(12:45 p.m. EDT) -- Solo cruisers often get the short end of the stick when it comes to booking a cruise: They're forced to pay a single-traveler surcharge, often amounting to a total cruise fare that's twice what their coupled shipmates pay. But recently, we've seen a spate of solo traveler deals, with several river cruise lines waiving the single supplement altogether and several luxury lines offering reduced surcharges of 10 to 50 percent.
But are these deals too good to be true? "There are two reasons why river cruise lines waive solo supplements," says Rick Kaplan, president of Premier River Cruises. The first is capacity; the lines will try to fill up slow-selling, often low-season departures by offering discounts. The second is that "there's a growing realization that within the river lines' target age group, there is an expanding number of solo travelers." So it's beneficial for the lines to attract a demographic that is very keen to cruise.
The lines may be self-serving, but that doesn't mean you won't benefit. What a cruise line considers "low season" may be your ideal time to travel -- or you might much prefer a reduced rate to perfect weather. But if you see a solo deal on a peak-season sailing, be a little wary. It may mean the line just raised rates or the deal is only on low-category cabins that aren't as desirable.
If you're looking for a cabin all to yourself, on a no-compromise vacation with just you, book soon to take advantage of these solo cruise deals. And while many cruise lines list solo deals on their Web sites, it's always wise to contact a travel agent, who might have better deals they can only reveal over the phone.
No Supplement Deals
Avalon Waterways: This river line is waiving the single supplement on select river cruises departing in July, September and October 2012. Only 10 cabins (in categories B, A and P) on each eligible departure are available for this deal. You must book by July 24, 2012.
AmaWaterways: Book by June 30 to take advantage of a waived supplement on two AmaCerto cruises: the November 15, 2012, sailing from Nuremberg to Budapest and the November 22, 2012, sailing from Budapest to Nuremberg. Both cruises are seven nights and fares start from $1,699 for a Category E cabin. Optional land programs are an additional charge (and a solo surcharge may apply to this portion of the trip).
Tauck: Book a Category 1 cabin on any of Tauck's 14 European river cruises in 2013 and pay no single supplement. The average savings is over $2,400 (but you can save $4,676 on a 24-day cruise). If you prefer a Category 3 cabin (which features a French balcony instead of a window), Tauck is offering $1,000 off the single supplement on eight Europe cruise itineraries.
Uniworld: This high-end river line is waiving the solo supplement on 2012 cruises on select dates in fall 2012 (with a very few July and August sailings) and March 2013. A wide variety of itineraries are on offer, including Rhine, Danube, Douro River and holiday markets.
Reduced Supplement Deals
Crystal: Big-ship luxury line Crystal has reduced its solo supplement to just 10 percent above regular rates in outside cabins (Category C) on fall 2012 Mediterranean cruises. It amounts to a savings of about $900 on eight 11 and 12-night sailings on Crystal Serenity, departing between September and November.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises: Solos can pay a supplement of just 50 percent on select cruises departing between July 2 and November 14, 2012. The 7- to 17-night itineraries take place on all three of the line's ships, with a starting solo price of $9,074 in a Category F suite (remember, Regent is one of the most inclusive lines out there).
Silversea: Sail on one of Silversea's small ships on select voyages departing between July 2, 2012, and December 3, 2013, and pay a supplement of only 10 to 25 percent above the double-occupancy rate. Deals are available on all six ships, on itineraries ranging from 7 to 18 nights. Fares start at $2,699 per person in a Vista Suite.
Azamara: Solos on this luxury-lite line can pay a discounted supplement of 25 percent. The deal is applicable to Azamara Journey sailings to Europe and Asia, departing between June 27, 2012, and November 9, 2013, and Azamara Quest sailings to the Mediterranean (and one transatlantic and one South America cruise) departing between June 27, 2012, and February 12, 2013.
--by Erica Silverstein, Features Editor