An Affordable Private Plane Tour Of The Caribbean?
It's just like a cruise, except that you're flying from one destination to the next on a turbo-prop plane that seats between 30 and 70 passengers.
Orlando, Fl.-based Mauiva introduced this "AirCruise" concept as the company calls it a year ago when it launched with two North America itineraries: a seven-day Western Wonders Experience AirCruise around Northern California, and onto Bryce Canyon, the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas; and a six-day All American East Experience AirCruise that starts in Toronto, continues onto Washington, D.C., and ends in Arlington.
Starting this September, Mauiva is adding a new, seven-day Sun and Fun Experience, which departs from Orlando and heads to the Grand Bahama Island, Grand Cayman and then Cancun for $1,999 per person, based on double occupancy. The itinerary includes at least two days in each destination, motorcoach transfers, 4-star resort stays, breakfast, lunch and dinner, several included activities such as a Chichen Itza tour and entrance to the Xplor Ecological Park & Zip Lines, as well as additional optional tours and activities.
The resort on Grand Bahama will be the Grand Lucayan Bahamas, and the other resort contracts are still in the works, but will be of a similar caliber, the company said.
Customers can also book a $1,449 option, per person at the double-occupancy rate, for just the flights and accommodations. (Note: the rates do not include the customs fees, which are estimated at $162 per person.)
The company charters its planes through Cleveland, Ohio-based Charter Air Transport, a FAA-certified carrier registered with the U.S. Department of Transportation. The pilots and flight attendants that Mauiva uses are certified by the Federal Aviation Administration, a company spokesperson told Budget Travel.
The company started in 2009 as Mauiva Air Tours, offering flights over Central Florida.
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Are You Okay With Allegiant’s New Carry-On Fees?
It seems like only yesterday that low-cost carrier Spirit Airlines had us gasping in disbelief upon announcing that it was going to start charging for carry-on bags (the nerve!). It was actually exactly two years ago, and Spirit Airlines continues to thrive in spite of (or perhaps because of) its carry-on bag fees. Now fellow low-cost carrier Allegiant Air has followed suit. The Las Vegas-based Allegiant introduced the new fees last week. According to the company's website, passengers are allowed one personal item, such as a purse, briefcase, laptop computer, small backpack, small camera or food container, at no charge provided it is no larger than seven inches high, 15 inches wide and 16 inches deep. The fee for an additional carry-on bag such as a small rolling luggage, garment bag or tote bag, not to exceed 25 pounds, ranges from $10 to $30 depending on the route and if booked in advance, and will be $35 if purchased at the airport. The carry-on bag must be no more than nine inches high, 14 inches wide and 22 inches deep. Oversized or excess carry-on baggage will be assessed a fee of $35 at the airport, Allegiant informs passengers. Following the news that Allegiant had implemented the new fees, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer asked the U.S. Department of Transportation to require airlines to fully disclose fees, including carry-on baggage fees, in the initial airfare quote so customers can accurately compare airfares. "While I understand and agree with the need for transparency in airline pricing, Allegiant's approach of allowing passengers to pay for only the services they desire allows passenger to pay the lowest price for air travel without being misled," Maurice Gallagher, chairman and CEO of Allegiant Air’s parent company Allegiant Travel Co., wrote in a letter to Schumer, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported. Allegiant operates flights in Washington, Florida, Nevada, Arizona, South Carolina and California with scheduled service from more than 70 U.S. cities. The company also operates charter flights throughout the U.S., Mexico and Canada. Budget Travel readers had plenty to say when Spirit first instituted the fees two years ago. How do you feel about them now? Have you gotten used to all the added fees, or are they just as upsetting now as they were then? More from Budget Travel: Feds to Airlines: Stop Hiding Ticket Fees and Taxes How the Most-Hated Airline Fee Became a Huge Success Obama Plans $32 Billion in Air Traveler Fees to Cut Debt
Tips On When To Book Summer Flights Amid Rising Fares
