BEAT THE BACK TO WORK BLUES

Beat the back-to-work blues by book­ing a Jan­uary bar­gain

The Courier-Mail - - FRONT PAGE - CHRIS­TINE RETSCHLAG

Happy new year? Try happy new hol­i­day! There’s great news for de­pressed deskbound Aussies who have al­ready swapped the sand for their suits and are back at work. Savvy travel op­er­a­tors are slash­ing prices to make sure you’ll be on a cruise, on a plane or in a re­sort again soon.

Cruise lines are lead­ing the charge. Su­san Bon­ner, vice-pres­i­dent and man­ag­ing direc­tor of Royal Caribbean Cruises, Aus­tralia and New Zealand says from now un­til March – cruis­ing’s peak book­ing pe­riod – is the per­fect time to plan a cruise hol­i­day for the year ahead.

“Be­fore your cal­en­dar fills up and while you still have your pick of voy­ages and cab­ins,” Su­san says.

It’s a good time to book flights, too. Paul Med­ley, se­nior prod­uct man­ager at Hel­loworld Travel, says “crack­ing air­fares” are mak­ing des­ti­na­tions such as Los An­ge­les and Hon­olulu par­tic­u­larly tempt­ing.

But Aus­tralians want­ing some­thing close to home don’t have to look far ei­ther, with the Gold Coast and dream des­ti­na­tions in­clud­ing Uluru also rad­i­cally re­duc­ing prices.

Ex­perts be­lieve the best way to re­cover from the post-hol­i­day blues is to book your next va­ca­tion. Here are some of the op­tions. SO CRUISY Royal Caribbean is dis­count­ing a sec­ond pas­sen­ger’s fare by up to 50 per cent for book­ings un­til Fe­bru­ary 20. That means a cou­ple could sail from Syd­ney on a ni­nenight Trop­i­cal Ex­plorer Cruise on March 1, 2019, vis­it­ing Noumea, Mys­tery Is­land, Li­fou and Isle of Pines from $1889 a per­son, twin share, for the first guest and $939 for the sec­ond.

My Cruises gen­eral man­ager Michael Mid­dle­ton says Jan­uary is an ideal time to take ad­van­tage of not only the best prices but early book­ing of­fers such as free drinks pack­ages, shore ex­cur­sions and on-board cred­its usu­ally lim­ited to a select few guests. He rec­om­mends cruis­ing as a great way to ex­plore the Mediter­ranean, and Sep­tem­ber and Oc­to­ber – late in the sea­son – as a way to beat the heat and tourist crowds.

“Our Voy­age to Italy & the Greek Is­lands pack­age is a stand­out with up to $4000 bonus value and 11 nights cruis­ing your way through amaz­ing land­scapes on­board an in­cred­i­ble ship,” Michael says.

Scenic has launched a See the World cam­paign, with en­tic­ing of­fers on its all-in­clu­sive river cruis­ing in Europe and South­east Asia, six-star ocean cruis­ing with Scenic Eclipse, and a range of other jour­neys. The cruises, on sale un­til March 29, in­clude a 15-day lux­ury Jewels of Europe cruise from Am­s­ter­dam to Bu­dapest priced from $6995 a per­son twin share, plus econ­omy flights to Europe for just $295 a per­son on se­lected de­par­tures.

Cruise & Mar­itime Voy­ages (CMV) has a four-night Week­end Coastal Ex­pe­ri­ence cruise around Ade­laide, Kan­ga­roo Is­land and Port Lin­coln from $573 a per­son twin share.

Even the Arc­tic has thawed when it comes to dis­counts with Ad­ven­ture Canada of­fer­ing a 10 per cent dis­count or no solo sup­ple­ment for its 16-night ex­pe­di­tion cruise through the North­west Pas­sage, for trips booked be­fore Jan­uary 19. Guests who book through Cruise Trav­eller will re­ceive two free ho­tel stays ei­ther side of the cruise, at Toronto and Cal­gary.

GO TROP­I­CAL

The South Pa­cific is bliss­ful any time but air­lines and travel com­pa­nies are mak­ing it more ap­peal­ing this month.

My Fiji has a seven-night deal at Momi Bay that in­cludes flights, ac­com­mo­da­tion, trans­fers, daily break­fast, VIP concierge and a wine, dine and spa credit from $2090 a per­son (book by Jan­uary 31) as part of its Bula Bonus sale.

