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What’s it like to go on a cruise alone

  • Going on a cruise with family or friends can be a great experience, but there are also disadvantages.
  • My first solo cruise could have been cheaper with someone to split the cost, but I could see why it was worth it for solo travelers.
  • While the itinerary only lasted three nights, I felt I could have spent more time on board and still had fun.

One Friday morning in late May, I watched the sea from a balcony on MSC Cruises’ MSC Divina cruise ship on a chain of shores in the Bahamas.

It was peaceful – quiet in the cabin I had reserved for myself a week before.

I have traveled alone in the past, but this was my first time going on a cruise alone.

The ship was more crowded than any Royal Caribbean cruise I had sailed on in July – with just over 2,400 guests on board, just over half of maximum occupancy. The maximum is 4,345 passengers filling each sleeping space, Field Sutton, director of communications for MSC, told me.

The cruise line is starting to see more bookings, Rubén A. Rodríguez, president of MSC Cruises USA, told USA TODAY in an email.

“Demand is strong and we’ve had a few consecutive weeks of record bookings around the world,” Rodriguez said last Thursday. “In the Mediterranean, we have just added another ship for the summer season in response to demand for unique vacation experiences from MSC Cruises. We are seeing similar growth in demand for our ships serving US ports.”

Even with so many co-passengers boarding alongside me, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Would I be alone? Uncomfortable? Bored?

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Internal matters aside, I boarded the Sophia Loren-inspired MSC ship on a Thursday afternoon in May with a required negative coronavirus antigen test, proof of vaccine, and my passport in hand. It was technically a work trip, so even though I felt lonely, there would be plenty to do, I told myself.

So, after three nights on board the ship, with stops in Nassau and Ocean Cay, the marine reserve owned by MSC Cruises, was it worth sailing alone?

In short: yes.

MSC Divina in the port of Nassau, Bahamas

A solo cruise was a real escape

I have never spent time alone the way I have on MSC Divina.

Alone time in itself can be a luxury, but it can be even more of a gift on vacation.

I often forget how nice it is to do what you want, when you want, without worrying about someone else’s wishes.

One night, for example, I said to myself, “I should take advantage of everything the ship has to offer – catch a show, go to another bar, see what the casino might be like.

But I was exhausted.

USA TODAY reporter Morgan Hines in her cabin on MSC Divina in May.

If I had been with a travel partner I would have asked what they wanted to do and I would have agreed. Instead, I retired to my cabin (which was immaculate when I boarded, much to my delight) and its warm-toned decor and was lulled by the waves.

I woke up the next day well-rested – a feeling I hadn’t had in some time – surrounded by pillows on my cabin’s plush mattress and noticed my headboard in the large full-length mirror that extended across the entire width of the sleeping area.

I headed out to the balcony to watch the sunrise as we headed towards Nassau. The feeling of calm was almost surreal.

View from Morgan Hines' balcony cabin on MSC Divina in May.

I didn’t think about my to-do list, my plans for the day, or what was going to happen over the weekend, let alone after the cruise was over.

In a totally new environment with no one in my life, I had a real escape, being almost untied from my home life – other than the fact that I was on a work trip.

Also, I was excited to try the food on board, which I had heard was outstanding (I thought it was ok – although I couldn’t try everything due to an allergy to gluten) and also to visit the cruise line’s marine reserve, Ocean Cay, which looked stunning in the photos I had seen online and on Instagram before embarking.

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