Sapporo is Back! Fly Daily And Direct With Thai Airasia X

Travel During Summer Through Winter Promotional Fare

Thai AirAsia X continues to add highly demanded routes by commencing daily direct flights “Bangkok-Sapporo”, kicking off on 10 April 2018 at a promotional fare starting at only $125 per trip. Book 18-28 January 2018 for travel from 10 April – 27 October 2018. Premium Flat Bed Class seats are also available at only $404 per trip. Find out all the details at www.airasia.com.

Mr. Nadda Buranasiri, CEO of Thai AirAsia X, said that the airline is very grateful to be bringing back flights from Don Mueang to Sapporo, capital city of the island of Hokkaido. The route is the first addition by Thai AirAsia X following the lifting of Thailand’s red flag by the International Civil Aviation Organization, or ICAO.

Hokkaido is a very high potential destination and is already second only to Tokyo in terms of most popular place to visit in Japan among Thai travelers. The island can be visited year-round with distinct charms both in the summer and winter and is best known for its wealth of seafood, especially the ever popular Taraba Crab.

Visitors can enjoy Sapporo’s catchy travel concept “Eat Crab, Watch Bears, Go Skiing, See the Lavenders” with a just about 7-hour flight from Bangkok.

The addition of Sapporo offers a new travel option for both Thai and foreign travelers, including those in Japan who wish to fly low fares to Thailand. Thai AirAsia X is an expert in the Japanese market and is always seeking out new opportunities. This year, Mr. Nadda believes the aviation industry will likely grow significantly with many airlines planning expansion.

Premium business class on Thai AirAsia X

The high activity should prove beneficial to both the airline and tourism industries and offer great value to travelers. The optimism follows Thai AirAsia X in 2017 finding success from its strategy of continually adding flight frequencies and strengthening its network in north Asia.

Thai AirAsia X currently flies direct from Bangkok (Don Mueang Airport) to Seoul, South Korea three times a day; Tokyo. Japan two times a day; Osaka, Japan two times a day and Shanghai, China one time a day. In 2018, Thai AirAsia X is targeting acquiring 3 more Airbus A330 airplanes to finish the year with a fleet of 9 in support of its expanding network of destinations and flights.

To celebrate the new route, AirAsiaGO, online travel booking website and AirAsia partner, is offering a special 4 day 3 night hotel + flight + tax deal starting at only $376 per person available for booking 19-28 January 2018 for travel from 10 April-27 October 2018.

At the same time, the site is providing promo coupon code AAGTH12 for a 12 percent discount when booking a hotel at www.airasiago.com from today to 31 March 2018 for stays between now and 31 December 2018.

AirAsia BIG Loyalty members get the privilege of booking Don Mueang-Sapporo before anyone else at the promotional fare of only $125 between 14.00 hrs and 23.00 hrs on 18 January 2018. Find out more about this and many other promotions and activities from AirAsia at Facebook (facebook.com/AirAsia) and Twitter (twitter. com/AirAsia).

* Fares are one way and are inclusive of airport duties but exclude auxiliary service fees and credit card, debit card or charge card processing fees. Airline’s terms and conditions apply.


Gateway Hotel Presents Special Dining Experience With Hammers and Aprons at Three on Canton

Catch and crack at Three on Canton! In January and February, an array of fresh ocean delicacies will be prepared in different styles during the nightly dinner buffet. Grab your hammer and apron and enjoy a memorable dining experience at Three on Canton.

Start off the seafood extravaganza with an array of jet fresh seafood on ice, including Boston lobster, crayfish, prawns, mussels, sea whelk, snow crab leg and bread crab. Go for added flavor with accompaniments such as Thai chili sauce and cocktail sauce.

In addition to the seasonal seafood highlights, diners can savor Three on Canton’s classic buffet favorites, such as freshly shucked oysters, Japanese sushi and soba, live cooking noodles, authentic Indian curries, and regional Chinese dishes, including the signature Peking Duck.

Save room for the selection of exquisite desserts and rich, velvet Movenpick ice cream. Don’t miss the highly recommended Chocolate cracker to indulge your sweet tooth.

 

 


river-cruise

Best Cruises on The Most Dramatic Rivers Around the World

RHINE

katz-castle-rhine

Floating past Katz Castle on a Rhine river cruise

Fairytales, castles… and rivers

LENGTH:1,320km

TIMING:Year-long; December brings incredible winter markets, but berths book up fast. Summer is hot and busy, with the shoulder months (April or September) a good compromise.

THE RIVER: Since the height of the Holy Roman Empire, the Rhine has been the busiest waterway in Europe. But while dense shipping can impact on views in places, its scenery remains the most varied on the continent, ranging from battlefields and vineyards to Baroque palaces and medieval castles, as it trickles out of Switzerland and through western Germany to the Dutch coast.

THE SIGHTS: Germany’s 65km stretch of Middle Rhine Valley is the fairytale river of popular imagination, studded with castles, medieval villages and hill-top palaces.

Four-day cruises from Strasbourg to Koblenz are a great way to pack this in — along with the Rhineland’s vineyards— while avoiding the river’s more pragmatic parts. Plus, Strasbourg’s Cathedral is among the finest medieval buildings in Europe.

DETOURS: Side trips along Rhine tributary the Moselle reward with classy views, especially on the final hairpin bends between Trier, Germany’s oldest city, and Koblenz.

Week long trips between these cities take in ‘wine capital’ Bernkastel and medieval Beilstein, overlooked by the imposing Metternich Castle.

