Spent a surprise and wonderful holiday in Nan’ao Island, Chenghai City, Guangdong, China.
First of all, let me introduce the Nan’ao Sea-Crossing Bridge. This 11.08-kilometer-long bridge connects Chenghai and Nan’ao Island, and is one of the landmark buildings of Nan’ao Island. When I walked on the bridge, I felt the sea breeze blowing on my face, and the seascape and sky in front of me complemented each other. I couldn’t help but sigh what a wonderful moment it was.
After getting off the bridge, we came to Nan’ao Island. With clear sea water and fine sandy beaches, it is a good place for vacation. On the island, I lived in a homestay called “Nan’ao Island Holiday Villa”. The room here is clean and tidy, well-equipped, and there is a private pool, which made me feel unparalleled comfort and relaxation.
In addition to accommodation, Nan’ao Island has many attractions worth visiting. Among them, what impressed me the most was the “Gate of Nature” on the Tropic of Cancer. This arch built on the Tropic of Cancer gave me a wonderful experience of crossing the northern and southern hemispheres. In addition, Nan’ao Island National Forest Park and Ocean Park are also attractions not to be missed.
In Nan’ao Island, I also tasted local delicacies. Nan’ao seaweed is one of the specialties here. I tasted this delicious dish in a restaurant called “Nan’ao Island Seafood Food Stall”. In addition, the seafood here is also very fresh, which made me eat mouthful after mouthful.
Generally speaking, Nan’ao Island is a very suitable place for vacation and relaxation. Here, I feel the beauty of nature and the harmony between man and nature. If you also want a travel experience like this, you might as well come to Nan’ao Island to have a look!
On July 2, 2023, Etihad Airways will launch a direct passenger flight from Abu Dhabi to Lisbon, further expanding its European route network this summer.
Etihad Airways will operate three flights a week between Abu Dhabi and Lisbon, Portugal, on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Sundays during the summer holidays.
Antonoaldo Neves, Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Airways, said: “Etihad Airways is delighted to launch the first direct flight to Portugal, offering our guests easy access to one of the most popular summer travel destinations in 2023. travel options.
“As one of the oldest cities in Western Europe, the coastal city of Lisbon is an excellent starting point for travelers to explore Portugal, with its breathtaking beaches, historic castles, vibrant nightlife and welcoming locals.
“Our new direct flight will strengthen business and tourism links between the UAE and Portugal, and Etihad Airways would like to thank the Portuguese government for their support in launching this new route.”
Resumption of summer flights to Malaga and Mykonos
This summer, Etihad Airways will not only launch flights to Lisbon, but also resume flights to Malaga on Spain’s Costa del Sol and the popular Greek travel destination Mykonos.
Effective 18 June 2023, Etihad Airways will operate twice weekly flights to Malaga, on Wednesdays and Sundays. Nestled in a wide bay with stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea, Malaga is one of Spain’s most popular coastal cities for tourists, known for its miles of sandy beaches, unique exotic culture and local cuisine.
Not only that, but travelers can also look forward to Etihad Airways’ upcoming flights to the island of Mykonos, which lies in the deep blue waters of the Aegean Sea. From 16 June 2023, Etihad Airways will operate twice weekly flights to Mykonos, on Mondays and Fridays. With its world-class beaches, restaurants and entertainment, Mykonos is one of Europe’s top summer tourist destinations, where visitors can indulge in ancient Greek history.
With the opening of new routes to Lisbon, Malaga and Mykonos, Etihad Airways will offer passengers nearly 160 weekly flights to 21 European destinations this summer, compared to 2022 An annual increase of 20%.
Travelers can book flights to the three new destinations immediately on Etihad.com.
Egencia, Expedia’s business travel division, has announced the winners of its annual awards program, revealing the top 100 preferred hotels around the globe.
The Egencia program honors properties with the goal of recognizing those that are committed to customer service for business and corporate clients.
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The finalists for the fourth annual awards program range from major hotel brands to independent properties and were selected based on satisfaction ratings, pricing, desirable amenities for corporate travelers, customer service and the overall guest experience in 2018.
“A great business traveler experience is just as important to us as providing a great business travel platform here at Egencia, which is why each year we recognize and reward hotels that deliver outstanding customer service, tremendous value for money and popular amenities,” said Andrew Dyer, vice president of global supply at Egencia brand.
“This year’s honorees go above and beyond what is expected of them to put the needs and comfort of business travelers first, offering conveniences such as complimentary breakfast and loyalty points.”
The top 100 hotels recognized by Egencia include properties in 17 countries across five continents. These properties delivered nearly 90,000 with complimentary breakfast and 75,000 room nights eligible for loyalty points to more than 145,000 Egencia business travelers in 2018.
Top hotels in major U.S. business hubs include the following:
California, Los Angeles
California, San Francisco
Galleria Park Hotel, a Joie de Vivre Boutique Hotel
Just in time for the busy holiday travel period, Google Assistant will begin notifying passengers if there’s a strong likelihood that their flight will be delayed.
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Google recently announced that its AI-powered virtual assistant will proactively send alerts to users’ phones so they can plan for an impending flight delay before arriving at the airport.
“Over the next few weeks the Assistant will begin proactively notifying you on your phone if we predict a flight delay and tell you the reason if we know it,” Richard Holden, Vice President, Product Management, Travel, wrote in a blog post on Monday.
Google has been sharing flight delay predictions with users since the early part of this year, informing passengers when it’s 85 percent confident that their flight will eventually be delayed based on analysis of historic flight status data combined with machine learning.
Users can always ask Google Assistant “Hey Google, is my flight on time?” to get up-to-date information on their flight but proactive alerts will make it even easier to stay in the know.
