Saturday, October 12, 2019
Howdy and yes we are one day early but by this time tomottow we will be on board GRAND PRINCESS and enjoying our week away to GETAWAY FROM OUR EVERYDAY. Yep this time it our getaway but you also can GETAWAY FROM YOUR EVERYDAY.
We will be working from on baord when and if necessary so dont' hesitate to call or email us. Both Bill and Fred are at the ready to help you make the time away from home a special time.
Let us beggin with this unbelievable promotion from Royal Caribbean. KIDS SAIL FREE.
SPECIAL LIMITED PROMOTION FROM ROYAL CARIBBEAN
So Don't let this get by you. We just booked a family of four in an ocean view room from New Orleans in February. The total came to just over $100 and int icluded insurance as well as prepaid gratuities and the taxes and fees.
With all the itineraries RCI has from now till spring surely there must be something you might like to take the kids along with you to.
After the holidays you might just need that quickie GETAWAY FROM YOUR EVERYDAY.
Mini suites are at $949 with Balcony rooms at $799 and ocean view at $599 all rates per person with taxes and fees additional at $175 per person. All rates are subject to availability and ship is filling up so if you feel you will need those 5 days to unwind from the holiday then take a look at the below information and contact Bill. He will help you GETAWAY FROM YOUR EVERYDAY even if it is for a real quick outbound and return cruise.
QUICKIE GETAWAY FROM YOUR EVERYDAY IN JANUARY
And not to be outdone Princess will send a newly built ship to the west coast in a couple of years for our west coast ccruises.
Carnival will have the Carnival Panorama here is December and check out what Princess will be doing for us in the not too distant future.
Another New Princess Cruises Ship Gets a Name—Discovery Princess
The name of the sixth Royal-class cruise ship for Princess Cruises was revealed today as Discovery Princess (you mean Discovery wasn’t taken yet!). The fast growing premium cruise line also announced the largest inaugural launch program ever with worldwide itineraries offered onboard Discovery Princess to Europe, the Caribbean, South America, Mexico and the California Coast for the 2021-2022 cruise season. Discovery Princess will be the first-ever new cruise ship for Princess Cruises to be based on the West Coast, sailing out of Los Angeles.
Designed from the ground up as a Princess MedallionClass ship, the 143,700-ton, 3,660-passenger (double occupancy) Discovery Princess is currently under construction at the Fincantieri Shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy. The ship will feature an evolution of the design platform used for the cruise line’s previous Royal-Class ships. Discovery Princess is scheduled to debut on Nov. 3, 2021, on a seven-day Mediterranean & Aegean inaugural cruise from Rome (Civitavecchia) to Athens. That’s roughly after Princess’ newest ship, Sky Princess, makes its debut, with a christening scheduled this December.
These days you can actually book a ship at least a year out, so Discovery Princess will go on sale on Oct. 8, 2019, with itineraries to the Mediterranean, Caribbean and South America before arriving in Los Angeles for her West Coast debut, sailing to Mexico and the California Coast.
“Discovery Princess will take our guests on the most memorable vacations of their lifetime introducing them to new sights, new cultures, and new experiences onboard every voyage,” said Princess President Jan Swartz. “Discovery is both an expression of our brand as well as an important aspect of our guest experience. We know Discovery Princess will offer our guests cruise vacations that create memories they will cherish for a lifetime and we’re proud to mark a major milestone basing our newest ship on the West Coast.”
Discovery Princess’ inaugural season of will feature 30 departures on 21 unique itineraries to more than 50 destinations in 23 countries, including several holiday sailings offering the perfect celebration vacation. Highlights include:
Mediterranean: Eight itinerary options in the Mediterranean, sailing to 19 destinations in eight countries, and ranging in length from seven to 21 days. Guests can choose to sail from Rome, Athens or Barcelona. More Ashore late-night calls are offered in Barcelona, Genoa (Milan), and Mykonos on select itineraries. Cruise departure dates are Nov. 3, 10, 17 and 24, 2021.
Caribbean: Six holiday voyages, ranging from four, eight to 16 days, cruising to eight destinations in seven countries visiting the Eastern Caribbean with a new port of call in Tortula and Southern Caribbean sailing to all three ABC islands. Cruise departure dates are Dec. 9, 13, 21 and 29, 2021.
South America: Sailing to 22 destinations in 11 countries on six departures, including a 50-day voyage from Fort Lauderdale to Los Angeles. More Ashore late night calls include Rio de Janeiro (overnight), Buenos Aires and Lima (overnight). Departure dates are Jan. 6, 24, and Feb. 7, 2022.
Mexico & the California Coast: Discovery Princess makes her West Coast debut in Los Angeles on March 1, 2022. Guests can sail to Mexico on a five-day cruise with an overnight stay in Cabo San Lucas or on a seven-day Mexican Riveria cruise. They also can select a scenic California coastline cruise on a seven-day Classic California Coast with More Ashore calls in San Francisco and San Diego, including the unique experience of sailing under the famed Golden Gate Bridge. Departure dates are March 1, 6, 13, April 3, 10 and May 1, 2022.
Princess past guests are eligible for a special promotion when booking early. A reduced deposit of 10 percent is available through Feb. 29, 2020. In addition, those guests booking the 50-day South America Connoisseur voyage will receive onboard credit, complimentary gratuities and complimentary Wi-Fi.
Seems as though the cruise lines are now a bit friendly with the airlines again and visa versa and now we have these opinions from Conde Nast about booking air directly through your cruise line.
August 22, 2019
We break down the advantages and potential pitfalls.
When you book a cruise, you’re usually given the option of having the cruise line book your flights for you, too—often advertised at a discounted rate. For many, cruise and flight packages are an easier option than organizing air travel yourself, though take note: there’s a lot of fine print to read, and policies vary widely by company. At the end of the day, there are distinct advantages and challenges with opting for flight-inclusive cruise deals, and we’re here to break it all down.
It’s less work up front
The long and short of it is that if someone else is booking your airfare, it saves you the hassle of having to find flights that work with your cruise departure and return.
Cruises have access to bulk fares, which can be cheaper than what you can find
Every major cruise line has contracts with airlines for specially negotiated deals called bulk fares, which can be cheaper than the prices you’d see if you booked individually. That said, they’re not always cheaper, so it’s key to do some independent research before you commit. Royal Caribbean, it should be noted, has a policy in its Air2Sea program that guarantees that you’ll pay for the lowest airfare possible, with a 110 percent refund of the difference if you find a lower price—in shipboard credit, though, not cash.
