Fly, Cruise, Surf and Ski for Cheap

Vacancy: Travel industry offers unheard of bargains to fill space

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    AP

    This may have been a stay-home Christmas for the CL family of Arlington, because the high cost of a ski trip or a cruise was just too risky in this economy.

    But now, "How can we afford not to go," CL said.

    His real name is hidden, because he doesn't want to jinx the good job he still enjoys.

    Airplanes are flying with a lot of empty seats, cruise lines are begging for people to sail, and resorts pushing sand and snow that are usually jammed for Christmas have the "vacancy" sign out and blinking.

    "If someone had come in a year ago at this very time and asked to get their family on a cruise ship or into a resort for Christmas, I would have laughed out loud and told them to get out their platinum card," said Steve Cosgrove, president of Dynamic Travel and Cruises in Southlake. "This year, we are begging for business, and so are the cruise ships, airlines and resorts."

    There are some incredible travel bargains, and that includes going right in the middle of the Christmas holidays.

    Here are five of the best bargains, some of which are two-for-one prices or better:

    • Cancun-Mayan Riviera:  Airfare, a six-star hotel, transfers, drinks and all meals. Depart Dec. 21, 24 or 25 for three nights. $799.99 per person (less than half last year's price).
    • Orlando, home of Disney World and Universal Studios: Two-bedroom condo (sleeps six adults), three nights from Dec. 24 to 27, $406. With airfare and a three-day advance purchase, $253 round-trip (less than a third of the cost this time last year).
    • Las Vegas: The MGM Grand, $69 a night, a suite for $89 or a Celebrity Spa Suite for $94 per night. That includes a two-for-one at the MGM Buffet and $10 Free Play. Available Dec. 14 through many spring breaks -- April 30.
    • Antarctica Cruise: Everything included, $4,994 per person (less than half the price last year, and you can still book over Christmas).
    • Ski in Beaver Creek, Colo. (usually sold out long before Christmas): Rooms still available at the Beaver Creek Lodge for Christmas week. Save $900 on a seven-day stay and get the seventh day free. Also get $195 off a six-day lift ticket and $125 off of equipment rental from Back Tie ski rental.

    Spend a little time on the Internet, and you might be surprised at how low prices have gone.

    "Some of these bargains extend into spring break," Cosgrove said.

    Cosgrove also had one final bit of advice: "Those flexible enough to wait until the last minute, just days before Christmas -- you will likely find even deeper discounts."