Shermanstravel Blog

Hawaii

Un-Cruise Ship on the Snake River

Eric Lindberg/Un-Cruise Adventures

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

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Kaanapali Coast, Maui, Hawaii

Laura Motta

Craving a tropical getaway? If you can travel to Hawaii between now and March 18, the savings on airfare are huge if you book through Delta Airlines.

Hawaii’s islands are extending a little bit of “mahalo” (Hawaiian for gratitude) by partnering with Delta on rock-bottom fares. The sale — for flights between Hawaii and the 48 contiguous United States — runs through February 16 and travel must commence no earlier than February 17.

Just how big is this sale? Round-trip flights start at $434.

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A Flickr Trishhhh pet policy airplanes

Flickr/Trishhhh

You might have heard this recent story: Several airlines have repeatedly denied a woman’s request to bring her pet hedgehog inside the cabin. In fact, this has spurred a Change.org petition urging air carriers to change their stance on pets. According to CNN.com, the passenger was told that Heloise the hedgehog could chew its way out of the container or cause other passengers to have an allergic reaction.

If you’re looking to bring your fur baby on a plane, the rules can be complicated. We took a look at carry-on policies by airline and collected them here, in one easy reference. Some rules, however, are universal: Passengers flying with pets must make reservations over the phone and check-in must be done at the airport counter. All pets (one per passenger) must be transported in a carrier that is leak-proof, escape-proof, provides ventilation on at least two sides, and fits under the seat in front of you – the carrier also counts as one of your carry-on items. Don’t forget to ask the airline the maximum size carrier it allows onboard when making flight arrangements.

Fido must stay in his carrier from gate-to-gate, and is required to be able to stand up, turn around, and lie down in a natural position inside it. Airlines are not responsible for the well-being of pets, and if there is an emergency in the cabin, oxygen won’t be administered to your pet. Also, your airline reserves the right to deny boarding to pets if they are ill or aggressive towards your fellow passengers. As a precaution, make sure you have vaccination certificates and identification tags when appropriate.

Here’s a quick look at the individual carry-on pet policies of 11 airlines…

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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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Palms Casino Resort

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. 

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The Resort at Longboat Key Club

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.

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Dreams Punta Cana Resort

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.

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Waikiki View

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.

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Flickr Anthony Quintano AulaniWalt 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.

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National Park Service

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.

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Reykjavík

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.

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miramarriodejaneiro

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.

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SUP-tahoe-rick-cooper

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:

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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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Vive Hotel - Waikiki - Honolulu - Oahu - Hawaii - boutique - affordable - cheap 2 - 620

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.)

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