Learning to Cruise on our Own

Rosalia and Todd

My husband, Todd, and I were suffering from an acute case of empty-nest syndrome. Our children, Angela and Bobby, had done what children do—they’d grown up and moved on with their lives.

Our friends said, “You are still young. Go explore the world and have fun.” But we couldn’t. Depression was creeping in as our once-bustling home became eerily quiet. Our previously over-burdened schedules now reflected endless free time on barren calendar pages.

A quarter of a century of our lives had revolved around the raising of Angela and Bobby. Now, we didn’t know what to do with ourselves. Todd and I watched a lot of TV and sometimes we just sat and stared at each other. We were afraid to do the things we used to love most with the kids—like taking a Princess cruise—because we thought it would be too painful.

It’s hard to believe, but Todd and I spent more than a year stuck in this rut. We might have stayed there, if it hadn’t been for a little seed from the past. We were notified that a deposit we had put down toward a future Princess cruise would soon expire. We thought about letting it go, but instead decided to see if we could handle taking a cruise without our kids.

We booked a coastal cruise on Sapphire Princess for September 2012. We had never taken a cruise without Angela and Bobby. Starting with weekend cruises when they were in elementary school we had culminated with amazing bucket-list trips to Mexico, Alaska and Hawaii when they were in high school and college. Wouldn’t we miss all the running around, heavy schedule of excursions and horsing around in the pool?

I am happy to report we snapped out of it pretty much as soon as we stepped on the ship. It’s exciting to be on a ship and that got us through the first few hours. Then, we found our own pace–a more relaxing one–and a different kind of cruise unfolded.

We focused on what we wanted to do. After all the cruises we had taken, I didn’t realize that my favorite place on board was the Atrium, and specifically the International Café. I went there every morning and lingered over coffee with Todd. Alfredo’s for pizza was another one of my new favorites.

We still took excursions but did different things. At a stop in Catalina, we went zip lining, just the two of us, without worrying about the cost. In Santa Barbara, I went to the mission, which was something the kids would never have wanted to do. It was fun and I learned so much. On our way back, spur of the moment, we visited a few breweries. Having that feeling of freedom and flexibility was different.

Each morning, we woke up with no real plans, no big worries. The days unfolded comfortably. As time passed, Todd and I felt more and more like this is fun, we can do this without children. We can be happy just the two of us.

One night summed it up. At the last minute, we decided to not go to the show. Instead, we got two glasses of champagne and walked around the deck, watching the sun set. We lingered over conversation and soaked up the beauty all around.

In the end, we did miss some of the fun associated with the kids, but we gained a lot, too. On the one hand, we discovered shipboard trivia games and nightly shows (our kids were more into karaoke and night clubs). There was a whole new side to Princess and we loved it!

More so, that cruise marked the beginning of our second half of life. Todd and I are still in our 40s. There are so many new things for us to do. Now, we cannot wait to take our next cruise. Will it be the 14-day Panama Canal crossing or the 28-day Tahiti/Hawaii cruise? Maybe it will be both. Now our nest will be empty because we won’t be in it. We’ll be enjoying everything else life has to offer.

Rosalia and Todd live in Orange County, California.  They have sailed on five Princess cruises.

64 comments

64 Comments Post a Comment

  1. Princess Cruises says... December 4, 2012 | 12:41pm

    Rosalia, we’re so glad that you and Todd can now enjoy sailings for two! Thank you for sharing your story!

  2. sweetempresscyrus says... December 4, 2012 | 5:29pm

    this is so sweet Rosalia n Todd..tink u guys so try a a caribbean hotel now or somstime in the near future..lol njoy life 2 the fullest guys!!!!!!

  3. Sandra Gurney says... December 4, 2012 | 7:52pm

    More single people would take cruises if we didn’t have to pay the single supplement. When you have to pay double the price. it takes the fun out of traveling.

