(CNN) — The Caribbean doesn’t seem like the ideal place for a vacation during hurricane season, yet many travelers take the gamble and book a cruise to the region anyway.
It’s a trip that can can go very smoothly or offer some unpleasant surprises, anything from sudden itinerary changes to passengers being left behind when weather conditions change.
Consider Hurricane Irene, which forced many ships to change course last week. Now, here comes Tropical Storm Katia.
So what should cruise aficionados consider when booking a summer or fall Caribbean voyage?
We asked Carolyn Spencer Brown, editor in chief of CruiseCritic.com, to explain some of the realities of cruising when the big storms are most likely to form.
Why do people choose to cruise in the Caribbean during hurricane season?
There are several compelling reasons.
First, hurricane season in the Atlantic lasts a long time — from June 1 to November 30 — and it includes the summer, when school is out and many people are looking to get away with their kids. So it’s not realistic to think vacationers will skip the beautiful region for six months, Brown said.
Second, it’s a great time for deals.
“It’s the cheapest time to cruise, and for a lot of people, that’s worth the risk,” Brown said.
Third, it’s unlikely most travelers will be caught in a storm. If a hurricane forms, cruise ships have sophisticated weather tracking systems and can keep their distance from any rough weather.
“Ships can move. Unlike an island resort, which pretty much has to sit there and take it, ships move out of the way of the hurricane,” Brown said.
When Hurricane Irene blew through the Caribbean last week, more than 20 ships changed their itineraries to avoid the storm. Which leads to the next question:
Aren’t cruise ships obligated to stick to their published itinerary?
You may be surprised that the answer is no.
“It’s in the contract of carriage when you buy your ticket that they can go anywhere they want. You can buy an eastern Caribbean cruise, and they can go to the western Caribbean, and they don’t have to give you a cent in compensation for that,” Brown said.
She recalled a 2005 incident in which a Royal Caribbean cruise ship was supposed to sail from New Jersey to Bermuda but changed course to New England and Canada at the last minute because of an approaching tropical storm. The passengers, who weren’t prepared for the colder climate, were furious, Brown said.
Rough weather isn’t the only reason that cruise ships change itineraries. This year, dozens of cruises had to be “reset” during the political unrest in parts of North Africa and the Middle East.
What happens if you miss your cruise because of a canceled flight to the port city or because the ship leaves early to escape the path of the storm?
Things can get tricky.
If you buy an air/sea package — or purchase the flight as part of the voyage — the cruise line will put you up in a hotel and help you get to the next port. Otherwise, it’s not obligated to do anything, Brown said.
Consider what happened August 21 as Hurricane Irene was getting closer to Puerto Rico.
Port officials in San Juan ordered Royal Caribbean and Carnival ships to depart several hours early, even though not all the passengers had arrived, CruiseCritic.com reported.
There was no way to notify guests of the three-hour change in departure time, Royal Caribbean said in a statement, so 145 of the passengers booked on the Serenade of the Seas were left behind.
The 15 people who reserved their air travel with Royal Caribbean were provided hotel accommodations in San Juan as well as a flight to Aruba the next day so they could join the ship.
The rest — or “independent guests” — were advised of hotel availability in San Juan, but the expense was their responsibility since it was a weather-related event, said Cynthia Martinez, a Royal Caribbean spokeswoman.
“That took my breath away. That was the worst display of customer service I have ever seen in the cruise industry,” Brown said.
She pointed out that when faced with the same situation, Carnival tried to reach out to all of its passengers, arranged for hotel stays and booked flights to Barbados for those who wanted to meet the ship there. It also paid for the expenses or offered refunds in the form of future cruise credits.
The incident generated 700 comments on CruiseCritic’s message board, most of them expressing horror at what happened, Brown said.
Still, she doesn’t recommend buying air/sea packages from a cruise line to feel safe, because air travel booked this way is often more expensive and less flexible than booking your own flight. Buy travel insurance instead — more on that later.
Do cruise lines ever cancel cruises?
Very rarely, because they can “make lemonade out of lemons” — or change the order of port calls or go to another destination, Brown said.
“We monitor the storms closely and make strategic changes to the itineraries to keep them away from the storm,” said Jennifer de la Cruz, a Carnival spokeswoman, during Hurricane Irene.
“The nice thing … is that there are a lot of destinations in the Caribbean, so we have lots of options.”
What should you do to keep a hurricane from ruining your cruise?
Buy travel insurance with weather protection, but not necessarily from the cruise line, Brown said. Ask your travel agent for help, or shop around for a good policy.
