When it comes to travel, I prefer small over large.
Small hotels. Small pubs. Small groups. Small ships.
Small keeps me closer to the ground. The experience is more intimate. Access to the local culture more direct.
River cruises meet my “small” criteria. With 150 passengers on average, they are small, but not too small.
I’m pleased to say that Premier River Cruises is dedicated to providing cruises and support specifically for solo travelers. They are sponsoring our blog in February, March and April. I caught up with Rick Kaplan, president of Premier River Cruises to chat about why a river cruise is great for solo travelers and what about the single supplement. I wanted to understand the benefits of river cruising and, while it was not on my radar before, it definitely is now. Yes, I’m still committed to independent travel but read on to see how river cruising supports this.
Why a River Cruise?
River cruises manage the logistics of moving from one city to another for you without you ever having to repack a bag. River cruise ships are known to have the amenities of mega-liners but the intimacy of a boutique hotel. In size, they max out at 443 feet, or about 1 1/2 football fields. This is so that they can get through the lock systems of the rivers – events in themselves.
A key benefit, in my mind, is that they dock in safe areas in the center of town. With fewer people on board and landing in the center of things, river cruising is for the traveler who wants to experience the a destination in depth which they can do independently or in one of the many free shore excursions that are led by English speaking locals guides. In addition, river cruises offer:
- daily entertainment including local cultural shows
- intimate dining venues featuring regional fresh cuisine prepared fresh daily by European trained chefs. (I can imagine the difference in quality when the kitchen is cooking for 150 rather than 4000.)
- complimentary fine wines and beers of the region
- Well appointed cabins that are larger than those of ocean liners and, note, they are all outside cabins.
- workout facilities
- large public lounges.
In addition, Premier River Cruises publish their Compass Point guide series that is written by staff and give you the information you need from the time you book to the time you return home. Everything you want to know is covered from where to go and where not to go, unusual restaurants to try, safety and, always a favorite of mine, packing light.
Why a River Cruise for Solo Travelers?
About 8% of those on board a river cruise are traveling solo. So, working with averages, of 150 passengers, 12 are traveling alone. I traveled on the Navimag ferry in Patagonia last year and I can confirm that this ratio is perfect.
With the small number of passengers, the crew gets to know everyone within about 24 hours. They are particularly focused on knowing the solo travelers and looking out for them whether its ensuring that they are happy with their dinner arrangements (solo, with another person or at a large table) or making sure that he or she has returned safely on board after an excursion.
Again, thanks to the size, passengers tend to recognize the solo travelers and watch out for them as well. I have often been adopted by traveling couples and, according to Rick, this is what happens aboard a river cruise. For the solo traveler, river cruises offer:
- the support of a crew that gets to know you quickly.
- safety thanks to the knowledge of the crew, free group shore excursions, crew and passengers watching out for you.
- a naturally social environment.
- dinner companions if that’s your preference.
- the freedom to explore on your own if that’s what you’d prefer.
What about the Single Supplement?
Recognizing the importance of the solo travel market, Premier River Cruises has a number of informative articles about the solo travel and river cruising on their site. There’s even a page dedicated to trips for solo travelers that waive the single supplement. They don’t match you with a companion to waive the supplement, they simply waive it. They also make a point of the fact that they don’t sell “singles’ cruises”. I like that. I’m interested in travel not hooking up on vacation. Premier River Cruises go to a variety of destinations including Europe, Russia, China and Southeast Asia.
Thanks to Rick Kaplan and Premier River Cruises for supporting solo travelers and for sponsoring our blog.