Solo river cruising is on the rise. Advertising for this style of travel stresses the luxury of being able to make your own choices without having to accommodate anyone else; the opportunities to meet other people with similar taste and interests; and the comfort of your own stateroom and floating home. And an increasing number of solo travelers are responding by taking unaccompanied holidays on river cruises.
The issues for passengers cruising alone are both social and financial. No matter how independent, travelers do want to feel comfortable within the group of fellow travelers, and river cruise ships — most with capacity ranging from 140 to nearly 200 — are essentially ideal in size.
Members in the group typically talk together and share experiences on shore excursions. Participants discuss their favorite sights, cyclists trade stories at dinner and shoppers compare their finds in port. The lectures each evening bring people together in the lounge, and the open seating arrangement during mealtimes can generate friendships that last long after the cruise is over. River cruise staffers also encourage social interaction.
A single traveler in a double room is less of a problem for river cruise lines, where there is typically not a huge onboard-spend from each passenger, and most expenses are included. However, the traditional single supplement represents the missing other person in the room, and the only ways to eliminate that expensive issue are either to find a solo stateroom or to book a cruise in which the single supplement has been eliminated.
On the rivers, there is a growing number of single accommodations and a huge choice of itineraries in which the single supplement has been waived, so both of these options are viable choices for the solo traveler, especially from single-friendly lines.
This year, AmaWaterways waived the single supplement on more than 70 cruises worldwide. Kristin Karst, executive vice president and co-owner of AmaWaterways, says about 13 percent of theline’s bookings are solo travelers.
“No one should have to miss out on a wonderful vacation like this,” she says.
The company also holds a special welcome reception for single travelers and arranges restaurant seating that helps them meet fellow guests.
Avalon Waterways waives the single supplement on many cruises each year, including select departures of the eight-day Paris to Normandy's Landing Beaches itinerary and some northbound eight- and 11-day Burgundy and Provence itineraries.
A real surprise is the availability of waived single supplements on barge cruises, which carry very few passengers in great luxury. European Waterways, for instance, waived its single supplement fee on some of its Tulip Time cruises in spring 2015.
Luxury line Tauck is nearly always cited as a top choice for single travelers since the line waives the single supplement on all Category 1 cabins on every departure. In addition, the line reduces the single supplement by $1,000 in select cabin categories, on select sailings of other cruises.
Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection
Uniworld has reduced or waived its single supplement on a variety of 2015 cruises, including the 15-day Paris to Bordeaux cruise on March 22; an eight-day Tulip Time cruise on March 29; the eight-day Burgundy and Provence itinerary in March, August and November; and two eight-day Danube and Prague sailings next summer.
Viking River Cruises
Viking River Cruises has as many as six dedicated single staterooms on some of its ships.