News & Views of the Week

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Greetings and yes we are a day early.  We decided to take a 2 day break because of the President's Day holiday so we're here for you today.

Sonora Celtic Faire is knocking at our doors so here we go.

Come one Come all and see us at the Celtic Faire in Sonor in a couple of weeks.


Sonora Celtic Faire 2020


Event Image

Sonora Celtic Faire 
Celtic Heritage Celebration 
March 6th-8th 2020

Fri.  6th 9:30pm-3:30pm
Sat. 7th 10am-6:30pm
Sat. Night Ceili 6:30pm-11:30pm (Separate Ticket needed)
Sun. 8th 10am-6pm 

The 34th Annual Sonora Celtic Faire returns with the Largest and Biggest Celtic Faire on the West Coast! Celebrating the cultures of Ireland, Scotland, Cornwall, Brittany, Wales, Isle of Mann, and Galacia
VIP & weekend passes sold online ONLY- Limited Time
3 DAY VIP PASS includes (One Adult Ticket for each day, One Ceili Ticket, Two Drink Tickets for Ceili, One Whiskey Tasting Seminar Pass and One Weekend Parking Pass) ONLY 55 Available
2 DAY PASS WITH CEILI- One Adult Ticket for Sat., Ceili, & Sun.
2 DAY PASS-  One Adult Ticket for Sat. & Sun.

celtic bands from around the WORLD

(See website for band days and times, not all bands play each day)


Whiskey Tasting Seminars- 2 on Sat. and 1 on Sun.
Presale Tickets Sold here online for seminars
Regular Whiskey Tasting available throughout the day

sonora celtic faire a mother lode tradition for 34 YEARS

CELTIC LIVING HISTORY: Over 1000 Historical Re-enactors that bring History to Life
FAMILY & CULTURE: Clans, Surname History Searches, Celtic Animals, Bag Pipe Bands, Traditional Celtic Dancers and More...

SHOPPING: 100+ Celtic vendors, craftsman, and artisans selling they wares
FOOD & DRINK: Traditional & Cultural Foods, Whiskies, and Ale.

tickets also sold at the GATE- For gate prices 

show goes on rain or SHINE

NO Refunds
NO Outside Food or Alcohol
NO Dogs
NO Guns, All swords MUST be Peace Tied

All Entertainment Subject to Change


The Corona virus has basically played havoc and confusion with the cruise lines.  And below is the latest update we have.

It changes daily so check with your cruise line if you are cruising in the affected areas anytime soon.


Princess, Cunard, Holland America And Royal Caribbean Give Coronavirus Updates


 Susan J. Young

Feb 10, 2020 10:49am



A small boat navigates near a cruise ship Diamond Princess anchoring off the Yokohama Port.

More cases of confirmed coronavirus for guests on Diamond Princess are now being reported by Princess Cruises. // Photo by AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko via Newscred.

Over the weekend, Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, Cunard Line, Royal Caribbean International and others issued updates on the impact of coronavirus on specific ships or, alternatively, changes in schedules related to the virus situation.

In what's become almost a "blanket" policy throughout the cruise industry, these and other lines are also barring boarding of any guest or crew member who has traveled to China, Macau, Hong Kong or Taiwan within the past two weeks; has been in contact during the past two weeks with someone who is or is suspected of being a coronavirus patient; or personally is showing symptoms of the diseases. Strict medical protocols are under way. 

Additionally, Royal Caribbean is denying boarding to all holders of passports from China, Macau and Hong Kong. 

Princess Cruises

Princess Cruises confirmed an additional 66 cases of coronavirus as tested by the Japanese Ministry of Health on Diamond Princess.

Forty-five of the confirmed coronavirus cases were guests from Japan, while four were from Australia, one case from Canada and 11 cases were from the United States.  Other confirmed cases were as follows: United Kingdom (one), Japan (45), three from the Philippines, one from Ukraine, and 11 from the United States

Princess said it's following guidance from the Japan Ministry of Health on plans for disembarkation protocols to provide medical care for these new cases. Its statement also said:

·         "Since it is early in the quarantine period of 14 days, it was not unexpected that additional cases would be reported involving individuals who were exposed prior to the start of the quarantine. 

·         "The Japan Ministry of Health has been the lead public health authority defining the testing protocols for all guests and crew on Diamond Princess. Questions on the timeline, test results and reporting protocols should be directed to them.

·         The quarantine end date remains at February 19, unless there are any unforeseen developments. 

The line also said additional information will be shared as soon as it is made available to use by the Ministry of Health. 

Over the weekend, Princess also outlined policies related to guest compensation related to the current Diamond Princess cruise. That statement of February 9 read as follows:

"Because of the extraordinary circumstances onboard Diamond Princess, Princess Cruises will refund the full cruise fare for all guests including air travel, hotel, ground transportation, pre-paid shore excursions, gratuities and other items. In addition, guests will not be charged for any onboard incidental charges during the additional time onboard," the statement said. 

In addition, the statement continued: "Princess Cruises will also provide guests with a future cruise credit equal to the cruise fare paid for the voyage which ended on February 4."

The line also said that although all gratuities will be refunded back to guests "the company will ensure crew members will receive their designated gratuities for the work performed." 

A letter was delivered to all staterooms of Diamond Princess' guests with details on how to process the cruise fare refund.  

Holland America Line 

Holland America Line said today that Westerdam (which had been refused entry to a number of alternative ports in Asia this past week), is now is sailing for Laem Chabang (Bangkok), Thailand, where the current cruise that departed February 1 will end on Thursday, February 13. 

