Travel e-Scapes: October 9, 2015

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DESTINATION & DEAL OF THE DAY:

Travel e-Scapes-100915

Bucket List: Alaska Cruise in 2016!:
You know what they say about the early bird…
Save more than 55% on a 9-night/10-day Alaska Land & Sea Journey.  Book by October 13 and receive a guaranteed upgrade to an oceanview cabin when you pay the rate for an inside cabin.
This 9-night package from Holland America, priced at $999 per person (double cabin occupancy) includes:
A 7-night glacier cruise on the Noordam or Zaandam – Fairbanks to Vancouver (or reverse)
Oceanview cabin
One-night hotel stay in Denali National Park
One-night hotel stay in Fairbanks
Deluxe motorcoach transfers
Luggage handling and local representatives available during land portion of the trip
Reduced fares for the third and fourth guests in a cabin
Also included are $1,030 in extra perks:
A $200 onboard credit, per cabin
Unlimited drinks on the ship for 2, including alcohol ($770 value)
Free Specialty Dinner for 2 ($58 value)
Onboard Value booklet with over $350 in savings
50% reduced deposit
Depart May 22 or 27. Add $100 per person for May 15, 20 and June 5 sailings; add $200 May 29 (over Memorial Day) and June 10 (reverse itinerary on some dates).

Start the booking and reservation process at Travelzoo


TRAVEL TIPS & TIDBITS

Higher Cruise Fees
Effective December 1, Holland American is hiking the daily service charge (gratuity) it tacks onto final bills by nearly 9% to $12.50 per person, per day for passengers staying in most cabins. Passengers in suites will pay $13.50 per person, per day – a 13% rise. With the rise in fees, a family of four will pay $350 in service charges on a typical seven-night cruise.
Holland follows other major cruise lines in the service charge hike: 

  • Norwegian, Celebrity and Royal Caribbean: $13.50 per person, per day service charge (most cabins)
  • Celebrity and Royal Caribbean: $12.95 Princess: $12.95 per person, per day, starting January 1 ($13.50 in suites)
  • Cunard: $11.50 per person, per day
  • Carnival: $12

A number of more upscale cruise lines and river cruise lines have done away with pre-paid service charges, including Azamara, Crystal, Regent, Seabourn and SeaDream. River lines Uniworld, Tauck and Scenic Cruises now include crew member tips in the base cruise fare.

Rail Tour to Pope’s Summer Palace
Combine a tour of the Vatican with a wander around the pope’s summer palace. Travel by the Pontiff’s railway from Vatican City’s private railway station on a stretch of track that originates in a tunnel dug into the hillside beneath the Vatican Gardens. It travels less than 1,000-feet along the Vatican railway line – the shortest in the world – into Rome, then onto the Pope’s sumptuous Castel Gandolfo summer palace in the Alban hills south of the city (he hasn’t stayed here yet…).
The Trenitalia train (not the Papal steam train) takes an hour to reach the town of Albano Laziale, where a shuttle bus takes passengers to the summer palace (a separate tour of the palace interior is available at extra cost).
The guided walk through the Vatican gardens meanders between fountains and grottos, past the monastery where the retired pope, Benedict XVI, occasionally lives, and then to Stazione Vaticana, the city’s only station.
The ‘Vatican by Train’ excursion (8am-6pm) is offered on Saturdays only.
The tour combines the tour of the Vatican Museums and gardens with a tour of the grounds of the Castel Gandolfo.
At €40 per person ($45), it’s the most economical way to explore the papal properties.  Vatican guided tour of the museums and gardens alone is €32 ($36).
Book tickets online
The tour is not accessible wheelchair users or for those with walking difficulties.


SPECIAL DOMESTIC DEALS

Airfare offers – ones with a ticket-by date – and deals with our suggestion to ‘Hurry!’ can expire at anytime.   Heed Clark’s advice: Buy that great airfare deal – and then figure out a reason to go there! Eventually you’ll see the world at a fraction of the normal price!

GO NOW!  Round-trip from Los Angeles:
$548 LAX to Honolulu, Maui or Kauai
No advance purchase required
Add $25 per direction for Friday-Sunday travel 
Depart by November 18; November 24-December 10 or December 28-March 3; April 5-June 2
Returns permitted through November 26; December 3-25; January 6-March 10; April 12-June 9 
No minimum stay required
Valid on American, Delta, Hawaiian and United, nonstop
Purchase by October 12
Note: Round-trip rates from ATL to LAX have been averaging $156 on nonstop American flights.  Combine two separate AA tickets for a round-trip rate of $704!

Airline fees can and often do exceed the cost of your ticket!
+Fees $$$ = Carry-on Bags: $10-$75; Checked Bags: $15-$100; Seats: $3-$199; additional fees vary by carrier
+Fees $ = Checked Bags: $24-$125; Select/Preferred Seats: $9-$99


SPECIAL HOTEL & RESORT DEALS

Sleep in the World’s Largest Grave
Airbnb has launched a contest to sleep in one of the spookiest locations in the world on Halloween night.
The Paris Catacombs are now a part of the Airbnb listings, but only the winners of the Halloween contest will be granted access for a one-night-only experience including a tour and a bedtime visit from a storyteller.
‘Become the only living person ever to wake up in the Paris catacombs,’ states the Airbnb listing.
The world’s largest grave – Paris’ famous catacombs, is the final resting place of 6 million souls. 

Deals in PR
Puerto Rico’s luxury El Convento hotel, located in a restored, 360-year-old Carmelite convent, is offering a ‘Garden to Palate’ package. Included are private tours of the hotel’s herb garden with its executive chef, who will help guests pick herbs to incorporate into their next meal, accompanied by unlimited champagne. Guests can book the evening activity as an add-on to their stay. Rates start from $225 per night.
El Convento also offers a ‘Sunset & Sails’ package featuring a sailing excursion around San Juan Bay with refreshments and taxi transportation to and from the pier. The package also includes a signature tote bag and an upgraded room category to deluxe. Rates from $270 per night.

A new ‘All-Inclusive’ options is offered at Puerto Rico’s Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Beach Resort & Spa on stays of four or more nights. Included is a la carte dining, unlimited alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, one complimentary round of golf on the resort’s ocean or river golf courses, and public WiFi. Rates start from $429 double occupancy ($215 per person per night).

The El Conquistador Resort & Las Casitas Village, Waldorf Astoria Resorts in Puerto Rico’s Fajardo district is offering ‘Summer Splash’ packages highlighted by four passes to Coqui Water Park, the resort’s state-of-the-art seaside aquatic playground. Purchase the package and receive a $50 per night resort credit that can be used for amenities including rounds of golf on the resort’s Arthur Hills-designed 18-hole golf course, spa treatments at the Waldorf Astoria Spa, or watersports on Palomino Island, the resort’s 100-acre private island. Available on stays through December 17 at rates from $229 at the El Conquistador Resort and from $299 at sister property Las Casitas Village. A two-night minimum stay is required.


Travel e-Scapes is brought to you by Clara Bosonetto, Team Clark Travel Editor. Follow Clara on Twitter.


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