Free Tropical Ice Skating Party Brings A Slice Of Florida To Wintry NYC

By now, most New Yorkers are over the thrill of winter’s first snow and eager for a little sunshine.

But if a tropical vacation isn’t in the cards right now, head down to The Rink at Rockefeller Center in midtown Manhattan on Wednesday, January 16, where the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau will be holding a free tropical ice skating party to celebrate its new “Hello Sunny” marketing campaign.

“Tropical ice skating” might seem like an oxymoron, but Fort Lauderdale will certainly try. Look forward to beach balls, breezy music, swimsuit-clad ice dancers and an on-site “Beach on Wheels,” with models tossing out inflatable beach balls and distributing free sunglasses. There will also be free ice skating, including skate rental, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. – a great chance to save on the regular $30 cost of admission.

And in case all the palm trees and beach umbrellas fail to distract you from the fact that it’s actually 35 degrees, a trip to Florida will also be raffled off.[Photo Credit: Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau]

Cuba: Nine US cities cleared for charter flights

charter flights cuba

Nine US airports have been approved for charter flights to Cuba, Reuters reported this morning. The Cuban travel agency Havanatur Celimar made the announcement on Friday.

The US government forbids commercial flights between the United States and Cuba, so all air travel between the two countries has to proceed on charter planes. The Obama Administration has already removed all restrictions on travel to Cuba by Cuban-Americans and eased the guidelines for travel to Cuba by US citizens more generally.

The general changes already enacted by the administration include an easing of restrictions on religious, academic, and professional travel and the return of people-to-people educational exchanges, which were outlawed by the Bush Administration.

The lucky nine cities approved by Havanatur Celimar: Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Fort Lauderdale, Houston, New Orleans, San Juan, and Tampa. Charter flights to and from Cuba already take off and land from Los Angeles, Miami, and New York.

[Image: Alex Robertson Textor]

Visit Vinales Valley in Cuba

Spring Break deals: Fares up overall, best deals can be found to Florida, Europe

The folks over at Bing Travel have been studying up on 2011 Spring Break airfare, and we hate to break it to you, but they’ve found that the average airfare cost is up more than 10 percent over last year, to $489. But the airfare increase doesn’t have to stop the beach party. If you choose wisely, there are still plenty of Spring Break deals to be had.

Bing’s Spring Break Travel Forecast says that lower fares on flights to Florida (particularly Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando and Tampa) can still be found. The average fare for Boston to Jacksonville is $233, and you can fly from San Francisco to Tampa for $300.

And while many overseas airfares have risen since last year, average airfares from several U.S. cities to Paris, Amsterdam and Rome have dropped as much as 13 percent over Spring Break season fares in 2010.

If you are just settling into spring break planning mode, here are some tips from Bing on finding the best spring break deals:

  • Be Flexible. Now we would never suggest skipping a day of classes, but, ahem, you will do better on airfare if you’re not trying to travel on weekend days like your Spring Break brethren. Monday to Monday or Tuesday to Tuesday fares will almost always be better. And if a school schedule isn’t determining when you vacation this spring, you will likely save money by going at the beginning of March or April rather than the middle of either month.
  • Use Online Tools. You can monitor your airfares and get notices when they drop on a certain route from a number of different online services. Bing’s Price Predictor shows you whether airfares on your chosen route and dates are rising or falling, to help you decide when to buy.
  • Be Aware of Hidden Fees. Be sure you know what you will be charged for checked baggage, overweight luggage, aisle or exit row seats before you hit the airport.

Bing is giving away five $100 travel stipends for 2011 spring break travel on Twitter. To enter, tweet @fareologist with where you’d like to go for spring break. Check out the contest’s official rules before entering.

[Image credit: Flickr user Dawn Huczek]

Delta plane engine breaks apart over Port Everglades

A Delta plane heading to Minneapolis had to abort its journey from Fort Lauderdale- Hollywood International Airport today as one of the plane’s engines broke apart in the air.

Pieces of the engine from the plane fell over Port Everglades where they are being recovered by investigators from the Broward Sheriff’s Department after the 7:30am attempt to take off. The plane quickly returned to the airport, making an emergency landing with no injuries reported.

Photo: Delta Airlines

Breaking: Jam Fest cruise busted: No high times on high seas

busted at seaIt was supposed to be rock and roll and fun and games on MSC Cruises Poesia this week on it’s Jam Cruise to the Western Caribbean. Instead they got a full dose of US Customs and Border Protection medicine when the ship was raided and passengers busted for illegal drugs and contraband while docked at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Called Jam Cruise 9, the Cloud 9 Adventures event cruise scheduled from January 4th through 9th was to visit Roatan, Honduras and Costa Maya, Mexico.

The January 4Th operation resulted in 15 seizures of Marijuana, LSD, mushrooms, hash oil, Ecstasy, prescription drugs and drug paraphernalia in mostly small quantities, CPB spokeswoman Migdalia Travis told SunSentinel.com

Agents and K-9 officers from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement; the U.S.Marshals Service; U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the Broward County Florida Sheriff’s Office participated in the raid, Travis said.

Bummer.

Flickr photo by Jemingway