Summer is looming, and you still haven't made vacation plans. Are you procrastinating because you don't have a travel companion? Or because you're a little uncomfortable sharing the confines of a room, car or cabin with a friend?
There's an easy solution: Go by yourself, and make it a cruise.
The solo travel market is booming, and many cruise lines are trying new ways to target the market by adding special cabins for one, offering to match roommates and staging events that make mixing and mingling easier. Some lines are reducing or eliminating the single supplement, which can sometimes double the fare and thus price many solo travelers out of cruises.
Will you like traveling alone? Proponents say the biggest plus is being able to do exactly what you want. No need to compromise on what you do daily or to keep the cabin clean because you have a roomie, and you won't have to listen to someone snoring. You're the boss. If you want to mingle, cruise lines make it easy; if you want to be by yourself, that's easy too.
"I was skeptical," said Melissa Szulszteyn, 34, who recently completed her first solo cruise. "I didn't think I'd like a cruise. I was afraid I'd be sitting at a dining room table by myself and everyone would be looking at me like I had 10 eyes."
But Szulszteyn, who lives in Miami, needed some quick R&R and "found a deal I couldn't pass up." A couple of weeks before the ship was to set sail, she signed up for a weeklong Norwegian Cruise Line voyage to the western Caribbean. She had already been to Jamaica and Cozumel, Mexico, but at $458, "the price was really right."
She found other things to like besides the price. "They made it easy to meet people," she said. "I always had someone to dine with and to go to the nightclub with each night. It was great."
She has already placed a deposit on another trip.
Szulszteyn was aboard NCL's Epic, which has 128 studio cabins on the 4,100-passenger ship. At a maximum of 100 square feet each, the cabins aren't spacious, but the ship also has a private shared living room, called a Studio Lounge, that's open morning and night, giving single passengers a place to meet, socialize and make plans.
On Szulszteyn's ship, the singles group consisted of an equal number of men and women, ranging in age from the mid-20s to the 70s. Many attended meet-ups at 5 p.m. daily and planned evening activities together.
Three other NCL ships have studio cabins (from four to 58 cabins each), and a fifth, the Norwegian Escape, with 82 cabins, will enter the fleet this fall.
Here's a look at some other solo cruising programs:
Holland America: For those who want to find a roommate, the line's Single Partners Program offers to match same-sex roommates. Singles on board the line's ships also are invited to a solo travelers party early in each cruise.
Royal Caribbean: Two of the line's largest ships, Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas, which makes its debut in April, have 28 singles staterooms each, some with virtual balconies that project real-time ocean views, and some Super Studios that have open-air balconies. Brilliance, Radiance and Serenade also have solo cabins.
Cunard: Nine single staterooms — one inside and eight with ocean views — were added to the Queen Elizabeth during a multimillion-dollar retrofit of the luxury liner last year. Cunard also offers the popular Gentlemen Dance Hosts program for solo women who like to dance and don't have partners.
Crystal: This luxury line has Ambassador Hosts on cruises aboard Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity to act as dance partners for female travelers. It also has a special deals page for single travelers at http://www.lat.ms/1Bq2Q0a
American Cruise Lines: All seven ships in this line, which cruises America's rivers, have single rooms, all exterior and some with balconies. Ships hold 49 to 150 passengers and have from two to 19 single rooms available. With each new ship the line builds, it adds more single staterooms, according to a company statement.
AMA Waterways: This river-cruise line has a handful of single rooms in its European fleet. It also is waiving the single supplement on select departures throughout 2015, including itineraries in Vietnam, France, Spain, Holland, the Danube and Rhine and a Christmas cruise.
Costa Cruises: Costa has a few single cabins on seven of its ships, but, a company statement says, the number is limited and they book quickly.
For a list of other cruise lines, go to latimes.com/cruiselist. For more information, contact the cruise line or a travel agent.
Cruise tip of the week: How to deal with being seasick
Worried about seasickness? Some people swear by these two drug-free remedies: ginger in any form (tea, pill, candy or powder) and green apples. Some ships even list green apples and crackers on their room service menus. To learn more about preventing seasickness, go to www.lat.ms/1LjG9Gj.