Wednesday 21 November 2018

How can solo travellers skip the single supplement on a cruise?

Solo travellers can pay a hefty premium on a cruise, our Travel Editor writes. But they don't have to.

Anthem of the Seas
Anthem of the Seas
Pól Ó Conghaile

Pól Ó Conghaile

Cruises can be a sweet fit for solo travellers - offering a safe environment with lots of socialising, activities and excursions under one ticket.

But several readers have pointed out a problem: the dreaded single supplement, which can add hundreds to the cost. So how can solos work around this hefty extra?

First off, pick up the phone.

By all means Google the basics, but travel agents and tour operators (ask for their cruise specialists) will be able to tell you about the best lines for solo travellers, and the bespoke activities they provide - from cocktail parties to hosted dining, onboard dance partners or get-togethers ahead of shore excursions.

"Will there be other single travellers? How will we find them? Do we have to dine alone?" These are common questions asked by first-time solo cruisers, says Colum McLornan of Northern Ireland's Friendship Travel.

Cruise lines he suggests include Norwegian, one of the first to launch 'studio' staterooms together with dedicated lounges for single guests (a seven-night summer sailing from Barcelona costs from around €1,250pp, including flights, with Friendship) and Star Clippers, whose luxury tall ship Royal Clipper offers inside doubles without any single supplement on sailings from Barbados this winter (full-board, seven-night cruises start from around €2,400, with flights).

P&O, Fred Olsen and Cunard do single cabins, Cruise & Maritime sets aside a limited number for single occupancy with up to 50pc off fares, about a fifth of Saga's ocean ship staterooms are for solos, and Celebrity is taking bookings for 16 solo 'suites' on its new Celebrity Edge, destined for the Med next year.

Royal Caribbean now offers 'studios' on several ships, too. Sunway has a Caribbean cruise on Anthem of the Seas out of New York next year from €1,675pp, for example, including flights.

2015-12-12_lif_15097910_I3.JPG
A Douro cruise takes in Salamanca.

River cruising is another option.

Uniworld tells me it has waived or reduced single supplements on several cruises next year, while Riviera Travel's Dublin office sells at least four cabins without single supplements on all river cruises, it says.

Next October, an eight-day River Danube cruise wholly dedicated to solo travellers sees guests get sole occupancy of twin cabins, including flights and meals, from €1,959pp.

The takeaway?

"There is no one best time for single travellers to cruise, but planning ahead and booking early is key to get the best value," says Kathleen Maher of Tour America. Solo options are improving, but they remain a fraction of overall capacity.

So now's the time to get planning for 2019... or even 2020.

Read more:

Seven ways to save money on your next cruise holiday

Irish Independent

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