Last Minute Breaking
by Mike & Gloria Currie - Cruise Holidays of Southlake
Hello 2012! Excellent timing for New Year resolutions, athletic club membership renewals, and tax strategies. Unfortunately the timing is poor for getting what you want out of a Spring Break getaway. With that obvious statement out of the way, I’m here to help look at your options; the Good, the Bad and the Expensive.
The Good - there really are some options out there for both land and sea that provide incentives for the 2nd or 3rd week in March. At sea, all the significant competition (and therefore savings) this year is aboard the all-inclusive luxury products. The luxury lines like Regent Seven Sea, and Seabourn SeaDream Yacht Club have always included all-beverages, gratuities and suites in their pricing. Now, their packages include all that plus your airfare and onboard spending money, called “onboard credit”. So in 2012, the other big names like Crystal and SilverSeas have joined the all-inclusive club with added incentives of up to $1,000 of onboard credit. Where to spend all that money onboard? How about the Health Spa, fine shopping and cruise operated shore excursions?
On land, the best deals for last minute bookings will be in Hawaii, in Mexico, and at Disney properties. Hawaii is really dependent on airline capacity at this time, but there are ample rooms at great properties on more islands than ever. Disney has opened their newest property Aulani on the west coast of Oahu and it is Disney-fantastic, with something for everyone and they currently still have availability. We have stayed next door at the J.W. Marriott resort and really enjoyed the private beaches and being away from the Honolulu scene. Maui and Kauai have more hotels rooms than last year and, in this economy, they are reasonably priced. Rental condos are in very high demand and tougher to find.
Mexico, while getting bad press, still has some very appealing destinations without international incidents. Puerto Vallarta, Nuevo Vallarta, and Cabo San Lucas have very new properties that are not being filled. Water sports, golf and shopping are very good in all three. (In particular, the ATV’s half-day tour over the dunes is a teen’s treat in Los Cabos). Riviera Maya has excellent deals to be made with buy five days and get a free day or two. As long as you stay at the resort, or with a qualified touring company, you should be fine.
The Bad is mostly about airfare and reduced capacity raising prices and limiting seats during Spring Break and early summer. You can still get a good cabin on cruises out of Ft. Lauderdale or Miami if we can find you enough airline seats. I am sorry, but reasonably priced airfare is already out of the question for Spring Break. Airlift to Hawaii and Mexico will also be difficult unless booked as part of a vacation package, which includes airfare. Your travel professional can help find you the air-inclusive package, check out airline wholesaler options (consolidators) or book directly with the airline. To take away this on-line headache, the agency usually has an accompanying professional fee.
The Expensive options will open more doors, of course, including nearby cruise options from Galveston. There you should find a cabin or two onboard Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas or Carnival Cruises newest ship, Magic. Realize that these last minute cabins will be almost double as you get closer, but at least you can breeze down Interstate 45 at your leisure to arrive in Galveston. Even the #1 choice in Caribbean family destinations, Beaches by Sandals on Turks and Caicos is possible for a premium price. Ski vacations at key resorts in nearby Colorado will fit into the expensive category as well if you have not locked down your plans by now.
All in all, if you and your loved ones want to getaway and can get the time to make a Spring Break vacation happen this year, it can still happen. There are options if you do your homework and spend the necessary time looking or if you call on a travel professional to provide available options for you. Do not think that the properties will make a “fire sale” in early March, because it will not happen. The longer you wait, the less likely you are to secure the Spring Break getaway you were looking for.
If you’ve decided to by-pass Spring Break and go straight to your summer vacation, I highly recommend you begin your planning now. Look to Europe for some great values and reasonable currency exchange rates. Family tours with Disney Adventures or Trafalgar at-leisure family tours are a sure hit for families on land. Luxury cruising and river cruising are great values, on the smaller ships and perfect for special anniversaries. In life, you have to make your “breaks” … start planning now to get ahead in the game or talk with your local travel professional to get the ball rolling on the vacation of your dreams.