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Solo travelers have plenty of trips to choose from these days. But, when booking a trip for a client venturing out alone, the typical qualifications become amplified, and it becomes more important than ever to match the client with the appropriate trip. Luckily, escorted small tour companies, river cruise lines and even major cruise lines are meeting the needs of solo travelers, offering safety, security, a social network of like-minded people as well as discounted or waived single supplement fees. With so many travel companies accommodating this growing market, agents can satisfy their client's choice of destination and itinerary.
In no particular order, here are my top 10 itineraries which provide special features for single travelers as well as a tempting itinerary. These trips represent a broad range of the destinations, travel styles and itineraries available for solo clients.
1. Uniworld - Sipping on Spanish wine is even better when you know you didn't have to pay the single supplement, a promotion available on select dates and select journeys, including the 11-day river cruise to Portugal, Spain and the Douro River Valley. Highlights of the itinerary include a visit to UNESCO World Heritage cities including Salamanca, Spain, for a flamenco show and Porto, Portugal, for a visit to the 19th-century Palacio de Bolsa. The July 19 departure onboard the Douro Spirit waives the supplement and begins at $3,299. www.uniworld.com/single-supplement-waived
2. A Woman's View - No men are allowed on these small escorted trips, tailor-made for women and by women. Groups average 60 percent solo travelers and women become fast friends through the programming. On the 11-day, nine-night Israel journey, highlights include opportunities to meet local women - including women living in a Druze village as well as on a kibbutz. Clients can arrange to have a Bat Mitzvah ceremony atop Masada and learn about historical women of Israel as they tour the country's must-see sights, such as the Dead Sea and the Old City. Prices begin at $3,690, per person, for a guaranteed shared room, though a single room is available for an extra $1,195. www.womansviewtravel.com
3. Norwegian Cruise Line - Though a cruise on a big ship might not seem like the obvious match for a solo traveler, Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) is catering to this market with its studio staterooms, functional single-traveler rooms with access to an exclusive lounge. The solo traveler staterooms are typically the second-most popular category to sell out and, though they will be included on 2013's Norwegian Breakaway and 2014's Norwegian Getaway, are currently only offered on the Norwegian Epic. Luckily, the Epic offers dream itineraries, such as the seven-day Western Mediterranean trip. Roundtrips from Barcelona or Rome are offered and visit Florence, Italy; Cannes, France; Provence, France and Naples, Italy, starting at $849. www2.ncl.com
4. Contiki Vacations - Pisco sours are a bit sweeter when shared with new friends after life-changing experiences. Clients in the 18 to 35 age bracket are in luck because Contiki Vacations has been meeting this demographic's evolving needs and tastes for decades. Typically, up to 60 percent of the group (of 20 to 30 travelers) are singles, and Contiki pairs singles with a roommate of the same sex. Sure to please this demographic are trips to South America that mix the area's historical and cultural sights with adventure. The 14-day Peru Uncovered itinerary features a day trekking Machu Picchu as well as an island boat trip on Lake Titicaca, a guided tour of the Sacred Valley, a canopy hike and stay in an Amazon Rainforest ecolodge and a locally guided catamaran cruise in Tres Chimadas. Prices begin at $2,635. www.contiki.com
5. Avalon - For its current promotion, Avalon is waiving the single supplement on 14 select itineraries. The Blue Danube Discovery boasts the most departure choices with 13 total, in June, July, August and October. The 13-day itinerary, which begins in Budapest, Hungary, and ends in Prague, also includes guided sightseeing at most ports, including Durnstein, Austria; Passau, Germany; Nuremberg, Germany; and Vienna, Austria. Pricesstart at $3,379. www.avalonwaterways.com/Specials/Waive-Single-Supplement
6. Abercrombie & Kent (A&K) - Good karma is awaiting A&K, since the tour operator is waiving the single supplement to exotic destinations such as South Africa, Kenya and Bhutan. The A&K Extreme Adventures Bhutan trip features camping, hiking, kayaking, mountain biking and whitewater rafting, all led by a guide named Karma, who is a native of Bhutan, a Buddhist and an avid mountain biker. The six-day trip starts at $4,390 for departures on May 21 and Sept. 17. www.akextremeadventures.com/
7. G Adventures - Volunteering is already a unique way to interact with the local community, but G Adventures' Project China-Pandas itinerary does voluntourism trips one better. During days nine through 11 of the 14-day trip, guests volunteer at the Bifengxia Panda Centre, located about three hours southwest of Chengdu. The volunteer work allows guests to see the country's signature animals up-close, but in a natural environment designed to promote breeding. Duties range from gathering bamboo to helping researchers collect behavioral data. The trip also includes visits to Shanghai, Beijing and Xian. Prices for singles sharing a room begin at $2,149, though private accommodations are available for an extra fee of $299. www.gadventures.com
8. Travcoa - One of Travcoa's all-inclusive, small-group luxury Escorted Journeys to offer 50 percent off the usual single supplement is The Nile Revealed, a 12-day journey through Egypt. Highlights include a cruise through the Nile and the opportunity to meet locals - at a dinner hosted by a family in Cairo at their own home. In addition to the social perks of a small group and private guide, solo travelers will love learning from an expert Egyptologist. And, since bucket list experiences drive solo travelers to explore without their friends and family, the opportunity to see the pyramids from a Mena House Oberoi hotel will prove luring. Prices for the Sept. 12 departure begin at $712.50. www.travcoa.com/single-traveler
9. Silversea Cruises - Women traveling solo will love Silversea Cruises, which offers select departures featuring Gentlemen Hosts, who are available as dance partners and dinner companions. Select voyages offer a discounted single supplement that is only 5 to 25 percent the double occupancy rate and solo guests are treated to a welcoming champagne reception exclusively for them. The 15-day Tokyo, Japan, to Seward, Alaska, itinerary features the Gentlemen Hosts, who are also available to accompany guests on excursions which, on this itinerary, include tours of Alaska and Japan as well as an ATV journey to Russia's volcanoes in Kamchatka, Russia. Prices begin at $5,168 for a personal Vista Suite. www.silversea.com
10. Insight Vacations - Traveling to many of the U.S.'s national parks might be on the top of many travel wish lists, but it's not easy to accomplish all at once, or alone. Insight Vacation's 16-day America's Magnificent National Parks itinerary visits the Grand Canyon, Sedona, Zion Canyon, Mount Rushmore, Lake Powell, Bryce Canyon National Parks, Grand Teton National Park, Little Bighorn and more. Singles are guaranteed a room share, or Insight will provide them their own room at the double occupancy rate. Prices for the 16-day tour start at $4,150. www.insightvacations.com