Contributed by Sarah Janousek
More than 25 million Americans will depart on an international vacation this summer, many of which take place in August after camp and sports programs come to an end and before school begins again. With bag and weight limitations, travelers must make important decisions about the items they pack. What many travelers may not realize is that some of the most useful tools for traveling can be downloaded right onto their mobile phones and save them time, frustration and money so they can enjoy as much of their vacation as possible.
• AllSubway: Save time and money by sticking to public transit. This app helps you navigate 151 different metropolitan transit systems across the globe like a pro. Best yet, it’s available off-line so you’re able to navigate anywhere, anytime.
• iTranslate: Another free app that will save the day! Need to converse with a waitress or hotel manager and forgot how to say a word or phrase? The iTranslate app can translate more than 60 languages and also includes an extensive dictionary at your fingertips.
• Vonage Mobile: International phone fees can become an unexpected high-ticket cost without proper pre-planning. Before you take off, invite friends and family to download the free Vonage Mobile app and you can keep them up-to-date on your awesome adventure, whether by phone, text, video or all of the above! International calls to the U.S. are free over Wi-Fi. With over two-thirds of European hotels providing free Wi-Fi, it’s easier than ever! Imagine the trip treat you can buy the family with the money saved!
• TripAdvisor Offline City Guides: This free city guide will come in handy when you find yourself strolling through a European city with a sudden urge to grab a bite or deciding last minute to take a day trip to an Italian coastal village. With this app, you can read reviews of restaurants, attractions and hotels with no data roaming charges.
• BillPin: Traveling around the world with friends or extended family is one of the best parts of being abroad, but figuring out rent and splitting expensive checks at restaurants can be tricky, especially in foreign currency! This free app helps track expenses and exchange rates - and avoid the awkward “you owe me” conversation.
Friday, July 26, 2013
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Refund.me Expands To India, France And Poland Lowering It's Fees To Better Defend Air Passenger Rights Worldwide
The ‘no win, no fee’ online platform and mobile app announces it is reducing its commission to only 15% of successful claims as it celebrates its first anniversary
In just 1 year since its launch, the worldwide service provider has already processed claims from 73 countries and 153 airlines
refund.me, recently recognized for its innovative design by the Sabre Travel Network, takes another important step in its mission to defend passenger rights worldwide
refund.me, the international service provider which helps passengers claim their right to compensation for flight delays, cancellations, missed connections and diversions, has announced its newest international expansion to India, France and Poland. With an estimated combined annual traffic of 300 million passengers, these three markets represent a significant milestone in refund.me’s mission to defend passenger rights worldwide.
refund.me’s website, widget and mobile app are now offered in five languages: English, German, Spanish, French and Polish. The cloud-based, largely automated and specially developed system provides passengers a real-time assessment of their claim based on refund.me’s worldwide flight monitoring. The system also relies on an algorithm which takes into account the complex EU regulation which defines compensations of up to € 600 ($800) for flight delays, cancellations, missed connections and diversions.
In light of its success in its first year of operation, refund.me has lowered its commission to only 15% (plus VAT) of successful claims. This comes as refund.me continues to strive to become the traveller’s best friend and to make passenger rights more accessible worldwide. The company will continue to operate on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis which includes going to court at no extra cost to enforce valid claims.
Eve Buechner, founder and CEO of refund.me, underlined: “We are pleased to announce our expansion to India, France and Poland and the reduction of our commission to 15% as these are important steps forward in our mission to defend passenger rights worldwide. Our presence in these markets means hundreds of millions of passengers will have convenient access to their rightful compensation. Clearly a worldwide platform and mobile app like ours is a hassle-free solution that passengers accept to effectively claim their right.”
In April of this year, refund.me also launched in the UK, US, Spain, Argentina and Mexico in its push to become the international traveler's best friend.
This international expansion to three rapidly growing travel markets comes as refund.me is celebrating its one-year anniversary today, July 24th. After its launch last year, refund.me received its very first claim the following day and has gone on to process claims from 73 countries, 153 airlines and over 260 airports, winning passengers’ trust across the planet. Likewise, it has been recognized by the Sabre Travel Network for its innovative business model and its utility for travel agents and travelers alike.
