Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Conde Nast Traveler's Top 15 Places to Go in 2015

Cartagena, Colombia

Cartagena, a perfectly preserved 17th-century port city on the Caribbean coast of Colombia, has had a rough ride over the centuries. From pirates to prostitutes (aren't they synonymous?) the city has weathered its fair share of drama—thanks to everything from Gabriel García Márquez's remarkable novels of "magical realism" to the less-than-palatable shenanigans of U.S. Secret Service agents in 2012. Tips: Don't take a carriage ride through town, and avoid very late night stumbles through San Diego and Centro. Do, however, explore the up-and-coming Getsemaní neighborhood for its raucous Wednesday-night parties and interesting graffiti art. The chic Viceroy hotel group may deliver a new bolt-hole soon in a converted convent.—David Jefferys

Santa Teresa, Costa Rica

New direct flights into Liberia, in Guanacaste (like JetBlue’s route from Boston), slash the drive time to this resort town, which has attracted the likes of Gisele Bündchen and Tom Brady. In Playa Hermosa, Koji’s serves the best sushi and Japanese food in Costa Rica at wooden tables under strings of fairy lights. The ginger pork and super-fresh sushi rolls are a light alterna- tive to plantains and gallo pinto in the heat(506-2640- 0815; entrées from $20).—Alice Newell-Hanson*

Photo courtesy JTB Photos/Getty Images

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The furnaces are long gone, but this city’s on fire. Pittsburgh reinvigorates my love of art every time I visit. The Carnegie Museum of Art, The Warhol, Mattress Factory, and Wood Street Galleries have been on a curatorial tear in recent years. The restaurant scene is also alight, led by Cure and Bar Marco, but hit the old school Primanti Brothers for the best sandwich of your life.—Brent Burket

Mexico City, Mexico

Mexico City has had a hard time divesting itself of a reputation for being crime-ridden, traffic congested, and highly polluted. And though traffic and air quality are ongoing problems, this sprawling metropolis of over 20 million inhabitants has successfully transformed itself into a vibrant and relatively safe place to visit with a great restaurant scene, world-class museums, and a sophistication befitting its position as one of the world's top cities. —Stephen Orr


I'm very interested in going to Rwanda. The horrific inter-tribal genocide of the 1990s is a thing of the past but still remains the event most identified with this country in the mind of Americans. Instead, it should be more known for its beautiful high-altitude forests, its lakes, and Kigali, its capital city. Paul Kagame, Rwanda's highly effective if controversially autocratic president, is credited with putting the country's economy on the rise. And most of all, I want to see the mountain gorillas in their home in the Virunga Mountains.—SO


Myanmar is like Southeast Asia's last frontier, where almost everything still feels undiscovered and off the beaten path after decades of military rule. But go now—luxury hotels are springing up in Yangon (the capital), and it probably won't be long before tourist hordes descend on temple-studded Bagan, making it feel (unfortunately) like another Angkor Wat in terms of the insane crowds. —John Wogan

Nassau, The Bahamas

The islands’ busiest airport, Lynden Pindling International, in Nassau, completed a $410 million expansion last year, and the 988-acre Baha Mar resort opens on Nassau’s Cable Beach in 2015, just in time for spring break. Of the four hotels within the complex, we’re most excited about the Rosewood(1 Baha Mar Blvd.; 242-677- 9750;; doubles from $800). Play croquet on is U.S.– regulation lawns, then head to the hotel’s Riva Bar for a Dark ’n’ Stormy made with Bahamian rum. —ANH
Photo courtesy Fallbrook/Getty Images

Belgrade, Serbia

The former capital of Yugoslavia has a tough reputation that belies a vibrant culture that seems both ancient and modern. Visit the Palace of Serbia and the Hotel Jugoslavija (pristine examples of mid-century modernism), check out the Nikola Tesla Museum, walk the old-town neighborhood of Skadarlija, or explore St. Sava—the world’s largest Orthodox church. The nightlife scene is also one of Europe’s most underrated. —Calder Quinn


Helsinki always gets outshined by Scandinavian siblings Stockholm and Copenhagen, but the Finnish capital is an underrated (and more reasonably priced) joy. From the gorgeous Helsinki Cathedral (pictured) to the Rock Church and the Seurasaari Open-Air Museum, there's no shortage of striking design. Start the day with Karelian rye pastries stuffed with hearty rice pudding and end it with long drink, a gin-and-grapefruit-soda cocktail invented specifically for the 1952 Summer Olympics and so beloved by locals that it stayed well past its temporary run.—Lilit Marcus


