How to make friends on a cruise

One of the things I was most worried about on my first cruise was whether I would find anyone to talk to. I was going on my own and had no idea what to expect. 

So, it was with a little bit of apprehension that I boarded the ship. Was it going to be a long few days? How was I going to be able to meet anyone amongst potentially thousands of passengers?

Turned out I was worrying for nothing. 

Taking a cruise is a great way of meeting different people and making some wonderful friendships. In fact, with a few cruises under my belt now, I think it is perhaps one of the best things about cruising.

Despite not being the most outgoing of people, I’ve managed to make a few new acquaintances including some who are now very good friends.

If I can do that, then I’m sure pretty much everyone can. You definitely don’t have to be a social butterfly, I’m proof of that!

So, if you are wondering how to make friends on a cruise read on for some of the ways that have worked for me. Hopefully some will work for you too and before you know it you’ll have a new bff.

How to make friends on cruises –things you can do in advance to give yourself the best opportunity of meeting people on your cruise

Before I get into how you can meet people onboard a cruise ship, there are some things you can do before you sail. These will give you the best chance of meeting some new people and perhaps making some new friendships. 

Choose your cruise carefully 

Perhaps the most important thing you can do to ensure you have the chance to make some cruise friends is to book the right cruise.

That sounds obvious but you should have a bit of a think about what would be the most suitable itinerary, cruise company and type of ship for you. 

Destinations geared for couples or families are less likely to attract other solo travellers. As are smaller ships that are designed like boutique hotels for couples.

That’s not to say there won’t be any other single or solo travellers in those places or types of ships. However, it may make it a little more difficult to make contact with other people. 

Check if the ship has solo cabins 

Cruising is a great type of holiday for solo travellers.

Cruise companies are beginning to realise this too with more and more single cabins on cruise ships. Some older ships are also being retrofitted with solo cabins.

A few cruise lines are going the extra mile and incorporating facilities such as solo loungers in their ships.

As they are still a very small percentage of cabins on cruise ships, solo cabins are in high demand and usually sell out pretty quickly.

Of course it’s not only solo travelers that use those cabins. Those that are traveling with family or friends but need extra space can also book them. However, if you choose a ship with single cabins you can sure there will be a few other solo travellers on board

Some cruise lines, such as Norwegian Cruise Line, offer a solo lounge for exclusive use by passengers in their solo studio cabins. This is a great way to meet some of your fellow cruisers. 

Tip: When looking for your own cabin compare the prices between the solo and standard cabins. Sometimes the standard ones have no single supplement and can be cheaper than a solo cabin. As an added bonus you’ll also get some extra space. 

Consider a themed cruise to match one of your interests

A themed cruise is where the cruise is focussed on a special interest, entertainment style or special event. This can be anything from music, sport, films, tv shows, food and seasonal events. 

The good thing about this type of voyage is that you know there will be lots of like-minded cruisers onboard. You will all have a common interest. This will make it much easier to start talking to people. 

Check out cruise groups on social media before you travel

There are many Facebook groups dedicated to cruising. From general cruise groups to cruise line focused ones and even ones for particular ships.

You can also find groups set up for specific sailings so people can interact with and get to know their fellow passengers before departure.

If you are a solo cruiser, there are groups dedicated just to that as well. One I have found very useful is Cruises for Solos.

Some cruise forums also have a roll call where you can add yourself to the sailing you are on. 

One thing to remember with these groups and forums is that they are usually unofficial. They are not run by the cruise lines themselves. They are often run by cruise fans just like you and I. So keep this in mind if you join one.

I have found them a good way to meet people in advance of my cruise. So much so that one of the first people I met through one of these groups has become a good friend. We have even done a few cruises together since. 

As always, safety should be your priority. Things are not always what they seem online. Always keep your wits about you and take the usual precautions when meeting new people or going to a new place. 

How to meet people on a cruise

It can be a bit nerve wracking going on a cruise holiday alone. I’m a fairly experienced solo traveller yet still find I am a bit apprehensive before I get onboard.

Here are some good ways to meet people. I’ve tried most of these and they do work.

Go to a solo traveller meet up 

One of the best ways to meet people on a cruise ship is by joining one of the solo meet ups. 

Check your daily planner onboard to see if your cruise line offers a meet up. They are usually held in one of the ship’s bars or public areas each day. 