If you’re cruising during hurricane season, get to the departure city a day early so you don’t have to worry about missing the ship. “Don’t tempt fate,” Brown said.
If there is a storm that could affect the region you’re cruising in, stay close to your ship in case it needs to depart early. Don’t go off on a three-hour trip by yourself, Brown said.
Many people plan marriage ceremonies in scenic port stops, like Grand Cayman or St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Be very careful about doing that during hurricane season.
“You can plan this beautiful wedding for yourself on the Wednesday that you’re there, but if a hurricane comes and you don’t go there, you’re out of luck,” Brown said.
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Article source: http://www.cnn.com/2011/08/31/travel/hurricane-season-cruising/
KNOXVILLE, Tenn., Aug 31, 2011 (GlobeNewswire via COMTEX) –
announces seasonal, nonstop jet service between Knoxville, Tenn., and Las Vegas, Nev., will begin Nov. 18. The company, known for its exceptional travel deals, will introduce the new service to Eastern Tennessee residents with fares as low as $109.98* one way.
“We’re pleased to offer another affordable and convenient way for our Knoxville customers to get away,” Andrew C. Levy, Allegiant Travel Company President, said. “We are confident the Knoxville community will appreciate flying nonstop to Las Vegas and take advantage of the great deals we offer on hotels, car rentals and show tickets.”
“We are very excited about Allegiant Air’s continued commitment to providing low-fare air service to popular destinations from McGhee Tyson Airport,” said Howard Vogel, Chairman of the Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority’s Board of Commissioners. “Today’s announcement of new flights to Las Vegas offers nonstop service to one of our most visited destinations. While the service is starting as seasonal, we fully believe that it will be extremely successful and will become permanent service.”
The new flights will operate twice weekly between McGhee Tyson Airport (TYS) and McCarran International Airport (LAS), with service Monday and Friday. Flights will depart Knoxville at 1:55 p.m. arriving in Las Vegas at 3:15 p.m. Flights leaving Las Vegas will depart at 6:05 a.m. arriving in Knoxville at 12:40 p.m. (all flight times are local). The carrier will utilize a full-size, 217-seat Boeing 757-200 jet aircraft on the route.
With world-renowned resorts, spas, casinos and entertainment options for visitors of all ages, Las Vegas is one of the most dynamic travel destinations in the world. With an average of more than 37 million people visiting each year, the vast majority of these visitors come to experience the Las Vegas Strip. The famous 4.2-mile section of Las Vegas Boulevard is home to 19 of the world’s largest hotels–each with their own unique look, atmosphere and offerings.
The company partners with more than 60 of Las Vegas’ most exciting hotel properties including: Planet Hollywood, Wynn Las Vegas Resort and Country Club, Bellagio, The Venetian Resort Casino, Paris Las Vegas, MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay Resort Casino, Caesars Palace, Monte Carlo Resort Casino, The Mirage, Excalibur Hotel Casino, New York-New York Hotel Casino, Tropicana Las Vegas Hotel Casino, Rio All-Suite Hotel Casino, ARIA Resort Casino at CityCenter and Red Rock Resort Spa. The company also provides low-cost car rental service through its partnership with Alamo Rent a Car.
Allegiant’s $109.98* one-way introductory fare is limited, must be purchased by Sept. 20, 2011, and is valid for travel between Nov. 29, 2011, and Feb. 14, 2012. Introductory fares are not available on all flights.
Reservations can be made on the airline’s website at
www.allegiant.com or by calling the company’s travel experts at 702-505-8888. Allegiant guarantees the lowest price on air and hotel vacation packages through the company’s Low-Price Pledge. If the customer finds an air and hotel package for less, Allegiant will credit the difference for use on a future booking. Allegiant is also rewarding customers who book an air and hotel package through the company with an instant $20 savings on roundtrip airfare, making it even more affordable to book an air and hotel package.
About the $109.98* one-way fare:
Seats are limited. Fares are one-way and not available on all flights. Must be purchased by Sept. 20, 2011, for travel between Nov. 29, 2011–Feb.14, 2012. Offer not available Dec. 24, 2011–Jan. 4, 2012. Prices do not include PFC, segment tax or Sept. 11th security fee of up to $10.70 per segment. A segment is one take-off and one landing. A convenience fee of $16.99 per passenger is included in the introductory fare. A $14.99 fee per segment will apply when purchased through Allegiant call centers. Purchases made at any Allegiant Airport Ticket Office will not incur a convenience or call center fee. For ticket counter hours of operation, please visit
www.allegiant.com . When purchased at the time of booking, a checked bag fee of up to $29.99 per bag will apply per person, per segment.
