The World’s Most Affordable Destinations for Luxury Travel Ranked

After two years of settling for staycations, low-key road trips or giving up on their yearly vacations altogether because of pandemic-related restrictions, many folks are ready to make their next getaway extra memorable.

That might mean taking a long-haul bucket list type trip, taking more days off to enjoy time away or splurging on those luxury-level extras that make a travel experience feel really special.


Trending Now

Travel technology, man with airplane and laptop

These could include stays at five-star resorts, dining at lavish restaurants, going on luxury cruises or springing for high-end vacation packages.

And, while all of us may be craving these travel indulgences, most of us can’t afford to live like money is no object. So, service comparison site recently compiled data on the world’s most popular cities to discover which destinations are the most affordable for travelers looking to enjoy the finer things in life on a budget.

Factors taken into consideration in evaluating each city’s combined luxury travel offering in each city included the average cost of a five-star hotel stay, Michelin-starred meal, luxury car hire and a night at a spa hotel.

According to the company’s analysis, Bangkok took top spot as the most affordable luxury destination overall, with a budget score of 9.49 out of 10. Thailand’s capital city proved to be the cheapest when it came to hiring a luxury ride, and was among the most affordable in three other categories, as well.

Bangkok Cityscape
Bangkok night view of the business district. (photo via thitivong/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Brussels, took second place as the next global destination that’s affordable across the board, particularly when examining the cost of a five-star hotel ($363 per night) and luxury car hire ($151). Belgium’s storied capital city is probably most widely known for its exceptional chocolate, beer and many cultural centers.

Situated in northern Italy’s Veneto region, between better-known Venice and Milan, Verona was revealed to be the world’s third-most inexpensive destination for a luxury vacation. One of the nation’s most popular destinations for romance because of its role in the Shakespearean canon as the setting for ‘Romeo & Juliet’, the ancient city situated on the Adige River is filled with historic architecture, local culture and gastronomy.

In terms of representing an overall bargain when it comes to luxury travel, the top ten was rounded out by Osaka in fourth position, Berlin in fifth, Frankfurt in sixth, Rio de Janeiro in seventh, Tokyo in eighth, Lisbon in ninth and Dublin in tenth place.

Aerial view of Verona, Italy at sunset
Aerial view of Verona, Italy at sunset. (photo via Eloi_Omella/E+)

Other popular global cities were also counted among the world’s most affordable luxury travel destinations in their own individual respects. For instance, it turns out that Athens is the most affordable city for Michelin-star dining, with the average cost of a set-menu dinner being about $104.

Hong Kong was shown to be the most affordable in terms of five-star accommodation, at an average rate of $292 per night (as listed on Meanwhile, the most inexpensive choice if you’re seeking a spa break is Osaka where the cost of one night at a spa hotel averages about $178. Of course, Japan isn’t a viable vacation option just yet, as the Asian country is only now launching a test program for tourism reopening.

For the latest insight on travel around the world, check out this interactive guide:

For the latest travel news, updates, and deals, be sure to subscribe to the daily TravelPulse newsletter here.

Source link

Travel news: British tourist to visit world’s most dangerous island | UK | News

Miles Routledge, who uses the Twitter handle Lord Miles Routledge, has built a reputation as being a “danger tourist” having visited multiple hotspots in the past – including Kabul during the Taliban takeover. His latest plan will be to visit a renowned island in the Indian Ocean known for a hostile indigenous tribe who have had very little contact with the outside world and remain one of the world’s last uncontacted peoples in the world.

Devout Christian Mr Routledge is hoping to visit North Sentinel Island located in the Bay of Bengal.

Previous attempts by others visiting the protected island, which belongs to India, have resulted in death at the hands of the locals.

In 1867, British explorers had to fend off attacks from the natives as they awaiting rescue following their vessel becoming shipwrecked off the coast of the island.

In 2006, two fishermen were killed by the natives known as the Sentinelese.

And American Christian missionary John Allen Chau met the same fate when he attempted to spread the word of God on the island in 2018.

Contact with the islanders is not only discouraged due to their extremely violent nature but to protect the group from the outside world, in particular from disease and viruses other nations have long become immune to.

Mr Routledge has devised a plan to document the group without putting himself or the tribe at risk

Taking to Twitter, he wrote: “Buy 2 small boats and go to North Sentinel Island.

“One crew sets off fireworks to distract the primitives.

“One crew in decontaminated suits sets up Starlink, cameras and a solar panel all hidden.

“Twitch of uncontacted tribes, $$$ and help science.

“Tell me why this wouldn’t work.”

World’s most mysterious places Britons can’t visit

Mr Routledge claims this would allow for a Twitch stream to be set up and monitor the mostly undocumented tribe.

He says this will help science and make money along the way.

Adding another plan to his ambitious adventure, he wrote: “Or like, go with a drone disguised as a big bird, film content, boom exclusive footage of non-contacted tribe that’s near priceless.”

Warning of the dangers ahead, one Twitter user replied to Mr Routledge by saying: “Go in a suit of armour.

“What are they going to do against a knight with their little sticks?”

Jet2 Benidorm disaster as disease almost kills man [HEALTH]
POLL: Is a united Ireland inevitable? [POLL]
DUP refuses Sinn Fein power share until Brexit deal resolved [REPORT]

Mr Routledge has conducted other dangerous trips in his travels.

In April, he was seen to have “tea with the Taliban” during a visit to Afghanistan.

Tweeted about the encounter, he wrote: “Tea with the Taliban.

I’m in Afghanistan, walked into Taliban residency by accident and after talking they gave me food, tea and even offered for me to stay the night.

“They are so kind!”

