Costa Rica: See volcanoes and a cloud forest on this road trip

January 23, 2012 by  
Filed under Travel Deals

Here’s a way to see more of Costa Rica it at your own pace. The Costa Rica Fly Drive package from Gate1 Travel starts with a drive from capital city San Jose to Arenal,  known for its volcano and national park of the same name. From there, it’s on to visit Monteverde and a cloud forest reserve that has a treetop walkway on suspended bridges and trails.

Drives between cities take three to four hours if you follow the recommended itinerary for this self-guided trip. Other suggested stops along the way include hot springs, coffee farms and waterfalls.

The deal: The lowest-priced land tour costs $349 a person, excluding airfare, which comes out to $50 a day for lodging, one meal and the car. (Gasoline isn’t included). I found availability for a May 3 departure and added airfare from Los Angeles to San Jose for a total of $759 a person. (Flights to and from L.A. were on Copa Airlines, changing in Panama City.) shows round-trip airfares alone start at $584-$608 a person on the same dates.

Dates: Departure dates run from May 1-Oct. 25.

Price: $349-$399 a person (depending on date selected), double occupancy. It includes two-night hotel stays in San Jose, Arenal and Monteverde; daily breakfast; and unlimited mileage for a seven-day car rental with manual transmission. (Upgrades are available but cost more.) International airfare is extra.

Contact: Gate1 Travel, (800) 682-3333



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More Valentine’s Day travel deals in NYC and beyond – Sun

January 23, 2012 by  
Filed under Travel Deals

Courtesy of the Doral Golf Resort Spa

Here’s an update to our list of Valentine’s Day travel packages.

In New York CityAffinia Hotels offers its Kiss Tell getaway starting at $194 a night. The package includes an upgrade to a suite if available,  Hershey’s kisses and a split of champagne, plus a list of top places to kiss in the city  Couples are encouraged to “kiss and tell” by sharing pictures of their kissable moments on Affinia Hotels’ Facebook page. For information, visit or call 866-246-2203 and mention promotional code KISS.  

In the Miami area, the spa at the Doral Golf Resort Spa offers a Valentine’s package starting at $174. It includes a 50-minute Swedish Massage, lunch in the spa restaurant and a Strawberry Sweet Heart Gift Set containing strawberry crème body soufflé, white chocolate body paint with a body paintbrush, and strawberry honey dust. For information, call 800-713-6725 or visit

In Orlando, the Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort Bonnet Creek offers a Sweet Escapes package starting at $179 a night. It includes a room, breakfast for two adults, and a bottle of Champagne delivered to the room. The spa offers a free Sweet Scrub manicure with any 80-minute service. Visit or call 877-999-3223 and mention the Sweet Escapes package.

For our initial list of Valentine’s hotel packages, click here.

Article source: Releases New Travel Deals for Destin and Panama City Beach

January 23, 2012 by  
Filed under Travel Deals

Parasailing on The Gulf Coast

Parasailing Deals on The Gulf Coast

Those that are planning to visit the Northwest Florida beaches are asked to visit frequently for new specials.

Destin, FL (PRWEB) January 23, 2012 released fresh new deals for its Gulf Coast tourist destinations this week. The company is offering several new deals for those who book their spring break vacations early. Some of the deals include $25 parasail rides in Panama City Beach, free bike rentals with Destin golf cart rental, 15% off Destin fishing charters, and 20% off Destin restaurant certificates.

Those that are planning to visit the Northwest Florida beaches are asked to visit frequently for new specials. All the specials are updated weekly and can be accessed by visiting the homepage or


TripShock!® is the one and only travel agency that enables travelers to book hotels, tours, and activities online directly for the Northern Gulf Coast. TripShock! offers trusted reviews from real travelers, photos, videos and other planning tools to help create the perfect Gulf Coast vacation. TripShock! attracts more than 500,000 visitors annually and partners with over 100 activity and lodging providers from Florida to Louisiana.



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2 more cruise bodies found, oil pumping to begin (AP)

January 23, 2012 by  
Filed under Travel News

ROME – Salvage experts can begin pumping fuel from a capsized cruise ship as early as Tuesday to avert a possible environmental catastrophe and the ship is stable enough that search efforts for the missing can continue, Italian officials said.

The decision to carry out both operations in tandem was made after instrument readings determined that the Costa Concordia was not at risk of sliding into deeper waters, Franco Gabrielli, chief of the national civil protection agency, told reporters Monday on the island of Giglio.

“The ship is stable. … There is no problem or danger that it is about to drop onto much lower seabed,” Gabrielli said.