The latest enhancement to Google Assistant is just another example of how the tech giant is impacting the travel industry. Google recently made searching for hotel rooms easier and is also helping travel agents sell Disney.
Whether you’re a travel agent or a traveler, you stand to gain from knowing about American Airlines Vacations (AAV). AAV not only puts agents front and center with its online booking site and exclusive benefits but saves travelers in a variety of ways, including through hotel deals, bonus miles rewards and more.
When it comes to dining, there’s no better food than theme park food. And while many of us still think about burgers, hot dogs and the occasional giant pretzel, there’s so much more, especially at the Walt Disney World Resort. Epcot is hosting quite a few festivals this year, new restaurants are popping up at Disney Springs, and some restaurants are even getting a whole new concept for guests to enjoy.
WHY IT RATES: Travelers can save big and receive resort perks when booking a vacation this month.—Codie Liermann, Associate Editor
Funjet Vacations is celebrating its 45th anniversary with its biggest sale of the year. Vacationers can save up to $200 with promo code ALLONSALE9 to top destinations like Mexico, the Caribbean, Las Vegas and New York City.
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Plus, select resorts are offering additional values like resort credits, room upgrades and more, and travel agents can earn up to $50 in Agent Bonus Cash on qualifying bookings. Packages must be booked by January 24, 2019, for travel through May 31, 2019.
Top deals include the following:
—Cancun: Reflect Krystal Grand Cancun—room upgrades and kids rates from $20.19 and up to 40 percent savings
—Riviera Maya: El Dorado Seaside Suites, a Spa Resort by Karisma—save up to 55 percent + reduced room upgrade from Luxury Jacuzzi Jr Suite to Beachfront Jacuzzi Suite
—Punta Cana: Chic Punta Cana—up to 64 percent savings, plus $600 resort credit for Diamond Club categories
—Las Vegas: The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas—save 25 percent plus receive $100 food & beverage credit
—New York: Riu New York Times Square—up to 30 percent off room & buffet breakfast and room and buffet breakfast & dinner
“For 45 years, Funjet has been an industry leader in leisure vacations to Mexico and the Caribbean as well as popular domestic destinations,” said Ron Jacobs, Funjet Vacations President. “We’re excited to celebrate with big savings and extra values on our top resorts.”
For more information and restrictions, visit https://ifj.www.vaxvacationaccess.com/ifj/promotions/january-sale/.
Avoya Travel took home two gold Travvy statues at travAlliancemedia’s annual awards ceremony, which took place on January 23, 2019, at Gotham Hall in New York City.
The host agency took home honors for Best Host Agency as well as Best Host Agency Website, AvoyaTravel.com, during the fifth annual Travvy Awards.
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Once again, Avoya led the way in the host agency category, taking home top honors for the 5th year in a row. Nexion took second, with silver awards in both categories and Ciao Bambino was also nominated in each.
Avoya had another banner year in 2018, and the host agency expects a winning 2019 for its agents, who predict they will top last year’s sales during this year’s Wave selling season which is ongoing through March, and this can be attributed to its ongoing focus on agent training and education.
“With the help of Avoya’s Mastermind Program, I have better focus and the ability to handle more business during Wave and all of 2019,” said RaShonda Gibson of Abundant Journeys, LLC.
Avoya also saw triple-digit growth and early success with its New-to-Travel Agents last year, and the host agency hosted its first Avoya Travel Institute, a new educational opportunity that educated advisors on relationship building with top partners in 2018.
The host agency was also recently recognized as Norwegian Cruise Line’s 2018 Online Partner of the Year, which continues to show that the network is deserving of its numerous honors.
UK cottages: A weekend trip to Somerset is the the perfect tonic for city-dwellers (Image: Getty Images/Sykes Cottages)
Standing on the porch, I look to my left. Over the top of a row of small brick cottages rises a rolling hill of green from which a large cloud of steam is billowing. I hear the unmistakeable clickety-clack of a steam train rumbling past and a loud whistle – and I cannot help but grin to myself at how idyllic this place is. It’s as though I’ve stepped into an Enid Blyton novel and my three friends, a dog and I are about to head off on a great adventure.
I’ve found myself in the tiny village of Samford Brett near Taunton in Somerset for the weekend. I’m staying in a house called Elmfield – booked through Sykes Cottages – and the best way to describe it is this: picture how an American would imagine an English cottage based on the films they’ve seen, and you’ve pretty much got Elmfield.
It’s a perfectly proportioned brick house with a bright red door, a white trellis-covered porch and two chimneys. Greenery creeps up the front and there’s a little gate in front of the house leading to a quiet road.
The interior of the cottage is no less charming. It features two large, comfortable living rooms with two fires. I’m spending the weekend with 11 friends my own age, but such a set up would be ideal for families with children looking to branch out into their own space (the games room in the garden stable is also great for this, coming complete with darts and table tennis).
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There are books and board games galore, too, for those looking for some downtime. We set to work getting the fire going as soon as we arrive, and it makes for a very cosy scene indeed.
There are plenty of bedrooms to choose from – five in total – and Maggie, the owner, offers beforehand to make two of them up into twins or doubles. The majority of the rooms come with their own sink, which is particularly handy come teeth-cleaning time.
The mini toiletries lend a hotel-vibe to the place and a plethora of towels are to-hand, an (often underestimated) bonus.
It’s the kitchen which is the highlight of Elmfield, however. The vast, traditional room has a large table in the middle big enough to seat 12 and there’s every piece of cooking equipment you could need, often twice over.
In fact, there are so many plates, glasses and cutlery that you can bung everything from breakfast into the dishwasher and still have enough left out for lunch.
We spend many a happy moment bustling round the kitchen, whipping up lasagnes and fry-ups over the course of the weekend, eventually sitting down to feast en masse at the table and making in-roads on numerous bottles of wine.
