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Whether you plan to cruise the Caribbean or stay in a luxury Spanish villa, here are the best Boxing Day deals for your 2019 summer getaway

IT’S as traditional as turkey sarnies and a brisk walk – the annual search for the summer holiday kicks off on Boxing Day. This year, with Brexit chaos continuing, travel firms are keener than ever to convince you to book early.
With kids-go-free bargains, discounts and plenty of all-inclusive hotels, there is a lot to be said for booking now.As ever when booking, use a credit card for extra protection. And ensure, the moment you book, you buy the best travel insurance. These are some of the best deals on offer right now . . .
TUI’s newest destination for summer 2019 is Kvarner Bay in CroatiaGetty – Contributor
TUI kicks off its turn-of-year sale on Boxing Day with up to £300 reductions per couple on short-haul and mid-haul holidays to destinations including Spain, the Balearics and Canary Islands. These are for trips between May 1 and October 31.
For those travelling further afield, there is £400 off per couple departing between the same times, including stays at Tui’s flagship Sensatori properties.
Families can snap up thousands of free summer child places on accommodation where they share a room, apartment or villa. Deposits are from £50pp.
As well as the above offers, there is a code (SALE100) for a further £100 off selected breaks. TUI’s newest destination for summer, Kvarner Bay in Croatia, will have starting prices from £599. To book, see tui.co.uk.
Enjoy 40 per cent off the family-friendly 5* Serenity Fun City Resort in Makadi Bay, EgyptGetty – Contributor
THOMAS COOK has £300 off per booking if you spend £4,000 or more, £150 with £1,500 and £75 off if you fork out more than £800. The offers are available on holidays including its own-brand hotels — Casa Cook, Cook’s Club, Sunwing, Sunprime, Sentido, SunConnect and Smartline. There are also thousands of free children’s places when the first child shares with two adults paying full price.
Examples include a £75 saving on a week’s all-inclusive at the new 4* Cook’s Club Adakoy Marmaris resort, now from £423pp including flights from Manchester on May 3. Families can save up to £150 per booking with seven nights’ all-inclusive at the 4* Sunwing Arguineguin Seafront Hotel in Gran Canaria, now from £830pp including Gatwick flights on July 18. See thomascook.com.

ON THE BEACH is promising savings of up to 50 per cent on hotels across Europe, including mainland Spain, Portugal, Malta and Cyprus for winter and summer 2019. You can secure a break with deposits from £30pp, then spread the rest of the cost until two weeks before you fly. Examples include 40 per cent off the family-friendly 5* Serenity Fun City Resort in Makadi Bay, Egypt.
Meanwhile, there is up to 25 per cent off both the 4* Real Bellavista Hotel and Spa in Albufeira on the Algarve and the 3* Santa Susanna Resort on the Costa Brava.
See onthebeach.co.uk/holidays/sale or call 0871 474 3000.
EASYJET is offering discounts of up to 20 per cent on 400,000 flights and 400,000 holidays. There are deals on city and beach destinations across Europe, with accommodation ranging from self- catering apartments to 5* boutique hotels, for trips taken from January 30 to July 3. Book with a £60pp deposit, with the balance payable 45 days before departure.
Offers include a four-night stay at the Crowne Plaza Berlin City, reduced from £179pp to £145pp based on Luton departure on February 10. There is also five nights’ half-board at the 4* Asterias Village Hotel in Piskopiano, Crete, reduced from £225pp to £145pp including Gatwick flights on June 22. See easyjet.com.
Enjoy five nights’ half-board at the 4H Asterias Village Hotel in Piskopiano, CreteHandout
BRITISH AIRWAYS has savings on flights and holidays including new routes for 2019 to Charleston, Pittsburgh, Durban and Osaka, as well as destinations such as Las Vegas and Cancun.
There are two-night city breaks from £99pp, European beach holidays starting at £189pp and Caribbean holidays from £499pp. New York, the most-searched destination on ba.com in 2018, is on sale from £379pp with three nights’ accommodation and return flights.
Flight-only offers include Austin from £364 return, Florida (£299), Hong Kong (£520), Chicago (£295), Sydney (£609), Bangkok (£439), Osaka (£649), Nashville (£375) and ­Pittsburgh (£419).
ROYAL CARIBBEAN has launched its One Big Sale with offers on selected sailings in 2019 and 2020, including all-inclusive drinks packages and deposits from £75pp. Book before March 2019 and the first and second guests will get a deluxe drinks package, while the third and fourth guests staying in the same cabin will land a Refreshments Package.
The offer applies to select sailings from the UK, Europe, Caribbean and Asia and include sailings that stop at CocoCay, the company’s private island in the Caribbean. See  royalcaribbean.co.uk/cruise-deals/all-inclusive-cruises or call 0844 493 4005.



