An Introvert’s Guide to Making Friends on a Cruise

My wife and I usually stay low-key when traveling. Sure, we’ll meet people along the way, but for the most part, we’re what you might call an “introvert couple.”

Then came our cruise to the Dominican Republic last summer. I signed up for the experience knowing I would enjoy time with my wife, but I never expected to make so many new friends along the way. That’s the great thing about cruises — you don’t have to try hard to meet people, because it happens naturally at every stage of the journey.

Enjoying the Meet-and-Greets

After hopping off our shuttle from the airport, we quickly approached the entrance to the Port of Miami Cruise Terminal. After boarding, stowing our bags and attending the safety meeting, my wife and I headed to a meet-and-greet with friends we’d met in a Facebook group before the cruise. Not sure what to expect, we were happy to find a room full of friendly faces. Everyone exchanged pleasantries and after a brief chat, we all headed to the official welcome party. Before we knew it, the boat left the port and edged past Miami’s beautiful coastline.

Quick Tip:

Nearly all cruise lines now have a Facebook group for each trip, which you can find with a quick search. These groups are the perfect way for introverts to make initial introductions and smooth the way toward onboard friendships.

Making New Friends at the Bar

My wife and I stopped at the mid-deck bar for a drink and found it the perfect setting for conversation throughout our cruise. The first evening, we started chatting with a nice couple who sat next to us. Although introverted, I’m generally good with strangers and I love sharing pieces of our lives — what we do, where we’re from, and so on. I became so engrossed in conversation with the couple, my wife had to remind me that it was dinnertime.

Enjoying Dinner and Drinks at Shared Tables

At dinner, the host seated us at a large table inside the crowded restaurant. We anticipated that others would join us, as it’s common for cruises to invite couples and groups to share tables. Moments later, two other couples arrived, and soon the table was filled with four new friends — we had found our crew. During the frenzy of delicious courses, we enjoyed conversation with our companions who hailed from all different parts of the country.

Discovering New Adventures

Before the cruise, we had signed up for a few excursions in the Dominican Republic. One of them took us to a locally owned chocolate factory in Puerto Plata. Passengers were grouped into teams of five, and we were paired with a friend we had met on board the ship, as well as two middle school-aged boys. Even though I barely knew the boys at first, we had fun — and our friend count continued to increase. Together, we all learned about the women-owned and -operated factory, which produces some of the Dominican Republic’s finest chocolate. We helped package chocolate and discovered how hard these women worked, which only added to my appreciation for their business, and for our excellent excursion.

Quick Tip:

Once you’ve made friends onboard, it’s likely that many of you will participate in the same shore excursions. Meet before leaving the ship to ensure your group is transported in the same vehicles and separated into the same groups.

Running into Old and New Friends by the Pool

After going on various excursions, my wife and I decided to spend a day by the pool at Amber Cove, our port for the week. We had planned nothing more than catching rays and relaxing, sipping Cuba Libres and chilling with a book. As we lounged, we heard familiar voices — it was the parents of the boys we’d teamed up with at the chocolate factory. My wife and I hadn’t spent much time with the whole family, and so our afternoon at the pool turned into yet another chance to foster new friendships. There were multiple runs to the waterslide by us all — I hadn’t had that much fun at a pool since I was a kid!

Breakfasting before Disembarking

On our last morning, my wife and I looked at the water from the boat’s stern and saw a dolphin pop his head up, as if to tell us, “welcome home.” We had just arrived back at the Port of Miami and were enjoying one last breakfast before disembarking. When I looked around at our many new friends, I wanted to spend more time with them — if only we could extend our trip and keep going! I knew that I would never forget these wonderful people that we met while cruising.

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Duke S. is a travel writer living in Durham, North Carolina.