KERALA BACKWATERS

Drift southern India in a rice barge

LENGTH: 900km

TIMING: Winter (Nov-Feb) is cooler but can also be quite busy. In monsoon season (Jun-Oct) expect heavy rain in the afternoon.

THE AREA: Kerala’s network of canals, lakes, rivers and tributaries offer a slow-motion take on India’s south-east, along waterways sketched liberally in mangrove forest and drifting past bird sanctuaries, plantations and vast paddies.

Most cruisers amble along in kettuva llam (rice barges), dinky houseboats crafted from bamboo and coconut fibres (coin), in which time seems to stand still.

THE SIGHTS: Most houseboat cruises set out from Alleppey (Alappuzha). From here, side trips overland to Munnar’s Western Ghats and Periyar NP reward with bracing walks and tiger-spotting opportunities respectively, but the main appeal lies in simply drifting.

Typical trips meander via the vast lake of Vembanad to the island-clustered village of Kumarakom, all the way to Cochin (Kochi) where sail-like Chinese fishing nets and colonial facades greet your arrival.

DETOURS: Tired of the slow life? Try the Brahmaputra River, which flashes through India’s far western states. Eight-day trips sail from Nimati in West Bengal to Guwahati, Assam, with visits to Kazirang a NP (best Nov-Apr) to spy rare one-horned rhinos a worthy side trip.

NILE

Return to Egypt

egypt nile cruise

LENGTH: 6,853km

TIMING: Boats sail year-round, but Oct-April is the coolest period, with high season (Dec-Feb) not nearly as busy as it used to be.

THE RIVER: Prior to 2011, a reported 10,000 trips a year were made on the Nile. But recent times have seen that number fall to just a few hundred as troubles elsewhere in the country take effect.

Yet the Nile Valley has remained largely untouched by incident, and with London-Luxor flights having since resumed, the ancient waterway should be high on agendas.

THE SIGHTS: The Cairo-to-Aswan ‘long Nile’ cruise (880km) returned to itineraries in 2015 following a two-decade absence. But with the capital still making the wrong kind of headlines, its southern reaches may prove more attractive.

Set sail from Luxor, in any one of a range of vessels— from a classic small cruise ship, to the Agatha Christie-inspiring Steam Ship Sudan or a dahabeya houseboat with its giant sails — before exploring vast temples (Karnak, Kom Ombo, Edfu) and ancient necropolises (Valley of the Kings) en route to Aswan.

From there, a side trip to Abu Simbel, a pair of huge rock temples hewn out of a mountainside near the Sudanese border, is a must.

DETOURS: Some tours include two-night trips downstream from Aswan aboard a small felucca (traditional wooden sailing boat) with mattresses slung on deck for a night under the stars.

DANUBE

Waltz across Eastern Europe

River cruise ships on the Danube in Budapest

River cruise ships on the Danube in Budapest

LENGTH: 2,888km

TIMING: Year-long; summer can leave water levels low, so avoid the hotter months (Jun-Jul) to skip potential cancellation disappointments.

THE RIVER: Veining nine countries (and edging another), the Danube stumbles over more borderlines than a four-year-old attempting an MC Escher colouring-in book.

Nineteen nations in total share its basin and, from the Germany’s Black Forest to the Black Sea, it seeps through a spectacular array of landscapes, from the vineyards of Austria and Soviet-era architecture of Belgrade to the gorges and peaks of Romania.
THE SIGHTS: Typical trips last around eight days, starting in Nuremberg, Germany, and drifting through Austria to finish in Hungarian capital Budapest.

The more adventurous will likely be drawn to the river’s eastern fringes, where cruises usually depart the Baroque Austrian streets of Linz for the Little Carpathians of Slovakia and on through Serbia’s ‘Iron Gates’, the clawed gorges that mark its border with Romania.

These trips tend to culminate in Tulcea, which has good links to explore the dramatic Black Sea delta.

DETOURS: For those inclined towards the epic, 24-day cruises incorporate the waterways of Amsterdam and parts of the Rhine and Main rivers before linking up with the Danube Canal in Nuremberg and pushing on to the Black Sea.

MEKONG

Wildlife and pagodas in South-East Asia

LENGTH: 4,350km

TIMING: Year-round; winter (Nov-Feb) is cooler but tends to be packed, while rainy season (Jun-Oct) is less busy, with heavy—if often fleeting — showers.

THE RIVER: In the heat of a Laotian summer, it’s difficult to believe that the source of the Mekong lies high up in the meltwaters of the Himalayas.

Today, development along the river remains admirably restrained when compared with the rest of Asia’s rivers, a fact appreciated as you drift the lower reaches’ bamboo jungle, stilt villages, floating markets, rice fields and pagodas between Laos and the South China Sea.

THE SIGHTS: Typical weeklong cruises either traverse Laos from laid-back Luang Prabang to capital Vientiane, or voyage from Cambodia’s Siem Reap to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.

Along the way, the river’s biodiversity almost rivals that of the Amazon, but it’s the river’s history that compels, with Siem Reap in particular a popular jumping-off point for exploring the ruins of the Angkor temple complex, while the tragic legacies of the Khmer Rouge and Vietnam War resound in the museums, POW camps and tunnels of Phnom Penh and Ho Chi Minh.

DETOURS: New 14-day trips along the Mekong’s upper section begin in late 2017, on what’s said to be the first cruises to take in this part of the river. From Vientiane, you’ll float over the Chinese border toJinghong, wandering Laos’s Plain of Jars and the Dai villages of Yunnan en route.

AMAZON

Welcome to the jungle

amazon river cruise

Amazon river cruise

LENGTH: 6,992km

TIMING: Wet season (Dec-May) means better access to the Amazon’s smaller tributaries, fewer crowds and spectacular wildlife watching.

