Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Cruising Singles Thrown a Bone! Plus Marriot Rewards Spring Guests

(photo by Bryan Ochala)
Its no secret that I wasn't delighted with Norwegian Cruise Line's new ship, the Epic (if you scroll down through this blog you'll find the review I posted). But it did have one feature that was revolutionary: a section of the ship created just for single travelers.  Not only did it feature reasonably-priced solo rooms (no singles supplement) but they had a groovy decor, with mood lighting in dance-club hues. An even smarter touch: the rooms were grouped together on two floors, with lounges on each so that the solo travelers could mingle and meet.

The single option has been a big hit for NCL, so it should come as no surprise that a copycat has come along. Yesterday, Royal Caribbean announced in USA Today that it, too, would be adding single rooms.

Three of them.

On one boat (that carries 2000-plus passengers).

Um, really RCL? That's the best you can do?

While many in the travel industry are hailing yesterday's announcement as a step forward for single travelers, I have to agree with Carolyn Spencer Brown of that this is just a publicity ploy.

Guess I took the bait, as I'm writing about it here. But I'm hoping that the attention this announcement is getting will convince RCL and other cruise lines to go a bit further, and create more viable options for solo travelers. Really, they're long overdue.

Why You May Want to Stay at Marriott This February and March

Those loyal folks who include Marriott in all their travel plans in the hope of racking up free nights have even more incentive to do so this February and March. I recently saw an article by Tom Parsons noting that members of the Marriott rewards program can "earn one free night with every second paid stay" in February or March. See the Marriott site, or Parson's article for full details.

But even if you don't belong to Marriott's loyalty program or want to stay at the same chain over and over, you may be able to get a deal at one of their properties. For Thursday through Monday stays between Feb 4 and Mar 27, the chain will be slicing as much as 45% off nightly rates at hotels in the USA, with many starting at just $89 a night. The gotchas? Guests must book a Friday or Saturday night stay as part of their nights at the hotel; and must book by Feb. 2. For full info, click here.

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