Champaign, IL (WCIA) Midwest Travel Expert Marcia Frost

While we are all sick of staying home, we’re also a little nervous about planning a vacation. We don’t know how long the stay in place orders will be, and whether or not our destination will really be open.

It’s not all bleak. The fact is that there are some great deals out there and good cancellation policies.

Is Flying Safe?

There are no guarantees, but the airlines are doing their part to keep the planes clean and passengers as separated as possible. On most flights, there will be no one in the middle seats.

American Airlines, which flies right out of Champaign, as well as half a dozen nearby airports, was the first to announce flexible cancellation policies. If you book before May 31st, you have a year to change your flight – without any penalty. Delta and United have also joined in with similar policies.

There are great bargains out there too. Just check the airline websites for all the details, which can change at any time

The Cruise 411

We’ve all heard about the cruise ship stranding that happened over the last few months. All ships have been grounded since.

Carnival is the first to announce the start of operations. They will be cruising beginning August 1st. The deals are unbelievable (some cruises are only $50 a day!). Read the fine print on their cancellations, which keep changing.

Princess, which I was hoping to do an Alaska cruise on this year, is being more cautious. They are cancelling some cruises for the year (like Alaska) and don’t have anything going before at least August. They are compensating passengers well for the inconvenience.

Guests who are booked on a cruise that was cancelled, and have fully paid, will receive a Future Cruise Credit equivalent to 100% plus an additional 25% bonus. If you have not paid in full, you can get your deposit back plus a matching bonus for any voyage through May 1, 2022.

There are other options that a lot of people don’t know about. I’m hoping to check out one of these cruises soon so I can provide a lot more information about the experience, but I can tell you that you can cruise right from the Midwest on American Cruise Lines and Pearl Sea Cruises.

American Cruise Lineshas Mississippi River Cruises that go from New Orleans to Minnesota, and shorter ones in between that include stops such as Hannibal, Missouri, and Memphis, Tennessee.

Pearl Sea Cruises has two different Great Lakes cruises that will take you from Milwaukee to Toronto, including stops on Mackinac Island and Ontario, Canada, islands. There is also a longer version that includes Niagara Falls.

These cruises are not inexpensive, but they are now offering discounts, and include entertainment and seminars on board, as well as complimentary cocktail hours and wine & beer with dinner (all meals are included). The ships are also much smaller than the major cruise lines, so you don’t have to worry about ever being in a room with 3,000 people.

American and Pearl Sea Cruise Lines are hoping to sail in July. If you book anything by August 31st, you can cancel up to 24 hours before the trip begins and get 100% future cruise credit to use by December 31, 2021.

The Great Outdoors
Two places I’ve enjoyed that have great cabins are offering some deals. Just keep in mind, they have to follow current state policies so you may only be able to have your family in your cabin or RV.

Lake Rudolph Campground in Santa Claus, Indiana, which has an assortment of cabins, RVs to rent and hookups for your own, and tent camping, is available beginning the end of May. Check their website for rates and availability. Keep in mind that Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari is planning on opening in June.

Kishauwau Cabins in the Starved Rock area is open and is renting if you are looking for a relaxing couple or family getaway. Starved Rock State Park hopes to open in June. Check their website for details.

Bargain Hotels for Everyone, and Freebies for Healthcare Workers

Tomorrow is International Nurses Day and we have to appreciate our healthcare workers now more than ever. Many hotels are using this time to give their appreciation.

Take advantage of the “Vacay Layaway” at Buy One, Give One.  Hotels from Chicago to the Caribbean are participating in this thank you to health care workers. It’s a win-win. Between now and June 30th, book a discount future stay or buy a gift card, and one will be given to a healthcare worker.

Karisma Hotels & Resorts, which includes Generations and El Dorado, two places I loved in Mexico, has a Holidays for Your Heroes promotion. They are donating 150 luxury all-inclusive resort stays to essential workers and their families. Through June 30th, you can nominate someone as a thanks for their service. While on the Karisma site, check out the deals they have for their hotels.

Great Wolf Lodges, which has a newly remodeled property I loved in Gurnee, is also offering a deal for nurses that benefits everyone. The resorts, which hope to open at the end of June are giving away up to 10,000 complimentary stays to nurses for every room booed at a rate of up to 50% off. You must book by May 17th for travel July 6-October 29.  You may cancel for a full refund, or change to a new date, up until June 16, 2020.

Nurses can begin requesting their free stay June 1st. Details for all are on the Great Wolf Lodge website.

The Le Meridien St. Louis Clayton, is celebrating its fall opening and National Nurses Day. All medical professionals who book by May 31, 2020, can get a special $63 rate for stays from October 26, 2020-April 17, 2021.


More than three dozen inns around the U.S. (and a few out of the country) have come together to offer “a slice of comfort” in conjunction with National Apple Pie Day on May 13. Visit Still in Business for recipes and links to the Inns, most of which expect to open soon. }

Do you have any specific questions about where to go or how to plan?

Contact me on my Facebook page, Midwest Travel with Marcia Frost. I’ll do my best to answer, and maybe I’ll feature your question on my next segment.

Also, be sure to check out my travel stories at my Wine And Spirits Travel blog.