Should Miles Routledge visit the island? Will the visit pose a danger to the islanders in light of the recent global virus? Let us know your thoughts by CLICKING HERE and joining the debate in our comments section below – Every Voice Matters!

He has also travelled to Ukraine during the Russian invasion, and spent time in Kazakhstan during riots.

In reference to his Sentinel Island idea, he later claimed that he wasn’t being completely serious.

He tweeted: “I mentioned this before but I’ve had a lot of new followers then, it’s always good to get further perspective on s**t posts that may turn into something real one day.”

Mr Routledge has been contacted by for comment.

Source link

Warmer summers threaten the world’s largest ice sheet and the ecosystems around it

“We saw a lot of icebergs and they were impressive — the size of buildings,” Patricia Yager, a professor at the Department of Marine Sciences at the University of Georgia, told CNN. “Some are as tall as the Statue of Liberty, up to 300 feet above the waterline.”

“There’s a lot of melting going on,” Yager said. “Lots more than I expected. There was more meltwater and more heat in that ocean than I imagined.”

But it’s more than that.

“What we realized as biologists and chemists and ecosystems scientists was, our ecosystem was also being impacted,” Yager said.

Scientists believe this ecosystem is pivotal to climate research, and years of extraordinary warming has allowed them to finally see it with their own eyes. Everything in this ecosystem — from the small phytoplankton to the larger seals and penguins — is being impacted.

Yager and her fellow researchers want to know what will happen to the surrounding ocean salt water if the glaciers melt, particularly what happens to the ecosystems that live in it — or under it.

Nathaniel B. Palmer ship among icebergs.  Credit:  Dr. Patricia Yager

The entire food chain is being impacted

While Yager and her team were in Antarctica, they found an elephant seal in the polynya — an oasis of open water where sea ice would normally exist — that they were studying.

“Nobody’s reported seeing an elephant seal there before,” she said. “What we see is if there’s a shift in the ecosystem, the animals respond. The problem is they’re not just responding to the food. They’re also responding to change in habitat and ocean currents.”

But how did that elephant seal get there? Well, that is where these important microorganisms called phytoplankton come in.

A seal resting on a piece of sea ice with the Nathaniel B. Palmer ship in the background.  Credit: Ms. Li Ling PhD student at KTH Royal Institute of Technology

Phytoplankton are vital to the Antarctic food chain. Krill eat the phytoplankton, and animals like seals, fish, and penguins eat the krill.

Certain coastal regions of Antarctica have the highest abundances of phytoplankton in the world.

“The Amundsen Sea Polynya is about half the size of the state of Georgia,” Yager said. “So it’s a big feature. On a per meter squared basis, it is more productive [than other polynyas] for reasons we think that are related to this melting glacier.”

It was discovered about a decade ago that this meltwater was providing iron-rich water to the polynya. So much iron that it was providing beneficial fertilizer to the local ecosystem.

However, high amounts of iron are not usually found in the coastal Antarctic because there is so little exposed rock there.

“The Southern Ocean is famously known for being a high-nutrient, low-chlorophyll zone,” Yager said. “We figured out that this ocean, for the most part, has plenty of nitrogen but it is missing another important fertilizer, which is iron.”

Where there’s iron, there are phytoplankton blooms.

A branched sessile invertebrate, seen through a dissecting microscope, was found in a sediment core. The branched structure is approximately 1 cm in size. Credit: Dr. Lisa C. Herbert, Postdoctoral Fellow at Rutgers University

This ecosystem may have adapted to climate change in some ways, but it will need to change in many more ways to survive rising temperatures.

“We knew from the satellites that there was a big phytoplankton bloom in this area. It’s why we went to first explore this region back in 2007. Rob Sherrell, a trace metal geochemist from Rutgers University, pointed out that if there are algae blooming, then there must be iron. The question was, where was the iron coming from?”

What the researchers didn’t understand was why meltwater was coming out from where it was, and why it was so rich in iron, Yager said.

“So we went down there thinking, okay, well, the glacier has iron in it, and the melting glacier is dribbling iron into the ocean, which is a perfectly reasonable hypothesis. That’s what’s happening in parts of Greenland,” Yager said. “However, turns out, that’s not what’s happening. It’s more interesting than that.”

Back home, the science team set out to build a computer model to explore how the iron delivery worked.

“That’s what we went down to test this year,” Yager said. “The model suggested that the iron is actually coming mostly from the deep ocean water responsible for melting the glacier, but the delivery of iron to the surface is because of the added buoyancy from the melt.”

That upwelling of iron is fueling thriving ecosystem communities with species of algae, icefish, seals and jellyfish.

A small Antarctic jellyfish.   Credit: Daisy Pickup, PhD Student at University of East Anglia

It may seem hard to believe that organisms could thrive in such cold environments, but there is life down there. And when you change that environment, it can have dire consequences.

“That life loves being down there,” Yager said. “If you take them away from that cold environment, they don’t survive. If you take the bacteria or the organisms that live down there and you put them in warm water, they often die.”

So while on the surface it may seem like a good thing that parts of these ecosystems are thriving — such as the phytoplankton, zooplankton — other aspects of the ecosystem can’t adapt as easily.

“For example, the Adelie penguins really depend on sea ice, and as the sea ice has disappeared from the peninsula in western Antarctica, the Adelies have declined dramatically because their habitat is gone,” Yager said. “What we’re seeing is an ecosystem shift. Adelie penguins are moving to new areas where there is more sea ice, and other penguins that don’t need the sea ice are moving in.”

Colony of penguins near Bear Peninsula in Antarctica.   Credit: Ms. Li Ling PhD student at KTH Royal Institute of Technology

But when the ecosystem shifts, so too does the food web.

If the varieties of phytoplankton and krill shift, for example, then the fish, seals and penguins must shift, too, out of necessity.