The Concordia rammed a reef Jan. 13 on the tiny Tuscan island and capsized a few hours later just outside Giglio’s port as it carried 4,200 passengers and crew on a Mediterranean cruise.

Taking advantage of calm seas, divers on Monday found the bodies of two women near the ship’s Internet cafe, raising to 15 the number of confirmed dead.

There are 17 people still unaccounted for, but Gabrielli has said an unregistered Hungarian woman might have been aboard ship. The woman’s relatives have told Italian authorities they haven’t heard from her since she called them to say she was aboard the ship.

The ship’s Italian captain, Francesco Schettino is under house arrest near Naples as prosecutor’s investigate him for suspected manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning his vessel while some passengers and crew were still aboard. He has insisted that he was coordinating rescue operations from a lifeboat and then from shore.

Costa Crociere SpA has distanced itself from the captain, contending that he made an unauthorized deviation from the programmed route. Schettino has reportedly told investigators that Costa officials had requested that he sail close to Giglio in a publicity move.

Schettino’s lawyer, Bruno Leporatti, told reporters Monday that tests on urine and hair samples found that his client had not been under the influence of alcohol or drugs before the crash. Prosecutors could not confirm the report, since they cannot speak about the investigation while it is still under way.

Despite earlier fears, officials said the crippled cruise ship, with a 70-meter (230-foot) long gash in its hull, is not expected to roll off its rocky seabed perch and be completely swallowed by the sea.

An Italian geologist, on Giglio to monitor the Concordia, told Sky TG24 Monday the ship was barely moving.

“It is moving at the rate of about one or two millimeters an hour,” said Nicola Casagli, adding the ship has moved up to 3mm an hour when tides come in or out. “The ship responds to the tides.”

The sea has been calm for several days but he said waves were expected to grow larger in the next few days.

In all, seven bodies await identification, but Gabrielli said officials have DNA from the relatives of all of the missing passengers and are working to confirm names and nationalities. He said the search would continue “as long as it is possible to inspect whatever can be inspected.”

Meanwhile, Italian Admiral Ilarione dell’Anna said the fuel removal could begin as early as Tuesday, addressing growing concern among residents and environmentalists that the heavy, tar-like fuel could leak from the ship’s 17 double-bottomed tanks.

“They should start the oil drainage operations on the ship. At this point those who died will not come back to life. Even if they pull them out later, unfortunately it won’t make a difference,” Andrea Ginanneschi, a resident of Giglio, told The Associated Press.

Dell’Anna predicted it would take 28 days to remove all of the fuel, without any interruptions. Officials said the first tank to be emptied will be one above the waterline.

Eight kilometers (five miles) of oil barriers, including absorbent ones, have been laid in the area to protect marine life and the coast in the pristine waters off Giglio, which are prime fishing grounds and a protected area for dolphins and whales.

Recovery experts from the Dutch salvage company Smit have previously said they will create holes in the top and the bottom of each tank, heating the fuel so it flows more easily and pumping from the top while forcing air in from the bottom. For the underwater tanks, sea water will be used to displace the fuel, which becomes thick and gooey when cooled.

Already, some diesel and lubricants have leaked into the water near the ship, probably from machinery on board. Officials have characterized the contamination as superficial.

“Smit has been ready for a week to begin pumping fuel from the tanks, awaiting only the go- ahead,” said a company statement. “For this purpose, SMIT has mobilized an oil tanker with emergency response equipment including sweeping arms, booms and a skimmer.”

It said the vessel arrived on Monday.

The company also said Italian authorities have indicated it can begin the removal once a second absorbent boom is in place around the ship. The booms are used “to reduce the possibility of polluting shorelines and to help make recovery easier.”

Besides 2,200 metric tons of heavier fuel, there also are 185 metric tons of diesel and lubricants on board in addition to chemicals including cleaning products and chlorine.


Barry reported from Milan. Andrea Foa reported from Giglio.

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Sen. Rand Paul stopped by Tenn. airport security (AP)

January 23, 2012 by  
Filed under Travel News

WASHINGTON – Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, the son of Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul and a frequent critic of the Transportation Security Administration, was stopped by security at the Nashville airport Monday when a scanner set off an alarm and Paul declined to allow a security officer to subsequently pat him down. The White House said airport security acted appropriately.

Police escorted Paul away, but he was allowed to board a later flight. The security scanner identified an issue with the senator’s knee, although Paul said he has no screws or medical hardware around the joint.

