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Travel Savings Alerts Newsletter, April 2012 Issue

Travel Savings Alerts
P.O. Box 91033
Columbus OH 43209
ISSN: 1542-801X, Copyright  2012 
All Rights Reserved.
Editor: Nicki Chodnoff

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Flight Network - Specializing in Cheap Flights

In This Issue:
Wild Goose Island Overlook, Glacier National Park, MT
photo courtesy of David Restivo, NPS


  • Spring Deals at Castle Resorts & Hotels
  • SkyTeam Go Africa Pass
  • Hotel Solamar Savings For Baseball Fans
  • 8 Ways to Scam-Proof Vacation Home Rentals
  • National Museum of The U.S. Air Force Virtual Tour
  • Viva Wyndham Resorts Sweet Star Package
  • Win "TOMS Ticket to Give" Trip
  • Choice Hotels Backs Best Rate Guarantee
  • Inn at Laurel Point Package Marks Victoria’s 150th
  • Fireworks Safety Tips
  • Kintetsu Boston to Tokyo Package
  • Club Med Savings on Family Plan, Couples Escape
  • Seabourn Europe Suite Sale
  • 50% Off Children’s Rates at Yellowstone Lake
  • Up to 50% Off Per Person Cruise Rates
  • Win a $12,000 Trip Down Under
  • Real Deal Package to Grand Bahama Island
  • Irish Castles Self-Drive Tour
  • Ski Season Passes Get Better for 2012-2013
  • Half-Off Enrichment Voyage

    Spring Deals at Castle Resorts & Hotels

    Spring Deals at Castle Resorts & Hotels - - Deals are in bloom at Castle Resorts & Hotels in Hawaii. Castle's Deals in Bloom 50 percent off savings is available on accommodations ranging from full-service hotels to resorts and condominiums. Blooming deals are available for stays Apr. 9 to June 30, 2012.

    Castle's Deals in Bloom and spring savings are available on Oahu, Maui, Kauai, Molokai, and Hawaii's Big Island and include:

    Waikiki Beach, Oahu – Hokele Suites, condos in the heart of Waikiki. Studio with kitchen from $85 per night.

    Poipu Beach, Kauai – Castle Kiahuna Plantation and the Beach Bungalows, resort style condos on Poipu Beach. One bedroom garden view suite from $189 per night.

    Waikoloa, Hawaii – Halii Kai at Waikoloa, villas and townhomes at Waikoloa Beach Resort. Two-bedroom garden View villa from $285 per night.

    Kihei, Maui – Castle Kamaole Sands, overlooking Kamaole Beach Park III. One-bedroom suite from $155 per night.

    Castle Resorts & Hotels or 800/367-5004.

    SkyTeam Go Africa Pass

    SkyTeam, the global airline alliance, launched a Go Africa Pass for cost savings and flexibility on flights operated by Kenya Airways within Africa. The pass is available to business and leisure travelers flying with any of SkyTeam's 15 member airlines on an intercontinental roundtrip to Africa or a Go Round the World ticket. The ticket must originate outside Africa with a destination in Africa and includes frequent flyer reward tickets.

    Kenya Airways operates service to 45 African destinations in 36 countries including; Lagos, Nigeria; Accra, Ghana; Johannesburg, South Africa; Luanda, Angola; Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; Lusaka, Zambia; Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo and Cairo, Egypt.

    When you purchase a Go Africa Pass you can purchase from three to 16 flight coupons. Fares per coupon are calculated based on the number of miles flown non-stop, offering discounts of up to 75 percent off standard fares, depending on the itinerary. Coupons have no minimum stay, open-jaw itineraries are permitted and you can stop in each city multiple times – for complete flexibility in planning a trip.

    Reservations for all flights must be completed before departure. Infants fares are 10 percent of the adult fare and children's fares (age 2 to 11) are 75 percent of the fare. Service is economy class and you must complete travel within the validity of your intercontinental or round-the-world ticket.

    SkyTeam airlines with services to Africa include: Air France, Alitalia, KLM and Delta Air Lines. Korean Air will start services to Nairobi in June.

    SkyTeam's Go Africa Pass is one of a number of travel passes by the alliance to offer flexible, economical travel. SkyTeam passes include: Go Round the World, Go China, and Go Europe.

