Central Park is moving
to the ocean — sort of
An area resembling New York's Central Park will be featured on Royal Caribbean's new Genesis ship, expected to be launched in 2010 as the world's largest cruise vessel.
Spanning the length of a football field, Central Park will include foliage, walkways, restaurants, boutiques, an art gallery and a moving bar. It will also feature concerts and street performances, providing the feeling of an outdoor space on a cruise ship that will carry 5,400 passengers and sail from Fort Lauderdale.
The Central Park design is the first major architectural detail to be divulged, after several years of planning and secrecy.
Central Park will be lined with 254 balcony staterooms and feature five restaurants and two bars. One of the bars, called the Rising Tide, will ascend and descend three levels.
Beach resorts for families
More beach resorts are offering pools with water slides, free children's programs and other amenities that make them affordable alternatives for families looking for one-stop vacations, according to Parents magazine.
The May issue lists the 10 resorts the magazine deemed to best meet those criteria. The resorts offer seven-night vacations, May through September, for prices ranging from $129 a night to $500 a night (for an all-inclusive with meals and activities covered), with most falling under $250 nightly.
The resorts are Sheraton Grand Bahama Island Our Lucaya, Bahamas; Club Med Punta Cana, Dominican Republic; South Seas Island Resort, Captiva Island; Atlantis, Paradise Island, Bahamas, above; Disney's Vero Beach Resort; Beaches Negril Resort and Spa, Jamaica; Hilton Hawaiian Village, Honolulu, Hawaii; Ocean Edge Resort & Spa, Brewster, Mass.; Loew's Coronado Bay Beach Resort & Spa, San Diego; and Rio Mar Beach Golf Resort Casino & Spa, in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico.
Details at www.parentsmag.com.
Free one-way Auto Train rides
Amtrak is offering free passage for children ages 2 to 15 on the Auto Train between Lorton, Va., near Washington, and Sanford.
The nonstop train allows riders to transport their cars from the mid-Atlantic region to Florida and back. This deal gives a break to families who drive to D.C. but want to take the train back.
Reservations can be made now through June 6 for travel between June 1 and Sept. 30 in sleeping car accommodations. The promotion allows two children to ride free with each full-fare paying adult. Some restrictions apply.
Visit www.Amtrak.com or call toll-free 1-800-872-7245 and use the discount code H749.
Hotel deals in Palm Beach
The posh hotels of Florida's Palm Beach County get a lot less pricey once temperatures start to rise.
The "Stay And Play Package" at the PGA National Resort & Spa, for example, tees up one night's accommodations and a round of golf for $234 per couple plus tax and resort fee, valid May 26-Sept. 30. (Toll-free 1-800-633-9150; www.pgaresort.com, click on Stay and Play.)
The trendy Chesterfield Hotel offers the "Palm Beach Getaway" through Dec. 15, with one night's accommodation, dinner and continental breakfast, for $269 plus tax for two. (Telephone (561) 659-5800; www.chesterfieldpb.com, click on Our Offers.)
Cruising at the last minute
For travelers with flexible dates, Cruise West has a Stowaway Program that saves 25 percent off regular rates. Sixty days or more before you want to travel, make a nonrefundable $700 deposit for the cruise itinerary of your choice and designate a 30-day departure window. Cruise West will notify you 30 days in advance of your travel date.
Savings vary by itinerary. Find out more at toll-free 1-888-851-8133 or www.cruisewest.com/stowaway.
Tell us about grandkid travel
What's your favorite memory of traveling with your grandchildren? Send it to us for possible use in the May issue of the St. Petersburg Times' LifeTimes magazine when we write about older adults taking their grandkids — but not the kids' parents — on vacations. Tell us about the best, or worst, moments, in 100 words or less. And send a picture, too.
Send submissions to Grandtravel, c/o Robert N. Jenkins, St. Petersburg Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731-1121. Or e-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org (please include "grandtravel'' in the subject line).
Compiled from staff and wire reports