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Sailing Solo for Less

By Andrea Sachs
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, January 16, 2005; Page P03

Q My wife recently passed away and I wish to continue cruising, but I got sticker shock when I learned of the cost for a single supplement. Are there any cruise lines sailing the Caribbean that waive the single supplement or offer half-price to single travelers? I am a senior and can travel last-minute.

Alan Weiser

Silver Spring

A For solo cruisers, the most obvious options are: Pay twice as much for a cabin (i.e., buy two beds, sleep in one); be matched with a total stranger and share a room as small and intimate as a bathroom; or find a friend -- and fast. "The cruise lines have not been very open-minded about lowering their fares for single travelers," says Tammy Weiler, president of Singles Travel International, an agency that assists solo travelers.

A few cruise lines, such as Celebrity (800-722-5941, www.celebrity.com/home.do), offer singles cruises, which are considered "theme cruises," much like a Redskins cruise. On these trips, you pay only a solo rate, but be warned: You will be paired up, and these cruises are often skewed toward the singleton (aka woefully unmarried) types. Conversely, some cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean (866-562-7625, www.royalcaribbean.com) and Cruise West (888-851-8133, www.cruisewest.com) sometimes offer departures with little to no single supplements, so look for those specials.

Singles Travel International (877-765-6874, www.singlestravelintl.com) has special agreements with Viking River Cruises and Discover World Cruises to waive the single supplement. One upcoming supplement-free, no-sharing trip is a 13-day cruise on Discovery World Cruise's 650-passenger MV Discovery, which departs Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on April 19 and plies the Caribbean and Central and South America. Cost: from $3,395. In addition, since the cruise industry is fluid, you might have more leverage during the slow season, according to Peter Peterson, a Virginia cruise specialist with Cruise Planners (866-786-7926, www.storybookcruises.com). Finally, some lines, such as Celebrity and Royal Caribbean, offer senior rates on certain cruises. AARP (888-687-2277, www.aarp.com) also lists discounted cruises for members.

We want to take our children and grandchildren on vacation to celebrate my husband's birthday. Our nephew is getting married July 3 in Columbus, Ohio, and we want combine the trips. Any suggestions?

Elinor Tattar

Silver Spring

One idea is to celebrate in Columbus. Though the city's Red, White and Boom Independence Day celebration will be held on July 1 this year, you can head out to the suburbs for some fireworks and parades (check the local newspaper for locations) or continue the party at an amusement park, such as Wyandot Lake. The German Village mixes history and bratwurst, and performing arts options range from opera to the Columbus Children's Theatre. Other attractions include the Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens and the Columbus Clippers, a Yankees affiliate team. Experience Columbus (800-354-2657, www.experiencecolumbus.com) has family packages.

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