“There’s going to be winners and losers with climate change,” Yager said. “Life will find a way and somebody will come in and take advantage of whatever food is available. It just might not be the thing that used to live there.”

Why this location is so unique

Yager has been traveling to Antarctica for research since 2007, but thanks to a very high-resolution model created by Pierre St-Laurent, a research scientist at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, the crew think they found the ideal spot.

“It’s an interesting experience to be quietly sitting at your desk in the US and suddenly receive an email request from a colleague in Antarctica who is on the field and who would need guidance,” St-Laurent told CNN.

He worked out codes to predict the ocean currents using basic ingredients like water temperature, salinity, winds, the depth of the ocean and sea ice arrangements along coastlines of the Amundsen Sea. These predictions help the team — funded by the National Science Foundation and the UK Natural Environment Research Council — understand what’s going on below the surface.
The science and logistics team for the NBP22-02 Expedition. Back row (l-r): Mark Symons, Philip Leadbitter, Billy Platt, Davide Fenucci, Callum Rollo, Tiago Segabinazzi Dotto, Anders Sjovall, Anna Wåhlin. 2nd row (l-r): Li Ling, Patricia Yager, Robert Hall, Robert Sherrell, Sharon Stammerjohn, Gareth Lee. 3rd row (l-r): Rick Petersen, Julia Wellner, Lisa Herbert, Asmara Lehrmann, Michael Comas, Guilherme Bortolotto De Oliviera, Amy Chiuchiolo, Lars Boehme, Ashley Morris. Front row (l-r) Paul Provost, Scott Walker, Yixi Zheng, Hilde Oliver, Rachel Clark, Giovanna Azarias Utsumi, Daisy Pickup, Hannah Wyles, Patricia Medeiros, Janelle Steffen. Kneeling (l-r): Robert Templeton, Laura Glastra.   Credit: Lars Boehme

The problem was getting there.

“This year, unusually strong winds blew the sea ice into a big pile that blocked us from getting to the Thwaites,” Yager said. “We tried to go around, but all the icebergs also made it tricky to navigate through.”

Those icebergs falling from the Thwaites glacier had now drifted farther apart to essentially clear a path, albeit a windy one, for their crew to investigate the Eastern Notch area between the Thwaites and Dotson. The researchers wanted to verify what the models had predicted for a coastal current delivering meltwater and iron from the Thwaites.

“So this part of Antarctica, according to satellites, is one of the most productive in terms of biology,” Yager said. “It’s the greenest place in Antarctica and has the densest chlorophyll per meter squared. But it’s very hard to get there as you might notice. It’s pretty far away from everywhere.”

Large crack in iceberg from Dotson outflow site.   Credit:  Dr. Patricia Yager

Whether you travel from New Zealand or the southern tip of Chile, it’s a two-week trip by ship — about as far away from anywhere as you can get.

“We know that the sea ice is integral to the ecosystem in this area — they’re called marginal ice zones,” Yager said. “In the wintertime, the sea ice in these zones covers up the ecosystem. But then in the spring and summer, when it melts to make a polynya, it provides some layering of the ocean, and tend to be quite productive.”

The ocean has three primary layers — the surface layer (sometimes referred to as the mixed layer), the thermocline layer and the deep ocean.

The surface layer is the top layer of the water, and is well stirred from the wind and other forces. This top ocean layer also tends to be the warmest layer due to heating from the sun. And the phytoplankton also live in the surface layer.

“Because it’s not just the iron — it’s the iron and light together that the phytoplankton need,” Yager said.

She collaborated with a group called TARSAN, a ship-based project studying how atmospheric and oceanic processes are influencing the behavior of the Thwaites and Dotson Ice Shelves. Their research helps identify how variations in atmospheric or oceanic conditions may influence the behavior and stability of ice shelves in the region in the future.
High-tech Autosub Long Range vehicle "Boaty McBoatface" is used to examine ice shelf conditions. This autonomous underwater vehicle is operated by the National Oceanography Centre.   Credit: Ms. Hannah Wyles, PhD student at University of St. Andrews

“If you bring iron up from below, disappearing sea ice and stronger winds could take away some of the stratification of the ocean, and now you’ve got less light for the phytoplankton,” Yager said.

This is why having multiple teams working together is so important, because each group can see something from a different angle.

If we catch it early, can we fix it?

The concern is that eventually, when the sea ice goes away and the polynyas disappear, this ecosystem will be destroyed.

“That has actually happened off the northeast coast of Greenland, there is no longer a polynya there, it’s gone completely,” Yager said.

“There’s two things happening in Antarctica,” she said. “The sea ice melts seasonally to make a polynya and the glaciers are melting and adding iron. So in this immediate time period, it’s all working together pretty well. We have this wonderful bloom.”

But too much of a good thing can be a bad thing in the long term.

Landscape view from Eastern Notch region of Antarctica.   Credit:  Dr. Patricia Yager

Yager says it’s just like the food pyramid — it’s all about balance. As humans we need protein, grains, vegetables and fruit. If you eat a diet focused highly on fruits, your balance is off.

If this area becomes too high in iron, the balance will eventually tip.

“If we keep pushing in the same direction, and the sea ice goes away, the whole setup may collapse. And then we’re just pumping high carbon and high iron deep water into the surface of the Southern Ocean, and we don’t really know what the effect of that is going to be,” Yager said.

“That’s why we’re testing and improving this model to help us predict forward,” she said. “It’s giving us a clue of what might happen in the future, before it actually happens.”

Iceberg seen from above and below the water line.  Credit:  Dr. Patricia Yager
St-Laurent also had a chance to travel to Antarctica, though in a different region called the Ross Sea.

