Couchsurfing hosts sometimes take great pride in serving as tour guides and cultural ambassadors for their visitors. The website features quotes from visitors, such as Sam, who said, “Nong showed me the sights and helped me search out the best street eats (insects included!) during my week in Bangkok. She also helped me with more practical matters, like getting my Myanmar visa and planning the next leg of my Thailand trip.”
Why: A genuine bucket list trip for many, a visit to Australia and New Zealand can be super-pricey. Cities are spread out, way out, which means a lot of hopping on planes to get from one place to another. And for top level accommodations, not to mention simple daily necessities like a flat white, you’ll shell out big bucks. What’s good about a cruise itinerary that includes visits to both countries is that the big expenses are included in fares – onboard meals, accommodations, entertainment and transportation from place to place. On Oceania Cruises, which offers a New Zealand/Australia itinerary, for instance, the per diem is $350 a night, but you pretty much don’t have to whip out a credit card beyond that (do note that it’s priced at per-person, based on two sharing a cabin). Consider that in super-expensive cities like Auckland and Sydney, a hotel stay at a four-star place like the Hilton and Westin respectively will run you $350 or so. And that’s for the room only — you’ll pay out of pocket for food, entertainment and bars. One tip: Look for a cruise line that arranges its itineraries to spend maximum time in port, whether it’s long days or plenty of overnights, so you can have as much time to explore as possible. As well, you’re better off, in most cases, avoiding cruise-line shore excursions, which can be overpriced and epitomize group cattle travel, and engage a travel agency specialist in the region to plan private tours for your days in port. Bottom line, though, is when experiencing Australia and New Zealand by cruise ship, especially on your first visit to the region, the biggest plus is not just the convenience of unpacking once and keeping short-hop plane trips to a minimum. It’s also that, depending on the itinerary you choose, you can visit some pretty special somewhat off-the-grid places in between marquee stops at Auckland and Sydney. New Zealand’s Akaroa, Dunedin and Wellington, and Australia’s Eden, Burnie and Melbourne, might otherwise be missed — and shouldn’t be.
The all inclusive package usually contains the price for the room, hotel taxes, 3 meals a day, access to various activities on the hotel’s or resort’s premises, and airport transfers. Some hotels include the drinks, tips, and other perks in their packages. The rule of thumb says that the more luxurious the hotel is, the more services are included in the all inclusive package.
Why: While the devastating hurricanes of 2017 impacted just a portion of the Caribbean region, it damaged some of its more cruise-popular spots, like Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, St. Martin, Puerto Rico, St. Bart's, and the U.S.V.I.’s St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John. While all are under significant rehab and rebuilding — and most are actually now open to cruise ships and tourists, this could be a perfect year to explore more exotic islands. That’s because lines like Windstar, which had, pre-hurricanes, planned to offer BVI-centric trips, relocated ships to other parts of the Caribbean. The winning trip? We love Wind Surf, one of the line’s sailing vessels, with its trip out of Barbados; ports include Martinique, Guadeloupe, and Montserrat — all islands that heretofore have often been bypassed by established cruise lines. And get this: There’s plenty of cruise capacity in this region, particularly when it comes to small ship sailings. In part, excess cabins are available because many skittish travelers canceled their bookings. As well, they can typically be more expensive (look for $300 per person, per day) than big ship vessels. But do the math: Windstar, and other small ship lines like Crystal, Regent Seven Seas, Seabourn, Azamara, Oceania and Viking Oceans, can actually be quite a good value when compared to land-based properties because they’re more price inclusive. Look for deals that include cocktails, gratuities and shore excursions not to mention pre- and post-cruise hotel stays and, in some cases, airfare to the ships’ port of embarkation.
According to USA Today, the Better Business Bureau files well over 1,000 complaints in a single year from victims of “free” cruise scams. Other “too good to be true” deals may not be actual scams, but may require you to participate in a sales presentation, commonly for a time-share. Be alert, be skeptical, and be willing to put in the time to verify anything that doesn’t feel right.
**Coupon code BLKFRIDAY100 for $100 off valid for land-only and air-inclusive packages of 4 nights or more for two or more travelers. Coupon code BLKFRIDAYSOLO50 for $50 off valid for land-only and air-inclusive packages of 4 nights or more for one traveler. Coupon code BLKFRIDAY50 for $50 off valid for land-only and air-inclusive packages of 3 nights for two or more travelers. Coupon code BLKFRIDAYSOLO25 for $25 off valid for land-only or air-inclusive packages of 3 nights or one traveler. All coupon codes are valid for travel now-8/31/2019. Coupon code valid 11/5/18-11/11/18. Not valid for groups, with other coupons or price match discounts. *Advertised prices available for bookings made electronically through your travel agent or on vacationexpress.com; small service fee of $10 applies when booking through Vacation Express Call Center. Prices are per person, based on double occupancy. For full terms and conditions, hotel and description of all services, please refer to the Vacation Express 2018 Brochure or call for details. Vacation Express now accepts debit cards that offer the same consumer protection as credit cards. Some upgrades are subject to availability upon check-in. Packages at the above prices are based on travel, are limited and subject to change without prior notice and are on coach air with Spirit Airlines, American Airlines or other U.S. certified carrier or Vacation Express public charter flights operated by VivaAerobus. Airfares are per person, reflect lowest available airfare at time of printing, are subject to change and are based upon availability of class of service. Baggage charges and allowances vary by carrier and can change frequently. Most major carriers are charging a fee for checked baggage. Some airlines, including Spirit Airlines, are charging a fee for all checked and carry-on baggage. Clients must check their respective airline for the most current baggage information. Book by 11/7/18. Not responsible for errors or omissions. Registered Florida seller of travel no. St 38441. State of California Seller of Travel Certificate of Registration #2107538-40.
Bali, Indonesia is a bucket-list must: beautiful beaches, ornate temples, delicious food and stunning vistas—this island is where travel dreams become reality! Combine cheap flights with a super affordable 4-star hotel, and say hello to a honeymoon or vacation that won't destroy your budget. What's Included? Based on two people sharing, this vacation deal includes…