You may score a business class flight
If airfare is wrapped into the price of your cruise cabin, you might really find yourself in great seats on your flight. Regent Seven Seas Cruises, for instance, offers free business-class airfare for certain long-haul flights to all passengers booked in suites, which is particularly important if you’re flying from, say, New York to Sydney for your cruise. Many other cruise lines, including Seabourn, will offer premium economy or other upgraded flights. Just know that the price of your cabin may be higher to compensate for these packages, so you'd be wise to separate research airfare on your own to gauge the value.
You'll have help from the cruise line if your flights get delayed or canceled
Make no bones about it: If you miss your ship’s departure, it will leave without you. Likewise, your plane will not wait if your ship is delayed in reaching its final port. But, cruise lines typically have 24/7 hotlines to assist passengers with these travel issues—including the logistics of catching up to the ship at the next port or staying in a hotel overnight to wait for the next flight home. The catch? The financial burden of those additional travels could fall on you; it's important you read the ship's policy about these situations before you book.
Note that some cruise lines, like Carnival, will absorb the additional travel cost, depending on the reason for the missed departure. But if you really want to ensure you reach your ship on time, arrive a day or more before you set sail; and, on the return, plan to spend an extra night or two in your final port in order to make your flight home. And don't forget: You can also purchase travel insurance to mitigate the risks.
You have far less flexibility
For standard air transportation bookings, the cruise line's agent will pick your flights, and you won’t have a choice when it comes to which airline you’ll fly, when you’ll fly, and whether or not you’ll fly direct or with a layover.
Also, you won't likely be able to make a longer trip out of it. If you’re booking airfare through a cruise, some cruise lines, like Oceania and Viking, mandate that you arrive the day of your ship’s departure for certain sailings, unless you’re willing to pay a deviation fee to get in a day or more early. Other lines, like, Celebrity, Carnival, and Uniworld, do offer their guests more flexibility from the get-go, such as arriving at the departure port a few days early to explore that city sans an additional fee. It’s crucial to speak with a booking agent directly to find out the precise terms of your cruise’s air transportation program. And if you move forward with the package, be ready to pay for flexibility.
Frequent flyers might be disappointed
Because of the aforementioned flexibility issues, frequent fliers who want a particular alliance will not always be able to fly on their preferred airline. Plus, since cruises use bulk fares, frequent fliers might not earn award miles, qualifying miles, and qualifying dollars on their flights, or they might earn substantially fewer than they would have if they booked on their own. In the same vein, passengers with airline status might not qualify for complimentary upgrades. Both situations depend on which fare class your ticket falls into, which will vary by cruise line and by airline.
There are often hidden fees
If you're booking your flight through your cruise line, you might expect your transfers between the airport and the ship are included—but they might not be. While all cruise lines can arrange a transfer for you, you’ll likely need to pay extra for the service. (Viking and Uniworld provide free transfers if you fly on the days of embarkation and disembarkation.) Similarly, if you’re looking to upgrade to business class, you might need to pay the cruise line an extra fee to do so on top of the difference in fare. And if you change your itinerary before your sailing, you could end up paying fees to the cruise line and the airline (as opposed to just the airline if you booked on your own).
You’ll still have to deal with the airline directly to manage your reservation
Want to pick a specific seat on your flight, or opt for the vegetarian meal? You’ll have to contact the airline directly to manage those aspects of your reservation if you book your airfare through a cruise line. You’ll also have to handle checked luggage—and the associated fees—yourself.
Booking airfare through your cruise line can be easier and offer a better deal than seeking out your own flights, but if you need flexibility and want to customize your travel plans, do some research first. Read the fine print carefully to figure out if your cruise’s air transportation is the right choice for you
It has always been our opinion that tipping is a personal thing but we continuously get asked how much to tip in the various parts of the world but with the cruise lines Conde Nast sorts out the details for us below.
by ELISSA GARAY
October 2, 2019
What's required when it comes to cruise tips? We break it down.
The question of tipping—how much and to whom—is always a hot topic among travelers, especially when it comes to cruise gratuities. The cruise industry has tried to make tipping less stressful and less complicated by incorporating automatic tipping on mainstream lines and instating a "no gratuities required" policy on most luxury ocean lines. Unlike the cruising days of yore, these policies mean that cruisers don’t have to spend the last day of their voyage crunching numbers and running around the ship handing out envelopes of cash to every room steward, waiter, and bartender they met during the voyage.
Still, tipping etiquette on cruises can be a little confusing. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
You'll see a lot of luxury lines stating a no-tipping policy—because the fee is included in the per-passenger cruise fare. You may tip additionally at your discretion, but it is not expected (with the exception of spa services, which typically tack on a supplemental, automatic gratuity). No tipping of waitstaff, bartenders, or stewards is required on Azamara, Crystal Cruises, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, Paul Gauguin Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Seabourn Cruise Line, SeaDream Yacht Club, and Silversea Cruises.
Most major cruise lines automatically add gratuities to your onboard account. The fee is usually between $12 and $15 per passenger, per day, and the cruise line then divvies up that money between all service-oriented crew. Worth noting: Almost every cruise line includes an automatic 15 to 20 percent gratuity on all bar bills (listed on their websites, if you’re curious), and 18 to 20 percent on spa services, so there is no need to tip extra unless you want to.
Still, if you'd like to contribute more or less toward the daily gratuity charge, just head to the onboard customer service desk. Note, also, that there are some additional times when a little cash on hand could come in handy: for porters at the terminal, for instance, or shore excursion guides, and kids’ club counselors. In those cases, do some research on your cruise lines' policies in advance, and set aside some cash for those situations if needed.
In recent years, most major ocean lines have moved toward auto-tipping policies. Here's an overview of what to expect with cruise tips on these lines. (Rates are for adults; kids’ suggested gratuity rates can vary by cruise line.)
Carnival Cruise Line: $13.99 per person, per day, in staterooms; $15.99 per person, per day, in suites.
Celebrity Cruises: $14.50 per person, per day, in staterooms; $15 per person, per day, in Concierge Class and AquaClass staterooms; and $18 per person, per day, in suites.
Costa Cruises: Costa calculates its auto-gratuities based on the length of your voyage, the destination, and your ship, but you can expect a charge of $12.50 per person, per day, for cruises originating in the U.S.
Cunard: Britannia passengers are charged $11.50 per person, per day, and Grill Class passengers pay $13.50 per person, per day.
Disney Cruise Line: $4.50 per person, per day, for the dining room server; $3.50 per person, per day, for the assistant server; $1 per person, per day, for the head server; and $4.50 per person, per day, for the cabin steward.
Holland America Line: $14.50 per person, per day, for those staying in staterooms and $16 per person, per day, for suite guests.
MSC Cruises: MSC charges different gratuity rates based on the voyage destination; a typical Caribbean cruise carries a $12.50 per person, per day, fee.
Norwegian Cruise Line: $15 per person, per day, in staterooms; $18 per person, per day, for The Haven, Concierge, and suites.
