Question: What Is a Single Supplement?
A single supplement is a charge paid by a solo traveler to compensate a hotel or cruise ship for losses incurred because only one person is using a room or cabin. Most hotel rooms and ship cabins are built with the assumption that at least two people will occupy them. In fact, nearly all hotel and cruise pricing is based on double occupancy. Single supplements range from 10 to 100 percent of the double occupancy rate. Hotel and cruise ship operators claim that charging a single supplement helps them recover the fixed costs of maintaining the room or cabin, such as utilities and cleaning, which stay the same regardless of how many people use the room.
Unfortunately, avoiding the single supplement isn't easy. Some cruise lines and tour operators offer a roommate finding service; you can avoid the single supplement if you sign up to be matched with another solo traveler. A few tour companies cater exclusively to single travelers, while others offer a limited selection of supplement-free itineraries. Other options for avoiding the single supplement include joining a singles travel network, which can help you find travel partners, or finding a roommate on your own.
How many solo travelers are out there? According to the Cruise Lines International Association, approximately 17 percent of cruise passengers are single, divorced or separated. The Travel Industry Association reports that almost 25% of U.S. travelers have traveled solo “in the past three years.” These numbers are expected to grow as the current population ages.