Top Winter Destinations

Local travel agents say American South, Hawaii and Caribbean cruises are options for Rochesterians who want to get away from the cold

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

 Forsyth Fountain in Forsyth Park in Savannah, Georgia, is also a favorite destination. Photos courtesy of Carpe Diem Travel, Rochester.
Forsyth Fountain in Forsyth Park in Savannah, Georgia, is also a favorite destination. Photos courtesy of Carpe Diem Travel, Rochester.

Have you booked your winter vacation yet? Area travel agents are already booking trips for their clients’ getaways. Here’s what’s hot for locals who have the means and who want to get away from the cold.

From Christine Van Zile, travel agent, Van Zile Travel Service, Rochester.

• Galapagos Islands. “I think that people 55 and up aren’t assuming they can’t go places adventuresome anymore. It’s off the coast of Peru. You can go birding and see the sea turtles and whales.”

• Hawaii. “It’s always popular, as the weather is great, though it’s the busy season in the winter.”

• Caribbean cruises. “Whether it’s seven days to two weeks, many love Caribbean cruises. My older clients, who are more experienced travelers, want smaller ships for a more intimate experience rather than being overwhelmed. If they go with their children and grandchildren, then that might be going with a larger cruise ship with more things to do for children. They want cruises to islands that are more intimate, places like St. Lucia. St. Thomas hasn’t recovered fully. St. Maarten’s is making a comeback. Barbados is a little difficult to get to from Rochester than Buffalo. Cancun is popular.”

• Europe. “It’s is not as big during this time, but its off-season so you don’t have massive crowds in Barcelona, London and Paris. You can do some sightseeing without being overwhelmed. Europe in the summer is quite hot.”

• Florida. “This is always a big destination. People always go to Disney. It’s a great place for grandparents to take grandkids. During school break is always busy. The Florida Keys are popular as well, for the weather.

• South America. “This seems to be an up-and-coming destination. There are places like Machu Picchu, Patagonia — and Argentina is lovely. People really want to see those places. The flights aren’t as long as some other destinations.”

— From Teresa Shelly, manager, Carpe Diem Travel, Rochester.

• American South. “We just booked a Southern Charm Holiday Tour of Charleston, Savannah and Jekyll Island. It’s a little warmer, but not completely a tropical kind of thing.”

• Domestic Group Tours. “We’re getting a lot of group tours. They’re not necessarily people who know each other, but group-guided tours. If they’re not wanting to drive around in an unknown area, tours are good. You’re on a deluxe motor coach and someone does the driving for you. There’s a guide on the bus to give you the information. You sit back and relax. You don’t have to plan or drive. It’s a great way to go if you don’t want to drive in unknown cities. It works great if maybe you’re a couple or single women traveling together in a strange city. You can get group tours in the United states. There are some to Texas, and some that focus on national parks, DC, NYC, the Southern Charm Holiday tour, and places like Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, to see ‘The Miracle of Christmas’ at Sight & Sound Theatres.”

• European River Tours. “It’s a nice way to see a lot of countries from a different perspective versus along the streets. You seen the internal part of the country. An ocean cruise only goes to the coastline.

Photo: A popular destination among Rochesterians this time of the year is the Riverwalk at Christmas in San Antonio, Texas.