I was one of the youngest guests on a Luxury Cruise

  • In October, I was my first solo trip on Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth cruise vessel. 
  • I was able to meet two 70-year-old passengers who became my self proclaimed “Passenger of the Year” “surrogate grandmothers.”
  • The experience is highly recommended to solo travelers, particularly women.

“Are your mom and dad here?”A server asked me after I had been alone dining on Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth cruise ship in Oct. 

It was the final day of the luxury cruise line’s five-night trip to Western Europe. I wasn’t surprised by the question — I’m 25, although I’ve been told I look younger — and I was one of the youngest solo passengers on board. The Cunard press team later informed me that their average guest age is 61.

Although my parents weren’t with me, I had my self-proclaimed parents. “surrogate grandmothers”Janet Russell (70) and Celia Steele (78), my new friends, who were on the way to meet me for breakfast.

Mikhaila cruise

Mikhaila Friel aboard the Queen Elizabeth cruise ship.

Mikhaila Friel/Insider


Russell and Steele met me at a solo traveler meetup that Cunard’s entertainment staff hosted on the first day. They knew each other from their previous Cunard voyage in January 2020. They were excited to welcome a new member of their group to their reunion cruise.

I recommend this experience to solo travelers, especially women.

Russell and Steele became my friends and we spent a lot time together on the ship, as well as at port in Amsterdam.

We signed up together for the same walking tour around the city. This was a great thing, as we didn’t know each other. She asked if they were together when the tour guide began to assign people into different walking groups. They said yes without hesitation, even though they had only met me one day earlier. 

mikhaila friends cruise

Mikhaila Friel and Russell Steele in the buffet restaurant onboard the cruise ship.

Mikhaila Friel/Insider


Russell laughed after the tour and said that other tourists thought I was on vacation along with my grandmothers. She called Steele her and herself her “my”. “surrogate grandmothers,”This I found charming. 

It was a surprise to me that I had made such strong connections so early in the cruise. It made me feel safer than if i had just explored Amsterdam by myself.

“Even if you travel solo, you don’t necessarily feel solo,”Sally Sagoe was Cunard’s entertainment director. “I’m delighted we have a solo travelers program because this would be one of the few holidays you could go on as a solo traveler and immediately feel at home.”

Mikhaila in Amsterdam.

Mikhaila Friel in Amsterdam.

Mikhaila Friel/Insider


Sagoe stated that the cruise ship provides a safe environment for solo travellers. “particularly for women”She said that people who speak to strangers aboard are more comfortable than those who meet them in hotels or bars on shore.

It wasn’t just safety that made it worthwhile

Philly, who was a fellow guest, shared with me her experience of being on board. She said that she was recommended by her travel agent to embark on a cruise following a divorce twenty years ago. She claimed that she was advised by her travel agent to go on a cruise because it is safer for single women and more social. “because nobody wants to be alone at dinner.”

My voyage was not crowded with solo travelers, but there were some.

My fellow passengers noticed this and asked me why I didn’t choose another cruise line catering to younger guests. Some of the cruise lines recommended to me included Carnival Cruises in the US and P&O Cruises in the UK.

It was rewarding to spend time with guests older than me, even though they had different experiences. 

My new friends Russell and I shared stories about the places we had visited and the people we met. Their most recent travel story was about the January 2020 cruise on which they met.

The women claimed that they met at an event for solo travellers on Cunard’s Queen Mary ship. However, they discovered they had been together halfway through the voyage. “kicked off”Due to the COVID-19 epidemic. The ship was supposed to have stayed in Australia for two weeks so that the virus could be controlled. Guests were not allowed to board the ship until the virus was eliminated. They flew home from there by plane. 

“You have to remember, nobody was wearing masks at that time,”Steele expressed concern about the situation at the airport. “And by the time we got home, the supermarkets were empty. It was really scary.” 

Because both women are in the 70s, there is a greater chance of them getting cancer. COVID-19 can make you seriously illMy score was much higher. It was inspiring to observe that they went back to cruising following their trip to Australia. 

Both women reminded me of the importance of traveling while I was young after that conversation. But I found myself hoping for something more — that, like Russell and Steele, I’m still traveling and making new friends when I’m in my 70s.

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