Avoiding solo supplements

Solo supplements are annoying at best and prohibit travel at worst so in this week’s Travel SOS Kay O’Sullivan has some advice for Gina on how to avoid them.

Q: Gina
I love to travel and, although I only have a limited income with a small travel budget each year, I like cruising, but the last time I sailed I was stung with a blasted single supplement. Is there a way I can avoid paying these extra fees? Do all providers charge this single supplement? Do you know of any other ways that can help me save on my next holiday?

A: That is a timely question. The travel industry as a whole and the cruising sector in particular is listening to you. They know that you, me and every other solo traveller feels hardly done by having to pay extra for the pleasure of sleeping alone. (And I do not want to be “matched” with another traveller as travel companies brightly suggest to avoid supplements that can be as high as 200 per cent. I gave up sleeping with strangers in my 20s!) Enough of my romantic life, back to the topic …

solo traveller in china

First, you need to plan ahead. Early birds do bag travel bargains. The best time to save money on a cruise or a tour is when the new season offerings are introduced. To keep abreast of these releases opt in for travel company newsletters and/or establish a relationship with a good travel agent and keep a beady eye on the media. Secondly, supplements usually vary in response to demand. High season generally translates into high supplements. So look beyond the summer months to save money.

It is also worth noting that a number of cruise lines have started introducing single cabins onto new builds, with many more retrofitting them to existing ships. Still, numbers are limited and the competition is hot, hence my advice to plan ahead. I’m talking a year in advance.

But you also need to know that some cruise lines are whacking single supplements onto their single cabins. Not very fair in my opinion, but here’s the thing about single supplements, they are as much about the extra revenue that comes from drinks packages, meal upgrades, spa visits and excursions from dual occupancy as they are about the room.

Now for the good news. If you are keen to do some river cruising this year – and who isn’t? – award-winning boutique river cruise company Uniworld is waiving the solo supplement on numerous sailings across its European fleet.

Also, Australian company APT has just announced a Pay No Solo Supplement on selected European river cruise itineraries departing May, April, October, November and December 2018. The only proviso is that you must book by 31 August this year. You can also save 50 per cent off the solo supplement for the high season of May-September.

APT’s sister company Travelmarvel is spruiking no solo supplement on all 2018 European Gems cruises booked in C, B, A and A+ class cabins. This deal is available until sold out.

A representative for APT and Travelmarvel confirmed that both companies include discounts as part of their early bird booking deals, so the best time to grab one is either, just after a cruise or a tour opens for booking.

Matthew Cameron-Smith, managing director of Trafalgar Australia, which operates guided holidays worldwide, concurs that the release of new brochures and trips is the best time to bag solo bargains for travellers. “Around one in five of our guests opt to travel solo and it can be a really enriching experience. Solo travellers naturally gravitate to guided holidays as they offer the ability to be with like-minded travellers, have fun and socialise. We’ve picked up on this appeal and have a great range of departures offering 50-100 per cent discount on single supplements that are available when we release our new brochures and trips. Be quick though, space is limited!”


Do you have a travel question for Kay? If so, email your Travel SOS to [email protected]

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