Oceania Cruises: $16 per person, per day, for staterooms and $23 per person, per day, for guests staying in a Penthouse, Oceania, Vista, or Owner's suites.
Princess Cruises: $14.50 per person, per day, for those staying staterooms; $15.50 per person, per day, for mini-suites; and $16.50 per person, per day, for suite guests.
Royal Caribbean International: $14.50 per person, per day, for stateroom and Junior Suite guests and $17.50 per person, per day, for Grand Suite and higher passengers.
Viking Ocean Cruises: $15 per person, per day.
Windstar Cruises: $13.50 per person, per day.
While it is still spring there now it won't be long before the hot and long days of summer arrive in Peru. Fred has something to say about the destination this week in our South America region.
The Beautiful Places of Peru
For many, the shining star of Peru is Machu Picchu—that iconic green peak, towering over ancient ruins is hard to forget (and only the tip of the iceberg). But look a little further—like, 30-minutes-in-any direction further—and you'll find natural beauty, biodiversity, colonial architecture, and pristine archaeological sites throughout the country that are just as remarkable as the iconic Incan ruins. In fact, the only thing these destinations are lacking is press. Here are some places, from the otherworldly Amazon rainforest to the red sand beaches of Paracas, that will make you want to pack your bags and canvass the whole of Peru
Tucked in Peru's Huascarán National Park, the picturesque Lake 69 is one of the country's most compelling natural wonders: the aquamarine pool glistens beneath the snowy peaks of the Cordillera Blanca mountain range, reflecting the dramatic silhouettes above. To see the vivid blue IRL, grab your hiking boots and head to the nearby town of Huaraz (LC Peru operates the 75-minute flight from Lima). Local tour companies run day trips, though it's also easy to explore the trails on your own.
Just a few hours south of Lima by car, Huacachina is an unexpected oasis in the Ica desert. This weekend getaway from the big city looks as though it slid off the giant sand dunes surrounding it—a central pond, smattering of palms, and tiny homes pool together to create the tiny town with a population of 100. Rent a sand board or hop on a dune buggy and rumble around the nearby peaks and valleys; for full bragging rights, make sure to summit Cerro Blanco—it's one of the tallest sand dunes in the world.
Ask any serious hiker where to go in Peru, and they'll tell you: Machu Picchu is nice, but the Colca Canyon reigns supreme at the top of their bucket lists. Colca Canyon is located in the south of the country (the city of Arequipa serves as its launching pad), and the dramatic crevice is a whopping two miles deep at points. For those keeping tabs, that's double the depth of the Grand Canyon. It's also home to the giant Andean condor, which are often seen gliding through its valleys.
Vinicunca is something of a social media urban legend: not too far from Machu Picchu, you'll find this series of rainbow-colored mountains, with travelers fighting for the same view. It's a manageable day trip from Cusco (you can rent a car or book a tour last minute), and a moderately easy climb once you've acclimated to the altitude. Hurry though—word is out, and tourism to the area is quickly picking up.
Arequipa may be second in size to Lima, but it makes up for the difference in character. This colonial-era city is set right in the Andes between three towering volcanoes, with resplendent architecture made of white volcanic sillar stone. The result? A cityscape unlike any other in Peru. Head to the central Cathedral of Arequipa for some serious architectural eye candy, and make sure to stop in a local picanteria along the way—Arequipa is also known as the culinary capital of the country, with regional dishes as distinctive as its buildings (don't miss the rocoto relleno stuffed peppers).
Perched on Lima's dramatic cliffs, the colorful neighborhood of Barranco boasts sweeping views of the Pacific—and some of the city's most beautiful architecture. Its quiet streets are lined with pristine late 19th-century homes, many of which were originally built as summer houses for the country's well-to-do, but now serve as landing spots for the city's (successful) artists. Some have also been converted into chic boutique hotels, such as the new Villa Barranco.
On the Northern coast of Peru lies Chan Chan, a 20-square-kilometer sprawl of adobe ruins that were once the largest city in the Americas. Today, they are still the largest pre-Colombian ruins in the world, and tourists are welcome to admire the impressive construction. They're reachable via the city of Trujillo, a quick 75-minute flight from Lima.
Machu Picchu needs no introduction: This Wonder of the World attracts over a million tourists per year, and has become so popular the government recently had to introduce restrictions on the number on entrances allowed per day. The ruins, daintily perched atop the flattened peak of a mountain in the Andes, deliver in archaeological and natural beauty. For a view few people receive, grab a ticket to hike Huayna Picchu, the peak behind the ruins, and take it in from a second perspective.
There are a handful of ways to get to Machu Picchu, but the Salkantay Trek is notorious for being the most arduous of them all—and, as it tends to happen, the most rewarding. This journey can take anywhere from four to seven days to complete, and includes about eight hours of walking a day, steep climbs, river crossings, and, if you travel with a luxury outfitter like Mountain Lodges of Peru, comfy stays along the trail that make it manageable. The reward is the breathtaking views—especially those of Salkantay, the highest peak of the Vilcabamba mountain range, which looms over the trail.
Lima isn't usually winning beauty pageants—even Peruvians will moan about the notoriously grey city, which spends half the year beneath overcast skies. But to its credit, Lima also has precious bursts of colorful, colonial architecture, especially in the downtown historic center. Head to the stately Plaza Mayor and the streets branching off of it: You'll find rows of Baroque, pastel-colored buildings, adorned with dramatic wooden balconies.
The "next Machu Picchu" trope can be applied to countless archaeological sites throughout Peru—but if there's one location that is most deserving of the moniker, it's Choquequirao. These Incan ruins closely resemble those of Machu Picchu, both in construction and their dramatic placement atop a truncated mountain, yet they delightfully lack the hordes of tourists—for now, that is. These ruins, several hours from the city of Cusco, can only be reached by foot (via a multi-day trek through the jungle), though that may change with the installation of a cable car in the next few years.
In the picturesque Cordillera Blanca mountain range, the Pastoruri is one of the few remaining glaciers found in South America's tropical region. The bowl-shaped cirque glacier is currently over three square miles in size, but is rapidly shrinking due to global warming. As local glaciologists work to prevent further reduction, tourists continue to travel from throughout Peru and abroad to witness the glowing mass of ice.
A few hours south of Lima, a series of ancient geoglyphs stretch across the red sand of the Ica desert. And when we say stretch, we mean stretch—hundreds of massive designs span around 20-30 miles of sand. The geometric and zoomorphic etchings, created between 500 BCE and 500 CE, were likely drawn by the Nazca people, but the "how" and "why" of their origin story is largely unanswered. The best way to appreciate the lines is by taking a small prop plane tour overhead.
