“Are you saving this seat for your husband?” “Are you expecting someone?” “Who are you traveling with?”

I was asked these questions often on my recent cruise. I would sit in various places on the ship to listen to the music being offered–classical piano, a string duo, or a guitarist playing songs from my era. I understood where each question was coming from because most of the people on ship were couples. I was certainly in the minority.

Explaining why I was alone became a puzzle for me. What do I say? The long answer? “Well, my husband and I took several Viking cruises, so after he passed I wanted to take one more for nostalgia’s sake. Yes, I know Viking’s pricing structure is 2 for 1, so in essence I’m paying for him even though he’s not here, but I chose doing the one last trip and chose a place he’d had no interest in. I went to New Zealand and Australia, but that trip was aborted when CoVid hit when I was between the two countries. I flew home after New Zealand. And Viking sent me a hefty voucher for missing the Australia part of the trip.

When the worst of CoVid was over, I scheduled a trip to the Black Sea, highlighting Ukraine. That trip was about half the cost of my voucher, so it covered the 2 for 1 pricing. And then it was cancelled the first day of the war.

I rescheduled that trip closer to home, to Central America/Panama. And then my hip problems interfered, so I had to reschedule once again.

So that’s the long answer why I was on this trip to Panama alone and was not saving a seat for anyone, much less my husband.

I learned early on that I was considered a solo traveler. Viking held a meet and greet for us. Four of us showed, The other three had their own stories about why they were traveling alone. Paying the 2 for 1 pricing did not seem to be of concern for them. One even said it was worth it for the privacy and quality.

Well, that’s nice but that’s not me. So most likely this was my last Viking trip. There are plenty of other travel companies that honor solo travelers.

Back to coming up with an answer to my inquirers. To whether I was saving a seat for my husband, I learned to say, “No, it’s all yours.” The same to “Are you expecting someone?” But to “‘Who are you traveling with?” I finally just said, “No one.”

And that’s when the floodgates opened. From women traveling with husbands. “That takes a lot of courage…guts…I could never do that…” I found their astonishment amusing. I wanted to say, “Yes, I suppose it does take some courage or some guts, but you could also say I’m just a bit nutsy.”

Going forward, I will happily join my single friends who may have dealt with these questions for years. And appreciate how they’ve always had to deal with the trivia of traveling by themselves. Marv always carried the passports and the money. When we got to a new country, he’d get me settled into a coffee shop and he’d be off to find a bank to get some local currency. I took all the little things he did for granted. That’s over now. And, yes, I guess it does take a bit of courage and guts after 56 years of marriage to do long distance traveling alone. But I don’t mind being a little nutsy also.