The Berlin Wall came down 25 years ago, but you can still see hints of the former East and West cities as you walk through the German capital. There are tasteful, well-thought-out museums about the Stasi, the Holocaust, and the city itself, but there's also plenty of light amid the darkness. By day, have coffee and cake in a cool, design-focused coffee shop like Westberlin; by night, check out a band or DJ set at iconic live music venue Lido and dance til the wee hours atBerghain, which is so cutting-edge that there are no phones allowed.—LM

Cape Town

Industry insiders are abuzz about this vibrant South African city, where striking mountainous scenery, gorgeous beaches, and the chance to get up close to amazing marine and wildlife now competes for travelers’ attention with an elevated shopping, dining, and nightlife scene. The V&A Waterfront is a must for exploring and taking a boat ride to visit Robben Island’s rich history; adventurers shouldn’t miss taking a cable car ride up the spectacular Table Mountain or driving a rented sidecar—our favorite way to view Cape Town.


Don't get us wrong: Traveler enjoys a long weekend in Austin as much as the next guy. But if Austin is the hipster-cool college party of Texas, Houston is the adult dinner party where we prefer to be wined and dined. Is Houston the new "it" city?, we asked in September—it seems that way, with plenty of hip places to eat, stay, and play in the bustling Texas city. —Katherine Shilcutt


Under Obama, traveling to Cuba legally from the U.S. has gotten much easier—whether on a group tour or a"people-to-people" trip. Beyond the embargo, the art scene in Cuba thrives—it's full of exciting and experimental work, and much of it is largely affordable. You can even bring artwork back with you to the States without much hassle. —Liz Dosta

Milford Sound, New Zealand

Thirteen years and six films later, Peter Jackson’s re-imagining of Tolkien’s tomes is complete. (We think.) As the stand-in for Middle-earth, New Zealand may never be the same again—but now that filming is over, the hobbit-seeking hordes might go elsewhere. Now’s the time to plan a trip to Milford Sound in the South Island, where you can hike the Routeburn or see locations that appeared in the Lord of the Rings films. (Milford Sound, for example, stood in for Fangorn Forest.) —Laura Dannen Redman

Guangzhou, China

China Southern Airlines has launched direct flights between JFK and the trading port of Guangzhou—a blessing for business travelers. Plus, Guangzhou’s arts scene is growing almost as quickly as its economy. Check out the Rem Koolhaas–designed Times Museum, then fill up on dim sum in the buzzy Taojin Lu neighborhood. —Alice Newell-Hanson
Photo courtesy Luxizeng/Getty Images

Travelore Breaking News: 35 killed, 42 injured in Shanghai stampede during New Year's celebration


SHANGHAI (AP) - Thirty-five people have been killed in a stampede s in downtown Shanghai, China's state-run Xinhua News Agency is reporting.

The report early Thursday cites the Shanghai government in saying that another 42 people were injured.

The deaths and injuries occurred at Shanghai's popular riverfront Bund area, which can be jammed with spectators for major events.

One Xinhua photo from the scene showed at least one person doing chest compressions on a shirtless man while several other people lay on the ground nearby, amid debris. Another photo showed the area ringed by police.

The cause of the stampede remained under investigation, the Xinhua report said.
Shanghai's historic Bund riverfront runs along an area of often narrow streets amid restored old buildings, shops and tourist attractions. The China Daily newspaper in February reported that the city's population was more than 24 million at the end of 2013.

Travelore Tips: How To Plan A Trip To The US Virgin Islands

Fringed by the Atlantic Ocean to the north and Caribbean Sea in the south, the US Virgin Islands is the Caribbean island fantasy that many holidaymakers long for. Crystal-clear turquoise waters nibble sweetly at white-sand beaches generously sprinkled among many islets and cays – it’s little wonder the archipelago draws sailing enthusiasts from around the world. Heck, if you’re an American citizen you don’t even need a passport to get here. For those who prefer to bed down on land rather than water, the islands of St Thomas, St Croix and St John are the most popular bases for indulging in sun, sea and sand.
Trunk Bay Beach, St John. Image by Bill Ross / Fuse / GettyTrunk Bay Beach, St John. Image by Bill Ross / Fuse / Getty

St Thomas – the action island

St Thomas is the bustling heart of the US Virgin Islands, where forest-clad mountains jostle for space with impressive all-inclusive resorts that lead to vibrant harbors and stroll-worthy beachfronts, cosmopolitan fine-dining and glitzy shopping. Welcome to the bazaar.