A moody contrast to the lush setting of Machu Picchu, the jagged, snow-capped peaks of Huascarán National Park are easily among Peru's most beautiful sites. Just outside the city of Huaraz, the park is home to most of the Cordillera Blanca (the self-proclaimed highest tropical mountain range in the world), in addition to several glaciers, countless turquoise lakes, and impressive biodiversity—pumas, spectacled bears, and vicunas all walk these hills.
The Andean city of Cusco has long been a jewel in the crown: it oozes colonial charm, from its smooth cobblestone roads to the Baroque architecture of its churches. The city center—a bustling hub of textile markets, preserved Incan ruins, and whitewashed stone homes topped with red-tile roofs—is hugged by rolling hills that lead to attractions like Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley of the Incas.
We actually had to add some space this week for our Tahiti Island Hopper in November next year so now we have a couple more state rooms to place you in but the price is slightly more since the oroginal category is now filled up for groups. We're only talking about $60 more per person so take a look and then contact us to hop around the South Pacific Islands from Papeete in Tahiti.
JOIN US ON OUR TAHITI ISLAND HOPPER CRUISE NEXT YEAR
Remember this is the "BABY" in the Princess flett with only a bit more than 600 passengers on board so it will sell out before long.
NEWS AND VIEWS this week all about just anything. So sit a spell and take it all in.
And even some ideas for places that are good deals for us seniors.
Oct 02, 2019Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is welcoming back visitors with its dramatic scenery and free programs.
Credit: 2019 National Park Service/Janice Wei
Kilauea volcano’s 2018 eruption hit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park hard, forcing the park to close last May.
Today, most of the Hawaii Island destination has reopened, and throngs of visitors are making the pilgrimage to see famous highlights such as its steam vents, Kilauea Iki trail and Chain of Craters Road. The park is also hosting regularly scheduled hikes, hands-on activities and live programs to help travelers enjoy it even more.
Here are five lures that will keep clients happy at the national park. (Note: They’re free, although park entrance fees apply.)
After Dark in the Park Programs
Artists-in-residence, scientists, rangers and other specialists take turns enlightening and entertaining guests at this series of presentations, offered on Tuesdays at 7 p.m. Held in Kilauea Visitor Center’s auditorium, each program is inspired by the park, from its history and culture to its nature and geology.
Na Wai Chamber Choir showcased its Hawaiian choral music during an After Dark in the Park program.
Credit: 2019 Na Wai Chamber Choir
Clients spending a Tuesday night in or near the park should add After Dark in the Park to their list of evening must-dos.
Demonstrations and Workshops
During the park’s ongoing interactive workshops — called Ike Hana Noeau (“experience the skillful work”) — clients might learn a new craft, such as painting. Or, they might create their own traditional island game using natural materials, fashion a Hawaiian bamboo trumpet, make haupia (coconut dessert) or discover the healing power of local plants.
At Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, clients who take part in Ike Hana Noeau workshops learn skills such as ti leaf lei-making.
Credit: 2019 National Park Service
Whatever the project, guests come away with a sense of accomplishment as well as a unique souvenir of their park visit.
Guided Hikes in the Kahuku Unit
Once home to a historic ranch, the park’s lesser-known Kahuku Unit holds untold treasures such as ohia lehua forests, distinctive plants and animals, and old lava flows with tree molds and cinder cones.
Each Sunday, rangers lead hikes through the park's mesmerizing Kahuku Unit.
Credit: 2019 National Park Service
On Sundays at 9:30 a.m., rangers lead two-hour hikes through the 116,000-acre spread, which is a 50-minute drive south of the park’s main entrance. As an alternative, clients can explore the Kahuku Unit on their own from Wednesday to Sunday.
Na Leo Manu
Hawaiian tunes fill the air and dancers sway to the music during evening concert series Na Leo Manu. Each show features different talents, from masters of movement to vocalists sharing classic melodies and contemporary styles.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park's Heavenly Voices series has featured artists such as Halau Hula Ulumamo o Hilo.
Credit: 2019 National Park Service
Recent stars who have graced the stage include award-winning singer/songwriter Kenneth Makuakane and the Hilo-based hula troupe Halau o Akaunu. No matter who’s on the bill, the island entertainers fully engage audiences in the visitor center’s auditorium.
Each week, volunteers lend a hand to protect the environment from troublesome plants by taking part in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park’s Stewardship at the Summit program. Everyone pitches in to remove invasive species from vulnerable areas of the park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Clients can help clear invasive plants from Hawaii Volcanoes National Park during Stewardship at the Summit outings.
Credit: 2019 National Park Service
Gloves and tools are provided, but participants will need to bring a hat, raingear, snacks, water and a daypack. In addition, they should wear closed-toe shoes and clothes they don’t mind getting dirty.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park officials are encouraging clients to do their homework before visiting the famous attraction.
A lack of parking is creating problems, especially between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. each day, when the park’s most popular summit destinations are packed with cars.
Travel advisors should monitor the park’s news online and tell their clients to do the same, advises Ben Hayes, chief of interpretation and education for Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
“We want our visitors to leave with smiles, photos and memories that will last a lifetime, not a parking ticket or a negative experience,” Hayes said. “All it takes is a little planning and flexibility.”
For more information, access the park’s calendar of events.
Sep 30, 2019Take an easy stroll in Puerto Vallarta Botanical Gardens.
Credit: 2019 Mexico Tourism Board
As with any niche market, it’s not easy to generalize about senior travelers. Whether travelers are age 55, 65 or 75, they represent an array of tastes and preferences when it comes to their vacations. But no matter what kind of vacation clients are seeking — from active adventures to simply some kid-free peace and quiet — Mexico excels at offering many rewarding vacation options.
These five destinations around Mexico are especially good at satisfying the needs of a diverse group of senior travelers.
This Baja California hot spot proves its upscale appeal with a variety of luxury resort hotels, and senior travelers are sure to find plenty of grown-up excitement along its shores. From world-class sport fishing to teeing off at championship golf courses, Los Cabos provides myriad opportunities to stay active.
For indulgent, adults-only accommodations, top choices include Marquis Los Cabos All-Inclusive Resort & Spa, which has three swimming pools and a 13,000-square-foot spa.
Meanwhile, foodies can satisfy their palates at The Ridge by Playa Grande, which this year launched a new Farm to Table Dinner Experience at its eponymous restaurant, with organic ingredients harvested from local farms by Solmar Hotels & Resorts chefs.
Marquis Los Cabos All-Inclusive Resort & Spa Credit
Credit: 2019 Marquis Los Cabos All-Inclusive Resort & Spa
With its wide beaches, reasonable hotel rates and extensive outdoor and cultural activities, Mazatlan offers plenty for vacationers over 55 years old to love. No other Mexico beach destination, after all, offers the opportunity to spend the day on the beach and the evening dining in a beautifully restored historic downtown before heading to a performance at the pristine, 19th-century Angela Peralta Theater.
