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Fort Lauderdale has come a long way since Where The Boys Are – the 1960 film that immortalized the south Florida city as ground zero for spring breakers. And while the beaches and nearby Port Everglades (one of the top cruise ports in the word) continue to draw throngs of visitors, the city has also developed a sophisticated culture that especially attracts fashionistas and anyone with an eye for style. The best part? You can glam it up yourself without breaking the bank, at these five budget-conscious hotspots: Read more
Cruise port excursions have come a long way since the olden days of basic motor coach tours to local sites. Today, they’re exciting and adventurous, and designed to immerse cruise guests into local culture.
The newest excursions focus on “wow factor,” and are aimed at luring first-time cruisers while also holding the interest of repeat travelers who’ve done it all. Moreover, all cruise lines are now courting younger travelers who seek more dynamic vacations than their parents and grandparents did. Also, the demand for cultural experiences has increased, and cruise lines are obliging.
Whether you’re headed to Fort Lauderdale en route to a cruise, or have chosen the city as a vacation destination in itself, Fort Lauderdale’s blossoming food culture is stronger than ever. From funky fusion to high tea, there’s plenty to choose from, with budget-friendly options, starting with breakfast, and continuing on to the wee hours. Read more
Does the thought of taking a cruise conjure up images of endless buffet lines, water slides and sequined dresses? I’ve been there, done that. Way back in 2001, my then-boyfriend and I embarked on one of those notoriously inexpensive cruises that sail around the Caribbean. After going broke on booze, busting a zipper at the buffet, and being forced to participate in a limbo, we vowed never to sail the seas again.
If there’s one thing we know at ShermansTravel, it’s deals. In this new series, “Where To Go Now?”, we help steer you towards the best money-saving offers to book right now. For our first edition, we’re focusing on short, cheap, warm-weather getaways. Got some extra cash and want to splash away a weekend in the Caribbean? You’ve come to the right place. Without further ado, here are five easy, value-packed deals you can book right now… Read more
Welcome to wave season! At the very end and beginning of every year, cruise lines roll out promotions for sailings through the next year – sometimes even two – in hopes of booking passengers early. The deals can take the form of steep discounts over 50 percent, 2-for-1 fares, onboard credits, free airfare, and other special packages. For you, this means that there’s no better time to go big – or at least dream about it. Here, we offer eight unbelievable cruises for the ultimate nautical adventure… Read more
Taking your time. Delving deep. Enjoying scenery. Making new friends.
If this sounds like your kind of travel, you’re certainly not alone – which is a large part of why river cruises, popularized in the 1990s, have been making a remarkable comeback in the past two years. More than two dozen new ships will be sailing in Europe alone in the upcoming year, and entire cruise lines are debuting, too. More notably, though, river cruises might seem expensive at first glance, but their all-inclusive nature can make them a great deal.
The Mexican Riviera port of Mazatlan is again welcoming cruise ships. It’s a turnaround for the destination, which three years ago fell victim to a public relations disaster following a spate of robberies and one highly publicized shooting. Even though the shooting did not involve any tourists, the incident scared off every single cruise line that had previously included the port in its West Coast itineraries. Since then, passenger safety concerns have been substantially alleviated.
Tourism officials have invested some $2.8 million in security cameras throughout the city, new lighting at the port, and better coordination of police forces. Another $3 million was also invested in a “tourism corridor” – a cobblestone promenade – between the port and city center. Holland America Line was the first cruise operator to return to the port earlier this month, when the 1,350-passenger Veendam left San Diego on a seven-day Mexican Riviera Holiday cruise that also calls at Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas. Read more
The Italian government’s recent decision to limit the number of large ships entering Venice through scenic Giudecca Canal early next year – and eventually, prohibit them altogether – may come as a blow to some cruise passengers who have their hearts set on seeing this famous city.