    SkyTeam travel passes .

    Discount theater tickets

    Hotel Solamar Savings For Baseball Fans

    Kimpton’s Hotel Solamar, located across from PETCO Park, home of the San Diego Padres, wants to “Play Ball!” with low rates and pre-game cheer.

    Featuring amenities such as craft brews from their restaurant or lounge and rate discounts, the “Play Ball!” baseball package is offered through October 2012. The package includes:

    • Deluxe accommodations
    • Up to 20 percent off the hotel’s best available rate
    • Two beers in hotel’s restaurant or roof lounge
    • Morning coffee and tea service in living room
    • Hosted evening wine reception
    • 24-hour access to in-house fitness room.

    For Kimpton InTouch members, there is free wireless Internet access.

    Rates start at $149 a night. Book the package online with rate code “PBAS.” When calling request the “Play Ball!” package.

    Kimpton’s Hotel Solamar or 877/230-0300.

    8 Ways to Scam-Proof Vacation Home Rentals

    It is vacation planning season, so book that beach house or cabin in the mountains. If you follow Christine Karpinski’s advice, you’re almost guaranteed not to fall victim to a vacation property rental scam.

    There’s been news stories about would-be vacationers who went online, found a house or condo, paid the rental fee and showed up to find an occupied residence that was never for rent at all. Yet as scary as these stories are, they shouldn’t stop you from going the vacation rental route, says Christine Karpinski.

    “There are many wonderful rental properties out there that are completely legitimate and only a few scammers,” says Karpinski, author of How to Rent Vacation Properties by Owner, 2nd Edition: The Complete Guide to Buy, Manage, Furnish, Rent, Maintain and Advertise Your Vacation Rental Investment (ISBN: 978-0-9748249-9-4). “To reject the whole concept of renting a great home instead of a hotel room because someone else had a bad experience is like deciding not to have children because you saw the movie The Bad Seed.”

    Karpinski says the benefits of staying in a vacation rental home outweigh the minimal risks. Vacation properties are more spacious and often less expensive than hotel rooms. They have the comforts of home because they are homes and tend to be kid friendly. Often, they’re pet friendly as well.

    By taking certain precautions, you can make the likelihood of getting scammed almost non-existent, she insists. Mostly, it’s about following the first commandment of Internet commerce: Do everything possible to verify the identity of the person to whom you send money.

    That said, here are eight tips to help you safely book your vacation home in today’s environment:

    1. Beware of super-cheap rates. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. The most common way scammers work is by enticing a large number of travelers in a short period of time. They do this by low-balling the rental rates. “If one listing is, say, half the price of all other comparable ones for the same amount of time, beware,” cautions Karpinski. “Put yourself in the owner’s shoes: Why would he or she voluntarily forgo that much income? Five, 10, or maybe 15 percent off, perhaps, but 50 percent? No way.”

    2. Do some digging to make sure the owner really is the owner. Many states make it easy to look up property tax records. Google the property appraiser in the county where the property is located to make sure the person you are renting from actually owns the property. Also Google the homeowner’s association and look for a phone number on the website. Call the HOA and ask if the owners really are the owners. “Now, some of the tax records might show that the property is owned by an LLC or trust. But that information actually serves as an extra barrier against being scammed,” says Karpinski. “The rental agreement should mention the LLC or trust. If it doesn’t, call the owner and ask. He or she should be able to tell you the name of this legal entity without hesitation.”

    3. Cyber-stalk the owner. Cross-reference across various websites: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and so forth. Make sure the place of residence (where the owner lives—not where the vacation home is located) is the same as the information the owner provided. “If, you were renting one of my vacation homes in Florida, you’d see that I always provide my guests with my home and cell phone numbers,” says Karpinski. “My home number is a 512 area code. Now, if you looked me up on LinkedIn, my public profile says that I live in Austin, TX, which would match the info I provided.” Also, Google the phone number listed on the advertisement. Many property owners and managers list their homes on many websites. If you Google the phone number listed on the ad in this format XXX XXX-XXX (area code, space, first three digits, dash, last four digits) many other websites that the property is listed on should show up in search results.

