Solo travelling, as liberating as it can be, can be lonely at times.

There are some evenings you may not want to dine alone.  You may want  to have a friend to grab a cocktail with. But how do you break the ice?

Here are seven tips to help you find some cruise buddies.

Join solo groups before you cruise

Using social media, solo cruisers can get in touch with like-minded travellers before they cruise. Groups on Facebook like Australian Cruise Solos, Solo and Single Cruises, Cruise Circle for Solos offer tips and advice on travelling by yourself, and also connect you with other people on your cruise. These groups are invaluable as you get to know the solos you’ll be travelling with, before you even step aboard the ship.

Sign up for shore excursions

One great way to meet new people is by signing up to shore excursions. Generally, people are extremely accommodating on cruises and are in it for a good time. And on most shore excursions, cruises lines offer a range from at least three hours to a full day tour. For example, on a bus tour, you’ll have lots of interaction with your fellow cruisers. If you’re hiking or doing an adventure activity, you’ll get chatting to people on your tour.

Dine with a large table

Many cruise lines still have assigned seating at dinner, so if you want to spend some time alone, there is the option to eat by yourself. But sitting at a larger table with strangers means that you can meet and mingle with other cruisers. This is a great way to get to know people, especially if you’re assigned the same table every evening. You’ll get to catch up with your fellow diners on the day’s events.

Go to lots of events

Make sure you check the daily itinerary. It will always have a long list of activities including meet and greets as well as specific solo gatherings. Here, you’ll meet other cruisers sailing by themselves. Even if the events might not be appealing, you’re bound to make friends. Some cruise veterans also suggest heading to the ship’s piano bar on the first night, which is supposedly, where a lot of other solo cruisers hang out.

Pick you cruise line

While larger cruise ships might have more opportunities to meet solo passengers, smaller vessels provide a more intimate setting. Big ships often have more programs – Royal Caribbean has dedicated wine tastings, cooking classes and even scuba diving demonstrations for solos and cabins – but smaller ships give solo guests an opportunity to see the same people over again.

Look for solo cabins

There is a rise in larger cruise ships accommodating solo travellers by providing studio cabins. Guests pay no supplement fees and these cabins are built for just one traveller. Lines like Norwegian Cruise Lines first introduced the idea of these intimate cabins, which come with a full-size bed, television and dresser. But as a solo traveller with NCL, you’ll also get extra perks like access to a solo and singles dedicated lounge where you can meet with like-minded cruisers.

Share with a stranger

If you’re game, sharing a cabin with a stranger means that you don’t have to fork out the cost of a single supplement, and you might make a friend for life. There are travel agents, who help pair solo travellers with one another. If you’re hesitant about cruising by yourself, this is one way to make sure you have a buddy or companion throughout the trip. Using the solo cruising groups on Facebook, you can always do your own match up and get chatting to your potential bunk buddy before sailing.