Escape to the sun

Beat those ever-soaring heating bills with a long winter holiday in the sunshine, suggests Jeremy Gates.

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As the big energy suppliers rack up their bills this winter, tour operators, budget airlines and cruise lines offer an alternative solution to keeping warm; namely lots of long, cheap escapes to the sunshine.

Forget the two-week summer holiday style; many breaks in winter can be for a month or more. For example, take the five-star Rotterdam, a Holland America Line cruise, leaving Athens on November 10, for a 30-day voyage to Rome. You will pay from £999, through Imagine Cruising, which is only £34 day for full-board on a magical journey via the Greek islands, Istanbul, Marmaris, Malta and Italy. The lead-in price, down by £200, even includes return flights.

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Or what about six weeks in Tunisia? Thomas Cook has 42-night B&B packages at a four-star hotel in Yasmine Hammamet from January 5, from £698, with return flights ex-East Midlands. Similar breaks at a four-star hotel in Hammamet, ex-Birmingham on the same day, start at £990.

At Thomson Holidays, winter stays include 28-nights all-inclusive at the Dona Sylvia Beach resort in Goa from £1,929, ex-Manchester November 25 and 21-nights’ B&B at a four-star Thailand resort from £2,249, ex-Gatwick December.

A winter holiday market is emerging in Turkey too; Airtours, part of Thomas Cook, offers 28 nights’ all-inclusive at the four-star WOW Kremlin Palace in Lara Beach from £1,055, including return flights ex-Gatwick January 26.

On easyJet Holidays website, I found 28 nights’ half-board at the four-star Ramla Bay Resort in Malta from £719, ex-Gatwick November 17, and 28-nights’ self-catering at the three-star aparthotel in Albufeira, on the Algarve, ex-Southend from November 16 from £235.

Goa specialist Jewel in the Crown also offers five weeks at a two-star guesthouse near Calangute from December 6, starting at only £1,029, on Avro flights ex-Manchester with a 20kg baggage allowance. Ex-Gatwick prices for the same dates start at £1,099 and £915 respectively.

Platon Loizou at Jewel in the Crown says: “Demand for Goa for three or four weeks in December is strong – and you can live there comfortably for about £10 per day.”

INFORMATION: Imagine Cruising (0800 840 5809 and www.imaginecruising.co.uk); Thomson (0871 230 2555 and thomson.co.uk); Thomas Cook (0844 412 5970 and www.thomascook.com); Jewel in the Crown Holidays (01293 533338 and www.jewelholidays.com); easyjet Holidays (0843 104 1000 and www.easyJet.com/holidays).