    4. Look for clues in the reviews. When read reviews of the property (on the vacation rental website or other sites such as TripAdvisor.com), there are sometimes references to the owners’ names. A review might say something like: “Thanks, Tom and Christine, for allowing us to rent your lovely home…” If the names in the reviews do NOT match the name of the person renting the home to you, it could be a sign that something is not right. “Also, a lot of times the owner’s name and/or the housekeeper’s name will be in the review,” notes Karpinski. “If you see several reviewers thanking Mary for her wonderful hospitality, and the woman you’re dealing with is named Mary, it’s probably a legitimate listing.”

    5. Speak with the owner via phone. Sure, it’s possible to be scammed over the phone. However, it’s usually easier to fool someone when you’re communicating via type. If the owner sounds warm and engaging and seems to know her stuff, you’re probably okay. If she sounds guarded or uncertain, you might have reason to worry. Also, when you get someone on the phone, ask specific questions and listen carefully to the answers. “Ask about the local area,” she suggests. “Ask about the best restaurants, the most unusual attractions, and so forth. If you get quick, natural answers, it’s probably not a scam. If the owner hesitates, or if you hear the sound of her Googling furiously, you would likely be suspicious.”

    6. Pay only by credit card. Don’t use PayPal or send a personal check, and NEVER, EVER pay by wire transfer, advises Karpinski. “Scammers are less likely than legitimate property owners to have a credit card merchant account set up,” she says. “And even if you were to still get scammed, you’d be able to call your credit card’s fraud prevention center and report it.”

    7. Go with a major vacation rental websites. You’re probably safest choosing HomeAway, VRBO, FlipKey, or Airbnb. A respected name doesn’t guarantee a 100 percent safe transaction. There have been instances of owners having their e-mail accounts hijacked by scammers, but the major websites tend to have better safeguards in place.

    8. Listen to your gut…it’s often right. Do your research. Call the property owner. Listen carefully to everything he or she has to say. If something just feels “off,” move on to another property, advises Karpinski.

    “Scammers usually count on people not paying attention, not heeding their intuition,” she says. “That still, small voice exists for a reason. Listen to it.”

    Renting a vacation home is like anything else, insists Karpinski. It’s not risk-free, but when you take these steps to mitigate the risk, you can feel 99.9 percent confident that you’re not getting scammed and these are pretty good odds.

    National Museum of The U.S. Air Force Virtual Tour

    The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force Virtual Tour is now fully embedded with audio and video hotspots, and touch-screen devices, offering an online experience of the entire museum.

    The two final embedded areas -- the Cold War Gallery, with more than 300 hotspots, and the Missile & Space Gallery with close to 60 -- are now interactive with initial materials, allowing you to click on an artifact or exhibit and access factsheets, audio tour podcasts with printable transcripts, videos and an interactive touch-screen display.

    Aircraft and exhibits in the Cold War Gallery include an SR-71A Blackbird, B-1B Lancer, F-117F Nighthawk, A-10A Thunderbolt II and the world's only permanent public display of a B-2 Spirit stealth bomber. Other exhibits include Office of Special Investigations, Explosive Ordnance Disposal and Warrior Airmen.

    The Apollo 15 Command Module and Mercury and Gemini capsules are located at the entrance to the Missile & Space Gallery. In the gallery are eight different rockets and missiles, ranging from the Minuteman to the Peacekeeper, and exhibits including astronaut food, re-entry vehicles, the Stargazer and Excelsior gondolas and the 5-star general's insignia belonging to Gen. Henry "Hap" Arnold, which flew aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour in 2011.

    The Virtual Tour features more than 360 aerospace vehicles and missiles on display at the museum amid more than 17 acres of indoor exhibit space. Thousands of personal artifacts, photographs and documents highlight the people and events that comprise the Air Force storyline, from the beginning of military flight to today's war on terrorism.

    Creating and embedding material in the Virtual Tour took more than a year. With nearly 75,000 files and more than 1,200 clickable hotspots, the tour will be an ongoing process to update and add new content.

    The museum offers various ways to experience the tour, from downloading podcasts at iTunes or accessing the tour through handheld devices such as the iPad, Smartphone or other mobile technologies. An App is in development for download on Android and iPhone devices and is anticipated to be available by the summer.

    National Museum of the U.S. Air Force Virtual Tour or 937/255-1376.