“The remoteness of Antarctica is what struck me the most; in many ways the research expedition felt like taking a trip to the moon,” St-Laurent said.

“And yet, we know that this remote part of Earth has the potential to impact all coastal communities greatly as the Antarctic ice sheet continues to lose mass over the next decades and contributes to global sea level rise. Despite the scale of the planet, we’re in many ways interconnected, for better or for worse.”

Source link

New Zealand’s Great Coast Road Is One of the World’s Most Beautiful Coastal Drives

New Zealand’s Great Coast Road Is One of the World’s Most Beautiful Coastal Drives | Travel + Leisure

this link is to an external site that may or may not meet accessibility guidelines.

Source link

The world’s most challenging cruise ship routes

Editor’s Note — Monthly Ticket is a new CNN Travel series that spotlights some of the most fascinating topics in the travel world. In April, we’re setting course for the diverse world of cruises. Whether you’re looking for travel inspiration or insider knowledge, Monthly Ticket will take you there.

(CNN) — Navigating a colossal ship is no mean feat under any conditions, but certain routes, like the sandstorm-prone, narrow Suez Canal — infamously blocked by a container ship last year — or the windy, glacier-lined waterways of Alaska, are particularly challenging.
Andy Winbow, a master mariner who has helmed vessels across the globe, tells CNN Travel that trickier routes are often characterized by “adverse weather conditions, a lack of room to maneuver due to natural hazards and a lack of navigational aids.”

These factors will impact any vessel, but multi-decked cruise ships can be more affected due to their sheer bulk.

“The higher the ship, the bigger the windage,” is how David Pembridge puts it. Pembridge is a retired cruise ship captain who worked for decades on ships operated by P&O Cruises and Princess Cruises.

When tall ships are buffeted by wind, they’re prone to slide slipping — a term used to describe a ship that’s being blown sideways. To counteract this effect, the ship has to be steered at an angle.

This maneuver is extra tricky when traversing a waterway like the Suez Canal or the Panama Canal. In these narrow channels, ships should also avoid hitting the sides of the canal.

“If they go through at speed, it causes erosion of the banks, and drags some of the sand away from the sides and into the center of the canal, which is no good because it makes it less deep, so it causes shallowing,” explains Pembridge.

While the Suez Canal and the Panama Canal have some unifying features, there are also key differences between the Egyptian waterway and the South American channel.

Where the Panama Canal is largely bordered by forest and vegetation, the Suez is flanked by flat desert, meaning there’s potential for poor visibility caused by sandstorms.

And while the 120-mile Suez is largely straight, the roughly 50-mile Panama Canal “winds in and out of islands,” as Pembridge puts it, with this topography adding another dimension to the challenge.

“It’s a different sort of difficulty, but it still requires fairly intense concentration going through there,” explains Pembridge.

Ships traversing the Panama Canal must also pass through three different sets of locks. In more recent years the locks were widened to better accommodate bigger ships, but when Pembridge was sailing the route regularly, his vessel would be separated from the sides of the lock by only a couple of feet.

In Panama, mechanical locomotives also help tow cruise ships through the locks, while in especially narrow sections of the Suez, tug boats help guide larger ships.

“It’s normally a long day for the team on board, because you start and you don’t stop until you get through the other end,” says Pembridge of passing through both channels.

The role of the pilot

Cruise ships are helped down the Suez Canal by local expert seafarers, called marine pilots.

Cruise ships are helped down the Suez Canal by local expert seafarers, called marine pilots.

Soeren Stache/picture-alliance/dpa/AP

All vessels operating in the Suez and the Panama are aided by local mariners.

These seafarers, known as marine pilots, board the ship at the start of the channel and work together with the on board crew to ensure safe passage.

The Suez Canal and the Panama Canal are both “compulsory pilotage areas” — meaning pilots aren’t optional, they’re required by law.

Pembridge suggests the working relationship between pilots and captains isn’t always smooth sailing.

“That’s one of the helps, and one of the hindrances, at times, depending upon the level of competency and personalities involved,” he says.

“The pilot legally must direct the cause and speed of the vessel. But at the same time, the master of the vessel always has the responsibility for the safe navigation of the vessel and that can’t be abrogated to the pilot.”

In some areas, the pilot’s role is less crucial, and not necessarily a legal requirement. But in more challenging ports and waterways — such as Suez and Panama, or the waterways around Alaska, their role is essential.

Captain John Herring was captain of a research vessel before he become a marine pilot in southeast Alaska.

Herring tells CNN Travel there are two key reasons why pilots need to be on board ships in certain areas.

“First, we provide local knowledge of route dangers, tides and currents, weather, concentrations of marine life, and more,” he explains.

“Second, being independent from the ship, we bring objective decision making not subject to the economic pressures of the ship’s schedule. Captains are experts on their own ships and we are experts on Alaskan waters.”

Southeast Alaska is a compulsory pilotage area, partly because it’s prone to strong winds and currents, and partly because of its marine ecosystem.

“Alaska coastal waters are blessed with an abundance of marine mammals,” says Herring. “Whale watching is a favorite pastime for passengers, but it requires constant vigilance on the bridge to avoid close encounters.”

Similarly, spotting icebergs and glaciers might be a highlight of an Alaskan cruise, but these icy formations can cause difficulties for vessels.

“That ice is hard and can damage the hull or propellers,” explains Herring, adding that strong winds and currents make navigating icy waters even harder.

In recent years, technology has advanced, making navigating unpredictable routes a bit easier for vessels.

But Herring suggests pilots are still integral in the age of satellite technology.

“The local pilot can still bring the ship safely to port without GPS,” he says.

Depth of water and local topography

The fjords and channels of Chile, including the Murray Channel in southern Chile, pictured here, can pose particular challenges for vessels.

