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February 2012

  
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28 February 2012 - New Premium Economy for Cathay Pacific

Posted by: Alan

Cathay Pacific will bring its new Boeing 777 premium economy cabin to Sydney on Friday 02 March 2012, offering customers a seat pitch of 38 inches - six more than in normal economy.

Seats will also be wider and have greater recline.

Extra touches in the cabin include a footrest, coat hook on every seat, a small space to stow electronics at the back of the seat, pillows and noise-cancelling headphones offered in business class.

Passengers can also expect in-seat power outlets; a separate meal tray and ‘cocktail’ table that folds out of the armrest and amenity kits.

However, bathrooms will be shared with standard economy passengers.

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27 February 2012 - The End of Maid of the Mist in Niagara

Posted by: Alan

A major change in tour boat operation below Niagara Falls could see the famous Maid of the Mist sailings ending within two years.

A company called Hornblower has won a 30-year Canadian contract to run the spectacular excursions from the Canadian side of the Falls from 2014.

And Maid of the Mist, which has been running the trips since 1846, says it’s not sure what the future holds.

However, the company does still have a contract with New York state authorities to run sailings from the New York side till 2042.

The change of operator follows what’s claimed to be the first-ever open bidding process.

Hornblower already runs tourist ferries to Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay and to the Statue of Liberty in New York harbour.

It plans to build two 599-passenger boats for its new venture, with on-board concessions and special ‘dry zones’ to protect tourists from the mist the Falls generate.

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24 February 2012 - The Chuck Norris Bridge

Posted by: Alan

Visitors to Bratislava in Slovakia may be sorely disappointed if they’re looking for some authentic local culture.

A public poll to decide on the official title for a new pedestrian and cycling bridge which crosses the Morava River to Austria has seen overwhelming support for it to be named after Hollywood action star and martial arts exponent Chuck Norris.

Although the final decision is up to a regional council, local governor Pavol Freso said it was likely the name will comply with the wishes of the people expressed in the internet ballot.

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24 February 2012 - Anti Missile Systems

Posted by: Alan

Two small airlines in Israel have been ordered to switch aircraft, because the ATR turboprops they use cannot be fitted with anti-missle systems.

Israir and Arkia have been given two years to phase out the planes - similar to those flown locally by Skywest on behalf of Virgin Australia - because of rules which mandate the installation of anti-missile defenses on Israeli airliners.

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21 February 2012 - Captain Stubing Onboard Love Boat Again

Posted by: Alan

Actor Gavin MacLeod, who gained fame as Captain Merrill Stubing in the 1970s and 80s TV show ‘Love Boat’, arrives in Sydney on Sunday aboard the liner Pacific Princess.

The 80-year is currently talking his way across the Tasman as a guest speaker during an Auckland to Sydney sector of the ship’s 107-day world tour.

Pacific Princess is the namesake of the one used for the TV series, which is still seen on cable TV in Australia and in some 90 other countries.

Mr MacLeod told media in Auckland at the weekend that the series introduced holiday cruising to the masses.

"Of all the shows I did, The Love Boat created an industry and I’m very proud of my role in that," he said.

"Princess Cruises started with two boats and we now have 16 mega ships and another about to be launched."

He says he’s still in contact with the cast, many of whom attended his birthday party, which took place aboard last year.

Before the first Pacific Princess was sold in 2002, Mr MacLeod was invited on board for a final voyage from New York to Rome.

"I met so many people who really did meet and fall in love on that ship," he said.

"Some of the people had their honeymoon on board and were reliving that."

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20 February 2012 - Travel Insurance

Posted by: Alan

With the furore surrounding the collapse of Air Australia (or Strategic Air as it used to be called), there have been lots of questions regarding Travel Insurance.

The Australian Government Smart Traveller website gives this advice - If you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel.

As with most things in life, you get what you pay for.
A number of the 'budget' travel insurance policies, along with many of the free policies that come with credit cards, do not cover Travel Services Provider Insolvency.

This has come as a shock to people who have just assumed that they'd be covered.
It's fine having a Travel Insurance policy that you've bought cheap, but it's useless if it does not work when you need it.

I'm pleased that both of the Travel Insurance policies that we sell in our office DO cover insolvencies.

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16 February 2012 - Nude Wedding

Posted by: Alan

Nine couples have taken part in a Valentine’s Day nude wedding ceremony in the Caribbean.

The clothes optional exercise, which was filmed for a TV documentary, took place at the Hedonism II resort in Jamaica.