Moreover, refund.me has rolled out its brand new 2.0 widget, offering affected passengers a more user-friendly and accurate service. Indeed, since its birth a year ago, refund.me has consistently worked to improve its product and is proud to unveil this new widget which will help passengers effectively claim their right.
Despite a recently proposed revision to EU Regulation EC 261/2004 which could increase the threshold for compensation to 5, 9 or even 12 hours, passengers can continue to conveniently claim their right thanks to refund.me.
The process is simple: To file a complaint, the affected passenger quickly fills out an online form, and refund.me handles the process from there. The customer is only required to pay a now reduced 15% commission (plus statutory VAT) only if the claim is settled successfully. This allows passengers to avoid the complicated and time-consuming bureaucratic process and claim up to € 600 ($800) simply by entering their flight and other data in the Advanced Business Logic (ABL) of the cloud-based refund.me system.
refund.me is an international service provider that helps passengers enforce their claims to compensation for flight delays, cancellations and missed connections quickly and easily. Thanks to its specially developed, high-precision Advanced Business Logic (ABL) system, claims can be submitted through the website or the free mobile app. refund.me can quickly enforce claims of up to €600 according to EU Regulation 261/2004.
This start-up created in July 2012 has made it its mission to make passenger rights worldwide transparent and attainable. Under its current services, refund.me also helps bus, ship and rail passengers file and enforce their claims under the relevant EU regulations (EU 181/11, EU 1177/10, EC 1371/07). With regard to air travel, passenger rights have been enforced for hundreds of customers in 73 countries from 5 continents and 153 airlines.
The corporate headquarters of refund.me are located in Potsdam.
Monday, July 22, 2013
Contributed by Jennifer Polland And Melissa Stanger
New York may be one of the most expensive cities in the world, but many people don't realize that it's entirely possible to enjoy even the city's swankiest spots for free or cheap.
From a subterranean food court inside the Plaza Hotel to little-known lunch deals at some of the city's best restaurants, here are 14 ways to enjoy New York City's fanciest venues without spending a fortune.
Jean-Georges is known as one of the best restaurants in New York City, but a meal there can cost hundreds of dollars — except at lunch, when there's a $38 price-fixed menu, one of the best deals in the city.
Each year, millions of visitors pass through the Metropolitan Museum of Art and pay the full admission price of $25. But many people don't realize that admission is "suggested." (It actually costs as little as a penny to enter the museum.) The best time to visit is on a Saturday night, when the museum is open late and has live music without the crowds.
Located in the basement of the Plaza Hotel, the Plaza Food Hall is home to dozens of food vendors selling everything from sushi to macarons at (relatively) affordable prices.
King & Grove, a boutique hotel in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, has a gorgeous rooftop pool with a spacious deck that's open to the public for a small fee of $35 ($45 on weekends).
Manhattan's biggest spenders drop millions on priceless works of art at Christie's Auction House, but the masterpieces are open for free public viewing before each auction.
People drool over the dry-aged steaks at Brooklyn's iconic Peter Luger Steakhouse, but steak for two costs about $100. What most people don't know is that at lunchtime, Peter Luger offers a hamburger made with the same premium-quality meat for $11.50—a fraction of the dinner price.
With cover fees and jacked-up drink costs, a night at a jazz club can cost a hefty amount—but not at Dizzy's Club at Jazz at Lincoln Center, a beautiful upscale jazz venue inside the Time Warner Center with large windows overlooking Central Park. Top acts play at the late-night sessions on Tuesdays and Wednesday for a fraction of the price of a normal session. (There's a $5 cover and a $5 menu.)
Hidden inside the elegant lobby of midtown's upscale Le Parker Meridien Hotel, there's a raucous hole-in-the wall burger joint (aptly called the Burger Joint) that's tucked behind a heavy red curtain. The menu is simple—burgers, fries, beer—but cheap.
The historic Empire Hotel serves classy cocktails at its rooftop bar, which has views of Lincoln Center and the Upper West Side. Overtime NYC, a happy hour deals site, offers great deals at this hotel, like half-priced drinks at the bar.
