If we are a nation of loners as Robert Putnam describes in his book Bowling Alone, then the latest pitch coming from travel companies might be just right. As reported in Reuters, cruise ship companies are now focusing on solo travelers. Historically, this industry has not been well-organized for solo travelers and typically charged a much higher rate for these passengers.
Maria Miller, of Norwegian Cruise Line, says her company has a new ship launching this year with over 100 rooms that specifically target solo travelers. Miller also noted that of the 35 million adults who travel solo globally, only 5% typically take cruises. In a difficult travel market, operators are carefully researching and then targeting specific demographic segments. Even Club Med, which originated as a singles alternative, has gradually changed its focus to serve the family market. However, a Club Med spokesperson mentioned that solo travelers can visit some of its destinations without paying the extra fees that might apply.
Margie Jordan, of the American Society of Travel Agents, says that the cruise industry carefully tracks industry changes. She believes that if the Norwegian Cruise Line experiment proves successful, other operators such as Carnival and Royal Caribbean will soon be touting their own solo traveler options.[Source: Internicola, Dorene. Ship comes in for solo travelers, industry says. Reuters, 1.22.10]