THE RIVER: The majority of the world’s largest river runs through Brazil and Peru, with the former attracting the bulk of the traffic — and visitors. Legions of vessels prowl the broad, noisy stretches between Manaus and the Colombian border, which is why the adventurous look elsewhere…

THE SIGHTS: The ‘alternative’ often means Peru, where shallow-bottomed riverboats set out from Iquitos to the Amazon’s northern tributaries (Ucayali, Maranon, Tahuayo) all the way to its headwaters.

Trips (4-7 days) thread blackwater streams and islands swarming with iguanas to the Pacaya-Samiria reserve, a 20,000 sq km of flooded, wildlife-packed jungle. Pit-stop in river villages, swim with pink river dolphins and soak up one of the most biodiverse places on Earth.

DETOURS: The wildlife reserve and freshwater archipelago of the Anavilhanas lies around 75km upstream from Manaus, Brazil, along the Rio Negro tributary. Go in dry season (May-Nov) when its islands and channels come alive with jaguars, manatees and some spectacular birdlife.

HOOGHLY

History and tigers in India’s West Bengal

LENGTH: 260km

TIMING: Year-round; October to April brings milder temperatures.

THE RIVER: This West Bengal tributary of the Ganges embraced river tours, after its once-dried up flows were bolstered by a diversion from the main stem.

Since then, shallow-draft ships have opened up the route, with weeklong cruises from Farakka to Kolkata ploughed by a handful of luxury craft, pushing deep into West Bengal’s storied fringes.

THE SIGHTS: India’s imperial west is the incentive here, with visits to Murshidabad and its impossible Palace of 1,000 Doors, which was the seat of the Murghal nawab (ruler), as well as the Battlefield of Plessey, where the last independent ruler of the region was defeated by the British in 1757.

Stops at the ruined city of Gaur and terracotta temples of Keine delve even further back into an era and region little explored by visitors.

DETOURS: Trips upstream along the Ganges from Farakka are possible in August/September, when the high waters allow you to journey to the holy city of Varanasi, spying gangetic river dolphins and pilgrimage sites en route.

YANGTZE

Ghosts and gorges of China

LENGTH: 6,300km

TIMING: Year-round; spring (Mar-May) and autumn (Sep-Nov) offer cooler breezes and fewer mosquitoes.

THE RIVER: The Yangtze is big! It is said more people live on its banks than in the entire US, and even the boats that cruise it (100-250 passengers) are huge, thanks to local demand and a dearth of low bridges.

But it has changed. The controversial Three Gorges Dam has taken its toll, raising water levels and erasing villages along its most popular stretch, between Chongqing and Shanghai. The epic scenery, however, remains breathtaking.

THE SIGHTS: Trips tend to vary between ten-day voyages from Chongqing to Shanghai and abbreviated three/four-day jaunts, usually to the towering gorges of Wuhan, which are part of a longer trip that includes flights to Beijing and Xi’an.

Other Yangtze pit-stops include the ‘ghost city’ of Fengdu, where a vast ‘ghost king’ statue cradles a mountainside of monasteries and shrines, before drifting on to the first — and most dramatic — gorge, Xiling, its steep-sided, misty canyons velveted in a lush canvas.

DETOURS: A side-trip to Guilin (1.5-hour flights from Chongqing) rewards with trips on the Li River, floating amid karst rises and terraced hills; meanwhile Suzhou — 30 minutes by train from Shanghai — is the gateway to the old water towns of Jiangsu province, laced with scenic canals and Qing-era gardens.

CHOBE

Cruise Botswana’s Big Five

LENGTH:731km

TIMING: Botswana’s dry season (Apr-Oct) sees water sources inland become scarce, improving the chances of spotting wildlife from the river.

THE RIVER: The Chobe is the name given to the lower section of southern Africa’s Cuando River, which rises out of Angola, edges Namibia and northern Botswana before flushing into the mighty Zambezi.

Plush river cruisers float its middle reaches, heading out from Kasane, Botswana, and into the wild wetlands of the Okavango Delta and the Chobe National Park.

THE SIGHTS: Most tours include four days on the Chobe River as a part of a longer trip (12-14 days), usually beginning in South Africa’s Johannesburg and ending at Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls.

In between, drift the park’s teak and mahogany-riddled banks, as giant marabou stork watch on and great egrets swoop overhead seemingly mocking gravity. River and overland safaris bring you closer to the park’s huge herds of elephants and buffalo, with plenty of opportunities to spy big game from the water.

DETOURS: Take advantage of a longer trip to cram in more nature. Many tours can include nights and game drives in South Africa’s Kruger NP, known for its large numbers of rare white rhinos.

IRRAWADDY

Burma (Myanmar) by water

irrawaddy river cruise

LENGTH: 2,170km

TIMING: Year-round; dry season (Nov-Feb) sees cooler temperatures

THE RIVER: Like South-East Asia’s other alpha rivers, the Irrawaddy’s Himalayan source offers stark contrast to the hot plains of Burma that most cruisers experience.

Here, luxurious colonial-style riverboats regularly skim the waters between Yangon and Mandalay (11-15 days), dipping in at Inle Lake and Bagan.

THE SIGHTS: Two-day cruises from Mandalay to the temple complex of Bagan are a fine way to quickly soak up the region. The city is still flecked with remnants of its colonial heyday, especially around its old docks, while the golden monastery speaks of another era entirely.

Both cities feature on the round-trip to Bhamo (11 days), before peaking in the stark gorges and remote villages, such as Katha, of the distant north, near the Chinese border, where fewer visitors tread.