This week started out with several airlines implementing domestic airfare hikes of between $6 and $10, FareCompare.com reported, marking the third such hike already this year and perhaps causing concern among travelers preparing to make their summer flight arrangements. On Monday, Southwest Airlines implemented an increase of between $3 and $5 for a one-way flight, or between $6 and $10 for a round-trip fare, depending on the flight distance. Soon thereafter, Delta, Frontier, United, US Airways, Virgin American and American Airlines all followed suit. Rick Seaney, FareCompare.com’s CEO, predicts that air prices could continue to inch up. So what are summer travelers looking for the best airfare deals supposed to do? Depending on when travelers are heading out the door, they should either book now or wait, according to the airfare comparison shopping site. FareCompare.com recommends that for travel through early and mid-June, travelers should buy their airline tickets now. For travel beginning in late June and beyond, travelers might benefit from holding off for a little bit before they book, the site advises. "Most airlines have not begun releasing their cheapest seat inventories for travel from late June onward so - for the bulk of summer vacation travelers - it is still too early to ding your credit card. Those who do will find they will likely pay more than they have to," the site explains. But taking a wait-and-see approach for transatlantic flights is probably not a great idea, according to airline industry analysts, who predict that the capacity crunch on flights to Europe makes the likelihood of any last-minute transatlantic air deals zero to none. In other words, if you want to travel abroad this summer, book sooner rather than later. More from Budget Travel: GuestMob: New Site Offers Top-Shelf Hotels, 20 to 50 Percent Off READERS' CHOICE: The Best Airport To Get Stuck In 7 Questions to Ask Before You Book an All–Inclusive Vacation
Top 5 Tips for Shooting Great Video
How many times have you found yourself in the midst of an I-want-to-save-this-moment-forever situation (maybe a compelling street performance in Mexico City or a sunset over the Grand Canyon) and you instinctively whip out your hand-held camera and start filming—only to go back later and discover that the results are, well, lame? If so, you're not alone. The proliferation of film devices has made it easier than ever to shoot video, but just because we have access to all of these gadgets doesn't mean that we know how to use them. In fact, according to documentary filmmaker Roger Sherman, what matters most is not what kind of recorder you're using, but HOW you're using it—a detail that's reassuring for a budget traveler like me who doesn't have hundreds of dollars to invest in the newest video device. Roger feels so passionately about this subject that he has just released a book on the matter, called Ready, Steady, Shoot: The Guide to Great Home Video. If anybody is qualified to create such a guide it's Roger—he founded Florentine Films with Ken Burns and his films have won two Academy Award nominations, an Emmy, and a Peabody. And on top of being a documentary filmmaker, he's also a cinematographer and a still photographer. I caught up with Roger yesterday by phone and he was kind enough to give us his top tips for shooting great video. Best of all, if you read these tips and you STILL have questions Roger will answer them—just write them in the comment field below by Tuesday, March 27. We'll post Roger's answers in a follow-up blog post. 5 tips for shooting great video: 1. Hold Steady Hold the camera, even a small smartphone, with two hands. Bend your knees a bit. Tuck your elbows in close to your body. Breathe slowly and don't rush your shot. Don't hit the record button until you're really relaxed and ready. 2. Don't Pan Back and Forth Most professional films are made with static shots, no camera movement at all. If you did the same, the quality of your videos would soar. Amateurs usually move the camera far too much, to disastrous results. If you need to pan (moving the camera left or right), take a quick look at the scene to determine where the energy is. Pan slowly in that direction. Let's say you're in Florence and you spot a majestic statue and a beautiful fountain. Frame on the statue and pan over to the fountain—towards the energy. That's where you'll want to move in for closer shots. Never pan left and then right in the same shot. Pan left, cut, reframe, Then shoot again, another pan if you must, but it's usually better to follow a pan with a static shot. That's the way pros do it. 3. Don't Zoom According to Roger, zooming is death. It's guaranteed to ruin your film. No one, not even pros, can hold steady a shot zoomed in all the way. Instead of zooming, walk closer to the subject, then shoot. My rule of thumb is zoom no more than 10-20% from full wide angle unless your camera is equipped with steady shot, a smoothing mechanism. Even then you can't zoom in all the way. Do a test to determine how far in you can truly hold a zoom. 4. Short Shots Most shots can be six seconds or less for statics. It all depends on what you're looking at. A beautiful view of the Grand Canyon will keep your audiences' attention longer. A close up of a piece of Murano glass doesn't need to be held as long. Think about how long you held the previous shot. It will help determine how long the next one should be. Look at your footage to learn how to pace your movie. Watching TV shows, movies, anything with the sound turned off is a great teacher. 