By Travel columnist

If reality TV shows featuring runway models hooking up with hot hunks in exotic locales seems too good to be true, I’ve got good news for you: they aren’t. At least in one respect.

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If you’re single it’s possible to ditch that dating Web site, hop on a plane, head to the tropics and meet the love of your life.

(No guarantee they’ll be runway models or hot hunks, though.)

Singles have always had a hard time vacationing. The typical “single vacation” tends to be a group of friends that ultimately turns into a booze fest worthy of a film crew from Girls Gone Wild (complete with incriminating photos). Or it is a solo vacation typically filled with a lot of reading and watching those damned happy loving couples frolic in the sand and surf.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

So, if you find yourself single or unattached, take a leave of absence from match.com for a month. Tell the local barkeep that you won’t be a regular for a few days and try out one of these two new alternatives.

Sail the seven seas, solo.SinglesCruise.com is a cruise-only agency owned by the giant Carlson Wagonlit Travel. As would be expected with that moniker, they only do cruises and it is only for singles. While they do not take over an entire ship, they take close to 20 percent of it.

The prices for the cruise are competitive with other cruises, but it is the extras that really seal the deal. They really look out for the single traveler and offer the following with each of their scheduled cruises:

— Private singles activities including cocktail parties, games, lectures, pool parties, and nightly singles only get-togethers.

— An exclusive section in the dining room. No more hanging with the newlyweds or grandma and her twelve grandchildren.

— Events (as much as possible) with an equal number of men and women

— Private SinglesCruise escorts (no, not that kind, get your mind out of the gutter) to act as your group cruise director.

But the fun is not limited to the ship. Prior to departure, they offer an online message board where guests can meet and chat. The night before sailing, they also host a pre-sail party to get your vacation started on the right foot. And, if the price is a factor, they offer a free roommate matching service (same-sex only).

Once you set sail, you are assured that all of the SinglesCruise events are closed to the rest of the guests. While they do not guarantee a love match — or even a lust match — they do guarantee a lot of fun with a great group of people.

While these cruises can be booked directly at SinglesCruise.com, do something nice for your local economy and ask the cruise expert at your local travel agency to book it for you. The price is the same, and there is no better resource than your local agent. Need to find a good agent? Click here or call (800) 334-4175. If you need to find a good local agent, check out Travelsense.org and search for one in your backyard.

10 ways to land a lover (by land). Not a seafaring single? Not a problem. Try Flirt Vacations. While relatively new to the single travel scene, this tour company offers a more intimate experience and limits the number of guests on each of their trips.

Just imagine ten men, ten women, one exotic beach — in Mexico’s Riviera Maya. For the non sun-worshippers, 12 men, 12 women, one classic American hideaway — on a private plantation on a barrier island in South Carolina. And of course, for the world traveler, 10 men, 10 women, one groovy English Manor.

Flirt Vacations offers unique, fun, no-pressure getaways and events for upscale singles in selected metropolitan areas. They shy away from the mundane and seek a destination where every detail is covered.

The real bonuses to their vacations are the activities. These are not the mundane things like parasailing or hiking through a rain forest. Depending on your destination, you might find yourself:

— Deep-sea fishing from a private yacht.

— Ballooning over the English countryside.

— Learning tribal drumming around a fire pit.

— Pony trekking through the Scottish moors.

— Exploring ancient Mayan ruins.

— Lounging with friends in a “groovy private bar.”

— Enjoying a beachside Tai Chi class or poolside massage.

— Just relaxing with a drink on the beach.

The tagline (which is more than PR) is one of the best descriptions of any vacation I have ever seen, single or not: “Nothing’s Mandatory, Everything’s Possible!”

To check out Flirt Vacations, call (800) 214-0001 or click here to visit their Web site. They only take direct bookings.

So dig into your closet and dust off your light blue ruffled formal shirt — the one with the dark blue edging — and have the time of your life on a singles vacation.

You might get hooked.

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