The Cruise Ship Phenomenon That Might Make Fellow Passengers Appear More Attractive

If you've run through your dating options in your hometown, a vacation to a faraway destination may seem like the perfect way to meet the love of your life. However, you might want to think twice before falling for someone you met on a cruise. According to some avid cruisers, what seems like love could really just be ship goggles.

When it comes to cruise romance, ship goggles aren't usually a part of the packing list for those private shore excursions. Alas, they find their way in, but they're more like beer goggles, the phenomenon where alcohol makes people seem more attractive than usual. When you're on a cruise, that guy you ran into at the buffet or the woman in the cabin room next to yours might make your heart skip a beat — even if you'd barely notice them on shore.

The LovelyCoconuts blog, which documents a life lived on cruise ships, explained that ship goggles occur when people are stuck in the same shared quarters, and the effect is typically short-lived. Once your trip is over and you return home, the spark you felt at sea might start to fade quicker than your suntan.

There are multiple explanations for ship goggles

If you succumb to ship goggles, know that there's plenty of science to explain your experience. For one, the excitement you feel when going on a cruise could influence how you feel about the people you meet. To social psychologists, this is known as misattribution of arousal, where you mistake your feelings about the circumstances or environment as being a sign of sexual attraction. In other words, your brain might confuse the thrill you get from cruising for a romantic spark.

The proximity principle could also explain the ship goggles phenomenon. When people regularly share a space — such as having assigned seating in the cruise's main dining room together — they're likely to form a bond over time. As one cruiser told USA Today, "we're on the same boat together ... we're bound to see each other again. It's not that hard to arrange [a date] if we do want to because we're in such close proximity to one another."

Finally, ship goggles can, in some instances, really be a case of beer goggles. If you're taking advantage of the cruise drink package and routinely getting tipsy on board, you might get googly-eyed for someone you wouldn't otherwise. A 2014 study published in Alcohol and Alcoholism confirmed that consuming alcoholic beverages (and other types of stimuli) can affect perceived attractiveness toward other people.

Sometimes, it really is true love

If you were hoping to fall in love on a cruise, there's still hope. Not all at-sea romances fizzle out after you take off the ship goggles. Just look at TikTok content creator @adulting_with_toni, who posted a video showing her progression from meeting a guy on a cruise to getting engaged to him 15 months later. Similarly, @livingfahrr made a clip explaining how she met her now-husband on a Carnival cruise.

There are even cruises designed for singles looking to mingle. SinglesCruise is one such cruise line that welcomes solo travelers searching for new connections. Other themed cruises can also be a great way to meet like-minded people who share your interests and lifestyle choices.

To avoid mixing up ship goggles for true love, consider what makes a fellow cruiser attractive. Is it your common values, shared life goals, and how easily you can chat on the pool deck for hours? Or is it nothing more than their physical appearance or the inexplicable buzz you get when you see them? Consider if they really have what it takes to make those lovey-dovey feelings last on land.