To Solo Or Not To Solo

Posted by:     Tags:      Posted date:  April 16, 2011  |  14 Comments
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I just took a 5-day internet and writing hiatus in order to focus on building rapport with other crew members. In other words, I got wasted.

To say that crew members on ships drink a lot is like saying a bullemic person likes to graze. The sheer quantity of alcohol consumed in any given day is mind-boggling. Many crew members get drunk twice a day – during the day at port and then late at night after work. From past experience I can only handle getting drunk once a day, which in ship-reality makes me a light-drinker. The irony never escapes me that if I was back home and told friends that I drink 6 beers every day, there’s no way I’d be known as a light drinker.

We were in Cabo San Lucas today. In an effort to be more social, I spent the day with some crew members. It wasn’t long before I remembered why, despite being an ENFP, that I preferred to do my own thing in ports. After taking a water taxi to the beach, we headed to possibly the most touristy restaurant on the beach. You know those restaurants – where everyone speaks English, prices are in (inflated) US dollars and burgers are on the menu. And you know it’s a really classy joint when the special of the day is tequila squirted out of a water pistol by a guy dressed as a Mexican cowboy.

Begrudingly, I sat down with the others and ordered lunch. I love Mexican food and was starving anyway. Unfortunately, the food was barely fit for human consumption, besides costing more than any Mexican food I’ve ever paid for in Canada or USA. Seriously, I’ve thrown up food that’s tasted better on the way out, than this. But I was probably the only one who noticed, as everyone else at that establishment was fucked.

In many ways, crew members are your absolute stereotypical tourists. You know, the type who’s idea of a good time is to eat and drink at the the biggest tourist traps. It was social but it’s not travelling, and I’m not entirely sure why the two need to be mutually exclusive.

Which in a way, makes me a little worried.

Most of the travel I’ve done has been as a solo traveler. Not by choice but by necessity. I wanted to go somewhere and no one I knew wanted to join me, so I went anyway. After overcoming the initial fear, I started to believe that solo travel should be compulsory. In fact, you will find a pleathora of other travelers who will give you reasons as to why solo travel is a joy. Indeed, you definitely learn a lot from going solo, even if it’s ultimately not for everyone.

But I think too much solo travel can be a bad thing as well. It’s all to easy to become selfish. You go where you want and do want you want, when you want. It’s like being single for too long, you can forget the joy of teamwork and shared decisions.

I may be selfish but in this particular case, I think it’s more comparable to those offices cultures where your co-workers enjoy going out for expensive lunches, while you feed on your packed lunch. You sacrifice being social with the group, in favour of fiscal responsibility. It’s all about finding the right balance.

[cruisesurfer’s log sea-date: 47:4:3 | 13:51]

About Me

I'm a wanderer, couchsurfer, writer, illustrator, uncoordinated dancer, unwitting minimalist, party enthusiast, free hugger and now a crewman. Follow me @roymarvelous .................................................................................................................... Also, find out how to work on cruise ships. Or check out the new T-shirt & Card store.

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14 Comments for To Solo Or Not To Solo


I agree there is definitely a need for balance. However, I never feel selfish going solo 🙂 If I'm paying, I should be able to go where I want and do what I want. I am not a loner by nature though, so I'm appreciative when I have a travel buddy! What cruise route are you on now?
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    Fair point. We are going through Panama and repositioning towards Alaska.


My future plans for travel will be solo. As much as I'd love to travel with a companion, all of my friends are broke, don't know how to save, and have a tendancy to be really clingy when we have travelled together which I can't deal with. I'm hoping that once I finally get on the road I'll be able to find travelling companions enroute.
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    I'm sure you will. Most travelers I've met in hostels or via couchsurfing have been open to teaming up.


Balance is definitely important. Sorry to hear that you and the rest of the crew members have a different way of enjoying the local scenes 🙁 That must suck to feel like the odd one out.
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    It's not that bad. Maybe I just need to try harder to find people with similar interests 🙂


I think I'm a bit like you in this aspect. It's being hard to find people who want (and CAN) go to the same places I want to visit, so more than once, I've just headed up to those places solo. So far I've done this for a weekend, never more than that – and I'm fine. After all, I have a certain rhythm and preferences (for example, I would usually go somewhere to eat something traditional from the place, not caring if this means to spend a bit more than a kebab on the go). But to be fair, so far, longer travels – I prefer them with someone else (at least), maybe even being 3. Not all that happens long-term is nice, so its always good to have a familiar face around you.
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    Definitely nice to have a familiar face to share the experience with.


I understand what you mean about wanting to be social with crew members but not necessarily wanting to just go to a crappy place to eat and drink. When I was on a ship for a few weeks over the holidays, everybody said don't even bother going to shore in Belize City because it's dangerous. I found another crew member who wanted to go outside of the "fenced in" cruise shop area into the actual city. We were fine, we wandered around to a few little shops and grocery stores. I would much rather see the actual port than just the cruise entrance or the closest restaurant on the beach. I think it's harder to find people who are willing to do that, though. But I've also probably spent more time than the average crew member traveling in developing countries so I might just be more comfortable wandering around without feeling threatened. Besides, you can always be social with the crew members at night!
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    Very good points. The "don't bother getting off at X" because it's dangerous is a common comment. I guess that's the big difference in philosophy between a traveler and a tourist.


So I want to know do crew members get free drinks in the ship's bar?
Also, I'm at this point where I kinda want to travel with someone after traveling solo for so long. But when I think about it I feel that it maybe hard to find someone with the same travel goals as I have. I have become utterly selfish. *sigh*
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    Gosh, can you imagine?? No, not free but cheap. Then again, anyone vaguely resembling a female is bound to get a few free drinks!

Erin in Costa Rica

Story of my life: "I wanted to go somewhere and no one I knew wanted to join me, so I went anyway." C'est la vie.
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    I'm glad I'm not the only one. Because that would make me weird 😛