On a cruise, get over the mistaken notion you're on Noah's Ark, where people are already paired two by two. Cruising offers unparalleled opportunities for singles — as well as couples and families — to find friends and make new travel companions.
Think about it: Except for high school or college, when was the last time you were immersed in the same place, among people with similar interests, doing the same thing at the same time? Here are some tips:
Find your tribe before you board: Register with cruisecritic.com. Go to the message boards and find the roll call for your ship. Talk to passengers on your upcoming cruise and arrange to meet onboard.
Choose your ship: Larger ships generally offer more opportunities for socializing: more people, more lounges and designated social directors to help with introductions.
Conjure up conversation starters: While you're still home packing, create a mental list of opening lines. Have you been on this ship before? Why did you choose this cruise? Where's home?
Position yourself: Get thee to the sail-away party. Anyone who is social is going to be there. Strike up conversation in the self-service laundry with captives waiting out a wash or dry cycle. Sit on the empty stool next to someone at the bar.
Enroll in a course: Whether it's history, wine, photography, yoga, cooking or bridge, sign up for a class with people who have common interests.
Break bread: To maximize opportunity, opt for open seating and ask the maitre d' to seat you at the largest table in the dining room. Chat it up with crew and guest lecturers too.
Plan a second encounter: Invite prospects you've met to dinner or for a drink at happy hour. Email them when you get home to make forever friends.
It's a ship, not a monastery; here's how to be social
The MS Allure of the Seas, the world's largest passenger vessel. (Roni Lehti/AFP/Getty Images)