The Real Deal: Four nights' accommodations and round-trip international airfare for $469 per person—plus taxes and fees of about $144.
When: Departures Feb. 1 to Mar. 1; add $130 for a five-night stay Dec. 6-20, 2007.
Gateways: Fort Lauderdale; add $20 for Miami; $130 for New York City; $150 for Atlanta; $170 for Chicago; $200 for Minneapolis; $210 for Denver; $240 for San Francisco; additional airports available.
The fine print: Taxes and service fees are about $144. Meals with soft drinks and alcoholic beverages are included. Resort taxes and fees are included, but not gratuities at the on-site restaurant. Round-trip airport–resort transfers are an additional $31 per person. There is an additional cost for children, starting at $269 per child. The government of the Bahamas charges foreign departure taxes up to $45. Based on double occupancy; single supplement is $90. Read our guidelines before booking any Real Deal.
Book by: Dec. 10, 2007; based on availability.
Contact CheapCaribbean.com, 800/915-2322, cheapcaribbean.com.
Why it's a deal: CheapCaribbean is more flexible in its pricing than many tour packagers, ensuring that you won't be caught at a disadvantage if a major airline has a fare sale that lowers prices on a route that you're booking. To illustrate, let's use Fort Lauderdale as a gateway.
The lowest round-trip fares we recently found on Kayak for travel in mid-February to Freeport, Bahamas, was $188 on Spirit Airways. Given that the list price quoted above for the CheapCaribbean package is $613 per person after taxes, that means a lodging cost of about $106 per person per night at the all-inclusive resort. In comparison, booking directly with wyndham.com would recently have netted lodging at $125 per person per night—a costlier rate.
Even better, CheapCaribbean says that when lower fares are available, as with this Spirit fare sale that we found on Kayak, its Web site usually accounts for this by automatically charging a lower price than its list price. Sure enough, when we attempted to book this package through cheapcaribbean.com, it recognized the Spirit fare sale and adjusted its price accordingly, effectively charging $100 per person per night, plus airfare. Plus, repeat bookers will save money. For example, when you make a vacation package reservation with CheapCaribbean, you'll receive a personal promo code in your confirmation documents. The next time you make a reservation with CheapCaribbean, you can save $50 by entering the promo code at the Web site.
Trip details: The Grand Bahama Island package offers four nights of lodging in one of 276 rooms at the Viva Wyndham Fortuna Beach, an all-inclusive resort near Port Lucaya and 13 miles from Freeport airport. The package includes a standard, 288-square-foot-room with a garden view, two queen beds, air-conditioning, a private bath, and other amenities.
The Bahamas offer popular diving sites because of the gorgeous coral reefs. Bring your own snorkeling or scuba-diving gear, or rent gear from a local supplier.
CheapCaribbean tends to focus on packages with very short booking windows, so early booking is a good idea.
Passports are necessary for visiting the Bahamas. ("What are the passport rules again?")
During this time of year, bring a jacket or sweater for cooler evenings. Culturally, beach clothing is inappropriate in the streets and restaurants. Pack causal pants and shirts.
For more tips on what to do in the area, visit the official tourism Web site of Grand Bahama Island.