By Ilona Kauremszky

Q: I was wondering if you had any information regarding singles tours? I'm planning my trip for November. When I look to see how much the supplemental charges are, it drives me crazy. Plus going on a group trip at this point offers something that is appealing at this point in time. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

A: Steve Gillick, President and CEO of the The Canadian Institute of Travel Counsellors, CITC, suggests that these days as far as singles tours go just about every tour opertor has a singles policy of matching single clients for a trip. "This way, if the client is prepared to compromise a bit, they can avoid the supplement.

Of course, sharing has its problems--if a smoker and non-smoker are put together--or if a snorer-and a non-snorer are matched--but sometimes, with compromise, these things can work themselves out," he says. Still, those darn awful supplement fees are just that.

So why are single supplement fees used? One cruise specialist I contacted was able to shed some light on the issue. Muriel Lee from Cruisenet Travel says, "Well unlike the early days of cruising when cabins were built for single passengers, today virtually all cruiseships are being built for multiple occupancy for twin, triple, quad and even families of 5. In the case of one person occupying a cabin for two, the cruise line is losing the revenue from one passenger and all the subsequent on board purchases so in order to remain financially viable the cruise lines need to charge a supplement to the one person in the cabin.

They are in the business of making money and whether one person or two people are in the cabin they still need staff to clean and service that room which all costs money." However, there is some light at the end of the tunnel. From time to time various cruise lines will run a "Singles Promotion" which Muriel says reduces the amount of the single supplement. "But we never know when this is going to happen and it is usually to "top up" the numbers on the cruise ship," she says.

However, there are several cruise lines that are offering a singles share program. "Holland America for instance has a single share program where they will match you up with another person of the same sex at the per person double fare," offers cruise consultant Eva McDowell of Cruises 'n Cruises Travel. "If they are unable to find another single traveller to share, they will give you the cabin for your sole use at the same price.

In other words, the onus is on the cruise line to find a travelling companion for you, if not, your fare is still guaranteed." And Eva adds, "We have a list of clients who are looking for single specials and call them whenever we come across good deals. We are planning a single partner program provided by our agency for the future, but details have not yet been finalized."

For more cruise information, you can reach either Cruisenet Travel at 905-891-2344 or toll-free 1-800-387-2055. Cruises 'n Cruises Travel can be reached at (416) 969-8280 or 1-800-265-7447.


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