12/11/05 — Travelers won't be home for this holiday

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Travelers won't be home for this holiday

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on December 11, 2005 2:03 AM

Instead of staying home in eastern North Carolina for the holidays, some local residents are traveling throughout the world for Christmas.

Although many individuals traveling for the holidays planned their trips in April, Eileen Conekin, a travel agent with All About Travel, said many would-be travelers are just completing their reservations.

"Cruises are a good deal right now. If you're willing to drive to Florida, then you could get a relatively inexpensive cruise from there," Mrs. Conekin said.

During this holiday season, cruise packages have been extremely popular, she said. Whether you are interested in traveling to the Caribbean or Mexico, there are many individuals and family packages still available.

At a total of nearly $60 a person per night, the price includes lodging, food and entertainment aboard ship. Aboard the Carnival Fantasy, leaving from Port Canaveral, Fla., passengers could enjoy a four-night cruise to the Bahamas for a tax-included price of $620.58 per person. For a seven-day trip on the Carnival Glory, travelers could enjoy the eastern Caribbean for $1,075.33 per person, All About Travel agent Peggy Humelbaugh said.

There are still spots available for a variety of cruises this Christmas, Mrs. Conekin said.

Stefanie Hawkins, a travel consultant for Quixote Travels, said even in December there are still travel opportunities available for the public.

"Although you have to pay a premium during the holiday season, the prices are very reasonable for what you get," Mrs. Hawkins said.

Since cruise lines strive to sell every cabin, Mrs. Hawkins said the prices usually drop prior to a vessel's departure. For those who reserved their tickets in advance, she said the cruise line provides rewards in place of lower ticket prices.

Another popular holiday destination is Disney World in Orlando, Fla., the agents said.

Lower prices and family-friendly features make for a more-accessible vacation plan.

And for those who want something different for Christmas, there is always Las Vegas.

Tickets are tough to get, Mrs. Conekin said, but there are still a few if you are willing to drop the dollars necessary to secure one.

But even with the increased plane fare, Mrs. Hawkins said travel packages are relatively inexpensive. She did warn, however, that hotels have a tendency to inflate prices during holidays.

Whether planning a trip to Colorado or the Caribbean, Mrs. Conekin suggested travelers reserve their trips for the upcoming year as soon as possible. Since 1999, more people traveled in 2005 than any other year. Due to this increase, many travel companies have already raised their prices for 2006, she said.