CheapTickets Logo

CheapTickets Travel Deals

The less you pay, the better it feels.

Articles for ‘International Travel’ Category

7 breathtaking cruise ports around the world

Thursday, January 15th, 2015

It’s “wave season.” That means from January-March every year, cruise lines and cruise distributors offer their cheapest rates in an effort to get people to book their cruises early in the year. Cheap cruises–we’ll take it! Here are some cruise ports that will take your breath away from the deck of the ship as you glide into port.

Port of Venice, Italy

Venice's grand canal at night. Courtesy of Kosala Bandara.

Venice’s grand canal at night. Courtesy of Kosala Bandara.

By land or sea, Venice is one of the most beautiful cities you’ll ever see. People visit Venice to see the canals, to eat the food, to experience the culture and learn some history, before it all sinks beneath the Adriatic Sea. But what visitors don’t necessarily expect is how the water weaving between each and every block plays with the light. In the daytime, the blue of the canals contrasts the color of the architecture, making its orange hue even more vibrant. At night, the lights play on the water, dancing and illuminating the canals to the point that almost becomes a second light source. The best time of day, though, is twilight. That time of day when the sun has dipped below the horizon but it’s not quite dark yet. A purple hue falls over the city and envelopes everything in a way you can’t experience anywhere else. Plan a cruise that docks just as the sun sets to experience the magic.

Port Vell, Barcelona, Spain

A view of Port Vell in Barcelona from Montjuïc. Courtesy of David Merrett.

A view of Port Vell in Barcelona from Montjuïc. Courtesy of David Merrett.

Continuing around from Italy and through the Mediterranean, is Barcelona, the capital of the autonomous region of Catalonia. Barcelona is steeped in history that remains visible today and is evident as soon as your cruise ship begins making its approach toward Barcelona’s Port Vell (that means “old port” in Catalan). If you can peel your eyes away from the beautifully blue Mediterranean waters and palm trees gently blowing in the sea breeze (and maybe a few topless women on a beach nearby, because, well, this is Europe), you’ll be taken aback by Barcelona’s architecture. To your right as you approach the port, you’ll see the outlines of Antoin Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia, the famed yet unfinished church that’s been under construction for decades. To your left, you’ll see the ancient fort perched atop Montjuïc, which served as a lookout for invaders from the sea. The ship will dock at the base of La Rambla, one of the most vibrant and well-known boulevards in the city. When you step onto that Barcelona soil, your adventure really begins.

Port Santorini, Greece

Santorini port. Courtesy of Shane Gorski.

Santorini port. Courtesy of Shane Gorski.

The whitewashed buildings stand out starkly against the vibrant blue of the sky and sea as you approach the Grecian island by way of the Aegean Sea. Tales of Greek monsters are nowhere near your mind as you sail toward Santorini, but you wonder if maybe this is Mt. Olympus because only the gods could tread somewhere this beautiful. The crescent-shaped island is southeast of Greece’s mainland and is the remnants of a volcanic eruption that destroyed the earliest dwellers. As you approach the island’s main port, Athinias, you’ll see the remnants of the centuries-old eruption in the dark, steep cliffs holding up the white towns and villages.

Papeete port, Tahiti, French Polynesia

Tahitian palm with the island of Moorea in the background. Courtesy of Lori Branham.

Tahitian palm with the island of Moorea in the background. Courtesy of Lori Branham.

You may feel as though you’re a castaway finally washing ashore in Tahiti after the hundreds of remote miles you traveled through the South Pacific to arrive. But at least you’ve arrived to paradise. The largest in the Windward group of French Polynesian islands, Tahiti is an explosion of green among the vast blue, with mountains jutting upward and palm trees framing the port. Tiki huts line long docks jutting out into the pristine waters. The island is centered on volcanic mountains, and is famous for its black sand beaches, formed with bits of lava fragments. Much of Tahiti’s beauty also lies beneath its waters. Farming for the Tahitian black pearl is a huge part of the countries economy, and coral reefs surrounding the island teem with colorful wildlife.

