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Top five bargain destinations for spring 2007

For many popular destinations, spring is the last chance for bargains before the summer high season sweeps in and doubles the cost of travel. This upcoming season, you can find bargains in the U.S. and around the world.

These destination choices are the result of monitoring travel trends, industry news, and sale patterns to bring you the places that offer the best bargain value for the coming season. Below you’ll find examples of deals presently available for spring trips. Like all deals, these are sure to expire; however, a little research on your part can yield similar results when you’re ready to book.

The Caribbean

Whether it’s global warming, El Niño, or just a particularly mild year, early winter’s unseasonably warm weather lowered the usual winter demand for tropical vacations. The effect is an emerging trend of late-winter and early-spring sales, and last-minute specials to a number of Caribbean destinations. Add the spate of rebate promotions created to combat the drop in visitation due to the new passport restrictions and we’ve got ourselves a bargain destination. Not all Caribbean destinations are cheaper than usual, but if you’ve got some flexibility you should be able to find some atypically good deals.

American Airlines has a Puerto Rico and U.S.V.I. airfare sale for late March (tickets must be booked by February 14), with fares from $178 round-trip. Through February 13, AirTran is running a sale that includes spring Bahamas flights, with prices such as $94 one-way between New York and Freeport. New service on the horizon includes Delta’s route between Atlanta and Tobago that will begin on February 17. And, JetBlue’s new seasonal route between Boston and San Juan, Puerto Rico, will continue through the end of April.

There are hotel sales, vacation packages, and passport-rebate accommodations deals in the Caribbean this spring as well. Holiday Inn is running a free-night promotion, and Jamaica, the Bahamas, and a number of individual resorts (including Marriotts and Renaissance Caribbean and Westin Aruba) have rebate or perk promotions for visitors with new passports. Until February 19, Expedia is running a tropical destinations sale that includes packages to the Caribbean, and has discounted spring packages as well.

After a long spell with few good last-minute cruise deals, offers are now popping up all over for Caribbean sailings, a trend that is likely to continue through spring. Cruise Editor Erica Silverstein has advice about the best strategies to take advantage of the reduced last-minute prices.

For more tips on travel to the islands, visit the Caribbean Travel Guide.

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