If purchased at flight check-in, a fee of $35 per checked bag, per person, per segment will apply for the first two bags checked. Additional higher fees will apply for three or more checked bags. Fare rules, routes and schedules are subject to change without notice. Restrictions apply. $20 savings based on a two-night, air+hotel purchase; valid at select Allegiant hotels.
Allegiant, travel is our deal.
Las Vegas-based Allegiant Travel Company
is focused on linking travelers in small cities to world-class leisure destinations such as Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix-Mesa, Orlando, Fla., and Tampa/St. Petersburg, Fla. Through its subsidiary, Allegiant Air, the company operates a low-cost, high-efficiency, all-jet passenger airline offering air travel both on a stand-alone basis and bundled with hotel rooms, rental cars and other travel-related services. In 2010, Allegiant was ranked number one for low-cost carriers in Aviation Week’s Top Performing Airline study and ranked 25 on FORTUNE magazine’s Fastest-Growing Companies list. Receive breaking news from Allegiant by visiting Allegiant’s Facebook Fan Page at
www.facebook.com/Allegiant or follow Allegiant on Twitter at twitter.com/allegianttravel.
The Allegiant Travel Company logo is available at
This news release was distributed by GlobeNewswire,
SOURCE: Allegiant Travel Company
CONTACT: Allegiant Media Contact: Kristine Shattuck-Cooper Phone: 702-853-4625 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
(C) Copyright 2010 GlobeNewswire, Inc. All rights reserved.
Faced with a flood of cancellations during Irene’s march up the Eastern Seaboard last weekend – and national surveys already predicting a slowdown in Labor Day travel – a few area vacation spots are responding with last-minute “hurrication” deals to get storm-weary travelers on the road for the three-day weekend.
But others in Irene’s path say the coast is clear both literally and economically, and expect good weather, strong crowds and sold-out rooms for summer’s last hurrah.
In North Carolina’s hard-hit Outer Banks, the string of barrier islands where Irene slammed ashore Saturday as a Category 1 hurricane, road washouts have cut off Hatteras and Ocracoke island from visitor access. About 80 miles north of Hatteras, the Sanderling Resort Spa in Duck reopened Tuesday after a mandatory evacuation, and is offering a Labor Day weekend special of $259 per night, down from a regular rate of $410-$435. September weekday rates start at $179, versus $350.
As Irene headed up the East Coast, hotels in northeast Pennsylvania’s Poconos Mountains were jammed with fleeing New York and New Jersey residents. But the storm caused flooding and power outages in the Poconos too, forcing some hotels and attractions to close or curtail operations. Most will be back in business by Friday, however, and some are floating discounts: The Inn at Jim Thorpe, for example, is offering 20% off on mini-suites and waiving a tw0-night minimum.
Several East Coast members of Select Registry Inns are advertising post-storm deals as well. Among them: A three-night “Goodnight Irene” package at Jackson, N.H.’s Inn at Ellis River for $539 per couple that includes room and a dinner for two or $50 off the third night.
The surrounding White Mountains also reported some damage from Irene, most notably road closures along Route 302 (Crawford Notch to Bartlett) and Route 112 (Kancamagus Highway). Major highways are accessible, however, and many attractions and businesses have reopened, says Charyl Reardon of White Mountains Attractions.
Along the Jersey Shore, meanwhile, “nobody is doing any ‘Irene specials.’ The beaches are open, it’s supposed to be a gorgeous weekend, and the majority of hotels are sold out,” says Bob Hilton of the Jersey Shore Convention and Visitors Bureau, which includes Seaside Heights of Snooki and “The Situation” reality TV fame.
The Press of Atlantic City reported that the city’s 11 casino hotels lost an estimated $40 million to $45 million in gaming revenue because of the three-day, Irene-related shutdown.”It’s horrible,” says Don Marrandino, president of the Caesars, Bally’s, Harrah’s Resort, and Showboat casinos owned by Caesars Entertainment Corp.
But while casinos offered fire sale rates midweek, the Atlantic City Convention and Visitors Authority tells my colleague Kitty Bean Yancey that hotel bookings are strong starting Thursday and running through the weekend.
And on Block Island, R.I., tourism spokeswoman Jessica Willi says “we had zero impact from the storm on infrastructure, and hotels are very nearly full” for Labor Day.
Remote bays and elegant dining meet on this small-ship Tasmania Food Wine cruise by Adventure Smith Explorations. The six-day trip explores Australia’s island state with two November sailings. Tour the wine-producing region of Launceston, hike on remote Flinders Island, stop at scenic bays in Freycinet National Park and visit the former penal settlement of Port Arthur on this itinerary.