    Viva Wyndham Resorts Sweet Star Package

    Viva Wyndham Resorts offer the Sweet Star package, a new Quinceanera and Sweet 16 package available at six of its properties in Mexico and the Caribbean. The offer underscores the all-inclusive resort's commitment to providing the Quinceanera or Sweet 16-year-old, her family and their guests with a memorable celebration.

    The Sweet Star package includes one free night for the birthday girls, including a room upgrade for the 15-year-old and 16-year old with her parents. The Quinceanera or Sweet 16-year-old also will receive a hair and make-up appointment for her celebration, a bouquet of flowers, a cake, 10 photos, services of the onsite Viva Wyndham Resorts event coordinator and a surprise. Additionally, she and her family and guests will receive welcome beverages, a private group check-in with a welcome sign and a fruit platter in the birthday girl's room. The group will receive a dinner reservation at one of the resort's a la carte restaurants along with a dance party. The cost of the Sweet Star package is $350 and is based on a 20-person maximum. Guests staying outside of a Viva Wyndham Resort property can join the festivities for a special rate.

    Viva Wyndham Resorts or 800/WYNDHAM.

    Win "TOMS Ticket to Give" Trip

    In a move that brings together the company, its customers and its community, TOMS launched its TOMS Ticket to Give campaign. Only available at TOMS.com in the U.S., the online contest will select one customer each week to win and participate in a TOMS Giving Trip.

    The TOMS Ticket to Give online contest is open to TOMS customers and community ages 13 and up. Previously available just to TOMS employees, the Giving Trips will enable winners to experience giving One for One first-hand. Giving Trips are not vacations, but journeys into communities where needs are enormous. They are hands-on, face-to-face journeys that are as much about personal transformation as positively impacting the lives of others.

    Giving is at the heart of TOMS' business. In 2006, American traveler Blake Mycoskie befriended children in Argentina and found they had no shoes to protect their feet. Wanting to help, he created TOMS Shoes, a company that would match every pair of shoes purchased with a pair of new shoes given to a child in need. One for One. The company now gives shoes to children in need in more than 40 countries and helps give sight to people in nine countries. TOMS partners with humanitarian organizations that have experience in the communities they serve. TOMS helps give sight by providing prescription glasses, cataract surgeries and medial treatment. Shoe-giving partners integrate new TOMS Shoes into their pre-existing health and education programs so shoes are given to children along with other support such as hygiene, education, health care or basic necessities. TOMS builds long-term giving relationships so children have access to additional pairs of shoes as they grow.


    Choice Hotels Backs Best Rate Guarantee

    The Best Internet Rate Guarantee from Choice Hotels got better. Choice Hotels is going further to make sure you always find the best room rate possible on its web site.

    If you find a lower price for the same hotel, type of accommodations, and the same dates at any other qualified online source, Choice Hotels will match the lower rate plus give you a free night for that stay. The company's Best Internet Rate Guarantee lets you know that the best online rate for any Choice Hotels brand property worldwide will be found at its web site.

    To take advantage of the guarantee, you must book a room on ChoiceHotels.com. Then you can shop for a better rate on a qualified website for that same hotel, same room, on the same date. If a qualifying lower rate is found within 24 hours of the initial booking and at least 72 hours prior to the scheduled arrival date, you submit a Best Internet Rate Guarantee claim form found online. Special reservations center agents at Choice Hotels will verify that the lower rate qualifies for the guarantee. If the lower rate is eligible, the agent will override the original reservation at the new rate and you will receive the first night of your stay for free.

    The Best Internet Rate Guarantee applies to all Choice Hotels brand properties, including Comfort Inn, Comfort Suites, Quality, Sleep Inn, Clarion, Cambria Suites, MainStay Suites, Suburban Extended Stay Hotel, Econo Lodge, Rodeway Inn, and Ascend Collection. Negotiated rates, such as group rates, package rates, and coupons and government rates and membership rates do not qualify for the Best Internet Rate Guarantee.

    Choice Hotels Best Internet Rate Guarantee.


    Bed Bug Kit Banner

    Inn at Laurel Point Package Marks Victoria’s 150th

    With British Columbia’s capital city set to celebrate its 150th anniversary, the waterfront Inn at Laurel Point joins the festivities with a year-long stay-and-play package – priced at $150 and highlighting all things local.