The fjords and channels of Chile, including the Murray Channel in southern Chile, pictured here, can pose particular challenges for vessels.

Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket/Getty Images

Ships sailing around Alaska must also contend with varying water depths. In shallow water channels, ships need to move slowly to avoid creating a low-pressure zone under the vessel that could cause the ship to ground on the seabed.

“Ships can ‘squat’ if traveling too fast and thus have insufficient clearance under the keel,” is how master mariner Andy Winbow explains it.

Cruise routes around the Norwegian fjords and the fjords and channels of Chile also involve navigating occasional shallow waters.

Other cruise ship routes present issues because their topography is constantly changing.

Pembridge gives the example of the Amazon River, sections of which are sometimes traversed on South American cruises.

“The bottom of the Amazon moves around continuously and so on a nautical chart it will show an island, and when you get there the island won’t be there, it’ll have moved somewhere else,” he explains. “It’s very much dependent on the pilots then — the local pilots are people that know the river and know how it’s moved.”

City ports can also pose challenges.

Pembridge points to the Dutch ports of Amsterdam and Rotterdam and the German port of Hamburg, as well as Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.

To dock in any of these cities, cruise ships must first traverse a narrow channel, and how easy that is largely depends on weather conditions.

Planning and unexpected moments

Pembridge took this photo of one the Panama Canal locks while at the helm of P&O Cruises' MV Aurora cruise ship.

Pembridge took this photo of one the Panama Canal locks while at the helm of P&O Cruises’ MV Aurora cruise ship.

David Pembridge

A solid voyage plan is essential to smooth sailing. Pembridge explains that cruise ship passage plans are usually devised by a junior officer, and then approved by the captain. Plans will always take into account any known potential challenges — like wind, width of waterway, tides and surrounding terrain.

“If you’re in open ocean, it’s a relatively simple briefing — this is the course we intend to take, this is the speed we intend to be doing. Once you get closer to land, and it becomes more involved, then you start to highlight dangers, any currents, and the likely weather effects of anything,” says Pembridge.

“And then as you get into really confined waters — which is what the [Suez and Panama] canals are — then it’s a much more intense briefing.”

The threat of piracy is another factor that’s taken into consideration, although Pembridge suggests it’s less of an issue than it once was.

He recalls helming ships that sped through the Gulf of Arden at flank speed, turning lights out at night and organizing passenger drills.

Captain David Pembridge, who retired in 2020, pictured near Chile's Cape Horn.

Captain David Pembridge, who retired in 2020, pictured near Chile’s Cape Horn.

David Pembridge

Weather is also taken into account when voyage planning, but all the preparation in the world can’t totally account for the unexpected.

Pembridge recalls a time he was captaining a ship sailing from the Falkland Islands towards South America. Wind was forecast to be strong, but when night fell, the violent gusts were much fiercer than expected.

All through the night, Pembridge and his team slowly angled into the waves to try and counteract the impact of the wind. When daylight drew in, they saw the extent of what they were dealing with.

“They were very, very big waves. And the front of the ship was burying itself into them and coming up again, it was perfectly safe, but very uncomfortable.”

By the time the weather had receded, the ship had veered some 30 miles off course. Ports had to be rearranged and the voyage replanned.

But Pembridge points out that while vessels might encounter unexpected challenges, the vessels and the people in charge are generally prepared for obstacles.

“Modern cruise ships are well equipped to deal with pretty much all of the challenges that come their way,” says Pembridge.

Top photo: A cruise ship sails in front of Margerie Glacier in Glacier Bay, Alaska. Photo credit: Tim Rue/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Source link

The World’s Best Travel Loyalty Programs

Southwest Airlines and Marriott International came away big winners at the 2022 Freddie Awards on Thursday, which is excellent news for travelers who are members of the two companies’ respective Rapid Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy loyalty programs.

Named after the late consumer champion Sir Freddie Laker and voted on by more than 2.5 million frequent flyers around the world, the annual Freddie Awards aim to rate the best loyalty programs in six different categories, including Program of the Year, Best Promotion, Best Redemption Ability, Best Customer Service, Best Elite Program and now the 210 Award for the highest-scoring program in each region that was below the 10 percent qualifying total ballot threshold. The awards also recognize the Best Loyalty Credit Card in each region of the world.


Trending Now

Travel technology, man with airplane and laptop

In addition to Southwest and Marriott, TAP Air Portugal, Accor Hotels and Chase Bank were among the big winners for 2022.

“We are delighted to once again allow frequent flyers throughout the world the opportunity to select the travel loyalty programs that they believe have achieved excellence,” Randy Petersen, founder of the Freddie Awards, said in a statement. “This is not an elitist view of these programs nor a popular vote, but rather the ‘best’ are determined by the votes of those who spend a great deal of their life on the road and in turn are appreciative of the value they bring to their members. The results seemed to reflect how well programs adjusted their support and messaging to their members during the nearly two-year COVID period which hampered travel.”

