Solo travel, with price breaks, trending – The San Diego Union-Tribune

8 months ago Comments Off on Solo travel, with price breaks, trending – The San Diego Union-Tribune

You may have enjoyed a romantic getaway last month with a special valentine. Now there’s a good chance you’re planning your next trip — solo.

The number of solo travelers across the country is increasing dramatically, and studies show these travelers are just as likely, if not more likely, to be married or in a committed relationship.

The numbers are strong, and they continue to climb: Almost one in four leisure travelers hits the road alone these days, according to the U.S. Travel Association. Among first-time travelers on an overseas leisure vacation, the number is even higher: 37 percent went solo last year, up from 15 percent in 2013, according to the 2015 Visa Global Travel Intentions Study.

As the numbers climb, the industry is responding:

Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT) has eliminated single supplements on all of its trips. It started doing so in 2012 — and today more than 40 percent of those who travel with OAT are solo travelers, compared with one in four just five years ago.

OAT limits its land tour groups to 16. It also offers small ship adventures on chartered vessels, with up to 25 travelers. There’s sometimes a limited number of singles spaces available, so savvy travelers book early. Learn more about solo travel opportunities with Overseas Adventure Travel at

In that same spirit, Grand Circle Travel, a sister company of OAT, has eliminated the single supplement on all 18 of its land tours and on its Yangtze River cruise tour. (GCT accommodates up to 47 travelers on its group tours.) Learn more at

Major cruise lines are beginning to recognize the value in accommodating solo travelers:

In 2010, Norwegian Cruise Line introduced a new category of stateroom: “Studios” priced and sized (up to 100 square feet) for singles. The concept launched with 128 studios aboard the Epic. It continues aboard NCL’s newest ship, the Escape, with 82 studios. Studios also are available aboard the Breakaway and Getaway. The Pride of America has four studio cabins. On the large ships, studio guests get access to a dedicated lounge with a wine bar, snacks and a layout that lets them mingle — should they want to. Studio fares run about 1.5 times what a single would pay to share an inside cabin with a roommate. Learn more at

Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth began offering supplement-free solo cabins in December 2014. Last year, Cunard added nine solo cabins when it overhauled its 7-year-old Queen Victoria. This June, it’ll add 15 singles cabins when it refits the Queen Mary 2. Learn more at

Royal Caribbean International’s Quantum of the Seas (launched in 2014) and Anthem of the Seas (2015) both feature two categories of staterooms for solo travelers. Among the 28 dedicated “Studios” on each ship, 16 are interior studios measuring about 100 square feet, with “virtual balconies” (80-inch floor-to-ceiling LED display screens that project live images of the ocean and ports). There are also a dozen “Super Studios,” equipped with real-deal 55-square-foot open-air balconies. Check out the cruise line online at, but ask your travel agent for help booking a studio aboard an RCI ship.

Tauck has eliminated the single supplement on every one of its 220 European river cruises this year, but only for those in Category 1 cabins. Like many operators, at least for now, Tauck is willing to take a chance on supplement-free travel — but not in top-of-the-line accommodations. (Category 1 cabins are the least expensive aboard ship, on the lower level, with smaller sealed-shut windows that straddle the ship’s waterline.) Tauck does offer discounts (up to $1,000 off the double occupancy rate) for singles who want higher-end cabins, but restrictions apply. Learn more at

At least through 2016, the river cruise line AmaWaterways is waiving single supplements on a limited number of base-category double-occupancy staterooms on all of its Europe, Asia and Africa itineraries. Because availability is limited, savvy singles should book sooner than later. Ask your travel agent for help, go to or phone (800) 626-0126.

With an eye toward growing its slice of the solo-traveler pie, International Expeditions is waiving single supplements through 2017 for select cabins on almost all its Cuba, Amazon and Galapagos cruises as well as all its Zambia safaris. (IE continues to collect a surcharge from singles aboard its Easter, Christmas and New Year cruises.) Currently about 20 percent of IE’s business is with solo travelers. Learn more at

Uniworld river cruises has waived the single supplement on a number of its European itineraries and departures this year. Find the go-to list at

On a smaller scale, six of the nine historic windjammers affiliated with the Maine Windjammer Association offer cabins for solo passengers. The other three ships offer singles cabins for a $30-per-day surcharge. Rates average about $200 per day and include all meals and activities. Learn more at

On the West Coast, Canada-based Maple Leaf Adventures charges no single supplement on one of its two expedition schooners: the 92-foot Maple Leaf. The ship cruises April through October in waters off British Columbia and Alaska — with only 17 aboard, including crew. Learn more at

A few companies are dabbling in giving singles a break. Iceland ProCruises, for example, is testing the waters by eliminating the single supplement on two cruises this year: Solo travelers who book by March 20 will pay $4,940 for a cabin on the 13-night “Heading North” cruise, departing May 11 from Hamburg and visiting little known ports en route to Reykjavik. (Adding a single supplement on that trip would bump the fare to $8,640, almost a 75 percent increase.) Singles booking the six-night Northern Lights and Whales tour, round-trip from Reykjavik departing Sept. 17, will pay $2,295 (instead of $3,375). Learn more at

DaRosa is a freelance travel writer. Prices quoted are subject to change. Restrictions and blackout dates may apply, and all deals are subject to availability.

Solo travel, with price breaks, trending – The San Diego Union-Tribune