In Case You Missed It: There is so much that happens in the travel industry every week and only a portion of it is reported in TravelLatte or other travel blogs. Each week, we aim to capture some of the highlights from the past week in Travel News. Please let us know you like it with a comment!
This week there is Travel News in the Air, on the Sea and, our personal favorite, on the Beach!
Netflix and GoGo
GoGo Inflight Wi-Fi has been a blessing and a curse to fliers. Sure, it gets you online in the air, but try streaming a movie or video chatting. Those high-bandwidth applications have been challenging if not impossible. Until now.
Aeromexico is the first carrier to deploy GoGo’s new 2KU satellite-based serviced, which the company says is “up to” eight times faster than the version deployed on most planes, including those in Delta and American Airlines’ fleets. Which means that Aeromexico passengers will be able to Netflix and Chill at 35,000 feet. Even better, the Wi-Fi is free (for now).
American and Delta have already signed on to install 2KU systems; Delta in more than 600 aircraft, and AA in about 140 Airbus A319s and A320s. American is also deploying a similar satellite-based system from GoGos chief competitor, ViaSat, in about 100 upcoming Boeing 737s. Both products are said to be powerful enough to supply steaming service to every passenger on the plane, a welcome change from GoGo’s current service which is fairly slow to begin with, and gets slower as more passengers sign on.
Meanwhile, at United…
A few years ago, United Airlines began on a project to eliminate the expensive and heavy in-flight entertainment systems on their planes, and replace them with a system that would allow passengers to stream TV and movies on their own devices. The move was generally well received by customers, where it is available – all of its Airbus A319s and A320s, and a few planes on international routes. That left a sizable domestic gap with no in-flight entertainment. Passengers were left to their own devices, so to speak.
Filling that gap proved to be a challenge; the project was delayed as the company “worked toward a more reliable and consistent product,” as they said in a message to employees. The in-flight drought is about to end, though. United announced this week that it is finally ready to complete the installations on the remaining aircraft; about 90 Boeing 737s. Older 737s in the fleet, however, will keep their existing DirecTV systems, which stream content to “old school” seat-back screens.
Legend of the Seas sails into Discovery
What may be one of the best names ever for a ship is passing, at least for now, into history.
Royal Caribbean International has signed the papers turning Legend of the Seas, one of its smaller ships, over to Thomson Cruises, part of the British TUI Group, where she will be re-christened as the TUI Discovery 2. Somehow, it just doesn’t have the same ring to it, but her new owners say the acquisition accelerates their plans to renew the fleet.
First, the ship will be spruced up before entering service for Thomson in May 2017. She carries 1832 passengers in 915 cabins, nearly 40 percent of which have balconies. Thomson plans a wider choice of facilities and entertainment, and all-inclusive dining options for their customers. TUI Discover 2 will have a yet-to-be-announced home port in the Mediterranean, and sailings will open for booking in July 2016.
Meanwhile, Thomson welcomes the TUI Discovery (First of its Name), the line’s largest ship to date, with a maiden voyage in June 2016. Discovery is the first ship in the line without the Thomson name, as the company rebrands over the next 18 months. TUI Discovery will be based in Palma de Mallorca, sailing the Western Mediterranean.
Along with the new ships, Thomson’s rebrand includes new itineraries coming in 2017. new ports of call will include Wismar in Germany which offers access to the country’s two biggest cities, Berlin and Hamburg; Gdynia in Poland, which is convenient to the region’s capital Gdansk; and Arendal in the Norwegian Riviera.
Wasting Away in Margaritaville
Jimmy Buffett’s multi-million dollar ditty takes on new meaning this winter when you will finally be able to do just that, literally. The Margaritaville Grand Cayman Beach Resort is set to open in December, and the company building it, HHG Cayman Ltd., has released the first details of what Parrot Heads can expect in this little slice of paradise.
The 285-room beachfront property on Seven Mile Beach will be “casual-luxe” inspired by Margaritavillle lyrics and lifestyle. The resort will feature a License to Chill bar and Margaritaville Coffee Shop, plus a Banana Wind Café serving breakfast, lunch and dinner with panoramic ocean views. The resort’s signature restaurant YARA (which means “place” in the indigenous Caribbean language) expects to be a destination for locals and guests alike. The resort will be close to some of the islands top attractions: golf, snorkeling, diving, and shopping. More details are expected as the opening approaches.