The Young Romantics
Save time and money on your next escape,
but don't skimp on amour
By Jennifer Davoren
Cruises are ideal for fans of one-stop shopping. Vessels combine cozy accommodations and transportation from port to port. A day's entertainment can start with a dip in a deck-top swimming pool, move to the cobblestoned streets of a historic port of call and end with a Broadway-style show back on your ship. Sumptuous dining, movies under the stars, a private balcony cabin for seaside lounging with your significant other -- all can be had for the price of a cruise ticket.
And setting sail from the U.S. makes the most of limited vacation time. A short flight to, say, Miami will put you in the home port of 10 major cruise lines, and from there you can explore Caribbean and Bahamian islands and the Central American coastline -- and be home again in less than a week. Choose from more than 20 departure points on three coasts, from Seattle and Baltimore to New Orleans and Galveston, TX. Sail from Fort Lauderdale, FL, on Feb. 14 aboard the Westerdam from Holland America Line and you could spend your Valentine's Day bound for Grand Turk, Puerto Rico, St. Maarten and the private isle of Half Moon Cay for as little as $499 per person.
Embrace irie in Jamaica
You have plenty of destination choices among the crystalline waves of the Caribbean, from party-hearty Cancun, Mexico, to the quiet southern isles of Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao, but the "one love" allure of Jamaica calls to couples. This spot is the granddaddy of all-inclusive resorts.
The first Sandals, a name synonymous with this style of vacation, opened on the island in 1981, and the company now offers beachfront lodgings in four sunny spots: Montego Bay, Negril, Ocho Rios and Whitehouse. Other options range from budget-friendly (explore the five Jamaican outposts of Riu Hotels and Resorts) to indulgently romantic ( Couples Resorts, with four properties and more than 35 years of experience in catering to pairs).
All-inclusives package your getaway essentials -- room, meals, beverages from morning coffee to late-night cocktails, loaner boogie boards and snorkeling gear -- and wrap them into one price you pay before leaving home. This makes for a largely fee-free getaway, unless you opt for some pampering add-ons; at Couples Tower Isle outside of Ocho Rios, an on-site "romance concierge" can arrange a private, wavefront dinner for two.
Get a group rate in Europe
The Old World seems out of reach for those short on paid vacation time, but an assortment of independent tours hosted by Monograms encapsulate the best of Europe in four to 10 days.
The company's line of "A Week In ..." itineraries highlight cosmopolitan capitals like Paris, London and Rome. Other trips reach out to Dublin, Barcelona, Munich and more, packaging two or three locales in six to 10 days of travel time. Look to Monograms' "Getaway" offerings for three or four days in a single city, including Sorrento, Italy, where guests are treated to a tasting of limoncello liqueur.
Independent tours bundle airfare, lodging and ground transportation between destinations and sell them at a group discount to individual travelers. Guests have access to a local tour company representative who can answer questions, and a brief, guided sightseeing excursion usually is scheduled for the beginning of your stay. But the rest of the time is free for you to pursue your own interests. Why not pack a picnic lunch and spend an afternoon lounging in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower?
The information in this story was accurate at the time it was published in January/February 2015. Please visit Vacations To Go or call (800) 338-4962 for current rates and details.