The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) houses the latest and greatest modern art exhibits, including the infamous Rain Room. Admission normally costs $25, but on Friday nights visitors can pay what they wish.
Tickets to performances by the New York Philharmonic are typically expensive and hard to come by. But the world-renowned symphony orchestra plays for free in several New York City parks during the summer Concerts in the Park series.
The price of Broadway tickets has skyrocketed in recent years, but it's still possible to get discounted tickets to the hottest Broadway shows at the TKTS booth in Times Square, which offers discounts of up to 50% off to same-day performances.
New York is home to some of the most exclusive—and most expensive—restaurants in the world. Twice a year, dozens of the city's best restaurants offer affordable price-fixed meals during NYC Restaurant Week. Summer Restaurant Week starts on Monday.
The hipster-friendly Ace Hotel in Manhattan's trendy NoMad neighborhood is home to Michelin-starred restaurant The Breslin, Stumptown Coffee Roasters, and luxe rooms that cost upwards of $250 a night. But it's possible to enjoy the hotel's cool ambiance—and free Wi-Fi—by hanging out in the lobby.
Vivian Giang/Business Insider
Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/free-and-cheap-things-to-do-in-nyc-2013-7?op=1#ixzz2Zoqm5oLe
Friday, July 19, 2013
Seven Downtown Disney® Resort Area Hotels In Central Florida Offering Enticing “End of Summer Value Rates”
. . . Special Rates At The Seven Official Walt Disney World® Hotels
Provide A Great Way To Take in Such Upcoming Events As
Night of Joy, Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, and
The Epcot® International Food & Wine Festival;
& To Experience New Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom® Park
There is still time to make plans to experience the special events being conducted at the Walt Disney World® Resort in Central Florida this fall, such as Night of Joy, Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, and the Epcot® International Food & Wine Festival. A great way to experience these events, and/or to check out the wonders of the recently expanded New Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom® Park, is by taking advantage of the special“End of Summer Value Rates” that are being offered by the seven Downtown Disney® Resort Area Hotels from August 1-September 30, 2013. In addition to their ideal location an easy walk to the shopping, dining and entertainment venues at the Downtown Disney® Area, these seven Official Walt Disney World® Resort Hotels also provide complimentary shuttle transportation every 30 minutes to all four Walt Disney World® Theme Parks, two water parks, and to Downtown Disney®. As a bonus, guests at these hotels also receive the “2013 Downtown Disney Deals” booklet that features exclusive discounts and specials from over 30 merchants on Downtown Disney® area dining, entertainment and shopping.
The Downtown Disney® Resort Area Hotels’ “End of Summer Value Rates” are:
· Best Western Lake Buena Vista Resort Hotel – rates from $75 per room, per night
· Buena Vista Palace Hotel & Spa – rates from $95 per room, per night
· DoubleTree Suites by Hilton – rates from $109 per suite, per night
· Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista – rates from $89 per room, per night August 1-15, and from $79 per room, per night August 16-September 30, 2013
· Holiday Inn Lake Buena Vista Downtown – rates from $93 per room, per night
· Royal Plaza Hotel – rates from $79 per room, per night
· Wyndham Lake Buena Vista Resort – rates from $80 per room, per night.
For more information on the “End of Summer Value Rates,” or to make a reservation, visit www.DowntownDisneyHotels.com , specificallyhttp://www.downtowndisneyhotels.com/2013-summer-value-rates (or http://tinyurl.com/kqnbvkd ). Some blackout dates may apply.
Taking advantage of the special rates also will enable you to enjoy such other benefits of staying at one of the seven Downtown Disney® Resort Area Hotels as:
· Disney tickets available to purchase at each hotel
· Advance tee times and discounts at all Walt Disney World® golf courses
· Disney Merchandise store located in each hotel
· and ability to book advance dining and dinner show reservations for all restaurants across the Walt Disney World® Resort.
Special events at the Walt Disney World® Resort include:
· Night of Joy – September 6–7, 2013, at Magic Kingdom® Park
· Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party – select nights September 10 – November 1, 2013, at Magic Kingdom® Park
· Epcot® International Food & Wine Festival – September 27 - November 11, 2013, at Epcot®.