Paul, who frequently uses the airport about an hour from his home in Bowling Green, Ky., told The Associated Press in a telephone interview that he asked for another scan but refused to submit to a pat down by airport security.

Paul said he was “detained” at a small cubicle and couldn’t make his flight to Washington for a Senate vote scheduled later in the day.

White House spokesman Jay Carney did not confirm that the incident involved Paul, but said the passenger in question was never detained. He defended the TSA.

“Passengers, as in this case, who refuse to comply with security procedures, are denied access to the secure gate area,” Carney said. “I think it is absolutely essential that we take necessary actions to ensure that air travel is safe and I believe that is what TSA is tasked with doing.”

Paul said the situation reflects his long-standing concern that the TSA shouldn’t be “spending so much time with people who wouldn’t attack us.”

TSA spokesman Greg Soule confirmed there was an incident but didn’t identify the passenger as Paul.

“When an irregularity is found during the TSA screening process, it must be resolved prior to allowing a passenger to proceed to the secure area of the airport,” Soule said in a written statement. “Passengers who refuse to complete the screening process cannot be granted access to the secure area in order to ensure the safety of others traveling.”

Carney said an alarm was triggered during routine screening, but the passenger refused to continue with the screening process to resolve the issue. Local police escorted Paul out of the screening area, he said.

Paul went through a millimeter wave machine that uses a generic outline of a body for all passengers, according to a TSA official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss agency screening procedures. When an alarm goes off, TSA officers target the area of the body that triggered the alarm and pat down the passenger.

Paul’s father, Ron Paul, used his son’s experience to promote his “Plan to Restore America,” which would cut $1 trillion of federal spending in a year and eliminate the TSA.

“The police state in this country is growing out of control. One of the ultimate embodiments of this is the TSA that gropes and grabs our children, our seniors, and our loved ones and neighbors with disabilities,” Ron Paul said in a statement issued by his presidential campaign. “The TSA does all of this while doing nothing to keep us safe.”

Rand Paul told reporters at the airport that he had no idea why his knee raised concerns with TSA. He said he showed his knee to the security agents and doesn’t have any medical hardware or issues in the knee.

“There is no problem. It was just a problem with their machine. But this is getting more frequent, and because everybody has to have a pat down it’s a problem,” Paul said.

Paul said he was in Denver two days ago and allowed to walk through the screener again and avoided the pat down.

He said he didn’t want special treatment from TSA because he’s a senator. “I think we need to treat everybody with dignity.”

The TSA said Paul was allowed to board another flight after a different screening.

In a November Senate hearing, Paul asked TSA Administrator John Pistole to change the policy so that adults could go through the machines a second time when an alarm is triggered on the first attempt.

“Let us go back through the machine rather than get a pat-down. You’ll get rid of a lot of the anger and animosity towards the TSA and towards what you’re doing, and give us a little more dignity when we travel,” Paul said. “Just let us go back through the screener again — you know, I mean, people don’t want to have a pat-down.”

Paul is a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. The committee does not regulate TSA, but holds hearings about airport security.


Schelzig contributed to this story from Nashville. Writer Roger Alford contributed from Frankfort, Ky.

Article source:*

Pa. woman: Husband’s ashes missing after flight (AP)

January 23, 2012 by  
Filed under Travel News

PHILADELPHIA – A suburban Philadelphia woman is searching for her husband’s ashes, which she says went missing from her luggage after she flew to England to bury them in his hometown of Hull.

Angeline O’Grady, of Trumbauersville, says her husband, Brian, died of cancer in October. On Nov. 1, she says security screeners told her she could not take the ashes through airport security.

She says she was directed to the US Airways counter and put the ashes in her checked luggage. She told WCAU-TV that when she got off in England, the ashes were gone.

The airline told the station it’s investigating and working with the Transportation Security Administration to figure out what happened. A message left with the airline by The Associated Press was not immediately returned.

Article source:*

Today’s latest cruise deals

January 23, 2012 by  
Filed under Travel Deals

Latest deals, added January 23

Italian Mediterranean

Caribbean International
has a 14-night cruise around Italy, from
£1079 per person, departing from Southampton on August 25. The price
includes all meals and entertainment, and all port taxes and charges. Ports
of call include Gibraltar, Provence, Florence, Civitavecchia, Ajaccio,
Seville, Lisbon and Vigo.

