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November 2011

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29 November 2011 - New One Day Record for Florida Port

Posted by: Alan

Florida’s Port Everglades (Ft Lauderdale) has broken the record for the number of cruise ship passengers handled in one day.

A total 53,500 travellers arrived or departed on eight liners on Saturday.

That beats by just 130 the record number who passed through the port on 20 March last year.

The eight ships arriving from and setting sail for the Caribbean at the weekend were:

  • Oasis of the Seas
  • Liberty of the Seas
  • Navigator of the Seas
  • Carnival Miracle
  • Grand Princess
  • Crown Princess
  • Eurodam
  • MSC Poesia

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29 November 2011 - Elvis is Alive

Posted by: Alan

The King is alive and onboard Rhapsody of the Seas.

Guests were awash in a sea of rhinestones, big hair and swinging hips onboard Rhapsody of the Seas’ first-ever three-day Elvis themed cruise over the weekend which even saw one pair of Elvis die-hards tie the knot.

The couple of 26 years, Tricia Toole and Michael George, said ‘uh-huh’ in front of 1,000 strangers and a smattering of friends in a service afficiated by Elvis impersonator (and marriage celebrant on the side) John ‘Elvis’ Collins.

Vows included a promise not to “leave you at heartbreak hotel”.

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28 November 2011 - Delays for Entry into the UK

Posted by: Alan

Intending travellers are being warned to expect major delays at British airports and sea ports when immigration workers go on strike on Wednesday (30 Nov 11) UK time.

Weekend media reports suggested likely delays of up to 12 hours at Heathrow.

It’s claimed many arriving travellers could end up sitting on planes for hours because terminal immigration areas will not be able to handle them.

Some 6500 full-time immigration workers are due to walk off the job as part of a national strike by public service staff.

English Channel ferry services will be affected, along with Channel Tunnel Eurostar services.

Eurostar is warning customers to expect "slightly longer" time for immigration processing.

But media say the walkout will leave the UK Border Agency using untrained staff who’ll take considerably longer to inspect and clear passengers.

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25 November 2011 - Free Hotel if your Name is Jesus

Posted by: Alan

Britain’s Travelodge chain has adopted a Biblical approach to Christmas, offering free rooms to couples called Mary and Joseph and to individuals named Jesus.

A Travelodge spokesman told The Sun newspaper: "The phrase no room at the inn is renowned within the hotel industry.

"Therefore, this year we have decided to evoke the true spirit of Christmas and help ease the cost of the festive season and invite couples called Mary and Joseph, and for the first time anyone called Jesus, as our guests."

The offer is good from Christmas Eve till 6 January and, needless to say, ID will be required.

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24 November 2011 - Use a Colander to View a Solar Eclipse

Posted by: Alan

A Tour operator specialising in scientific groups has revealed that a kitchen colander is the most common travel essential for tourists viewing solar eclipses.

UK firm Explorers Astronomy Tours is organising a special departure to view “the first annular solar eclipse in two and a half years” in May 2012, which will be accompanied by famed astronomer Dr John Mason.

Other top items used to safely view an eclipse include a perforated rubber bathmat, a hole-punch, a slotted spoon and a sink-plug strainer.

“The advantage of conventional household objects is simply that you have so many more holes to project an image of the eclipsed sun on the ground,” he said.

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23 November 2011 - A New Resort for the Gold Coast

Posted by: Alan

Chinese developers have won approval for a dazzling high-rise resort complex on the Gold Coast.

The $950m project, on a 1.3-hectare site at the southern of Surfers Paradise, will feature three glass towers designed to resemble "crystals in a rainforest".

It will be one of the biggest privately-funded tourism infrastructure developments on the Gold Coast in 25 years, with more than 600 hotel suites, luxury apartments and residences, plus cafes, restaurants, shops and a series of cascading beachfront pools.

Work is due to get under way late next year and the resort should take its first guests by Christmas 2014 - just ahead of the start of China Southern Airlines flights between Guangzhou and Coolangatta.

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22 November 2011 - Air Australia to Vietnam

Posted by: Alan

Air Australia, formerly Strategic Airlines, has set its sights on Vietnam – having already made plans to serve China and the US.

The Brisbane-based carrier has applied to start routes to Vietnam from major Australian gateway cities. The Vietnamese Government is likely to welcome Air Australia’s plans as a potential boost to tourism – as long as they don’t clash to seriously with state-owned Vietnam Airlines.