    • Michael Hewlett says... December 5, 2012 | 1:03am

      its called go with a friend

      • Madeleine says... December 28, 2012 | 8:29pm

        You are soooo right? Meanwhile we shall cruise on other cruise lines that offer no supplement for the single persons.
        Thank you to considerate this information

      • Anne says... December 28, 2012 | 9:22pm

        This is a stupid reply; when one decide to travel solo it means the person wants to travel solo. Forcing this person to alter travel plans or pay as if they are traveling with another can be termed “bullying”

        • Carole Neff says... December 28, 2012 | 10:12pm

          You are soo right! Singles still play in the casino,do land tours,purchase cocktails, shop in the stores,probably more than couples do.I really resent having to pay as if I am 2 people.As our citizens age,it is more important to offer them the dignity of privacy without the double pricing.

      • Paul says... December 29, 2012 | 9:17pm

        Michael you might have friends that have the money or time to go when ever. Mine dont, they do work or have died already.

      • Paul says... December 29, 2012 | 9:24pm

        Michael most cruiselines dont even take you as a single even if you want to pay bouble. I have booked 3 cruises for next year and had to take someone or no go.

    • Joelle says... December 28, 2012 | 10:43pm

      The single supplement IS offensive!! I hv traveled on many cruise lines, incl princess, with my 17 year old self, one of the first to b married on a cruise ship! & then with my family of four; WE chose to hv 2 rooms! & when my spouse tragically passed away @ 43 I still took my young girls in a suite. Now my children r grown, my income less “disposable” & my reward?? Charge me double. Think about it. It’s a passé system. There r far too many divorced, widowed etc ppl that u r losing out on!!

      • Clementina Hernandez says... December 29, 2012 | 6:07am

        Silversea has a very low single rate. Best cruise line to go single /widow

      • Michele says... December 29, 2012 | 9:00am

        I agree completely. I would love to travel on my own (I am a widow after 43 years been married) The double pricing turns me off…

    • Dolores Ortiz-Polanco says... December 29, 2012 | 8:20am

      Single travelers should not refrain even with the supplement. Some of us really prefer to travel alone. Decision making is quick, you spend what you want, you do not consult with anyone, you go where you wish and for how long, you eat when you want to, you get up when you feel like it. The benefits are so many. You do not have to be alone since you can talk with anybody and, if you do not wish to talk, you do not. You take tours therefore you are not alone. And it is fabulous enterin you cabin and hearing that beautiful silence. I am a 72 years old single traveler that has gone around the world several times and still have the desire to continue.

      • Bill says... December 29, 2012 | 7:45pm

        I disagree with you a bit Delores. I have to book a less expensive inside cabin rather than something larger, with a view even. I do like coming back to my cabin and being alone for a while but I wish it wasn’t so expensive. I don’t have as much “disposable” income as I used to. Any suggestions on cruise companies that don’t charge so hefty a single supplement?

    • Gerda Bekerman says... December 30, 2012 | 12:19pm

      Used to cruise with my husband , we loved it . Since he died I’m looking to try a solo cruise . Being on the other side of 70 with age related health issues sharing quarters with a friend is not an option . Cruise lines should consider more acceptable pricing policies . There must be lots of people in the same situation as I am .

    • jacquelyn edmonds says... January 2, 2013 | 7:56pm

      Hi Sandra, I am looking for a cruise companion. do U want one?

    • J.B. George says... January 7, 2013 | 9:23pm

      you are so right. I love to cruise. but double the price is terrible, Do you know of any travel clubs?

  4. JoAnn May says... December 6, 2012 | 11:16am

    You’ve got to give the 28 day Hawaii/South Pacific cruise a whirl. We just did it this past Oct./Nov. and it’s a trip woth every penny!

  5. Carol Baldwin says... December 6, 2012 | 5:25pm

    My husband and I are in the same boat (pun intended!), both our children got married this past September and all our cruises have been with either both or at least one of them and one time their spouses came too! After reading your blog I shall look at cruising without them in a new light. Thank you for sharing.

