Suppliers line up offers for travelers to view the solar eclipse


A surge of interest in travel to markets in or near the path of the April 8 solar eclipse is inspiring unique offerings — and causing pricing to spike in some places.

Destinations, hotels, car-rental companies and tour operators are offering ways to get there. Flights will chase the eclipse as it travels south to north, and travel companies on land and at sea are offering packages around the rare celestial event, the first chance to view a total solar eclipse in seven years.

The strongest views will be in the so-called path of totality, a south-to-north diagonal arc that in North America begins roughly off of western Mexico and heads to New England and eastern Canada.

Expedia said that destinations along the path of totality have experienced “massive year-over-year increases in hotel searches.” It said cities with the biggest spikes are Burlington, Vt., up more than 1,000%; Little Rock, Ark., up 985%; Dayton, Ohio, up 705%; Buffalo, New York, up 645%; and Indianapolis, up 545%.

Navan, the expense management platform formerly named TripActions, said March 14 that it found that searches for solar eclipse travel between April 5 through 9, including hotels, flights, and car rentals, increased threefold compared with the same window in the previous week.

Overall, it found, hotel bookings in that period were up 315%; flight bookings up 110%; and rental car bookings up 212% week-over-week, with the most popular locations being Austin and Dallas, Texas; Columbus, Ohio; Montreal and Indianapolis.

With demand comes price hikes. Navan also found that hotel booking prices in cities on the path of totality during April 5 through 9 have spiked nearly 2.5 times compared with March 29 through April 4. They are up 249% in Niagara Falls; 81% in Waco, Texas; 35% in Burlington; and 33% in Cleveland.

And Airbnb said last month that it had recorded a 1,000% increase in searches for stays April 5 through 8 along the path of totality. Airbnb said most popular city searches included Austin, Mazatlan, Mexico, Indianapolis and Montreal.

Driving and flying to, or through, the eclipse

Hertz said it is seeing a 3,000% increase in car rental reservations year over year for April 6 in cities near the path of totality. The company curated a list of top spots people can drive to see the event that includes museums, state parks, and science centers as well as tips for “a smooth eclipse travel experience.” Those renting with Hertz, Dollar or Thrifty in select eclipse totality markets will get free eclipse viewing glasses.

During a Folo by Travel Weekly podcast episode on spring-break travel trends, Hayley Berg, the lead economist at Hopper, said that although most people are driving to destinations within the path of totality, Hopper had seen airfare surges for some of the cities in that path, such as Dallas and parts of upstate New York and northern New England.

“There is definitely appetite for people who are going to try to fly in,” Berg said. “Or, even more interesting, try to be on a plane during a total solar eclipse, which I think is a pretty cool idea. So there is demand there.”

Berg said some travelers were studying flight paths and schedules to try to catch a flight that would coincide with the eclipse’s arc, but one airline is actually chasing it. Delta has timed two eclipse-viewing flights from Texas to Detroit to the path of totality, one from Austin and one from Dallas.

Hotels package eclipse viewing for guests

With that path of totality stretching over 13 states, hotels are offering myriad ways to experience the celestial event.

Omni Hotels & Resorts properties that are situated in the path of totality will offer Solarbration packages that include Omni-branded eclipse glasses and perks such as early check-in, late checkout and eclipse-themed gifts. Viewing parties will include a “glow golf” experience at the Omni in Frisco, Texas, eclipse cookies at the property in San Antonio and make-your-own pinhole cameras at the Austin and Indianapolis hotels.

In Kennebunkport, Me., which experience 95% of the eclipse, the Cape Arundel Inn & Resort will offer The Solar Eclipse Stay Package and watch party, which due to demand has been added to its sister property, the Kennebunkport Inn. Guests get a 15% room discount, 1 p.m. early check-in, access to a viewing party from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., a bottle of wine upon arrival, protective eyewear and a branded journal. The party will include themed food and beverage and a sound-healing wellness session.

The Total Eclipse Package from the Virgin Hotels Dallas comes with a special eclipse amenity and viewing glasses ; Austin’s Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort & Spa will have a lawn gathering with popcorn and Oreos; there’s a full schedule of eclipse-inspired events for guests at the Spruce Peak in Stowe, Vt.; and on-theme welcome gifts of Sun King Beer, Capri Sun and Sun Chips along with protective eyewear from the Renaissance Indianapolis North Hotel.

Eclipse viewing on tour

On the tours front, Intrepid is offering a 16-day USA Total Solar Eclipse 2024 tour from Albuquerque, N.M. to San Antonio, Texas, with astronomer Dr. John Mason that ends with the total eclipse viewing in San Antonio.

Mayflower Cruises & Tours is selling a four-day tour from Tennessee to Indiana that culminates with observing the eclipse in Evansville, Ind., followed by a bluegrass festival.

Eclipse viewing at sea

Cruise lines early on began adding specialty sailings that position their ships in the line of totality in the Pacific Ocean just off Mexico. While many are booked up, some still have availability.

Princess Cruises will have two ships sailing in the path of totality near the coast of Mexico during the eclipse. The sold-out, 10-day cruise in the Mexican Riviera of the Discovery Princess, roundtrip from Los Angeles departing April 3, was so popular, Princess adjusted the Emerald Princess’ schedule to position it in the eclipse’s path, as well. The Emerald’s 15-day Panama Canal cruise, in position for the solar event after calling in Cabo San Lucas, departs Los Angeles April 5 and still has availability.

Swan Hellenic will also put a ship in position to see the solar eclipse. The SH Diana will sail April 2 from Acapulco, Mexico, on a seven-day cruise to Pichilingue, Mexico, a fishing village in Baja California Sur.

Holland America Line is hosting a pair of solar eclipse cruises on the Koningsdam and Zaandam with astronomy experts aboard. The Koningsdam will depart on April 5 from San Diego with University of California San Diego professor Adam Burgasser, who teaches astronomy and astrophysics. The Zaandam will offer a 14-day itinerary from San Diego on March 30 and will be in position to see the eclipse near Mazatlan. Tom Vassos, a science communicator, author and the founder of Cosmologists Without Borders, will lecture and host demonstrations when the ship is in position to see the eclipse. Both HAL cruises are sold out.

UnCruise is also sailing a sold-out, seven-night voyage to see the eclipse. The sailing out of San Jose del Cabo, Mexico, departs on April 6 and crosses the Gulf of California to put the Safari Voyager in the line of totality outside of Mazatlan.

Andrea Zelinski contributed to this report.

This report was updated March 22 with new information throughout.

Courtesy of Travel Weekly

People looking at the solar eclipse