DETOURS: To escape the crowds further, the Chindwin tributary branches off Burma’s Upper Irrawaddy and brushes steep-sided cliffs, lush jungle, and en route to Homalin, with potential land trips across the border to the Indian state of Nagaland — offering a different world entirely.

MISSISSIPPI

Birth of a nation

LENGTH: 3,734km

TIMING: Riverboats plunge the lower reaches of the river during winter (Nov-Dec) and summer (Apr-Jun).

THE RIVER: The Mississippi occupies a powerful place in the American imagination, with a crowded history that takes in everything from the American Civil War to the creation of rock ‘n’ roll as it swerves ten states, its waters still ploughed by giant paddle ships.

THE SIGHTS: It’s the lower New Orleans-to-Memphis stretch of this vast river that truly feels like the Mississippi of Mark Twain and the history books.

Eight-day cruises typically begin in the ‘Big Easy’, with stops narrating the birth of modern America, from the harrowing plantations of Oak Alley, which explore the antebellum homesteads that witnessed the heyday of slavery in the US, to the battlefield of Vicksburg, where the Civil War turned in favour of the Yankees. In between lie ageing river towns, wild swamps and rock ‘n’ roll legends.

DETOURS: Longer cruises along the lower, middle (Cairo, Illinois, to St Louis, Missouri) and upper (St Louis to St Paul, Minnesota) parts of the river are a veritable three-week PhD in Americana.

VOLGA

Russia made easy

volga river cruise

LENGTH: 3,530km

TIMING: The bulk of the river is navigable between March and December.

THE RIVER: Stretching from the hills north of Moscow down to the Caspian Sea, the Volga is Russia: impossibly vast and wrinkled with an operatic and turbulent history narrated in the folktales, buildings and cities that line its banks.

THE SIGHTS: The route between Moscow and St Petersburg (10-15 days) is a popular one, following the Volga for part of the way, fording rural villages and some of Europe’s largest lakes. But the true Volga experience is found on its lower reaches, strung between Moscow and `caviar capital` Astrakh an (12 days).

This covers 3,000km in a blur of onion-domed cathedrals and (bloody) Red history, pit-stopping at the UNESCO-listed city of Yaroslavl and drifting through the Republic of Tartarstan before pitching into a vast, wild delta speckled with lotus flowers and flamingos.

DETOURS: The Neva River makes up the final stretch of the Moscow-St Petersburg route, seeping from Lake Ladoga through the delta that St Petersburg sits on. It’s a quick way to get ataste of Russia and see some fine architecture.

RHONE

The reign of terroir

LENGTH: 812km

TIMING: Cruises run from March to November, with grape harvests typical lytaking place between August and October.

THE RIVER: From the glaciers of Switzerland, the Rhone plunges west through France, branching into the Saone as its pushes on to the Mediterranean.

This last stretch is pure gastronome country, with typical wine-themed cruises traversing Provence and Burgundy aboard small riverboats and barges, pit-stopping at vineyards and crumbling Gallic castles.

THE SIGHTS: Most routes combine both regions (and rivers), usually beginning or ending in Beaune, the heart of the Burgundy region where pinot nor and Chardonnay grapes rule the roost.

From there, wend vineyards, chateaux and medieval cities, stopping in gastronomic capital Lyon and finishing in Provencal Arles.

Try and include a visit to Camargue, where the Rhone flows into the sea., this delta is packed with birdlife and crowds of promenading flamingos.

DETOURS: Alternative French wine cruises either combine the Dordogne and Garonne rivers (setting off from Bordeaux) or drift the Loire Valley, an area known for its castles, barges and Sancerres.

MURRAY

Australia’s answer to the Mississippi

murray river cruise

LENGTH: 2,735km

TIMING: Cruises operate year-round on the lower river, but tours further inland rely on the higher waters of spring.

THE RIVER: The ‘mighty Murray’ shaped Australian history. Back inthe19th century, the riverwas a major shipping route, ferrying goods across three states (Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia).

Today, paddle ships now inch passengers through its lower reaches, edging wildlife reserves and red gum forests.

THE SIGHTS: Luxury steamers line the lower river between Murray Bridge and the old trading posts of Mannum and Morgan (3-7 days).

En route, the riverbank hums with wildlife, from wombats and kangaroos to the rich array of birdlife that flits its shores, while weeklong trips typically cram in hikes, small-boat safaris, wine tastings and a visit to the Ngaut Ngaut Aboriginal Reserve.

DETOURS: To explore the reserves, vineyards and tributaries of upstream, swap steamers for a catamaran and overnight stays on land. Weeklong cruises from Echuca, once Oz’s busiest inland port, only run in November, when the high water allows.

CALEDONIAN CANAL    

Barging through Scotland

LENGTH:100km

TIMING: Cruises run between April and October.

THE CANAL: Cutting a gash across northern Scotland from Inverness to Fort William on the west coast, the Great Glen fault carves its way through fen, forest and fell.

By 1822, it would also shepherd the Caledonian Canal, a hand-dug waterway using vast lochs (Ness, Lochy, Oich), like stepping stones, to ferry trawlers inland from the North Sea. Today, it’s mostly small barges (8-12 people) ploughing its waters on weeklong trips.

THE SIGHTS: The canal’s setting is drama enough, especially seen atop a low-slung barge while inching through the Highlands.

Soak in the raw beauty of the country’s lochs while pit-stopping at Cawdor Castle and cruise the locks of Neptune’s Staircase as you descend to the village of Corpach, overshadowed by the mighty Ben Nevis, before warming up with a wee nip at a Scottish whisky tasting.