A new weight limit has been proposed for all ships entering through the city center to reach the cruise passenger terminal, a route that has traditionally yielded classic views of the duomo, the waterfront palazzi, and gondolas drifting by. By next November, all ships heavier than 96,000 tons will be banned from entering the city completely, meaning by summer of 2015, there will be no large ships cruising into Venice at all. Read more
All eyes were on Croatia this year after it was featured on the HBO series Game of Thrones. Now, there’s more tourism focus than ever on this small country on the Adriatic, with its forested hills, quaint villages, and turquoise waters. Especially rife for exploration are the country’s 1,244 known islands – of which only 50 are inhabited. Below, we offer a quick guide to exploring the best-known of these islands, depending on the type of trip you’re looking for. From each island, an excursion to an even more stunning, remote beach is possible. All it takes is a little planning:
A quick 75-minute ferry ride from Dubrovnik, Sipan is considered one of the most accessible of south Croatia’s array of coast-hugging islands, making it suitable for an overnight stay. Along with Lopud and Kolocep, Sipan is one of the three main Elaphite Islands (named after the Greek word for ‘deer,’ who were the islands’ original inhabitants), though because it sits farthest from Dubrovnik, Sipan generally offers the least crowded beaches. To step things up a notch, the popular Hotel Bozica (from $37), whose 26 rooms all face the ocean, offers complimentary transportation from the mainland by speedboat.
There is generally one main factor at play when it comes to cruise prices during the holiday season: the strength of the cruise industry. If it’s been a gangbuster year, don’t expect the cruise lines to wave you aboard for a pittance. Conversely, if sales have been lagging over the past ten months, they’re more likely to roll out holiday deals in a bid to shore up fourth quarter revenues. Value offers will vary by line, so consumers will benefit from some comparison shopping.
Though 2013 brought some challenges to the cruise market – remember the Carnival Triumph power loss in February? – deals seem to be on the scarce side this season. Nevertheless, we found a few decent ones floating around: Read more
Each summer, the majority of U.S.-based cruise lines deploy several ships to Europe. In order to move the vessels from their stateside winter homeports, the cruise lines organize springtime trans-Atlantic voyages; in autumn, it’s the reverse. These are known as repositioning cruises.
Typically, consumers can find decent deals on these so-called repositioning cruises. The cruise lines’ logic is this – they have to shell out for fuel and staff costs no matter what, so it’s better to have a half-full ship crossing the Atlantic rather than a completely empty one.
This week, Royal Caribbean International decided to rename their repositioning cruises in an effort to make them sound more appealing to consumers. The new Ocean Voyages program will launch in spring 2014, with eleven ships sailing between Europe and the USA. To spur interest, Royal Caribbean even announced a limited-time offer that includes a free premium beverage package for the first two passengers in each balcony or suite stateroom on bookings made by Oct. 15. The premium package includes name-brand liquor, wine, beer and all non-alcoholic beverages.
Let’s take a closer look at the value…
Carnival Cruise Lines endured a negative media frenzy earlier this year when its Carnival Triumph lost power due to an engine room fire and became stranded in the Gulf of Mexico. Shortly after, propulsion and power problems affected two other Carnival ships, causing the suspension of a cruise and missed port calls.
In order to convince potentially weary consumers to book a cruise, the line has launched the “Great Vacation Guarantee,” a policy that enables dissatisfied passengers to disembark the ship and end their voyage early. They’ll also receive a 110 percent refund, free transportation home, and a $100 credit for a future sailing – that is, if they weren’t sufficiently spooked to never book again.
Taking a closer look at the new “guarantee” policy, a few things jump out: Read more
Down in Southern Florida amidst the spendiest, most budget-busting hotels in the state, a new, affordable boutique hotel brand is emerging in the form of the letter B. B Ocean Fort Lauderdale, and b2 Miami Downtown, to be exact. This budding hotel brand recently invited us down to “The Sunshine State” to experience their own brand of stylish, affordable hospitality firsthand.
At either property, beyond the sleek decor, you’ll immediately notice another unique feature – affordable nightly rates. According to Expedia, a king room at the 3.5-star b2 Miami Downtown starts at $113, while a king or double room at the 4-star B Ocean Fort Lauderdale costs $122 (we searched over select dates in September). Similar properties in Downtown Miami tend to run around $169, while beachfront accommodation in Fort Lauderdale starts at about $179. Read more
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