Air Australia has asked Australia’s International Air Services Commission for permits to run four weekly flights from Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane, using Avalon Airport near Geelong.

March 2012 is the projected start date and all capacity will be fully used by February 2013, the application states.

Air Australia has already started flying twice-daily weekday return services between Brisbane and Melbourne. It will starts flying between Brisbane and Honolulu from 15 December this year and also plans to serve the US mainland, as well as China. It already serves the popular holiday destinations of Bali and Phuket.

Since 2007, several foreign airlines, including notably Jetstar, have begun serving Vietnam. Malaysia’s Air Asia tried too but ran into many challenges. Jetstar also faced big problems with branding, plus hassles last year when two Australian executives were prevented from leaving the country while a police investigation continued into fuel hedging losses.

Air Australia obviously wishes to avoid these problems.

“Simplicity, value, operational integrity, genuine fares and service are our promise and all that we believe many Australian travellers want in order to get safely and enjoyably from A to B,” Air Australia chief executive Michael James said at the launch of the airline’s new name a couple of weeks ago.

“Air Australia will avoid the massive product complexity of larger airlines as we do not want to be strapped down to charging our passengers ever higher fares to cover ever escalating costs,” he said.

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21 November 2011 - Third of Britons plan to leave during Olympic Games

Posted by: Alan

While many Britons might be excited about London being host for the 2012 Olympics, it seems that some have other ideas.

A new study by the UK’s leading online independent travel agency has revealed almost a third plan to go away on holiday during the Olympics; with the majority stating it is specifically to get away from the busy period.

The research came from online travel agency, as part of an ongoing study into the travel plans of Britons.

A total 1,597 British adults took part in the poll and respondents were required to answer questions about their holiday plans for 2012.
When asked ‘Do you plan to go abroad on holiday between July 27th and August 12th 2012, while the Olympic Games are taking place?’ some 34 per cent of the people polled said yes.

Of these, 67 per cent said they had already booked their holiday for that time, while the remaining respondents just had plans to book for that time.

These people were then asked to explain the reasons for their decision to go away on holiday during this time and the most common answers were as follows;

  •  To get away from the Olympic Games – 33 per cent.

  •  Normally go away at that time – 27 per cent.

  •  To get away during school holidays – 19 per cent.

  •  No particular reason – 11 per cent.

Two fifths, 42 per cent, of those polled were under the impression they would get a better deal for a holiday abroad if they booked to go while the Olympic Games were on in 2012.

Furthermore, 24 per cent were under the impression resorts abroad would be ‘less busy’ when the Olympics were being held in London in 2012.

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18 November 2011 - Nigerians fine British Airways

Posted by: Alan

Nigerian authorities have fined British Airways $135 million and Virgin Atlantic $100 million for allegedly overcharging on fares, the head of the country’s civil aviation authority said yesterday.

Asked for specifics, Harold Demuren reeled off a list of accusations, saying, "It’s a collusion, deceptive, discriminatory and abuse of dominant position", news agency AFP reports.

The airlines were given notice of the fines on Tuesday and have 14 days to respond.

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17 November 2011 - Passengers Asked To Buy Fuel For Aircraft

Posted by: Alan

Passengers aboard a European airline were told they’d have to fork out cash to buy fuel before the plane could complete its journey from Amritsar, India to the UK city of Birmingham.

The 180 travellers were stranded on Tuesday when crew of Austrian carrier Comtel Air announced during a refuelling stop in Vienna that the company had run out of money, the Mail Online reports.

The travellers were told they’d need to come up with £20,000 (about $28,000) between them if they wanted to continue the trip.

They refused, and during a six-hour stand-off were warned that their luggage would be offloaded if they didn’t pay up.

Police were called to the plane and eventually the stranded travellers were escorted to ATMs to withdraw the demanded cash - some of them having to borrow from others to make a contribution.

UK authorities have expressed concern about the incident.

It’s not yet known whether the passengers will be able to recover their money via a UK travel industry insurance scheme.

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16 November 2011 - Qatar Airways To Buy 55 New Aircraft

Posted by: Alan

Qatar Airways announced plans yesterday to buy 55 Airbus aircraft, just hours after saying that negotiations with the European planemaker were at an impasse.

