ICYMI – This week in Travel News (15 January 2016)

In Case You Missed It, here are just a few highlights from the past week in Travel News, recapping the second week of 2016.

There is so much that happens in the travel industry every week, and only a portion of it makes it to TravelLatte or other travel blogs. We’ll capture some of the highlights with this new recurring feature. Please let us know you like it with a comment!

If you won’t comply with the law in ten years…we’ll give you a couple more.

That’s the message the government had for several states that had not been able or willing to comply with the requirements of the REAL ID Act, passed by Congress in 2005. The extended deadline passed this past week (as we reported earlier: Will Your Driver’s License Still Fly?) with no movement from the states under fire, and also with no enforcement plans from the Department of Homeland Security. So on January 11th, the feds gave states a new deadline, of January 22, 2018, to comply. For the time being, driver’s licenses from all 50 states plus American territories and dependencies will continue to be accepted by the TSA.

An inspiring facelift for the Carnival Inspiration

In Los Angeles, aging stars have been known to go in for “a little work” now and again. Carnival’s Inspiration is no exception, entering dry-dock on January 18th for a few updates. The ship turns 20 this year, and to celebrate, she will get several new dining and bar options during a three-week dry-dock in Portland, Oregon.

New to the ship will be six bars and restaurants:

Guy's Burger Joint comes to Carnival Inspiration

Guy’s Burger Joint, a staple on Carnival Cruise Lines, comes to the Carnival Inspiration. (Photo by Andy Newman/Carnival Cruise Lines)

  • Guy’s Burger Joint, a free-of-charge poolside venue developed with Food Network personality Guy Fieri. With the Inspiration being based in Los Angeles, this is a perfect fit: Guy’s Burger Joint serves up hand-crafted burgers and fresh-cut fries and celebrates the chef’s California roots and love of car culture.
  • Blue Iguana Cantina, a complimentary poolside Mexican eatery with freshly made burritos and tacos on homemade tortillas, and an elaborate toppings and salsa bar.
  • Red Frog Rum Bar, a Caribbean-inspired poolside watering hole offering rum-based frozen drinks, and beers including Carnival’s own private label draught brew, Thirsty Frog Red.
  • Alchemy Bar, a vintage-themed “cocktail pharmacy” with mixologists who prescribe concoctions with names like Forty is the New Twenty and The Restorative Basil Drop.
  • Blue Iguana Tequila Bar, a festive outdoor Mexican-themed bar with tequila-based frozen drinks.
  • Cherry On Top, the “sweetest spot on board” with bins of candy, fun gifts and novelties, custom apparel, and more.
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The ship is scheduled to return to service on February 5th to continue her short cruise itineraries. Carnival Inspiration departs every Friday on three-day cruises to Ensenada and every Monday on four-day cruises to Ensenada and Catalina Island.

Crystal Cruises pulls the plug on Turkey

Crystal Symphony in Istanbul

The Cyrstal Symphony will not be calling on Istanbul in 2016. (Photo: Crystal Cruises)

Following terrorist attacks in Turkey, Western governments have been warning travelers of a high threat of terrorism. Because of those ongoing security concerns, Crystal Cruises has announced that it will reroute two of its upcoming cruises that were set to call in Turkey. The itineraries include Crystal Symphony’s April 24 and May 1 trips, previously planned to include visits to Istanbul and Kusadasi, but now sailing to Greek ports instead. On both dates, the pre-reserved Crystal Adventures will automatically be canceled. New shore excursions are being developed, and will be available in the online Priority Check-In & Planning Center at crystalcruises.com.

Turkish ports of call scheduled for April and November aboard Crystal’s new yacht, Crystal Esprit, will also be changed, but that new itinerary has not been finalized. Crystal’s CEO and president, Edie Rodriguez, stressed that “the safety and peace of mind of our guests are our primary concerns, and we do not take any risks with either.”

Autograph Collection signs four more and Ritz-Carlton builds big in Phoenix

The Plaza Seoul Hotel of Marriott's Autograph Collection

The hotel Plaza Seoul is the Signature Collection’s first property in South Korea. (Photo: Marriott International)

Autograph Collection Hotels, Marriott International’s portfolio of distinctive independent hotels, is adding four properties to its portfolio. Growing from fewer than five hotels to more than 90 in just five years, it is Marriott’s fastest growing brand. They welcomed more than 15 hotels in 2015, and have started this year by adding the Annapolis Waterfront Hotel in Maryland, Hotel Saskatchewan in Canada, The Camby Hotel in Phoenix, and The Plaza in Seoul, South Korea. The properties are the brand’s first in Arizona, Maryland, and South Korea, and second location in Canada. All except the Hotel Saskatchewan are available for booking now through Marriott’s reservations systems.

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Meanwhile, Marriott’s Ritz-Carlton brand has signed an agreement for the development of a new resort and residences in Paradise Valley, near Scottsdale, Arizona. The Ritz-Carlton Paradise Valley will be the centerpiece of a new master-planned community. The multi-phased residential community will include 45 single-family homes and 94 villa residences. Owners will have access to hotel services, and privileges including a dedicated concierge, priority access to hotel guest accommodations and amenities, in-residence dining and housekeeping.

Construction is expected to begin in July 2016 with the resort opening in late-2018.

Rendering of the Ritz-Carlton Paradise Valley

An artist’s rendering of the Ritz-Carlton Paradise Valley, to be built near Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo: Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company)

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