See below for this year’s complete list of winners by region:



Program of the Year – Southwest Airlines – Rapid Rewards

Best Elite Program – American Airlines – AAdvantage

Best Promotion – Avianca – LifeMiles – 175% Bonus on Purchased Miles

Best Customer Service – Southwest Airlines – Rapid Rewards

Best Redemption Ability – Air Canada – Aeroplan

210 Award – Air Canada Aeroplan


Program of the Year – Marriott Hotels – Marriott Bonvoy

Best Elite Program – Marriott Hotels – Marriott Bonvoy

Best Promotion – Caesars Entertainment – Caesars Rewards – Earn for Next Year

Best Customer Service – Caesars Entertainment – Caesars Rewards

Best Redemption Ability – Marriott Hotels – Marriott Bonvoy

210 Award – Hyatt Hotels – World of Hyatt

Credit Card

Best Loyalty Credit Card – Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card



Program of the Year – TAP Air Portugal – Miles&Go

Best Elite Program – TAP Air Portugal – Miles&Go

Best Promotion – TAP Air Portugal – Miles&Go – Black Friday

Best Customer Service – TAP Air Portugal – Miles&Go

Best Redemption Ability – TAP Air Portugal – Miles&Go

210 Award – Virgin Atlantic – Flying Club


Program of the Year – Accor – ALL Accor Live Limitless

Best Elite Program – Accor – ALL Accor Live Limitless

Best Promotion – Marriott Hotels – Marriott Bonvoy – Better Two-gether

Best Customer Service – Accor – ALL Accor Live Limitless

Best Redemption Ability – Accor – ALL Accor Live Limitless

210 Award – GHA – GHA Discovery

Credit Card

Best Loyalty Credit Card – American Express – Membership Rewards

Middle East & Asia/Oceania


Program of the Year – Singapore Airlines – KrisFlyer

Best Elite Program – Singapore Airlines – KrisFlyer

Best Promotion – Singapore Airlines – KrisFlyer – Earn Status Credit without Flying

Best Customer Service – Singapore Airlines – KrisFlyer

Best Redemption Ability – Singapore Airlines – KrisFlyer

210 Award – Garuda Indonesia – GarudaMiles


Program of the Year – ITC Hotels – Club ITC

Best Elite Program – ITC Hotels – Club ITC

Best Promotion – ITC Hotels – Club ITC – Reduced Requalification Requirements

Best Customer Service – Marriott Hotels – Marriott Bonvoy

Best Redemption Ability – ITC Hotels – Club ITC

210 Award – Shangri-La – Circle

Credit Card

Best Loyalty Credit Card – American Express Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Credit Card

Source link

Travel news: The world’s best breakfasts, pancakes and other morning snacks

Editor’s Note — Sign up for Unlocking the World, CNN Travel’s weekly newsletter. Get news about destinations opening and closing, inspiration for future adventures, plus the latest in aviation, food and drink, where to stay and other travel developments.

(CNN) — This week in travel news, we bring you the breakfast capital of the world, new ultra-long-haul flights and the fascinating evolution of the airplane evacuation slide.

Breakfast of champions

Van, eastern Turkey, is the home of serpme kahvaltı — breakfast spread — and the morning feast includes oven-hot flatbreads, Turkish coffee, creamy scrambled eggs, local cheese flavored with mountain herbs, grape molasses and tahini.

How the sausage gets made

Cooking oil was out of the pan and into the airplane on March 25, when it powered an Airbus A380 on a three-hour trial flight in France.

The aerospace manufacturer hopes to get its aircraft certified to run on Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) — made mostly of used cooking oil and waste fats — by the end of the decade.

In another behind-the-scenes peek at how the aviation sausage is made, this week we looked at the evolution of another slippery airplane asset: evacuation slides.

Did you know that the “arm doors and cross check” instruction to flight attendants as a plane leaves the gate is when the slides are prepped to automatically deploy? 

Rays of travel sunshine

Sometimes no news is good news, right?

For the first time in many months, this week the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention didn’t add a single new destination to its highest-risk category for travel. And it also lifted its risk advisory for cruise travel.
While many parts of the world are opening back up, China’s zero-Covid policy means that lockdowns are continuing across the country. Luxury hotels in Chinese cities are now offering babysitting services to parents trying to manage that familiar challenge of juggling remote working with managing their kids’ online learning.

Homes for refugees

Now, it has nearly 88,000 members and Tosheva and her admins have personally arranged housing for around 90 refugees. Many of the hosts are donating the use of their vacation properties — including a castle in Ireland — to people who have lost everything.
And in Ukraine itself, a remote ski resort in the Carpathian Mountains has become a refuge for displaced citizens.

10-year vacation

Tom Grond has been to 130 countries, including Syria.

Tom Grond has been to 130 countries, including Syria.

Tom Grond

Dutch blogger Tom Grond set out on a round-the-world trip in December 2012 — and he hasn’t stopped since. Here’s how he went from being a $30-a-day budget traveler to sustaining himself through writing and posting about his adventures.

In case you missed it

This tiny Italian village wants to become an independent nation.

What weighs 1,600 pounds and loves spring break?

When Anthony Bourdain visited Libya in 2013, he discovered local hip-hop, Italian restaurants and post-war uncertainty.

Get set, travel

If your travel hours are stretching into double digits, it’s nice to be able to afford some luxury — without your costs running into quadruple digits or more.

Our partners at CNN Underscored, a product reviews and recommendations guide owned by CNN, have worked out how you can book a super-duper first class suite on Singapore Airlines for almost nothing using air miles and credit card points.

Source link

The world’s most agile countries

The United States

Ranked at the top of the Agility index, the US may not have implemented a federally mandated lockdown like many other Western countries, but its market-driven economy enabled an adaptability that spurred quick innovation in the face of the Covid-19 crisis.

“Look at how fast delivery services and restaurants were able to alter their businesses, delivering food to people’s homes,” said John Rose, a California resident and chief risk and security officer for travel company Altour. “There wasn’t a lot of unnecessary regulation saying that restaurants can’t deliver food or can’t operate with just a handful of people.”

You may also be interested in:
• The world’s five safest cities, post pandemic
• Why is this country so resilient?
• Five superpowers ruling the world in 2050

The food industry was just a microcosm of the flexibility of the country overall, said Rose, as other businesses were able to quickly adapt to the pandemic landscape, whether it was producing masks or hand sanitiser, or enabling technology like video conferencing to allow people to work from home more efficiently.

