The Love Boat TV show is often cited as the start of the cruise boom – and dating on the high seas. But can taking a holiday on a cruise really spark romance?

Huge numbers of singles of all ages take to the seas, with many cruise lines now holding special events to see if they can play matchmaker for the perfect holiday partnership.

One person who certainly believes a trip to the ocean can lead to romance is Samantha Jayne. She’s a relationship expert who has given advice everywhere from Triple J to The Bachelor. And she has seen many hopeless romantics pass through her doors.

However, one that stands out to her was a cruise ship romance that blossomed from what were seemingly the most dire circumstances.

How one couple found love

Relationship expert Samantha Jayne.

“One of my favourite stories is when a single client of mine had plans to go with his fiancé on a cruise ship. A week before the trip he found out she was dating his best friend. Heart broken and confused he had no idea what to do,” she explains.

“Given his annual leave had been approved and he didn’t want to wait and sit around his house. So he went on his way, and to his surprise it actually helped distract him, he enjoyed the sights and he met a girl named Jen. They connected and decided to stay in touch. Six months later they were officially in a relationship. To celebrate their love story each year they jump on a cruise ship adventure.”

While many people cruise with their partners, others are sailing with friends or family, with half an eye open for love and dating opportunities. 

To help those who are maybe looking for love, something casual or anything in between at sea, Cruise Passenger spoke to leading dating experts on everything cruisers should know about flirting in the sea breeze. 

Why are cruise ships a great place to meet people?

Jayne says the ease of taking part in activities and being surrounded by so many like-minded people makes a cruise ship the perfect place for a romance to spark.

“Cruises are an excellent way to meet like-minded singles. Especially since everyone is in holiday mode feeling relaxed, you can bond over activities so it makes it easier to spend time together getting to know each other without the pressures of going on a date. Cruise ships are great for dating without the official date,” she says. 

Dating coach Louanne Ward.

“Instead, you can go swimming, paddle board, island hop, relax over the pool, have drinks at the bar, watch the sunset, or water special activities are organised all without worrying about who will be paying the bill.”

Louanne Ward, a dating coach, matchmaker and author, says a cruise is a great place to scope out not just a romantic interest but your compatibility with them.

“If you’re seeking someone who shares your interests, meeting them on a cruise offers several benefits. Unlike traditional dating where snap decisions are the norm, you have ample time to observe and get to know someone in various situations,” she says. 

“You can assess their lifestyle preferences, such as whether they enjoy lounging by the pool, reading a book, sipping cocktails, or prefer adventure, trying new activities, exploring, and dancing the night away. In addition, you can observe their personality traits, such as whether they are outgoing, fun, kind, happy, or reserved.

“All of this makes it easier to learn about someone in a shorter amount of time than you would on land. If you happen to connect with someone, you’ll have more opportunities to interact with them throughout the cruise.”

Silversea solo travellers
You can easily check out the interests of potential partners while on a cruise.

How should you approach a fellow cruiser? 

Ward says in a relaxed environment like a cruise, make sure you don’t overwhelm any potential love interest. 

“If you’re looking to strike up a conversation with someone on a cruise ship, it’s best to avoid coming on too strong. Instead, try to initiate a discussion based on your surroundings. Since you’re on a cruise, there are plenty of situational topics to explore.

“When approaching someone, make sure you’re genuinely interested in conversing with them and keep the discussion relevant to the environment. Rather than asking broad questions such as ‘Do you cruise often?’ or ‘Is this your first time on a cruise?’, try to ask more specific questions about the activity they are doing or ask for their opinion or advice.

“For instance, you could ask ‘Do you know where the game arcade is?’. Or, ‘Which bar is the best for a cocktail?’,” she advises.

Ward says don’t be afraid to gently mention that you’re single. 

“Once you’ve established a connection, make sure you keep the conversation friendly and casual. You can mention that you’re single by saying something like ‘Thanks for your help. I was a bit nervous about cruising alone, but everyone is so friendly.

“This allows the other person to respond naturally. And perhaps even indicate whether they’re single or invite you to join their group.”

Jayne says there’s nothing better than a genuine compliment.

“Keep it real, be friendly and authentic, and smile. One of the easiest ways to connect with someone is via a genuine compliment. Throw it out there and see if they reciprocate and give positive feedback. If they do then continue the conversation and make it deeper. If you get stuck for words then have five questions that you pre-prepared.”

guide to dating
Is it a holiday hook-up or potential long-term love?

Want to bring your romance back to land? 

Ward runs through the differences between a holiday hook-up and a real shot at long-term romance. 

“A holiday hook-up versus a dating opportunity, there is a difference. If you have established you live in the same city there is no rush towards the holiday hook-up you can spend time getting to know them. Ask if they would be interested in seeing you after the cruise. 

“If they say they aren’t interested in a relationship but they are up for fun you now have the information you require to enjoy the experience or save yourself for someone wanting more. 

“Having your own back is important no matter where you are. It is easy to get swept up in the moment and fall hard and fast on a cruise. If you assume the other person has the same intention as you you could find yourself emotionally seasick.”

Jayne says if you think you’re feeling it, don’t be afraid to lock in a time back on land.

“Momentum is key. If you’ve met someone on a cruise ship and you’ve spent time together chances are you know what interests them and your shared passions. Lock in a time to get together and do some activities together. Keep it light-hearted and organic.”

guide to dating
Put some romance back in your life by choosing a specialist singles cruise.

Should you be jumping on the apps onboard?

Jayne says you might find a bit more luck than using apps on land due to the smaller pool of people. 

“Yes, the smaller the pool the easier it is to find love.  The paradox of dating is that too much choice leads to overwhelm. And this can cause chaos and exhaustion causing you to stay single,” she says.

“Having a smaller dating pool means you can focus more on quality not quantity. This means a better chance of finding love.”

However, Ward suggests doing the opposite and stepping away from any swiping, rather than focusing on the present. 

“Being on a cruise and taking a break from your day-to-day life. It’s also is a perfect time to also take a break from the way you are meeting people. Step on board and engage in the moment. You miss the best things when you are paying more attention to your phone.

“Leave the dating apps behind and take the opportunity to connect with people in real life. This can help you improve your communication skills and boost your confidence. Rather than swiping try striking up a conversation with the person youre interested in and asking them to join you for an activity or a drink, without putting pressure on it being a date.”

Experts reveal almost 100 per cent of ships will be sailing by August 2022
Ditch the apps and get to meet real people.

A cruise may lead to love down the road 

Ward emphasises that making friends on a cruise is not only great for connection and self-development, but may lead to love down the line.

“If you’re single and looking to meet new people, keep in mind that every time you step out of your house, you have an opportunity to connect with someone. 

“Going on a cruise is an excellent chance not only to meet someone new but also to expand your circle of friends. Friendships tend to form around shared interests and experiences, and on a cruise, you’ll be surrounded by individuals who share some of your passions. 

“The new connections you make will undoubtedly lead to future opportunities, as your new friends will have their own friends. As you become part of their friend group, other opportunities may arise as you meet their friends. Meeting someone through mutual friends is often considered the best way to form a connection, so taking a cruise to make new friends is definitely worth considering.”

Best cruise lines for meeting people

  • Celebrity Cruises and NCL are both standout lines due to their specialisation in catering for solo travelling. While looking to date onboard doesn’t necessarily mean you’re travelling solo, ships that are well-equipped for solo travel are generally good at facilitating interaction through activities and having friendly atmospheres and common areas. Furthermore, if you are travelling solo, both these lines have great solo cabins, as well as solo lounges and events to help you meet others.