In the past they used to be hosted by a member of the entertainment team. However, the last couple I have been to have been unhosted. It is a little awkward wandering round asking if people are part of a solo meet up but it is worth persevering. 

On one of my recent cruises, there was a great group of solo and single travellers. We ended up having a loose arrangement to meet up every day at 10am and 6pm. There was no pressure to go each time but if you wanted some company for a morning coffee or dinner you knew someone would be there. 

Join a trivia quiz team

Another good way to meet people is to take part in a quiz or trivia challenge.

Most cruise lines run a trivia quiz or two each day, particularly on a sea day. This is where one of the entertainment staff hosts a quiz on a particular theme or general knowledge.

As well as putting your brain to the test (and it’s a good idea to keep it working while on a cruise at least a little bit) there is the opportunity to meet some fellow passengers. 

I decided to head to the music quiz on the first sea day of a recent cruise. As you might expect, it was packed. While trying to find a seat, I was invited to join a team and had a great half hour chatting and taking part in the quiz. So much so that we ended up arranging to meet for the next music quiz at the end of the week. 

Share a table at dinner 

If you like to eat dinner in the main dining room there is often the opportunity to share a table with other passengers. If you are not keen to eat alone, this is a good way to meet people.

You will be seated on a large table with fellow diners who are happy to share. This won’t necessarily be other solo travellers but those that are also keen to meet new people.

Of course, if you are not comfortable with this you can eat on your own table. Having said that, try not to discount sharing a table. In a way the hard work has been done for you as the other people on the table would have wanted to share too. So, a little bit of the initial awkwardness has been taken away. 

Take part in onboard activities

There is always something going on when you are on a cruise ship. Take a look at your cruise planner each day to see what is on offer. Things like dance classes, wine tasting, enrichment talks are all fairly common across most cruise lines.

If you pick something you enjoy, you’ll be able to meet others with similar interests. Or you could be brave and step out of your comfort zone by doing something you wouldn’t usually. 

Either way, joining in the various onboard activities is one of the best ways to meet new people during your cruise.

Join a match or game on the sports court

Most cruise ships have sport and exercise facilities. Some of the larger ships have courts which can be used for basketball, football and tennis. 

If you are sporty, check the daily planner to see what sporting activities have been organised.

One of my friends went to play some basketball and ended up meeting some others doing the same. They then arranged to meet up for further games throughout the cruise.  

So, if you like to play sports, keep your eye out for a group of people playing a game or match and ask to join in.

Start a conversation at bar, cafe or entertainment venue 

A large part of cruising is enjoying the facilities onboard. All ships have lots of different dining and entertainment venues. From specialty restaurants to buffets, piano bars to casinos.

So, there are many places where you can chat to people. Take a deep breath and start a conversation with someone sitting near you. Once the ice is broken the vast majority of people are friendly and will have a conversation with you. 

I’m definitely a bit of an introvert and hate making that first move but I’ve not had too many weird looks so far! Everyone has been friendly and have had some nice conversations. 

You also find that once you have spoken to a few people you often bump into them again around the ship. 

Take a shore excursion

One of the great things about a cruise is all the places you can see. While you can easily explore lots of ports independently, taking a shore excursion means you will be with other like minded people and have a bit of company.

All cruises offer excursions of some sort so take a look and see what is available for your cruise. It is also worth looking at local tour operators. These can often be a little cheaper than booking cruise line excursions plus you’ll be contributing to the local economy and meeting some of the local residents. 

I took some shore excursions while in Norway and got chatting to people on them all. It may only have been for a few hours each time but it was a bit of company for a while.

Cruise often 

One cruise is never enough so I’m sure I won’t have to sell this tip hard but the more cruises you take the more you will meet like minded people.

As a solo cruiser myself, I’ve noticed that you often see the same other solo’s onboard. Particularly if there is a good deal like no solo supplement on a sailing.

If you cruise with the same cruise line or on the same ship, you might also see the same staff. I had a couple of months gap between cruises on P&O Cruises’ Iona but on my second trip, a few of the staff stopped me and had a chat as they had remembered me from the first cruise. Even just a brief chat like that can brighten up the day. 

The last word

Taking the first step can be quite difficult but once you do you’ll see how meeting people on a cruise is easier than you think.

There are so many different ways to meet new friends onboard.

Give it a go and who knows, you might end up making some life long friends.

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