Among the best accommodation options for adults without kids is El Cid Marina Beach Hotel, an upscale property that sits on a marina, making it easy to arrange excursions such as catamaran cruises and deep-sea fishing for blue marlin, white marlin and sailfish. The hotel’s Elite All-Inclusive Plan is an especially good option, with benefits that include pool concierge service, VIP check-in and access to the Elite Club. Guests can also participate in painting and cooking classes, tequila tasting sessions, turtle releases and golfing at the nearby El Cid Golf & Country Club, which has a 27-hole PGA-rated championship course.
With its beautifully walkable downtown, award-winning restaurants and interesting art galleries, Puerto Vallarta is a wonderful place for travelers interested in culture and sophisticated dining. It’s also great for those looking to enjoy outdoor activities, including humpback whale watching and day trips to charming towns along the coast or tucked into the Sierra Madre Mountains.
Among the adults-only accommodation options is Grand Fiesta Americana Puerto Vallarta All-Inclusive Adults-Only, which offers two infinity pools, an attractive spa and 13 bars and restaurants.
The famously diverse offerings in Cancun and the Riviera Maya are a major draw for vacationers of every stripe, and globetrotters leaving the realm of middle age will find a plethora of possibilities.
In the Riviera Maya, visitors can swim in magnificent cenotes and explore eco-theme parks such as Xcaret, while Cancun offers especially easy access to a variety of noteworthy restaurants, golf courses and water excursions — including the unforgettable opportunity to swim with whale sharks during the summer months.
Luxury hotels in Cancun such as JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa and The Ritz-Carlton, Cancun are especially well-versed at pampering guests. In the Riviera Maya, the adults-only TRS Yucatan Hotel offers a beautifully upgraded all-inclusive option, with lots of extras such as butler service, 24/7 room service and impressive live entertainment.
San Miguel de Allende
Twice voted the “best city in the world” by Travel + Leisure magazine, San Miguel de Allende continues to garner praise for its irresistible blend of small-town charm and international sophistication. Visitors can enjoy an array of culinary and artistic diversions set along its historic streets, as well as relaxing hot springs at Spa La Gruta and Escondido Place, where the waters supposedly have medicinal qualities.
Senior travelers looking for a quiet, upscale oasis will do well at Live Aqua Urban Resort San Miguel de Allende, the newest hotel in the La Coleccion Resorts portfolio, where a spa, a swimming pool, a cigar bar and an outstanding restaurant are among the draws.
Caribbean resorts now seeing big drops in RevPAR, occupancy
IN SECTION: LEVEL OF DOWNTURN DEPENDS ON PUBLIC’S PERCEPTION OF EACH MARKET
By Christina Jelski
Although large swaths of the Caribbean’s tourism sector remained relatively strong this past summer, a recent steep decline in hotel RevPAR and occupancy throughout the region could signal longerterm trouble going forward.
According to data from STR, hotel occupancies across the Caribbean began dropping in April and continued to steadily slip through the summer.
In August, overall occupancies in the region fell 5.6% from the same period last year, to 62.5%. Likewise, Caribbean RevPAR started trending downward in June and July, eventually falling 5.3%, to $112.54 for August.
"Room supply in the Caribbean continues to grow at around 3% [year-to-date], which is certainly healthy," said Jan Freitag, STR’s senior vice president of lodging insights. "But that growth is happening while demand is weakening, and that then translates into occupancy declines. And if there are occupancy declines, we normally see rate growth get hit. Still, this is a market-by-market situation, and not everyone in the Caribbean is being impacted the same way."
Among the destinations hit hardest by slowing demand is the Dominican Republic, which was left reeling this summer after a spate of tourist deaths there led to a steep drop-off in bookings. In June, following widespread media coverage of the incidents — which many consumer media labeled "mysterious," even though most were quickly found to have been due to natural causes — STR reported that hotel occupancies in the Dominican Republic plummeted 12.7%, to 66.6%.
Occupancies dropped further in July and August, down 20% and 16.2%, respectively, while August RevPAR in the D.R. dipped nearly 26%, to $69.82.
Frank Comito, CEO and director general of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), said, "The D.R. has seen a drop in RevPAR and ADR, which hopefully they can get back up. If one of the [market] leaders is having to discount in order to bring back business that they’ve lost, that’s not good for the entire region. But typically, when we see a destination have some unfortunate publicity like this, the impact lasts for several months, and then it actually starts rebounding rigorously."
According to Julie Banning, a travel advisor with New York-based Embark, the Dominican Republic is primed to bounce back, and the bad press appears to be petering out.
"I don’t think this is going to affect the D.R. in the long term," Banning said. "Our clients feel confident when they travel to the five-star resorts there, and we have a lot of repeat travelers who want to continue going to the D.R. And nowadays, when you look at the news, where did that story go? Everyone seems to have moved on. I think we’ll see the numbers going back up this winter."
A rebound in the D.R. alone, however, might not be enough to solve the Caribbean’s hotel occupancy problems. Cuba and Puerto Rico also saw summer business slow, with the former impacted by the Trump administration’s travel restrictions and the latter facing lingering challenges following 2017’s Hurricane Maria.
Opens in modal lightbox
‘I wouldn’t say there are any yellow flags for the whole region yet at this point.’
—Frank Comito, CHTA.
"There’s still this image out there that Puerto Rico is recovering from the hurricane," Banning said. "Some people still think there’s devastation, when that’s not true."
For August, Cuba’s occupancy slipped 13.1%, to 50%, and RevPAR in the market dropped 31.5%, to $31.77, according to STR. Concurrently, Puerto Rico’s occupancy was down 4.3%, to 68.1%, and RevPAR fell 3.3%, to $123.12.
Meanwhile, the fact that traveler misconceptions continue to plague Puerto Rico certainly doesn’t bode well for the Bahamas, which just last month was battered by Hurricane Dorian.
But while the vast majority of the Bahamas was spared any significant damage — with destruction largely limited to Grand Bahama and the Abaco Islands — both Banning and Comito expressed concern about post-storm consumer perceptions.
"Only 20% of the Bahamas has been impacted," Comito said, "but the rest of the country is still dealing with the perception that they’ve been affected."
Threatening to further exacerbate the region’s woes is the demise of tour operator Thomas Cook, which abruptly ceased operations in late September. Although the company’s German airline, Condor, has remained in business with the help of a government-backed loan, the group’s collapse is expected to hamper European lift to the Caribbean.
Sue Springer, director for corporate and government relations at London-based trade and investment consultancy the Caribbean Council, estimated that Thomas Cook accounted for 62% of all Caribbean flights from Germany and roughly 10% of Caribbean flights from the U.K.