Defining experiences

Charlotte Amalie, the capital and largest city of the US Virgin Islands, is one of the busiest and most beautiful ports in the CaribbeanBut head downtown and you will get a glimpse of the island’s colonial past as a Danish colony.
Proud heritage monuments such as the fiery red Fort Christian and golden Frederick Lutheran Church offer pops of color along the waterfront and down cobblestone streets. Continue the historical trail by climbing Charlotte Amalie’s ‘step streets’, which cut through almost all of the hills ascending from the harbor area.
Outside of town, the exhilarating zip-line tour over the rainforest offered by Tree Limin’ Extreme ( can be combined with a tour of the historic St Peter Great House & Botanical Gardens (, the highlight of which is a nature trail resplendent with waterfalls, tropical birds and more than 150 species of Caribbean plants and fruits.
Fiery Fort Christian in Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas. Image by Diane Macdonald / Photographer's Choice / GettyFiery Fort Christian in Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas. Image by Diane Macdonald / Photographer's Choice / Getty

Where to party

Hanging out – or “limin’”, as the locals call it – is a lively affair on St Thomas, filled with music, dance and general irreverence.
Shimmy to the rhythm of a steel pan or Calypso musical performance at Coconut Cove ( or catch a show at Iggie’s Bolongo Bay, where the colorful costumes, characters and pulsating music offer a snapshot of the razzle-dazzle of St Thomas’s annual Carnival celebrations.

Where to chill

Magens Bay is the most popular of the island’s 40 beaches, and it's just a hop, skip and a jump from Charlotte Amalie. This mile-long stretch is often crowded, but what’s not to love about a heart-shaped beach? Avoid the crowds by waiting until mid-afternoon to go for a swim.
Coki Beach near Redhook has crystal-clear waters beloved by thousands of multicolored fish. Dip beneath the waves on a scuba-diving tour or float on top with a snorkel and fins for a closer look at the Caribbean ocean’s bounty; gear rentals can be arranged right on the beach.

Where to eat

For a local dining experience, head to Gladys’ Café in downtown Charlotte Amalie for tender jerk pork, stewed chicken with rice peas and fried yellowtail snapper. Douse your dinner in Gladys’ homemade hot sauce and then, if your taste buds can take it, pick up a bottle to take home as a souvenir.

Where to stay

The historic Hotel 1829 ( in downtown Charlotte Amalie is the expansive former mansion of a French merchant. It has bags of antique charm and cozy rooms that open to beautiful gardens full of tropical plants. It's also home to a two-story waterfall fountain cast from 12,000 amber stones.

Getting there & away

The Cyril E King International Airport  is in Charlotte Amalie, and is the islands' biggest international airport (though international flights also run to St Croix).

St John — the unplugged island

Nature haven, walkers’ wonderland, scuba-diving sweet stuff… If St Thomas is the wired big brother, St John is the archipelago’s chilled-out little sister. With two-thirds of the island protected as a national park, this is the island that outdoor enthusiasts make a beeline for. Relax, unwind, maybe explore. Repeat.
Crumbling sugar mill ruin on St John, Virgin Islands National Park. Image by Michele Falzone / AWL Images / GettyCrumbling sugar mill ruin on St John, Virgin Islands National Park. Image by Michele Falzone / AWL Images / Getty

Defining experiences

The great outdoors and the Virgin Islands National Park take center stage on St John, both above and below the water. Trunk Bay Beach is a lovely scenic arch of sand (so popular it charges an entrance fee), home to a 225-yard underwater snorkel trail.
There’s also excellent snorkeling at Salt Pond Bay Beach ( and trails to explore on land. Ram’s Head Trail ends on a 200ft-high cliff overlooking the Caribbean Sea and a sea-level trail takes you to the rocky shores of Drunk Bay.
Salomon Beach can be reached from the Lind Point Trail, which starts behind the National Park Visitors Center in Cruz Bay. Its winding path brings you to a palm-tree-lined beach so secluded that some think clothing is optional.

Where to eat

Head to Coral Bay in the east of the island for callaloo (stew made of spinach and okra) or fried fish at Miss Lucy’s beachfront restaurant. On Sundays, diners settle in early for Lucy’s famed jazz brunch.

Where to stay

Befitting St John’s reputation for natural living, Concordia Eco-Tents in the island’s East End area, offers imaginative wood-framed eco-tents strung together by boardwalks up a steep hillside. Killer views and yoga classes complete the picture.

Getting there & away

St John has no international airport or cruise port. To get there, it’s a short four-mile ferry ride (departing every hour) from the St Thomas docks at Charlotte Amalie and Red Hook. Passengers disembark at Cruz Bay, a pastel-hued ferry port close to a clutch of stores, restaurants, car-rental firms, dive shops and bars.