here for full details and to book

Scandinavia Russia

Sail around Scandinavia and Russia on board Celebrity
s Eclipse, calling at Reykjavik, Faroe Islands,
Geiranger, Olden, Flaam and Bergen. This 14-night cruise, departing from
Southampton on August 4, costs from £1519pp, including $25 on board credit
per stateroom, all meals and entertainment on board, and all port taxes and

here for full details and to book

Eastern Mediterranean

has a seven-night cruise around the Eastern Mediterranean,
from £699 per person. The price includes return flights from Gatwick, all
meals and entertainment on board, and all port taxes and charges. Cruise
departs from Venice on June 9, and ports of call include Bari, Katakolan,
Izmir, Istanbul and Dubrovnik.

here for full details and to book

Luxury Baltics cruise

A seven-night luxury cruise around the Baltics on board Silversea‘s
Silver Whisper, calling at Stockholm, Tallinn, St.Petersberg, Helsinki and
Copenhagen, costs from £2659 per person. The price includes $600 on board
spend per couple, and all port taxes and charges. Departs from Stockholm on
June 11.

here for full details and to book

Caribbean cruise

has a 14-night cruise around the Caribbean, from
£1899 per person, departing from Fort Lauderdale on April 26. The price
includes return flights, all transfers at destination, a one night
pre-cruise stay, all meals and entertainment on board, and all port taxes
and charges. Ports of call include Grenada, Barbados, St Lucia and Antigua.

here for full details and to book

Deals posted on January 12

Italian Med

Celebrity Cruises has a seven-night cruise on board Celebrity
Silhouette, from £1469 per prson, departing from Venice on June 24. Ports of
call include Dubrovnik, Rome, Naples, Sicily, Malta and Split. The price
includes flights from Heathrow, all transfers at destination, all meals on
board, all entertainment on board and all port taxes and charges.

here for full details and to book

Mediterranean cruise

MSC Cruises has a seven-night Mediterranean cruise on board MSC
Fantasia, from £849 per person. Ports of call include Naples, Palermo, La
Goulette, Barcelona and Marseille. The price return flights London Gatwick,
all tranfers, all meals and entertainment on board, and all port taxes and
charges. Departing from Genoa on July 15.

here for full details and to book


Royal Caribbean International has a seven-night cruise on Brilliance of
the Seas, from £1219pp, including flights from Gatwick, all transfers at
destination, meals on board, all entertainment, all port taxes and charges.
Ports of call include Fujairah, Muscat and Abu Dhabi.Departing from Dubai on
March 19.

here for full details and to book

Cruise from Barbados

Azamara Club Cruises has an eight-night cruise from Barbados to Miami
on Azamara Journey, departing from Barbados on March 10. This cruise costs
from £1419 per person, including flights from Heathrow, all transfers at
destination, meals and entertainment on board, and all port charges and
taxes. Ports of call include Grenadines, St Lucia, St Barts and Saint

here for full details and to book

here to view all of our cruise holiday deals

Article source:

JetBlue, Hawaiian Airlines ink partnership deal

January 23, 2012 by  
Filed under Travel Deals

The deal, which is expected to be formally announced later Monday, follows Hawaiian Airlines’ announcement of plans to add New York service direct from its home base in Honolulu starting in June. Customers on both airlines will be able to connect with those flights through JetBlue’s base at New York’s JFK.

In the meantime, passengers can connect through Los Angeles International Airport to Hawaiian Airlines one-stop service from Hawaii to New York.

Besides added flight options, travelers will also be able to earn or redeem frequent flier miles on each other’s flights, starting with the New York service in June.

Partnerships like this allow airlines to expand their service without spending more money to add flights on their own. Hawaiian Airlines already has similar partnerships, called codeshares, with major U.S. airlines including United-Continental, Delta and American. JetBlue has deals with a number of international carriers, including Ireland’s Aer Lingus, Virgin Atlantic Airways and Emirates.

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7 romantic travel deals for Valentine’s Day

January 23, 2012 by  
Filed under Travel Deals

Valentine’s Day is approaching, which reminds of us two things: It’s time to be romantic, and winter is half over. There are a number of places, far and near, to warm up to the romantic cause with Valentine packages, and here are some: Up north in Kennebunkport, Maine, you can take a pastry class to celebrate romance month at The White Barn Inn for $135 per person, with the inn’s pastry chef, Derek Bissonnette, who was born, raised, and trained in Ireland. You use the inn kitchen, take a two-hour pastry class and then gobble down your creation. Bonus: You get an apron and a White Barn Inn cookbook. For info, visit

The Opus Vancouver has a “Cupid Concierge” deal for $295 a night, getting you a room, sparkling wine at check-in, a half-dozen roses or orchids delivered to your room before arrival, a half-bottle of Veuve Clicquot, a framed photo of your choice and a handwritten message from you delivered to your room before arrival, breakfast in bed and late check out. Upgrade to a suite for $100 more. See more at

Also in Canada, Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth in Montreal has a “Bare Your Heart Package” for the romantic in you, which includes a one-night stay and breakfast in bed, with rates from $219 in Canadian dollars (the exchange rate is nearly even these days), available throughout February (except Feb. 24 and 25). A $10 donation per package sold will be made to Fondation En Coeur, a Quebec-based agency that helps kids with heart disease and their families with support services and information, and helping improve medical services in pediatric cardiology and adult congenital heart disease. Visit for more information.

