Not too late to get away: Summer trips still can be had

Sun sets on Sunrise in Houma
July 16, 2013
South Lafourche airport sees growth spurt
July 16, 2013
Sun sets on Sunrise in Houma
July 16, 2013
South Lafourche airport sees growth spurt
July 16, 2013

Time’s a ticking, but there’s still time to make a summer vacation a reality, even if Disney World is your family’s destination of choice.

“I just booked a Disney trip for a family last week, and they are leaving this week,” said Ambassador Travel manger Christine Katz. “Family vacations keep us busy, and most families want to go to Disney. Disney works to keep price point reasonable for families, and the price is very reasonable for what you get. Plus the staff there is very personable, so it’s usually a pleasant experience.”

Tri-parish students will be returning to school the first and second weeks of August, and Katz’s late season booking will cost the four-person family about $2,500. The cost includes hotel, park tickets and a meal plan for five days.

“Disney just released its package prices for next year, and people are already coming in to book vacations for next summer,” Katz said. “One of the perks of living in this area is that you can drive to Disney World instead of flying.”

If Disney World is not the destination in mind and cost is still a concern, vacationers looking to save on a trip by eliminating potential airfare costs can also plan a cruise through Ambassador Travel, located in Houma. Travelers hitting the high seas have the convenient option of leaving for a cruise from New Orleans, and cruise prices now are about $400-$500 per person. Destinations for cruises include places along the Mexican coast and the western Caribbean, and travelers can book family-friendly or adult-only trips on board the floating cities. Cruise ships offer an array of opportunities for passengers, including spa services, shops, clubs, casinos, lounges and even Broadway style shows.

“I’ve noticed that people are getting away from the cruises at bit,” Katz said. “Unlike the all-inclusive resorts, not everything is included in the price of a cruise. Even though there is no air fare for a cruise, you may come out the same, depending on what activities you do aboard the boat and at the ports of call.

“With an all-inclusive resort, you don’t end up with a surprise bill at the end of the week.”

Ambassador Travel’s hottest summer all-inclusive resort deal is a $1,000, seven-day trip to a three-star resort in Mexico. The price includes airfare on a chartered, non-stop flight from New Orleans.

“We worked with a tour company on this deal, and it’s a very reasonable price,” Katz said. “Depending on when you are traveling, airfare alone could easily cost $600. This company will also be offering a cheaper, four day trip like this next year.”

Other popular all-inclusive resort locations booked through Ambassador Travel include Jamaica and Dominican Republic, St. Lucia and Antigua. Prices to Jamaica and Dominican Republic are slightly cheaper than to St. Lucia and Antigua due to the cost of flights to the area

“All-inclusive resorts are all about the same price,” Katz said. “The final cost is ultimately determined by the airfare, but the resorts are good value. You know up front what you will spend, besides souvenirs, before you get there, and there are both adult-only and family-oriented resorts.”

Like agents at Ambassador Travel, A World of Travel co-owner and travel agent Remly Bergeron is also busy booking summer cruises, Disney trips and all-inclusive resort vacations for both families and honeymooners.

“All-inclusives have really been selling,” Bergeron said. “Sandals used to be the only resort that did it, but now a lot more resorts are doing it. They put a bracelet on your wrist and basically everything but motor vehicles are included in the cost.”

According to Bergeron, a five-day trip for two to a four-star resort in Cabo San Lucas can start out around $2,500, depending on air fare, and the Houma business regularly books these trips for couples as well as families.

Even though most families take vacations during the summer, many of Bergeron’s customers come in a year in advance to book trips, and, after leaving their initial deposit, visit the agency periodically to put money toward the trip.

Fellow travel agent Georgie Melancon with Peltier Travel Agency in Thibodaux is also busy this summer booking vacations and honeymoons at tropical all-inclusive resorts in St. Lucia and Mexico as well as trips to the quickie wedding capital of the world, Las Vegas.

“We book lots of honeymoons in Vegas, but not at resorts,” Melancon said. “For $1,600, we can book airfare, travel to and from the hotel and the room hotel for two people. Las Vegas can be really cheap, depending on what hotel you stay at.”

In addition to Sandals vacations, Disney trips and cruises, Melancon has also seen a number of married couples booking trips to Hawaii.

“People have really started booking trips to Hawaii vacations for their anniversaries,” Melancon said.