Saturday, February 28, 2015

Travelore Report, Monthly In Print Since 1971: The Top 10 Unexpected Airport Services Including L...

Travelore Report, Monthly In Print Since 1971: The Top 10 Unexpected Airport Services Including L...: Spending extended periods of time at the airport has become an accepted component of the air travel experience. As we all know, shopping, e...

Travelore Report, Monthly In Print Since 1971: The Top 10 Unexpected Airport Services Including L...

Travelore Report, Monthly In Print Since 1971: The Top 10 Unexpected Airport Services Including L...: Spending extended periods of time at the airport has become an accepted component of the air travel experience. As we all know, shopping, e...

Travelore Report, Monthly In Print Since 1971: Ten hidden Gems Of Europe

Travelore Report, Monthly In Print Since 1971: Ten hidden Gems Of Europe: Contributed  by Anita Isalska Lonely Planet  View gallery There’s no place like Paris, Barcelona or Rome ...

Travelore Report, Monthly In Print Since 1971: Where To Eat In Toronto

Travelore Report, Monthly In Print Since 1971: Where To Eat In Toronto: Contributed by  Kathleen Squires Canada's largest city boasts a sizable cultural variety, with 200 ethnic origins speaking 130 lan...

Travelore Report, Monthly In Print Since 1971: 20 Free Attractions In Vegas For The Whole Family

Travelore Report, Monthly In Print Since 1971: 20 Free Attractions In Vegas For The Whole Family: The Vegas Strip (Flickr:  Samantha Celera ) It's no secret that a Las Vegas vacation might involve gambling and partying until the e...

Travelore Report, Monthly In Print Since 1971: The Philadelphia Flower Show Will "Celebrate The M...

Travelore Report, Monthly In Print Since 1971: The Philadelphia Flower Show Will "Celebrate The M...: The Philadelphia Flower Show will "Celebrate the Movies" this year with displays that interpret themes and characters fro...

Top Business Travel Trends For 2015

Top business travel trends for 2015

A recent report by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) suggests that business travel is set to increase 8.6% in 2015, continuing its slow journey toward recovery as more economies emerge from the global recession. However, the expectations of business travelers (and the facilities and services they require) are also evolving at a rapid pace, in line with other changes in technology and society. Here are a few of the key trends expected to influence business travelers in 2015:

Growing influence of millennials

A recent Expedia travel survey reported that tech-savvy millennials (that generation born between 1980 and 2000, currently in their twenties and early thirties) are already travelling for work more frequently than older colleagues, and consequently are exerting an ever-greater influence on the business travel industry.
Compared to more mature generations, millennials tend to have higher expectations when it comes to their travel experience, with a greater interest in perks and services such as free WiFi and loyalty schemes. They're more likely to do extensive online research while planning a trip, but also more likely to book at the last minute. In part, it's their tastes that are driving the demand for value-chic hotels – stylish yet affordable accommodation with all the latest technological features. Indeed, the millennial generation's tech addiction is also a significant factor in the next two key trends for business travel in 2015…

Mobile and wearable technology

With a lot of hype around devices such as Google Glass and the Sony SmartWatch and the Apple Watch expected early in 2015 – wearable tech is expected to surge in popularity by 2016 and become a vital part of the business travel experience.
Several airlines have announced that passengers will be able to download boarding passes onto their wearable tech, whereas in some hotels smartwatches can be equipped with a room key function to save guests from having to fiddle with a separate key card. What's more, operators are starting to develop apps for the devices that allow them to send real-time notifications, updates, offers, directions and more directly to travelers – allowing for a much quicker and more immediate degree of customer service. Taken all together, these functions mean that your travel documents, info and help are always (literally) at hand – a valuable convenience and time saver for business travelers.

DIY travel options

More and more travelers – especially business travelers, who value speed and convenience – are using their mobiles to check reviews, organize trips and make bookings, as well as to perform a variety of other travel-specific tasks that would once have required the assistance of a human being.
From checking in for a flight and downloading boarding passes, to printing luggage tags and checking flight status, self-service options have become a well-established part of air travel, but hotels are now joining the DIY revolution by offering a range of speedy services. For instance, some hotels now offer mobile check-in and check-out, whereas others take room service orders through an app or even provide a "grab-and-go" food service for guests short on time.
As travelers become more and more accustomed to accomplishing a variety of tasks with a swipe of their smartphone, we can expect an increasing variety of self-service travel options. However, there may still be an argument for speaking to a travel professional – as Peter Browne of CTI Corporate Travel International explains, "Travel bookers want to be sure that they are paying the best prices for flights and hotels and, with booking channels increasing, this can be difficult. In some circumstances booking online can actually cost more than booking offline. A good travel management company will be able to identify these savings, but online-only suppliers will not."