Fiji Air­ways’ New Year Sale has fares from Syd­ney to Nadi from $272 one-way, with $99 fares for chil­dren, for select dates be­tween Jan­uary and Novem­ber. Sale ends Fe­bru­ary 2.

DO­MES­TIC BLISS

For Aussies look­ing for some­thing closer to home, Mantra has re­leased some golden Gold Coast deals. Stay three nights or more at ei­ther Mantra on View Ho­tel Surfers Par­adise or Mantra Twin Tow­ers Coolan­gatta, and save up to 25 per cent on the nor­mal price, valid for sale up to March 31 and for travel un­til Sep­tem­ber 30.

At Mantra’s Gold Coast Ruby Col­lec­tion, stay on se­lected dates be­fore March 31 and you re­ceive seven nights for the price of five in a deal that in­cludes un­lim­ited ac­cess to the Water­park; free Wi-Fi, lo­cal calls from your in-room phone, daily house­keep­ing ser­vice, and use of car­dio gym, sauna and steam room.

Book by Jan­uary 23 and go straight to the heart of Aus­tralia for a lot less than you might ex­pect. Ay­ers Rock Re­sort has a fam­ily pack­age priced from $482 a room a night for two adults and two kids, min­i­mum three nights, stay­ing at Sails in the Desert. Pack­age in­cludes ac­com­mo­da­tion, buf­fet break­fast daily, a pass to see Field of Light, Red Desert Rep­tile Show, one din­ner at Ilkari Restau­rant, and indige­nous daily ac­tiv­i­ties.

Get in quick for Jet­star sale fares in­clud­ing Mel­bourne to Uluru from $91, Bris­bane to Dar­win from $92, Syd­ney to Uluru from $111 and Syd­ney to Dar­win from $119, for select dates be­tween Fe­bru­ary and Sep­tem­ber. Sale ends to­day.

STAYCATIONS

If you are look­ing for some­thing right now, Wo­tif travel ex­pert Chris Mil­li­gan says a stay­ca­tion is a smart op­tion while reg­u­lar busi­ness trav­ellers and CBD work­ers are ab­sent from some of the Aus­tralian cities.

“Wo­tif data re­veals Jan­uary is the cheapest sum­mer month to visit an Aus­tralian cap­i­tal city. Specif­i­cally, Perth ($167), Bris­bane ($173), and Dar­win ($142), based on the av­er­age daily rate for three to five-star rated and self-rated ac­com­mo­da­tion, are pre­dicted to be the most af­ford­able cap­i­tal cities to visit this sum­mer, so savvy trav­ellers should pay at­ten­tion to ho­tel deals in these cap­i­tal cities.”

MORE FOR YOUR TOUR

In­sight Va­ca­tions is of­fer­ing an Early Pay­ment Dis­count. Trav­ellers can save 10 per cent a per­son when they book and pay in full by Jan­uary 31, and re­ceive the best deals and big­gest choice of trips and de­par­ture dates.

In­trepid Travel is tak­ing a novel ap­proach, ask­ing trav­ellers to pay just a gold coin de­posit. “In Jan­uary, we are of­fer­ing trav­ellers the op­tion to se­cure the place on a trip for just one dol­lar,” In­trepid Travel Asia Pa­cific re­gional direc­tor Brett Mitchell says. “This means while trav­ellers might be strapped for cash after over­spend­ing at Christ­mas, they can still lock in their hol­i­day for 2019.” The of­fer runs un­til Fe­bru­ary 14 for trips de­part­ing by De­cem­ber 31, with some ex­cep­tions.

World Ex­pe­di­tions’ Tas­ma­nian walk­ing brand, Tas­ma­nian Ex­pe­di­tions, is of­fer­ing a $250 a per­son dis­count on its pop­u­lar Maria Is­land Walk for trips booked be­fore Jan­uary 31 and travel be­fore April 30.

PIC­TURE: ALAMY

Air­lines and travel agen­cies are mak­ing it easy to swing across to Fiji.

PIC­TURES: MAR­RIOTT, SUP­PLIED, MARIA IS­LAND WALK. CO M. AU

Spe­cial deals make it even more bliss­ful to hol­i­day at Fiji Mar­riott Re­sort, Momi Bay; cruise to Bu­dapest with Scenic; or walk Maria Is­land, Tas­ma­nia.

BU­DAPEST

TAS­MA­NIA

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