DETOURS: If you prefer a ship to a barge, cruises from Inverness continue on to the isles off the west coast during summer (May-Sept), visiting Eigg, Skye and the sea loch of Inverie in the remote Knoydart peninsula. Pure isolation.

DOURO

Port, parks and Portugal

douro river portugal

LENGTH: 897km

TIMING: Year-round; go May or — for barefooted grape-stomping — September.

THE RIVER: From the medieval dockyards of coastal Porto, the Douro winds sun-dappled vineyards, plunging locks, valleys and Portuguese villages to the Spanish border.

Its headwaters, however, lie further on in central Spain, with weeklong cruises usually culminating amid the grandiose walls of Salamanca.

THE SIGHTS: Wander the Romanesque streets of Porto before cruising into the Douro Valley for port tastings and visits to traditional Iberian villages such as Pinhao.

Upriver, rocky gorges hide nesting griffon vultures, with trips to the Douro Natural Park (straddling the Spanish border) a must. But the highlight is the UNESCO-listed Salamanca, a bustling university town speckled with cathedrals and golden sandstone.

DETOURS: Further south, the Guadiana and Guadalquivir also offer similar under-the-radar escapes on the Portuguese border and Spain’s Andalusia region.

Cruises thread between Seville and Cadiz, and even splash into the Atlantic to switch rivers as you explore vineyards, national parks and Moorish architecture along the way.

COLUMBIA

Go west in the USA

LENGTH: 2,000km

TIMING: Boats run between April and October, but bring plenty of warm clothing — even during summer. Early October sees the grape harvest.

THE RIVER: The Columbia River slips through the Canadian Rockies and over the US border into Washington to the Oregon coast.

Together with its main tributary, the Snake River, this stretch is best known as the final part of Lewis and Clark’s 1804 expedition into the then-uncharted west.

THE SIGHTS: Small boat and paddlewheel cruises explore the last push of the duo, from Clarkston, Washington, to Astoria on the Pacific coast — albeit in more comfort. Explore the petroglyphs of the deepest river gorge in the US, Hells Canyon, under the watchful gaze of its Bighorn sheep, then push on to the Multnomah Falls.

Most cruises take in a trip to Fort Clatsop, the expedition’s furthest point in 1805, and give you time to explore the Dalles (the end of the old pioneer wagon route), hip Portland and towering Mount St Helens.

DETOURS: Forget pioneer hardships on a wine cruise along the Columbia between Portland and Vancouver (Washington)— a chance to savour the vineyards and seasonal grape harvesting.


MSC Meraviglia

Tour The Hottest New Cruise Ships of 2017

Eager to try out a new crop of megaships in 2017?

It’s going to be a thin year. But the lack of new vessels from the world’s two biggest cruise lines — Royal Caribbean and Carnival — plus Holland American and Celebrity is just a temporary lull: All four have new ships on the way for 2018.

Of the six big North America-based brands, Princess and Norwegian Cruise Line do have new ships coming in 2017, and in both cases they’re devoting the vessels to the Chinese market.

The most notable newcomer is the 167,600-ton MSC Meraviglia — the biggest ship ever from MSC Cruises. MSC Cruises also will roll out the 160,000-ton MSC Seaside, its first vessel custom-built for the Caribbean. With both of the new ships, the Europe-based line is hoping to draw more North American customers.

Also debuting this year are two new vessels for the ocean cruising arm of river cruise giant Viking. Luxury line Silversea also has a new ship, the 596-passenger Silver Muse, and adventure line Lindblad is rolling out its first new vessel in years, the 100-passenger National Geographic Quest.

We offer this guide to the most notable new ships for North Americans:

MSC Meraviglia (above)

Line: MSC Cruises
Maiden voyage: June 11
Home ports: Marseille, France; Genoa, Italy; Barcelona
Passengers: 4,500
THE BUZZ: At 167,600 tons, MSC Meraviglia is the biggest ship ever from Europe-based MSC Cruises and the seventh largest from any line. Nineteen decks high and full of eateries, bars and deck-top amusements, Meraviglia will have all the trappings of a megaresort, including an Aqua Park with three water slides, a splash pool and an adventurous Himalayan Bridge that allows passengers to cross the ship nearly 200 feet above the water.

Meraviglia also will boast a Miami Beach-inspired, 82-foot-long main pool that will be part of what MSC says is the most generous poolside space at sea.

Other notable features planned for Meraviglia are an amusement park area with race car simulators, a flight simulator, a 4-D cinema and a full-size bowling alley as well as the largest LED dome at sea. There also will be an aft pool that transforms into a dance area at night, a dedicated lounge for family activities and exclusive Cirque du Soleil shows. Twelve distinct dining venues are in the works.

ITINERARIES: Seven-night voyages in the Western Mediterranean

Viking Sky/Viking Sun

Viking Sky

Viking Sky

Line: Viking Ocean Cruises
Maiden voyages: Feb. 25, Nov. 17
Home ports: Various
Passengers: 930
THE BUZZ: River cruise giant Viking continues its push into ocean cruising with its third and fourth new ocean vessels since 2015. Like Viking’s first two ships, Viking Star and Viking Sea, the newcomers are being designed to mix onboard elegance with a focus on destinations that executives say has been lost across much of the cruise industry in recent years.

The new vessels will operate itineraries that feature more time in ports than is common with many other lines. In a relatively rare twist, they’ll also feature shore excursions that are included in the price. Also included will be beer and wine with lunch and dinner; and even Wi-Fi access — something that can cost up to 75 cents a minute on other lines.

