Going Solo – Flexibility Cuts Costs

I wanted to go to Europe for the summer. I had no fixed dates, just a general plan as I went looking for travel tickets online. I came across a transatlantic cruise on Norwegian Cruise Lines for eleven days at $700 with – get this – no single supplement cost. That was about the same price as one-way airfare and had the added feature of 11 days of room and board at sea with four stopovers on the European side. Since I was planning to go to Europe for an indefinite period, (I have dual US/EU citizenship so I don’t need a return ticket) this was like getting 11 days of my travels for free. I jumped on it.

Amazed at the scale of this floating city ready to depart NYC for Europe

This conditions for the fare were perfect for me or any flexible soloist. I wasn’t the only one on board, either. I met another solo-traveling gal on board who was from Germany and who jumped at the same deal as I did. She also put in a bid on an upgrade which she got at wayyyy below the value. The German gal was a book lover who packed a dozen books and planned to read read read all day with absolutely no guilt. 

morning on deck
Relaxing in the early morning calm on deck, it felt I had the ship to myself

I used the cruise as a writing “residency.” The tiny, inside cabin was like a simple monk’s cell. To be fair, with the 24/7 buffet, the eating was definitely not monastic. For 10 days, aside from eating and some time out on the deck enjoying the sea air, I stayed in my hidey-hole nest. it was the ideal getaway. Plus, the internet is so expensive on board that I decided to do a digital detox, and only went online when we stopped at ports of call where I could use free coffee shop wifi.

Double rainbow over Cobh, Ireland, one of four ports of call included in the cruise

Cruise ships usually start offering serious deals about a month out from when they sail. Not all cruise lines or even all trips offer the single with no surcharge. And more importantly, not all travel sites for the same cruise had the same offers. You can do the digging yourself or use the power of the web. This particular offer came through Expedia. Travelocity had other offers for the same trip, but not the single occupancy deal. There are also websites that collect info for you and you can sign up for alerts and such. 

After days of endless ocean, walking on the beach in Brighton was a welcome change.

Going solo means you can follow the deals and maybe visit a place you never thought about, like my getting a day in the Azores as an added bonus. Just poke around, pick a deal, and pack. You’re on your way.

Spent a day in the lush, verdant Azores where I hired a driver to take me up to a famous hot spring for a steaming soak

Susan diRende travels the world on her own and has been living with no fixed abode since the end of 2014. This twice-monthly column aims to encourage others to try going solo and explores what can be gained from the experience. All photos ©Susan diRende

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