Misty Fjords port of call, Alaska

Misty Fjords, Alaska. Courtesy of Andrew Malone.

Misty Fjords, Alaska. Courtesy of Andrew Malone.

Although there are dozens of ports of call in Alaska (and most Alaskan cruises hit several per trip), Misty Fjords is not to be missed. The cruise ship is dwarfed by the rising, snow-capped mountains seemingly enveloping the fjord on all sides. A fjord is a narrow inlet lined with steep cliffs that was formed by a glacier. And this one will take your breath away. There are 1,000-foot waterfalls, sheer granite cliffs, pristine lakes and low-hanging mist in this remote section of the Alaskan panhandle. While you are awe-inspired from the landscape, make sure to keep your eyes peeled for wildlife such as bald eagles, grizzly bears and moose peeking out toward the ship.

Kona Port, Kailua Kona, Hawaii

Kailua-Kona after sunset, with volcanic rocks on the beach in the foreground. Courtesy of Steve Dunleavy.

Kailua-Kona after sunset, with volcanic rocks on the beach in the foreground. Courtesy of Steve Dunleavy.

There are about 150 distinct ecosystems throughout the Hawaiian islands, and you’ll be able to see a slew of them as you cruise into the port in Kona. Ships use the port at Kailua Kona, on the western side of the Hawaiian island. The Kona Coast has been distinguished by recent lava flows that continue to build on top of each other. Lush vegetation grows in over the flows as time goes by, making it possible to go from lush vegetation to a landscape of barren, hardened lava just by turning a corner. Some beaches also feature black sand. Whales are likely to be seen on cruises traveling now through April.

Reykjavik, Iceland

Downtown Reykjavik, Iceland. Courtesy of O Palsson.

Downtown Reykjavik, Iceland. Courtesy of O Palsson.

For being the capital of Iceland, Reykjavik offers some surprising small town charm. Nordic settlers founded the town that has grown up along the pristine Atlantic coastline in 874. Iceland seems to have a little bit of everything, as far as geologic formations go, and cruising into Reykjavik will give you an introductory taste. There are inlets and peninsulas, straits and islands, mountains and glaciers. There are volcanoes and hot springs, ice fields and thermal pools, all engulfed in a bubbling yet sophisticated culture gathered around fresh seafood. Iceland offers snapshots of landscapes that can’t be seen anywhere else in the world, and Reykjavik is the beautiful gateway. Make sure you look up at night for a potential glimpse of the Aurora Borealis.

Story by Ally Marotti

Top 5 travel destinations with cheap and enjoyable off seasons

Friday, August 15th, 2014

The same way Canadian geese fly south in late fall, we travel-lusting people of the world all seem to flock to the same locations at the same time—Mexico and the Caribbean in March, Europe in June, Hawaii pretty much anytime of the year.

Fighting the instinctual urge to travel during peak season means cheaper rates and smaller crowds. Avoid paying an arm and a leg; here’s a list of travel-friendly shoulder seasons to take advantage of year-round.

Utah in summer

The Rocky Mountains in general are breath-taking during the summer. Salt Lake City and Park City draw in large numbers of skiers and snowboarders in the winter, so that’s when they make their bread and butter. The summer months see smaller crowds. Ski-centric towns usually drop their hotels rates by $100-$200 during summer and fall. To the southeast and less elevated part of the state, Moab is home to nature-carved red rocks not to be missed. Strike out on a more frugal outdoorsy vacation from June-September to experience some of the best mountain biking, hiking, white water rafting and outdoor concerts in the nation.

moahb

Arches National Park, Moab, Utah; Credit: Gautam Dogra ©

New Orleans in late summer and fall

Mardi Gras may only come once a year, but New Orleans is full of life year-round. The absolute cheapest time to go is in the peak of summer, but it’s hit or miss on if you’ll enjoy yourself. It depends on how you feel about extremely damp heat. So let it cool down a tad; plan your jazzy trip for the tail end of summer or early fall. The 4-star JW Marriott New Orleans has rates as low as $149 in August, while they reach a high not at $289 during February festivities. The party on Bourbon Street never actually stops, so be sure to pack your party pants.

