Solos and Assigned-seating Dining on Ships

This item appears on page 17 of the December 2018 issue.

Edna R.S. Alvarez of Los Angeles, California, wrote, "I travel extensively as a solo and have done so for over 50 years. I enjoy it a great deal. Many friends had encouraged me to take a cruise, but, as a solo, I resisted because of the issue of closed (assigned) seating at meals. In June 2017, I finally took a short coastal cruise in Europe.

"For breakfast and lunch, when meal seating in the ship's dining room was 'open,' I had no problems joining other diners. People were welcoming and friendly.

"I knew there would be assigned seating at dinnertime, however, so I showed up ahead of time and requested to later be seated at a table with other travelers. The maitre d' said that that was not possible. He could only put me by myself at a far-off corner table.

"When he said he didn't know which diners spoke English (most of that sailing's passengers happened to be from one country), I said language wasn't an issue for me; people can always, in my travel experience, communicate. But it made no difference to him.

"This experience has soured me on trying cruising again. Nevertheless, as I get older, cruising is becoming more appealing.

"I would like other solo travelers to each share the experiences they've had in a ship's assigned-seating environment at mealtimes. How did it work out? Were you seated exclusively with other solos? Was there resistance to seating you with couples? Did you have better experiences on small ships or large? What specific cruises have you taken where, as a solo, you were comfortable with the meal seating? Which cruise lines have open seating during all meals? What advice can you offer to improve a solo traveler's chances of sitting with other diners?"

Subscribers (only), when citing cruises, please also tell us the year each took place and the type of ship you were on (oceangoing or river ship?) and an idea of its size (thousands, hundreds or dozens of passengers?). You may include the names of cruise lines and ships that you recommend, but, for this article, the names of lines and ships about which complaints are cited will not be included. (Complaints about recent cruises that are submitted for publication may be sent separately to the editor.)

Email or write to Solos and Assigned-seating Dining on Ships, c/o ITN, 2116 28th St., Sacramento, CA 95818. (Photos, with captions, are welcome.) Responses will be printed in ITN.