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Good news: Thanks to social media and the connective powers of the Internet, cruising as a single isn’t the guaranteed fifth-wheel fest it used to be. Whether you’re traveling with family, friends, fellow singles, or setting sail solo, these five simple hints can help you enjoy — and squeeze the maximum meet-up potential out of — your vacation. 

Read on for our advice on how to navigate the tricky world of cruising single:

  • 1. Pick your cruise line carefully.

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    Some lines offer more chances than others for singles to mingle, and if that’s something that’s important to you, you’ll want to make sure you choose a cruise ship that’s likely to be full of passengers in your age group. Norwegian Cruise Line and Carnival Cruise Lines, for example, both offer “singles mixers” on every sailing.

  • 2. Look for lines with “single-friendly” accommodations.

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    It’s hard to have fun if you feel like you’re being gouged for your vacation, but the hefty “single supplement” that most cruise lines charge when you book a double cabin for yourself is hard to avoid. As a result, many singles end up bunking with friends or relatives.

    That’s not always a bad option, but two lines offer single-occupancy cabins: Norwegian Cruise Line has “studio” accommodations onboard Norwegian Epic, Pride of America, Norwegian Breakaway, and Norwegian Getaway, complete with a shared lounge; and P&O Cruises offers single cabins on the Azura, which is mostly marketed in Europe.

    Several cruise lines are also experimenting with waiving, or hugely reducing, single supplements. Carnival just waived single supplements on more than 50 sailings for 2014. Small-ship cruise line International Expeditions charges no single supplement on any of its cruises and, as a result, approximately 22 percent of the line’s passengers are solo travelers.

  • 3. Consider a special-interest cruise to focus the crowd.

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    Increasingly social groups, concert promoters, and even gyms are chartering ships for sailings packed with specialty programming. From the wildly popular Sixthman music festival cruises — offered in partnership with Norwegian Cruise Line — to more youth-focused sailings like Groove Cruise — in its 10th year — music cruises offer like-minded fellow travelers and a fun-loving atmosphere.

    Other choices to consider: Celebrity Cruises’ inaugural Beer Festival at Sea sets sail from Los Angeles in April, Food Network star Guy Fieri hosts cruises with great success, and you can find fitness cruises focused on everything from yoga to boxing.

  • 4. Connect with other singles before you sail.

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    Social media is definitely your best tool if you want to connect with other singles on your sailing. All the major cruise lines have busy Facebook® and Twitter® communities, where people often post their upcoming cruise plans and ask who might be along for the same journey. The Singles forum on Carnival Funville gets several posts a day from cruisers looking for friends at sea.

    In addition, don’t forget to check out the roll call section of Cruiseline.com, where you can register to see posts by fellow passengers.

  • 5. Make dating decisions carefully.

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    It’s none of our business, but we don’t suggest making rash dating decisions. Picture this: You meet your crush, hook up on the second night, and … there’s no spark. Unfortunately, you’ll be spending the rest of the week on the same ship, potentially dodging awkward moments. 

    Instead, use your cruise as a sort of long first date: Dine in specialty restaurants, toast with drinks by the pool, go snorkeling or dancing … and spend the night back in your cabin alone. By the last night, you’ll know if you’ve made a connection that’s strong enough to last once you’re back on dry land.

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