New Orleans; Credit: Jeff Turner©

New Orleans; Credit: Jeff Turner ©

Ireland in March

You’d think with St. Patrick’s Day in March, Ireland would be a giant island of festivities and high hotel prices. Actually, the holiday in its homeland isn’t the drinking day it’s become in the U.S. It can cost $200-$300 less to travel during early spring, namely March, than in the summer. Don’t worry about the weather; it’s rare to have anything more than an occasional flurry in Ireland’s winter due to The Gulf Stream, and by March, some of that famous green is starting to regain it’s hue. Book now so you can start planning your itinerary.

Muckross Head, County Donegal, Ireland; Oisin Mulvihill ©

Muckross Head, County Donegal, Ireland; Oisin Mulvihill ©

Mexico in summer

Northern Americans and anyone who shares their latitude, know that the only thing getting them through winter is the dream of a beach vacation in the spring. To Mexico they go! Spring breakers, families, couples, girls weekends, everyone. Except you, you savvy little cheapo, you. All-in-one packages for July travel will only set you back about $800-$900, while the same package in February and March clocks in at $1,000-$1,100. Hold off on the all-inclusive Cozumel package until June or July. It’ll be hot, but you’ll have constant access to a pool and/or beach, and your tan will be legend. Be careful of hurricane season, which is known to pick up in August toward the end of the summer.

Playa del Carmen, Mexico; ramonbaile ©

Playa del Carmen, Mexico; ramonbaile ©

Costa Rica in July and August

Central America is a beautiful destination where most nations are affected by a wet and dry season. Costa Rica’s wet season runs June to November, which leaves it pretty empty of tourists. No one wants to go and get rained on, true, but this wet season acts a lot like an isolated daily shower. July and August typically see the least amount of rain within this time period. The short-lived rains sometimes happen over night and if they strike during the day, it’s usually not enough to ruin your plans.

La Fortuna Falls, Costa Rica; Credit: Kyle May ©

La Fortuna Falls, Costa Rica; Credit: Kyle May ©

 

F(r)eeliz Navidad: Affordable Mexican Christmas traditions

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

Feliz Navidad: Colorful pinatas mark holiday celebrations in Mexico. Credit: Yankara.

By Blane Bachelor

It’s no secret the holidays can be expensive, what with all that merry-making and gift-giving. But travelers who are spending Christmas in Mexico will find plenty of reasons to rejoice when it comes to affordability. Getting into the spirit without spending a peso is a cinch, since Christmas traditions in Mexico can be found on nearly every corner, from simple poinsettia displays to spectacular Nativity scenes — including the world’s largest, in Mexico City, which set a Guinness World Record this year. (more…)

Budget in Britain: Exploring London on the cheap

Thursday, November 10th, 2011


Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

By Nancy Buczkiewicz

Having been to London twice before, it was time to be what I hadn’t been before: a true tourist. On previous trips I spent time with locals and coworkers, never having to worry about where I was eating, which tube I was taking, or what I’d be doing. This London vacation was going to be vastly different. This time I was going with my mom. When tasked with taking your mother on her first trip abroad to the place she holds dear to heart (via what she’s seen on BBC, of course), you need to make it memorable.

Challenge accepted. (more…)

Best deals for top destinations in 2011

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

Savvy travelers know the key to affording a getaway to just about any place in the world is in picking the best off-peak time of the year to visit. Pairing the right destination with the cheapest time to travel there can sometimes mean hitting the beaches a little later, the ski lifts earlier, and avoiding the rates associated with high-season hotel stays.

