Solo serenity.

Solo travel can feel intimidating, particularly in the wake of a pandemic, but a cruise is an easy way to expand your horizons.

In light of the Covid-19 situation, the recommendations and activities mentioned in this article are for the purpose of possible future cruise holidays. Please always refer to local government health advisories for travel.

Whether single, divorced, widowed or simply having different travel tastes from their partners, Australians aren’t afraid to travel solo. Before the pandemic, solo travel was a growing trend, with many Australians opting to enjoy their country and the world around them at their own pace, answerable to nobody but themselves.

Today, as the nation eases itself back into travel, cruising makes a great, safe way to break the solo travel ice, without any of the social awkwardness that can strike in a resort full of couples. 

“You feel secure every step of the way,” says Carolyn Bradbury, a retired university administrator from Sydney. “You’ve got your room, you’ve got everything unpacked, you’ve got exciting ports to go to and most days you see a different country or a different port. If you join organised excursions, which I tend to do if I haven’t visited a country before, it’s a very easy way of seeing the world as a solo traveller.”

Ella Wong, an acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist from Sydney, has taken five solo cruises with Cunard. “Because I’m on my own, when you’re going to the airport and taking taxis and exploring different countries, you can feel nervous, unsure about safety,” she says. “On a Cunard cruise, you’re like, ‘I can relax now, everything is taken care of’.”

New friends and an active life.

Whether opting for a single cabin or splurging on a double, meeting new people on a cruise is as easy as it is optional, and nerves tend to rapidly dissipate. “You tend to think, ‘Will I meet people that I get along with?’ but everyone’s on holiday, so everyone’s in a good mood,” says Teresa Tomasella, a retired civil servant from Sydney. “They had sessions where people who were on their own could meet on the ship, have a cup of tea and just talk to each other, so I met a few people that way, as well as over dinner.”

"You’ve got exciting ports to go to and most days you see a different country ... it’s a very easy way of seeing the world as a solo traveller," says Bradbury.

Wong is still in touch with friends she met when cruising with Cunard from Brisbane to Hong Kong in 2016. Cunard is her cruise line of choice because of the wealth of activities on board, which run from yoga to trivia sessions and art classes, as well as events for solo travellers and the option of dining at a shared table. A typical day’s itinerary might include bridge lessons, music, lunch, high tea, drinks, dinner, a show and ballroom dancing with one of the ship’s professional dance partners. “For ballroom dancing, they have attentive dancing hosts,” she says. “I really enjoy that.”

Bradbury finds the sheer mix of nationalities and cultures on board a cruise endlessly fascinating, although she primarily cruises to explore the ports. “I normally like a cruise where there’s not too many sea days,” she says. “On a sea day, I have a good look at what’s on during the day, so I can occupy my time. The lecture series are fantastic on Cunard, so if there’s a lecture on, I’ll go to one or two of those a day, and I always pick up a crossword from the library and do that.”

When the world comes to you.

Cruising provides easy access to parts of the world that might be expensive and logistically complicated to reach independently, particularly as a solo traveller. “I would do the Alaskan cruise again in a heartbeat,” Bradbury says. “It was just awe-inspiring: beautiful landscapes, wildlife. I came across bears walking along the side of the road, which was just spectacular. I did excursions that I’d never have had the opportunity to do: on a glacier in Alaska, in an ice truck, in the blizzard with the snow coming down. Some of the nature walks I did through Alaskan forests were beautiful, too, and the canoeing.”

Bradbury would recommend cruising to any solo traveller without hesitation. “It’s an easy way of exploring the world: you’re unpacked, you’ve got your stateroom, you don’t have to worry about cooking or washing or meals, it’s a complete escape from the everyday,” she says. “There are plenty of people on board if you want to be social and no pressure if you don’t: you don’t feel you’re standing out if you’re on your own.”

This article was produced for Cunard by BBC StoryWorks, the commercial content division of BBC Global News.

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