UK cottages: Elmfield It’s a perfectly proportioned brick house with a bright red door (Image: Sykes Cottages)
Fortunately, despite our fuzzy heads in the morning, a countryside walk provides the perfect tonic. On our first day in Somerset, we drive to East Quantoxhead to enjoy an invigorating, clifftop walk. The circular path takes in vast, beautiful fields and even a stately home.
The wind is up when we arrive at the cliffs overlooking the sea and we are veritably pummelled by the bracing breeze as we stare out across the grey, blue water to the coastline of Wales.
Somerset has an intriguing geological coastline and makes for some very dramatic coastal shots – as well as some comedic ones as we women of the group battle to keep hair from flying into our faces. Berries bloom along the hedgerows – a clear sign summer is behind us – and we inhale the fresh, countryside air with enthusiasm.
On our second day, inspired by the suggested walks Maggie has in a folder at Elmfield, we set off for a more local walk from Samford Brett. We don wellies and tramp forth along fields, into the woods and eventually across farmland.
In a painfully urban way we can’t help but express our delight at spotting sheep and horses and we stride forth in the sunshine.
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Somerset boasts beautiful scenery and a bracing walk is the perfect way to clear our fuzzy heads (Image: Getty Images)
Somerset: The vast, traditional kitchen has a large table in the middle big enough to seat 12 (Image: Sykes Cottages)
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At one point we spot a creature rather more incongruous to the traditional English landscape – an emu. If the sight of this large flightless bird isn’t surprising enough, we soon spot a small boy striding across a farm entrance holding two ferrets, slung across his palms like a pair of spare jumpers. Clearly we are a long way from London.
Back at Elmfield, it’s time for us to reluctantly pack up our belongings and pile into our rental car. We’d booked it through rentalcars.com and had conveniently managed to pick it up in a location just around the corner from my house.
A seven-seater Vauxhall Zafira, it’s perfect for helping to get such a big group down to the West Country. It is also impressively high tech – apparently traditional keys are a thing of the past – and boasts Bluetooth, built-in sat nav and front seats with an intriguing massage function, all very necessary for a long road-trip to somewhere new.
We were certainly sad to say goodbye to the house and Maggie. We’d loved the little touches around the house, such as the fresh flowers, as well as how amenable she’d been about popping round with dishwasher sachets when there were none left. We’d drawn the line at asking her to bring brown sugar when a fudge sauce craving kicked in near midnight, though.
With a final gulp of fresh countryside air and a wave to the goats in the garden, we set course for home.
Prices start from £819 for a 7 night’s stay at Elmfield bookable via www.sykescottages.co.uk or by calling 01244 617683.
Prices start from approx. £102 for a seven-seater Vauxhall Zafira (or similar) for a three-day car hire from London, bookable through Rentalcars.com.
TravAlliancemedia is kicking off the New Year honoring the travel industry’s best and brightest. The fifth annual Travvy Awards took place on January 23, 2019, at Gotham Hall in New York City.
Hosted by travAlliancemedia and sponsored by Allianz as well as ShoreTrips, Hotel Xcaret Mexico, La Coleccion and the Jamaica Tourism Board, receiving an award at the high-caliber ceremony is considered one of the top honors in the travel industry.
Nearly 280 awards were handed out at this year’s ceremony, honoring the top travel companies delivering the highest quality experiences in 139 categories that include destinations, hotels and resorts, cruise lines and tour operators.
“The Travvy’s are the Oscars of the travel industry,” travAlliancemedia President and CEO Mark Murphy said. “This year, a record number of votes were cast to honor the best of the best in travel. Travel agents—the people who actively book and provide insight to millions of travelers every year—are the ones who cast the votes, helping set the Travvy’s apart from every other award.”
What sets the Travvys apart from other industry awards is that the winners are selected by working travel agents who have direct knowledge about each and every category, company and organization nominated. This year, more than 130,000 votes were cast.
Mark Murphy opening #Travvys2019 @TravelPulse pic.twitter.com/kGXITknXgB
— Eric Bowman (@EricBowman_) January 24, 2019
Murphy also noted that the Travvys are unique for another reason.
“The Travvys are also the only award that’s been featured on tv every year since inception, immediately making consumers aware of many of the winners,” he said.
RANGE a cappella was once again the featured entertainment after their performance brought down the house at last year’s awards.
