Great singles cruises to book and meet fascinating people

Start humming the theme song to “The Love Boat” because we’re going to do a deep dive into how to find the perfect singles cruises to book for meeting people. Is it possible to meet your forever match on a cruise ship? Absolutely. An editor I once knew found her true love on an expedition-style …

Great singles cruises to book and meet fascinating people

Start humming the theme song to “The Love Boat” because we’re going to do a deep dive into how to find the perfect singles cruises to book for meeting people.

Is it possible to meet your forever match on a cruise ship? Absolutely.

An editor I once knew found her true love on an expedition-style cruise. They married within months of returning home and now have two children. Whether it was the thrill of the expedition, the forced digital detox of a remote destination or the close quarters of a small ship, their relationship clearly blossomed onboard.

Cruise ships offer a unique way to meet new and often fascinating people, whether you’re looking for romance or simply want to enjoy the company of other people vacationing the same way you do.

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There are single cruisers on almost every ship. Some sail solo and others are in friend or family groups. Dining arrangements, onboard activities and port tours make meeting like-minded people easy. Also, it’s socially acceptable to strike up conversations with others throughout the ship.

Some cruise lines make it even easier for singles to find each other with solo cabins clustered together and scheduled events for singles.

If you’d like to find companionship at sea, here are our top tips for making the most of a singles cruise.

Tips for making the most of a singles cruise

DOUG MENUEZ/SEABOURN

As on dry land, activities are often the best way to meet people on a cruise. If you love to dance, go where the music is. If watersports are your thing, book a tropical cruise with a schedule of shore excursions that involve snorkeling, surfing, scuba diving and similar activities. Choose tours focused on wildlife watching, historical sites or food and beverage to meet shipmates who enjoy the same.

You’ll often find other singles within shore excursion tour groups. However, you can increase your odds by joining social media groups specific to your cruise dates where you can connect pre-cruise with anyone cruising single.

In fact, there are dozens of social media groups dedicated to singles who love to cruise. Some groups focus on specific cruise lines, while others are broader in scope. Either way, they are an easy opportunity to start a conversation with other singles before you ever set foot on the ship.

Your ship’s daily activity schedule is also a good place to find other singles. Check on the cruise line’s app, on the interactive TV in your cabin or in the printed version (if there is one) for planned gatherings of singles — often pre-dinner meetups at bars.

A theme cruise is another way to meet people with similar interests. Sailings focus on country music, Star Trek, wine tasting, crafting and other popular hobbies and interests. Not only will you likely find plenty of singles ready to mingle, but it may also be easier to strike up a conversation, knowing you have at least one thing in common.

Chartered singles cruises take the work out of finding other singles because you’ll travel together in a group, often with a host to organize everyone. On larger ships, the charter will connect you with other group members through planned onboard meals, gatherings and activities. On smaller vessels, the tour company may charter the entire ship, so every passenger is single.

One word of caution here. It’s easy to think that meeting someone on a cruise ship takes all the inherent danger out of hanging out with strangers. You’re in a confined space surrounded by lots of other people. Sounds safe, right?

While cruising is overall incredibly safe, crime on board can happen. Like any form of travel, it’s best not to let your guard down, especially if you go off alone with someone you’ve just met.

Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind when seeking other singles on cruise ships is to start with an appropriate cruise line for your age and lifestyle. Here are some great singles cruises for various age groups to help you get started.

Best cruises for singles over 20

Carnival Celebration pool deck
Pool deck on Carnival Celebration. ERICA SILVERSTEIN/THE POINTS GUY

For young singles, cruising can sometimes feel like an expensive way to meet people. To avoid the high cost of single supplements charged to solo travelers in standard cabins, single cruisers can travel with friends and share a room (many cabins can sleep four). Also, you might feel more confident heading to the ship’s bars or discos in a group.

Try short three- to five-night cruises on low-cost mainstream lines like Carnival, Norwegian Cruise Line or Royal Caribbean where you’ll find more young adults and more of a party scene. Singles on a budget can also save money cruising on older, smaller ships across the mainstream fleets, which typically have lower cruise fares.

Margaritaville at Sea is another good choice for quick and affordable two-night trips to the Bahamas, though you’ll need to find love quickly on such a short cruise.

Twenty-somethings who have a larger travel budget and wish to cruise on their own can look for cruise lines with solo cabins. These rooms for one are in limited supply, so they can be priced at a premium and sell out quickly.

Related: The 6 best cruise lines for solo travelers

Our top pick for this age group would be a short Carnival cruise from almost any U.S. departure port.

The price is right, there’s plenty of onboard fun designed for this age group (great live bands, nightly karaoke, poolside games, trivia and deck parties). It’s also a good way to get your feet wet when it comes to cruising as a young single. Carnival ships have many cabins that can sleep several of your besties if you choose not to go alone.

Best cruises for singles over 30

JIM HUGHES/NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE

Cruising singles in their 30s may have slightly different vacation needs from their younger peers. Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean and Carnival are all still great choices for this age group, whether you’re traveling on your own or with a group of single friends.

Another cruise line that works well for young singles is Virgin Voyages, which is child-free and has rooms and activities designed for singles. Its cheeky, nontraditional vibe is a plus for 30-somethings.

Use the tattoo you got at the onboard tattoo studio as a conversation starter, make friends at an ’80s-themed workout class or chat up your neighbor at an after-hours cabaret or at a communal table in one of the line’s many complimentary restaurants.

