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Navigating solo

November 01, 2009|CATHARINE HAMM

Question: I have a great 15-day European cruise next June, and I need to find someone to go with who's in my age range. How should I go about that?

Cherie Kimmer, Sherman Oaks

Answer: Carefully -- but deliberately.

Here's an unfortunate fact of single life: You are not the cruise line's favorite customer -- at least, not in the financial sense.

Cruise lines seem to think that people should come in pairs, so most fares are based on double occupancy. If a hotel room is priced at $150 a night, that usually means one person or two people will pay $150 a night, total. But on a cruise, if the cabin rate is $150 a night, it almost always means per person. And if the second person isn't there, the first person often pays that full expense too.

You're really subsidizing the cruise ship for the shore excursions your nonexistent cabin mate doesn't take, the drinks he doesn't consume, the gambling he doesn't do. Makes about as much sense as having to subsidize an executive's country club membership with your taxpayer dollars. Oh, wait. We're already doing this. So the so-called single supplement should come as no shock.

There are a couple of ways around high-seas piracy: One is to look long and hard for cruises on which the single supplement is not quite as much. In 2010, for instance, Regent Seven Seas is offering some voyages on which the supplement is as low as 10%. You can find some of these bargains on such sites as and or just by Googling "single cruise supplement waived."

Or you can check out, or any singles cruise group, such as

This, of course, suggests that you haven't yet booked your trip.

If you have, you can scour the usual places for a possible partner, including friends of friends of friends, friends of family, church groups and other associations you belong to, or you can join an online community such as and try to find someone with like interests. (Just be very careful on any social media forum, please. Don't give away too much information, and do be skeptical -- pleasantly so, of course.)

But perhaps the best idea is to do some legwork now and get ready for your next time out. The Roll Call feature on, for instance, allows you to get to know passengers on your cruise before you go.

It is not a place to find potential cabin mates for the cruise you're on, notes Kathy Davis, who reviews and monitors posts for CruiseCritic, but to get to know some of the folks on your cruise before you set sail, sort of like walking into a party where you know a bunch of people. It's a group of like-minded folks, so who knows whom you'll connect with for future trips?

Laura Sterling, who manages user-generated content on CruiseCritic, and, notes that one of the reviewers for the cruise site met some fellow passengers through Roll Call on her first cruise in 2003 and has been sailing with them ever since.

In the end, you really want to meet the person who could be your roommate ahead of time, not before you're stuck with her for 15 days and discover that her idea of high fun is reading all 20 volumes of the Oxford English Dictionary (not that there's anything wrong with that).

Because "immiseration" isn't a word you want to remember you trip by.


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