Q – I am an attractive guy in his late sixties, ok, early seventies, and, believe it or not, I’ve never been married. I like to play the field and I like to meet and dance with all the widows on cruises. But I am on a fixed income and I wonder why single supplements on cruises are so high. Don’t they realize how many single travelers there are out there? I call it highway robbery. I’ve been asking this question for years and no one seems to have the answer.
A – It all has to do with yield per guest. Cruise ships are always designed to maximize the number of guests to increase the yield, or profit, on cabins, shore excursions, and onboard spending. If a cruise line sells you a cabin designed for two, they are diluting their yield by 50% in most areas of the ships operation. That has been the problem. Singles are housed in doubles.
There are a few exception. The Cunard liners have single cabins as does the new ship design, the Breakaway, owned by NCL. But 99% of all current cruise berths are doubles, triples, or quads. This is a particular problem these days for cruise lines. They have added to the number of on board lecturers and entertainers each year. Most often, these entertainers, including clergy, are berthed in standard double cabins. This results is a serious dilution in potential on board revenue and it also effects the budget of the yield management staff.
Consumers do not generally realize that it is not at all difficult to fill a cruise ship. There are travel agents, writers, public relations types, and trade-out partners to fill empty cabins. Cruise Lines will trade out cabins for some of the things they need like company cars for their sales staff. The lines can also fill cabins quickly by localized special offers or strategic radio advertising. They can also open weak sailings with empty cabins to sale by their international sales agents. So filling berths is not difficult. What is a challenge is the loss of revenue when a sailing has a large number of “entertainment” staff who must be accommodated as singles in a double cabin.
The fact is that cruise line executives are just starting to realize that future ship designs will have to incorporate sufficient space for “single berthed guests” of the entertainment division.
So, the reason you are not getting an answer is that, for the most part, cruise lines do not want to be particularly attractive to single travelers because they dilute revenue. That is the real reason prices for singles are so high.