St Croix – the culture island

Seven different national flags have, at one time or another, flown over St Croix.  Amid the cultural melee, Spanish, French and Danish influences have all played a part in making St Croix the culture capital it is today. The “big island”, as it is often simply called, may be the largest of the US Virgin Islands but still has small-town charm.
On the St Croix heritage trail. Image by MyLoupe / UIG / GettyOn the St Croix heritage trail. Image by MyLoupe / UIG / Getty

Defining experiences

Two hundred sites of historical interest criss-cross the island and together they make up the St Croix Heritage Trail – a self-guided driving tour through the historic sites and natural areas of the island (pick up a heritage trail map,, to plan your route).
Highlights include the dungeons, cannons and custard-colored citadel of the Christiansted National Historic Site; the Estate Whim Plantation Museum; and Fredericksted, aka Freedom City – the site where slaves were emancipated under the former Danish West Indies.
Take a tour of the rum distillery where locals' favorite elixir Cruzan Rum has been produced for more than 300 years and see firsthand how it is made.
Wreck-diving around St Croix. Image by Steve Simonsen / LPI / GettyWreck-diving around St Croix. Image by Steve Simonsen / LPI / Getty
Beneath the sea, Buck Island supports an 18,000 acre coral reef teeming with fish and sea turtles, a sea garden and an underwater snorkeling trail; above water, it’s thronged with wildlife including brown pelicans. You can visit on a day tour from Christiansted.
Cane Bay is a popular day-tripping beach for families but it’s also rated one of the top dive sites in the Caribbean. Scuba junkies flock here to dive a spectacular wall, which slopes from 40ft to more than 3,200ft under the sea.

Where to eat

Singh’s Fast Food serves up rotis stuffed with chicken, beef and shrimp as well as popular street foods such as doubles (sandwiches filled with chickpeas and spices). For a treat on a hot day, try a scoop of guava or gooseberry ice cream made with fresh local fruit at Armstrong’s ice-cream parlor in Frederiksted, where one family have been churning up the sweet stuff for more than 100 years.

Where to stay

Carringtons Inn ( is a lovely former private home in Christiansted. Sitting atop a hillside, this adults-only gem has five spacious poolside rooms with expansive views of the Caribbean Sea and historic harbor city. Homemade breakfast is dished up daily and the inn is well-located for horseback riding, snorkeling, diving and golf nearby.

Getting there & away

You can fly directly into St Croix's Henry E Rohlsen Airport (6 miles southwest of Christiansted) from the US or, if you decide to island-hop, take a seaplane that departs from the dock in downtown Charlotte Amalie on St Thomas, which arrive on St Croix in as little as 20 minutes. There is no ferry service between St Thomas and St Croix.
 Melissa Noel· 

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Original Cast Of "The Love Boat" Reunites To Decorate Princess Cruises' Rose Parade Float

Original cast of "The Love Boat" reunites to decorate Princess Cruises' Rose Parade floatCast of "The Love Boat," sings the show's theme song in front of Princess CruisesRose Parade float
The original cast of "The Love Boat" gathered to decorate Princess Cruises' Rose Parade float, as well as participate in a myriad of national and local media interviews which celebrated the reunion of this beloved cast.
Princess Cruises, one of the most famous names in cruise vacations, is widely known for its starring role in one of television's most iconic shows, "The Love Boat." Their float in the Rose Parade launches Princess' 50th anniversary year and pays tribute to the light-hearted TV show which played such an integral role in the cruise line's early history.
The original cast of "The Love Boat" will ride on the float, which comes on the heels of this ensemble christening Princess' newest cruise ship Regal Princess to kick off the company's golden anniversary year.
Named "50 Years of Inspiring Travel," the float depicts Regal Princess symbolically sailing through the world's most fascinating cruise destinations and iconic landmarks that guests have experienced with Princess over the past 50 years. Viewers will recognize the Sydney Opera House, the leaning tower of Pisa, the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, a traditional Japanese pagoda, the Golden Gate Bridge and the tropical flowers and water falls of the Caribbean, Hawaii and Mexico, as well as the majestic mountains and wildlife as featured on Alaska cruises – just some of the sights travelers will see when sailing with Princess, whose ships visit 350 destinations around the globe.
The float is 60 feet long and 24 feet high with more than 24,000 flowers and natural materials. Flowers include roses, orchids and carnations, dendrobs, tulips, cymbidiums, delphiniums, gerbera daisies. Regal Princess will be covered in large white navy beans, white mums and button mums. The water will be accented by dark blue and white iris. Potatoes, green grapes and seaweed will also be used on parts of the float.