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P&O CRUISES celebrates the peak booking period with low deposits, on-board spending money and ­special prices. It is trumpeting the deals as it launches its latest TV ad starring Rob Brydon on Christmas Day. Other bargains in the campaign include extra guests sailing from £1pp on selected seven-night cruises.
These include a two-night sailing to Bruges on Ventura, departing November 29 2019, from £249pp with £40 per cabin to spend on board.
A seven-night cruise on Britannia to Rotterdam, Bruges and Guernsey, departing March 29, is from £599pp including £150 onboard spending money. There is a 15-night Caribbean Transatlantic cruise on Azura from £1,299pp, including £330 per cabin to spend. See pocruises.com or call 03453 555 111.

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He’s green, mean and Orlando’s new star — the Grinch who stole the show at Christmas

WHEN it comes to choosing Grinches, nothing can beat the Jim Carrey variety. Well, nothing but him in person that is.
I’m at Universal Studios Orlando and the Christmas-hating green man is letting out a throat-rumbling belch that I can’t believe isn’t from the gut of the Hollywood star himself.
Kids just love humbug Grinch of the Grinchmas show at Universal Studios©2011 Universal Orlando. All rights reserved.
In fact, the entire Grinchmas show cast are uncannily similar to their on-screen originals.
The musical, which mirrors the 18-year-old classic with a few extra songs thrown in, is a highlight of Universal’s epic annual Christmas makeover.
Within seconds of entering the park that morning I’d been assaulted by an avalanche of Christmas cheer.
A Pitch Perfect band was belting out carols by a giant Christmas tree, while yuletide characters hung around every street corner, from a Nutcracker and the jolly fat man himself.
Universal Orlando has had an epic annual Christmas makeover and cheer is in the air2017 Universal Orlando Resort. All rights reserved
I wasted no time strapping into the thrill rides for some yuletide fear, starting with Revenge of the Mummy, the reliably thrilling Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, and on to Jurassic Park River Adventure — which begins as a scenic water cruise, before shocking you with an 85ft drop through the pitch black.
When I wasn’t flying through the air, I was gorging myself silly on festive food at the Three Broomsticks in Harry Potter’s Hogsmeade village.
Stepping off the Hogwarts Express into the snowy streets of the wintery town was bewitching.
Miles of tinsel, fairy lights and garlands make it extra special in winter.
The Hogwarts Castle lights up while the choir is belting out Harry Potter tunes
With Hogwarts Castle looming over me in the near distance, I instantly felt like I was on the real set.
Despite the balmy weather, a nightly artificial snowfall helps to convince you that you’re anywhere but Florida.
The live street entertainment has been given an upgrade for the season too, with the Hogwarts Frog Choir performing recognisable tunes from the franchise, including Hedwig’s Theme, and The Quidditch World Cup.
But the magic really kicks into high gear with the stunning light and sound show projected on to Hogwarts Castle.
Clutching a hot Butterbeer, the seven-minute extravaganza dazzles the crowd with imagery from the franchise.


GETTING/STAYING THERE: Return flights with Norwegian are from £275pp. See norwegian.com/uk or call 0330 828 0854.
A week room-only at Universal’s Aventura Hotel is from £414 per adult, £404 per child, based on two adults, two children (age 3-9) sharing a standard 2-queen room.
Includes 14 days unlimited access to Universal Studios Florida, Universal’s Islands of Adventure and Universal’s Volcano Bay and early admission. See attraction-tickets-direct.co.uk.

Wizards fly around the castle, magical fairies come to life against backdrops from the films, including the Yule Ball, before a fireworks finale.
From here, it was just a short taxi boat home to Universal’s Aventura Hotel, a brand new property within walking distance of all of the parks and Universal CityWalk.
The chic, modern rooms feature iPads to control everything in the room, from the heating and lights, to the TV, where you can connect to your own Spotify, Netflix or Amazon Prime.
On my final day, I got to experience the jaw-dropping floats from the Macy’s parade, including a giant balloon Donkey from Shrek, 15 new floats and light displays with characters from Minions and Madagascar.
Finally, after racing around the rest of the theme park’s thrill rides, I visited Universal’s CityWalk for the scariest attraction of all.

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Rising Star! is a karaoke bar on steroids, with backing singers and an entire band who play live on stage with you.
Next morning, a little green around the gills, I listened back to my full rendition of Vanessa Carlton’s A Thousand Miles.
Suffice to say, I’ll be leaving the Christmas crooning to Mr Grinch next year.

GOT a story? RING The Sun on 0207 782 4104 or WHATSAPP on 07423720250 or EMAIL [email protected]

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Storybook adventure comes to life amid St Lucia’s natural wonders — from the Piton peaks to the world’s only drive-in volcano

