Newbie Solo Cruiser | Susan Sawczuk, Travel Columnist

October 1, 2022

I love to travel. If over three months pass, I feel almost trapped when I have not been on a plane, train, ship, or road trip to somewhere other than where I live. My income does not accommodate my love of travel so I do a lot of research and scouring travel blogs, cruising sites, and budget travel sites that give more insight. Although I try to plan a trip that includes friends or loved ones, often it is just me off to my adventures abroad. I don’t mind traveling alone; it is often very freeing. I know this sounds selfish but I love my alone time and exploring at my own pace. This trip solo on a cruise was new to me. 

This last December (2021) , I ditched my travel books and websites and booked a 10-day cruise in the Caribbean. I went with Princess Cruises because it has a good reputation, a great itinerary, and the price was right.The cost was about $100 a day.  I left from Ft. Lauderdale , then cruised to the Bahamas, Colombia, Panama Canal, Costa Rica, and Jamaica. This trip occurred when there still were some COVID restrictions which made the cruise not as crowded and frankly, exactly what I needed .


Some quick highlights 

Eating: Every morning, I ate breakfast at one of the buffets in the back or aft of the ship . I always ate a late breakfast because of the time change, so I had a choice of seating and still had a good selection of food- yes, the omelet station was the winner most mornings . I always sat facing the wall of windows with a magnificent view of the sparkling blue waters of the Caribbean . Many mornings, as I ate I would sit in awe and watch birds flying by following the ship and diving into the water to catch their breakfast. That image still calms me down on a tough work day.


High tea was a must for me. I am a fan of having a formal tea time. You can sit and have a leisurely small meal. I love hot tea with cream, freshly made scones, yummy finger sandwiches, iced petit fours, clotted cream, and strawberry jam. BONUS : It was all you can eat as most things are on a cruise.  I was seated with strangers but every time  after awkward introductions, we ended up chatting , sipping our tea,  while the conversations always turned interesting . (I learned a few travel tips)

Activities: At sea, I am a relaxer not an overfill up scheduler- kind of person. So I lounged at the pool on a deck chair,  wishing I had towel clips as so many veteran cruisers had to keep their towel in place . I chased my towel a time or two.  I really enjoyed the sun, the pool, the large screens that played movies, or had trivia throughout the day, and the hot tub. As a solo traveler this was heaven and a smile still appears thinking about it. 


On land: Columbia , I took the old city tour and hop on hop off bus (stick with the old town tour only) . Old towns with rich histories fascinate me. If the buildings could only talk… , even the door knockers shouted the status of its owner. As it is Colombia there is always coffee to try and emeralds to purchase ( end of tour tourist shopping -always negotiate).

My favorite was the Panama Canal. It drew me to go on this cruise. I teach about it annually and frankly,  I was so giddy about seeing it that I could barely sleep the night before. I stood for hours watching the approach in blistering heat and humidity (sunburn and dehydration to boot). Our ship entered the Agua Clara locks and I recorded the journey through the three locks with time lapse videos. The man next to me shared his vast knowledge on the minutiae of the canal’s history. I was enthralled. We had a tour on land but to me I still close my eyes and can still see the massive project that still

functions from over 100 years ago to connect east to west for faster shipping . The Panama Canal- bisecting the country in half. Just wow!


People : I tend to go introvert in new places. Solo cruising was a bit out of my comfort zone but I met some of the best people on this cruise. Incidentally, my second night on the cruise,  my first in the dining room,  set a presedence. My cruise friends/ family that were at the table I was directed to, in no time we clicked. The crew had to boot us out of the dining area. After the initial meal, we met together every evening after. During the day, we did our own thing, at night we laughed, ate, drank,  and went to concerts and comedy shows. We even exchanged small gifts for Christmas. 


I know no two experiences are alike but I can’t wait to go cruising again and going solo has its advantages . I stepped out in meeting new people, slowed my pace because I chose what my day would be like, I actually relaxed and did not have to rush to any place in particular ( unless I was on a land tour) , enjoyed new and exciting cultures in foreign lands,  and even learned a few things about cruise culture. I miss the wind on the deck, the waters so blue, the slight swaying on the waves, and the unforgettable memories that still make me smile. 





Susan Sawczuk
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Shalini Kaushik
Shalini Kaushik
1 year ago

This is so amazing. Can’t wait to try it. Thanks for sharing your experience

1 year ago

This is fantastic! Your experience sounds like something I want to experience too! Might be time to book a cruise!

1 year ago

I loved reading about your solo
travel cruise experience. Sounds absolutely amazing and I just may try it someday! I also love finding a good travel bargain!!

Lauren Lemons Odell
Lauren Lemons Odell
1 year ago

It’s amazing you have such courage to go on these trips by yourself! What do you bring with you to feel safe? Maybe that should be your next column how you travel like this safely?

Laura Trotter
Laura Trotter
1 year ago

It takes courage to go out of your comfort zone. Your trip sounds amazing! I am inspired to do more solo travel because of what you shared.

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