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The Single Traveler

March 02, 1997

Thank you for devoting a column to the problem of solo travel ("Soloing," Feb. 9), even if you couldn't offer much real encouragement.

I think the real problem here is that singles haven't figured out how to be assertive consumers. There's still a degree of stigma to traveling alone.

After all, if cruise operators were really interested in maximizing efficiency, quad occupancy would be the standard arrangement. I'm sure some of them have thought of this, but they know most couples would find the idea of sharing their cabin with strangers unacceptable. Why should singles be any different?

Perhaps if enough singles complained loudly about unfair treatment, the travel industry might have some incentive to find better options for single customers than the game of "roommate roulette."



There is another aspect to "soloing": those who are happily married, yet take business or pleasure trips by themselves. And I assume many of these individuals are faced with expensive surcharges.

I recently encountered this situation in New Zealand. Staying at one lodge, I paid $421 per night, whereas double occupancy would have been $313 per person, per night. I understand the economic reasoning, but I still feel penalized.

There is often a problem when traveling alone and taking part in resort/hotel activities. For example, I stayed at the American Club hotel in Kohler, Wis. I had always dreamed about skeet shooting, and was delighted to find it was offered. However, the price was based on two people. I offered to pay for two people and I was denied. I couldn't believe it.



Editor's note: American Club spokesman Ed Allmann said hotel policy "would have allowed [Paul] to go out as a single if she paid for two people" and that he is not sure why she was told otherwise. He said a minimum payment is needed to pay the employee who pulls the traps.

I had a lengthy phone conversation on solo travel not long ago with a cruise line CEO. He told me that the main reason for the single supplement is the loss of revenue from bar, gift and excursion sales when only one passenger occupies a stateroom.

Here is my solution: Cruise lines should charge singles the published per person fare and sell them a mandatory voucher up to the amount of the present single supplement. This nonrefundable voucher would be redeemable at the ship's bars, shops and excursion desk. Nobody minds paying for value received.


Cheviot Hills

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