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Nine months out of the year, Caribbean islands are a postcard-ready panorama of blue skies, swaying palm trees, and cocktail-sipping, hammock-lounging bliss. But from September to November (as in, right now), they are associated with another thing: hurricanes. As we speak, reports are showing that the season’s first tropical storms are already forming.
But for those willing to roll the dice, hurricane season can also yield up some incredible bargains. Flights, cruises, and hotels often go for a fraction of their peak season rates, at a time when most travelers are too spooked by the thought of having their trip washed, blown, or flooded down the drain.
And if you’re worried about showing up to a ghost town, rest assured: of the 25 million tourists who visited the Caribbean in 2012, roughly a fifth of them were brave enough to travel between September and November, the peak of hurricane season.
To give you a head start, we logged onto Expedia and CheapCaribbean and chose some hotel-and-flight packages for a range of dates in late October and mid-November. All packages are priced per-person, based on double occupancy, with flights from Miami. Other departure cities are usually available for more.
Clearly, none of the following destinations can provide guarantees on anything weather-related (otherwise they wouldn’t be offering the deals in the first place!). But with prices this low, you can afford to have your trip cancelled and still have extra cash lying around to re-book the whole thing from scratch. Now, get out those bathing suits! Read more
Some people only dream of exploring Australia’s prized gem: The Great Barrier Reef, with its crystal clear blue waters and countless species of fish that call it home. But getting to Australia, let alone the natural heritage site (and one of the seven natural wonders of the world), isn’t easy. Aside from the numerous hours on a plane, hotel expenses, activity fees – the list goes on – there are plenty of reasons to just save it for “later.” Until now.
What are you doing between now and December 19? If your answer is ‘nothing,’ you may want to consider a trip to the Caribbean; specifically, Anguilla, where the ultra-luxe Viceroy Anguilla recently unveiled a snazzy new package that offers partial reimbursement on the cost of your flight. Seriously. By booking five nights at a four- or five-bedroom villa, guests will be eligible to receive airfare compensation of up to $1,000 or $2,000, respectively. Read more
Last week, Celebrity Cruises announced new routes leaving from Los Angeles (a first for the company), including two new beer-themed voyages: the 2014 Alaskan Brewing Company cruise, which starts at $1,684, and the California Beer Festival At Sea cruise, which starts at $639. And while themed cruises are something we’ve come across before, the growing popularity of Celebrity’s “craft beer cruises” are making us sit up and take notice.
And we’re not the only ones interested – after posting their 2013 and 2014 Alaskan Amber Craft Beer Cruise, tickets sold out in less than a month.
To make these trips happen, Celebrity links up with various breweries and beer festivals, such as Alaska Brewing Co., Sam Adams, or California Beer Festival who, in turn, supply the booze. A winning partnership that Celebrity says “has significantly increased our business.” And we believe it. We were wondering, though, how the cost and value of these cruises stacks up. After all, you’ll pay extra for alcohol on almost any big ocean cruise, and that’s not the case with these theme cruises. Here’s what we learned. Read more
The island’s main draw? The 887 extant monumental statues, or moais, created by the early Rapa Nui people. Moais are placed upon ceremonial platforms and graves called ahus. The statues are a large part of the reason why Easter Island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with much of the island (and many moais) protected within Rapa Nui National Park. Read more
As convenient as airlines can be, the act of flying often sucks the joy out of getting there, wherever ‘there’ might be. After enduring the endless security lines, the tedious boarding process, and the subpar airplane food, we arrive at our destination cranky, tired, and often a little disoriented. Not so with train travel. Assuming you have the luxury of time, trains can be one of the most enjoyable ways to explore a new country, with their slower pace and more civilized atmosphere.
More and more travelers are now rediscovering the magic of trains, and luckily, supply is meeting demand. Countries are investing in their rail networks as a viable source of tourism revenue, and promoting off-the-beaten-path destinations as stop-offs along the way. Want to wander through Vienna en route to Stockholm? Or spend two weeks visiting natural wonders in western USA? These new train routes could be worth looking into.
