BEAT THE BACK TO WORK BLUES
Beat the back-to-work blues by booking a January bargain
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.
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.
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.
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.
Airlines and travel agencies are making it easy to swing across to Fiji.
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.