Sunwing Vegas/Florida sale...Cougar Cruise!...Star Santa Fund..Jim's deals/day
You've probably read about the recession that's been battering, oh, most of the world for quite some time. And you've probably read about some great deals in Florida and in Vegas for hotels. I keep getting notices about rooms in Vegas going for $20 or $25 or high-end places offering DEEP discounts.
Now, Sunwing Vacations is offering a deal to get you there. If you buy one seat to Vegas or Florida (see photo) this winter you get the second seat at 50 per cent off. The sale is valid for bookings made between now and Dec. 14 and is applicable for flights from January 1 to March 31 of 2010. The offer covers flights from Toronto to Vegas (every Thursday and Sunday), to Orlando (daily except Tuesday and Wednesday), to St. Petersburg (Monday and Friday) and to Ft. Lauderdale (Sunday and Thursday).
Bookings must be made at www.sunwing.ca, and the sale is applicable only to round-trip fares, with a minimum of two passengers traveling together.
On a related note, the web site Open Jaw is reporting today that the Sunwing/Signature merger has cleared a regulatory hurdle in Ottawa. Details were sketchy, but the site had an item stating that Transport Canada had advised them that the miniser's office issued a letter telling the parties that "there are no public interest issues" at stake with the proposed transaction.
Further news, undoubtedly, isn't far behind.
CRUISE NEWS...AND COUGARS
Terry Dale of Cruise Lines International Association was in town this week and was telling me that 775,000 Canadians have gone on a cruise so far in 2009; up nine per cent from 2008. That's pretty remarkable given the economy.
"Canada is a huge market for us," Dale explained. "It's still something of an emerging market but there are indications Canadians are starting to get the cruise bug."
Yeah, I guess almost a million passengers would suggest that.
Dale says the cruise industry employs 16,000 Canadians and that the total economic impact of cruising for Canada is $2.3 billion, with $1 billion in direct spending. That's something worth considering for the folks in Ottawa, doncha think?
Dale says 15 new ships have been added by CLIA lines this year (including the massive Oasis of the Seas by Royal Caribbean) and 14 last year. Thirteen more are coming in 2010, so there's obviously growth.
CLIA has always held its annual meetings in Ft. Lauderdale, but next June 2-6 they'll convene in Vancouver, where a lot of Canada's cruise action takes place. Eastern Canada also plays a large role with Quebec and the St. Lawrence and the Maritimes, plus Newfoundland and Labrador (want to make a Newfoundlander mad, by the way? Tell them their province is part of the Maritimes.)
Anyway, cruising is big stuff in Canada. Big in San Diego earlier this month, too, where the first-known "Cougar Cruise" took place. Some 300 spaces were booked for "cougars" and "cubs" (I had no idea that was the name, geez) out of 2,000 or so spaces on the Carnival ship Elation, and no I'm not joking that's the name of the ship.
Anyway, there's certainly nothing wrong with consenting adults doing the horizontal bop at sea, and if younger guys like older women, more power to 'em.
I found it funny, though, to see a story and photo in the Mail online out of England showing a young hunk climbing out of a pool and two older women checking him out, or checking out his butt. I think of cougars as 40-50 years old, but this showed what looks like a granny checking out a guy of, oh, 25 or 30 years old.
My final cruise note, at least for today, concerns Azamara Cruises. I saw an item the other day where Azamara Club Cruises has been launched as a "destination-focused cruise line" with longer shore excursions and more overnight stays, as well as new tours. Sounds like a smart move to me.
NEW STAR ALLIANCE PARTNER
Good for news for Air Canada/Aeroplan members. Brussels Airlines has become the 26th member of Star Alliane. The network now covers a whopping 1,077 destinations in 175 countries including four new destinations in Africa: Bujumbura, Conakry, Kigali and Monrovia.
WEST JET TO COZUMEL
West Jet today launched new, seasonal non-stop flights from Toronto to Cozumel, Mexico. Flights depart twice weekly until April 29, 2010, leaving Toronto at 10 a.m. and arriving in Cozumel at 1:17, which leaves plenty of time to get into the water! Coming back, flights depart Cozumel at 2:15 and arrive at Pearson at 7:02 p.m. so you can still get your beauty sleep.
One-way fares are available from $149 plus taxes and fees. Call your travel agent, go to westjet.com or call 1-888-WESTJET.
SANTA CLAUS FUND
Just a reminder, folks, that the Star Santa Claus Fund will once again provide needy children with warm clothes and a toy at Christmas. I've been able to help out in delivering the gift boxes a couple times, and it's a real joy to see the delight on parents' and kids' faces when you drop something off at a home where they don't have a lot of the things that many of us take for granted. So please help with a donation; whatever you can. Thanks. Here's the link:
JIM'S DEALS OF THE DAY
$38 ($269 w/tax) – Save $150 on a flight to
US$75 pp - 60% off Junior Suite in all-inclusive 4* hotel in