    The 150th Package, priced at $150 per night (based on double occupancy) is available through Dec. 31, 2012, (excluding Christmas Day and Boxing Day) and subject to availability.

      For the best deal, stay through April 30 or Oct. 1 through Dec. 31, 2012 to receive:
    • One night’s accommodation in a Laurel Wing room
    • Free parking
    • A $40 food credit at AURA, the hotel’s on-site restaurant
    • 15 per cent off a Victoria Harbour Urban Kayak Exploration with Ocean River Adventures
    • A top secret (Foursquare compatible) list of the best things to do, see and taste when visiting Victoria

    During high season, May 1 through Sep. 30, 2012, the 150th package includes accommodation only, subject to availability.

    Inn at Laurel Point.

    Fireworks Safety Tips

    Consumer Fireworks are a wonderful way to celebrate special occasions and holidays. But they must be used carefully. The National Council on Fireworks Safety urges you to be fireworks smart, before, during and after your fireworks display.

    Before: Choose an open area away from spectators, homes and buildings and dry vegetation. Use a garden hose to wet down the area before firing. And be sure to put on your safety glasses before starting your display.

    During: As each device burns out, soak it using a hose or bucket of water.

    After: Place all used items in a covered, fireproof container and leave it outside and away from homes and buildings.

      Remember the following fireworks safety tips:
    • Use fireworks outdoors only.
    • Always have water handy (a hose or bucket).
    • Obey local law. If fireworks are not legal where you live, do not use them.
    • Only use fireworks as intended. Don't try to alter them or combine them.
    • Never relight a "dud" firework. Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.
    • Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Have a "designated shooter."
    • Do not ever use homemade fireworks or illegal explosives: They can kill you. Report illegal explosives to the fire or police department in your community.

    The National Council on Fireworks Safety.

    468x60_Graphic Banner_DropDownbanner

    Kintetsu Boston to Tokyo Package

    KIE/Kintetsu International and Japan Airlines offer a Tokyo Boston package with the first non-stop flight from Boston to Asia.

    The three-night, five-day package starts at $1,547.50 and includes roundtrip airfare, hotel accommodations, transfers, and all taxes and fees. The price is subject to availability.

      Kintetsu's Japan Airlines Boston to Tokyo package includes:
    • Roundtrip airfare on Japan Airlines from Boston's Logan Airport to Tokyo.
    • Three-night hotel stay at the four-star Akasaka Excel Hotel Tokyu
    • Airport transfer to/from Narita Airport
    • All taxes and fees
    • Opportunity to extend your stay in Tokyo or anywhere in Japan
    • Optional tours or Japan Rail Passes

    KIE/Kintetsu International or 800/422-3481.

    Club Med Savings on Family Plan, Couples Escape

    Club Med, the all-inclusive with more than 80 resorts worldwide, offers all-inclusive escapes for families and couples with the Family Plan and Couples Escape.

    The Family Plan starts from $625 per person for a seven-night all-inclusive stay. The price is based on a family of four traveling to Ixtapa Pacific. Airfare is not included. Valid for new individual bookings, you must be booked in the same Club room to qualify.

    The Couples seven-night all-inclusive getaway starts from $899 per person and is based on two people traveling to Ixtapa Pacific. The offer does not include airfare. Valid for new individual bookings, you must be booked in a Club room to qualify. Turkoise guests must be 18 or older.

    To receive these rates you must book by May 7, 2012 for travel through Oct. 26, 2012. Club Med membership fees of $60 per adult and $30 per child are additional. Holiday restrictions and other blackout dates apply.

    This limited time offer is available at Cancun Yucatan and Ixtapa Pacific in Mexico, Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, Sandpiper Bay, Florida, Columbus Isle in the Bahamas and Caravelle and Buccaneer's Creek in the French West Indies. Couples can also take advantage of this offer at Turkoise, Turks and Caicos (for adults 18 and up).

    Club Med family-friendly amenities and activities include children's programs designed for their age group, tennis, golf and sailing, circus school, cooking lessons and Zumbatomic.

    Club Med makes it easy when traveling with a baby with the Baby Welcome program where highchairs, cribs, strollers, bottle warmers and bathtubs are available upon arrival.