Related: A beginner’s guide to picking a cruise line

Single parents who vacation with their youngsters might want to add Disney Cruise Line to the list. The kids can enjoy amazing supervised programming in the expansive kids club, while mom or dad enjoys adult pleasures like wine tastings, fine dining and dancing — all of which may lead to meetups with other single parents onboard.

A warm-climate Royal Caribbean cruise with your best buds can be an ideal option for the over-30 set. We recommend one of the line’s newest and biggest ships, so you have plenty of options for food, entertainment and hangouts to try. From slides and water attractions that get your heart racing, to dance clubs open until the wee hours of the night, these ships have plenty to offer young singles and plenty of places to meet new friends.

Best cruises for singles over 40

Bow of Valiant Lady cruise ship at sea
Valiant Lady. VIRGIN VOYAGES

Singles in their 40s may be ready for a little less party and a little more romance on a singles cruise. This age group won’t be out of place among festive singles onboard Virgin Voyages or Carnival, but Celebrity Cruises is another cruise line to consider.

The line’s newer Edge-class ships have a younger, hipper ambiance than their older ships. Think martini bars, foodie fantasies and jazz clubs, all with decor that looks nothing like your parent’s cruise ships.

Related: Best cruise ship bars

For those who like to gamble, try the mainstream cruise lines. The large casinos offer yet another opportunity to meet other singles on board — particularly at the table games. Margaritaville at Sea is another line to consider with plenty of gambling singles onboard.

For 40-something singles looking for onboard romance, we suggest a studio cabin for seven nights on NCL’s Norwegian Escape bound for the Caribbean. There’s plenty to do on board and in port to help you meet people. Additionally, the solo cabins (which frequently sell out) provide access to the Studio Lounge for socializing.

Another great pick would be Virgin Voyages’ four-night Fire and Sunset Soiree from Miami. It includes stops at Key West and a private beach club on Bimini, plus a sea day to get to know your fellow passengers. The cost for a single “sailor,” as Virgin calls them, starts at around $900.

Best cruises for singles over 50

HOLLAND AMERICA

For the 50-plus crowd of singles, all the previous options are still reasonable choices. However, some lines cater a bit more to this age group. The caveat is that cruise lines that cater to mature travelers are often targeted at couples, with solo travelers skewing older.

Oceania, Azamara and Holland America are tops on this list — especially on their shorter cruises that attract still-working professionals. The ships are large enough to have a mix of singles along with the usual crowd of couples but small enough to provide a strong chance of actually meeting those other singles onboard.

These lines offer port-intensive itineraries, so book ship tours to connect with like-minded folks on board since you likely won’t spend as much time lounging around the pool.

For singles over 50, a Celebrity Cruises itinerary in the Mediterranean will likely include many other singles to mingle with. Mediterranean cruises are popular with active mid-lifers looking to see more of the world. What could be more romantic than cruising the Greek Islands or the Italian coastline?

Best cruises for singles over 60

Seabourn Odyssey. MICHEL VERDURE/SEABOURN

Single retirees with the freedom to enjoy longer and often more expensive cruises have loads of options for meeting people. The list starts with premium lines like Holland America, Oceania and Cunard, but also Viking and Princess Cruises.

Single travelers in their 60s and older with a large travel budget should consider luxury cruise lines like Seabourn, Regent Seven Seas, and Silversea. All these lines cater to singles with reduced supplement charges and singles meet and greets.

Visit the maitre d’ on the first day of your cruise to ensure you are seated at the same table or group of tables with other singles for dinner in the main dining room. Dance classes, trivia games and port tours also put you in the right place at the right time to strike up conversations with other singles. Social hostesses on luxury lines can introduce you to other solo travelers.

Related: Why it’s easier to meet new people on a smaller cruise ship

River cruises in Europe are another possibility for singles in this age group. River cruises are inherently social, in part because of the small size of the ships, but also because daily tours put people with shared interests in close proximity during walking and bus excursions. There are also choices of specialty theme cruises for LGBTQ+ cruisers, wine lovers, golfers and ancestry seekers, all of which make it easier for singles to meet people on board.

Lines to consider include AmaWaterways, Viking River Cruises, Avalon River Cruises, Emerald Cruises and Uniworld River Cruises. River cruises also sometimes offer reduced single supplements, making them more affordable to travel alone.

A top pick for this age group would be an Alaska sailing on Silversea Cruises. This luxury line includes everything in one fare, even many fabulous Alaska excursions you would pay hundreds of dollars for on any other line. The ships are small enough that you can easily meet your fellow travelers and the excursions make it easy to share experiences with other singles on board.

Bottom line

The romance of a cruise is undeniable. From dressy dinners to the moon’s glow on the ocean waves, cruising can feel like a setting straight from a Hollywood film. Though not as simple as swiping right, cruising to meet other singles has appeal.

Choosing the right cruise line and activities can help you narrow your potential candidates. Looking for an outdoor adventurer? Choose active tours in port. Want to share your love of music, wine or Blackjack with someone? Pick a theme cruise focused on your passion.

If you just want to dance the night away with singles in your own age group, there’s a ship for you — whether your jam is rock ‘n’ roll, hip hop or a classic waltz.

Also, you lose nothing by trying. Even if you don’t meet the partner of your dreams, you’ll enjoy a fantastic cruise vacation.

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