Comito listed Barbados, St. Lucia, Jamaica, Cancun and the D.R. as destinations most likely to be impacted.
"We were expecting 400,000 visitors during the remainder of the fall season and winter season via Thomas Cook, and that includes Condor [business]," he said. "However, the German government bailing Condor out will protect a good portion of that business, around 60% of that 400,000."
Comito said he is optimistic that the gap left by Thomas Cook will soon be filled, with the CHTA working to attract tour operators and "find alternative ways to meet" existing European demand.
He also remains optimistic about the Caribbean as a whole, pointing to positive trends in Turks and Caicos, Aruba, Anguilla and Barbados as well as an improving outlook for Cancun, where issues surrounding higher-than-usual levels of sargassum appear to be subsiding.
"I wouldn’t say there are any yellow flags for the whole region yet at this point," Comito said. "Out of the 16 destinations reporting for August, nine of them were up on occupancy, and seven were down. Assuming we don’t see an acceleration of any kind of global economic downturn, growth in demand has kept up with supply, and we’re hopeful that will continue."
by Adam Leposa
Oct 7, 2019 9:51am
Photo by Getty/FARBAI
With 330 million active users, Twitter has become an extensive platform for travelers to share complaints and praise. With this in mind, travel insurance comparison site InsureMyTrip has analyzed over 96,000 tweets over a two-week period – from August 9 – 23 – using a sentiment analysis tool to examine which of the nine largest U.S. airlines receive the most positive and negative mentions.
Here’s how they stack up:
Percentage of positive mentions
Percentage of negative mentions
Spirit Airlines has the highest proportion of poor reviews, with nearly 70 percent of its Twitter mentions containing a negative sentiment. Over a third of negative keywords in Spirit’s mentions were due to delays or cancellations, InsureMyTrip said.
Frontier Airlines followed closely with 64 percent negative mentions, receiving the highest number of complaints about “customer service” (8.9%) compared to any other airline analyzed.
American Airlines was in the third position with 56 percent of negative tweets overall.
At the other end of the spectrum, Southwest Airlines tops the list with 70 percent of its Twitter mentions considered positive. When analyzing the sentiments, “customer service,” “luggage,” and “food” were the words with the best scores. At the same time, while it performed will overall, Southwest also received the highest number of negative mentions for keywords regarding seating (15.7%), as passengers are not assigned seats. Instead, they’re given a boarding group, indicating where they should line up when they’re at the gate ready to board.
by Adam Leposa
Oct 5, 2019 8:00am
Virgin Atlantic's new plane inspired by Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge
This week in air travel South African Airways (SAA) and Air Seychelles announced a new code share agreement for customers traveling between New York and the Seychelles. Air Seychelles will add its HM code on SAA’s nonstop flights between New York City’s JFK Airport and Johannesburg, South Africa, and connecting flights between Johannesburg and Mahe, Seychelles, will display the SA code. The code share flights will open for booking October 15 for travel starting November 1.
In other new flight news, American Airlines expanded its service to South America out of Miami and added a new, nonstop service between Boston and London. On April 7, 2020, the airline will increase its service to Lima, Peru, from twice per day to three times per day on a Boeing 757 year-round. Next winter, the airline will add an additional flight to Santiago, Chile, as well as a third flight to São Paulo, Brazil. Both services will be operated on a 777-200.
Starting March 29, 2020, the airline will launch a new daily service from Boston to London Heathrow. American is also extending seasonal flying dates on some of the most popular routes including service between New York (JFK) and Rome (FCO); Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) and Dublin (DUB); and Chicago (ORD) and Barcelona (BCN). These routes will now operate a month longer than their current schedule.
In technology news, KLM and Microsoft signed a letter of intent to explore cooperation focused on sustainable air travel. The agreement includes a commitment to purchase sustainable aviation fuel, which the airline said has the potential to reduce CO2 emissions up to 80 percent. Building on KLM’s corporate biofuel program, Microsoft will purchase an amount of sustainable aviation fuel equivalent to all flights taken by Microsoft employees between the United States and the Netherlands (and vice versa) on KLM and Delta. Additionally, the two companies intend to explore areas of cooperation that would further improve sustainability and reduce emissions associated with air travel.
Finally, in aircraft news, Virgin Atlantic unveiled its new plane inspired by Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. The plane will transport travelers from London Gatwick to Orlando.
Sep 27, 2019Cancun has a wealth of adults-only hotel options.
Credit: 2019 Mexico Tourism Board
As Mexico’s largest tourism destination, Cancun is dotted with dozens of hotels that fit every taste, budget and vacation style. And while the ever-popular all-inclusive concept is a perennial favorite with families looking for value and convenience, this sun-soaked city is home to several noteworthy properties that cater solely to grown-ups.
Here are five worth considering — and you don’t even have to leave the Cancun Hotel Zone to find them.
Coral Level at Iberostar Selection Cancun
Adults craving all the trappings of a large-scale resort but still want to be able to retreat to a quieter, kid-free area will do well at Coral Level, the adults-only section of Iberostar Selection Cancun. Guests can make use of the main resort’s amenities including an 18-hole championship golf course, 10 swimming pools, a sizeable spa, a fitness center, a diving center, a soccer field and courts for tennis, basketball and volleyball. They can also dine at multiple restaurants throughout the property and make use of Coral Level’s own adults-only restaurant, pool, bars and beach area.
Coral Level, the adults-only section of Iberostar Selection Cancun
Credit: 2019 Iberostar Selection Cancun
Grand Oasis Sens Cancun
The upscale entry for adults in the Oasis Hotels & Resorts portfolio, Grand Oasis Sens Cancun has a spa and multiple restaurants that serve cuisine ranging from Mediterranean delicacies to gourmet seafood and Mexican-Japanese fusion. Guests here also enjoy access to the extensive entertainment programs at the adjacent Grand Oasis Cancun, including Kinky nightclub and performances by the Cirque-du-Soleil-style Red Circus. Those who want to head off property can make use of the hotel’s eye-catching fleet of two-passenger Smart Cars.
Live Aqua Beach Resort Cancun
Following a recent multimillion-dollar renovation, the 371-room Live Aqua Beach Resort Cancun is positioned as a reliable and attractive choice for adults looking for a traditional all-inclusive experience with some upscale touches that can appeal to a variety of age groups. Guests can personalize their experience using an in-room aromatherapy menu and relax in any of seven swimming pools. The hotel’s newest restaurant, InLaa Kech (which means “you are my other me,” a Maya greeting), specializes in traditional Mexican dishes paired with an extensive wine menu.