Rise of the sharing economy

Another emerging travel trend embraced by millennials in particular are the options provided by the "sharing economy" – another legacy of the cash-strapped recession period. With more and more business travelers taking a DIY approach to travel, it’s not surprising that many are investigating the money-saving possibilities associated with peer-to-peer services, previously the domain of backpackers on a budget.
As Business Travel Show director David Chapple points out, "Companies like Airbnb and Uber will continue to gain traction among business travelers – and continue to cause disruption as they fall under increased pressure to tighten the way they operate." Some new travel search and comparison sites are even starting to include shared-economy options in their results – which means these new transport and accommodation options could put an even bigger dent in the traditional market.

The evolution of conference facilities

A final 2015 trend deals with business travelers' expectations in terms of hotel meeting and conference venues. “Gen Y and Gen Xers have different working habits than previous generations. Yet, few meeting venues cater to the needs that come with changing habits," explains Manchester Airport Marriott Hotel’s GM Hayley Chilver.
To address these changing needs, the hotel will soon feature flexible work spaces that adapt to the needs of delegates, with technology that facilitates the web-based, multimedia approach favored for modern business presentations and conferences. Social and collaborative meetings are now the norm, so hotels need to focus on video conferencing and audio-visual equipment, as well as break-out space where delegates can decompress, chat informally and center their minds over the course of the work day.
Increasingly, conference organizers will seek out venues that allow for this measure of informality, while at the same time provide the added extras – from quality snacks and beverages, to complimentary use of leisure facilities – that suit Millennials' taste for good-value luxury.
Touches like these – which focus on both productivity and well-being – will increasingly be sought out by business travelers and conference organizers in 2015 and beyond.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Travelore News: First American Travel Agency Offers Booked Flights From US to Cuba

Only 90 miles off the coast of Florida yet seemingly out of reach for most Americans, Cuba just got a whole lot closer., an online travel agency, will begin offering fully-booked flights for personal travel to Cuba today. They are claiming to be the first US-based travel agency to offer flights from America to Cuba, via a third country.
Tourism to Cuba remains banned, but travelers who fit into one of 12 categories can visit the country, without a case-by-case approval by the government, as was previously required. Since December, when President Obama announced the new regulations, Cuba tour groups and websites have reported seeing a huge uptick in web traffic and requests related to Cuba.
Contributed by Alexandra Talty,
Follow us on Twitter: @TraveloreReport

Travelore Tips: Top 11 Money-Saving Tips For Visiting London

Squeeze the most out of your trip to London with our top money-saving tips. And the best bit? Many of these affordable options are way more fun than pricey alternatives!

1. Get a Visitor Oyster Card

Possibly the best way to save money in London is by getting yourself an Oyster Card travel smartcard for the city's fantastic public transport system. Using a Visitor Oyster Card is more than 50% cheaper than buying one-day paper Travelcards or single tickets with cash (order one before you arrive to start saving immediately!).
Insider tip: Visitor Oyster Card holders qualify for a range of food, drink and other discounts and special offers.

2. Leg It!

Although you'll want to use public transport for longer journeys (see above), Central London is ideal for walking or cycling using the city's "Boris bike" scheme. This way you see more sights, get some exercise and may even happen across some hidden gems on your journey!
Insider tip: Especially at busy times, it's actually faster to walk between stations such as Covent Garden and Leicester Square.

3. Free Attractions

London has a host of amazing free attractions and landmarks that you can visit without spending a penny. These include top art galleries and museums including Tate ModernTate BritainNational Gallery and British Museum, and outdoor spaces such as Hyde Park and Hampstead Heath.
Insider tip: Don't miss free spectacles such as Changing the Guard.
British Museum

4. Cheap West End Tickets

Seeing a West End theatre show doesn't have to be expensive. Buy your tickets in advance for big discounts. You can also visit the TKTS booth in Leicester Square for cheap, last minute tickets.
Insider tip: 
If you know what you want to see, try lining up at the theatre for stand-by tickets and returns. More tips on buying theatre tickets.

5. The London Pass

The London Pass gets you in free (often with fast-track entry) to more than 60 top London attractions including the Tower of LondonWestminster AbbeyLondon Bridge Experience and the Thames River Cruise.
Insider tip: Get a 10% discount on the London Pass when you buy it through us.

6. Book Online in Advance

If you don't think you'll do enough sightseeing to use a London Pass, you can beat the queues and save on ticketed attractions and exhibitions by booking online and in advance. For example, London Eye tickets are up to 20% cheaper online.
Insider tip: Plan ahead as tickets are often issued in time slots. 

7. Happy Hours

For a money-saving night out, keep an eye on pub happy hours or get yourself along to one of London's many student club nights. With drink promotions, two-for-one deals and more, this is a great way to enjoy yourself without breaking the bank.
Insider tip: Ask at your hostel and check online for the latest student club information.

8. Small Shows

London has thriving live musiccomedy and cabaret scenes. And the great thing about these smaller productions is they're usually a lot more affordable than traditional theatre shows or big-name music gigs.
Insider tip: Cabaret shows crop up in some amazing and unexpected bijoux venues.

