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April 5, 2004 -- Sure as summer sunshine, bargains to the Caribbean return when the high winter season ends. It is still thought to be fashionable by a few to go south only during the winter, but there's nothing wrong with a spring, fall or even summer vacation there when the price is right. Here are just a few samples, from hundreds, to whet your appetite:

If you buy online by April 30, 2004 from US Airways Vacations, they say you will save $100 per booking for travel to selected spots in the Caribbean for travel June 1 through August 31, 2004. Destinations include St. Maarten/St.Martin; Grand Bahama Island; the Barcelo Resorts in Cancun, Punta Cana, Santo Domingo and San Jose (Costa Rica); and the Wyndham Caribbean Resorts in Aruba, Jamaica and St. Thomas. All their packages include roundtrip air on US Airways, hotel rooms, hotel taxes and service charges, and airport/hotel transfers roundtrip.

Sample prices (excluding airport taxes and fees) for five-nights packages include:

  • St. Maarten/St.Martin from Boston $750, from Charlotte $799, from New York or Philadelphia $699, from Washington, D.C. $747
  • Grand Bahama Island prices out of the same cities run from $652 to $799
  • Aruba the range is from $810 to $924
  • St Thomas runs from $1,076 to $1,113

Call US Airways Vacations at 800/352-8747 or visit www.usairwaysvacations.com.

SuperClubs, which calls its Breezes resorts "family-friendly," says you can save $50 to $100 a day at their places in Curacao and the Dominican Republic for a six or eight-month period this year depending on location. In its "Kids Stay, Play and Eat Free" promotion, the $50 daily rate for kids aged 2 to 13 (one child per paying adult) is being waived. Weeklong trips for a family of four start at $1,610 in Curacao and $1,120 in the Dominican Republic, based on seven-night stays, land-only pricing, with children under 14 years of age. The offers run from May 1 through October 31, 2004 in Curacao; May 1 through December 24, 2004 in the Dominican Republic. Contact them at 800/GO SUPER (same as 800/467-8737) or visit www.superclubs.com.

There's another "Kids Free" promotion going on with Funjet Vacations, at resorts in Cancun, Cozumel and Mayan Rivera. Kids stay free in an all-inclusive program at the Cancun Continental Plaza, from April 16 through December 23, 2004. Similar offers are valid at the Iberostar Paraiso Beach and Iberostar Quetzal, with varying dates, both resorts being also all-inclusive. At Cozumel, the deal is for the all-inclusive Iberostar Cozumel, and is valid during the month of May and from September 1 to December 22, 2004. Check them out at www.funjet.com.

Panama doesn't offer your usual sort of vacation, as it's part of the Central American "mainland" linking North and South America separated by the famous Panama Canal. Gate 1 Travel has just added a five-day/three-night package that begins as low as $529 including air. You fly from Miami, and get for your bucks transfer on arrival, three nights at a choice of hotels, and daily breakfast. There are departures from April 15 through October 25, 2004. You can add on optional tours and activities, from a $34 morning tour of Panama City to a $110 full day trip to Chagres National Park via dugout canoe to meet with the Embera-Drua indigenous community. Other options include a nightclub show and dinner at $49, a half-day tour of the canal for $37, and return to airport via private car at $15. Contact Gate 1 at www.gate1travel.com or phone 800/682-3333.

Finally, to Grand Cayman. The Reef, which says it is the country's "premier beach resort," has a limited time offer that includes flights from Florida and costs just $999 per adult for a five-night deal. When two adults fly on this offer, two kids can go free (one per paying adult, and the children must be 11 or under). The package includes flights from Miami or Fort Lauderdale on Cayman Airways, a midsize car rental for the duration of your stay, and five nights in a beachfront one-bedroom suite at The Reef Resort. This is good only for stays from June 1 through September 6, 2004, and bookings must be completed by June 30, 2004. The resort also has dive packages and a fifth-night free for regular summer escapes (April 17 through December 21, 2004). Contact them at www.thereef.com.ky or phone 888/232-0541.

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