Aca scuse me? CIRCLE OF LIFE!@rangeacappella plays the crowd favorite #Travvys2019 pic.twitter.com/9Iyl5ldio3
— Eric Bowman (@EricBowman_) January 24, 2019
From Best Destination to Best Cruise Line, Best Tour Operator and more, you can find a complete list of this year’s winners below:
BEST AIRLINE CONSOLIDATOR OVERALL
Centrav (Gold); Sky Bird Travel & Tours (Silver)
Best Car Rentals – Overall: Enterprise Rent-A-Car (Gold); Auto Europe (Silver)
Best Car Rentals – Domestic: Enterprise Rent-A-Car (Gold); Avis (Silver)
Best Car Rentals – International: Auto Europe (Gold); Enterprise Rent-A-Car (Silver)
Best Car Rentals – Luxury/Exotic Fleet: Enterprise Rent-A-Car (Gold); Auto Europe (Silver)
Best Chauffeured Services – Overall: Carey International, Inc. (Gold); Empire Limousine (Silver)
Best Chauffeured Services – Domestic: Carey International, Inc. (Gold); Empire Limousine (Silver)
Best Chauffeured Services – International: Carey International, Inc. (Gold); Blacklane (Silver)
Best Car Rental Website: Enterprise Rent-A-Car (Gold); Auto Europe (Silver)
Best All-Inclusive – Overall: UNICO 20 87 Hotel Riviera Maya (Gold); The Grand at Moon Palace Cancun and Zoetry Paraiso de la Bonita Riviera Maya (TIED for Silver)
Best Hotel Chain – All-Inclusive: Hyatt Ziva & Hyatt Zilara (Gold); Karisma Hotels & Resorts and All Inclusive Collection Hard Rock Hotels (TIED for Silver)
Best All-Inclusive Adult/Couples Resort – Caribbean/Bahamas: Sandals Montego Bay (Gold); Sanctuary Cap Cana (Silver)
Best All-Inclusive Adult/Couples Resort – Mexico: Le Blanc Spa Resort, Cancun (Gold); Live Aqua Beach Resort Cancun (Silver)
Best Hotel Chain – Mid-Market: Hyatt Hotels & Resorts (Gold); Hilton Hotels (Silver)
Best Individual Hotel – Overall: Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui (Gold); Eden Roc Miami Beach Resort (Silver)
Best Spa & Wellness Hotel/Resort – Caribbean/Bahamas: Sanctuary Cap Cana (Gold); Moon Palace Jamaica (Silver)
Best Spa & Wellness Hotel/Resort – Europe: Villa Eden Hotel & Spa Merano, Italy (Gold); Hard Rock Hotel Davos (Silver)
Best Spa & Wellness Hotel/Resort – Mexico: Le Blanc Spa Resort Los Cabos (Gold); Hyatt Zilara Cancun (Silver)
Best Spa & Wellness Resort – Domestic: Canyon Ranch Tucson (Gold); Nobu Hotel Miami Beach (Silver)
Best All-Inclusive Family Resort – Caribbean/Bahamas: Beaches Negril Resort & Spa (Gold); Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana (Silver)
Best All-Inclusive Family Resort – Mexico: Dreams Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa (Gold); Hotel Xcaret Mexico (Silver)
Best Family Hotel/Resort – Caribbean/Bahamas: Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Punta Cana (Gold); Beaches Negril Resort & Spa (Silver)
Best Family Hotel/Resort – Central & South America: Secrets Papagayo Costa Rica (Gold); Hotel Riu Palace Costa Rica (Silver)
Best Family Hotel/Resort – Europe: Barceló Castillo Beach Resort Fuerteventura, Spain (Gold); Hard Rock Hotel Tenerife, Spain (Silver)
Best Family Hotel/Resort – Mexico: Dreams Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa (Gold); Generations Riviera Maya by Karisma (Silver)
Best Family Hotel/Resort – U.S./Canada: Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach (Gold); The Diplomat Beach Resort (Silver)
Best All-Inclusive Luxury Resort – Caribbean/Bahamas: Sandals Royal Barbados (Gold); Jewel Grande Montego Bay Resort, Spa & Luxury Bahia Principe Cayo Levantado and RIU Palace Jamaica (TIED for Silver)
Best All-Inclusive Luxury Resort – Mexico: Zoetry Paraiso de la Bonita Riviera Maya (Gold); UNICO 20 87 Hotel Riviera Maya (Silver)
Best All-Inclusive Resort – Spa & Wellness: El Dorado Maroma, by Karisma (Gold); UNICO 20 87 Hotel Riviera Maya (Silver)
Best Luxury Hotel/Resort – Caribbean/Bahamas: Sanctuary Cap Cana (Gold); Azul Beach Resort Negril (Silver)
Best Luxury Hotel/Resort – Central & South America: Belmond Copacabana Palace, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (Gold); Ponta dos Ganchos Exclusive Resort (Silver)
Best Luxury Hotel/Resort – Mexico: UNICO 20 87 Hotel Riviera Maya (Gold); Zoetry Paraiso de la Bonita Riviera Maya (Silver)
Best Luxury Hotel/Resort – U.S./Canada: Four Seasons New York City (Gold); Nobu Hotel Miami Beach (Silver)
Best Boutique Hotel – Overall: Jade Mountain, St. Lucia (Gold); Blue Diamond Luxury Boutique Hotel (Silver)
Best Boutique Hotel – Mexico: Zoetry Paraiso de la Bonita Riviera Maya (Gold); Blue Diamond Luxury Boutique Hotel (Silver)
Best Hotel Chain – Boutique: Kimpton Hotels (Gold); TRYP by Wyndham (Silver)
Best Destination – Overall: Australia (Gold); Barbados (Silver)
Best City Destination – U.S./Canada: New York City (Gold); Las Vegas (Silver)
Best Cruise Destination – Caribbean/Bahamas: Aruba (Gold); Cayman Islands (Silver)
Best Culinary Destination – Caribbean/Bahamas: Jamaica (Gold); Aruba (Silver)
Best Culinary Destination – Mexico: Cancun/Riviera Maya (Gold); Los Cabos (Silver)
Best European Destination: Greece (Gold); England and Croatia (TIED for Silver)
Best Luxury Destination – Australia/New Zealand/South Pacific: The Islands of Tahiti (Gold); New Zealand (Silver)
Best Luxury Destination – Mexico: Cancun/Riviera Maya (Gold); Los Cabos (Silver)
Best Wine Destination – Europe: Italy (Gold); France (Silver)
Best Cruise Line – Overall: Royal Caribbean International (Gold); Princess Cruises (Silver)
Best Cruise Line – Alaska: Princess Cruises (Gold); Holland America Line (Silver)
Best Cruise Line – Asia: Azamara Club Cruises (Gold); Princess Cruises (Silver)
Best Cruise Line – Australia/New Zealand/South Pacific: Paul Gauguin Cruises (Gold); Princess Cruises (Silver)
