One question I was asked many times over the years I worked as a travel consultant was ‘why do single travellers have to pay a supplement?’ Firstly, let me assure you that it’s not because tour companies don’t like single travellers! The reason that solo travellers have to pay a supplement on the price of their tour or cruise comes down to the accommodation component of their trip.
Let’s say a hotel room costs the equivalent of $250 per night and a tour lasts for seven nights. That’s a total room cost of $1750. If two people are sharing the room, they would pay $875 each but if the room is only occupied by one person then that person has to cover the entire room cost of $1750. In this case, a tour company would generally charge a single supplement of $875 or thereabouts in addition to the tour or cruise fare so that the full cost of the hotel room is covered.
Whilst it’s frustrating for single travellers to have to pay a supplement, particularly if they are happy to share a room with a stranger, in most cases it’s a necessity but there are some tour and river cruise companies that offer alternatives.
Cruise companies that offer reduced or waived single supplements
Uniworld Boutique River Cruises offer a selection of European river cruise departures where the Single Supplement is waived, meaning solo travellers can enjoy the benefits of a cabin to themselves without the additional expense. Itineraries include many of the most popular river cruises in Europe including some Christmas/European winter sailings.
In addition to the single supplement waiver offered on selected sailings, a reduced single supplement is also available on further cruises.
It's also worth checking with Scenic as they waive the single supplement from time to time on selected river cruises. The single supplement was waived on their 2016 Bordeaux River Cruises for travellers who booked before 31 October, 2015.
If an ocean cruise is more your thing, as a general rule you will always need to book sole use of a cabin on a Mediterranean or Northern European cruise. MSC offer single travellers reduced surcharges of up to 50% on some sailings.
Tour companies offering room-matching and reduced single supplements
Trafalgar Tours give travellers the option of sharing with another solo traveller on the majority of their escorted coach tours which eliminates the need to pay a single supplement and for 2015 they have introduced almost 20 tours on which they are offering a reduced single supplement. The new ‘Single Deals’ mean a solo traveller can have a room to themselves without paying the regular single supplement. On these selected tours and departure dates the single supplement is reduced by between 25% and 100%.
It’s often women that travel solo and many are happy for the companionship of a room-mate. Some of the women-only tour companies that are featured on Holidays to Europe offer a room-sharing service for solo travellers.
Just because you don’t have a travelling companion, don’t let single supplements put you off travelling to Europe. As you can see, there are numerous options to help you reduce or even eliminate single supplements entirely.
All information correct at the time of writing. Please check terms and conditions with your booking agent when making your reservation.
Are you a solo traveller who hates paying a single supplement? If you know of other companies that offer reduced supplements for single travellers, please let me know and I'll update this post.