"It was beautiful. It was like a fairy tale", newlywed Milly Salas, 39, from New Jersey told The Associated Press.

The promise of a Valentine's Day wedding and complimentary four-night stay attracted over 100 engaged couples from the US and Canada, but only 10 were chosen as part of a nude wedding contest, according to Zein Issa-Nakash, a marketing vice president of Superclubs, which owns Hedonism.
One couple dropped out at the last minute.

The Valentine's Day ceremony was the first nude wedding event at the Jamaican resort since 2003, according to Ms Issa-Nakash. She said there were no angry protests of the event by pastors and others as there were about a decade ago when the resort first hosted group weddings in the buff.

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14 February 2012 - Queen Mary 2 and Valentines Day Proposal

Posted by: Alan

Media in Sydney were scrambling to find a woman named Jess this morning after Queen Mary 2 arrived in port sporting a huge banner carrying her name.

Spread some 20 metres along the top deck of the Cunard superliner, it read ‘Marry me Jess?

Reportedly the work of a man called Stefan, it sparked a search for Jess by breakfast TV crews, leading to a waterfront park near where QM2 is docked.

A reporter said the couple had been together for some time and had a three-month old baby named Sebastian.
Jess, of course said yes.

Jess and Stefan will be taken on board the Queen Mary II for a romantic brunch today.

QM2, which is on an inaugural 28-day circumnavigation of Australia, carried 2482 passengers into Sydney, 1169 of them Australians - the biggest group by nationality.

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13 February 2012 - A new Millionaire in Singapore

Posted by: Alan

An Australian traveller has become a ‘millionaire’ overnight at Singapore’s Changi airport.

Ms Down, 26, a materials engineer from Perth, emerged the winner yesterday of an airport promotion titled ‘Be A Changi Millionaire’.

Travellers shopping at the airport over a seven-month period last year had their names entered in the draw for $S1 million.

Ms Down entered the draw in September when she paid about $140 for a bottle of Paco Rabanne perfume at a cosmetics shop in the airport’s Terminal 1 during a business trip to Singapore.

Subsequently, she became one of seven finalists, finally taking the prize in a deciding contest staged at the airport yesterday.

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09 February 2012 - Carnival Spirit Upgrades for Australia

Posted by: Alan

Carnival Spirit has emerged from her two week drydock sporting seven million dollars worth of upgrades, ahead of her arrival in Sydney this year.

Key upgrades to Spirit included a revamping of her Serenity area, one of the largest childfree adult retreats on the ship, which includes an open-air deck with pool, heated spa, hammoks, plush lounges and a cocktail bar offering a special daily selection of drinks.

The drydock also included $450,000 in upgrades to Spirit’s fitness centre with new cardio and strength training equipment, as well as a Jacuzzi under a giant skylight; and the creation of the child-magnet Splash Zone, which includes the Power Drencher, a massive tipping bucket that fills up with hundreds of litres of water, then tips and soaks all underneath it.

New carpets were also laid through all public areas and in cabins, plus Spirit was also treated to a new coat of paint on her interior and exterior, whilst cabins scored new flat-screen TVs.

Most notably, Spirit’s star attraction, the world’s steepest and fastest waterslide at sea, Green Thunder was also installed, and was broken in on the vessel’s debut Hawaiian cruise post-makeover.

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08 February 2012 - Plastic Bottle Ban at Grand Canyon

Posted by: Alan

The US National Park Service is banning the sale of plastic water bottles within Grand Canyon National Park. The move comes more than a year after it was initially announced and then put on hold after Coca-Cola - which bottles water under the Dasani brand - raised concerns about the plan.

The new restrictions take effect within 30 days, and follow the example of Utah’s Zion National Park, which launched a similar program in 2008, and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, which offers water stations and encourages visitors to bring their own bottles or buy a stainless steel reusable bottle at a visitor centre.

Discarded plastic bottles account for about 30% of the Grand Canyon’s total waste, according to an earlier park service estimate, and a park official said bottles are the single biggest source of rubbish found inside the canyon.

The canyon has 10 water filling stations on the South Rim and three on the North Rim, and some of the park’s concessionaires have installed similar facilities at hotels or restaurants.

The new policy applies only to bottled water.

Retail outlets within the park can still sell soda and juice in plastic bottles, and visitors can still bring plastic bottles into the park.

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07 February 2012 - Scoot to Debut Gold Coast Flights

Posted by: Alan

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh has just announced that Singapore Airlines' low-cost long-haul offshoot Scoot will operate flights to the Gold Coast from June this year.

