Escape Artists offers up a global discourse ranging from great finds close to home to adventures far afield. You'll find weekly travel deals here, too. Share your road wisdom, rave about great finds and rant about roadblocks that get in the way of a great trip.
Contributor: Travel editor Kerri Westenberg.
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In a close-to-home example of the cruise industry's recent rough seas, Sun Country Vacations is offering deals on Alaskan cruises that have not yet sold out. Prices for a 7-night cruise on the Star Princess, departing June 22 from Seattle to Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay National Park, Ketchikan and Victoria begin at $1009 (based on double occupancy), including airfare from MSP. There's more: A Royal Caribbean Rhapsody of the Seas 7-nighter from $1139 (departing July 12 & 26); Holland America Oosterdam 7-night Alaskan cruise for $1145 (departing June 16, 23 and 30); and a similar cruise on the Norwegain Pearl starting at $1199 (departing June 30).
Deals sometimes seem tailor-made for Minnesotans. The latest in that category comes from American Cruise Line, which sails the Queen of the Mississippi. This summer, the company is offering a $1,000 saving per stateroom on seven-night Upper Mississippi sailings. The deal is good on 10 sailings in June, July and August. Itineraries include cruises traveling between St. Paul and St. Louis; Memphis and St. Louis; and St. Louis and Cincinnati. Amenities on the paddlewheeler include a putting green, a calliope and some of the largest staterooms on the river, with 150 rooms on four decks. Rates start at $3,695 per person double after discount, plus $250 port charges. Book the deal no later than April 19 at 1-800-814-6880.
When you go online shopping today, think beyond Christmas. Consider your winter get-away, you know, the vacation you take to get away from the snow you so fervently hope falls for the holiday. Big box retailers aren't the only companies chasing your cyber dollars this Cyber Monday. Airlines and resorts want in on the frenzy.
Among the deals:
Atlantis Paradise Island Resort in the Bahamas (shown above) is giving $300 airline credits to those booking a six-night stay, lesser credits for fewer nights, for their Cyber Monday deal (which actually began on Black Friday).
Southwest Airlines Vacations is offering a third night free and up to $175 in discounts. Click here for details.
At Priceline.com, you can save as much as 35 percent on a trip to Vegas. Details here or go to the homepage and see the big Cyber Monday box.
The members-only Jetsetter.com is offering new flash sales every hour at prices 40-50 percent off until 8 p.m. our time. Each vacation will be available for only 24-hours, or while availability lasts. Membership is free. Details here.
There are many, many more offers. Too many, in fact, to list. My advice is to go online, check with places you've been thinking about booking and see what they have to offer. Gotta go now ... I need to look for deals on a rental car for my upcoming trip to Hawaii.
On a chilly Saturday night last February, my family and I splashed in the pool and warmed up in the hot tub at the Westin Galleria Hotel in Edina, then spent a night in one of its cushy bed -- and all for free. Well, almost. It cost us $1,000 of spending at the Galleria to qualify.
During the Galleria Holiday Open House (Friday, Nov. 9 through Sunday, Nov. 11 this year), if you spend $1,000 at Galleria stores and restaurants, you get one free weekend night stay at the Westin, which is adjacent to the Galleria and connected via an underground tunnel (which is convenient for children with hair still wet from the swimming pool).
Last year, my husband and I received eye exams and purchased glasses -- unwittingly during last year's event. As we were paying up, our salesperson told us to show our receipt at the customer service desk in the middle of the mall for the Westin coupon. What Westin coupon, we asked? When he told us we would get a free night's stay, we understood why the mall was so busy on a random November weekend so far ahead the of the holiays. We might have been the only shoppers unaware of the deal.
Never mind that the deal worked out well for the Galleria, where we had lunch and dinner on the first day and breakfast the next morning and got in a little more shopping. It worked out pretty well for us, too. A top-notch get-away, five miles from home.
Sun Country has a great sense of timing (and humor). Just as temps drop, giving us a real reminder of winter to come, the hometown airline has dropped its prices for some fall and winter airline tickets. Flights to Phoenix, San Diego, Fort Myers and other warm-weather spots are discounted. Book by September 27 for travel through February 13. Best rates are subject to availability, and blackout dates around the holidays are in place. If you're looking to fly this fall or winter, now may be a good time to book with Sun Country or other airlines, which may drop fares to compete. If you wind up on a Sun Country plane, check out the safety information card. It never hurts to get a refresher course, but you might be amused, too. In the cartoon showing the "brace positions," there are three rows of passengers. Two have their forearms and face pressed to the seat in front of them. One is fully bent over, face against knees. That one happens to be a ballerina, who clearly is the most flexible of the bunch.
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