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Continued: Singles cruises bring together hunters, hunted

  • Article by: ALEXIA ELEJALDE-RUIZ CHICAGO TRIBUNE
  • Last update: January 3, 2014 - 3:01 PM

Between Battle of the Sexes trivia and crammed hot tubs on the adults-only Serenity Deck, the rare romance began to bud. Some became serious fast.

Ron, a 41-year-old firefighter from Indianapolis, and Kaye, a 40-year-old nurse from Connecticut, first locked eyes in the baggage-claim area at Miami International Airport the day the ship departed. Less than 24 hours later, they looked like a long-term couple who had stumbled onto the wrong cruise.

Courtship in a floating cocoon can be bizarrely accelerated. A pleasant chat poolside can lead to a daylong frolic, then dinner, then dancing, then a midnight kiss at the ship’s bow, then a heart-to-heart about whether he wants more kids and whether she’ll travel to visit, all 12 hours in.

The bubble often bursts when reality hits. But sometimes the safety of the bubble opens your mind.

A 33-year-old Miami interior designer was surprised to see her feelings evolve for a 59-year-old research pharmacist who lives in Washington, D.C. The close quarters allowed them to focus on getting to know each other without “real life” distractions, and she put aside her concern about the age gap.

Three months later, they still were dating long distance.

Mustard on a wedding dress

Cruise director Shelby Bergeron said that over the past seven years with the company, she has been notified of at least a dozen marriages and two babies that have resulted from Singlescruise.com’s events. Less officially, another of the cruise directors gave me this breakdown from his observations: About 85 percent of cruisers meet someone they connect with; 35 percent become romantic; 18 percent promise to keep in touch; 7 percent actually see each other again on land.

As some relationships formed via cruise, others were laid to rest.

On “Elegant Night,” a 36-year-old Georgia woman named Christy wore her wedding dress. As dinner wound down, she invited her single peers to help her defile it with canisters of spray paint and splatters of mustard and chocolate sauce. “It was so cathartic,” said Christy, who said she had been divorced for a year, longer than she was married.

On “Tropical Night” the following evening, a 46-year-old Los Angeles lighting designer named Steve showed up at the Dream Bar wearing a coconut bra and straw skirt, which wasn’t all that out of character. During a dance contest earlier, he had attempted the worm.

A widower for 22 years and recently out of a “poisoned” relationship, Steve was on the cruise because his brother suggested it as a way to move on. Steve had adopted the motto “I will not be afraid” and was, truly, letting it all hang out. “This is my first singles cruise, but it will not be my last,” Steve said. And the poisonous ex?

“I can’t even remember her name at this point.”

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