When: Cruises leave from Tasmania, Australia, on Nov. 7 and 26.
Price: $2,370 to $4,961 per person, depending on cabin choice; price is based on double occupancy. The cost includes accommodations in one of 50 cabins, shipboard meals, port and handling charges, excursions and tender transfers, and fees and taxes. Airfare is not included.
Info: Adventure Smith Explorations, Tasmania Food Wine, (877) 620-2875
Take a drive on U.S. Highway 395 to Mammoth Lakes, Calif., and pay $395 for a three-night stay at Snowcreek Resort. This package at the 450-acre vacation rental resort is ideal for Labor Day and good for families that want to hike, fish or just laze around the eastern Sierra site.
The deal: Stay $395 includes three nights in a one-bedroom condo. Visitors have access to the resort’s athletic club (indoor and outdoor pools, tennis and racquetball, exercise classes) and golf course, which is charging a dollar a hole. Ask for the “Stay $395″ rate when making a reservation.
When: The offer is good through Monday.
Tested: I called (no online booking for this deal) and found availability for a standard one-bedroom condo that sleeps four for three nights, starting Friday. The rate is $395 for three nights, plus tax and a 6% resort fee. One-bedroom condos in summer usually start at $170 a night, excluding tax and fees, according to Snowcreek’s website, so this makes for a nice savings on a last-minute holiday getaway.
Contact: Snowcreek Resort, (800) 544-6007
LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles International Airport is reporting normal flight operations following the reopening of major East Coast airports.
But Los Angeles World Airports spokeswoman Diana Sanchez urges travelers heading east to contact airlines for rescheduling, flight delays and cancellations because of the legacy of stranded passengers due to Tropical Storm Irene.
Flight tracking service FlightAware says nearly 1,500 Monday flights have been cancelled nationally, adding to the nearly 12,000 grounded this weekend.
LONDON, August 31, 2011 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ –
As the debate over building a new London airport rages on, dealchecker.co.uk look at some of the advantages a new airport would bring to travellers, national tourism and the travel industry-
Talk of building a brand new airport in Kent has been revitalised by London Mayor Boris Johnson ruling out expansion of Heathrow Airport in his new London Plan. dealchecker.co.uk, a leading online holiday specialist, say a new airport would mean great things for the British travel industry and travellers looking to holiday abroad.
Alex Saint, CEO of dealchecker.co.uk, says: “Plans for a new airport in London should be welcome news to the travel industry and British travellers. Heathrow is operating at 98 per cent capacity at the moment and a new airport would alleviate some of this pressure from Heathrow. This could open up more flights to New York, Florida and Sharm el Sheikh, and other popular holiday destinations and possibly even allow for a reduction in the cost of flights to travellers.”
There has been talk of building a new airport for the City for some time and an earlier proposal by renowned architect Baron Norman Foster suggested building a new four-runway, £50bn airport capable of handling 150 million passengers a year on the Isle of Grain in north Kent. However, these plans were not popular due to the island’s vicinity to the Thames Estuary. The latest proposal from former airline boss John Olsen proposes a three-runway £15bn airport with capacity for 100 million passengers at a different Kent site. The plans are currently being considered by the Independent Aviation Advisory Group and have not yet been passed on to the Mayor.
Saint adds: “Although these plans are in their preliminary stages, the current demand for flights to and from the UK certainly indicates that a new airport will be a necessity in the near future. dealchecker.co.uk have seen interest rise sharply in flights to Lanzarote and the Canary Islands, among other European destinations, in recent years and if Britain is to remain a major world travel hub, our airports will have to evolve to keep up with growing demand.”
dealchecker.co.uk was founded in June 2005. The site is a leading flight, accommodation, holiday and car hire price comparison service.
dealchecker.co.uk travel partners are industry leaders offering the most competitive market travel deals. The site displays all relevant partners for each travel selection, enabling customers to make the most informed choice for their travel arrangements.
dealchecker.co.uk is not a tour operator or travel agent, it does not sell any travel products. When a travel selection is made, the final transaction is completed in real-time, direct with the operator or agent that the customer has chosen.
http://www.dealchecker.co.uk has developed a crisp user-friendly site to meet the demands of the modern traveller. Alongside the price comparison search and Real Deals the website provides a price tracker, travel tips, destination content and weather trends.
For more news from dealchecker.co.uk and more great travel deals, visit dealchecker on Facebook and follow @dealchecker on Twitter.