9. Cheap Eats

For affordable food, look out for chain restaurants, buffets and traditional cafes. In fine weather, you can purchase pre-made sandwiches from supermarkets or shops such as Pret A Manger and Eat, and dine al fresco in one of London's lovely parks, gardens or courtyards.
Insider tip: Take a packed lunch to More London for some of the best, free sightseeing in town!

10. Bargain Shopping

London is a shoppers' paradise and for those watching the pennies, there's plenty of bargain options. Check out affordable fashion in high street stores such as Primark or search for cheap retro originals at London's vintage emporiums.
Insider tip: Shop at London's wonderful markets, where you can often haggle for bigger savings!

11. Sleep Cheap

For budget accommodation, look no further than London's friendly hostelsbudget hotel chainsB&B's and Halls of Residence (as long as you time your trip for the university holidays!)
Insider tip: Did you know you can camp in London

Travelore News: Paris Becomes Airbnb's Top Home-Sharing City Destination

The Paris skyline at dusk.
The Paris skyline at dusk. Photograph: Alamy

The French capital now has more than 40,000 active listings on Airbnb, putting it ahead of New York and London as the world’s biggest home-sharing city

Paris is now the top destination for home-sharing, according to Airbnb, with more than 40,000 holiday rentals in the French capital listed on the site.
The next most popular city, New York, has 34,ooo listings, while London, which recently announced new legislation in favour of the site, has 23,000.
However, Parisians are not just using Airbnb as hosts. More of them use Airbnb to travel than residents from any other city. On Wednesday, Airbnb announced that it will hold its annual host get-together in Paris in November, a two-day event that brings together members of the Airbnb host community from around the world.
It will be the first time the host get-together has been held outside of San Francisco. Despite being where Airbnb was founded, the tech-savvy city has only around 5,000 listings on the site.
“As the home of Airbnb’s biggest community, Paris is the perfect place for this year’s Airbnb Open,” said Airbnb CEO, Brian Chesky. “Our tight-knit community of Parisians is incredible and we’ve grown from just 4,000 listings in Paris in 2012 to over 40,000 today.”
Loft apartment in central Paris
A loft apartment in central Paris on the Airbnb site
While some cities, such as Barcelona, continue to challenge the legality of Airbnb and the impact it can have on local housing, the authorities in Paris are currently embracing it. First deputy mayor Bruno Julliard was there with Chesky to make the announcement, saying he was “delighted” that the annual host gathering would be held in Paris.
“Innovation and hospitality will be the two pillars for Paris to continue to outperform as the top destination in the world for tourism,” he said.
Other top home-sharing cities include Rio di Janeiro, which has around 18,ooo active listings – 200% more than last year – and Barcelona, which has 15,000.
Contributed by ,
Follow us on Twitter: @TraveloreReport

European Cruise Giant Viking Plans Mississippi River Tours

Contributed by Kevin McGill

(AP) - European river cruise giant Viking, already gaining a high profile in the United States with its sponsorship of popular PBS television shows, announced Tuesday that it will make New Orleans its first North American home port for Mississippi River cruises expected to begin by late 2017.

"They are in an expansion mode and this is the logical place for them to expand," said Mike Driscoll, editor of the industry newsletter Cruise Week.
Viking's move will produce 416 new jobs in New Orleans, according to Gov. Bobby Jindal, who made the announcement at the Port of New Orleans accompanied by Viking Cruises Chairman Torstein Hagen.

Viking, which has operational headquarters in Switzerland, plans construction of six boats at U.S. shipyards over the next three years. Each will be capable of hosting up to 300 passengers for the new American cruises.

New Orleans' tourism also will benefit, Jindal predicted. "It's about thousands of tourists coming to spend money at our hotels, our restaurants, in our city and our shops."

In New Orleans, the boats will dock near the French Quarter. Cruises will head north to Memphis, St. Louis and St. Paul, Minnesota, depending on the season.
"New Orleans is on a roll, and this investment is yet another example of the continued growth across industries in our city," New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said in a news release.
Louisiana's economic development office said the state offered Viking an incentive package that includes a $4.5 million performance-based grant for site preparation at the company's docking locations in Louisiana. Jindal's office said recruiting the company was part of the governor's recent European trip.

River cruising in general has exploded in popularity in recent years, offering a more traditional way to experience cruising than the mass-market megaships that carry thousands of people and are loaded with attractions such as rides and Broadway shows. Some travelers say river ships are a welcome throwback to an earlier era of cruising.
River cruising is also more destination-oriented, with boats navigating narrow waterways to port cities that massive ships could never reach.

