This Week in Travel News: 6 January 2017

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.

Marriott MegaBonus via

(Photo: Marriott International)

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

Voyages of Discovery in Travel News via

Voyages of Discovery’s ship Voyager is reportedly for sale following parent group ALG’s closure. (Photo: Voyages of Discovery)

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.

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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

Alaska Airlines in Travel News via

Alaska Airlines connects the West Coast to Havana
(Photo: Alaska Airlines)

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

New York City - Broadway Week in Travel News via

Coming Up: Broadway Week and more in New York, New York!
(Photo ©Gordon Bell |

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!

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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.

Disclaimers & Details: TravelLatte is a participant in affiliate programs of respected travel brands, including Expedia, and TripAdvisor. We may be compensated when you purchase a product or service by following a link on our site, but your price remains the same. All views are our own, and are based on our experiences.

29 comments on “This Week in Travel News: 6 January 2017

  1. Pingback: This Week in Travel News: 13 January 2017 - TravelLatte

  2. It’s a shame about All Leisure Group, lots of disappointed tourists there! There’s a lot going on in NYC with the Broadway, Attractions and Restaurants weeks! I’m looking forward to next weeks update!

    • Thanks James! It is a shame about ALG, and even more that the area they serve is that unstable. The loss of that tourism will hurt the region, as well. It’s also a shame that there are all of those great deals in NYC, and I’m not going. 🙁 Hopefully you can!

  3. This roundup was super helpful, guys! I’m currently planning our family’s vacation to Puerto Rico, and we’ll probably be staying in some Marriott properties within that time frame. So, yay, for double points! And, I have been considering going to NYC later this month for the NYT Travel Show and to catch up with my sister who lives there. Knowing it would also be Broadway and Attraction weeks (already knew about Restaurant Week) is making me really want to bite the somewhat expensive bullet and book a last-minute flight. Please keep doing these travel news round ups! #WeekendWanderlust

  4. Wow its a shame to here that even with awards like best Niche Cruise Line for four years running, bad things can still happen. I always stand by good service and do my best to promote businesses that go above and beyond for their customers.

    • Hi Barry – It’s true, you can be a rock star and still find the ground beneath you sinking. Sad thing. Even sadder, of course, is the unrest in many of the regions Voyages of Discovery and Swan Hellenic served. There is so much history and natural beauty to be seen; let’s hope travelers can return safely to the region soon. Thanks again for stopping by!

  5. Love this section – always interesting to know what’s happening in the travel industry! Heard good things about Alaska Airlines – maybe the expansions will lead to cheaper flights so I could afford to go there!

    • Hi Lexx – Glad you like it! We kind of got away from the ‘news’ recently, so we’re glad bringing it back is well received. We’ve flown Alaska a few times on the West coast and loved them. Excited to see them growing, and we’re hoping for those cheaper flights ourselves!

  6. What a great idea, thank you so much for taking the time and trouble to compile this new report, it’s so handy. Great to see Alaskan Airlines expanding, that will please a lot of people, especially as it’s been acquired by Virgin – it will definitely be on the up 😀 #feetdotravel

    • Hi Angie. So glad you like it! One of the original ideas behind the blog was to share news and tips, as much as stories of travel. Sometimes it’s hard to keep up with those plans, but we’re refocusing this year on our original goals. Plus, we’re total geeks for that stuff. 😉

  7. Good to see more airlines offering flights to Cuba, there American airlines offering flights from Miami, I think Delta also. Now might be the best time to visit as soon it be flooded with tourists. A January trip to NYC sounds Fun to with discounts to shows and attractions.

    • Hi Arvin – We agree. More airlines flying to Cuba means more opportunity…for better or worse. With a strong industry and Dollar, it’s affordable and easier than ever to visit. We also like all of those NYC discounts! We don’t think of ourselves as budget travelers, but that doesn’t mean we don’t love bargains! Thanks for your comment!

  8. This is cool! I am excited because of the new route between Havana and Los Angeles. I see tons of deals popping up. I went to New York in December and I saw people departing to Cuba from JFK (that is a new route too). #WeekendWanderlust

    • Hi Ruth! We read about your New York trip this weekend! What fun! The Cuba deals are starting to come up more often, and it’s so close that you could almost make a long weekend out of it. Of course, you still have to do some kind of cultural program to make it official but, honestly, we’d probably do that anyway. Thanks for commenting, Ruth – can’t wait to see where you’re off to next!

  9. Due to the Alaska/Virgin merger I won two round trip tickets from the sweeps they were running. Won’t be going NYC but out west somewhere I sure! Thanks for the updates.

    • Yay! Congrats Lisa! The Starwood/Marriott merger kind of works for us, since we have a bunch of points in both. Now we can combine them for one great trip. 🙂 Wherever you go with your winnings, enjoy! Happy New Year!

    • Hi Kelly – That would be sweet! We’re considering Norwegian’s new cruise itinerary to Cuba, but having another carrier flying to Havana sure helps! Thanks for your comment.

    • Paramour…noted! Unfortunately, we won’t make Broadway Week this year…but we’re already making notes for next year! Now, if only someone would do Flight Week with 2-for-1 air fares… 🙂 Thanks for visiting our blog, Brianna!

    • Gosh darn, right? Broadway Week + Attractions Week + Restaurant Week. New York may be in danger of losing its reputation as an expensive place to visit! Enjoy your trip, and thanks for visiting our blog!

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