Best Cruise Line – Caribbean/Bahamas: Royal Caribbean International (Gold); Norwegian Cruise Line (Silver)
Best Cruise Line – Central & South America: Holland America Line (Gold); Princess Cruises (Silver)
Best Cruise Line – Europe: Viking Ocean Cruises (Gold); Azamara Club Cruises (Silver)
Best Cruise Line – Hawaii: Norwegian Cruise Line (Gold); Princess Cruises (Silver)
Best Cruise Line – U.S./Canada: Royal Caribbean International (Gold); Princess Cruises (Silver)
Best Cruise Line – Contemporary: Royal Caribbean International (Gold); Norwegian Cruise Line (Silver)
Best Cruise Line – Expedition/Adventure: Seabourn (Gold); Hurtigruten (Silver)
Best Cruise Line – Family: Royal Caribbean International (Gold); Carnival Cruise Line (Silver)
Best Cruise Line – Luxury: Crystal Cruises (Gold); Regent Seven Seas Cruises (Silver)
Best Cruise Line – Premium: Princess Cruises (Gold); Holland America Line (Silver)
Best Cruise Line Website: Royal Caribbean International (Gold); Princess Cruises (Silver)
Cruise Entertainment: Royal Caribbean International (Gold); Norwegian Cruise Line (Silver)
Special Needs: Holland America Line (Gold); Carnival Cruise Line (Silver)
Best River Cruise Line – Overall: AmaWaterways (Gold); Viking River Cruises (Silver)
Best River Cruise Line – Africa/Egypt: AmaWaterways (Gold); Viking River Cruises (Silver)
Best River Cruise Line – Asia: AmaWaterways (Gold); Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours (Silver)
Best River Cruise Line – Europe: AmaWaterways (Gold); Viking River Cruises (Silver)
Best River Cruise Line – U.S.: American Queen Steamboat Company (Gold); American Cruise Lines (Silver)
Best Cruise Ship – Overall: Royal Caribbean Harmony of the Seas (Gold); Crystal Serenity and Carnival Vista (TIED for Silver)
Best Cruise Ship – Contemporary: Norwegian Bliss (Gold); Royal Caribbean Symphony of the Seas (Silver)
Best Cruise Ship – Large: Royal Caribbean Symphony of the Seas (Gold); Norwegian Bliss (Silver)
Best Cruise Ship – Luxury: Cunard Queen Mary 2 (Gold); Crystal Symphony (Silver)
Best Cruise Ship – Mid-Size: Holland America Line Nieuw Amsterdam (Gold); Viking Sun (Silver)
Best Cruise Ship – Premium: Holland America Line Nieuw Amsterdam (Gold); Seabourn Ovation (Silver)
Best Cruise Ship – River Cruise: Amawaterways- AmaLea (2018) (Gold); Viking Longship (Silver)
Best Escorted Tour Operator – Overall: Trafalgar (Gold); Abercrombie & Kent and G Adventures (TIED for Silver)
Best Escorted Tour Operator – Adventure/Expedition: G Adventures (Gold); International Expeditions (Silver)
Best Escorted Tour Operator – Africa: Abercrombie & Kent (Gold); Micato Safaris (Silver)
Best Escorted Tour Operator – Asia: Trafalgar (Gold); Kensington Tours (Silver)
Best Escorted Tour Operator – Australia/New Zealand/South Pacific: Trafalgar (Gold); G Adventures (Silver)
Best Escorted Tour Operator – Europe: Globus (Gold); CIE Tours International (Silver)
Best Escorted Tour Operator – Family: Globus (Gold); Collette (Silver)
Best Escorted Tour Operator – Luxury: Abercrombie & Kent (Gold); Kensington Tours (Silver)
Best Escorted Tour Operator – Mexico, South & Central America: G Adventures (Gold); Trafalgar (Silver)
Best Escorted Tour Operator – U.S./Canada: Globus (Gold); Trafalgar (Silver)
Best Escorted Tour Operator – Premium: Trafalgar (Gold); Insight Vacations (Silver)
Best Shore Excursions: ShoreTrips (Gold); Shore Excursions Group (Silver)
Best Tour Guides: Trafalgar (Gold); Abercrombie & Kent (Silver)
Best Tour Reservation Team: Trafalgar (Gold); ShoreTrips (Silver)
Best Tour Operator Website: ShoreTrips (Gold); Shore Excursions Group (Silver)
WHY IT RATES: .Measuring 1,012 square feet (starboard side Sky Suite) and 947 square feet (port side Sky Suite), the new balconies provide private vantage of the ship’s Movie Under the Stars screenings and create the ultimate space for entertaining. —Mia Taylor, TravelPulse Senior Writer
Princess Cruises, a pioneer in building cruise ships specifically designed to include an array of the most sought-after shipboard features—the private balcony—continues to innovate by introducing the cruise industry’s largest balconies at sea, available when sailing in the Sky Suites onboard the new Sky Princess, launching in October 2019.
Two Sky Suites accommodations available now for booking onboard Sky Princess, as well as the cruise line’s next new ship, Enchanted Princess, are centrally located on the top decks—the apex of the ship and feature the largest private balconies ever offered by any cruise line.
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Measuring 1,012 square feet (starboard side Sky Suite) and 947 square feet (port side Sky Suite), the furnished balconies will provide a private vantage of the ship’s Movie Under the Stars screen and create the ultimate space for entertaining.
The two suites will also offer 270-degree panorama views and have a sleeping capacity for five guests, and more room for gathering—making them ideal for families.
“We’ve led the way on many innovations in the cruise industry, evolving to meet the needs of today’s vacationer and of all of our new stateroom innovations, we’ve never seen such immediate demand as we are for these Sky Suites,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president.
“Our global fleet offers one of the highest percentages of balcony staterooms in the industry, across all cabin categories and now we’re eager for the arrival of the industry’s largest balconies at sea, inviting guests to relax privately or host their very own en-suite celebrations in style.”