Le Blanc Spa Resort Cancun
Following a multimillion-dollar renovation, Le Blanc Spa Resort Cancun recently emerged as an even better version of what had already been the top-of-the-line flagship of the Palace Resorts portfolio. A revamped lobby and elegantly redesigned rooms are among the upgrades, while an even stronger emphasis on fine dining is evident at new on-site venues such as Bell, an Italian restaurant, and Yama, which focuses on contemporary Japanese cuisine. The sizable spa continues to be a big draw, while more active guests can play 27 holes of golf at the Moon Spa & Golf Club.
Secrets The Vine Cancun
The name of this AAA Four Diamond resort, part of the AMResorts portfolio, was inspired by one of its specialties: wine. Guests can sample the hotel’s extensive menu of varietals during tasting and pairing sessions and learn bartender secrets at mixology classes. Accommodations include spacious suites with stunning, high-rise beach views, and those looking for extra amenities can reserve Preferred Club accommodations, which include access to a VIP lounge and concierge service as well as an exclusive swimming pool. From July through December, the property invites guests to participate in a turtle release program.
Temptation Cancun Resort
Party-minded adults are the prime target audience for this 430-room resort, which recently completed a major renovation. A randy vibe permeates the property, with topless-optional areas, pole dancing classes and themed festivities every night of the week at BASH nightclub, including themes such as “superheroes,” “angels and devils” and “lingerie lounge.” The property also offers packages that include parties for bachelorettes, weddings and divorces. Part of the Original Group portfolio, which also owns Desire Resorts & Cruises, the Temptation brand is expanding into the cruise market with a Caribbean cruise that departs from Tampa in February.
Oct 07, 2019A common misconception about cruising is that it’s boring, or that there’s not much in the way of land excursions.
Credit: 2019 Getty Images
“Did you have to pay for all that food?”
It was a question I recently received about a cruise I took — and I was flummoxed.
For as long as cruise travel has been around, it amazes me how little is understood about the segment. Misconceptions still abound, and it’s up to travel advisors to educate their clients — especially if they’ve never taken a cruise but might otherwise be inclined. Let’s look at some of the common questions travelers often ask about cruising.
Do I have to pay for all that food?
One of the greatest things about a cruise is just how much is included in the fare. And most meals are bundled in the cruise price. But I can see where some people might be confused. There are certainly degrees to the inclusion and, indeed, some specialty restaurants do cost extra. Cruise vacations range from truly all-inclusive to approaching all-exclusive. However, clients can rest assured knowing that they will always have a delicious selection of complimentary breakfasts, lunches and dinners. It’s a matter of whether they would like to pay more for additional culinary experiences.
Aren't cruises expensive?
In the same vein as the question above, plenty of people continue to perceive cruising as a cost-prohibitive affair. The reality is quite the opposite, as the market is one of the best values among all travel types. In fact, most meals, the bulk of activities and entertainment, and all booked lodging are free once a client is onboard the ship. A singular bottom line price might at first seem overwhelming, but per-diems prove extremely competitive to shoreside equivalents.
Won’t I be bored on the ship?
I get asked this question a lot. Sure, some clients may be concerned about feeling “sea locked.” However, cruises predominantly emphasize destinations and onshore excursions. With the rare exception — mainly transoceanic and repositioning cruises — most sailings stop at several ports, which keeps things more interesting than those that travel to a singular destination. Even when a ship is navigating in between ports, there is more to do onboard than ever before. Activities extend to everything from elaborate waterslides to skydiving simulators. And it’s not an exaggeration to say that some entertainment is Broadway-caliber; cruises are like Las Vegas at sea — and then some.
Will I get seasick?
Speaking of the sea, landlubbers are often afraid of the motion of the ocean. This probably goes down as the only valid concern on this list because, for some passengers, the effects are unavoidable. However, the bigger the cruise ship, the easier it is for a client to mitigate motion sickness. Larger ships will move if caught in rough weather, of course, but newer behemoths do so less than, say, dinghies. And medical remedies such as meclizine do help alleviate motion sickness. Nonetheless, to avoid any potential unpleasantness, encourage concerned clients to try a shorter sailing or one that takes place in more sheltered waters. Alternatively, maybe ever-calm river cruising is more their speed.
But what about the Titanic?
Yes, the Titanic disaster did happen, and it was a devastating loss of life. But fear of accidents, no matter how dreadful, should not keep people from traveling by cruise or any other method. Contemporary accidents occur on land, on sea and in the air, but that hasn’t stopped passengers from driving cars or flying. Cruising is statistically more secure than even air travel.
The list could go on and on, but in short, customers should take comfort in knowing a cruise is — without question — a fantastic vacation choice.
Oct 02, 2019All of Teralani's catamarans pull right up to Kaanapali Beach for easy boarding.
Credit: 2019 Island Dream Productions
There’s a new tour boat in Kaanapali, Maui, and it’s turning heads. The sleek, 65-foot Teralani 4 catamaran boasts sexy touches such as teak decking, Corian counters and bathrooms that look and feel like something from an upscale hotel room. It’s an appealing option for clients in the market for Maui’s trendiest spree at sea.
Teralani 4 represents the most recent addition to Teralani Sailing Adventures, which has been offering daytime and sunset cruises for nearly 25 years. Like other vessels in the company’s fleet, Teralani 4 pulls right up to the beach, so clients staying in Kaanapali can simply stroll along the sand to the loading zone, take a few steps into the ocean, and climb onboard.
Compared to Teralani 2 and 3, the new vessel is distinctly different in appearance and amenities, according to Mike Kelley, president of Teralani Sailing Adventures.
“Teralani 4 has seating and individual tables for all 49 passengers, and it has a custom, built-in barbecue grill,” Kelley said. “It also features exclusive helm seating, which allows guests to sit comfortably on either side of the captain’s helm station, plus seating in the far rear, facing backward.”
With more than two years of planning, construction and delivery, Teralani 4 touts another claim to fame: It’s the only catamaran on Maui fashioned by world-famous yacht designer Morrelli & Melvin, based in Newport Beach, Calif.
Like its sister catamarans, the new Teralani 4 plies the protected waters of the Auau Channel in northwest Maui.
Credit: 2019 Island Dream Productions
Snorkels, Whales and Cocktails
No matter which Teralani yacht visitors experience, they’ll enjoy relatively smooth sailing in the protected waters of the Auau Channel, which hugs Maui’s northwest coastline.
Active travelers and families are partial to Teralani’s snorkeling tours, which take guests to top spots for underwater sightseeing. In addition to equipment, flotation devices and instruction, each trip comes includes a buffet lunch and an open bar for clients 21 and over.
Friendly and efficient staffers keep the drinks flowing during all Teralani's excursions.
Credit: 2019 Island Dream Productions
For couples, a late-afternoon Teralani cruise is a romantic way to savor food, libations and views of the sun melting into the horizon. In the distance, the islands of Lanai and Molokai preside over the proceedings, creating a picturesque backdrop for photos.