The deal, for 50 new-generation A320s and five super-jumbo A380s, has a book value of $6.4 billion.

But aviation analysts says the fast-growing Middle East won’t be paying that much.

That was confirmed by Airbus chief operating officer John Leahy, who said jokingly after the purchase announcement by Qatar ceo Akbar al-Baker: "Unfortunely, Akbar doesn’t pay catalogue price".

The deal, which includes options for another 33 planes, was made during the Dubai Air Show.

It comes just days after Emirates announced a deal to buy 50 Boeing 777s.

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14 November 2011 - NZ to Change Wierd Road Rule

Posted by: Alan

As it prepares to change a bizarre road rule that has caused many tourists to crash their cars and campervans, New Zealand has moved to assure people the move is not an April Fool’s Day joke.

The existing rule, introduced in 1977, dictates that vehicles turning left must give way to oncoming vehicles turning right into the same road.

The weird rule will be changed on 25 March 2012 in a move welcomed by tourism bodies and rental car companies, though panel beaters may regret its passing.

In a final twist, New Zealand’s Dominion Post has revealed that the date of the change was originally set to be 1 April 2012.

At the last moment, politicians suddenly realised that the date was April Fool’s Day. They became concerned that people might dismiss the new give-way rules as an April Fool’s Day joke, which might have had catastrophic consequences. So the date was changed to 25 March.

New Zealand is spending NZD1.2 million on education ahead of the rule change.

The change will make self-drive holidays in New Zealand easier – and safer – for tourists from Australia and elsewhere.

The NZ Automobile Association has estimated that the peculiar give-way rule plays a part in 2560 intersection crashes, and one or two deaths, each year. As it stands, even when you are making a simple left-hand turn at a crossroad, a car facing you coming from the opposite direction and turning right has right of way.

About 17% of crashes in New Zealand are at intersections. International tourists driving rental cars or motorhomes are at serious risk when the rule catches them by surprise – especially if other vehicles catch them by surprise at the same time.

New Zealand is the only country in the world to have the rule. It is about to get into step with the rest of the world.

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14 November 2011 - Emirates to Buy 50 New Aircraft

Posted by: Alan

Middle East airline Emirates will buy 50 Boeing 777s - the biggest order for commercial planes in Boeing’s history.

The $18 billion order was announced at the Dubai Air Show yesterday.

Options for another 20, plus various other arrangements, push the total value of the deal to $26 billion.

Delivery will begin in 2015.

Boeing says the order will sustain thousands of jobs.

The planemaker delivered 127 commercial planes in the third quarter, including 100 737s and 21 777s.

It expects to deliver a total 480 for the year - down from an earlier estimate of 485-495.

Meantime, Qatar Airways also is expected to announce a big plane order during the Dubai show, which runs till Thursday.

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02 November 2011 - Russia Most Dangerous Place to Fly

Posted by: Alan

Russia has become the most dangerous place in the world to fly, according to figures from the Aviation Safety Network (ASN)

The country surpassed even the Democratic Republic of Congo in the number of plane crash fatalities this year, with 120 people killed in eight accidents involving Russian-built aircraft.

ASN is a privately-run, Europe-based organisation founded by a Dutch entrepreneur in 1996.

Andrei Litvinov, a pilot for Aeroflot, the nation’s official airline, told Sky News that blaming pilot error for the fatal crashes is often a lazy excuse.

"Sometimes human error does play a role. But, if they make you ride on a rusty bike, and you fall, you’re not the one to blame, are you?" he said.

"The government doesn’t want to look deeper into the problem because it’s too expensive. It’s so much easier to blame it on dead pilots."

Russian president Dmitry Medvedev has said aging Soviet fleets will be taken out of service by next year, and the government also promised more investment.

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01 November 2011 - The Kingston Flyer Flies Again

Posted by: Alan

NZ’s iconic Kingston Flyer tourist steam train resumed operations at the weekend, carrying more than 1000 locals and visitors on sold-out trips along 14kms of track between the settlements of Kingston and Fairlight, near Queenstown.

It’s two years since operations were halted after the previous owner went into receivership.

More recently it was bought Marlborough vineyard owner David Bryce.

He told the Otago Daily Times newspaper at the weekend that the revived venture "has come together really well considering it was only five months ago I saw it on a NZ online auction site".

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