Copyright (C) 2011 PR Newswire. All rights reserved
PHOENIX – With Labor Day just around the corner, you might be searching for last-minute travel deals. But there are some “deals” that may not be that great after all.
There are travel websites that promise dream vacations at unbelievable prices. The clock is ticking on these deals and they tell you to act fast, and most of these websites require advance payment.
Sheri Wallace, editor of Roadtripsforfamilies.com , says you shouldn’t be pressured into making a quick purchase. You have to know what you’re supposed to pay if you didn’t have a deal in order to know whether you’re paying too much.
For example, we found a Living Social deal at the Arizona Grand for $139. It includes one night, free breakfast for two, four passes to their water park, even a $50 spa credit toward a 50-minute treatment and the resort fee is included.
It sounds pretty great, right? The website said it’s supposed to be a 57 percent savings.
CHECK THE SOURCE
We found out it really wasn’t that great of a bargain after checking the resort’s website.
You can get the same deal directly from the hotel. Water passes are included with every reservation, regardless of where you book the deal. As for the spa credit, you have to spend in order to save. Spa services can cost more than $100.
You’re really saving about $50 on breakfast and the resort fee, not the 57 percent savings they promised. And you’re losing out on flexibility.
WHAT’S THEIR POLICY?
For many sites, once you buy, there is no refund and the hotel’s cancellation policy doesn’t always apply.
You also have to use the voucher by a certain time.
LEARN FROM OTHERS
To prevent frustration, listen to the experts. You can read blogs to see what others say about their customer service.
On Flyertalk.com , frequent travelers share their secrets on using airline and hotel points to get the best savings.
And Oyster.com goes around the country taking regular photos of resorts without any type of computer magic to ensure you know exactly what to expect.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Don’t be fooled by mediocre deals.
Also, sites like Kayak.com search several airlines at once to help you be more efficient with your search.
And of course check airline and hotel individual sites to see what they’re offering themselves. Sometimes, the specific airline or hotel is the one offering the best deals.
Where do you find great travel deals? Let us know in a comment below.
Copyright 2011 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. – A Southern California man was arrested after authorities say he threw his crying 7-year-old son off a sightseeing cruise boat during an argument that shocked passengers on the boat.
Sloan Briles, 35, was arrested Sunday for investigation of child endangerment and resisting arrest, Orange County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Jim Amormino said.
Amormino said Briles, his girlfriend and two sons from a previous marriage went on an afternoon cruise around Newport Harbor on a boat carrying 85 people. Briles argued with the girlfriend and then with his 7-year-old son before throwing the boy over, said Amormino, adding that the child was not an expert swimmer.
“The father hit him several times and then threatened to throw him overboard if he didn’t stop crying,” Amormino said. “The crowd on the boat became very angry at the father for hitting the kid and extremely angry when he threw him overboard.”
The boy was rescued by another boater, and the father also jumped in to save him. The boy and his brother were returned to their mother’s care.
Briles was released Monday. He couldn’t be immediately reached at a number listed for him in Irvine.
FRESNO, Calif. – Firefighters relied on a giant air tanker to make steady progress Monday against a five-day-old wildfire burning outside Yosemite National Park that has shut down one of the main roads leading into the park.
The fire was about one-third contained Monday and had not progressed much over night, though new areas might have to be evacuated.
The area of Old El Portal, a compound of private homes on national forest land, is under threat of evacuation. Campgrounds and trailer parks in the area have already been ordered closed, as well as a compound of about 70 homes leased to employees of Yosemite National Park.
But the fire has not caused any major problems at Yosemite itself, and the park’s well-known stunning vistas have not been obscured by smoke, said park spokesman Scott Gediman.
The fire is burning along the Highway 140 corridor in the Stanislaus National Forest leading to Yosemite and has scorched more than 4,775 acres — or 7.5 square miles — since it began Thursday. It was sparked when a motor home caught fire.
The fire is an anomaly in what otherwise has been a relatively quiet fire season in California.
“This year we have not had very many large and damaging wildfires,” said Daniel Berlant, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. “The combinations of cooperation from the weather and aggressive initial attacks have kept them small.”
But with a change in seasons coming that usually triggers higher winds, the most critical time is ahead.
“When summer ends, people think the danger goes down, but it’s really the opposite,” Berlant said.
The steep canyon terrain has made it difficult for firefighters on the ground. It has blackened the scenic Merced River Canyon to the top of the ridges on both sides of the canyon.
More than 800 firefighters have saved 70 homes, two commercial properties and 35 outbuildings, said Kass Hardy, a National Park Service fire spokeswoman. The school in nearby El Portal School has been closed because of the fire.