Different states were able to enact wildly different policies depending on their specific needs as well, which created 50 unique ways to respond to the pandemic. “California and Florida handled the pandemic in polar opposite ways, with California having extreme lockdowns and Florida balking at every restriction,” said Rose. “And yet both their economies did really well. It came down to strong leadership of a policy.”

At the national level, mask mandates in airplanes and airports enabled travellers to continue travelling here with confidence as well, which kept travel and its economic benefits open throughout the pandemic. The government still requires international travellers to be fully vaccinated.

Travellers should know that vaccine rates among residents vary widely by state and even county, with some cities having a much higher vaccination rate and readiness to welcome visitors back safely. Rose recommends checking the county you’re visiting rather than at the state levels, for the most accurate information.

Source link

The Beast, world’s longest wooden roller coaster, is getting longer

(CNN) — It’s pretty much a yearly occurrence these days — some amusement park is setting a new roller coaster record. Maybe it’s for speed. Maybe it’s for a special design feature.

The Beast apparently isn’t going to rest on its laurels though. The park announced in a news release Wednesday that it’s going to extend the track by 2 feet, solidifying its grip on the record by 24 inches.

How long is The Beast exactly?

Refurbishment of The Beast started in November.

Refurbishment of The Beast started in November.

Kings Island/Cedar Fair Entertainment

The Beast has been a length of 3,759 feet (or 1,146 meters) in its long life. But when it opens in May, riders will enjoy those 2 extra feet because of “offseason retracking and reprofiling work,” the release said.

Obviously, those 2 extra feet (.6 meters) are going to fly by pretty darn fast. Perhaps more important and more noticeable to the thrill-seekers on the ride will be a steeper first drop.

Kings Island said it “has been reprofiled from 45 degrees to 53 degrees so that it can come into the tunnel lower and deliver a buttery-smooth transition through the first tunnel and onto the second drop.”

Crews began refurbishing 2,000 feet (610 meters) of the coaster’s track back in November.

Other features of the coaster

The Beast features two pretty serious drops of 137 feet and 141 feet.

The Beast features two pretty serious drops of 137 feet and 141 feet.

Kings Island/Cedar Fair Entertainment

So how much time will it take to cover the new 3,761-foot track? That’s four minutes and 10 seconds of ride time. Some other hair-raising, yell-inducing Beast stats from Kings Island:

• Vertical drops of 137 feet (41.8 meters) and 141 feet. That latter drop is at an 18-degree angle.

• An underground tunnel at the bottom of that 137-foot drop is 125 feet long.

• That’s just the first tunnel — there are two more.

• Eight banked turns and a 540-degree helix tunnel near the end.

• Speeds up to 64.77 miles per hour (about 105 kmh).

Kings Island said it cost $3.5 million to build The Beast from 1977 to 1979 and that it would cost more than $20 million to recreate it today.

What it’s like riding The Beast

The Beast has earned its name according to Martin Lewison (aka Professor Roller Coaster).

The Beast has earned its name according to Martin Lewison (aka Professor Roller Coaster).

Kings Island/Cedar Fair Entertainment

Martin Lewison, an associate professor of business management at Farmingdale State College on Long Island in New York, is known as “Professor Roller Coaster.” He schooled CNN Travel on Wednesday evening on what it’s like to ride The Beast.

“I’ve ridden it many times. It’s definitely a must-ride if you go to Kings Island. It’s iconic,” Lewison said.

“For years and years, it was my No. 1 wooden coaster. It’s really an experience.”

Lewison said the design makes it a ride like no other coaster.

“It practically has chapters to it. It’s basically two giant halves,” he said. “It actually has two lift hills — for a wooden coaster, that is quite unusual.”

His favorite part is when train flies through the surrounding woods.

“It’s amazing at night. Part of the excitement is running over the terrain. You’re just sort of careening through the dark.”

He gave special mention to the 540-degree helix.

“The second lift hill goes in a giant helix. It’s just so intense. Every time I ride this, I look at my wife and say, ‘This is insane.’ “

Lewison said part of the excitement of a wooden coaster is that it is supposed to feel rickety. “When you hit that helix, you feel like the coaster wants to tear itself apart.”

The Brady Bunch did not ride this coaster

Part of the fun of The Beast is how it weaves through woodlands and uses the lay of the land to enhance the ride.

Part of the fun of The Beast is how it weaves through woodlands and uses the lay of the land to enhance the ride.

Kings Island/Cedar Fair Entertainment

Fans of the classic ABC sitcom “The Brady Bunch” may fondly recall the episode of the family’s outing to Kings Island, the madcap misadventures of losing and finding the father’s architectural blueprints — and the ending sequence with the family enjoying a ride on a wooden coaster.
However, Alice, Mike, Carol and the kids missed The Beast by six years. The cast filmed their scenes at the park in the summer of 1973 and took a ride on The Racer, with Eve Plumb (Jan) and Mike Lookinland (Bobby) in the front seats.
The Racer, actually two coasters on twin tracks that “race” side by side to see which train pulls back into the station first, has been with the park since its opening in 1972.

Kings Island Amusement Park will celebrate its 50th anniversary this year, and it now has 15 roller coasters.

Top image: This view of The Beast shows just how much territory the coaster covers. (Kings Island/Cedar Fair Entertainment)

Source link

World’s happiest countries: Finland is No.1 for the fifth consecutive year

Editor’s Note — Sign up for Unlocking the World, CNN Travel’s weekly newsletter. Get news about destinations opening and closing, inspiration for future adventures, plus the latest in aviation, food and drink, where to stay and other travel developments.

(CNN) — Devastating loss of life and growing uncertainty have the world very much on edge, but there is a bit of good news for humanity: Benevolence is surging globally.

