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Five U.S. Summer Trip Ideas

© Bob Krist A beach on the north end of Hilton head

Photo: A beach on the north end of Hilton head

5. Northern Cruise

  • While most travelers book cruises months, if not a full year, in advance, Anne Morgan Scully of McCabe World Travel in McLean, Virginia, says it’s still not too late to sail this summer: “There are always reasons why people will have to cancel, and staterooms will open up.”

Destination: Alaska

Last-Minute Options

  • Persistence is essential, and flexibility helps as well. Your luck may be better if you are willing to cruise early or late in the short Alaska season—that is, May or September—when fewer families are traveling. “In May you might need more winter clothes,” Scully notes, “but there is often less fog along the coast.”

Meet Your Match

  • Start your cruise search with a database like the one assembled by the Cruise Lines International Association (cruising.org), which allows you to browse for cruises by destination. A similar—and arguably superior—resource is provided by Frosch, a Houston-based travel agency (froschvacations.com). Its site allows you to customize your searches according to your preferred departure date, line, cruise length, and individual ship.

Get an Agent

  • Using an agent who can act as your advocate is crucial. Cruises are generally reserved through travel agents, and those who book the most often get the first chance at cabins that open up unexpectedly. Ten travel agents who specialize in cruises are listed on Travel + Leisure’s A-List.

Pay Now

  • Scully recommends putting down a refundable deposit when adding your name to a waiting list. When a cruise line knows you’re serious about sailing, you are more likely to make it on board.
    John Newton
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