Cabins on the vessels will be large for cruise ships, with the smallest of five cabin categories having 270 square feet of space.

In addition, every cabin will have a balcony. Fourteen two-room suites on each ship will range from 757 to 1,448 square feet and offer sweeping views from wrap-around private balconies.

ITINERARIES: Viking Sky operates sailings of seven to 28 nights around the Baltic, Mediterranean and Caribbean seas. Viking Sun will sail seven-night voyages to Cuba and the Caribbean out of Miami, and will also feature a 141-day world cruise that spans five continents.

National Geographic Quest

National-Geographic-Quest

Line: Lindblad Expeditions
Maiden voyage: June 26
Home ports: Various
Passengers: 100
THE BUZZ: One of the world’s top expedition cruise operators finally is getting a shiny new ship. One of two sister vessels coming by 2018, National Geographic Quest will be outfitted with all the cool toys that have made expedition cruising with Lindblad so alluring, including a remotely operated vehicle, a video microscope designed to display microorganisms from polar waters and a hydrophone and bow-cam designed for immediate bow deployment to hear and film marine mammals.

The ship also will carry kayaks, paddle boards and Zodiac-style landing craft for outdoorsy adventures during voyages and for exploring.

Quest will be a third larger than the line’s long-serving, 62-passenger National Geographic Sea Bird and Sea Lion.

It’ll feature an extra deck and more sophisticated design, including its own mudroom with rows of lockers for passengers to store boots, snorkeling equipment and other gear, making excursion preparation more efficient.

The ship’s 50 cabins will include 22 with balconies — a relative rarity on expedition-style ships. In another unusual-for-expedition- ships twist, 12 cabins will be able to be configured into six adjoining cabins for families.
ITINERARIES: Seven-night sailings in Alaska, and voyages along the coast of British Columbia and Central America.

MSC Seaside

MSC Seaside

Line: MSC Cruises
Maiden voyage: Nov. 30
Home port: Miami
Passengers: 4,140

THE BUZZ: Europe-based MSC Cruises is going after the North American market in a big way with the debut of MSC Seaside, which will be christened in Miami and deployed year-round in the Caribbean. Designed with the warm Caribbean in mind, the 160,000-ton ship will feature innovative sea-level promenades with outdoor spaces, shops and restaurants. Additionally, there are two glass-floored catwalks that extend beyond the edge of the ship.

Other planned outdoor features are an Aqua Park with four water slides, including an interactive „slideboarding tube” that incorporates video game elements, lights and music, and one inner tube slide. The ship’s top deck also will offer a ropes course called Adventure Trail and two of the longest zip lines at sea (394 feet). In all, Seaside will have 11 eateries, including a pan-Asian restaurant from celebrity chef Roy Yamaguchi, an upscale seafood outlet and a steakhouse.

While the vessel’s 2,070 cabins will be able to hold 4,140 passengers at double occupancy, extra bed spots from pullout sofas and bunks will boost total capacity to 5,179 passengers.

ITINERARIES: Seven-night voyages in the Caribbean and Bahamas.

Silver Muse

silver muse ship

Line: Silversea Cruises
Maiden voyage: April 8
Home ports: Various
Passengers: 596

THE BUZZ: This is the most luxurious new ship of 2017. Silversea’s first newly built vessel in seven years — the company’s largest vessel and its new flagship — is full of the biggest and most elegant accommodations at sea, including four apartmentlike, two-bedroom Owner’s Suites that measure 1,389 square feet.

Other accommodations include four Grand Suites and two Royal Suites that measure 1,475 square feet and 1,130 square feet, respectively. The ship will also have 34 of the line’s signature Silver Suites across three top decks, including a new two- bedroom Silver Suite configuration that measures 1,119 square feet. Muse also offers upscale eateries, including La Dame, a French restaurant created in partnership with Relais & Chateaux.

Hot Rocks, a ship favorite where passengers cook their own meals on piping hot lava stones, is also among the dining options.

ITINERARIES: A diverse range of seven- to 19-day sailings in Europe, the Caribbean, South America, the Middle East and Asia

 


Discover the New with Cosmos

For over 5 decades, Cosmos has been turning travel dreams into reality with over 100 vacations to destinations around the world. This year, choose to travel to those undiscovered destinations that will inspire you to experience the new.

Indulge yourself in a kaleidoscope of architectural delights on our tour of BEST OF THE BALTICS; visit the stunning coastlines at COAST & CITIES OF CROATIA; get blown away by the spectacular beauty of Iceland in ICELANDIC ADVENTURE; explore the most vibrant cities in the southern hemisphere in the BEST OF BRAZIL vacation; visit the captivating country of Cuba with its unique colors and culture in our tour of CUBA DISOVERY!

And for the value conscious travelers, Cosmos has also unveiled its collection of 9 great vacations under $1000 that include accommodation at smart hotels, touring by deluxe coaches, sightseeing with local guides, services of a professionally trained tour director, breakfast and some additional meals.

Globus provides a richer vacation experience with 4 star or higher category hotels and more included sightseeing; Monograms offers independent vacations without the hassles faced while traveling without a group. Avalon Water ways offers unrivaled river cruising in Europe, Asia, Amazon & the Galapagos Islands with a more intimate destination experience.


airplane wallpaper

News From The Airline And Airport Industry

1. Check Your ID

REAL ID Act airports

Sings have sprouted up at many airports to alert travelers that beginning Jan. 22, the Transportation Security Administration will begin strict enforcement of the REAL ID Act requirements at airport security checkpoints.