Category : Beach , Travel , travel deals

“ARE we nearly there yet?” came the oh-so familiar plea from the back of the car as we made our way through the tropical rainforests of St Lucia’s interior.
Those whinges turned to gasps as we arrived at Sulphur Springs and the kids read out the sign: “The World’s Only Drive-In Volcano”.
Spectacular view of one of the Piton peaks from the beach
And when we told them we were ALL going to cover ourselves in the warm, mineral-rich volcanic mud, the children were officially in paradise.
The dormant volcano last erupted some 200 years ago but the springs and its famous mud — said to take ten years off you — are one of the top attractions on the Caribbean isle.
For my kids Kitty, aged nine, Jack aged ten and Eddie, 15, it was a storybook adventure come to life — literally. The island’s stunning natural wonders are the setting for a new children’s book The Secret Treasures Of St Lucia.
It tells the story of Jack, a boy who while holidaying at the Coconut Bay Resort meets Nyla, a local young volunteer with the St Lucia National Trust. The pair embark on a whirlwind adventure that takes them to all of the best spots on the island.
The luxurious Landings Resort is on quiet part of Rodney Bay
Families travelling to St Lucia with Virgin Holidays will be handed a copy of the book as they fly out to the island, and its the perfect way to inspire the young — and their families — to explore.
Following in the footsteps of Jack and Nyla we left the heat of our volcano experience and took a short drive to Toraille Waterfalls.
It was like a scene from a shampoo advert — apart from the cries and laughter as our less-than-serene kids dived in.
We returned to our hotel — the Coconut Bay Resort described in our book — to relax and relive our adventures over a cocktail or two.


GETTING/STAYING THERE: Virgin Holidays has seven nights all-inclusive at the 4H Coconut Bay Beach Resort & Spa is from £1,115pp based on two adults and two children sharing a deluxe ocean splash room.
Seven nights all-inclusive at The Landings Resort & Spa is from £1,715pp based on two adults sharing a one-bed villa suite.
Both include direct Virgin Atlantic flights from Gatwick on January 29, 2019 (virginholidays.co.uk or call 0344 557 3859).
MORE INFO: Visit stlucia.org.

The family-friendly all-inclusive hotel is just five minutes from the airport and boasts nine restaurants and seven bars as well as a mile-long beach and even a waterpark. It couldn’t have been more perfect.
An early start the following morning found us sailing the calm Caribbean Sea aboard a catamaran. We were about to witness Saint Lucia’s iconic Piton landmarks up close.
En route, we anchored up for the chance to snorkel with tropical fish. The secret to swimming with the fishies? Locals told us to bring a banana. It worked a treat!
Within minutes hundreds of fish were up close and personal to enjoy their snack — giving us a fantastic view.
‘I’ve never met any community so welcoming and loving’, says Kitty, nine
Following the adventures we’d read about in the book, our most exhilarating excursion took us back to the rainforests where we were whizzed through the tree tops at death-defying speeds.
Having never been on a zipwire before, I must admit I was a little worried. More frightened than me was my ten-year-old son whose legs were actually shaking.
He said he couldn’t face it but one of the experienced staff at Treetop Adventure Park in Dennery shared a zipline with him to settle his nerves.
By the time we had been whizzed 12 times from tree-to-tree on lines of up to 800ft across my son wanted to do it all over again!

The children's verdict

I’VE never stayed in a hotel so friendly and entertaining.

Coconut Bay has without doubt exceeded my expectations.
It has an awesome waterpark with a lazy river, slides and tubes to whizz down that were appropriate for all ages; a swim-up mocktail bar with a “no adults allowed” sign, foam pool party, table tennis and pool tables. I went horse-riding on the beach here for the first time.
It was a great journey with a great horse and made unforgettable memories.
Snorkelling was also great. I saw so many multi-coloured fish but the people were the best part; I’ve never met any community so welcoming and loving.

Kitty Barun, age nine

IT was a sensational experience. The entertainment, the food, the accommodation and, most amazing of all, the people.
I could never say “I’m bored”, because it would be a lie. Every second that went by was packed with fun and excitement.
I’ve never set foot in a hotel in the same league as Coconut Bay. This extraordinary hotel has everything.
You can order delectable food from the restaurant and with all-inclusive it is a great feeling to eat whatever you want – free.
Coconut Bay is the ideal hotel for kids with a great kids club, kids’ food and drinks menus including in the restaurants; it is all exemplary for children.

Jack Barun, age ten

The last few days of our trip were spent in the far north at the ultra-luxurious Landings Resort.
Nestled on the tranquil far edge of the otherwise bustling Rodney Bay, the resort is located on a picture-postcard sandy beach a short walk from Pigeon Island National Park.
It seemed fitting this would also be our last adventure as it is also where The Secret Treasures Of Saint Lucia is concluded. Even getting there was part of the excitement — as we boarded the hotel’s own water taxi for the short hop across.
Over on the island we learned about its vital role as a British military base guarding St Lucia from the invading French in the 18th century.
Heading back down to the waterfront, we finished off an idyllic day discovering the island with a traditional curried lamb lunch on the tree-shaded veranda of the Jambe de Bois restaurant.

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Luckily our last night was a Friday. Every Friday night across the island, local Saint Lucians welcome in the weekend with a street party.
At nearby Gros Islet music was blasting from wardrobe-sized speakers. We sampled the street food and local rum punch as we took in the intoxicating Caribbean atmosphere.
Our adventure may have come to an end but the memories would live on — and we have got the book to prove it!

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