    • Pauline Lauzon {On. Canada} says... December 28, 2012 | 10:11pm

      You guys are making me feel guilty ! My husband and I love our children {3} to death and we are blessed to have them in close proximity to us. But when the last one got married I have to be honest we did the “HAPPY” dance +++++ and we were the couple that changed the youngest one’s bedroom into my own personal “Woman’s Cave” as my husband already had his Man’s Cave. I scrapbook,while watching great movies with my own personal fireplace,I spend uninterrupted time on the computer looking for my next vacation[which by the way is aboard the Caribbean Princess in February 2013]. Life is good as empty nesters……… Have eight beautiful granchildren whom we love and have time to spend with when we want. Just retired which also is another journey in life. WHeeeeeeeeeeee! Just wish I could win the lottery so I could travel more.

      Happy Trails to all of you Pauline

  6. Mark says... December 10, 2012 | 10:54pm

    Great reading aboard the Diamond Princess enroute to Sydney.

  7. Anne says... December 28, 2012 | 4:15pm

    What a great post! We too are new empty nesters and not happy about it after raising five wonderful children. I appreciate you sharing your experience and look forward to following your example, though we enjoy traveling with the whole group of them too! Thanks.

  8. Ed Collis says... December 28, 2012 | 5:26pm

    Don’t worry…..Cruising will get even better.

    Our grown kids, with their spouses (and almost spouses) have joined us on cruises, and even PAID THEIR OWN WAY. During the day each couple, mostly, did their own thing, but we always met up for dinner.

    What a wonderful way to be with your kids, and see them as adults.

  9. James Enslow says... December 28, 2012 | 6:33pm

    Dear Nesters,
    My wife and I got into crusing after the kids were gone. It was our Twentyfifth Anniversary. We had never gone anywhere without the family but this special occasion was just for us. Since that cruise we have taken our two boys on a Carribean cruise and enjoyed sharing our new favorite vacation with them. We have another one planned with our daughter and her husband but had to delay it when she found out she was pregnant with their first. We will now get to enjoy seeing our granddaughter as she walka into a atrium for the first time and see her say wow!
    The Cruizin2some

  10. Beth Christine says... December 28, 2012 | 6:45pm

    I thought this article was going to be about Learning to Cruise on Your Own and instead it’s about two people cruising together. How is this cruising on your own? I need a cruise ship that will accommodate me as a single person and put me in a single compartment with a single charge.

    • Gerry Gibeault says... December 28, 2012 | 7:28pm

      That’s one of the things I really appreciate on the Norwegian EPIC- the suites for solo travellers. It would be great if the other cruise lines offered this option.

    • Carole Neff says... December 28, 2012 | 10:19pm

      I agree,I think ships are missing this market that they could fill all their cabins if the double double rules were relaxed.i would personally cruise probably four times a year if I did not have to find someone else to go with and work our schedules to make it happen.who knows,maybe even more ! That could be fun

      • Vicki R. says... December 29, 2012 | 1:59am

        Beth & Carole,
        Couldn’t agree with you more! You two sound like ladies I’d like to get to meet aboard ship, but not necessarily be room mates with! LOL! Let’s hear it for us solo gals who want to have fun!

        • J.B. George says... January 7, 2013 | 9:35pm

          I agree its nice to know I am not the onlyone that would like to cruise solo but still like to meet some neat ladies and have fun,

    • Carole Neff says... December 28, 2012 | 10:23pm

      I totally agree with you Beth..if you find one,let me know and I’ll be signing on!

    • Dolores Ortiz-Polanco says... December 29, 2012 | 8:26am

      The only cruise company offering what you want is Norwegian. They have started the single cabins with singles charge in the Epic and the Breakaway.

      • John K says... December 29, 2012 | 1:46pm

        Many good points regarding single travel issues. When comparing several “all inclusive” land based resort vacations I found that even paying the single supplement was cheaper in many cases. The cabin size for the solo cruise sailings appears to be small, so keep that in mind when chosing. The solo cruiser community will continue to grow gradually….Faster when / if the economy improves. Looking forward to my 3rd solo cruise.

