This was my first solo cruise - in fact the first time that I had ever travelled alone - so I had some trepidation beforehand. I had been on two cruises many years before, both on Airtours ships. I booked this trip because it was a very good price indeed for a single occupancy stateroom.
I needn't have been concerned at all. My taxi turned up on time and I got to Heathrow in plenty of time. When I arrived at JFK I came out of the airport and easily found a man holding a Cunard sign. When I approached him, he addressed me by name. Apparently I was the only QM2 passenger on that flight. He took me outside, and we waited for my transfer. And what a transfer it was - a lovely black sedan with all-leather interior! And all just for me!
I arrived at Manhattan terminal and joined what looked like a long embarkation queue. I seemed to be through in no time at all, and onto the ship where the crew was waiting to direct passengers to their accommodation.
I found my stateroom easily enough, and it was spacious - especially for one person! Minutes later my suitcase arrived - so I had time to unpack before going up on deck.
The ship set sail around 5.30 pm, which was extremely exciting. As we came up to the Statute of Liberty the rain stopped and the sun came out. Then we went under the Verrazano bridge, which was heartstopping due to the small clearance.
I was hoping that I would be sitting at a table of singles for dinner, but this wasn't the case. However it didn't matter at all. The two couples on the 8-seater table moved, and I was left with a group of three women. They were lovely, and we got on well. We moved to a smaller table, rather than sit at such a large table on our own. I was impressed with the quality of the food, and the portions were just right - not too much. I'm vegetarian, and there was always something tasty to eat. I ate most meals in the Britannia restaurant. My only experience of King's Court was the morning that I woke up too late and went there for a light breakfast. I preferred eating in Britannia, as King's Court seemed too much like a canteen experience. I just went there for drinks during the daytime. I had a snack one day in Sir Samuel's and lunch in the Golden Lion. The food was good, but I still preferred Britannia. I only had afternoon tea twice and the service was extremely good, as was the food.
I always went to shared tables for breakfast and lunch in Britannia. Mostly I met some very interesting people indeed, and ended up spending far too long at the lunch table deep in conversation.
The activities and entertainment were absolutely first class. I went to the first singles meet-up, and met a few people there. I think the key to having a good time and meeting other people is to join in. I was worn out by the line dancing lessons, followed shortly after by ballroom dancing. Actors from RADA were on board, and I attended three workshops on storytelling, which was great fun. There was a selection of talks, but I only managed to fit one in. The planetarium was interesting, and I made the time to see one of the shows.
The shows were mostly OK, but not as good as I had expected.
The highlight for me was the quality of the music. I was astonished to hear a violin virtuoso playing a Stradivarius for one performance! The jazz trio were very good indeed, but the two soloists from the Juilliard were exceptional. We had Andrew Gutauskus on saxophone and Mike Cottone on trumpet. Not only were they talented musicians but they were also very nice guys. I met Andrew on a number of occasions in some of the activities. He even put up with my inability to tango!!
All in all I'd say that my return to cruising was a great success, and has spurred me on to looking for further good deals. The only trouble was that I've started at the top - where do I go next?!
I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this type of holiday to other single people who may be considering going alone. I met some great people, and had a wonderful time. It's a safe environment - the only thing that I had to worry about when leaving the disco at 1am was not tripping over the trailing leads of all the vacuum cleaners.