Cruising and touring are great options for travelers who are alone, but want to meet other solo travelers. // © 2014 Thinkstock/Nick_Thompson
As the stigma of traveling alone disappears, tour operators and cruise lines are increasingly catering to the solo travel market with special programs and deals. Clients going solo can rest easy knowing that they can find like-minded travelers to enjoy their vacations with. They can also find plenty of companies that either provide room-share options or reduce single supplement fees (or waive them altogether) to save the expense of traveling alone.
Following are some of the top tour operators and cruise lines that reach out to solo travelers.
Abercrombie & Kent
On its Solo Savings escorted group tours, A&K waives the single supplement fee entirely or reduces it by as much as 75 percent — while making sure that independent travelers enjoy single accommodations on every stop of the itinerary. On other trips, A&K offers single supplements that are typically less than 15 percent of the total trip cost. The company welcomes solo travelers on all of its journeys to more than 100 destinations on all seven continents, ensuring that independent travelers find their dream trip. An especially popular choice among solo travelers is A&K Extreme Adventures, which take clients on grueling expeditions to remote destinations.
Recognizing that river cruises are an ideal match for solo travelers, AmaWaterways waives the single supplement fee on a large number of its departures. Individual clients can enjoy cruises through Europe or Asia and pay the same rate as those traveling with companions. Guests can mingle with other solo travelers, ensuring that they will never have to dine or explore a new destination alone. AmaWaterways also offers a limited number of single-berth staterooms in six ships of its European fleet.
Taking a different approach to the single supplement problem, Classic Journeys avoids the price markup for solo travelers and only charges clients for the hotel’s extra cost, which allows the company to keep its single supplement fees at an average of 15 percent. This fee guarantees that each single traveler enjoys a private double room, although guests can still ask to be paired with other solo travelers. With one-third of the company’s clients traveling alone, other independent travelers are likely to make friends on their tours, regardless of the room situation.
With nearly half of its clients traveling alone, Contiki Vacations is an expert at arranging affordable tours for independent travelers. Specializing in travel for the 18-35 market, the company uses discussion forums and social media to help its young, adventurous clients connect with each other before their trips. Most of Contiki’s prices are based on double occupancy, and the company sets up clients with roommates of the same sex or provides a private room at an additional charge. However, some tours are based on quadruple room-shares with a charge for twin-room bookings, while other tours offer a reduced price for triple- or quad-share accommodations.
Instead of charging single supplement fees, G Adventures provides travelers with accommodation on a twin-share basis. That way, clients can enjoy the same benefits as everyone else in the group at the same price. For single travelers who prefer separate accommodation, G Adventures offers a service on many packages called “My Own Room,” an upgrade to a private room for anywhere from $70 to $1,200, depending on the destination and length of the tour. Young solo travelers may be especially drawn to G Adventures’ Yolo trips — fast-paced and affordable trips marketed to 18-to-30-something travelers.
Holland America Line
Although Holland America Line doesn’t offer special deals for solo travelers, it certainly offers a special onboard experience for them. The cruise line offers more than 40 activities for single travelers, from mixers and cocktail parties to exercise classes, line dancing classes, wine tastings and cooking demonstrations. On longer cruises, onboard Social Hosts accompany solo female travelers to dinner and dancing. Guests who would like to avoid the 150-to-200 percent markup to stay in a double stateroom by themselves can opt to share a room with a nonsmoking guest of the same sex and pay the double occupancy rate. If the cruise line cannot find a second guest, travelers can cruise solo and still pay only the double occupancy rate.
While single supplements are the norm for solo travelers on guided tours, more operators are offering room-shares to avoid the hefty fee, and Insight Vacations is no exception. On most of its tours, Insight matches clients traveling alone with roommates of the same sex, and if the company fails to find a second occupant, it will provide a single room at no extra cost. With smaller tour groups — each touring coach has only 40 seats — solo travelers are sure to enjoy a personalized experience.
Norwegian Cruise Line
Cruising solo with Norwegian is not only affordable — it’s exclusive. The cruise line offers studios designed and priced for solo travelers on three of its ships: Norwegian Breakaway, Norwegian Epic and Pride of America. Guests staying in the studios skip the single supplement fee but also gain access to the Studio Lounge, a private lounge open to only studio guests. Studios feature a full-size bed, a one-way window to the corridor and separate areas for the bathroom, sink and shower.
Silversea’s intimate ships, which host a maximum of 100 to 540 guests, provide a personalized onboard experience perfect for solo travelers. The cruise line’s single supplement fees cost 25 percent more than its Silver Privilege Fares. All-inclusive single fares include spacious, ocean-view luxury suites — most of which feature a private veranda — as well as personalized butler service, complimentary drinks, dining, entertainment and gratuities. Single female guests can also enjoy the company of one of Silversea’s Gentleman Hosts, who join ladies as dance partners or dinner companions and often participate in other onboard activities and shore excursions.
Wild Planet Adventures
To help clients find roommates and forgo the single supplement fee, Wild Planet Adventures provides a travel companion finder called TravelBuddies. The free service allows solo travelers to create an online profile to meet other lone travelers. Clients can opt to share their profile only with other travelers who have contacted Wild Planet directly, or they may choose to share it with the company’s network of affiliate clubs and organizations. The tours take clients to remote destinations such as Thailand, Costa Rica and the Galapagos Islands and give travelers a chance to see rare animals in the wild.