Sky Suites feature two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a dining area with a skylight to the stars.
Before Sky Suite guests board their cruise ship, they can take advantage of a pre-cruise, shoreside concierge. Once onboard, guests will also enjoy Sanctuary services on their balcony, a private suite experience manager, complimentary access to the Lotus Spa’s Enclave, enhanced ultimate balcony dining and even a deluxe telescope for Discovery Stargazing at Sea. More exclusive Sky Suites services will be announced in the coming months.
Sky Princess debuts in the Mediterranean in October 2019 and Enchanted Princess sets sail in Europe in 2020. Both cruise ships, carrying 3,660 guests, will include the best of the stunning features found on—Royal Princess, Regal Princess, and Majestic Princess—as well as new offerings that represent an evolution of the current ships’ designs.
Additional Sky Princess features include:
— Princess MedallionClass making your vacation experience better because it’s easier resulting in an effortless, enjoyable and memorable experiences on the first vessel built from the ground up to deliver a new level of personalized service. Enabled by the OceanMedallion, this complimentary wearable device will elevate the guest experience by allowing guests more time to enjoy doing what they love on a cruise vacation.
— Award-winning entertainment offerings, including a new jazz lounge named Take Five, the popular Vista Lounge, an enhanced Princess Theatre, and new exclusive entertainment options.
— World-class dining with more than 25 restaurants and bars onboard. From the World Fresh Marketplace to guest favorites like the Crown Grill Steakhouse and Sabatini’s Italian Trattoria, offering the Northern Italian flavors of acclaimed chef, Angelo Auriana.
— Contemporary-Designed Sanctuary with eight private cabanas—offering an adults-only area for rest and relaxation.
—The Enclave at Lotus Spa. Sky Princess will include Princess’s largest thermal suite at sea—featuring a stunning hydrotherapy pool, heated stone beds, Turkish bath, and dry, steam, and aromatherapy chambers.
Christmas flights: How to get the best bargain when travelling this season (Image: Getty)
Flying at Christmas can be expensive, with the priciest day often the last Friday before, this year falling on December 21.
While some people are choosing to fly abroad for a much-needed holiday, others are travelling back home to spend time with their families.
There are a few easy ways, however, to make festive flights a bit cheaper.
Loes Daniels, CEO and founder of Flightgiftcard, spoke to Express.co.uk on how to get a bargain.
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It can be worth tracking a particular flight to see when it is cheapest to buy.
Loes advised: “If you know where you are travelling to and from, set up an alert to receive notifications when your flights have dropped in price as you could get a bargain.”
This can sometimes fluctuate between booking on a Tuesday or a Saturday.
Booking during this time of the week can also mean avoiding sky-high prices.
“Search for flights during the week,” Loes said, “rather than at the weekend as bookings made on a Saturday tend to be the most expensive.”
It also makes sense to fly in the middle of the week as well.
“Likewise, flying on a Monday or Tuesday is much cheaper than taking flights at the weekend so be sure to choose your travel dates carefully,” she said.
Christmas flights: Choosing a different airport and airline can make a huge difference (Image: Getty)Try a smaller airport
It can make a difference if choosing a different location to fly from.
“Consider travelling to or from a smaller, local airport as this can be a lot cheaper than a larger airport hub,” Loes said.
“In the UK, research flight options out of Doncaster’s Robin Hood airport or East Midlands airport in Nottingham, rather than Manchester for example, and you might find the cost is significantly less.”
Smaller airports are also less stressful, often carrying less passengers and therefore smaller crowds.
Straying from a preferred airline is one of the best ways to get a bargain, due to different countries celebrating different seasons.
Loes advised: “It’s worth checking out Asian airlines as these countries don’t generally celebrate Christmas and are therefore unaffected by price hikes.”
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Christmas flights: Travelling at more antisocial hours can be cheaper (Image: Getty)Choose inconvenient flights
For passengers not constrained by time, flying at difficult hours and difficult times around Christmas can mean huge savings.
“The more inconvenient the flight, the cheaper it will be. You may not like getting up at 4am for an 8am flight, but you’ll save money in the long run,” Loes advised.
She also said: “Consider flights in the days leading up to and just after Christmas day.”
Otherwise alternative booking options such as package providers at the last minute or making the most of the January sales are the best choices for bargain hunters.
For Britons heading to Europe, some of the best Christmas Markets can be found just a couple of hours away.
What’s on in the UK this November? James McLachlan, UK Editor for Culture Trip, recommends festivals and events in Lancaster, Cornwall, London and more.
Hay Festival Winter Weekend (22-25 November)
Comedy, candlelit storytelling and the cosmos arrive at Hay-on-Wye this November for the Hay Festival Winter Weekend.
With appearances from literary heavyweights Jeanette Winterson and Rose Tremain, music from Mid Wales Opera and a vintage fair in the market square, there’s no better time to visit the ‘town of books’.
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Lewes Bonfire Night Celebration (5 November)
5 November sees a tranquil town in the East Sussex countryside transform into a spectacle of fireworks, costumes and flaming torches as the UK’s biggest and most famous Bonfire Night celebration takes hold of its streets.
With burning crosses, flaming tar barrels and effigies of well-known contemporary figures (last year’s models included Kim Jong-un and Harvey Weinstein) burned alongside Guy Fawkes, it’s the ultimate way to celebrate 5 November.
Kendal Mountain Festival (15-18 November)
The biggest adventure-sports festival in the UK, Kendal Mountain Festival is a global gathering of like-minded outdoor enthusiasts that takes place on the periphery of the Lake District every year.
This year’s programme includes everything from inspirational talks and art exhibitions to kayaking sessions and ceilidhs, but the festival’s biggest draw is its film competition, attracting a roster of international filmmakers and dubbed the Oscars of outdoor filmmaking.