    With a Club Med all-inclusive vacation everything is included in one price with dining throughout the day prepared by international chefs, a full open bar with premium alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, activities throughout the day and nightly entertainment every evening.

    Club Med or 800/ClubMed.

    Seabourn Europe Suite Sale

    Seabourn’s 2012 Europe Suite Sale features savings up to 50 percent and free veranda upgrades on voyages in the Mediterranean and Northern Europe. More than 100 voyages feature different promotional benefits and amenities such as air credits from U.S. and Canadian gateways on select cruises and shipboard credits on bookings of premium category suites on others.

    The Europe Suite Sale includes cruises this summer and fall aboard Seabourn’s intimate ships. The line’s six ships will visit more than 160 European destinations, cities and natural splendors on voyages April through November.

    On select sailings, air credits up to $1,000 per suite are available on Seabourn Pride, Seabourn Spirit and Seabourn Legend, applicable to air transportation purchased through Seabourn. Free upgrades to Veranda category suites are available on select cruises on Seabourn Odyssey, Seabourn Sojourn and Seabourn Quest.

    Here are some sample savings and offers on Seabourn Europe cruises this summer and fall:

    Seabourn Quest and Seabourn Odyssey - seven-day Greek Isles, Turkey and Adriatic sailings from $2,999 per person with a free veranda upgrade.

    Seabourn Spirit - 10-day Adriatic and Dalmatian cruises from $3,499 per person with an air credit of $800 per suite.

    Seabourn Sojourn - seven-day Baltic and Norway cruises from $3,899 per person with a free veranda upgrade.

    Seabourn Pride - 14- to 16-day Baltic, Russia and Norway voyages from $5,499 per person with an air credit of $1,000 per suite.

    Seabourn Legend – 10-day French and Italian Riviera voyages from $3,499 per person with an air credit of $800 per suite.

    Seabourn’s six ships offer from 104 to 225 suites per ship, many with verandas; dining in a choice of venues; open bars throughout the ship; fine wines poured at lunch and dinner; personalized service and a relaxed, sociable atmosphere.

    Seabourn or 877/303-9419.


    Callpod Inc.

    50% Off Children’s Rates at Yellowstone Lake

    Family travel gets more affordable with a Far and Away Adventures’ deal offering 50 percent off on children (under age 18) traveling with one or more adults on a two night Luxury Yellowstone Lake Basecamp Adventure. Book by Apr. 15, 2012 and the adult rate is $840 and $420 children’s rate with the discount, for weekly departures in July and August. Summer packages depart July 11, 13, 19, 21, 27, 29; and Aug. 6, 12, 14, 20, 22, 28 and 30, 2012.

    Yellowstone's wilderness glamping experience is one of the few ways to escape summer crowds and overnight inside Yellowstone National Park’s wilderness. For 48 hours, you stay at the private camp on a remote inlet providing solitude and escape from the trappings of an over-civilized world.

    At 7,732 feet above sea level, the thin atmosphere and usual dry, cloudless conditions make for some of the best star and planet gazing in the Lower 48.

    You check-in at Bridge Bay Marina inside the park for a cabin cruiser transfer across America's largest lake at high elevation (above 7,000’). At a remote dock guides wait with sea kayaks; after a basic safety orientation you paddle a short distance to the evening's pre-set camp. This Yellowstone program maintains a 3 to 1 guest to guide ratio with opportunities for lake kayaking, guided backcountry hikes, wildlife observation and fly-fishing.

    Morning begins with a breakfast spread, lunch is a gourmet picnic, appetizers surface around 7 p.m. and a four-course, linen-draped, candlelight dinner proceeds before naturalist discourses with music and tales around the campfire. Wine pairings and desserts conclude each night’s meal. Children may enjoy their own menu. Glamping provides a carpeted tent with two elevated beds and a nightstand.

    Far and Away Adventures or 800/232-8588.

    Up to 50% Off Per Person Cruise Rates

    AdventureSmith Explorations specializes in small ship and private yacht charters to Alaska, Baja, Costa Rica, Panama, Galapagos, Mediterranean and Antarctica.

    Select a travel date and get traveling companions together to charter a small ship or private yacht. Yacht charter groups can be as small 12 people or up to 48 people and can mean savings of up to 50 percent off of regular per person cruise rates. Larger small ships accommodate groups of 48 and 148 passengers making them suited for big family reunions and special celebrations.

