This Week in Travel News
Active travelers have a need to know! Every week, there are things that can and do impact the art and act of travelling. Things you need to know about. We’ll report the highlights here, so you can focus on what you do best: Travelling! In case you missed it, here’s what happened This Week in Travel News.
The Ol’ Triple Double MegaBonus
Marriott is helping Rewards members kick off the new year in mega style with another MegaBonus event. After registering for the bonus, members earn double points on their first three eligible stays between 16 January and 15 April 2017.
Not a Marriott Rewards member? With the Starwood merger complete, it’s a great time to join Marriott’s loyalty program. Points transfer between the two, so if you have a stockpile of SPG points, you can add to them – or spend them – at Marriott properties too. The MegaBonus is a nice jump-start for new members.
You must register for MegaBonus by 15 March, but be sure to do it before completing any Marriott stays to get the bonus points. Be sure to check the fine print, as there are some restrictions. Most Marriott brands are participating, including Ritz-Carlton.
All Leisure Group Runs Aground
The start of a new year marked the end of operations for popular cruise brands Swan Hellenic and Voyages of Discovery. Their parent company, All Leisure Group (ALG), has closed.
Swan Hellenic was due to depart Marseille on January 3rd, sailing its Gateway to Atlantic Isles itinerary. Voyages of Discovery’s sold-out Riches of the Orient itinerary was to depart 4 January from Malaysia. Instead, the company notified passengers that both cruises were cancelled.
ALG ceased trading by midweek, after selling most of its brands over the past few weeks. Hebridean Island Cruises went to a group of investors led by ALG chairman Roger Allard. G Tours (UK) bought You Tours and Travelsphere, and announced that any tours booked will run as scheduled.
Voyages of Discovery had been named the Best Niche Cruise Line four years running by the British Travel Awards. The trouble in being a niche operator though, is that troubles can arise quickly. The ships traditionally sailed the Eastern Mediterranean and North Africa region; areas which have become unstable.
Allard told the industry publication Travel Trade Gazette that, “Since the Arab Spring and as a result of other events, the world has become a smaller place and it was no longer possible for us to take our small ships to Egypt, Libya and north Africa, Lebanon, Syria, the Black Sea have all become difficult and even Istanbul and Turkey have now been removed from the map.” He also pointed to UK politics, saying “a lot of the costs of operating ships are in dollars and euros, which has been a struggle since the Brexit vote.
The UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) will repatriate 400 passengers currently overseas free of charge. ABTA, the UK’s largest travel association, will ensure customers with cruises booked are reimbursed.
Alaska to Havana via Los Angeles
Fresh off their acquisition of Virgin America, Alaska Airlines continues to broaden its horizons, and possibly yours. This week, the airline launched the first regularly-scheduled U.S. commercial service between Los Angeles and Havana. As of January 5, the daily route will start in Seattle, stopping in Los Angeles before heading for Cuba, then returning from Havana through LAX to SEA.
Onboard, Alaska Beyond Entertainment will help you pass the long hours in flight with free and premium entertainment direct to your devices. You’ll also enjoy food and drinks inspired by local (and by local, they mean Cuban) flavors. The fuel-efficient Boeing 737900ER making the flight also offers power outlets at every seat; important since you’ll be streaming video on your own smartphone or tablet.
Alaska-a-Gogo: new amenities
This week, Alaska also introduced new amenities and a new Premium Class service, which debuted on select routes. Premium Class Passengers get early boarding, complimentary snacks and alcoholic beverages, and – perhaps most importantly – four more inches of legroom. Alaska has retrofit more than 40% of its fleet for Premium Class, and is targeting 90% or more by the end of the year.
Everyone on the plane gets free movies through March, in celebration of the Alaska-Virgin merger. The beverage cart will be getting an upgrade, also. Later this month, premium wines from Washington State’s award-winning Chateau Ste. Michelle will be stocked, along with sparkling wine from La Marca, and premium craft beer and bourbon.
Finally, the airline has introduced Free Chat™ on their Gogo-equipped flights. The service lets passengers use iMessage, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger to send their humble-brags from 35,000 feet for free. Free Chat is in beta now; passengers can expect full functionality by January 24th. You will need a Gogo account to use Free Chat, though you don’t have to buy Wi-Fi package to use it.
Coming Up: New York City
January in New York City conjures visions of blizzards. In fact, it’s snowing in the city as we write this. Still, there may never be a better time to visit the Big Apple, because NYC Broadway Week and the first-ever NYC Attractions Week kick off 17 January, and go through 5 February. That means two-for-one ticket deals and discounts when seeing live Broadway shows or visiting classic New York City attractions!
Cats, Alladin, Chicago, Beautiful: the Carole King Story – see one, see them all, see even more! 19 of Broadways best and beloved musicals are offering two-for-one or seat-upgrade discounts for Broadway Week. You can see the lineup and buy tickets at NYC & Company’s Broadway Week page.
Musicals not your style? How about a winter trip to the Bronx Zoo? Maybe a city tour or dinner cruise? Or are you more the museum type? Proving that New York is nonstop – even in the winter – New York & Company is also sponsoring Attraction Week with more two-for-one admissions for tours, cultural events, museums and more.
The prime time to visit, though, starts 23 January when the winter edition of Restaurant Week kicks off. Through 10 February, you can experience New York’s best menus at discounted prices. Reservations open on 9 January, and usually fill up fast. Watch the Restaurant Week page for details and availability.
The Weekly Win
If all that two-for-one excitement has you itching for a getaway in The City, you’re in luck. Coincidentally, that’s exactly what’s up for grabs in our Weekly Win. You, a special someone, and special deals. That’s why it’s a city so nice, they named it twice! Get the details on Where Traveler’s Trip to NYC Sweepstakes. Or eliminate the element of chance by booking a trip today.
Travel Blog Linkups
If you’re like us, you love reading about travel almost as much as the actual traveling! We participate with other bloggers in the “Link Ups” below. That means we share our posts, and get to read great travel stories by other bloggers who Link Up. Please visit the host bloggers today, or search for the hashtags on Twitter. If you follow us on Twitter, watch for Tweet about our favorites, too. And don’t forget to comment – bloggers love comments and that’s how we build a community of like-minded travel lovers!
- #WeekendWanderlust is a blog hop and travel community on Facebook, with lots of great travelers and bloggers sharing their stories, photos, and adventures.
- Feet Do Travel’s #FollowMeFriday is another Facebook blog hop and travel community with a great bunch of travelers and bloggers sharing stories, advice, and pictures.
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