Recently, I attended the Arizona Travel Show presented by AAA in Phoenix. There were many travel and cruise companies present with the latest in brochures and information. I thought that this week we could discuss some of the destinations that might interest you.
How about a one-day Grand Canyon white water raft trip? The Hualapai River Runners is the only Indian-owned and operated river rafting company in the canyon and they will be your experienced guides as you cruise down the Colorado River in the traditional rafts you have seen on television. You will also stay at the Hualapai Lodge for a night or two. It is located 92 miles from the Grand Canyon West.
You begin early in the morning with a ride to Diamond Creek to begin your whitewater tour. At the shore of the Colorado River, your raft will be waiting and soon you will encounter your first set of rapids. The company provides snacks, beverages and lunch. They will tell you what to wear and pack before leaving home. The cost begins at $249, plus a transportation fee. Give them a call for more information and bookings at: 1-888-255-9550.
Lake Powell is scenic, large and not too far from home. There is a choice of houseboats for rent that will allow you a complete, independent vacation while enjoying the pleasures of the lake. Lake Powell is in the Glen Canyon National Recreation area and they say the best way to explore this majestic wonder is by luxurious houseboat. Almost 2,000 miles of shoreline surround you as you cruise one of the largest man-made lakes in the United States. You’ll enjoy towering red rock formations and sandy beaches. There are numerous water activities for you to pursue while taking time to enjoy the calm of the water and relaxation of the houseboat and area. The houseboats come with TV and some offer on-deck hot tubs along with the other amenities you expect in a first-class vacation. I looked at a 62-foot “Journey” boat that sleeps eight adults and offers 1,984 square feet of space. There are three staterooms with queen beds, hot tub, upper deck driving helm, two bathrooms, tracking satellite system and simply deluxe all the way. It’s available at the Wahweap Marina.
You can obtain more information by calling the Lake Powell Marinas boat rental office at 1-800-528-6154 or the Antelope Point Lake Powell Marina. 1-800-255-5561.
I always enjoy riding the Grand Canyon Railway from Williams to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. They are offering a three-day, two-night package with stays at the railroad’s Williams hotel, some meals and your rail trip to the canyon for $331. You spend four hours at the Rim where you can add a motorcoach tour and enjoy lunch at the El Tovar hotel. You get to ride a classic streamlined train for four hours round trip to and from Williams. They may be offering better rates when you call to book. For more information call 1-800-The-Train.
Another nearby rail experience is the Verde Canyon Railroad out of Clarkdale. It departs at 1 p.m. most days, returning at 5:45 p.m. This is a wonderful, scenic experience, not far from home, and worth the drive to Clarkdale. Fares are reasonable and I suggest you go first class to enjoy very comfortable seating with snack and beverage service. Phone 1-800-293-7245 for more information.
A little farther away is the Rio Grande La Veta Pass scenic line operating out of Alamosa, Colo. to La Veta, Colo. You board in Alamosa at 9 a.m. for La Veta and return at 5:45 p.m. The rate for dome car seating is $58. You will have two hours at picturesque La Veta for lunch and shopping. On the rail trip you will view soaring mountains reaching 14,000 feet in elevation, ride through dramatic mountain passes, and be able to photograph steep cliffs and colorful canyons. Most days the train is pulled by diesel engine and some days is steam powered. Check with the railroad by calling 1-877-726-RAIL or view the Web site at www.riograndescenicrailroad.com.
If you are an outdoors person and desire luxury, look into the Rancho de los Caballeros Guest Ranch and Golf Club in Wickenburg. It is located two miles west of the town on Highway 60. The resort has 79 casitas in Mexican-style décor with American Plan. The casitas are large and very comfortable. You can ride out in the upper Sonoran desert on a horse chosen to match your riding ability from a string of 100 horses. Follow one of their cowboys down uncharted trails on this 20,000-acre ranch. In the evening enjoy your favorite beverage as the sun sinks in the west followed by your included fine dinner. You can get more information by dialing 1-800-684-5030 and visiting their Web site at www.SunC.com.
Cruising on the Great Lakes is available again this summer. The cruises are operated out of Toronto, Canada and in a week you can visit several interesting ports along the Great Lakes. The operator is using chartered Greek flagged vessels that are quite nice for this type of cruising. You can contact the company by calling 1-888-891-0203. www.greatlakescruising.com.
Another cruising idea that is quite unique is Marine Link Tours located at Campbell River, British Colombia. You cruise the inland waterways of coastal British Columbia on the MV Aurora Explorer which is a former landing craft of the British Navy. It now operates as a freight boat serving logging camps, fish farms, fishing resorts, remote coastal communities and homesteads. The 135-foot craft transports a wide variety of heavy equipment and general freight throughout the Gulf of Georgia and the remote inlets of Johnstone-Queen Charlotte Straits. The boat has six small cabins for 12 passengers sharing a bathroom. The facilities include two lounges, and dining lounge. Breakfast and lunch are buffet-style while dinner is served in three courses. If you are the type that likes camping, RVing and do not want to dress up, this might be for you. The scenery will be spectacular and there should be plenty of opportunity to see all kinds of wildlife and sealife. Watch for schools of dolphin, with the occasional black bear or deer as they roam the passing shoreline. You will probably see killer whales, seals and sea lions. The five-day cruise is operating now with rates beginning at $1,250 Canadian. For more details call 1-250-286-3347 or visit the Web site at www.marinelinktours. com.
One of my favorite cruise companies is Voyages of Discovery with their 20,000-ton, 600-passenger MV Discovery. This is a British ship with a great crew, fine food and comfortable, club-like surroundings. They are offering 40 percent off their Baltic Capitals, 16-night cruise operating round trip out of England with a cruise sale fare beginning at $3,805 and a $199 air add-on from Phoenix. It departs Phoenix airport Aug. 10, 2009. They include a two-night London hotel stay with a half-day sightseeing tour. Call them at 1-866-623-2689. www.voyagesofdiscovery.com.
There are spectacular cruise sales going on now with most of the lines offering deep discounts, some with free air and included on-board amenities with substantial credit to spend while on the ship. Some are offering room upgrades, free shore excursions etc. Check out these savings with your local travel professional. This is a good time for a Caribbean sailing for good weather and interesting tropical ports. We are planning to enjoy an 11-day cruise later this month.
I hope this week’s travel column has given you some ideas for future travel. Enjoy!