Since the area is a marine sanctuary, it’s an outstanding destination for whale-watching excursions, which are offered from mid-December to mid-April. During a two-hour Teralani trip that I took in March, a number of humpbacks swam around — and at times, under — our vessel, thrilling all of us onboard. Farther away, several pods put on a breathtaking show as they breached, spouted and slapped their tails.
Teralani takes clients to top snorkeling spots, where they may spot sea turtles and other marine life.
Credit: 2019 Island Dream Productions
Stable Rides, Future Plans
For clients who are first-time sailors or those prone to motion sickness, Kelley recommends booking tours on catamarans rather than traditional monohulls or power boats.
“In their design alone, catamarans create a much more stable ride over the water, which makes for a pleasant boating experience,” Kelley said.
Along with Teralani 4’s current schedule of snorkel, whale-watching and sunset outings, Kelley says the company plans to launch a unique sailing adventure from Kaanapali to Lanai this fall that will run two to three times per week.
Kelley is already looking forward to the arrival of Teralani 5 next spring; the vessel will feature the same design and extras as Teralani 4. He’s also proud of his company’s fifth straight TripAdvisor Hall of Fame recognition, which he considers a direct reflection of his staff’s efforts.
“There is no better way to experience Maui than on the water,” Kelley said. “We take the idea of creating lifelong memories for our guests very seriously.”
Teralani Sailing Adventures
by Matt Turner
Oct 9, 2019 5:00pm
Photo by RudyBalasko/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images
Venice will officially begin taxing day-trippers starting July 1, 2020, authorities in the city have announced, according to The Associated Press. The tax was introduced in 2018 and was originally slated to debut in May 2019, but it was criticized by the country’s tourism minister as “useless and damaging.”
The original plan was to charge €3 ($3.29) at first and raise it to €10 ($10.97) within three years; however, The Telegraph reports that when the system is launched in July 2020, tourists will pay €3 during the low season, €8 ($8.78) during high season and €10 during “critical” periods, such as summer weekends. Visitors will be able to pay the charge online with a credit card or from machines in the city, according to The Telegraph. By 2022, in addition to paying the tax, tourists will have to make an online booking just to enter Venice.
Day-trippers, in this instance, are defined as any tourist who arrives by coach, cruise ship, water taxi, plane or train. Good to know: The tax will also apply to islands in the Venetian lagoon, such as Murano or Burano.
The Telegraph reports that the goal of the tax is to make the millions of day-trippers who visit Venice each year contribute to the upkeep of the city, including offsetting the high charges that locals pay for services, such as trash collection.
Visitors staying overnight already pay a tax as part of their accommodation charge, and exceptions will be made for those visiting Venice for work, study or family reasons.
The tax comes in a series of efforts put forward by Venice to curtail overtourism. In August, the city announced it’s planning to reroute larger cruise ships from the historic city center to ports across the lagoon, including upwards of one-third of ships with planned calls in Venice this year. Prior to this announcement, the mayor of Venice asked UNESCO to include the city on its blacklist in order to divert “giant cruise ships.”
The city also announced in May that tourists who misbehave will be fined upwards of €500 ($548) and will be banned from the city. Acts such as swimming in the canals, walking around shirtless and even sitting and eating on steps would result in the punishment. In a similar attempt to reduce the number of tourists stopping to eat on church steps, historic bridges and canal banks, the city, in May 2018, voted to ban the opening of any more takeaway food outlets for three years.
Most recently, Venice even began to crack down on souvenir shops that have become commonplace along the canals. In September, the Venice City Council unanimously approved a resolution regulating commercial activity—including the sale of plastic miniature gondolas, cheap carnival masks, crudely manufactured “Murano-style” trinkets and low-cost leather goods—in the popular tourist area around Rialto Bridge, St. Mark’s Square and the Grand Canal.
by Matt Turner
Oct 10, 2019 12:59pm
St. Thomas // Photo by sorincolac/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images
The U.S. Virgin Islands is reporting close to a 50 percent increase in stayover arrivals this year versus 2018, a clear signal that tourism in the territory is on a strong rebound.
Commissioner of Tourism Joseph Boschulte announced that, according to the U.S. Virgin Islands Bureau of Economic Research, the territory welcomed 347,725 stay over arrivals on St. Thomas, about a 70 percent increase over 2018, while St. Croix has seen an increase of 5.2 percent, with 117,203 arrivals from January to August this year.
The tourism commissioner shared the statistics while noting the USVI is preparing for the reopening of some of its larger resorts following the 2017 hurricanes. Among the top openings is The Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas, which moved up its opening date from December 1 to November 22 this year.
With the planned opening of Frenchman's Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort and Noni Beach, a St. Thomas Resort (which will be a member of Marriott's Autograph Collection), along with Renaissance St. Croix Carambola Beach Resort & Spa and Divi Carina Bay on St. Croix in 2020, the tourism commissioner said he is confident that the U.S. Virgin Islands will build on the upswing of travelers this year.
Boschulte also reported good news for airlift to the territory this winter season, with air capacity to St. Croix ahead of 2017 pre-storm levels, while seat capacity to St. Thomas is projected to approach 90 percent of pre-storm levels. As additional accommodations inventory comes back online in 2019-20, St. Thomas should move closer to its full pre-storm capacity, he added.
JetBlue has returned from Boston and is currently serving St. Thomas with weekly nonstop Saturday flights through February 9, 2020; after, the airline will operate a daily nonstop service between February 13 and April 28, 2020.
The commissioner also announced that American Airlines will serve the Miami-St. Croix market with three daily flights for the Thanksgiving holiday (November 23-25 and November 30-December 2). American also extended Charlotte-St. Croix flights from Saturday-only to daily during the peak Christmas period (December 18-24; December 26-30; and January 1-6, 2020). American Airlines earlier announced weekly year-round Saturday service to St. Thomas from Dallas-Fort Worth and seasonal Saturday service from Chicago, beginning December 21, 2019. The carrier will also add a third daily flight between Miami and St. Thomas from December 18, 2019.
Additionally, United Airlines will serve the Chicago-St. Thomas market with weekly Saturday flights, beginning November 2, 2019, and increase its frequency to three flights per week over the peak winter season (January 7 to March 3, 2020).
"As we move past the recovery phase, we are beginning to witness a renaissance in the Virgin Islands' tourism product, and eagerly look forward to a bright future for our industry," Boschulte said in an official release.
That is a wrap for the next couple of weeks. We won't be around next weekend as we will disembark GRAND PRINCESS on Sunday morning.
Everyone please remain vigilant and as always be safe, stay safe, and travel safe.
We are ready for the rain as it appears every port we are visiting it will be raining next week.
Cheers from Oakley
Bill and Fred