New Fantasyland, which is the largest expansion in the history of Magic Kingdom® Park, offers more immersive enchantment and interactive experiences. It features two new themed areas: Enchanted Forest and Storybook Circus. Enchanted Forest attractions and experiences include Under The Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid; Be Our Guest Restaurant; Enchanted Tales with Belle; Ariel’s Grotto; and Gaston’s Tavern. Storybook Circus attractions include: The Barnstormer; Dumbo The Flying Elephant; Casey Jr Splash ‘N’ Soak Station; Pete’s Silly Sideshow; and Fantasyland Station. New Fantasyland will feature more additions through 2014, which will include Princess Fairytale Hall, and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.
Among the many coupons featured in the “2013 Downtown Disney Deals” booklet are discounts at Rainforest Café, T-Rex, Wolfgang Puck Express, Steve Baker Caricatures, Lego Imagination Center, Planet Hollywood Downtown Disney®, House of Blues® Restaurant, La NoubaTM by Cirque du Soleil®, Cap’n Jack’s Restaurant, Bongo’s Cuban Café®, and Ghirardelli Ice Cream & Chocolate Shop.
“This is a great time to visit the Walt Disney World® Resort,” said Ed Gilbert, chairperson of the Downtown Disney Resort Area Hotels’ marketing committee. “The attendance at the theme parks is often lighter, and all of the special events at the Walt Disney World® parks are wonderful. Taking advantage of the ‘End of Summer Value Rates’ is a great way to experience the many offerings of the Walt Disney World Resort.”
Downtown Disney® Resort Area Hotels (www.DowntownDisneyHotels.com) is a consortium of seven Official Walt Disney World® Resort hotels that includes: the 18-story Best Western Lake Buena Vista Resort Hotel, surrounded by 12 acres of lush tropical landscaping; the newly renovated, sophisticated 1,014-room Buena Vista Palace Hotel & Spa; the 229-suite Doubletree Suites by Hilton, the only all-suite resort hotel in the Downtown Disney® Resort Area; the 814-room, full-serviceHilton Orlando Resort, featuring seven on-site restaurants; the Holiday Inn Lake Buena Vista Downtown, which recently completed a $35 million top-to-bottom renovation; the 394-room Royal Plaza Hotel, featuring beautiful oversized guest rooms with two double beds or a king bed, plus a pullout double sofa; and Wyndham Lake Buena Vista Resort, featuring new rooms, a new lobby area, and two outdoor pools.
With nearly 30 food and beverage outlets and restaurants, more than 3,600 rooms and scores of amenities, the Downtown Disney® Resort Area Hotels offer a rate, space and menu to please every guest. Located in the heart of the Downtown Disney® area, these properties are within walking distance of some of the area's best shopping, dining and entertainment.
For reservations, or more information, visit www.DowntownDisneyHotels.com
Thursday, July 18, 2013
Silversea Cruises' Silver Shadow has failed its most recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention inspection, the first time the ship has done so. Silver Shadow earned a score of 84 during a June 17 surprise sanitation inspection.
The CDC's surprise cruise ship cleanliness exam is conducted twice a year, with an 86 considered passing.
Although details of the inspection are not yet available on the CDS's Web site, the cruise line confirmed the failure to Cruise Critic.
"On June 17, Silversea's Silver Shadow received an atypical score of 84 during the Vessel Sanitation Program inspection in Skagway," the line said in a prepared statement. "Silversea is deeply disappointed by this specific and only unsatisfactory score and has taken immediate measures to address the issues identified in the inspection report."
In the statement the company confirmed its commitment to maintaining the "highest standards" in all areas of operations, including sanitation.
"Following a thorough review of Silver Shadow's procedures, we have taken the necessary measures to ensure that that standards are the best in the industry," the line said.
Silversea spokesman, Brad Ball, declined to comment on what measures, specifically, the line has taken.
Before this failing grade, Silver Shadow had never earned a score lower than 92. Its previous inspection, on September 3, 2012, earned it a 95.
"Silversea is sincerely sorry for the shortcomings in Silver Shadow's evaluation and is committed to ensuring that future inspections result in higher scores in line with the usual Silversea standards."
Cruise Critic's calls to the CDC have not been returned.
Contributed by Dori Saltzman