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July 31, 2008



Only a 15% single supplement? I'd say that's fair and reasonable, to the extent that either adjective could apply to any trip that costs $6,000. Does that include airfare?

Although I haven't spent any time researching this subject-- it's much too rich for my blood-- it seems that luxury travel operators are more welcoming of single customers. I have never been able to figure out why I occasionally get slick brochures advertising luxurious adventures that cost slightly more than the entire annual salary of a minimum-wage worker. But I've noticed that the single supplement for them is between 15% and 20%.

Similarly, luxury cruise lines like Crystal charge singles a supplement far less than the industry-standard 100% penalty; they sometimes even have special promotions that lower it to 10% or 20%. I've read (but haven't verified) that with the lower supplement, the bottom-line cost may actually be comparable to that of a mainstream cruise that imposes the normal penalty. I've also read that the reason for this apparent generosity is that they're encouraging the loyalty of widows who had enjoyed many cruises with their late husbands.

A cynical interpretation of these anecdotal observations is that being charged a fair and reasonable supplement rather than a penalty is merely one of the benefits to which wealthy people are inherently entitled. But a more likely (and even more cynical) explanation is that the profit margin on luxury travel is high enough so that they can afford to give singles a break!


No, that doesn't include airfare! I figure, anyone who can afford a trip like that won't be agonizing over the price of the single supplement whether it's 15% or 50%.
But even as I say it, I take it back. I know very wealthy people who still compare prices at the supermarket to save 15 cents. I'll never fully understand the psychology of that. But I'm sure the single supplement is annoying to them too.
As for why the supplement is so low on such an expensive trip, I second your explanation that the profit margin probably already is pretty high, so why stick it to singles even more?

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