On the Mississippi, American Queen Steamboat Company revived the market for overnight cruises beginning in 2012. The company's launch of service was the first time the overnight trips had been offered on the river since 2008. American Cruise Lines also offers trips on the Mississippi.
Carolyn Spencer Brown, editor-in-chief of, called Viking's move "terrific news."
"As we've seen in Europe, especially, when Viking enters a market, it truly helps to broaden awareness," she said. "The Mississippi River is one of the most magical and charming rivers to explore, so we're looking forward to seeing more and more travelers experiencing one of America's most intriguing cruise regions."

Driscoll, also, expects Viking's entry to spark new interest in Mississippi cruises.
"They market intelligently," said Driscoll, who said he expects Viking to appeal to a younger demographic group than those who have long been part of the Mississippi cruise line market.
The cruise line plans announcements on its Mississippi itineraries and ship design later this year. When Viking first began publicly discussing possible plans for Mississippi cruises in 2013, Hagen told an industry publication that a Viking Mississippi vessel would be similar to the contemporary ships Viking uses on European rivers.

"Those ships do not look like the classic steam vessels that used to ply the Mississippi River," Driscoll said Tuesday. "My guess is they're not going to go back to that."
Associated Press Writer Beth Harpaz in New York contributed to this report.

Travelore News: Tel Aviv Tops The World Smart Cities Awards

The city of Tel Aviv won first prize at the World Smart Cities Awards, beating out 250 competing cities at the recent Smart City Expo World Congress in Barcelona.  

The Smart City Expo World Congress is considered to be the leading conference in the world on the subject of urban innovation. Tel Aviv has been recognized as a startup city that has undergone a digital revolution over the last two years with the introduction of the DigiTel platform and city app and the implementation of free Wifi throughout the city. The DigiTel Residents' Club and city app are personalized web and mobile platforms providing residents with individually tailored, location-specific information and services. Examples include alerting residents to neighborhood road work, sending targeted reminders of cultural events and activities, and offering discounts and deals.  
Tel Aviv also uses social media as a platform to involve the public in municipal decision making and community improvement initiatives. Public access to municipal databases sparked a competition encouraging residents to develop mobile apps for public use and the creation of the iView system renders geo-spatial information readily available to all and easy to use. All of these initiatives were facilitated by the free citywide WiFi in public spaces.  

Tel Aviv has also been ranked one of the most innovative cities in the world by Citibank and the Wall Street Journal. Israel's largest annual international high-tech gathering, DLD Tel Aviv Digital Conference, which features hundreds of startups, VC's, angel investors and leading multinationals along with the DLD Tel Aviv Innovation Festival, will take place in the city from September 6-12, 2015.  

For more information about travel to Israel, visit

Travelore News: United Airlines Expands MileagePlus Awards With New Cruise-Redemption Program

United Airlines expands MileagePlus awards with new cruise-redemption program

United Airlines today unveiled new cruise-travel benefits for members of the carrier’s MileagePlus loyalty program, enabling members who live in the 50 United States to set sail using miles or a combination of miles and money.
With MileagePlus Cruise Awards, more than two dozen cruise lines are available for mileage redemption for exciting journeys to destinations around the world, including the Caribbean, South America, Europe, Mexico, Alaska and Hawaii.
“Our cruise-travel redemption program provides MileagePlus members a unique new way to use their miles for exceptional travel experiences,” said Praveen Sharma, United’s vice president of loyalty. “The program is an excellent addition to the other diverse options we offer to redeem miles, including hotel stays, car rentals, merchandise and auctions for once-in-a-lifetime adventures.”
MileagePlus members also may earn miles for cruise travel by booking through United Cruises, which launched in 2011.
United offers its MileagePlus cruise-travel programs through a partnership with World Travel Holdings, the world’s largest cruise agency.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Travelore News: Hilton Announces New Hotel In Philadelphia's Penn’s Landing Waterfront Area

Hyatt Regency Philadelphia at Penn’s Landing transitions brands to Hilton Philadelphia at Penn’s Landing  

Hilton Hotels & Resorts today announced the opening of Hilton Philadelphia at Penn’s Landing, a 348-room hotel located in downtown Philadelphia, which was previously a Hyatt Regency hotel.  

As the only hotel located on the Delaware River waterfront, Hilton Philadelphia at Penn’s Landing provides guests with magnificent views of the Philadelphia skyline. The property is just steps away from an array of dining and entertainment options as well as shopping and sightseeing at historical locales such as the Liberty Bell Center, the Betsy Ross House and Independence Hall. In addition, the hotel is conveniently located 15 minutes from the Philadelphia International Airport.

Along with stunning city and waterfront view guest rooms, Hilton Philadelphia at Penn’s Landing has 11 suites, a 24-hour business center and 24,000 square feet of meeting space located across two floors. Serving as an excellent setting for weddings and other social events, the Grand Ballroom features 17-foot floor-to-ceiling windows and overlooks the Delaware River, while the Columbus Ballroom overlooks Columbus Park and Marina. Open 24 hours daily, the hotel also has a state-of-the-art fitness center. Guests can enjoy the indoor pool’s panoramic views of the river and skyline while they workout. For guests interested in an outdoor workout or to tour the city’s sights, bike rentals are also available.