5. Vary Your Shots Professional films are made of a variety of shots: wide, medium, close. Yours should too. Again, watch a few minutes of any movie or drama on TV with the sound off and you'll see what I mean. Many home video shooters make the mistake of shooting their films repeating the same wide shot from the same distance to the subject over and over. Boring! If we go back to the example of the fountain in Florence, we might begin with a wide shot of the whole fountain—people hanging out, kids playing. If we walk in closer, we might frame a second shot of most of the fountain with fewer people. That would be a medium shot. Going in closer still, we might frame a shot of the mermaid spouting water, a close up. Those three shots become a sequence that tell a complete story about the fountain, one that viewers will be captivated by. The best way to make great home videos is practice. Shoot a bit. Look hard at your results. Learn from your mistakes. Shoot some more. What challenges do you encounter when shooting your own home movies? What would you like to know most? Ask your questions below and we'll follow up with Roger's answers in two weeks time. SEE MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL: 3 Best Camera-phones by Network 40 Unbelievable Underwater Snapshots 8 Items You Never Pack...But Should
Summer Trips You Need to Start Planning for Now
The temperatures are brisk. Your gloves and scarves are still in rotation. That must mean it’s time to start thinking about summer? No, not just wistfully, but seriously. As crazy as it may seem, the annual deadlines for summer hiking and rafting permits are upon us and now is the time to secure your spot for summer fun. The rules for permits vary depending on what where you want to go and what you want to do. To help you plan, here is what you need to know. Start by shopping around and learning about your options. A good place for that is recreation.gov, which is a single point of access for gathering information and making reservations for multiple federal agencies. Once you know what you’re interested in, get your ducks in a row by checking the individual park’s website and familiarizing yourself with their application rules. Then make sure you’re in the right place at the right time to make your reservation. 4 popular permit deadlines to write on your calendar: Here are a few popular permit deadlines that are coming up. Many places offer both pre–reserved lottery permits and last–minute permits, but we recommend trying for a spot in advance. All charge application fees in addition to the permit fees themselves. Half Dome, Yosemite (California): The application process for climbing the iconic granite monolith’s cables gets an update this year when a lottery system replaces the first–come, first–served format that was abused by scalpers last year. Permit window: March 1–31 Submit: Visit recreation.gov. Mount Whitney (California): The highest summit in the Lower 48 at 14,505 feet elevation, Mount Whitney has good reason to be popular, and this is the first year that applications are online rather than snail mail. Deadline: March 15 Submit: Visit recreation.gov. Coyote Buttes North, Paria Canyon/Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness (Arizona/Utah): The photogenic "Wave" is a popular destination for photographers, but permits restrict the number of people in the area to 20 per day to accommodate the limited number of people who can comfortably fit there at one time. Deadline: 4 months in advance of desired dates. The most difficult months are April, May, September, October, when chances of winning lottery are 10%. Submit: Visit BLM.gov. Four Rivers—Salmon River (Wild), Middle Fork of the Salmon River, Selway River, Snake River (Idaho): Even though the original lottery deadline ended on January 31, any reservations unconfirmed by March 15 will become available again on March 16. Deadline: March 16 Submit: Visit or 877/444-6777" target="_blank">recreation.gov. Camping Camping reservations can be extremely competitive in the most popular parks during the summer. In Yosemite, reservations open up four months in advance on the 15th of the month on recreation.gov, and are usually filled within minutes on the first day they become available! Yellowstone Park, however, is one park that doesn’t offer campground reservations on recreation.gov—it runs its own reservation system through Xanterra Parks & Resorts. Apply online or call 866/439-7375. It can feel like a lot of work to plan this far ahead for summer, but before you get frustrated by the application process, keep in mind that permits are just a part of what keep the beautiful scenery beautiful. Anthony Bobo, Acting Deputy Division Chief, National Recreation and Visitor Services of the Bureau of Land Management, explains it this way: "Permits are used to protect natural resources and to insure high quality recreational experiences for public land visitors. They are a necessary tool for managing use in popular places." Once the dates are set, the months leading up to your trip are invaluable for other reasons, such as training, budgeting, and catching the off–season equipment sales—not to mention the daydreaming that gets you through the rest of the winter. Do you have any summer travel planning tips? Share them below! —Alison Brick MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL National Parks (Minus the Crowds) 7 National Parks You've Never Heard Of Quiz: Think You Know the National Parks?