  11. Jan Schubert says... December 28, 2012 | 7:39pm

    HI Just read the empty nest cruisers. My husband and I are the same, we did everything with our girls. Now we have a group of friends that cruise with us. this past cruise on the Ruby Princess we had 38 fellow cruisers. Can’t wait to book another Christmas time cruise for 2013. Get your groups together and find the fun!!!

  12. Marianne Welsh says... December 28, 2012 | 7:54pm

    As a single woman, age over 65, a single supplement offered on EVERY cruise would interest me. Yes, I have travel gal pals, but I just might jump at the chance to go alone if I didn’t have to pay the 2-fare price. Come On, Princess help us – I even have over 15 Princess Cruises.
    Let’s get more truly single people on board.with good prices,

    • Jeanne Paul says... December 28, 2012 | 8:25pm

      I agree with you at 100 percent.
      Common Princess, you want more people on your ships etc., do not hesitate on taking the chance and have cabins at the same price.
      And, if you hesitate you can start off with passed passengers ????

      • Theresa L. says... January 1, 2013 | 10:56am

        Sorry, but we had to laugh about this typo! Since it seems like a lot of our fellow “older” cruisers tend to stick with a single preferred cruise line, I think Princess should definitely think about offering some sort of consideration for “past” passengers, especially since so many may have previously traveled with passengers who are now “passed”.

    • Vicki R. says... December 29, 2012 | 2:00am

      Ditto! Are you listening, Princess?

      • Chris W. says... December 29, 2012 | 1:40pm

        I too would love to travel solo without paying double

        Princess are you listening?

        • Linda Binder says... December 29, 2012 | 2:06pm

          The single supplement is costing the cruise lines a lot of businessit appears. I too don’t go because of the supplement nonsense.. The cruise companies are missing the boat on the issue. Princess r u listening to customers ??

    • Paul says... December 29, 2012 | 9:34pm

      They could rent the lifeboat to us younger singles or just a Lawnchair what ever. We still buy drinks , pictures and excursions.

  13. Tre Deuce says... December 28, 2012 | 8:40pm

    I would have been cruising for the past 30 years, if there weren’t the ‘Single Penalty’. Probably, several times a year. As it is, I have never taken a cruise.

  14. erma freeman says... December 28, 2012 | 8:53pm

    Totally in agreement about single cruising. I’m married, but would love to get away by myself for total rest and relaxation .. Come on Princess let’s do it… Its about time. Will hate to have to choose Norwegian cruise line to do this.

  15. Nancy Robb says... December 28, 2012 | 9:10pm

    I’d like to see a blog about a single mature woman traveling alone. I have done cruising with others but never alone. What is it like?

    • Dolores Ortiz-Polanco says... December 29, 2012 | 8:35am

      I find that for me it is better than traveling with others. I can do what I want when I want to. It is great not to have to consider the wishes of others and sometimes have to submit to doing things you do not want to for the benefit of others. I do not mind being by myself.
      This is important if you travel alone. I talk to the people around me and join tours. The thing is that if I do not want to talk I do not have to. With friends it is almost an obligation to participate, to talk, to join in. Sometimes I resent having to do all this. Therefore, if a single mature woman has the time, the resources, and the desire to travel, she should not refrain from doing so on her own.

      • Magda says... January 1, 2013 | 3:42pm

        Traveling alone does have it’s advantages. I would also travel more if there single rates were available. Princess Cruise…….there seems to be enough interest from repeat travelers who have lost a loved one and possible future cruisers who have never taken a cruise due to the current “single rates”.