November events: Culture Trip have revealed the best things to do this month across the UK (Image: Getty Images)
Light Up Lancaster (2-3 November)
Take in the North’s biggest fireworks display at the annual Light Up Lancaster celebration. A magical festival of arts and light, the free event will see thousands of visitors take to the streets after dark for a city-wide art trail.
Expect massive projections, artworks and installations illuminating the city’s historic skyline, squares, parks and monuments, concluding with bonanza of fireworks launched from Lancaster Castle.
The New Forest Food & Drink Week (29 October-4 November)
Kick off November with an exploration of the New Forest’s culinary heritage at its annual Food & Drink Festival. Running from 29 October to 4 November, the week-long event series offers the chance to sample traditional New Forest foods including local pork and game, award-winning cheese and charcuterie and fish and seafood from the forest’s 40 miles of coastline, alongside the best of locally produced beer, wine, cider and juices. Highlights include a free sausage-making demonstration at Hockney’s Farm Shop.
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November events: Lewes Bonfire Night is one of the most spectacular in the UK (Image: Getty Images)
November events: Japanese artist Yayoi Kasama’s exhibition in London is sure to be a sell out (Image: Getty Images)
Ice skating at Hampton Court Palace (23 November)
November marks the opening of many a festive ice rink but London’s Hampton Court Palace hosts one of the best and it’s scheduled to open on the 23rd of the month.
This season, the rink is larger than ever before, positioned in front of the famous architectural backdrop which will be uplit with a colourful display. Sessions are 45 minutes long and there’s a cafe on site for pre- and post-skate refreshments.
Yayoi Kusama at London’s Victoria Miro gallery (3 October-21 December)
Few artists have captured the public’s imagination in recent years like Yayoi Kusama. Known for adorning her work with characteristic dots, eyes and faces, the Japanese artist returns for her 12th exhibition at London’s Victoria Miro gallery space from 3 October to 21 December.
The Moving Moment When I Went to the Universe features paintings, sculptures, the ongoing ‘My Eternal Soul’ series and a new Infinity Mirror Room, the latest example of Kusama’s famous immersive environments.
Cornwall Film Festival (9-11 November)
Cornwall Film Festival celebrates the best in local and international film. Three days of screenings, workshops and lectures will take place at The Poly in Falmouth.
Highlights this year include Japanese Palme d’Or winner Shoplifters and Keira Knightley’s brilliant turn as a French literary icon in Colette. Festival patron Mike Leigh will also be in attendance to show his new film Peterloo.
The passengers were flying on flight 0B3755 with Blue Air when the incident occurred.
During the flight, the cabin pressure appeared to drop which forced oxygen masks to fall from the overhead lockers.
In the video, passengers could be seen panicking while looking after children who were crying.
Most of them had already put their oxygen masks on while flight attendants spoke to other passengers.
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The plane took off from Cluj-Napoca in Romania and was bound for Dublin Airport.
However, after an hour, the plane was forced to make an emergency landing at Bratislava Airport in Slovakia.
According to Romanic news Alba24, passengers could smell burning while others complained they were not receiving oxygen from the masks.
Thankfully no-one was injured and passengers boarded another plane to continue their journey.
Blue Air later confirmed to the news website the emergency landing was a precaution following sensors indicating a depression in the cabin.
Flights: Passengers were terrified when air masks fell mid-flight after the cabin pressure dropped (Image: Facebook/ Ozmen Corina Gina)
The airline issued a statement in regard to the incident: “The Boeing 737-800 aircraft operating flight 0B3755 on the Cluj-Dublin route took off at 10.10 (Romanian time) and after approximately one hour flight the commander requested landing at the nearest airport, for performing additional checks.
“Thus, around 11.40, the aircraft landed under normal conditions at Bratislava Airport (Slovakia).”
A similar incident happened in 2016 on the same airline when the cabin pressure dropped.
The plane was travelling from Milan to Bucharest when the air masks dropped from the ceiling.
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Flights: Children could be heard crying in the video (Image: Facebook/ Ozmen Corina Gina)
Passengers also reported their oxygen masks not working, with many “gasping for air,” according to Mail Online.
The airline later confirmed that protocols were followed and no-one was injured in the incident.
An investigation was launched with technical checks to find out what caused the malfunction.
Blue Air is a Romanic airline launched in 2004 and has been the largest Romanian airline since 2016.
They recently bought Moldova flag carrier Air Moldova in a €61.5 million deal.
Travelers heading to Walt Disney World Resort this spring will be able to enjoy the beauty and majesty of the 26th Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, starting March 6.
The Flower & Garden Festival runs 90 days through June 3 and will feature dozens of Disney-crafted topiaries and beds of multi-colored blooms that transform the Epcot landscape into a floral extravaganza.
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Epcot will also host the Garden Rocks Concert Series every day of the festival, with artists performing three shows daily on the America Gardens Theatre stage. Some of the acts include the Spinners, Herman’s Hermits, Steven Curtis Chapman, Colin Hay of Men at Work and more.
For the foodie in the group, the Flower & Garden Festival will boast new culinary dishes and outdoor kitchens, including AdventHealth’s cooking area that will teach families fun and interactive ways to stay healthy.
In addition, the events at Epcot will also include family scavenger hunts, Toy Story topiary and returning gardens and exhibits, such as the Goodness Garden Butterfly House, where nearly 1,000 native butterflies will fly among the garden’s two dozen nectar plants.
Several guided tours will be offered on select days throughout the festival for an additional fee, but admission to the theme park is required for all in attendance.
As global forces continue to converge and trigger unprecedented change, the future of travel and tourism will be shaped by those companies and destinations that offer unique and meaningful experiences.
