Tuesday, January 28, 2003


Norwegian coastal voyages drops
single's supplement for winter sailings


A story published today on the MSNBC website reports that Norwegian Costal Voyages has lowered its prices, dropped the single's supplement, and created price breaks for seniors for this winter's sailings.  The story is based on information supplied by Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel.

The story suggests that if you ask almost any single traveler what they hate most about traveling alone, and it’s likely you won’t hear about getting poor seating in restaurants (although that does happen) or being lonely on vacation. The top peeve for vacationing “soloists” is the dreaded singles supplement: the fee that’s added into almost every cruise and tour package on the market

The term “almost” was used because the Norwegians have a more enlightened attitude toward singles. For the past three years, Norwegian Coastal Voyages has waived the supplement for singles in winter, along with dropping its cruise prices. It also treat seniors with the utmost respect by lowering their costs significantly year round (see below).

NCV operates one of the cheapest cruises in Europe. Its boats skitter up and down the impossibly scenic Norwegian coast from Bergen to Kirkenes, deep in the Arctic Circle. Each day, you stop in another unbelievably adorable Norwegian seaside town, cod hanging from the line, wooden wharves hovering over the chilly North Sea.

These runs actually serve double duty. Norwegians use them for their day-to-day commutes, which means there’s little chance this line will go kaput if tourists don’t show up. But there are also many comfortable cabins (nothing too plush) set aside for a few hundred tourists, who enjoy many of the same amenities as a regular cruise, including all meals, private accommodations, swimming pools, and panoramic lounges.

Considering the Norwegian coastal scenery may be Europe’s most dazzling, the value is extraordinary.

Proof? Here: Six-day sailings cost as little as $544 if you start in Kirkenes and head south, or $661 and up if you start from Bergen and head north. You can also make a round-trip from Bergen in 12 days, and that costs as little as $981.

In winter, of course, temperatures hover around freezing most of the time (so forget the pool), and since you’re in the far northern reaches of the planet, there is little daylight. It’s not as cold as you might think, though, since the Gulf Stream travels there. But the winter runs allow tourists to see something that most people only dream about: The Northern Lights. We’ve never seem them ourselves, but we hear that few travel experiences compare to witnessing the multicolored flares as they swoosh through the crisp Arctic sky.

You can’t see the Lights during the summer, but they are often visible starting as early as September. Going in dark midwinter increases your chances of glimpsing them. Fortunately, that’s precisely when NCV’s prices are at their lowest.

How much would a single person pay to get a cabin to himself or herself? Nothing more! From now until Apr. 15, when the northern lights have faded into daylight, singles may hog a cabin without forking over more bacon.

Other discounts abound in winter. Senior citizens aged 67 or older receive price reduction of $120 per person on six-day cruises, $170 on a seven day sailing and $220 for the twelve night voyage. AARP members get a discount year round: $70 for one-way sailings, $100 off round-trips.

Icelandair flies to Oslo in midwinter for as little as $350 from the Northeast. And if you fly to Europe on SAS, you can get flight a flight from Kirkenes to Oslo, or stem-to-stern Norway, for as little as $150.

NCV can be found online at www.coastalvoyage.com. Its phone number is 800/323-7436.



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