  16. Ann Mulvale says... December 28, 2012 | 9:41pm

    I was widowed over 17 years ago after a memorable Alaskan cruise with Princess: their accommodations of the deficit resulting from my husband’s illness made the trip possible. Since then I have cruised with both Princess, Costa (prior to the 2012 incident) and Holland America. Only once have I cruised on my own; returning to Alaska for a very different experience. It is fun to be with friends whether just a cabin mate or a larger group however, I did enjoy cruising on my home; without the single supplement would not hesitate to do so again. Some cruise lines are moving in that direction recognizing that more and more people are ‘single’; a new market that cruise lines late to recognize may loose ‘loyal’ passengers to. As a ‘single’ cruising I had a drink in my cabin, dressed for dinner nightly before going to the dining room to be seated with others; I always enjoyed meeting new people some of whom I went on to ‘hang out’ with during the remainder of the cruise. I do not find it hard to go to a movie on my own locally making it easy on a cruise to do the same and or attend a lecture/theatre performance etc. Older folk are more flexibile to ‘sign up’ for a cruise at the last minute; singles even more so……I see a business opportunity to fill atleast one ‘unsold’ bed in an empty cabin.

  17. Carole Neff says... December 28, 2012 | 10:05pm

    It would be nice if cruise lines made it more affordable for those of us senior citizens who have sailed all our lives but now must sail independently ( single) due to no fault of ours, but still love cruising.we still shop,participate in land tours,bingo,casino,cocktails,and other income-producing activities for the cruise line.However,we must pay for two full fare passengers.If anyone out there agrees with me, please write your cruise line.

  18. Barbara M. Blevins says... December 28, 2012 | 10:20pm

    I, too, have requested of Princess to drop the double-price for a solo cruiser. I always cruised with my husband until his death last March. Travelers do not always have a friend that has the same situation, time, money, or interest in traveling often, etc., to invest in taking off with a friend for a cruise. It would be wonderful if Princess would offer we prospective solo past cruisers a “per person priced cabin”. It would also be great if they would schedule a meet-and-greet for widows or other solo lady travelers soon after setting sail. I would love to just meet other solo lady travelers as I am not looking for a man but for other widows or solo ladies to meet, chat or dine together with other ladies ‘in the same boat’. Because that is not the case yet, in March I am heading to Southeast Asia with a “Ladies Only Tour Agency” from Maryland I found on the web……..but I Really, Really would love to be cruising~nothing like settling in your cabin only once for the duration of your trip!! It would not be like cruising with my husband, but it would make the whole experience much easier. Thanks, Princess, for listening to we widows and former Princess Cruisers!!! We love you:)

  19. Mary Z Cox says... December 28, 2012 | 10:59pm

    LOL :) Wonderful post about the empty nest couple–cruise while you still can–many grown kids end up returning home for one reason or another–so enjoy your couples cruises while you can–before they come back again :)

    • Pauline Lauzon {On. Canada} says... December 29, 2012 | 10:25am

      Not so sure if you are replying to us: the “Happy Dance” empty nesters but there is no room for the kids to come back home. Where would they sleep? We have no bedrooms.
      I will buy them a tent for the backyard {LOL}. My money is now being used to cruise,cruise,cruise !

  20. "Hip Grandma" says... December 29, 2012 | 10:10am

    I am leaving on a Princess Cruise (Caribean) Jan. l9/l3 – joining a group of friends. Unfortunately, I am widowed, and was unable to arrange someone to share the cabin with me. It is a hardship – unlikely I can repeat such a luxury by myself….. If the Norwegian Epic and Norwegian Breakaway cruise ships will give me a break, then obviously I will sign up for their cruises. Such a shame – Princess Line….. This will be my first Princess cruisen and likely my last – unless you change your policy. I have been so looking forward to cruising with you!

  21. Sharon says... December 29, 2012 | 10:22am

    I was interested to learn that there are cruise lines that are accommodating to older single adults. Can you share the names of the lines? My late husband and I loved Princess cruises. I would like to try it alone if it it were financially accommodating and if there was a social structure that didn’t make me feel so alone.