    Typically charters are planned and contracted at least one year in advance of the cruise departure date, but as long as space is available a small ship can be chartered most anytime. Off season charters garner the greatest savings while high season dates should be secured a year or more in advance.

    Cruise itineraries, on board programs, activity levels and even food service can be customized to your group’s interests, ability and budget.

    AdventureSmith Explorations charter cruises are crewed charters, with an experienced crew including captain, chef and naturalist guides for shore excursions.

    Alaska charter cruises are best May through September. Costa Rica and Panama charter cruises operate year round with the high season running December to March. Galapagos charters are available year round with access to a vast selection of motor yachts, sailing vessels and small ships. Mediterranean charter cruises are best booked April to October.

    AdventureSmith Explorations or 800/728-2875.

    Win a $12,000 Trip Down Under

    Your dream of visiting Australia may be closer than you think, thanks to the online "My Aussie Experience Travel Contest." The format is simple: In 100 words or less describe what your ultimate Australia experience would be in one of nine travel destinations including Sydney, Kangaroo Island and Adelaide.

    The winner receives a Qantas Vacations travel voucher for up to $12,000 towards their ultimate Aussie vacation.

    The winning entry will be selected from the top-voted entries for each of the nine destinations. A jury of representatives from Ensemble Travel Group, Qantas Vacations, and Tourism Australia will determine the winner. Contest deadline is 5 p.m. PT, June 7, 2012. No purchase is necessary to enter or win.

    In addition to the contest, the website is full of helpful travel information, broken down by region and experience in Australia, and supported by related travel offers.

    My Aussie Experience Travel Contest at the South Pacific Experience Facebook page.

    To enter or vote for the My Aussie Experience Travel Contest.

    Sixt 4

    Real Deal Package to Grand Bahama Island

    BOOK BY APR. 3, 2012 - - The Real Deal Vacation package from Delta Vacations to Grand Bahama Island includes roundtrip airfare from Atlanta to Freeport on Delta Airlines, seven nights at the all-inclusive Viva Wyndham Fortuna Beach resort, an extra 1,000 bonus miles, roundtrip transfers between the airport and hotel, baggage handling at the hotel, and all hotel and air taxes and fees.

    Book by Apr. 3, 2012 for rates that start from $1,127 per person based on double occupancy, for travel through June 20, 2012. The rate is based on select Saturday departures and returns. Use promo code DV15250B when booking. Airport taxes and fees are included in the package price. There is no single supplement available.

    You can upgrade from a superior room to an ocean view room from $84 more per person, per night, or extend your stay at the Viva Wyndham Fortuna Beach for $119 more per person, per night.

    The package is available flying from Detroit for an additional $327, $350 more for Salt Lake City; $528 more for New York City; and $650 more for Minneapolis.

    This Bahamas vacation package saves you more than $1,000 on a seven-night stay at an all-inclusive resort on the beach. Roundtrip airfare on Delta from Atlanta to Freeport starts from $463 in mid-April. Seven nights at the Viva Wyndham Fortuna Beach costs $1,676 per person including taxes. Plus you receive an extra 1,000 bonus miles, roundtrip transfers between the airport and hotel, baggage handling at the hotel, and all hotel and air taxes and fees.

    Delta Vacations or 800/800-1504.

    Irish Castles Self-Drive Tour

    Tenon Tours offers a six night Irish castle tour from $899 per person. Available through 2012, it combines staying in four and five star Irish castles and Bed and Breakfasts. You can choose from suggested seven-day routes through the north or south or combine routes to create a customized itinerary and stay up to two weeks with an optional pre-trip in Dublin and a post-trip extension.

      An Irish castles tour includes:
    • Six nights’ accommodations: four nights at four and five star authentic Ireland castles and two nights at Bed and Breakfasts of your choice
    • All accommodation taxes and fees
    • Traditional Irish breakfast every morning
    • Seven day car rental (Economy/Manual w/CDW)
    • Ireland GPS rental
    • Ireland mobile phone rental
    • Ireland Heritage discount pass
    • Fexco Horizon Tax Free Shopping card
    • Emergency contact available 24/7

    Tenon Tours or 855/468-3666.