The hotel provides an array of dining options including Keating’s River Bar & Grill, which is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The restaurant features signature specialties such as rosemary seared sea scallops or peppercorn crusted filet mignon, as well as classic American fare, such as Philly cheese steaks, burgers and more. Guests can unwind at Keating’s River Bar & Grill with an extensive beer, wine and spirits menu, 12 television screens and delicious food menu served daily. For early risers, Perks Café offers coffee and snacks every morning including pastries, muffins, bagels and freshly-brewed premium Starbucks coffee. The café also offers complimentary newspapers and internet access.
“The team has been eagerly anticipating the opening of Hilton Philadelphia at Penn’s Landing,” said Jim Dina, chief operating officer, Pyramid Hotel Group. “Our dedicated associates look forward to making visitors to Philadelphia feel at home by greeting them with the world-renowned hospitality that is synonymous with Hilton Hotels & Resorts.”

“As the owner/developer of this stellar property, I couldn’t be more proud to partner with Hilton Hotels and Resorts as well as Pyramid Hotel Group,” commented Daniel J. Keating lll, Principal of Keating, Philadelphia, PA. “I’m thrilled to be in the company of these well-respected and highly-acclaimed global organizations. It’s an exciting time to be in the hospitality industry here in the City of Brotherly Love. With much-anticipated, large-scale, benchmark events taking place here throughout 2016, such as the upcoming Papal Visit and Democratic National Convention, all eyes will be on our great city and our fine hotels."
Hilton Philadelphia at Penn’s Landing will participate in Hilton HHonors, the only guest rewards program that allows members to earn Points & Miles for the same stay and redeem points for free nights with no blackout dates at more than 4,300 hotels worldwide. To mark the opening, the hotel is offering 1,000 bonus HHonors points per night for stays Sunday-Thursday from February 26, 2015 to August 26, 2015.
For more information or to make reservations, guests can visit the hotel’s website or call +1-215-521-6500. 

The hotel is operated by Pyramid Hotel Group, under a franchise license agreement with a subsidiary of Hilton Worldwide.

About Keating
Keating is a Philadelphia based company which offers a full range of development services from conceptual planning and entitlement through asset and property management.

About Pyramid Hotel Group
Pyramid Hotel Group is a Boston based company which manages and asset manages over 70 hotels and resorts across the United States. In addition to management and asset management, Pyramid provides services that include project management, property management and advisory services for owners and lenders.

About Hilton Hotels & Resorts

Founded in 1919 as the flagship brand of Hilton Worldwide, Hilton Hotels & Resorts continues to build upon its legacy of innovation by developing products and services to meet the needs of savvy global travelers at more than 550 hotels across six continents. Hilton is the stylish, forward-thinking global leader in hospitality with Team Members shaping experiences in which every guest feels cared for, valued and respected. Access the latest news at and begin your journey at or for the latest hotel specials. Hilton Hotels & Resorts is one of Hilton Worldwide’s 12 brands.

Princess Cruises Unveils New 2016 Europe Cruise Offerings

Princess Cruises unveils new 2016 Europe cruise offeringsRegal Princess in Istanbul

