Traveling Smart / Tips And Strategies -- Help For Singles Seeking Bargains, Companions
Singles, take heart. You still have plenty of friends in the travel industry despite the disappearance of venerable Singleworld Cruises and Tours this past summer.
Singleword announced in August that it was suspending operations until further notice. But a number of organizations still provide networks where unattached travelers can find like-minded companions to share experiences and expenses.
A growing number of resorts and cruise lines offer special deals or waive the daunting single supplement - for both young adventurers and solo parents seeking an affordable getaway with their kids.
The family-friendly Franklyn D. Resort on the Caribbean island of Jamaica is waiving the $50-a-night single supplement for solo parents through Dec. 21 (except Nov. 17-24). The 76-suite resort provides an array of activities and assigns each family a "Girl Friday" to take care of cooking, cleaning and child care as well as be a friend throughout their stay. Rates start at $229 daily in a one-bedroom suite. Call (800) 654-1FDR.
In the Colorado Rockies, the Hyatt Regency Beaver Creek is offering its Single Parent Package for the third consecutive ski season. It includes a room for two nights for one adult and one child, room-service breakfast one morning, a free spa pass for the adult and three hours of Camp Hyatt for the child. Prices run $480 to $920 including tax; additional kids staying two nights in the same room are $35 each. Call (800) 233-1234.
Clubs and tours
Loads of regional clubs organize trips targeted at singles, but many general tours attract them without even trying because they offer interesting itineraries. Most tour operators - like most cruise lines - will try to match solo travelers with a same-sex roommate.
A few, such as budget-oriented Cosmos, (800) 851-0728, guarantee the double-room rate even if they don't find someone to fill the other twin bed. Some companies will split the cost of the single supplement with you if they fail to come through. But don't count on it. Always pin down the company policy before you sign up.
Prefer to hand-pick your own companion in advance? Few organizations give travelers that opportunity with no strings attached. But some travel agencies offer matching services to clients who agree to make trip arrangements there. It's worth asking about - your neighborhood agent might know of a compatible traveler down the street.
The biggest and oldest matching service is Travel Companion Exchange, (800) 392-1256. Jens Jurgen, founder of the New York-based service, publishes a bimonthly newsletter filled with newsy tips and information as well as approximately 500 listings of travelers of all ages who seek vacation pals.
Eight months' dues are $99 for those looking for trip companions. The fee includes six back issues of the newsletter (with the companion listings), four future issues and up to 10 more-detailed profiles of members whose blurb in the listings interests you (additional profiles are $2 each).
Or you can get just the newsletter without listings for $48 a year (you'll still receive six back issues with companion listings but won't get future lists). A sample newsletter, with listings, is $5.
The organization has been going strong for 14 years and has more than 2,500 active members. Listings do not include addresses but profiles do so members can contact each other directly. Listings are never repeated from issue to issue unless the traveler requests it, however, so you can be sure you won't be pestered once you find a travel mate.
Meanwhile, FYI . . .
Here are the cruise ships with the most cabins for singles, as reported in the Single Traveler newsletter. (Subscriptions: Send check for $29 to Single Traveler, 2849 W. Dundee Rd., Suite 118, Northbrook, IL 60062.). 1. QE2 110. 2. Royal Odyssey 55. 3. Sagafjord 43. 4. Vistafjord 36. 5. Rotterdam 32. 6. Westward 23. 7. Norway 20. 8. Mermoz 17. 9. Ocean Princess 15. 10. Ocean Pearl 11. . Traveling Smart focuses on consumer issues on the first Tuesday of the month.
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