confused with P&O UK).
For a full break-down of the differences between cruise lines and inclusions, check out my previous posts, Compare Cruise Lines, Large Ships and Mid-Sized Ships (they’ll open in a new page so you can easily come back!).
Talking of budget, you need to consider single supplements. It’s frustrating, but most cruises have them unfortunately. Basically it’s a charge for only having one person in the cabin. There are some ways around this, by choosing a cruise line which has single cabins, such as Royal Caribbean which has Studio rooms and NCL which also has Solo traveller cabins, but they’re still more expensive than sharing a regular room.
As mentioned earlier, save yourself the leg work by asking a Travel Agent to help you with this as they’ll know if any cruise line has a sale on the supplements, which aren’t generally advertised to the general public.
If you’re ok with the supplement and don’t know which type of cabin to choose, you may want to read my last post Oceanview vs Balcony – How to Make the Best Choice.
Studio Cabin, photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean
Best Ships for Singles
Ok, so this is obviously subjective, but as a Forty Something Traveller myself, these are the cruises for singles over 40 that I would choose.
Small ships offer more intimacy, fewer guests, small-group excursions and more of a chance to get to know your fellow cruisers. For this reason, I’d recommend a Viking Ocean cruise, where singles gatherings are hosted every evening by the Entertainment team, all crew members will know your name within a couple of days, and you will truly be made to feel like part of the family from day one. However, do note that depending on where you sit within the over 40 age scale, you may be the youngest guest on board, as their average is a young at heart, active 60-something. You won’t need to pack a tux or dinner suit which may be a win for you too.
Crystal and Azamara are also great options for the boutique cruise line experience who cater for solo travellers. They often do reduced supplements of 25% instead of the usual 100%. Note that Crystal will require formal evening wear, and their age group is also a little higher than Viking.
For a large ship experience, I’d recommend Royal Caribbean for their multitude of activities, single studios, non-stop entertainment, beautiful adult-only solariums and good value. NCL would be a close second for the same reason. These ships have a wider age group too, so you will fit in on any of the ships easily, with younger and older people all around you.
Whilst I don’t have much experience with Holland America, they do have single traveller programs you may want to check out.
I hope I’ve given you lots of reasons why I think cruises for singles over 40 can be the best vacation of your life! I’m a huge fan of cruising, obviously, and personally think they are the easiest and least stressful way to travel as a solo.
If you are cruising for the first time, I can answer many of your questions in my post Dos & Don’ts of Cruising For the First Time and if you have any questions, please do drop them below.
Have you cruised as a solo traveller before? Please share any tips you may have.
My best advice…just do it, you won’t regret it!
Thanks for reading, see you next time!
Wendy A x
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