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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.
Are you attracted to cities like a siren? Whether you love popping in and out of museums in the nation’s capitol or romping along neon-studded Las Vegas Boulevard, cities across the U.S. are offering plenty of Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals this year. You’ll find discounts as steep as 90 percent off, and rooms as low as $39 per night.
In what has become an annual highly anticipated sale, dozens of hotels and resorts have gotten into the Black Friday and Cyber Monday game, offering deals that must be booked either the day after Thanksgiving (November 28 this year) or the following Monday (December 1) for varying days of travel.
We’ve got the scoop on so many great travel deals for this year’s sales that we’re trying something different. Instead of one big, overwhelming list, we’re sharing themed roundups for easier vacation planning. First up is the Beach edition — whether you yearn for bustling Waikiki Beach in Hawaii or Florida’s quiet Gulf Coast side, you’ll find up to 50 percent discounts next week.
Mark your calendars, then check back in the coming days for our Urban, International, and Adventure editions.
If you’re yearning to flee the coop this winter for a little heat, Apple Vacations wants to help you out. Its Winter Super Sale kicks into effect for select packages in various sunny locales — shaving close to $300 off busy season prices from booking air and hotel separately. The sale encompasses three-, five-, or seven-night trips between December 18, 2014 and April 30, 2015.
When you dream of a Hawaiian vacation, is it a quiet, remote location or a bustling city that you see in your mind? Many people may want to get away from the big city, but there are plenty of reasons to plant yourself in Honolulu, despite the crowds. Here’s our pick of Honolulu highlights that will allow you to avoid the standard tourist scene.
Walt Disney World and Disneyland are clearly the top places to visit to get your Disney fix. But if you’re not craving a trip to either California or Florida — or you’ve already been — there are other places to have a top-notch Disnified experience — besides your local Disney store.
From three stand-alone resorts, where the company’s legendary service and hospitality are at the forefront, to a museum dedicated to all things Disney, here are four destinations where you can get your Disney fix.
When you think of whale watching, you might imagine sitting on a boat with a pair of binoculars, waiting for the world’s biggest creatures to appear before your eyes amidst the waves. But this isn’t the only way to see whales up close and in their natural habitat — without having to see them in a tank.
Typically known as a winter pastime, you can go whale watching almost any time of the year in places like California and Oregon’s Depoe Bay. Specific regions of the Golden State, including San Diego, Monterey Bay, and San Francisco experience larger numbers of whales mid-December and January to mid-March and April.
If you can’t wait that long, you can spot whales in Maui and Vancouver in the fall. Sightings in Maui start as early as October, running to March or April. There’s still time left to find them in Vancouver, where the season starts in March and ends in late October.
Here’s where and how you can see whales, on boats and from shore, both with and without a tour package.
If you’re traveling internationally or even just across the country, chances are you’ll have a layover somewhere during your journey. Rather than waiting for hours inside the airport, why not take advantage of your location and head into the city? You’ve already paid to get there, after all. Whether you’ve landed in Honolulu or London, Beijing or Reykjavík, these cities are easy to visit from the airport, even if you just have a few hours.
As much as we appreciate hotel loyalty programs, accumulating points from just one hotel brand can feel like quite a slog, and a little uninspiring — who, besides the very frequent business traveler, wants the same brand experience each and every time they check in?
Just over a year ago, Preferred Hotel Group introduced a loyalty program, iPrefer, that honors stays at the more custom, bespoke hotels over the big box brands; it’s the world’s only loyalty program available at a global collection of truly independent hotels. Here’s how it works, and how you can join.
The fastest-growing water sport in the world, stand-up paddling (also known as SUP) is an easy sport to learn, despite looking like you need to be a master of balance to even think about it. Sure, balance is an important element, but if you can walk down the street without falling over, you’ll usually be fine. Want to learn the basics on your next vacation? Here are the best places to try it out:
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:
Waikiki, the prime location choice for travelers to Oahu, was once dominated by large expensive hotels and budget bare-bones ones. But in recent years, several boutique chains have been upgrading the older, small properties – meaning travelers can enjoy more personal service as well as good value so long as they’re willing to pass up some frills like the spa, room service, or a lobby bar. If you appreciate a good boutique but don’t want to break the bank, consider these properties on your next visit. (Only one of them charges a resort fee — and all offer free wifi.)
There’s no time like a warm summer to hop on your bike and see how far you can go. When you’re exploring a new city, cycling is also a great way to cover more ground and getting a bit of exercise to boot. Here are seven great trails with fantastic views to add to your next itinerary: Read more
No summer is complete without a trip to the beach. But instead of the typical best-of roundup, we decided to do something a little different: We had the ShermansTravel staff share their favorite off-beat alternatives to the hotspots that everyone flocks to in drove. We won’t go as far as to call these spots “secret,” but we will promise that you’ll find a relatively intimate excursion with lots of character at any one of them. Ready to feel like a beach insider and stretch out?
By now you’ve likely heard about the controversy surrounding SeaWorld. As a result of the documentary film Blackfish, and its exposure of what animal rights advocates claim is mistreatment of the orcas used in SeaWorld shows, calls for a boycott of the marine mammal theme park chain have grown. The debate goes on: SeaWorld released an open letter stating that, among other things, their research on captive whales benefits those in the wild, but the Oceanic Preservation Society then rebutted the claims.
And there are signs that public opinion is turning against the theme parks. The company recently posted a 13 percent drop in attendance. If you the claims have gotten the better of your conscience and you’re looking for an alternative, here are seven places in North America where you see the same animals that you’ll find at SeaWorld, but in their natural habitats. Read more
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