    Ski Season Passes Get Better for 2012-2013

    Vail Resorts, Inc. is selling ski and snowboard season passes for the 2012-2013 winter season. With the passes, you can ski or snowboard eight resorts across three states and 24,980 acres, including Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin in Colorado and Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood in California/Nevada.

    Following is a guide to help you choose the best season pass options, based on where you live and how much you plan to ski and ride. All passes are available for purchase online.

    The Epic Pass offers unlimited, unrestricted skiing at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Heavenly, Northstar, Kirkwood and Arapahoe Basin. Available for $659, it pays for itself in less than six days.

    Epic 7-Day pays for itself in less than five days and is geared for people who don't plan to ski more than seven days. It gives seven unrestricted days of skiing at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Heavenly, and Northstar plus Arapahoe Basin anytime during the season for $509.

    The Epic Local Pass, for $509, pays for itself in less than five days and is for locals who can navigate a few more restrictions. The pass offers unlimited and unrestricted skiing or riding at Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin with limited holiday restrictions at Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood. It includes 10 days at Vail or Beaver Creek with holiday restrictions. $50 pass holder tickets are also available for purchase during blackout dates at Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood.

    Summit Value Pass pays for itself in less than four days if you plan to only ski in Summit County. The pass is $419 and provides unlimited and unrestricted lift access to Keystone and Arapahoe Basin, and access to Breckenridge with limited holiday restrictions. Pass holders can purchase access to Breckenridge on restricted days for $50 per day.

    New for 2012-2013, the Tahoe Local Pass offers skiing and riding seven days a week to Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood resorts. It includes access on Saturdays at all three resorts with limited holidays restrictions. $50 pass holder tickets are available for purchase during blackout dates at Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood. At $419, the Tahoe Local Pass pays for itself in just over four days.

    Tahoe Value Pass for $379, pays for itself in less than four days and is for people who plan to ski or ride seven days a week at Heavenly and six days a week at Northstar and Kirkwood. The pass has holiday restrictions to Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood with Saturdays excluded at Northstar and Kirkwood. Pass holders can purchase access to Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood Resorts on restricted days for $50 per day.

    Purchase your pass for next year now as these prices and benefits are only guaranteed through Apr. 15, 2012. You can lock in these prices with a $49 down payment now and the remainder of the balance due in mid-September 2012. All passes are available for purchase online.

    If you purchase passes this spring, you will also receive benefits for summer 2012 including access for sightseeing and gondola rides.

    All season passes are non-transferable and non-refundable. You can purchase pass insurance to cover you in the event of unexpected circumstances including sickness, injury and job loss. Pass insurance is $20 for adults and $10 for children (ages 5-12). Coverage applies for all season passes and the Epic 7-Day valid for the 2012-2013 ski and snowboard season.

    Epic Pass.

    Half-Off Enrichment Voyage

    The Institute for Shipboard Education (ISE) Enrichment Voyage, a travel and learn adventure for all ages, offers a deal on its May 2012 voyage to six destinations in Central America and South America.

    The May 4 to 19, 2012, voyage offers in-port excursions combined with onboard learning opportunities and will include featured speakers Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky, the president and co-founder of Women's Campaign International; Political Strategist Valerie Biden Owens; and Former Ambassador Peter F. Romero. Cabins for the May Enrichment Voyage are available at 50 percent off the brochure rate.

    The MV Explorer floating campus (the ship used by the Semester at Sea study abroad program), the Ancient Wonders of Ecuador, The Galapagos, and Beyond Enrichment Voyage will travel from Ensenada, Mexico to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico; Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala; Corinto, Nicaragua; Balboa, Panama; Manta, Ecuador, and Puntarenas/Caldera, Costa Rica (with an option to visit the Galapagos Islands).

    Enrichment voyages are also scheduled Dec. 8, 2012 to Jan. 2, 2013, that visit the Caribbean, Central and South America, and a Europe and North Africa cruise Apr. 26, 2013 to May 25, 2013.

    Institute for Shipboard Education Enrichment Voyage or 800/854-0195.

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    Information & Credits

    The Travel Savings Alerts Newsletter, P.O. Box 91033, Columbus OH 43209, edited by Nicki Chodnoff, is published monthly.

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