Cruise Line Looking for a Few Good Men to Even Odds

Hughes is a 25-year veteran travel writer living in Sherman Oaks.

For single, mature males who enjoy cruise ships and like to meet and mingle with the ladies, Royal Cruise Lines is offering an opportunity to run away to she . . . er, ah, better make that run away to sea . . . but you get the drift.

Royal Cruise Lines is a carriage-trade operation that draws many unattached mature females. It's not unusual to have 20 to 50 women to each male on cruises, a ratio not appreciated by the fair sex.

In order to please its passengers and the odds, the cruise line has begun the Commanders Club, which offers discounts and other benefits to single males to help even the ratio on its cruises.

The gentlemen don't even have to be mature, but it helps because the average age of women on cruises is 50-plus.

In return for helping solve the line's mathematical problem, seagoing Commanders get a 20% discount on air-sea cruise packages and shore excursions along with a single-room supplement of $25 a day (in selected categories) plus $100 bar credit, free golf and tennis while in port and free skeet shooting on deck.

Best note that in addition to being mature, it helps to be at least semi-affluent. Royal Cruise Line sailings are not inexpensive, although the discount helps.

The line's 15- and 18-day sailings from Venice in the Mediterranean run $3,200 to $3,600 (without discounts) and its cruises to Japan and China are priced about the same.

Mature males joining the Commanders Club get the discounts and other goodies on the line's May 2, 15 and 18 Mediterranean cruises on the Royal Odyssey and also on the Golden Odyssey's Best of China and Japan sailings April 7 and 22 and May 5.

Other cruises may be added, including an August cruise to Alaska.

Membership in the Commanders Club costs $5 (good for a lifetime or until you wear out, whichever comes first). If interested, write for an application to Royal Cruise Line, 1 Maritime Plaza, Suite 660, San Francisco 94111. Once you have your membership, cruises can be booked through any travel agency.

The Commanders Club is not to be confused with the line's Host Program, which has been operating for several years. The Host Program has a limited number of carefully selected mature males on many sailings who are provided complimentary cruises and a healthy bar credit in exchange for de rigueur socializing with the ladies on board.

"Please don't stress the Host Program," asked Royal's Bruce Kline, in charge of that noble effort as well as the new Commanders Club. "We have all the Hosts we need right now.

"These invited Hosts know they have an obligation to dance and socialize with the ladies," Kline said, "but one-on-one romantic ties and liaisons are strictly forbidden. Commanders, however, are under no obligations excepting a gentlemanly code of behavior--just to have a good time."

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Southwest Airlines has renewed its $25-a-flight program for seniors 65 or older, through May 22. Fly to any city on the system for $25 one way between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

Reservations are suggested--and be ready to switch your travel plans to take advantage of available flights.

Also, Eastern Airlines has matched Delta's Senior Citizen Discount Coupon deal; those 62 or older can buy a four-flight book for $348 or an eight-flight book for $448. That's $87 or $56 per flight, respectively. Good anywhere in the United States or Puerto Rico. There are some restrictions, the biggest being that flights are limited to noon Mondays to noon Thursdays, plus all day on Saturdays. The program is good until Dec. 15.

Eastern also has the Senior Citizen Discount Card for those 65 and older, which gives a 10% discount off any fare where Eastern flies in the United States, Puerto Rico or the Bahamas. So far, Delta has not matched that discount, but stay tuned.

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