By Richard Campbell
It is approaching the middle of February when Bostonians are so ready to travel somewhere warm. In the spirit of advancing anyone’s odds of escaping the cold, dark, and wet, South Boston Online stepped in to see the Boston Globe Travel Show at the old Seaport World Trade Center exhibit hall that ran this weekend, February 9-11. My focus here is upon warm places- you know those areas in the world that have green grass, sunshine, beaches, and a more carefree life. Some of these ideas are for quick getaways, and others are for more serious travelers.
As many South Bostonians have probably observed, the Norwegian Cruise Line routinely docks at our pier, to cruise locals from Boston to the Caribbean, Mexico, to South America and Southern Europe. This year representatives were touting their Free at Sea program which allows you to choose services ala cart with things like an unlimited bar package, to specialty dinning, and on shore explorations. The nine-day Caribbean Cruise to St. Thomas, St. Maarten, St. Kitts, St. Johns, Antigua, Tortola, are popular options. Their cruises run from April to November, and word on the ground is book in advance.
On a whole different level of luxury across the globe, the “Grecian Legends, Dreams and Fables Tour of Greece and the Mediterranean” by Insight Travel offers something that could qualify as the dream excursion of a lifetime. Starting in Athens and continuing through the Greek Isles with highly cultivated guides, you’ll get to tour Mykonos, Ephesus, Samos, Patmos, Crete, Heraklion, Santorini and Thira. Thirteen days of Greece up close and personal with meals included is a great idea- with the addition of cultural explorations, it becomes an education on the classical world. These trips start in April as well, and involve both a European flight and the cruise. Competing on the Southern European front of premier travel experiences, is Viking River Cruises, who was in attendance, offering a new fifteen-day excursion into Italy, The Adriatic, and Greece- starting in Athens and ending in Venice.
For simpler immediate weather fixes, a trip to Martinique is four hours, to the heart of the lesser Antilles, with an average temperature of 79 degrees, you don’t need to see the glossy program to get the feeling you’ll be cossetted. The island is dotted with coastal and inland resorts, and as a French possession, the island is a mix of French and Creole cultures. This is a place more dedicated to beach life, water sports, hiking, and of course eating, shopping, and lounging like a lizard on the beach. The people from the Martinique travel board were offering $149.00 round-trip flights from the Providence Airport, on Norwegian Air. That’s a bargain!
The representatives from Puerto Rico put on a brave face on extolling that the Condado district of hotels of San Juan are up and running fine, with new properties coming online as the capital weathered the storm better than outlying small towns. They say enthusiastically that San Juan is ready for guests. The music and cultural scene is laid back, the food is cheap, the beaches are beautiful, and of course the locals are gracious. This might be the opportunity to be booked in exclusive hotels normally over booked at this time of the year-and some hotels had sales of a third off. Scoring 7 nights in a four-star hotel with round-trip flight for $2,400 is a pretty good. San Juan is a great quick vacation not requiring a passport, and depending upon your humanitarian inclinations, it might be a could way to help out fellow Americans.
Aruba is definitely a young couple’s paradise. It isn’t a deep culture, but you can find some great deals on flight and hotel bundles. As you gaze at the pictures of tropical waters, think about this: you can be on the beach in five hours. How you look in a bathing suit and gaging your sun block correctly are pretty important matters. The people at this booth were very nice, but there didn’t seem like a lot of depth to the hotel choices. Jet Blue was offering some really great four days, three-night package discounts to fancy resorts from Boston. I’ve never been fond of resorts, but as I look outside at the grayness here, they get more appealing every second. A series of guest travel experts gave lectures on everything from European river cruises to how to be a mindful traveler. Sagres Vacations focused upon authentic travel in Portugal and Spain. These were mostly for people who have never traveled to the particular regions, but were mildly entertaining.
There were some frills in this show, like spa treatments, the Kripalu Wellness Pavilion, car raffles, and samples of various skin care products. The virtual reality demonstration of Luzia Cirque Du Soleil, coming to Boston in June-gave an imaginary trip to Mexico without having to book a hotel or flight! There was a virtual Red Sox batting cage, and some goofy mascots roaming for the kids. The show failed terribly on the food venues, and the Craft Beer corner, despite friendly servers, totally lacked decent visuals standards and ambience. This hall, which is a cozy size, has a black ceiling, garage lighting, and no special acoustic divisions is so ready for an upgrade. There were multiple places to sign up for free vacation getaways, and tons of free promotional logo materials. Particularly for newlyweds or those new to travel, this show offered plenty of bright, happy faces.