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Singles Cruises Go Global

| April 29, 2005

It used to be that single cruisers only seemed interested in tropical days basking in the sun, sipping drinks with little umbrellas and partying until the wee hours in the ship's disco. And, of course, a shipboard romance was always a secret wish to really put the cherry on the Pina Colada, making it a vacation to remember. As a result, the traditional itineraries offered by singles cruise organizers were to the Bahamas, the eastern or western Caribbean, Alaska, Hawaii, or the Panama Canal.

But times are changing. Nowadays, singles want to experience new adventures in different parts of the world, and travel agents are meeting the demand with itineraries that cover a variety of foreign destinations.

All Singles Travel (www.allsinglestravel.com) was among the first to notice the trend toward international cruising. Its September 7, 2005 singles program with Golden Star Cruises' Aegean I features two nights in Athens, one night in Meteora, two nights each on the islands of Mykonos and Santorini, and a four-day/three-night cruise from Mykonos to Rhodes, Crete, Patmos, Greece and Kusadasi, Turkey. Rates start at $2,299 including air from New York and all hotels and tours in Athens and Meteora.

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The company also has a seven-night "Mediterranean Delights Singles Cruise" on Royal Caribbean International's Splendor of the Seas, sailing October 1, 2005 from Barcelona, Spain to Nice and Marseilles, France, plus Florence, Rome, and Naples/Sorrento, Italy. Rates begin $799, and optional air from JFK includes one night in Barcelona, post-cruise.

All Singles Travel's Eric Kravitz says that even more destinations for organized singles cruises will be added in the future. "We plan to offer a Scandinavian cruise, Russian waterways, and possibly a Holland river cruise at tulip time."

Kravitz added that in addition to experiencing some of the world's most beautiful places, participants always have the possibility of a romance. "I'm happy to say our trips have produced the marriage of two people who met onboard, and two couples becoming engaged."

Binnacle Travel (www.BinnacleTravel.com) has two European singles cruises scheduled in 2005, both geared for the 50+ age group (though all ages are welcome): An August 10, 2005, 10-day British Isles cruise on Princess Cruises' Golden Princess round-trip from London to Dublin, Holyhead, Wales, Belfast, Northern Ireland, Glasgow, Kirkwall-Orkney Islands, and Edinburgh, Scotland, with prices starting at $2,550; and an August 20, 2005, seven-night Mediterranean cruise on Royal Caribbean's Splendor of the Seas from Barcelona to French and Italian ports, with rates as low as $1,205.

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Tammy Weiler of Singles Travel International (www.singlestravelintl.com) said she believes an increasing number of single cruisers today are more interested in destination than partying. As for romance on the high seas, she states, "I think you will find more like-minded singles on European trips, so the opportunities for meeting someone compatible are greatly increased." Her agency currently has five international voyages scheduled for solo cruisers. There is still space available on the June 19, 2005 seven-night "Gourmet Danube Plus Prague" package on the Viking Pride. It sails from Nuremburg, Germany to Kelheim, Regensburg and Passau, Germany; Melk and Vienna, Austria; and ends in Budapest, Hungary. Award-winning guest chefs and Cellar Masters will be onboard for private cooking demonstrations and wine tastings. Prices start at $1,815.

While her July 14, 2005 Scandinavia and Russia singles cruise is sold out, space remains available on three other foreign voyages: an October 5, 2005, nine-night China and Yangtze River Cruise/Tour from Beijing to Shanghai, with visits to Xian and three nights onboard the new Viking Century Star; prices start at $2,280. There's also a September 14, 2005, six-night "Singles Crossing" on Cunard's Queen Mary 2 from New York to Southampton, England with rates starting at $1,379 (which includes return air from England to JFK); and a March 22, 2006, 12-night singles cruise on the Queen Mary 2 from Valparaiso, Chile to Rio de Janeiro, Cape Horn, and the Chilean fjords. Rates begin at $2,999.

Although Amazing Journeys (www.amazingjourneys.net) is primarily for Jewish singles, Travel Director Bill Cartiff emphasizes all singles in their 20s, 30s, and 40s are welcome to join the company's 11-night Greek Isles, Turkey and Italy cruise departing May 5, 2005 on Celebrity's Galaxy, visiting Santorini, Mykonos, Istanbul and Naples, with an optional three-day pre-cruise tour in Rome. Prices start at $2,099.

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At one of the first agencies to successfully book singles cruises (since 1991) -- www.singlescruise.com -- Director Jill Fischer explained, "Our venture into overseas destinations is due to the request of our most frequent cruisers." A seven-night Mediterranean cruise August 20, 2005 sails from Barcelona to France and Italy on RCI's Splendor of the Seas, with rates starting at $1,199. On December 10, 2005, the "Best of Tahiti" on Radisson Seven Seas six-star luxury ship Paul Gauguin sails from Papeete to the islands of Raiatea and French Polynesia's only navigable river; Taha'a (Motu Mahara); and Bora Bora (and the historic sites that over 5,000 G.I.s called home during World War II), as well as a dolphin-watching experience in Moorea. Prices begin at $2,099.

Travel Time for Singles (www.traveltimeforsingles.com) joins the Greek itineraries with an 11-night singles cruise October 4, 2005, on Holland America's Rotterdam from Venice to Dubrovnik, Croatia, Santorini, Rhodes, Kusadasi, Piraeus, Katakolon, and Malta. Rates start at $1,599 inside. On October 8, 2005, prices start at $1,599 for a six-night transatlantic singles crossing on the Queen Mary 2 from New York to Southampton, England, including port tax and return air from London to your home city. The South American singles cruise January 01, 2006 sails from Buenos Aires, Argentina on Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Crown to destinations in Uruguay, the Falkland Islands, cruising Cape Horn and the Strait of Magellan, ending in Santiago, Chile. Rates start at $1,689.

While prices quoted are based on double occupancy, agencies will provide single supplement prices on request, usually 125-200 percent of the quoted rates; and all offer roommate matching to avoid the supplement. Group coordinators are sent on every cruise to host get-acquainted cocktail parties and other onboard activities, and to help plan shore excursions. Most can arrange air, help with travel documents, travel insurance (if desired) and assist with any other arrangements. Also, prices in most cases do not include port charges and taxes. Contact the agency for all details.

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