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Alaska Railroad highlights its role in legendary serum run 90 years ago

Alaska Railroad will mark the 90th anniversary of the famed serum run with expanded service between Anchorage and Fairbanks, part of the rail route involved in the historic journey.

The idea is to offer visitors a chance to retrace the rail portion of the route on which life-saving diphtheria antitoxin was transported to the isolated western town of Nome, where an outbreak of the disease nine decades ago was killing children.

Sled dogs and mushers get much of the glory for their courageous relay on the last leg of the journey across the remote tundra, but the train played a key role too. It brought the serum from the southern port of Seward as far as Nenana, outside Fairbanks, and handed it off to the mushers.

"Since time was such an issue, it would have been unlikely that the serum would have arrived to Nome in time if the railroad had not taken it to Nenana," Dan Seavey Sr., who helped coordinate the first Iditarod sled dog race, says in a statement.

Indeed, the precious transport...

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5 travel deals for February that save on train, hotels, car rentals

Looking for a good travel deal in the post-Super Bowl doldrums of February? Discounts are offered on trains, boats and planes -- and you don't have to go to snow-filled cities to get a bargain either.

1. Hyatt Ziva and Zilara: Dissolve into swim-up luxury for half the price at Hyatt's all-inclusive resorts in Cancun and Puerto Vallarta. The savings are great -- up to 55% off -- at Hyatt Zilara Cancun and Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta. You must reserve by Feb. 28 for stays through Aug. 31.

An example: A room for two at the Puerto Vallarta resort over Valentine's Day (Feb. 12 to 15) starts at $369 a night instead of $820 a night (excluding taxes). The deal, also good at two Jamaica resorts, is based on availability.

Note that Zilara is adults only; Ziva allows children and families.

Info: Hyatt Zila/Hyatt Zilara, (800) 720-0051.

2. Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa: The Rancho Santa Fe resort not far from San Diego has been picking up top honors just one month into the new year. It most recently...

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Rancho Valencia Resort named best U.S. hotel by U.S. News & World Report

U.S. News & World Report on Tuesday named  Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., the best luxury hotel in the United States. 

Rancho Valencia near San Diego received a 5-diamond rating from AAA last week and already had a five-star rating from Forbes. It also made Conde Nast Traveler's 2015 World's Best Hotels Gold List.

"Word of mouth has gotten out there, and momentum builds" Jeff Jacobs says of the resort's newfound fans. He leads an investment group that bought the property in 2010 and invested $30 million to upgrade the site.

Even with the changes, the character of the boutique resort remains. "The owners of the original property in 1989 did an incredible job of building a resort with 52 rooms on 45 acres," Jacobs says.

In selecting the best hotels of 2015, U.S. News ranked 2,558 properties in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean, according to a statement.

The magazine looks only at luxury hotels that have 20 rooms or more and weighs the opinions of travel...

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Seven Seas Explorer's inaugural 2016 cruise nearly sold out

Talk about a rock star! The luxury Seven Seas Explorer won't sail until next year, but the cruise ship already is breaking sales records for Regent Seven Seas Cruises.

The cruise line announced this week that demand for the top-tier ship helped push sales for a single day at three times the company's previous record.

"The maiden voyage is nearly sold out and demand for the inaugural season is extremely strong," James Montague, president and chief operating officer of Regent, said in a statement.

Regent had released details about the ship, still under construction, earlier this month. The response was enthusiastic when reservations opened Jan. 19 to past Regent cruise passengers only.

Steven E. Shulem of Strictly Vacations in Santa Barbara told TravelPulse that he sold just under half-a-million dollars on the Seven Seas Explorer after reservations opened.

Regent repeatedly says it's setting "a new standard for luxury vacations" with the launch of the Seven Seas Explorer, which will...

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In Hawaii, it's peak time for humpback whale-watching

If you're lucky enough to be traveling in Hawaii right now, you've likely seen humpback whales breaching and slapping the water. At this time of year, they're pretty hard to miss.

Humpbacks make the more than 4,000-mile journey from Alaska to Hawaii typically between December and April. Sightings are best in January and February when babies are born, and moms with their young can be seen off the coast of several islands.

(In Southern California, gray whales can be seen along the coast making their migration from the Bering Sea to Mexico's Baja Peninsula and back.)

If you want to go whalewatching, many companies operate seasonal tours right now. If you book ahead of time online, you're likely to find a discount. Also bear in mind that boats aren't allowed within 100 yards of a whale — neither are humans swimming or paddling.

Kauai: You'll find morning and afternoon tours leaving from Port Allen on the west side of the island. The Na Pali Coast is the perfect place to go whale watching,...

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Valentine's Day gift from Paul Gauguin Cruises: $200 spa credit

What happens when you add the romance of a South Pacific cruise to Valentine's Day? On Paul Gauguin Cruises, it means a $200 on-board spa credit and extra goodies too.

The cruise line's Valentine's Gift Package is good for cruises on the MS Paul Gauguin. The ship carries 332 guests and sails around Tahiti and other French Polynesia and South Pacific destinations.

The gift is good for those who reserve a cabin by Feb. 14 on any Paul Gauguin cruise through the end of the year. The $200 credit -- one per booking -- allows you to pick from spa treatments at the ship's Deep Nature Spa by Algotherm.

A glance at the spa's services online shows $200 would cover two 25-minute massages or two 30-minute body scrubs. Or you could spring for the 40-minute Aroma Steam Bath for two which costs a little more ($210).

Other extras include a bottle of sparkling wine and a box of chocolates.

Sample fare on the luxury cruise line: $3,995 per person, based on double occupancy, for a seven-night cruise to...

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