Princess Cruises has announced its 2016 cruise vacations to Europe featuring five ships sailing to over 130 destinations from the corners of the Mediterranean to the northernmost tip of Europe. Guests can choose from itineraries ranging from three to 48 days and on ships ranging from the cruise line’s newest and largest Royal Princess and Regal Princess; to its deluxe Caribbean Princess and Emerald Princess; and its small ship, Pacific Princess, which will visit off-the-beaten path destinations never before visited by the line.
The 2016 season includes the cruise line’s return to the Canary Islands and many maiden ports of call for Princess in Croatia, Ireland, Norway and Scotland. All 2016 Europe cruises open for bookings on March 19, 2015.
“Princess has long been hailed as offering the best cruise itineraries and we’re not resting on our laurels,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president. “We have many unique and first-time offerings for the 2016 Europe cruise season to appeal to both novice and avid cruisers. We've combined the best destinations with our signature onboard innovations like Movies Under the Stars, The Sanctuary and our new Discovery at Sea program to create the most rejuvenating retreats at sea possible for vacation-goers who want to explore this fascinating region.”
Highlights of the Princess Cruises 2016 Europe program include:
Cruises to the Mediterranean
Royal Princess will sail on a variety of unique seven-, 14-, 21- and 28-day cruises from Barcelona, Rome and Athens. Mediterranean Medley 14-day sailings include destinations rich with ancient history including Rome, Athens and Naples. Collection voyages will sail the entire Mediterranean region visiting Spain, France, Italy, Tunisia, Malta, Greece and Turkey during 21-day immersive adventures. For the ultimate Mediterranean experience, 28-day Circle Mediterranean voyages will visit 20 destinations in seven countries with all cruises visiting Rome, Athens, Istanbul and the French Riviera.
Pacific Princess will offer a variety of 12-day voyages from Rome, Venice and Barcelona and feature a mix of marquee ports with off-the-beaten-path ports unreachable by larger ships.
For guests sailing from Britain, Emerald Princess will be based in London (Southampton) to offer two-week Mediterranean Adventurer sailings featuring such marquee ports as Florence, Rome and Dubrovnik. Emerald Princess will also sail to the Canary Islands on 11-day voyages, visiting four island destinations in the Canaries and Madeira and Vigo, Spain.
Scandinavia & Russia Cruises
Regal Princess returns to Northern Europe, for popular 11-day cruise vacations to Scandinavia & Russia featuring two full days in St. Petersburg, Russia. Joining her in the region, Emerald Princess will sail select 14-day cruises through the Baltic Sea.
British Isles Cruises
Caribbean Princess, the only cruise ship dedicated to the region for the entire summer season, will visit must-see destinations in the U.K., Ireland and Scotland, including two opportunities to see Scotland’s famed Edinburgh Military Tattoo on the grounds of Edinburgh Castle.
Small ship Pacific Princess will offer an all-new way to explore the British Isles on 14-day Irish Counties & Scottish Highlands voyages from London (Dover). The itinerary includes maiden port calls in Ullapool, Scotland and Galway, along the western coast of Ireland.
Iceland & Norway Cruises
Both Emerald Princess and Pacific Princess will offer North Cape voyages to the Arctic Circle during the peak midnight sun period around the summer solstice. Emerald Princess will also visit the spectacular Norwegian fjords, while Pacific Princess will feature a maiden call in Haugesund, Norway.
Pacific Princess will also offer 14-day Iceland & Norway itineraries visiting off-the-beaten path ports in Iceland and the Shetland Islands. She will also cross to the land of fire and ice on a Transatlantic crossing featuring Iceland.
European Cruisetours
Guests can enhance their European travel with four land and sea vacation options, which combine certain sailings with a fully-escorted land tour. Choices include Paris and the French Countryside; Ireland’s Ring of Kerry; Classic Italy, visiting popular sites in Venice, Florence and Rome; and the Imperial Treasures of Budapest, Vienna, Prague and Berlin.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Voluntourism Adds Exciting And Rewarding Experiences To Vacationing In Costa Rica

Volunteer activities help travelers make a positive impact on society and nature

Traveling to Costa Rica is always an enriching experience thanks to the destination’s wealth of natural and cultural resources. Now with voluntourism — travel that includes volunteer activities for nonprofit organizations — the rewards are even greater, as visitors make a positive impact on the environment, wildlife and local communities.

Regardless of age, experience level or interests, travelers will find an increasingly wide array of interesting and exciting ways to volunteer their time in Costa Rica. It’s a worthwhile way to make any vacation truly memorable.

Considering that Costa Rica is known for its eco-friendly policies, it’s no surprise that many volunteer opportunities focus on the environment. Volunteers can aid in the sustainable management of wildlife, forest resources and other protected areas with the Association of Volunteers for Service in Protected Areas of Costa Rica (AVSO) (, which plays a key role in Costa Rica’s conservation, investigation and education efforts. Exciting and rewarding service opportunities are available for individuals, organizations and research can be used for college credit or data for ecologically-themed theses.

Also noteworthy is Costas Verdes (, a non-profit organization devoted to protecting the coastal region. Volunteers can help out with the planting of thousands of trees in deforested areas in the Ostional and Playa Hermosa National Wildlife Refuges and they can also help at Costas Verdes’s nursery, which has more than 2,000 trees ready for planting.  

For those interested in the educational value of voluntourism, several interesting opportunities are available from the Tirimbina Rainforest Center ( The volunteer program at the Tirimbina Rainforest Center provides a unique experience for participants in the development of their scientific knowledge of the tropical forest, as they collect data for the center’s long-term research projects and learn about the ecosystem. Volunteers develop skills in collecting and analyzing data, writing reports and can also participate in various activities including tours and educational programs.

The Organization for Tropical Studies (, a non-profit consortium of nearly 60 universities, colleges and research institutions from around the world also provides educational programs such as undergraduate and graduate study programs in global health, biology and conservation. In Costa Rica, the organization offers individual and corporate volunteer programs that include reforestation projects and activities at any of its three biological research stations, located in three ecologically diverse ecosystems: La Selva Biological Station, in the Caribbean lowland at the northern base of Braulio Carillo National Park; Palo Verde Biological Station, in the northwestern Pacific lowlands; and Las Cruces Biological Station and Wilson Botanical Garden, on Costa Rica’s southern Pacific slope, where an extensive collection of palms, bromeliads and endangered plants are among the beautiful features.

