Is it really fall? Are people truly geared up to finalize their winter packages?
In discussions with tour operators and properties at our major sunspot destinations it is clear that summer bookings, held back by 30 C temperatures, were slower than usual.
Those who needed to plan ahead booked in similar numbers. Destination wedding bookings may in fact be higher. And families whose only opportunity to travel together at school and university breaks still continued to ensure they had their space confirmed for the times and destinations that suited their schedules.
Manitobans seem to need the persuasion of Jack Frost to really motivate travel agency visits. In the end a winter vacation, for most, seems to have become an established pattern, regardless of what fall temperatures bring.
The rush comes with cold weather and sustained low temperatures that will keep Manitoba agents hopping.
That may be evident by this week's questions that relate to sunspot issues.
QUESTION: You wrote in a recent article that Manzanillo flights from Winnipeg had been cancelled. I was told recently they were still on.
What are the facts?
ANSWER: The non-stop flights to Manzanillo and Panama were cancelled some time ago. I stated this in my column and then after press time the Manzanillo program was reinstated by Transat Holidays.
I am particularly pleased about this reversal. We visited this destination a couple of years ago when it was then a recent addition to the non-stop offerings from Winnipeg.
We really enjoyed the week we spent there. We travelled throughout the area and found the people to be extremely friendly. They like to brag about the low crime rates in the region.
Tour operators, even after having announced schedules for this winter, are still making final adjustments. We are trying to convince Transat Holidays to put Panama back into the Manitoba mix as a direct flight from here.
So far no word has come through relating to re-establishing the Panama route from Winnipeg.
QUESTION: We have been thinking of cruising the Caribbean this year instead of taking our usual resort vacation.
There seem to be loads of choices so I am assuming cruise vacations are popular. We always contemplated one for Europe more than the south. Can you give us some guidance on this?
ANSWER: Cruise vacations just keep growing and growing, filling most of the new ships whose launches are heralded with a flood of publicity and advertising each season.
Last year the cruise industry carried more than 20 million passengers for the first time, with the largest market originating in North America. This was a huge increase of two million or 10 per cent over the previous year
It seems we just can't get enough of this style of travel, which allows tourists to see numerous countries or multiple regions of a country without having to change bedrooms or transport luggage from property to property.
The sunspot cruising options are varied, but the primary choices seem to fall into itineraries labeled as Eastern, Western, or southern Caribbean.
The eastern and western options take you to a wide range of islands depending on the cruise line. The southern ones very frequently include a trip through the Panama Canal, a major attraction to people with a perspective of history and a sense of awe over major construction achievement.
If you have the time this is really good option to consider, as on the way south you also take in a significant number of island countries offered in the other cruise itineraries.
If this is your first trip as indicated you really should sit down with a travel agent to discuss what style of cruise travel best suits your budget and travel preferences.
There will be a big difference between large-, medium-, and small-ship cruising. You want to make sure these are explained to you so the cruise line and vessel size selection you make creates the best memories you have a right to expect from your first cruise experience.
QUESTION: We are thinking of going to Cuba for the first time this winter.
In the past we have read about the requirement for separated health insurance as well as the need for electrical converters for the hair dryer and other gadgets we will be taking with us.
Can you clarify what we need in these areas?
ANSWER: A couple of years ago there was a big kerfuffle in a poorly planned and executed series of statements from the Cuban government.
As it turned out it was much ado about nothing for Canadians who have medical coverage through provincial health plans. Cuba soon announced that a provincial health card was all that was required to gain entry.
Nevertheless most people still travel with supplementary insurance to cover a wide range of circumstances our provincial plan will not cover, including flying you back quickly if required.
Insofar as electrical converters required you need to find out from the resort how they are powered. Cuba has both 110 and 220 power sources, and they can be different from resort to resort.
If you are in a 110 property you will not require anything at all for your appliances. Alternatively for a 220 resort you will need both an adapter and converter.
Forward your travel questions to firstname.lastname@example.org . Ron Pradinuk is president of Journeys Travel & Leisure SuperCentre and can be heard Sundays at noon on CJOB. Previous columns and tips can be found on www.journeystravelgear.com or read Ron's travel blog at www.thattravelguy.ca