Whale Season in Hawaii...Vegas Project Nearly Ready...Jim's Deals of the Day
It's humpback whale season in Hawaii, and one of the best places to see them is on Maui. Whales seem to love the warm channel that separates Maui, Molokai and Lanai, and you can often spot whales fairly close to shore.
I was driving along the road north of Kapalua last January when I rounded a corner (in a convertible, of course) and heard one of the loudest noises I'd ever come across. I looked over and a huge whale was disappearing under the water after an enormous leap into the air. It was just magical. You probably won't get that close, but many companies on Maui offer whalewatching trips where you're guaranteed to see them. I did one with some relatives a dozen years ago and we saw tons.
The latest deal I saw for Maui is for the Kaanapali Beach Hotel, located on a hugely popular beach that's great for long walks or snorkeling and offers fabulous sunsets, to boot. I've never stayed at the hotel but I've had lunch next door and folks all over the island tell me it's a great place with a wonderful, old-time Hawaiian show and a lot of old-time Hawaiian spirit.
They have a Whale Encounter package available Dec. 15 to next April 4, with five nights at $1,539 U.S., a savings of more than $300. The deal includes accomodations for two adults in partial ocean view units, but kids 18 and under stay free. You also get a compact rental car with unlimited mileage, a daily buffet breakfast, a $50 dinner credit at the Tiki Terrace Restaurant, a whale-watching cruise for two with guaranteed sightings and admission for two to Maui's Ocean Center aquarium. There's more to the deal, so check it out at www.kbhmaui.com or by calling 1-800-262-8450.
PASSENGER BILL OF RIGHTS SAILING TROUBLED WATERS
Conservatives and the Bloc Quebecois (thanks, guys) apparently teamed up on Monday to try to stop a proposed bill that would penalize airlines for leaving travellers stranded.
The bill has been floating around the labyrinth that is Parliament Hill for some time. On Monday, however, the House of Commons Transport Committee voted 7-4 to urge Parliament not to proceed with the legislation because it puts too much of the blame on airlines for such problems as flight cancellations, delays and overbooking, according to a report by Canwest.
Jim Maloway, the NDP MP from Manitoba who is pushing the bill, says he hasn't given up. So stay tuned.
The Tories appear to be doing everything they can to stop the bill. But they're on the side of the people, aren't they? They keep telling us that, and they've never lied to Canadians, right?
But it looks more and more like they're tight with established business interests and don't give a rat's you-know-what about ordinary travellers. Which is funny because a lot of their constituents are people with money who travel a lot and know full well how badly passengers sometimes get treated. So what's up, guys?
O CHRISTMAS LIGHT, O CHRISTMAS LIGHT
There's nothing quite like checking out crazy, over-the-top Christmas decorations. And apparently there are few places where go they as nuts as Dyker Heights, the Italian-American section of Brookly. A company called A Slice of Brooklyn will take you on a guide tour of the neighborhood made famous in the PBS documentary "Dyker Lights." For more information, visit www.asliceofbrooklyn.com.
VEGAS PROJECT STEAMS AHEAD
The massive (do they anything in Vegas in sizes other than massive?) City Center project is slated to open in Las Vegas over the next couple weeks. It's an $8.5 billion hotel/living/dining/shopping/entertainment complex that backers claim is the largest, privately funded construction project in all the U.S. of A. There's only one casino, however, so it's kinda diffferent.
We'll have a report on it in a couple weeks at Star Travel. In the meantime, Kitty Bean Yancey reports it's a futuristic spot that "resembles a modern art gallery and mind-boggling design showcase more than themed Vegas resorts."
The Vdara resort/condo is supposed to open Dec. 1, followed by the Crystals complex and the Mandarin Oriental. Yancey reports that tough times in Vegas (still) mean rooms will be available for as little as $149 at Vdara and $179 at Aria.
JIM'S DEALS OF THE DAY
72-hour sale: Up to 65% off off flights with WestJet
$435 - Toronto to Cancun, 5-night 4* all-inclusive beachfront vacation
WHERE ARE THOSE KIDS, ANYWAY?
It's a lot easier to keep track of your kids on a cruise ship than in a big city like Toronto. But they're still slippery little things with minds of their own, and simply knowing that they're probably still on board having fun isn't enough to keep us parents from worrying.
Royal Caribbean has a solution. Their new Oasis of the Seas, which we've talked about in this space before, has a tracking system whereby kids the wristbands that they all have to wear for muster stations will have a "passive electronic device" that allows parents to track them in real time.
Gene Sloan at USA Today has an item on the wristbands in his column today and it's worth checking out. Apparently passengers will be able to rent Apple iPhones for $17.50 per voyage that will help track the kids, as well as allow them to call or text other passengers or to order up spa treatments and make restaurant reservations. Cuz God knows it's pretty tough being on a cruise ship and all.