That means that passengers presenting a driver’s license or identification card from a state where those documents don’t meet the REAL ID Act’s minimum security standards – and where extensions to meet those requirements have not been granted – may be turned away. (Find out your state’s status here: dhs.gov/current-status-states-territoires)

TSA will continue its current practice of accepting alternate forms of ID, such as a passport, military ID or permanent resident card, at airports. But next year, driver’s licenses and state-issued ID cards from states that don’t yet have real ID-compliant driver’s licenses and ID won’t be accepted.

Enacted by Congress in 2005, the real ID Act established minimum security standards for state-issued IDs and requires them to include a person’s full legal name, birth date, gender, address, signature, an ID number, a photo and a security feature such as a bar code or hologram.

2. Finding Cheap Fares

Cheap Fares

The peak summer travel season is well underway, but there are still days where you can find less expensive airfares. Just remember, fare hikes (and drops) can vary slightly depending on the route, and airlines are constantly tweaking prices.

U.S DOMESTIC FLIGHTS:
– June 15: Expect a hike as the most expensive vacation fares go into effect. You can still save by departing on or before June 14.
– Aug. 30: The fall deal zone gets, a little later start than in recent years, but if you can delay a trip until Aug. 30, you will see a drop from peak-season pricing.

FLIGHTS TO EUROPE:
– Aug. 21: Trans-Atlantic fares drop on this date; fly in late August and avoid summer fares and summer crowds.

FLIGHTS TO ASIA:
– Jun 20: The final price hike of the season.
– Aug.7: Summer prices drop somewhat.
– Aug. 20: A more significant drop; this would be a good time to fly.

3. Southwest, Delta Win Kudos

Southwest and Delta

Frequent fliers, listen up. Tuesday is the “cheapest” day to use your airline miles. And you’re most likely to find the lowest-mileage domestic coach-class award tickets on Southwest and Delta.

At least that’s the finding of a new report out by MileCards.com, a website that lets users compare travel credit cards based on where they want to fly. The group says it analyzed “over 100,000 award travel date and route combinations among the frequent-flier programs of the five biggest US. airlines,” which are American, Delta, United, Southwest and Alaska Airlines.

The MileCards.com analysis looked exclusively at domestic awards for economy class travel. Among the notable findings:

On average, frequent fliers will expend the fewest miles or points for award travel on Tuesdays. According to MileCards.com, “across all airlines studied, prices on Tuesday are 26 percent lower on average than those on the most expensive day,” which is Sunday.

Southwest’s Rapid Rewards and Delta’s SkyMiles were cheapest for awards in the U.S., according to MileCards.com. Its analysis found Southwest charged an average of 13,629 miles for a round-trip award. “The catch,” according to MileCards.com, is that “Southwest doesn’t fly to Hawaii, or some popular award destinations in the mainland U.S., like Vail and Anchorage.”

4. Fewer Flights To Cuba

cuba-flights

It’s going to be a little more dflflcult to get to Cuba from the U.S. Spirit Airlines has become the latest U.S. airline to give up on scheduled passenger service to the island nation; it was scheduled to halt its Havana-Fort Lauderdale flight schedule May 31.

That makes Spirit the third US. carrier to exit the Cuban market this year, after similar plans were announced in March by Frontier Airlines and Silver Airways. American and JetBlue have reduced capacity to Cuba, though they’ve done so by changing frequency or switching to smaller aircraft rather than discontinuing routes.

Spirit’s decision to exit Cuba comes about eight months after regular passenger flights to the island resumed for the first time in nearly 50 years.

Despite Spirit’s move, South Florida travelers will still have numerous options for non-stop flights to Havana. American and Delta fly to Havana from Miami, while JetBlue and Southwest fly from Fort Lauderdale.

5. Tiny Airports Go Intl.

old-terminal-at-bradley-airport

An old terminal of Bradley Airport – U.K

In the past, only the biggest and busiest US. airports had international air service. Now smaller airports — such as Bradley International near Hartford, Conn.; T.F. Green Airport near Providence, R.l.; and Stewart international Airport in New York’s Hudson Valley — have snagged direct flights to Europe and a slice of the trans-Atlantic air service pie. They’ re adding amenities and sprucing up facilities. Bradley, which is adding Norwegian Air flights to Edinburgh, built a duty-free shop for international travelers.

T.F. Green is currently expanding its international arrival facility, with the goal of having enhancements in place for Norwegian Air flights beginning in June.

Stewart just finished razing a World War ll vintage hangar to make room for more aircraft parking. lt gets international service with Norwegian Air’s daily flights to Edinburgh starting in June. Flights from Stewart to Dublin and Belfast begin July 1, and flights to Shannon, Ireland, and Bergen, Norway, kick off on July 2.

6. United Makes It Up to Passengers

United Airlines $10 000

In the wake of negative publicity over its treatment of passengers, United Airlines now offers up to $10,000 compensation for travelers who voluntarily give up their seats on an overbooked flight.

United also said it would reduce overbooking, and will no longer attempt to involuntarily remove passengers who’ve already boarded their flights “unless safety or security is at risk.”

And the carrier is making permanent a policy it adopted April 12 that it will no longer call law enforcement officers to remove passengers except in cases of “safety and security.”