Five weekly flights will operate from 12 June, with the deal described as a "multi-million blueprint partnership between government and industry which will open up overseas markets and support Queensland businesses and local jobs".

Bligh said the deal would see up to 2000 international visitors per week, injecting as much as $65 million annually into the local economy.

Gold Coast Tourism ceo Martin Winter said the route would position the Gold Coast on a new level as an international destination for Singaporeans, with the deal coming after negotiations by a "cross-agency consortium" also including Gold Coast Airport, Tourism Queensland and Tourism Australia.

Flights will go on sale in coming months, with Tourism Queensland and Gold Coast Tourism to work together with key industry players in Singapore to "promote the new route and encourage Singaporeans to think of Queensland for their next holiday".

 

Source: Travel Daily

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06 February 2012 - UN Wants to Ban Big Cruise Ships in Venice

Posted by: Alan

A UN agency wants big ships banned from Venice. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has called on the Italian government to restrict access of large cruise ships to culturally and ecologically important areas, particularly Venice’s saltwater lagoon.

The request was prompted by the Costa Concordia accident, which is seeing oil spill into the pristine waters of the Tuscan Archipelago National Park.

In a letter to the Italian environment minister, UNESCO assistant director-general for culture, Francesco Bandarin, said, "The tragic accident reinforces longstanding concern over the risk that large cruise liners pose to sites inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage list, particularly the Venetian Lagoon and the Basin of San Marco."

The letter urges the government to "act quickly to develop alternative plans for maritime traffic around the World Heritage site of Venice."

Cruise ship traffic in Venice is particularly damaging, the agency said, because of the fragile structure of the city. The ships cause waves that erode the foundations of buildings.

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03 February 2012 - Thief Steals Ice

Posted by: Alan

Police in Chile have arrested a man for stealing from one of the country’s major tourist attractions. They say he stole five tonnes of ice from a glacier in Patagonia to sell as designer ice cubes for cocktails.

Police believe a criminal gang are behind the theft but they doubt the criminals were stealing ice to place in their own drinks.  Some international gourmets will pay high prices for designer ice cubes, believing that a piece of pure glacier ice can enhance the taste or the social prestige of their cocktails, gin-and-tonics or Scotch-on-the-rocks.

Police found a large chunk of the 5.2 tonnes of ice, thought to have been stolen from the Jorge Montt glacier, in a refrigerated truck, the Guardian reported.

Authorities believe the theft could be adding to the impact of global warming in damaging the glacier. They may charge the truck driver with violating a national monument.

Jorge Montt is already on the retreat, shrinking by almost a kilometre a year. A widely publicised series of images of the glacier have been used to show graphically the effects of global warming. Scientists argue whether the activities of man are to blame for global warming but no one disputes that humans were behind the glacier ice-cube theft.

Jorge Montt glacier is part of Chile’s Bernardo O’Higgins National Park. Bernardo O’Higgins, incidentally, was an 18th-century Chilean independence leader, the illegitimate son of the splendidly named Ambrosio O’Higgins, First Marquis of Osorno, a Spanish officer born in County Sligo, Ireland, who became governor of Chile and later viceroy of Peru.
It’s yet another example of the influence of Ireland on the world.
The ice cubes could go well with Irish whiskey.

 

Source: Global Travel Media

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02 February 2012 - A Fragrance Butler

Posted by: Alan

Room service now comes with a very different smell at a chain of hotels in the US. The Rosewood Hotels group is employing 24-hour Fragrance Butlers at eight of its properties.

When summoned, the butler appears at the door with a selection of perfumes and colognes on a silver tray, according to a report in newspaper USA Today.

After spraying is completed, the butler takes the tray away, but will return as often as required.

Explaining the concept in a written statement, Rosewood says: "Between skyrocketing checked baggage fees and strict airline security regulations limiting liquids in carry-ons, travelling with one’s signature scents has become increasingly challenging

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01 February 2012 - Yoga at the Airport

Posted by: Alan

San Francisco airport has opened what it believes is the world’s first airport yoga room.

It’s not quite a mountaintop in Tibet, news agency Reuters reports. But airport officials say the low lights and soothing blue walls give travellers an oasis of calm in which to flex, twist and decompress.

"As far as we know it’s the first yoga room at an airport anywhere in the world,’ said Michael McCarron, director of community affairs for the airport.

He said the idea came from a traveller.

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