Abundant wildlife is found throughout Costa Rica and voluntourism makes it easy for travelers to help protect the nation’s diverse fauna. Among the organizations that excel in this type of voluntourism is the renowned World Wildlife Fund    (, which works both at sea and on land with fishermen, tour operators, governments, industries, farmers and urban groups — as well as local and national authorities — to protect the Western Hemisphere’s largest reef. With the organization’s sea turtle conservation project in Junquillal, volunteers can help these magnificent creatures while receiving technical training and enjoying an unforgettable experience in the field. The minimum stay for this project is 15 days, although visitors are able to commit for up to a month in this worthwhile program.
The Osa Conservation Area contains nearly 2.5% of our entire planet’s biodiversity despite its small size. MarViva ( works hand in hand with local fishermen to offer training and strengthening in the development of programs that will allow them, in a way that is compatible with the marine resource, to make a living from different activities related to tourism and responsible fishing. The foundation also fosters community coastal organization with an emphasis on mangrove management and responsible fishing, in order to achieve the active participation and empowerment of local leaders in spaces for discussion and national harmonization in Marine Spatial Planning.

Situated in Costa Rica’s Southern Pacific region, the Corcovado Foundation ( plays a leading role in strengthening protected areas, promoting environmental education, adopting responsible travel and encouraging community participation in the sustainable use of natural resources in the South Pacific region of Costa Rica. Their program for the conservation of sea turtles runs from July to mid-December in the Osa peninsula. Volunteers participate in various conservation activities as members of the research team. Activities include night patrols, relocating nests in the nursery, recording scientific data, tagging turtles, monitoring the nursery, construction, exhuming nests and releasing hatchlings.

Travelers who want to experience and volunteer in local communities might want to consider vacationing at a co-op such as CoopeSilencio ( Volunteers will be housed with one of the families in the village and will be based at the animal rescue center. There is also the option to volunteer at the dairy farm or teach English to students and adults at the local school. The volunteer program at El Silencio accommodates all ages (from 16 years), backgrounds and abilities.

Caminos de Liderazgo, ( a program out of Stanford University, develops leadership skills, and creates a tourism offering based on the vibrant culture of the region.  Participants come together to share their vision for their businesses and participated in activities focused on leadership, tourism, sustainability, and culture. The program is a collaboration between local leaders and entrepreneurs, the CRUSA Foundation, INOGO, SINAC and RBA with the support of businesses such as Nature Air, Travel Excellence and Horizontes.  The program will work with about 30 regional leaders to achieve increased prosperity for the inhabitants, their local cultures and biodiversity of the region.

Visitors can also give back by taking stock in Costa Rica’s future. The Integrated System of Art Instruction for Social Inclusion (SIFAIS)  is an educational program located in La Carpio that emphasizes self-worth and community. The educational program promotes the self-advancement and social integration of lower income children through classes in art, sports and trades training. Classes are open to anyone, regardless of their ability to pay and the program accepts volunteers of all levels of expertise.

About Costa Rica
Costa Rica is located in Central America between Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south; it is bordered on the east by the Caribbean Sea and the west by the Pacific Ocean. With an abundance of unique wildlife, landscapes and climates this small country proudly shelters approximately five percent of the known biodiversity in the world.  In order to protect and preserve its wealth of natural resources, Costa Rica has become a global leader in sustainable practices with protected areas comprising 26 percent of its land mass. With a peaceful spirit, emphasis on education and an economy based on tourism, technology and exportation, Costa Rica offers one of the highest standards of living in Latin America. Visitors to Costa Rica enjoy a highly organized tourism infrastructure among a tropical paradise of lush rainforests, mystical volcanoes and cloud forests and beaches that meet mountains filled with monkeys and macaws. Offering a broad terrain of activities and accommodations, visitors to Costa Rica will find a range of hotel options ranging from small beachside bed & breakfasts to authentic intimate boutique mountain lodges to major international business hotel brands and everything in between. Costa Rica’s accommodations offer something appealing for everyone’s desires. The phrase “Pura Vida” can be heard echoing throughout Costa Rica from coast to coast.  Used as a greeting or expression of happiness, the phrase literally translates to “pure life,” however its true meaning is “full of life,” which accurately describes the adventure and wonder that await visitors. 

About Instituto Costarricense de Turismo (ICT)
Established in 1955, the Costa Rica Tourism Board spearheads the vital task of regulating and promoting Costa Rica’s extensive of tourism offerings. The ICT and its partners in the private sector work tirelessly to garner recognition, standardize practices, provide insightful research data and foster cultural development for the country’s coast to coast one-of a kind tourism products and resources.

Royal Caribbean's New Generation Oasis-Class Ship Harmony Of The Seas Unveils New Thrills, Adventures, And Innovative Innovations

Royal Caribbean International’s Ship Debuts April 2016

Royal Caribbean International’s new generation Oasis-class ship, Harmony of the Seas, is set to launch in April 2016The third in the Oasis class of ships – currently the largest cruise ships in the world – will continue the award-winning cruise line’s philosophy of innovation and imagination to offer a unique vacation adventure for guests. 

