Solo supplements are annoying at best and prohibit travel at worst, so we asked cruise guru Kay O’Sullivan for some advice on how to avoid them.
I love to travel. 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 hard 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 …
First, you need to plan ahead. Early birds do bag travel bargains. Save money on a cruise or a tour by booking 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.
You could always share a cabin. 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. 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.
Some companies may offer a zero solo supplement on selected itineraries. Others may offer good enough discounts for early bird bookings, or bonus credits that ‘cancel out’ the solo supplement. The best time to get these offers is 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,” he says. “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!”
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