Real Deals

Go somewhere, do something different in 2005

Email|Print| Text size + By Richard P. Carpenter
Globe Staff / January 2, 2005

It's been one day since the New Year arrived, and by now you've probably broken most of your resolutions. But here's one you should make and keep: Do something different in your travels this year. Here are a few possibilities in various price ranges:

See Mardi Gras and then some. RiverBarge excursions will be setting off Jan. 31 for the Rave on the River Mardi Gras Mambo. The 10-day excursion aboard this hotel barge begins with a Route of Jean Lafitte trip along the Texas and Louisiana coasts before culminating in New Orleans for a three-day Mardi Gras celebration that includes reserved grandstand seats for the festivities. The price is $3,130 per person, double occupancy, on the barge's Royal Deck, or $3,495 for the Platinum Deck. The price includes food, entertainment, and land activities.

Call 888-GO-BARGE or visit

Soar in spirit -- or reality. Fantasy of Flight in Polk City, Fla., near Orlando, has lots of vintage planes, which you can explore and see fly overhead. There are a couple you can even fly in. Lectures on more than four dozen planes span the period from Kitty Hawk to World War II. There are also interactive dioramas, Corsair flight simulators, and back-lot restoration tours. You can have breakfast or lunch in a 1930s-style Art Deco diner. Through May 20, flights are available in a 1929 New Standard D-25 for about 20 minutes for $57.95 and in a 1942 Boeing Stearman PT-17 for half an hour for $189.95. Park admission is $24.95 for adults, but a Flight of Four Pastport for $44 also will get you into the Florida Air Museum in Lakeland, the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum in Titusville, and the Flying Tigers Warbird Museum in Kissimmee.

Visit or call 863-984-3500.

Finesse your finances. All right, the thought isn't thrilling but you know it's important. The Carisbrooke Inn in Ventnor, N.J., a mile from Atlantic City, has a Get Out of Debt package that gives you the second night free when you stay two nights. The package, available any Sunday-Thursday, includes a meeting with a financial consultant from A.G. Edwards during which you can talk about investments, college funds, retirement planning, and all that. Guests also get a copy of "The Millionaire Next Door," which outlines how to save automatically. The price is $105-$121, depending upon the size of the room.

Call 609-822-6392. For information on the inn, visit

Scavenge around the world. GreatEscape2005: the Global Scavenger Hunt is both a competition and a charity event, April 15-May 8. Travelers go from New York to Los Angeles -- the long way -- and the team crowned World's Greatest Travelers will split $100,000 in cash and prizes. Only 25 two-person teams can compete, visiting 10 nations across four continents. In the words of the event sponsors, the teams "will meditate with monks, train like ninjas, take flamenco lessons, learn yoga, cook with native chefs, find lost cities, ride elephants to sacred temples, and learn enough of the local languages to unravel cryptic clues and scavenger hunt challenges." Several humanitarian organizations benefit from the event, which costs $9,900 a person, covering air fares, 23 nights in first-class hotels, and about 40 percent of their meals. Although participants work in teams, singles are invited to apply.

Visit or call 310-281-7809.

Decode Da Vinci. Dan Brown's fictional but fascinating bestseller "The Da Vinci Code" has inspired a package at the Meurice, a prestigious hotel just steps from the Louvre, where the novel begins. With the guidance of an art historian, participants in the Da Vinci Code package will retrace the steps of the novel's protagonists, with private tours of the Louvre and St. Sulpice Church. Included are two nights' accommodations, daily buffet breakfast, the tours, and a Da Vinci commemorative watch. Through April, rates begin at about $930 a night, with a two-night minimum.

Visit or call 800-223-6800.

Go nicely wild. California's Monterey County presents nature close up this month and next, with migrating butterflies, pods of whales, bald eagles, sea otters, and many other critters. Consequently, there are estuary safaris, nature tours, and other excursions. A Wild for Nature package, available through Feb. 28, features discounts at 27 area hotels or inns and deals on tours and adventures. Depending on the dates, rates start at $49 a night (the Monterey Hotel). Seven hotels have rooms for under $100.


Disney prices Starting today, one-day tickets to Walt Disney World will be $59.75, a $5 increase. However, discounts are available for longer stays, and a revised "park-hopper" option will let you go to all four theme parks whether you are staying one day or up to two weeks. (Tickets will then expire unless you purchase an option that costs $10-$55, depending upon length of stay.)

Under the new "Magic Your Way" system, a seven-day, six-night package for a family of four that includes lodging at a Disney hotel and tickets to one theme park each day, starts at about $1,500, which Disney says is a 25 percent savings over the current price. There are also new dining plans and other la carte options.

Visit or call 407-934-7639.

Universal Orlando has followed suit and raised its single-day prices by $5 to $59.75, but it also has multi-day deals, some including on-site lodging. Visit and click on Hot Deals.

Give and get Avis has launched a campaign to support the Make-A-Wish Foundation's 25th anniversary. Donate $25 or more through March 31 and you will get a coupon good for up to $35 off a weekend or weekly rental of a premium or luxury car or a minivan.

Go to

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