Choosing the right cruise holiday can be a difficult process at the best of times; for people on their own it is even more of a problem.
Though specialist operators in solo travel do exist, many lone travellers would prefer not to be 'ghetto-ised' with other singles.
Yet it can be difficult, in a holiday resort dominated by couples and families, to meet like-minded people interested in making friends. Anyone who has travelled alone knows how difficult it can be to get a good table in a restaurant or have a relaxed drink at the bar without feeling self conscious.
And with nobody to share taxi fares - or to keep them company as they search for a late night cab - many lone travellers feel constrained to stay fairly close to base on holiday, missing out on the fun of discovering off-the-beaten-track restaurants and lively night-spots.
For women, the prospect of solo travel can be daunting; worries over personal security in the anonymous surroundings of a large holiday resort can make it hard for them to relax and strike up new friendships.
Conversely, men travelling alone can also feel constrained to keep to themselves, for fear that friendly overtures may be misinterpreted.
Yet there is a way in which single travellers of both sexes can travel widely while relaxing in a secure environment and enjoying as much or as little social activity as they want. Just try a cruise for single people.
Singles cruises are an excellent choice for people travelling alone. On a cruise for single people, you take your hotel - and all its facilities - with you as you go.
So you can enjoy a pleasant meal, take in a show, have a night-cap in a quiet piano bar or even dance the night away in a night-club without the worry of how to get back to base afterwards.
And because a cruise ship is to an extent an enclosed society, it will offer a sense of community and friendliness often lacking in shoreside resorts.
By day, you'll find plenty of activities to participate in, from pool parties, beauty demonstrations and fashion parades to lectures, arts and crafts classes, cookery lessons and keep-fit sessions.
So discovering new hobbies, learning new skills and making new friends really couldn't be easier.
Fred Olsen lines are of a classic cruise ship size, smaller than those larger vessels designed for the mass market. There is a constant welcoming and personalised onboard mood where all passengers get to know each other and there is a friendly service that's always attentive but never obtrusive. The size of the ships make them perfect for making new friends among fellow guests.
Travelling on Fred Olsen ships gives excellent value and a good selection of inside and outside cabins, designed specifically for single occupancy. Black Watch offers single inside and outside cabins as well as deluxe cabins, tailor made for the solo traveller to cruise in comfort. Gentlemen hosts are available to ensure that single ladies are never too long without a dance partner.
P&O Cruises offers single cabins on some of its ships and singles can enjoy the wide range of activities and entertainment available to all passengers. In addition, there are optional dedicated gatherings for those travelling on their own. If passengers wish to attend the Captain's Gala Cocktails in a group, there are often organised get-togethers arranged beforehand.