Crystal Cruises Kicks Off 25th Anniversary Of Luxury Cruising With Special Celebrations

Crystal Cruises kicks off 25th anniversary of luxury cruising with special celebrations

Celebrating two and a half decades as a leader in luxury travel, Crystal Cruises is embarking upon a year of commemorative celebrations, cruises hosted by the company's leadership – both past and present – plus much more. That is, more itineraries (63) sailing to more ports of call (224) in more countries (65), including more than double the number of maiden calls (24) in 2014.
Kicking off Crystal's 25th Anniversary is the line's first-ever circumnavigation of the globe. The 108-day, round-trip Miami "Silver Celebration World Cruise," begins January 14, 2015 on Crystal Serenity and is the line's 20th annual epic journey. Crystal Symphony begins 2015 immersed in a dazzling Asia series featuring Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, China and Japan. In addition to the new and favorite highlights of the year's global itineraries, new onboard entertainment and amenities, plus enriching experiences ashore punctuate travelers' Crystal experiences in the coming year.
"A hallmark of Crystal's philosophy for more than two decades has been to pioneer new programs, amenities, experiences and destinations, offering luxury travelers a truly unique journey each time they step aboard a Crystal ship," says Crystal president and COO, Edie Rodriguez. "In 2015, we're continuing that philosophy, pushing the limits and visiting new locales while celebrating the unchanging values that have made us the best in the world."
Of the 224 ports scheduled in 65 countries, two dozen of them are brand new for Crystal ships. The line's unprecedented calls include lesser-known locales like Albany, Australia; Ambodifotatra and Taolanaro, Madagascar; Arrecife, Canary Islands; Richards Bay, South Africa; Sanary-sur-Mer, France; Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; Souda Bay/Chania, Greece; Aomori, Japan; Archangel, Korsakov and Solovetsky Islands, Russian Federation; Belawan, Indonesia; Rijeka, Croatia; Bodo, Narvik and Oye/Hjorundfjord, Norway; Helgoland, Germany; Londonderry/Greencastle and Galway, Ireland; Kochi, Japan; Sanya, China and Scarborough, Trinidad and Tobago.
On board, guests can revel in the celebration of Crystal's 25th Anniversary with special parties and receptions and European voyages hosted by Rodriguez and the company's Chairman Nobuyoshi Kuzuya. Additionally, the festivities continue on four Trans-Atlantic, South America and Asia itineraries hosted by long beloved Crystal captains Glenn Edvardsen, Reidulf Maalen, Helge Brudvik and John Økland.
The lineup of festive occasions adds to the growing list of features guests can enjoy in 2015 both on board and ashore:
Crystal Symphony Makeover: Crystal Symphony emerged from a $20 million-plus dry dock redesign in the fall, featuring a new outdoor Fitness Garden; new equipment in the indoor Fitness Center; new designs in the main lobby area and bar; redesigned spa and casino spaces; additional PURE allergy-friendly staterooms and technological upgrades.
"My Life: The Music of Billy Joel.": The newest show aboard Crystal Serenity pays tribute to Grammy Legend Award recipient and Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee, Billy Joel. Led by James Fox, who starred as the "The Piano Man" in the Broadway smash hit Movin Out, the 45 minute performance features more than a dozen timeless hits including "New York State of Mind," "Uptown Girl," "She's Always a Woman to Me" and, of course, "Piano Man." The Galaxy Orchestra and more of Crystal's own acclaimed musicians, vocalists and dancers are featured alongside Fox.
Late Risers' Adventures: Crystal recently introduced a collection of shore-side excursions scheduled especially for travelers who don't want to miss the adventures ashore – or their beauty sleep. The "Late Risers" excursion offer the same enriching experiences in the world's most stunning and significant destinations, beginning at 11:00 a.m. or noon, depending on the itinerary.
Sightseeing on the Run: In response to a growing active traveler quotient, guests can now see the sights – and maintain fitness -- with Crystal's new "Site Running" Adventures.
Free Wi-Fi: Crystal Society members (our "club" of repeat guests) receive 60 minutes of complimentary internet access for every day of the cruise. For example, a 10-day cruise will offer 600 free minutes per person (or 1,200 free minutes per couple), a 12-day cruise offers 720 free minutes per person (or 1,440 free minutes per couple), a 14-day cruise offer 840 free minutes (or 1,680 free minutes per couple), etc., which can be used any time throughout the voyage.