Go west and get warmer with the “Back in the Saddle Package” at the Tanque Verde Ranch in Tucson, Ariz., which offers 20 percent off room nights (their rates are all inclusive, with meals and activities) for anyone booking three or more nights from Feb. 10-19. Rates start at $225 per night, not counting the discount. The resort is a working horse ranch with 180 horses on 60,000 acres of desert landscape between the Rincon Mountains, Saguaro National Park and the Coronado National Forest, where couples can horseback ride, hike, mountain bike, swim, fish, enjoy the spa and relax in a room – that has no television. This is about romance, not what’s on cable. Visit

Wine is romantic, and the Fairmont Mission Inn Spa in Sonoma, Calif., unwraps its “Romance in Wine Country Package,” with a room, two one-hour spa treatments, sparkling wine and a chocolate strawberry amenity, rose-petal turndown and sparkling wine tasting passes at Gloria Ferrer Winery. Packages are priced from $429 per night, and the special runs Feb. 10-19. The hotel serves what it calls a food lover’s “aphrodisiac menu” for $125 per person. Check it out at

Another Arizona resort, L’Auberge de Sedona, offers its “Sedona Snowmance” package for two that highlights skiing and getting warm and cozy later in new guest rooms with mountain views. The package includes two nights, two lift tickets to Flagstaff Snowbowl per day booked, a $75 food and beverage or spa credit per day booked and free winter drinks by the fire, ciders, teas and cocoas (the hard stuff is available but not free). Package savings are 40 percent with rates starting at $265 for guest rooms and $320 for cottages. The deal is valid through March 15. Check it out at

Sunsets on the Pacific are pretty romantic, and the “Stay, Spa Splashes” packages at Surf Sand Resort in Laguna Beach, Calif., allow you to enjoy them. The deals, with 30 percent off rates starting at $625 a night, include a one-night stay, spa treatment for two, three-course dinner for two at the resort’s signature Splashes restaurant, and gourmet breakfast in room (or the restaurant). Check it out at

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India’s HarDeal Launches Search Engine for Deals

January 23, 2012 by  
Filed under Travel Deals

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SearchDeals puts the power of finding the best deals in the hands of consumers

hardealA couple of weeks ago we told you about the launch of, a new daily deals and travel deals aggregator in India. HarDeal not only makes it easy to find relevant deals from sites like Groupon’s Crazeal, Snapdeal and Deals and You but users can review and rate their deals as well.

Now HarDeal tells us that they have just launched a new website, as India’s first deal search engine. Think Google, but with a specific focus on deals. SearchDeals makes it possible for users to search the top daily deals and group buying sites in 34 cities in India.


The new site, powered by HarDeal, offers Daily Deals and Travel Deals categories well as a Product Deals search engine that allows users to search for products on Flipkart, Yebhi, Snapdeal, HomeShop18 and Infibeam and returns the product pricing so that the consumers can compare and choose the best deal.

Gurinder Pal Singh, CEO of HarDeal tells Daily Deal Media that they are looking to expand this concept to North America and Western Europe through partnerships with deal aggregators in these areas, much like they have done in India.

Hardeal has also just launched a mobile app for the Android with iPhone and Blackberry apps being released soon.

 If you’d like to learn more about HarDeal’s new search engine for deals, you can visit SearchDeals at  To download the new Android app point your browser to  and of course, to find some of the best daily deals available in India head on over to

About HarDeal: is your one-stop shop to locate and review the Best Online Deals available in your city. HarDeal selects the Best Online Daily Deals from various sources in India and lists them on a single page for you to review.HarDeal reviews the Best Daily Deals available and displays them according to the ranking, reviews and discount. Our experts try to filter out any irrelevant deals which are of low utility to the consumer.HarDeal’s mission is to improve the consumer’s shopping experience by giving them more buying power in terms of the choices of deals available to them. Searching for deals at gives you a better chance of finding greater discounts and better deals. You also get to read customer reviews which help you make the right choice!

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