LE MONT SAINT-MCHEL normandy france

Places of Myths & Legends

LE MONT SAINT-MCHEL, NORMANDY, FRANCE (above)

Disney reportedly used this fortified gothic island castle as inspiration for Rapunzel. At high tide it appears to rise majestically out of the sea.of-montsaintmichel.com

CORVIN CASTLE, HUNEDOARA, ROMANIA

corvin castle

Also called Huniazilor, this fairytale castle, complete with a drawbridge over a flowing river, inspired Bram Stoker’s fictional vampire, Dracula, who was based on the very real Vlad the Impaler. castelulcorvinilor.ro

NEUSCHWANSTEIN CASTLE, BAVARIA

NEUSCHWANSTEIN CASTLE

Cinderella’s castle at Disney World and Sleeping Beauty’s castle in Disney Land are reportedly fashioned on this 19th-century palace with its iconic turrets and cylindrical towers. neuschwanstein.de

PRAGUE CASTLE, CZECH REPUBLIC

prague castle

This 10th-century UNESCO World Heritage Site and Guinness World Record holder is the ‘largest coherent castle complex in the world’. Hrad.cz

ALCAZAROF SEGOVIA, SPAIN

ALCAZAROF SEGOVIA

Constructed by the Moors, this medieval fortress sits on a large rock promontory on a hill overlooking the city — 156 creaky steps lea d to the top. alcazardesegovia.com


New Places to Fly and Flop

The Reef by CuisinArt

The Reef by CuisinArt

It has all the trappings of a tropical idyll, with yoga and infinity pools a go-go, but it’s the food that’s tempting travellers to this just-opened beach resort right on the water at secluded Merrywing Bay. Think global menus, the freshest seafood and wood-fired pizza on the beach. thereefbycuisinart.com

Zemi Beach House

zemi-beach-house

With just 129 rooms, this intimate new beach resort is proving a hit with both parents and their children. The kids’ club has coconut bowling and beachfront movie nights; the spa is set in an elaborate hut, shipped over from Thailand; while the bar boasts some 100 varieties of fine, small-batch rum. zemibeach.com

The Manoah

The Manoah shoal bay

Just along the coast from Zemi Beach House, you’ll find a taste of St Tropez at Shoal Bay. There, Manoah Ocean Beach Club, a spanking new blue and white retreat, with just 25 rooms, awaits. The sleek, refined decor is infused with Caribbean flavour.


sunsnet sailing

The at-Sea Retiree – Why Sailing into the Sunset Might Be the Smartest Retirement Choice

One out of every ten Americans is set to retire this year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and there’s a new option for post career bliss: Sail away. Intrepid travelers are downsizing on land and opting to spend a portion of their time at sea. And while retirees’ individual needs vary (a cruise doesn’t offer the same care as an assisted living facility, for example), one industry report found that extended time on a ship can cost less than living in several major U.S. cities.

Cruise lines are ready to welcome their new nautical citizens: Oceania Cruises recently introduced “Snowbirds in Residence” perks for select 58- and 72-day voyages in 2017 and 2018, and Crystal Cruises announced it’s developing permanent residences that will be available for purchase on new ships. Maybe it’s time to rethink buying that second home on the coast and book a long-term suite at sea instead.

Life at Sea

Mario Salcedo has spent 6,000 days (and counting) on Royal Caribbean’s fleet since 2000. The 67-year-old retiree keeps a small condo in Miami for those few days he’s on land.

I cruise because: “I have a passion for the ocean and a desire to make life easy. Plus, it gives me maximum time for the activities I’ve always wanted to pursue.”

The best aspect of life on board: “The opportunity to make friends from all over the world, especially the crew members. They’ve become like my family.”

My typical day: “I started a small, Internet-based business when I moved on board. I spend four or five hours a day running that from the pool deck. The rest of the day is the fun part: touring ports of call, scuba diving, and discovering new beaches, plus dancing, trivia, and enrichment lectures on the ship.”

A Floating Second Home

 Ralph Bias

Ralph Bias

Miami Beach-based agency executive Ralph Bias practices what he promotes: Beyond helping others cruise, he and his partner, Mark Zilbert, sail frequently. When they retire, they plan to spend extended time on Seabourn’s fleet.

We chose cruising over buying a second home because: “A ship truly is a home away from home, and it’s a better investment for us. Instead of going somewhere and looking at the same lake for three months, we’re traveling the world.”

You’ll find us: “Sailing through Asia. I love Hong Kong, and Vietnam is amazing. That will probably be followed by the French Riviera – there’s no better place to be in the summer.”

If you want to retire at sea: “You must love cruising, and you should have a financial manager at home to take care of your affairs. Most important: Choose the right ship, because that’s what you’re going to fall in love with. An advisor can help you find the best fit.


Silversea

Silversea’s All-Inclusive Lifestyle

Take a break from winter and let Silversea whisk you away to the coolest tropical wonderlands in the Caribbean and Mediterranean. You could be spending lazy days in the yachting playgrounds of the Lesser Antilles, ziplining in a rainforest in Puerto Rico or island hopping in sunny Greece. Come experience small-ship cruising at  its most divine aboard the all-inclusive ultra-luxury ships of Silversea.

Discover the highly personalised style of travel that discerning travelers prefer. The camaraderie of like-minded guests in the open bars and lounges. The spacious suites with butler service and award winning cuisine. The almost infinite choice of land programs. This  is the exclusive world of Silversea, where every day is extraordinary. Here, ensconced in luxury, enjoy your perfect winter getaway.

  • Sailing to over 800 destinations, across all 7 continents — more than any other cruise line
  • Free WiFi for every guest*
  • Intimate ultra-luxury ships for no more than 540 guests
  • A butler for every suite
  • Spacious suites, most with private verandas
  • Open seating and specialty restaurants
  • Champagne, wines and spirits served throughout the ship
  • In-suite bar with your preferred beverages
  • Exclusive partnership with Relais & Châteaux
  • Gratuities always included

*  One hour free WiFi per day for all guests unlimited free WiFi for guests sailing on select suite categories.