Fantasy for One

February 18, 2003


As Singles Editor for Cruisemates, I receive many inquiries about which ships are best for those traveling alone, and I can understand why: No one wants to find himself or herself on a cruise surrounded by couples, families, and tour groups, without any other solo travelers. What's even worse is to be in the middle of the ocean on a ship that just might have singles, but provides no activities to bring them together. So when I cruise in the future, I will review as many ships as possible as to their special appeal--or lack thereof--for singles.

First I would like to clarify the term "single." This does not mean a person is unmarried, divorced or widowed -- i.e. without a spouse or partner. I have met many, many single travelers who are "attached," but who cruise alone for different reasons, such as a spouse or partner who gets seasick easily, or who just doesn't like to cruise. While these individuals are not looking for romance, they still qualify as "singles" because they want companionship for dinner, shore excursions, and even dancing.

I recently took a four-day cruise on Carnival's Fantasy from Port Canaveral, Florida to the Bahamas. I booked an interior cabin, category 4C, single occupancy, at a fare of $422, which included port taxes. I thought this was a very reasonable price for traveling alone.

Requesting late seating for dinner, I was pleased to find there were two other singles at my table--a young secretary from New Jersey on her very first cruise, and a mature divorced gentleman on his fifteenth cruise. Like me, they had not asked to be seated with other singles, but the maitre 'd noted that we were each traveling alone, and obliged by assigning us the same table. That night at the "Welcome Aboard" show, I found myself sitting next to another lone traveler (a mature divorced male) who said he also shared a table for singles in another dining room. So the ship is obviously making an effort to see that singles dine together.

There was an "Adult Singles Party" the first night, but it was held at 11:30 p.m. in the Electricity Disco -- which, at that time, was overcrowded with lively teenagers. I noticed several singles walk in and right back out again, so, in my opinion, a get-acquainted party for adults should be held in a quieter location at an earlier hour.

The "Welcome Aboard" show was extremely enjoyable...and a boon for "senior singles." Cruise Director Mark Price (one of the most talented directors I have ever experienced) asked those traveling alone to stand up and wave, drawing welcoming cheers from the audience. This was a nice icebreaker, enabling single people to see who else was traveling by themselves.

In Nassau, I took the Ardastra Zoo Garden and city tour, wanting to see the world-famous marching flamingos. On our bus, I met three lovely ladies from different parts of the country who had not known a soul when they came onboard but were now "new best friends."

There are seven bars on the Fantasy, but the singles found their way to the quieter Majestic Bar on promenade aft, where they congregated nightly to enjoy before-dinner drinks and friendly conversation.

According to Hotel Director Anuj Khosla, there are many singles of all ages on every voyage of the Fantasy. He suspects this is because there are so many retirees in Florida who like the convenience of Port Canaveral; and the younger crowd prefers the shorter cruises (the Fantasy alternates three- and four-night cruises each week) because most have jobs and not a lot of vacation time. Mr. Khosla explained that the staff makes a concerted effort to accommodate those traveling alone to make sure that they enjoy themselves.

I had a great cruise on the Fantasy. The food was good, the ship was clean, the crew friendly and accommodating, and the Broadway-type shows were superb. I heartily recommend the Fantasy for singles of all ages.

An added happy note: There are lots of onboard activitiurs truly just happened to win...guess what? A free cruise!

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