ith small-size ships, a friendly on board atmosphere and bar tenders that know your favourite cocktail within a couple of days, river cruises are a great choice for solo travellers. Find out the answers to the most commonly asked questions, before setting sail.
1. I don’t want to pay over the odds for a single supplement – how can I get a cheaper holiday?
An increasing number of river cruise lines are offering single cabins without hitting solo travellers with eye-watering fares as the price for opting to travel alone.
Riviera Travel (0128 3742 300; rivieratravel.co.uk), the UK’s largest provider of European river cruises, has long embraced single travellers by offering dedicated solo cabins with no single supplements on many sailings.
Tauck (0800 810 8020; tauck.co.uk) waives single supplements on all category 1 cabins on every ship in the fleet, with reduced single surcharges on higher grade staterooms on some sailings.
12 refurbished cabins on the River Cruise Line’s (0843 5611 104; rivercruiseline.co.uk) historic vessel Lady Anne are exclusively available for single passengers with reduced or zero supplements depending on the itinerary.
Also look out for special solo deals from lines including Crystal River Cruises (020 7399 7604; crystalcruises.co.uk), Avalon Waterways (0330 058 8291; avaloncruises.co.uk) and Uniworld (0808 168 9231; uniworld.com).
2. I don’t want to be the only single person in a group of couples – how can I travel with other singles?
One of the joys of travel is meeting new people – and you’re guaranteed to find like-minded shipmates on dedicated solo sailings, without having to worry that you’ll be the only single on board.
In 2018 Riviera Travel (0128 3742 300; rivieratravel.co.uk) launched river cruises designed exclusively for single travellers, with extra dates added due to their sell-out success and new itineraries for 2019.
Over 50s specialist Saga (0808 278 6392; saga.co.uk/cruises) is another leading tour operator with dedicated solo itineraries, plus stress-free peace private home to airport transfers included in the price of many sailings.
Solo dates for 2019 include the six-night Autumn Colours of the Rhine itinerary leaving on November 11, and priced from £1,199 per person, aboard the Filia Rheni II vessel that is solely for Saga passengers, and the seven-night Douro Discovery cruise in Portugal departing on November 13 and priced from £1,599 per person.
3. I’m young, free and single – I’m not ready to cruise with retirees…what are my options?
One of your best bets is the cool new line U by Uniworld (0845 678 5656; ubyuniworld.com) which has flexible meal and excursion options, on board mixologists and a silent disco. Aimed at the ‘young at heart’ its sister brand is Contiki, the leader in travel for 18 to 35-year-olds. U’s solo guests can either book a twin cabin and pay a single supplement, or be paired with another roommate and pay a lower fare. You can even opt to sleep under the stars on the sun deck on warm nights.
More energetic cruises also attract a younger crowd. Take a look at Avalon Waterways (0330 058 8291; avaloncruises.co.uk) Active Discovery sailings on the Rhine and Danube plus – new for 2019 – the Rhône. These trips crank up the action ashore with activities including running tours, biking, kayaking and hiking. CroisiEurope (0208 328 1281; croisieurope.co.uk) also offers hiking and cycling cruises.
4. What about meal times – I’m concerned I will have no one to chat to…
That’s something you never have to worry about on a river cruise as meals are generally served at one time on an open seating basis with shared tables, so it’s easy to mix with fellow passengers and friendships are quickly formed. However, it can be daunting to break the ice on the first night so, on Crystal River Cruises (020 7399 7601; crystalcruises.co.uk), crew members introduce fellow solo travellers and offer to dine with them if required.
With Riviera Travel (0128 3742 300; rivieratravel.co.uk) the tour manager will ensure single guests never dine alone and a sociable welcome dinner helps passengers get to know each other. Similarly, Saga’s (0808 278 6392; saga.co.uk/cruises) cruise directors will host tables for single travellers on both mainstream and dedicated solo sailings.
CroisiEurope (0208 328 1281; croisieurope.co.uk) also offers allocated dining tables for solos wanting to meet fellow single guests.
5. I don’t want to sit on my own in the bar – which are the most social solo options for me?
At the beginning of each sailing, Amadeus River Cruises (0800 035 6411; amadeus-rivercruises.co.uk) organises a special get-together cocktail for all solo travellers, providing the opportunity to meet fellow passengers right from the start. Amadeus also runs fun treasure hunts and quizzes in the bar along with a pirate’s night, which is a great way to bond with fellow shipmates.
Meanwhile AmaWaterways (0800 320 2335; amawaterways.co.uk) hosts an exclusive welcome cocktail party for single travellers and, during the cruise, solos are invited to dine at the captain’s table.
All river ships have entertainment in the bar after dinner, such as the resident musician with live and recorded dance tunes, visiting acts or games nights, which provide a welcoming atmosphere to meet and mingle.
Also consider Scenic (0808 159 9801; scenic.co.uk) and Emerald Waterways (0808 159 4193; emeraldwaterways.co.uk) which are Australian-owned sister brands with plenty of party-loving Aussies on board.
6. I’ve done the Rhine and the Danube and I want to explore somewhere new – give me some ideas…
How about France, Italy, Portugal and Spain? Solos wanting something new can experience Uniworld’s (0808 168 9231; uniworld.com) sixth ‘Super Ship’, S.S. Bon Voyage, launching in spring 2019. The floating boutique hotel will sail in France and single supplements will be waived on the seven-night Brilliant Bordeaux cruise departing on April 14, 21 and 28.
Singles can also explore Italy in style on Uniworld’s seven-night Venice & the Gems of Northern Italy itinerary where there are no single surcharges on the April 7 and 21 departures in 2019….
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