(more…)

Montréal voted happiest city

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

Montrealers out on the Boulevard Saint-Laurent. Credit: Rednewport.

Montréalers out on the Boulevard Saint-Laurent. Credit: Rednewport.

By Yves Pelletier

Montréal was recently voted one of the world’s 10 happiest places. Sure, I always knew that living here was a good thing and influential on my happiness, but to see it confirmed by the travel guide Lonely planet made me realize it’s not just me.

(more…)

When in Rome, go for budget-friendly Rome hotels

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

By Maria Mora

This summer, my brother and his wife are going on a Europe vacation for their honeymoon. They’ve asked me and my husband to join them for a long weekend in Rome, and we couldn’t be more excited — we haven’t been there since 2004 and can’t wait to return! We’re considering the best of cheap Rome hotels, and we’ve narrowed it down to three budget-friendly hotels, all of which come with great reviews and ratings.

(more…)

Top flight sale of the week: Fly cheap to Europe with American Airlines

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

ORB_bloghdr_FlightsCheap_530x130

Looking for cheap flights? You’re in the right place here with our weekly roundup of the best airfares around. This week, we’ve found great fares to Europe with the latest American Airlines sale ending tomorrow at midnight!

American Airlines: super savings to Europe Save big on cheap flights to European destinations like Brussels and Barcelona. Book your flight by tomorrow, May 12, 2010, and  travel through June 10, 2010, for cheap airfares like these:

  • New York City to Madrid: $520
  • Chicago to London: $706
  • Miami to Paris: $790

Remember, this sale ends tomorrow so book your flight no later than 11:59pm CT on May 12, 2010. See the American Airlines sale for complete terms and conditions.

For more flight sales, check out more flight deals now.

Top 5 can’t-miss cruises

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

By Kim Windyka

Mother’s Day is right around the corner, and if you’re still hunting for the perfect present for that special lady in your life — be it your mom, sweetie, sister, or other great gal — what better gift than a relaxing cruise to a fabulous destination (or several fabulous destinations)? There are literally tons of cruise itineraries and vacations to choose from, but here’s a few show stoppers definitely worth a look.

Sulphur springs from St. Lucia's drive-in volcano. Credit: D.G. Brown

Sulphur springs from St. Lucia's drive-in volcano. Credit: D.G. Brown

(1) 6-Night Southern Caribbean: While many Caribbean cruises focus on the Eastern and Western portions, the Southern Caribbean has gorgeous islands with lots of historic charm. On this trip, you’ll stop first in sleepy St. Croix; take a scenic horseback ride or an exciting scuba dive. Then, beach it up in St. John’s, Antigua, before checking out the drive-up volcano (yes, you read that right) on St. Lucia. End your trip by exploring the amazing plant and animal life at the Nature Reserve on St. Kitts.

(more…)

Flights on the cheap: The week’s best flight deals

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

ORB_bloghdr_FlightsCheap_530x130

Looking for cheap flights? We’re excited to bring you this first post as part of a weekly roundup of the best flight deals around. This week we’ve got news on the hottest airfare sales and cheap flights to destinations like Nassau, New York City, and Paris.

Air Tran Airways: Ends today–huge savings on U.S. airfares Save big on flights across the U.S. and beyond with the latest sale fares from AirTran. Hurry — this last-minute deal ends today, April 20, 2010, at midnight! Travel through November 10, 2010, to grab round trip fares like these:

  • Atlanta to Charlotte: $88
  • Chicago to New York City: $182
  • Orlando to Nassau: $88

American Airlines: cheap flights to Europe Fly to Europe for less with the latest fare sale from American. Book by April 23, 2010, depart April 5 – April 30, 2010, and return by May 15, 2010.  Sample round-trip air fares include:

  • Washington to London $520
  • Chicago to Paris: $764
  • Los Angeles to London: $662

For more details or to see all available sales, check out more flight deals now.

CheapTickets resources: