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Alaska

Deal Alert: 3 Perks Worth Up to $1,350 Value on Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Cruises

For savvy seafarers in search of savings, spring is shaping up to be an opportune time to book your next cruise. From now until March 31, Celebrity CruisesSpring into Savings promotion lets travelers choose one of three perks, from beverages to onboard credit.

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Rendering of the Royal Caribbean Harmony of the Seas

Royal Caribbean Harmony of the Seas

Which cruise lines are making headlines this week? Travel journalist Donna Tunney — ShermansTravel’s cruise expert — has all the latest news. Check back every Tuesday for trends, new amenities, and money-saving ideas that help you plan a perfect vacation at sea. 

Thought the Oasis of the Seas — the world’s biggest cruise ship since 2009 — is humongous at a 5,400-passenger capacity? In spring 2016, Royal Caribbean International is launching an even bigger Harmony of the Seas, slated to accommodate 5,479 guests. Harmony’s design closely follow the Oasis with the concept of themed “neighborhoods,” such as Central Park, Boardwalk, the Royal Promenade, and Youth Zone. But new additions include three multi-story water rides, along with some high-tech features that debuted on the line’s Quantum of the Seas in late 2014 — including the robot-powered Bionic Bar, wristbands that double as stateroom keys, and onboard credit cards.  Read more

Margerie Glacier, Tarr Inlet, Alaska cruise

Flickr/Tavis Jacobs

An Alaska cruise is a bucket-list trip for travelers who love the great outdoors. Cruise ships typically sail weeklong northbound and southbound trips, often between Seattle or Vancouver and Anchorage. Expect to find unbelievable scenery along the way, at points such as Tracy Arm Fjord and Glacier Bay, not to mention deliciously fresh seafood. It’s the voyage of a lifetime — and you’ll want to make sure your experience is the best that it can be. Here’s how to do just that:

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alaska cruise princess carnival vista norwegian escape iron chef jose garces

Flickr/tgerus

Which cruise lines are making headlines this week? Travel journalist Donna Tunney — ShermansTravel’s cruise expert — has all the latest news. Check back every Tuesday for trends, new amenities, and money-saving ideas that help you plan a perfect vacation at sea. 

Seeing massive, blue-white glaciers and spotting wildlife are the rewards of any Alaska voyage, but experiencing the Last Frontier becomes more immersive than ever on Princess Cruises this year. Its new North to Alaska! cultural program, for all Alaska itineraries this May through September, will give cruisers the chance to meet local Alaskans (including a real-life lumberjack), nosh on local food like king salmon and king crab, and enjoy a Klondike Festival and Midnight Sun deck parties.

Fares vary. Six-night sailings on Pacific Princess, for example, start from $599 per person in May and $799 in July.

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yoga - royal caribbean

Which cruise lines are making headlines this week? Travel journalist Donna Tunney — ShermansTravel’s cruise expert — has all the latest news. Check back every Tuesday for trends, new amenities, and money-saving ideas that help you plan a perfect vacation at sea. 

If you know who Lady Mary, Tom Branson, and the Earl of Grantham are, read on. Crystal Cruises has taken the wraps off a two-night, post-cruise trip to the land of Downton, themed after the popular series about early 20th century English aristocrats. It’s an extension of the luxury line’s 17-night cruise departing July 8, 2015 from Reykjavik to London. Cruisers, who will pay $4,600 per person for the land tour (we never said it was cheap), will live like royalty while visiting Highclere Castle, the fictional home of the Grantham clan. They’ll arrive in vintage 1920s cars (chauffeured, of course) and be guests of honor at a private champagne reception and tour, among other Downton-related activities. Cruise fares on this itinerary — which crosses the Arctic Circle on its way to London — start at $1,730 per person if booked by January 2.

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Miraval Arizona 2

What’s your preferred stress-buster: pampering at the spa, or hopping on a pair of skis or surfboard? With this year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals, we say you’ll afford to do both. We found deals for surfing in Southern California, skiing in Telluride, spa-ing in the Arizona desert — and even for luxury touring in Chile.

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4132910198_50b9d465b1_zThe best things about birdwatching? You can do it at almost any time of the year, it can be a relaxing break from a packed travel itinerary, and it’s often a fairly low-cost activity. With migratory birds on the move or already at the their winter habitats, now is the perfect time to grab a pair of binoculars (and field guide) and explore some of the nation’s best bird watching destinations. Here are some of our favorites…

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ferris_wheel_Midway_sunset - arizona state fair - 620

It’s fair time! As we mourn the end of summer, the nation’s great state fairs give us something to look forward to in the fall. And we suggest getting out your calendars, because some of the best fairs are either under way right now or coming up soon. Here are the eight we feel deserve blue ribbons.

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glacier national park - dhinal chheda - 620 - 2

The National Park Service, which turns 98 this August 25, will be celebrating by waiving admission to its parks across the country on its birthday. Tagged as “America’s Best Idea” in a PBS series for its part in preserving our natural landscape, the NPS now protects 84 million acres in all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

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ooey gooey butter cake - christine wei - 620 copy

There’s no excuse like being on vacation to indulge in decadent dishes that you’d feel guilty about tucking into at home, right? Plus, eating local is part of the cultural experience of any destination. Here, five bizarre and over-the-top regional eats — and where to try them if you so dare:

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Downtown Fairbanks - Kristine Hansen - 620

Whether arriving by cruise ship or airplane, few Alaskan visitors stray from the ports around Juneau, the city of Anchorage, or the beautiful Denali National Park. But we have lots of love for the state’s more rugged pocket of Fairbanks, another 100-plus miles beyond Denali. From surprisingly diverse cuisine to truly remote respite, here’s why we think the region inhabited by just 32,000 is worth the distance:

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juneau - alaska - cruise - ports - popular - wendy cutler - 620Roughly one million people visit Alaska’s ports as a part of the cruising season each year. That’s a lot of people between May and September. Thankfully, there are a few ways you can avoid getting lost in the mass influx. Here’s how:

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Hocking Hills Canopy ToursIt’s no wonder zipline tours are more popular than ever here in the States. The sensation you get from ziplining feels like flying, and it’s a manageable way for all types of travelers (at all fitness levels) to join in an adventure activity. Some tours include guided hikes through lush landscapes before an effortless ride, while others shuttle you straight to the top. Ziplines can range from leisurely to speedy, catering to those who want to soak in the scenery, or get a rush of adrenaline.

Considering that there are currently more than 700 ziplines in the country, we’re not going to rank them all. But here’s a list of some classic rides – plus a few quirky ones to try:

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state fair 1What is it about state fairs that fill us with glee? Is it the chance to see our favorite local bands? Mental images of deep fried butter? The smells of food, cattle, and sweat simultaneously wafting through the air?

Whatever it is, hundreds of thousands of people travel to state fairs every year in the hopes of indulging in a few highly calorific snacks and celebrating Americana. While these fairs typically happen in the late summer through the fall, we thought we’d get a head start with 10 quirky attractions that help make this country a little weird, and a lot of fun.

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juneau - alaska - tracys king crab shack - chris beck - 620

There’s seafood, and then there’s seafood in Alaska. A trip is not complete without some salmon or king crab. Whether you’re embarking on a cruise or are seeing the state on your own, these locals-approved establishments deserve a spot on any Southeast Alaska food tour. They may not have all the bells and whistles of your favorite special occasion seafood restaurant back home, but that’s because they deliver on what’s important: fresh catch and satisfying flavor.

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