Solo Travelling vegetarian lady on first ever cruise
I decided to take a risk and try a cruise to celebrate my 50th birthday even though my partner could not accompany me. The first thing I would add is that anyone considering this would benefit greatly from joining the roll call for their ship and getting to know a few folks on line before embarkation. Our roll call had over 100 members and we all agreed to meet up wearing mardi gras beads at the Liner bar just before sail away. It was tremendous fun walking up to strangers wearing flashy beads and saying 'Cruise critics?' then trying to guess who the person might be. Luckily there were no non critic guests wearing loud beads so any embarresmsnt was avoided. It really helped me take the courage to travel alone knowing that there would be friendly faces waiting to say hello on board. In fact the staff were also very friendly and helpful too.
The ship itself is bright and amusing in design. It is very family orientated. The lido deck pool and seaside theatre is covered in cooler weather and this became a haven for all the small children who swarmed there daily as the parents sat by watching from the comfort of their loungers. I tended to avoid this area as it was quite noisy with the childrens chatter and shouts but it was easy to find a haven of peace on the serenity deck which is adults only (except when it was too windy to sit outside). The cruise route was a substitute for the Mexico cruise during the swine flu control period. We had shore leave at Astoria Oregon, and Victoria and Vancouver in Canada. Despite sailing north the waters were quite calm and nobody on board seemed to suffer any seasickness although some were kept awake by slight shaking on the first night. All 3 ports were very nice and disembarkation was smooth and unstressed. The coast here is very green and the contrast of the trees and water was lovely to see as we arrived at port.
As a woman travelling alone I found there was still a lot that you can do on board even if you do not team up with others. The hot tubs at the rear of the ship look out onto the ocean and they made a great place to relax and chat with people after a workout in the gym. Mentioning the gym I might add that I went one day at 7.40am on a day when we were due in port at Astoria at 3.00pm. Even at that time there was a queue for the treadmills. Other days it was not as bad so I guess it was just everyone who would have gone in the afternoon normally also being there.
As to vegetarian food on the ship there was an option on the main dinner menu every night. The menu did not offer a choice of vegetarian main meal but there were often several vegetarian starters and also the buffet, deli and pizza counters if you wanted to avoid the main meal offered. The vegetarian mail meals were edible but nothing imaginiative or special was ever offered. If you eat to live you will be fine but if you live to eat you might be a bit dissapointed. The salads at the buffet were always fresh and enjoyable and the fresh fruit was also good.
The shows at the Spectacular Spectaculat theatre were lively and of the singing and high kicking variety. There were a few nice effects with laserlight but the shows did not live up to the name of the theatre. They were good for filling in a bit of time if you were stuck for somehting to do but certainly not the highlight of the voyage. In contrast the Carnival Legends show was very entertaining even though the entertainment is provided by other guests on board for the voyage. Likewise the couples game was great entertainment and really funny but maybe that is down to the guests on my particular cruise and it may not always be the case.
The cruise forum also organised a cabin crawl which covered everything from a suite and a spa balcony right down to my own A1 stateroom.I had a bunk room but since I was travelling alone the top bunk was stashed in the ceiling making the room a single bedded area. There was a lot of floor space and even those in more expensive cabins commented on the amount of space I had. I did not miss having a window as it made it nice and dark at night and then during the day I went out on deck or visited the public rooms. The Atrium is a nice place to sit with a drink and listen to music or singing during the day. The piano bar is also good entertainment with song requests being taken and sing alongs often taking place. It does become a bit smoky though since this is an area where smoking is allowed. The dining room is the best entertainment on board. People will chat to you easily over the meal and it is a great way to make friends on board. Additionally the waiters sing and dance on pedestals around the dining room and they are marvellous. They are also very helpful and friendly and welcome you to the table with a flourish.
To sum up I would say that this is a good choice for someone who is travelling alone if you make a bit of effort to get to know people before you go and once you are on board. If you prefer to be alone there are places on board that you can get some quiet time - I never tried the spa but it looked lovely and would also be good if you were looking for this. I also never tried the singles events as I am happily married and I feared it would be people looking for partners rather than friends but if that is what you seek they do have regular organised meets during the cruise.
I would certainly cruise again as it is a nice relaxed lifestyle and it is also fairly easy to chat with other cruisers. If I did this again I might try a different cruise line to see if the vegetarian food is any better and also in the hope of seeing and hearing a few less large groups of children.