Since 1911, intrepid passengers have cruised inland along the Noyo River aboard the California Western Railroad, a 40-mile route between Fort Bragg, CA and Willits, CA. The rail service was originally created to ferry timber to and from the Pacific Coast, and indeed the route itself winds through stunning redwood forests in the Noyo River Canyon. These days, the ‘Skunk Train,’ as it’s commonly known (thanks to a pungent odor emitted by the old trains’ exhaust gases), is one of the state’s most popular train routes, despite its brevity. A tunnel collapse earlier this year forced a temporary closure, but as of this month, the one-of-a-kind historic rail service is open to passengers once more. Choose from a Saturday evening “Sunset BBQ Excursion,” ($70) which involves a stop-off in Northspur Station, or a simple 4-hour trek between Fort Bragg and Willits ($49). Read more
Fall is a great time to take a trip: In many destinations, you’ll find lower rates and smaller crowds than in summer, making for a relaxing and easy-on-the-wallet travel experience. Our deals expert, Lisa Hubner, rounded up some of the best deals for fall travel to Europe, the U.S., and the Caribbean: Read more
All-inclusive resorts can be both a blessing and a curse – and an incredible deal. But it’s easy to lose control of your eating habits when your options are unlimited, and offered at no additional cost. Why, yes, I will have another hamburger. Oh sure, throw in another daiquiri. I’m on vacation!
Suddenly you’re 10 pounds heavier by the time you get home, and your whole health routine is shot. Sound familiar? Here are five tips to help you maintain your bikini bod at an all-inclusive resort. Read more
Whether you borrow a free bike for a cycle through a new neighborhood or kick off your shoes for yoga on the beach, fitness can become an enjoyable part of your vacation. And hotels are getting creative to help guests stay healthy on the road. On your next trip, skip the treadmill in exchange for one of the following fun fitness options; here are five of our free favorites!
1. Free Salsa Classes: Mezzanine, Tulum, Mexico
While clocking in 45 minutes of cardio might not sound too appealing on a beach vacation to Mexico’s Riviera Maya, how about a salsa lesson on a beachfront patio? At Mezzanine boutique hotel a local salsa school offers free classes on Sundays at 6pm, followed by a live salsa band that will provide the soundtrack to work on your new skills. Read more
They say March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. This year, March has come in like a lion and gone out like some kind of lion-velociraptor hybrid. With a bunch of late-season storms walloping parts of the U.S. and others shivering through an extended cold spell, it’s easy to forget that spring has officially arrived. While you’re waiting for the weather to catch up with the season, close out March in Africa, where more manageable climates, majestic beasts, arid deserts, and stunning architecture await those with an adventurous spirit.
I just got back from my first trip to an all-inclusive resort, and I actually really enjoyed the experience. Aside from taking in the sun and sand, I also learned a lot about the different people you’ll find at nearly every all-inclusive resort. Here are my researched and field-tested findings. Read more
That made me a little jealous, but also eager to talk with Ogintz –a syndicated family travel columnist, author, and creator of TakingtheKids.com – as I wanted to pick her brain about the trip. And as soon as she put her bags down, she graciously permitted me to do just that, as well as get some of her picks for 2013 family travel.
Even the most veteran of cruise lovers require some time to get their sea legs. The sea can be an unforgiving mistress to those who have trouble keeping their footing on solid ground. Throwing unlimited liquor into the mix seems like a recipe for disaster for the balance impaired. But for cruisers with steely spines and iron stomachs, Norwegian Cruise Line’s new package is a great way to make any vacation more intoxicating (pun intended).
Norwegian Cruise Line has recently introduced an all-you-can-drink alcohol package, offered on three of their 11 liners – the Norwegian Sun, Norwegian Gem and Norwegian Jade. Packages go for $49 per person per day plus gratuity, though further details of what the package includes have yet to be released. Though the line’s fare price encompasses a number of amenities such as room service, buffet, and fitness facility access (for after you carbo-load), alcoholic beverages cost a separate fee.
After making a splash with our recent flight and hotel etiquette miniseries, we wanted to turn our attention to the pool – an area just barely treading water in the travel manners department. I’m not sure if we should blame chair hogs, the invention of cell phones, waning social graces, or a combination of all three, but over the past few years, pool etiquette – be it at the Ritz or the Holiday Inn – has floated off the edge of the infinity pool. Whether you’re planning on escaping to a palm tree-studded all-inclusive, a romantic retreat, or a family Disney extravaganza this winter, there’s bound to be some serious pool or beach time, so here’s a poolside protocols refresher.
Looking for an easy way to escape the hustle and bustle of daily live? Drive on over to the intimate Tanque Verde Ranch in Tucson, Arizona, and receive a $100 gas card if you stay two nights or more. Travel to the working horse ranch, which is located on 60,000 acres of breathtaking desert landscape, is valid through September 15. Rates start at $199 per person, per night, including all meals and activities such as horseback riding lessons, trail rides, hiking, mountain biking, swimming, and fishing.
Nestled between the Rincon Mountains, Saguaro National Park, and the Coronado National Forest, the ranch is perfect for anyone looking to unplug and discover the great outdoors. The traditionally decorated rooms offer spectacular scenic views of the surrounding desert and mountains.
Visit the Tanque Verde Website or call 800-234-3833 to book. Mention the Fill Up Your Tanque offer.
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