That’s one of the key findings of the World Happiness Report, a publication of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network that draws on global survey data from people in about 150 countries.

Marking its 10th anniversary, the report looks at happiness around the world — the happiest nations, those at the very bottom of the happiness scale and everything in between, plus the factors that tend to lead to greater happiness.

And with two years of Covid-19 pandemic data on the books, the report has uncovered something unexpected.

“The big surprise was that globally, in an uncoordinated way, there have been very large increases in all the three forms of benevolence that are asked about in the Gallup World Poll,” John Helliwell, one of the report’s three founding editors, told CNN Travel.

Donating to charity, helping a stranger and volunteering are all up, “especially the help to strangers in 2021, relative to either before the pandemic or 2020, by a very large amount in all regions of the world,” said Helliwell, who is a professor emeritus at the Vancouver School of Economics, University of British Columbia.

And benevolence is certainly top of mind as the world responds to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But before getting into how that increasingly global conflict may impact happiness, let’s look at countries where the feeling was abundant in 2021.

World’s happiest nation is Nordic

For the fifth year in a row, Finland is the world’s happiest country, according to World Happiness Report rankings based largely on life evaluations from the Gallup World Poll.

The Nordic country and its neighbors Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Iceland all score very well on the measures the report uses to explain its findings: healthy life expectancy, GDP per capita, social support in times of trouble, low corruption and high social trust, generosity in a community where people look after each other and freedom to make key life decisions.

Denmark comes in at No. 2 in this year’s rankings, followed by Iceland at No. 3. Sweden and Norway are seventh and eighth, respectively.

Switzerland, the Netherlands and Luxembourg take places 4 through 6, with Israel coming in at No. 9 and New Zealand rounding out the top 10.

Canada (No. 15), the United States (No. 16) and the United Kingdom (No. 17) all made it into the top 20.

People gather for drinks on a sunny day in Helsinki in June 2020. For the fifth year in a row, Finland has ranked as the world's happiest country.

People gather for drinks on a sunny day in Helsinki in June 2020. For the fifth year in a row, Finland has ranked as the world’s happiest country.

Alessandro Rampazzo/AFP via Getty Images

Happiness in troubled times

Another bright spot in this year’s report: Worry and stress dipped in the pandemic’s second year. While they were still up 4% in 2021 versus pre-pandemic, worry and stress in 2020 were up by 8%.

“I think part of that is people knew a little more what they were dealing with in the second year, even if there were new surprises,” Helliwell said.

Average life evaluations “have remained remarkably resilient” during the pandemic, with negative and positive influences offsetting each other, the report says.

“For the young, life satisfaction has fallen, while for those over 60, it has risen — with little overall change,” according to the report.

Helliwell acknowledges that there’s a sense that crises bring out either the best or the worst in societies.

“But in general, people are too pessimistic about the goodwill in the societies they live in, so then when the actual disaster happens and they see other people responding positively to help others, it raises their opinion both of themselves and of their fellow citizens,” Helliwell said.

“And so you find both trust in others and general life evaluations often rise in times when you think ‘these are bad times,’ but what’s happening is people are working together to deal with them.”

Right now, the world's eyes are on Ukraine, which is No. 98 in the World Happiness Report's rankings. Here, St. Volodymyr's Cathedral in Kyiv is pictured on February 27, just days after Russian troops invaded the country.

Right now, the world’s eyes are on Ukraine, which is No. 98 in the World Happiness Report’s rankings. Here, St. Volodymyr’s Cathedral in Kyiv is pictured on February 27, just days after Russian troops invaded the country.

Chris McGrath/Getty Images

This interplay of negative and positive very much applies to the situation in Ukraine, although how the scales will ultimately tip remains to be seen. Working together will certainly offset, to some degree, the tragedies affecting Ukrainians, Helliwell said.

“Their heartland is being attacked, so they’ll be getting some coming-together effect, but of course the actual damage is terrible.”

The effects the war will have on overall happiness in Russia are especially murky because government censorship distorts information that informs life evaluations, he said.

The surveys this year’s happiness rankings were based on were conducted well before the invasion. Ukraine and Russia both fall into the bottom half of world rankings for happiness in the 2022 report, with Ukraine at No. 98 and Russia at No. 80.

At No. 146, Afghanistan is at the very bottom of the rankings in the 2022 report, “a stark reminder of the material and immaterial damage that war does to its many victims,” Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, another report editor, said in a news release.

The current war raging in Ukraine means happiness in other parts of the world could teeter as well.

“It’s conceivable some people seeing what war can do close up on their television screens every day to the lives of people who have nothing to do with war and want nothing to do with war can make them feel lucky they’re not there or empathetic to the point of pain for the people who are there,” Helliwell said.

“And they’re both real and understandable emotions, but they’re playing on opposite sides of the balance.”

Hopefully, the uptick in benevolence — in all its forms – carries into 2022 and beyond.

New Zealand ranked No. 10 on the world's happiest countries list. Here, Lake Tekapo's famous lupins bloom on New Zealand's South Island.

New Zealand ranked No. 10 on the world’s happiest countries list. Here, Lake Tekapo’s famous lupins bloom on New Zealand’s South Island.

Norraset Sanee/Songkhla Studio/Adobe Stock

The world’s happiest countries, 2022 edition

1. Finland

2. Denmark

3. Iceland

4. Switzerland

5. Netherlands

6. Luxembourg

7. Sweden

8. Norway

9. Israel

10. New Zealand

11. Austria

12. Australia

13. Ireland

14. Germany

15. Canada

16. United States

17. United Kingdom

18. Czechia (Czech Republic)

19. Belgium

20. France

Source link