  22. Judy Brown says... December 29, 2012 | 10:50am

    I agree”! I would be cruising much more if I could get a singles price–more than $84 difference. Us single gals still have interests in relaxing/cruising alone. Princess-are you listening? The market is there, tap into it!

  23. Richard Campanaro says... December 29, 2012 | 11:09am

    Wow!! we are certainly looking forward to our Cruise to Aruba and Curacao — just the two of us.
    We need the time alone after an exhausting year of Medical problems — Chemo and Radiation. My wife, Barbara has survived Cancer and we will celebrate of the Caribbean Princess in a few weeks. Just what we need and, at an affordable price. Thank you Princess Cruises and Vacations to Go.

    • Pauline Lauzon {On. Canada} says... December 30, 2012 | 11:46pm

      Hey there Richard ! Is your cruise leaving on the 23rd of February? My husband and I are doing the same itinerary. I am also a Cancer Survivor so it makes you realize that we must enjoy every minute of our lives because things can change in a split second. Congrats to you both and have a great holiday. Pauline

  24. Lee says... December 29, 2012 | 2:57pm

    My husband and I are cruising the Caribbean next January. We have a dear friend that lost her husband to cancer a few years ago and was wanting to join us. She tried to find a friend to go with her, but no one could commit and she doesn’t want to pay the price for a single….. So she can’t go now. Very disappointing. I understand the bottom line, but maybe you could have a percentage that could be single room price.

  25. Monika Reynolds says... December 29, 2012 | 3:28pm

    I agree, it is a shame that the cruise lines don’t recognize the huge market we singles represent. My husband passed away two years ago, and I also would like to take a cruise without finding someone to go with me. It is time we all voice our opinion and go with a cruise line that shows understanding to our situations.

  26. Astrid says... December 29, 2012 | 5:52pm

    I agree with all of you single, widows or divorced ladies ( also the guys), it’s a shame that a cruise line force us to beg upon ours friends to take a cruise with us because of the solo suplement. Princess, you’re not hearing our voices, there’s a great market out there with the solo cruisers, so try it or push us into Norweigian Cruise Line. I don’t care if there’s less cabin space, I just want to cruise.

    • Paul says... December 29, 2012 | 9:43pm

      Great post Astrid. Who needs Cabinspace ????? We are never more then 4 hours in there anyway. To much to do and dancing the night away.

    • Sherry says... January 1, 2013 | 8:55pm

      Astrid, there’s another situation. I cruised to Hawaii with a friend and it turned out we were very incompatible for cruising. My sister is totally compatible, but I have to pay her way! I just want to cruise, too!

  27. Stacey says... December 30, 2012 | 12:47pm

    From a business standpoint, if a cruise line can get two fares for one stateroom, why would they not require a single in that same stateroom to pay the double fare. In addition, a single person will book excursions, buy drinks, eat at the specialty restaurants but if two people sail per cabin that would generally be more revenue for the cruise line. They must not be losing much business as it seems that charging the single premium is standard in the industry. If your schedule allows and you want to cruise as a single, I would wait and book close to sailing when fares are often discounted or just cruise with friends and choose land vacation when traveling alone.

    • Theresa L. says... January 1, 2013 | 11:04am

      It seems that most land-based tours also charge a single supplement, however I have never seen one that doubles the price of the vacation. I agree with the idea of looking for a discounted cruise – sometimes paying double the discounted price still comes out to be less than someone else may have paid when they booked their “half” of the cabin at full price.

  28. paul burkhart says... December 30, 2012 | 9:02pm

    i am single and went on my first cruise last summer to alaska. i traveled with a group of people i knew. i searched for six months for a traveling companion before i found one (an older widow) who seriously wanted to go. We had the most wonderful trip the whole time. I found the cabins and the dining tables are set up for couples. We looked after each other and never forgot or lost anything on land or sea. I would never consider traveling alone so far from home not knowing anyone. We made prescious memories we will never forget.

  29. Catherine Jones says... March 1, 2013 | 9:58pm

    I understand paying double for the cabin but I only eat for one person not two.