Featured image: Get ready to set sail with Uniworld River Cruises | Photo by Uniworld River Cruises
No single supplement for solo women travellers, but act fast!
by Carolyn Ray
With the growth of women over 50 travel, river cruise companies are changing their pricing models to attract the mature solo traveller. The most recent is JourneyWoman Women’s Travel Directory partner Uniworld Boutique River Cruises, which is waiving the single supplement on some of its most popular European itineraries, including trips to Italy, Germany, France, and many more.
In 2024, Uniworld has eliminated the single supplement on some of the brand’s most popular European itineraries, including ‘Venice & The Jewels of Veneto’ where guests can experience a luxury river cruise in Venice via the only cruise line sailing in the Venetian lagoon on the S.S. La Venezia; ‘Castles Along the Rhine’ for a quintessential river cruising experience along the fabled Rhine River onboard the brand-new S.S. Victoria and more.
According to Uniworld, these all-inclusive itineraries are ideal for solo travellers, with small ships averaging at just 120 passengers for an intimate and hassle-free travel experience. Uniworld saw a sharp increase in solo travellers in 2023 compared to 2019: a 31% total increase, with a 61% increase in female travellers. Solo travellers can take comfort in knowing that Uniworld takes care of all trip details from start to finish, including airport transfers, thoughtfully curated itineraries with daily excursion options, onboard entertainment, farm-to-table dining and much more.
“We appreciate the trust our solo travellers place in us to lead them on extraordinary journeys and hope our new Solo Traveller Offer will open the doors for even more guests to experience Uniworld this year,” says Ellen Bettridge, President and CEO of Uniworld.
Uniworld’s 2024 Cruise + Air Offer is also currently available for travellers, offering savings of up to $3,000 for customers who purchase cruise and air together on select 2024 itineraries. Guests can select from different flight options while also benefiting from savings via Uniworld’s special air rates. This offer is valid on new bookings made by January 31, 2024, for a wide range of 2024 departures in Europe, as well as bucket-list sailings in India, Peru, Egypt and more. Travellers can learn more here.
Read More: Why Women Should Travel on Small Ships
Solo travellers can enjoy comfort and style aboard Uniworld River Cruises with no single supplements! / Photo by Uniworld
Adapting to long stay trend among women over 50
Uniworld is also creating longer stays for mature women, who have the flexibility to travel longer and desire more sustainable ways of travel. River cruises offer mature women a more intimate setting, on a smaller boat, less crowds and an opportunity to connect with others, while staying in the same place.
Uniworld also offers combined rail and cruise trips, such as a 16-day voyage through India, beginning with a 7-night river cruise on the Ganges Voyager II along the Ganges River, followed by a 6-night and rail journey on The Maharajas’ Express. Another option is a 15-day trip from Istanbul to Nuremberg, via Romania to see the castles of Transylvania. Learn more about cruise and rail trips here.
Our Top Choices for Uniworld River Cruises in 2024
When it comes to river cruises, the question that comes up the most is ‘what are the best river cruises for solo women?’ River cruising is hot this year, and ideally suited to women who want the convenience of staying in one place while exploring culturally rich destinations. What should you have on your river cruise bucket list? According to our recent survey, women recommend eight must-do river cruise experiences: Christmas Markets along the Danube, Tulip time in Holland, the Panama Canal, the Amazon River, the Mekong River in Cambodia/Vietnam, The Rhine River and the Nile.
“The small river cruise ship is ideally suited to me in my older years,” says Diana Eden, 82. “It was so much more intimate than a massive 14-story mega-liner. It was quieter, more relaxed, and easier to navigate (you can walk stern to bow in under a minute!)”
Uniworld River Cruises With No Single Supplement
What women say: “I have gone solo on two French River Cruises with Uniworld. They have several single cabins, and have waived single supplement offers. Both the crew members and fellow passengers were very inclusive, so I was very comfortable being one of the few singles onboard. Went on cruises in 2018 and 2019.” — Louise W.
“I flew solo and met my daughter in Amsterdam for the cruise in early April 2014. Uniworld was the cruise line – the route was ‘Castles on the Rhine’ – we started in Amsterdam, sailed through Germany, France and ended in Basel, Switzerland. I loved it and would go again. No crowds, free Wifi, walking tours included and the food was amazing! I loved the ship we were on – the SS Antoinette – as it was one of the few that actually had a swimming pool. I did find the room rather small – it was difficult to access the closet with the bed. However, we were seldom in our room anyway – I would definitely go on another river cruise. I would also feel comfortable travelling solo on a river cruise.” — Patricia P.
Not sure yet? Ask a Travel Advisor: Lush Life
Still not sure which river cruise to choose? Sheila Gallant-Halloran, owner of Lush Life Travel, specializes in women’s solo cruises.
“I’m seeing people book bigger trips,” says Gallant-Halloran. “We’ve been home for two, three years, we’ve been alone, my solo travellers especially, they want to take the big trip the bucket list trip, you haven’t spent your travel budget for two years, so you have a bit more money to spend on travel as well.”
Gallant-Halloran is offering a Women-themed River Cruise – Delightful Danube & Prague – on Uniworld in October 2024. This includes an onboard fitness center, wellness classes, and curated excursions for all travellers.
Women-friendly river cruise companies
Our Women’s Travel Directory is a free service for women seeking women-friendly tours and includes a Small Ship section that features river cruises, expedition ships, sailing and sustainable cruises. If river cruising is new to you, make sure you read our articles on river cruising, including “Why Women Should Travel on a Small Ship”, “Tips for First-Time River Cruisers” and “7 Reasons for Women to Consider a River Cruise”. Other good resources include Cruise Critic, which includes reviews on cruises (and sells them on their site.)
We do not promote travel on large ocean cruise ships, such as the newly launched 10,000 person Icon of the Seas given its impact on small islands, communities and the environment. According to Bryan Comer, director of the Marine Program at the International Council on Clean Transportation, taking a cruise generates “about double the amount of total greenhouse gas emissions” as flying.
As you consider your budget, remember that tipping is generally not included in the price, and there may be additional costs such as dockage fees. It’s also important to check the single room dimensions, bed sizes and availability before booking. Take the time to look at the photographs and make sure this is what you want. Many of the ships offer roommate matching. If in doubt, use a travel agent who specializes in river cruising to book your cruise to get the lowest cost and best advice. You’ll also want to purchase travel insurance ideally from a travel advisor or independent of the cruise line.
Advice from women on river cruises
“I river cruise alone often. I am very outgoing and can carry on a conversation with just about anyone…Pick an itinerary that interests you and book it …you won’t regret it.” — Wendy C.
“One thing I did notice about anyone with mobility issues – sometimes the boats park side by side, so in order to get ashore, one has to get off our boat, cross the boat next to the dock, to get ashore – difficult for people with a mobility issue. Overall river cruising is better than ocean cruising, as you always see land and it is a smoother ride, good food and entertainment from each country you visit .” — Joy F.
“Two pieces of advice – look at water levels. When you least expect it, due to drought and climate change, many routes become part river, part land trips! Also, if you’ve been on ocean liners before, don’t think a river cruise is anything like a typical ocean-faring cruise.” — Nancy S.
More on Small Ship Travel
Wild Women Expeditions is offering 25% of its expedition cruises to the Arctic, one of our 30 Less-Travelled Places for Women in 2024.
Book by December 31 for special savings on select 2024 expedition sailings with Swan Hellenic.
Is expedition cruising right for you? Join our free December 5 webinar with Swan Hellenic and find out about this hot trend for women.