Providing personal service to sustainability-minded customers will also be critical in the evolving travel and tourism industry of the future, as will having trustworthy and responsible leadership in place.
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These are the key takeaways from a new report from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) titled “World, Transformed: Megatrends and their implications for Travel & Tourism.”
The report, produced in partnership with Bloomberg, examined how powerful global demographic, political, economic and technological forces are impacting the travel and tourism landscape. It also covers how such forces are producing different expectations among consumers and creating different obligations for businesses and policymakers in order to succeed.
One of the fastest growing sectors, travel and tourism accounts for more than 10 percent of global GDP, the WTTC said.
Sustaining such growth and reaching industry forecasts, such as the eight billion air travelers predicted by 2037, will require continuous innovation and reinvention, according to the new report.
“We live in an era of rapidly accelerating change. Powerful, global forces are fundamentally changing the way we live, work and travel at a rate we have never witnessed before. These converging forces—or megatrends—present immense opportunities for those who recognize them and adapt their strategies,” said Gloria Guevara, WTTC president, and CEO, at the launch of the report at the FITUR travel fair in Madrid.
“The challenge is for destinations and businesses to embrace the opportunities of this changing global landscape and the expectations of tomorrow’s consumers.”
Additional key report takeaways include:
—Consumers are increasingly moving beyond experiences as social currency to seeking shared experiences to deliver meaning, self-improvement and stronger connections.
—Millennials and Generation Z have little loyalty to employers or brands and are more likely to rely on personal networks than experts.
—Consumers value technology but are uncomfortable with over-automation, which seeks to replace customer interaction with intelligent bots.
—Consumers want to be treated as individuals by companies that trust their privacy, share their values, and provide authenticity.
—Travel and tourism companies will succeed by responding to the rise of ethical consumption trends and protecting the very destinations they promote.
“As these implications converge, organizations in the travel and tourism industry will need to make investments to take advantage of the new realities,” said Andrew Benett, chief commercial officer, Bloomberg Media Group. “Businesses will need to dramatically enhance their understanding of their customers—present and future—and ensure that they are maintaining a competitive edge by establishing a voice within the global conversation.”
The report outlines five areas where change will be most profound in the travel and tourism industry.
As people, communities, and businesses become more sophisticated in adapting new technologies for analog experiences, new ideas and beliefs are emerging about how best to live a connected life.
Online and offline experiences, as a result, are becoming increasingly integrated. More than $8.2 trillion in global expenditure is forecasted for the experience economy, in addition to an increased emphasis on physical and mental wellbeing.
With experiences at the core of travel and tourism, the sector has the potential to design meaningful, unique, frictionless and even unplugged journeys that directly respond to these changing values.
The growth of tech-powered economies such as the “gig economy” and “sharing economy” continues to create new expectations for work, life and culture.
Twenty-five percent of workers in the US and EU engage in independent work today, and the independent workforce is only going to rise. As the structure of people’s lives become more fluid and self-directed, travel will become more of a lifestyle, mobility will increasingly become communal and service-based, and businesses will need to rethink their workforce.
The power of data will drive a new frontier of innovation and deliver unprecedented ability to better understand and predict outcomes.
While over 180 ZB of data is expected to be generated by 2025, consumers remain uneasy when it comes to their security and privacy. These technologies offer tremendous opportunities for the travel and tourism sector, including leveraging data to build a fluid, cohesive travel experience, implementing large-scale Internet of Things, facial recognition and use of voice assistants to streamline travel.
Businesses will need to lean into brand values to guide their innovation and prioritize transparency with their consumers.
Significant shifts in power dynamics will have dramatic effects on both local culture and global markets as technology, globalization, and population growth continue to redistribute power. These forces create new centers of social and economic influence in the East and South.
For travel and tourism organizations, merely establishing a presence in new markets won’t be enough as it will be critical to understand the future consumer. Businesses will need to invest in creating sharable moments, strive for customer service excellence and ensure their brand has a point of view in the global, social discussion.
As the availability of resources and health of our planet are increasingly threatened, there is a need for responsibly balancing short and long-term priorities.
By 2050, the global population will exceed 9.7 billion and consumption of natural resources will triple. Sustainable business practices and aligning brand stories to sustainable solutions can become the core of a robust growth strategy for the travel and tourism sector. Safeguarding destinations, environmental leadership, and community health will, therefore, be integral to the customer experience.
Apple Vacations is making paying for travel even easier and more affordable.
The tour operator has joined forces with Uplift, a travel technology platform that gives users the chance to pay for travel in monthly increments. In addition, Apple Vacations has lowered its standard deposit amount when travelers pay for AV-OK Total Vacation Security.
Through MyAppleOnline.com powered by VAX VacationAccess, Uplift lets clients spread out the cost of a trip with affordable monthly payments. Travelers apply and, once their application is accepted, Uplift pays the reservation in full and then monthly payments are then paid to the company.
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Payments are processed automatically and confirmation details are provided via a convenient email and text.
The new payment system is available now for travel starting May 1, 2019, and beyond.
“Getaways are essential for hard-working Americans and should not be out-of-reach. Apple Vacations’ new payment initiatives help travelers fulfill their vacation dreams without having to endure a hefty financial burden all at once,” said John Tarkowski, president of Apple Vacations.
Apple Vacations’ new lower deposit options will also make vacations more affordable.
When clients purchase AV-OK Total Vacation Security, a standard per person deposit on published air package with AVOK is $100, compared to 100 percent of the air cost plus $50 hotel deposit without the AV-OK feature.
The plan is worth it for clients, as it provides them with the chance to cancel or change for any reason up to the time flight check-in is closed.
AV-OK also includes best price guarantee and high-quality travel insurance with trip interruption, baggage and medical coverage.