Ahoy there, solo cruisers! 2014 looks like being the best year yet as more ocean and river cruise lines are reducing or waiving the single supplement and coming up with special offers.
All the major river cruise lines that operate in Europe are making big efforts to look after their single passengers.
As a spokesperson for APT says, "Solo travellers are very important to us. We run a number of special deals across many of our departures that are specifically aimed at solo travellers and these include waiving the single supplement."
Avalon Waterways, Evergreen Tours, Scenic Tours Tauck and Uniworld all offer a variety of deals for single travellers - for the most up to date information check with the individual cruise lines or a CLIA Australasia cruise agent (find one near you at cruising. org.au).
Cruise Express and Cruiseabout have special offers and information about single-friendly cruise lines and ships on dedicated sections of their websites. And if you are prepared to share a cabin with a same-sex, non-smoking stranger, partnering with another single is an option offered by Holland America Line.
Some of the newest, biggest ocean cruisers now have purpose-built single cabins - very few, but it's a start.
NCL's Norwegian Epic has 128, Breakaway and Getaway have 59 studios apiece; P&O Cruises World Cruising's Arcadia (see Shipshape, right) has six dedicated single cabins and Azura has 18; and a few of Costa Cruises fleet of 15 ships have a couple of single cabins each.
British line Fred.Olsen has several single cabins across its fleet of four ships.
Luxury cruise lines such as Cunard, Crystal, Seabourn, Sea Dream Yacht Club and Silversea are popular with single cruisers, partly because of the range of activities but special offers certainly help.
Karen Christensen, general manager and director of sales and marketing, Australasia, says Silversea Cruises is ideal for those travelling by themselves.
"Many of our guests enjoy the social connection with like-minded, well-travelled people," she says.
"Often the friendships that are made on board our ships last a lifetime. At Silversea, it's our priority to ensure that our intimate luxurious ships are available to singles as well as couples, therefore we are offering single supplements across a wide range of voyages in 2014."
P&O CRUISES WORLD CRUISING: ARCADIA
LAUNCHED: Arcadia entered service in April 2005 and had major refits in 2008 and at the end of 2013.
PASSENGERS & CREW: Passenger capacity 2094 (double occupancy); crew 886.
ACCOMMODATION: Arcadia has 1050 cabins, including 716 with private balcony, 166 with ocean view and six single cabins.
REGULAR HAUNTS: Based in Southampton, Arcadia is now in Australia on her annual world cruise. She also visits the Mediterranean, the Baltic, Norway, Iceland, New England and the Caribbean.
PERFECT FOR: Adults and singles (this is an over-18s only ship).
DINING: Arcadia's main dining room is the Meridian Restaurant; Belvedere is a casual 24-7 eatery; the Neptune Grill serves poolside snacks; Marco Pierre White's Ocean Grill and Atul Kochhar's East (Indian cuisine) are extra-charge.
PARTYING: The Globe lounge is a late-night dancing venue, and the Crow's Nest hosts jazz nights, cabaret and dancing. Other bars include Intermezzo, the Spinnaker and Piano Bars, and the English-style Rising Sun pub.
DOING: Play volleyball, football, cricket and basketball on the Sky Deck, take pilates, yoga and tai-chi classes in the Retreat, swim in the all-weather Neptune pool or outdoor Aquarius pool or be pampered at the Oasis Spa.
DID YOU KNOW? This is the fourth P&O ship to be called Arcadia.
THE DETAILS: Fares for a seven-night cruise to the Norwegian fjords, visiting Bergen, Andalsnes, Olden and Stavanger, round-trip from Southampton departing June 28, start at $1289. Phone 13 24 28, see pocruises.com.
OFFER OF THE WEEK
Love a few sea days? ecruising.travel has a new 15-night fly/cruise package from Singapore to Sydney that includes one-way airfares, two nights at the Shangri La Singapore and 13 nights on board Voyager of the Seas, from $1929. Departing November 25, there are just two port calls, Darwin and Brisbane. Phone 1300 369 848, see ecruising.travel.
TRAVEL ASSOCIATES is offering 50 per cent off select 2014 Uniworld river cruise itineraries. For example, you could save $4799 on the Imperial Capitals of Europe itinerary from Istanbul to Bucharest, departing April 16, if you book by February 28. Phone 1800 044 066, see travel-associates.com.au.
CREATIVE CRUISING Save up to $1700 a person on a 23-night South America itinerary that includes a 14-night cruise on board Holland America Line's Zaandam from Santiago to Buenos Aires, return flights from Sydney and accommodation. Departing November 7. Book by February 28 for fares starting at $5855. Phone 1300 362 599, see creativecruising.com.au.
Now's the ideal time to book a river cruise in Europe - for next year.
River cruise lines are releasing deals on pre-release 2015 brochure prices, so join the earlybirds to be certain of travelling on the best dates and itinerary in your preferred ship and style of cabin.
Shop around for offers such as free flights to Europe, 2015 fares held at 2014 prices, special offers for solo travellers, all-inclusive deals, cruises on new ships and a host of new themed cruises, itineraries and shore excursions.
- Sydney Morning Herald