Cruise out of Charleston
Options are limited at this low country port of call but you’d be hard pressed to find a cheaper way to land yourself on a tropical island. Plus, choosing a port within driving distance of Charlotte will save you money on unnecessary airfare.
You won’t find the most lavish cruise liners here. The newer, fancier ships sail longer, more exotic itineraries from ports like Port Canaveral and Miami. Still, the older ships that sail from Charleston (Carnival Ecstasy and Carnival Sunshine) will get you to where you’re going all the same.
Bahamian and Eastern Caribbean trips out of Charleston range from 4 to 10 days starting at $269 per person up to $929 per person. That, of course, is inclusive of your transportation (the ship), your lodging (your stateroom), loads of on-board entertainment and all your food. Be sure to budget more for for alcohol, add-on excursions and tips.
For comparison, flights to Nassau from Charlotte right now are $360 and up and you’d still have to book a hotel and pay for all your meals once you got there. Cruising is much easier on the wallet.
Book an all-inclusive trip at cheapcaribbean.com
If cruising isn’t your thing, you can have a similarly simple, hands-off planning experience by booking an all-inclusive trip that lumps your flight, resort, food and drinks into one fee. Cheap Caribbean is an excellent resource for this.
Trips range from 3 nights (with airfare included) for as little as $579 per person up to more luxury 7-night trips (with airfare included) starting at $2,400 per person.
Right now, their cheapest option is a 4-night all-inclusive trip to Punta Cana starting at $579 per person. For comparison, a flight from Charlotte to Punta Cana alone is around $600 right now.
Of course, you’ll get what you pay for at these resorts. Some may look better online than they do in person but reading traveler reviews can help you gauge which will work for you. Local blogger Jennifer Decurtins has reviewed two Cheap Caribbean resort trips on her site Peanut Butter Runner. Read about her trips to Punta Cana and Puerto Moreles as well as her experiences booking with Cheap Caribbean.
Makes you want to hop on a plane, right?
Fly Allegiant to South Florida
If you want to keep your tropical trip domestic, budget airline Allegiant will fly you Concord to Florida for as low as $35 one way. (You can read my piece on flying Allegiant here. Note that the terminal has undergone some major improvements since I was there during its renovation.)
Flights to St. Petersburg, Ft. Myers and Ft. Lauderdale will get you far enough south to still enjoy 70-degree days in the dead of winter.
You can use the money you save on your flight to explore the area. Depending on where you fly in, you could hop a $75 shuttle boat from Miami to the Bahamas, rent a car for the majestic (and kind of terrifying) drive across the Keys or tour the Everglades.
Ok, I’m feeling sufficiently wanderlusty. Who’s up for a trip?
Header photo of Waves Hotel & Spa in Barbados via Cheap Caribbean on Facebook