Thursday, 07 June 2012

A room of your own

Travelling solo? Cruises are a great way to meet new friends – plus you avoid the dreaded supplement says Wendy Gomersall

Written by Wendy Gomersall
When you're single, travel can be glorious. You get to choose when and how you go – and with whom. Alone perhaps. Or increasingly, teamed up with a fellow singleton. But while shared sightseeing, shopping and dining is fun, sleeping in the same room may not be.

Holidaymakers generally pay heavily for the privilege of sleeping alone and you can understand why.

A hotel or cruise company, decides how much it wants for a room or cabin; split between two people, that room rate looks more acceptable, so most rooms are meant for at least double occupancy. If a hotelier reduces that rate to sell it to a single occupant, he loses money in theory. Multiply that loss by every component in a tour – half the number of excursions bought, half the drinks, and so on – and you can see why companies try to recoup by charging a single supplement.

The dreaded 'SS' can be reasonable – under 10 per cent of the holiday price. But it can be enormous, even when you're put into an inferior room. A purpose-built single room isn't always better value, either. Also, beware the phrase 'especially for singles' – it does not automatically mean cheaper. You could still be paying a single supplement in disguise.

The recession has helped though. Singletons are now worth courting, as one in a double room is better than an empty room. Cruise companies value repeat business, so are singlefriendly generally; their clients are older and more likely to be divorced or widowed. Many ships offer purpose- built single cabins, but always ask the question: 'How much am I being charged, compared with each of two people sharing a double cabin of a similar grade?' In ships without single cabins, invariably you will be charged a supplement to occupy a double cabin – but not always.

I've found these brilliant offers for you (see panel, right). All are subject to availability and make sure you check other small print: Are flights from the UK included? How much are excursions? And what about food, drink and tips? Finally, remember that lead-in prices quoted are likely to be based on the least appealing cabin.

Then grab a friend, book separately to save misunderstandings, and start packing – do mention The Lady when you call.



Cruises with no single supplements

Swan Hellenic has waived the single supplement on its 15-day South To The Mediterranean cruise on board Minerva, departing Portsmouth on 1 August. Ports of call include St Peter Port in Guernsey, Palma in Majorca, Oporto in Portugal, more Spanish ports, a bit of Italy and Valletta in Malta.

From £1,745 per person: 0844-822 0679,

Ditto on Italian MSC Cruises's sevennight Mediterranean cruise on board MSC Fantasia, departing Genoa on 7 October. Ports of call include Naples and Palermo in Italy, then La Goulette in Tunisia, Barcelona – and Marseille.

From £499 per person, cruise only, without flights: 0844-561 1955,

There's no SS on Discover Egypt's seven-night Nile cruise on board gorgeous, five-star Royal Viking in September and early October. This cruise, from Luxor to Aswan and back, is a great introduction to Egypt, including 10 guided excursions to amazing temples and tombs.

From £849 per person with flights: 0844-880 0462,

Saga Holidays's 16-night To The Heart  Of The Roman Empire cruise on Filia Rheni II has departures throughout 2013, beginning 22 April. Setting out from Budapest, the ship travels along the Danube, Sava and Drava rivers. Sightseeing includes Sremska Mitrovica – former capital of the Roman Empire, and Vienna.

From £2,449 per person with flights: 0800-096 0082, 

There's no SS – a saving of £1,060, on Titan Travel's 11-day Lisbon And The Beautiful Douro River Cruise, in partnership with Uniworld, departing 8 November aboard the Douro Spirit. The itinerary includes three nights in Lisbon and a leisurely cruise through the Douro Valley, famous for its port.

From £2,599 per person with flights: 0800-988 5867,

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