        “We are orchestrating a medley of new exciting concepts with the best Royal Caribbean innovations to strike the perfect chord for adventurous vacationers That is why we are calling our third Oasis-class ship Harmony of the Seas,” said Michael Bayley, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean International.        
Harmony of the Seas, featuring the cruise line’s design of seven distinct neighborhoods for which Oasis class is known, will offer the most amazing collection of experiences, amenities and activities at sea. Guests can test their mettle on the ship’s three multi-story waterslides, all of which twist and turn over Central Park 10 decks below. One of the slides also will feature a champagne bowl that swirls guests around as they make their approach to the end of the ride.         
“The Oasis class ships continue to astound and delight both new and experienced cruisers. They shatter preconceived notions of what cruising can be and continue to stand in a category by themselves,” said Richard D. Fain, Chairman and CEO, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. “With Harmony of the Seas, we are making the most exciting experience at sea even better.” 

Harmony of the Seas also will feature a new Bionic Bar on the Royal Promenade.  The Bionic Bar was first introduced aboard Quantum of the Seas, and feature robot bartenders serving up one-of-a-kind crafted cocktails while dancing to a fluid beat. Additionally, guests onboard Harmony of the Seas will enjoy RFID technology with Royal WOWBands that provide them access to their staterooms as well as make onboard purchases and reservations.  Like her sisters, Harmony also will feature the fastest Internet connection at sea where guests can stream video; Skype with family and friends back at home; and share their vacation memories through social media instantly while at sea. 

While Oasis and Allure offered some of the largest staterooms in the fleet, on Harmony of the Seas the company has made some stateroom categories even larger.  Interior accommodations also will be outfitted with Royal Caribbean’s exclusive Virtual Balconies which offer a view in every stateroom, while single travelers will have studio stateroom choices. Suite guests also will have exclusive new areas to enjoy, from a well-appointed suite lounge and a private suites-only restaurant called Coastal Kitchen to an exclusive full-service Suite Sun Zone sun deck. 
Younger and young-at-heart guests can take a spin on the handcrafted carousel or enjoy a new classic games arcade on the ship’s Boardwalk neighborhood. While parents enjoy the newly relocated Starbucks café on the Boardwalk, kids can meet new friends at a new climbing play area. 
Royal Caribbean’s Dynamic Dining will give Harmony of the Seas’ guests a culinary experience as vast and varied as dining in the world’s most cosmopolitan cities with more choice and flexibility than ever before. Those preferring a more traditional cruise dining style may select the “Classic” option which will offer two set seating times. Dynamic Dining’s “Classic” option allows guests to rotate through each of the main complimentary restaurants at an early- or a late-seating time throughout their cruise with their dining group and the same assigned waiter each evening. 
New specialty restaurant concepts will provide even more variety for guests including Izumi Hibachi & Sushi, with a new teppanyaki menu, and the Sabor Modern Mexican restaurant. The new Wonderland Imaginative Cuisine will give guests the chance to experience a unique culinary adventure for the senses when Royal Caribbean chefs twist their culinary kaleidoscopes in a whimsical setting that challenges the imagination with never-before-seen fare. 

Harmony of the Seas will span 16 decks, encompass 227,000 gross registered tons, carry 5,479 guests at double occupancy, and feature 2,747 staterooms. The Oasis class is an architectural marvel touting Royal Caribbean’s exclusive seven neighborhood concept, including Central Park, Boardwalk, the Royal Promenade, the Pool and Sports Zone, Vitality at Sea Spa and Fitness Center, Entertainment Place and Youth Zone. 

With Quantum-class ships Anthem of the Seas (launching in April 2015 in Southampton, U.K.) and Ovation of the Seas (debuting in April 2016), Harmony of the Seas will be Royal Caribbean’s third new ship to launch throughout the next 18 months. Itineraries for Ovation of the Seas and Harmony of the Seas will be announced this coming March. 
Royal Caribbean International is an award-winning global cruise brand with a 45-year legacy of innovation and introducing industry “firsts” never before seen at sea.  The cruise line features an expansive and unmatched array of features and amenities only found on Royal Caribbean including, jaw-dropping, Broadway-style entertainment and industry-acclaimed programming that appeals to families and adventurous vacationers alike. 

Owned by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (NYSE/OSE: RCL), the cruise line sails 22 of the world’s most innovative cruise ships to the most popular destinations in Bermuda and the Caribbean, Europe, Alaska, South America, the Far East, and Australia and New Zealand. World renowned for its friendly and engaging Gold Anchor Service, delivered by every staff and crew member, Royal Caribbean has been voted “Best Cruise Line Overall” for 12 consecutive years in the Travel Weekly Readers Choice Awards. 

For additional information or to make reservations call your travel agent; visit; or call (800) ROYAL-CARIBBEAN. Follow them on Facebook at or on Twitter @RoyalCaribbean.

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