|Ralph Lee Hopkins/Lindblad Expeditions|
SWAPPING AIRLINE SEATS, BY APP
Care to monetize your prime aisle seat in the front of the plane? The new iPhone app Seateroo, launching today, offers passengers the opportunity to swap seats on a shared flight for a mutually agreed upon price (minimum $5). App users can post their seat for sale or browse for a better seat assignment, and must board with their original boarding pass. Once aboard the plane they can make the agreed swap before or after takeoff. Users set the price from which Seateroo charges a 15 percent fee and payments are processed electronically through the app. Except for Southwest flights, which are open seating, the market for seat swaps opens five days before departure and closes after the flight ends, leaving open the option, assuming you have Wi-Fi in flight, of ditching an annoying seatmate midair. Seateroo is free to download and an Android version is in the works.
IN GALÁPAGOS, A NEW SMALL SHIP FROM LINDBLAD
Adding to the rising tide of small-ship launches in the Galápagos IslandsLindblad Expeditionsds, has announced it will add another ship in the region in the third quarter of 2016. The company has acquired the Via Australis, which formerly cruised southern Patagonia with the Australis line. Lindblad will spend $10 million to refurbish the ship before relaunching it. Still to be renamed, the remodeled 96-passenger ship will replace Lindblad’s similarly-sized National Geographic Endeavor in the region and will carry Zodiacs and sea kayaks for off-ship exploring. In a statement, the Lindblad president Sven Lindblad described the new acquisition as “exceptionally quiet and maneuverable, a great asset when approaching marine life.”
FOUR MORE SHIPS FROM CARNIVAL
Carnival Corporation, the largest cruise company in the world with 10 cruise line brands and 99 ships, has announced it will add 17 new ships by 2020. Four of them will launch this year including Holland America Line’s Koningsdam, Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Vista, Aida Cruises’ Aidaprima and Seabourn’s Encore. The 2,650-passenger Koningsdam, set to sail in April in the Mediterranean, will feature new farm-to-table dinners in its culinary center in partnership with Food & Wine magazine, the line’s first family staterooms and a main stage with sound and visual effects. The 3,954-passenger Carnival Vista, also launching in April in Europe, will offer a suspended ride guests propel by pedaling, family staterooms, an IMAX Theater and an onboard brewery. To be based in Hamburg, Germany, the 1,643-cabin Aidaprima is scheduled to sail European itineraries by summer. Seabourn’s 600-guest Encore will launch next December.
ARCHIVAL IMAGES ON POLAR CRUISES
The polar cruising specialist One Ocean Expeditions has installed photographs taken by Herbert Ponting during the 1910-1913 British Antarctic Expedition led by Captain Robert Falcon Scott. The Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen beat Scott to the South Pole on that expedition, and Scott later died returning from it, but it was memorably captured on glass plate negatives by the photographer, in images including wildlife, frozen landscapes and the ship Terra Nova. The prints will remain on exhibit aboard the Akademik Sergey Vavilov and Akademik Ioffe, sibling 98-passenger ships that ply the Arctic and Antarctic regions, until March 18. Prices for the photos start at 1,950 euros (about $2,050).
MORE WI-FI (SOME FREE) AT U.S. AIRPORTS
The Wi-Fi provider Boingo has announced a new tiered system of online access at several airports around the country, including free basic access at 5 megabits per second and speeds double that for $7.95 for 24 hours. Subscribers to the service (which costs $9.95 a month) have access at 20 megabits per second. Boingo’s three-tiered service is now available at Baltimore/Washington International, Boston Logan, Chicago’s Midway and O’Hare airports, New York’s Kennedy and La Guardia airports and Newark.