Guests will disembark in Laem Chabang and transfer to Bangkok for their forward travel home. The line said the new schedule has been communicated to guests onboard. Originally, that cruise was set to disembark guests February 15 in Yokohama, Japan

Currently, Westerdam is on a 14-day cruise that departed Hong Kong on February 1. There are 1,455 guests and 802 crew on board. No cases of coronavirus have been reported onboard. 

The Holland America statement said:

·         "All guests will receive a 100 percent refund for the 14-day sailing, as well as a 100 percent Future Cruise Credit. Complimentary Internet and phone access is available for guests and crew to stay in contact with loved ones.

·         The ship is not in quarantine and we have no reason to believe there are any cases of coronavirus onboard the ship despite media reports.

·         We have also received a letter from the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment affirming that they have full confidence in all our medical reporting and the quality of our medical staff and services on Westerdam. This assessment was done in concert with the Ministry of Health of the Netherlands.

·         Following the disembarkation of guests, Westerdam will depart Laem Chabang. The future voyage plan between cruises is still being finalized.

·         The February 15 cruise scheduled to embark in Yokohama has been cancelled. No cancellations for cruises with departure dates beyond February 15 have been announced at this time.

·         However, we are assessing the impact of current port restrictions in Asia on cruises departing February 29 or later. We will communicate details as they become finalized in the next few days.

·         The latest information will continue to be posted under the News & Travel Advisory section of

Royal Caribbean International

Royal Caribbean International found out some good news on Saturday night from the New Jersey Health Authority. Test results received from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control for some sick guests on Anthem of the Seas' most recent sailing "were negative for the novel coronavirus." 

So, the line told guests originally scheduled to sail on the Friday, February 7 cruise to the Bahamas that it would instead depart today, Monday, February 10. Guests were also given the opportunity to board yesterday, on February 9 if they so chose, while the ship remained docked at Cape Liberty in Bayonne, NJ.

The original itinerary included port calls at Port Canaveral for Space Coast/Orlando activities; the Perfect Day at CocoCay, the line's private island experience in the Bahamas; and a call at Nassau, Bahamas.

Now, the ship is expected to sail from Cape Liberty today, spend a day at sea, then call for one and a half more days at King's Wharf, Bermuda, have another day at sea and return, as scheduled, on Saturday, February 15.

The line said in a statement on its website that the schedule was changed because there simply wasn't time for the Nassau port call. With the previous schedule, "we wouldn't arrive into Nassau until around 3 p.m. and would need to depart later that evening to make our way back to Cape Liberty – not a great experience." 

So, the line said in a statement on its website: "Given that our goal is to provide you with the best vacation possible, we made the decision to sail to Bermuda, where you’ll have more than a day and a half in port to explore. Plus, the weather forecast is looking favorable in Bermuda during our visit.

"We know how much you were looking forward to beginning your vacation, and we cannot apologize enough for the impact this situation has caused," the statement continued. "But we can try to make up for it."

Royal Caribbean also issued an updated compensation plan for guests who choose to join the ship on its new itinerary. They'll receive a 50 percent refund, which will be added to the guest's onboard account as a refundable onboard credit. It will also provide guests on the cruise departing today with a 50 percent future cruise credit.

Those who've purchased an Internet or beverage package, unlimited dining package, or pre-paid their gratuities will receive a prorated refund as a credit for the three days the cruise was shortened by; that will show up in the guest's onboard account. Pre-purchased RCL shore trips for the impacted ports will also be refunded to that onboard acccount.

Also, Crown & Anchor Society members will receive loyalty points for the full eight-night cruise they purchased, not the shortened cruise.

Royal Caribbean said that all credits applied to the guest's onboard account can be used anywhere onboard, and any unused credits will be refunded back to the guest's credit card on file about three to five business days after the sailing ends.

But the line's statement also said:

·         "If you choose not to sail, we completely understand and you may cancel and receive a full refund.

·         "You do not need to do anything to cancel, no need to call or contact us for this, as we want to make it as easy for you as possible. If you do not show up to the pier, we will understand that you decided not join us and we will automatically process your refund. 

·         "You should see it on your account three to five days after our updated departure."

Those who took flights to reach the embarkation port (and thus arrived too early to board) can receive up to $200 per stateroom per night toward hotel accommodations. '

RCI also said: "If you decide to cancel, and flew in, we will assist you with air change fees to get you back home. We will cover $200 USD per person for domestic flights or $400 USD per person for international flights." Guests should send receipts to for reimbursement.

And, if guests booked their airfare through Royal Caribbean, and desire to cancel their cruise, the cruise line will help reschedule return flights home. 

Cunard Line 

On February 9, Cunard Line made changes to schedules for both Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth in Asia, eliminating embarkation in Singapore and port calls in Hong Kong or Shanghai. In a statement the line said:

·         Queen Mary 2 is now sailing directly to Fremantle, Australia, arriving on February 18. She will set sail from Fremantle on an Australian itinerary, details of which will follow.

·         “If you were due to join Queen Mary 2 in Singapore on 12/13 or 18/19 February you have the option to join in Fremantle on 18/19 February.

·         “Should you be on a shorter voyage from Singapore on 12/13 February your voyage will be automatically cancelled at no charge.

·         “If you are due to join the ship in Singapore on 12/13 or 18/19 February and you have booked your flights with us, we will organize all alternative flights on your behalf at no extra charge. You also have the option of cancelling your holiday at no cost.

·         “If you did not book your flights with us, we advise that your flights would need to be re-routed or cancelled as required, and you should make a claim on your travel insurance where charges have been incurred

·         “If you are unable to recover charges incurred due to this unavoidable and unexpected change, we would encourage you to contact us upon your return.”

In addition, Cunard said that Queen Elizabeth will not call at Hong Kong on March 31 nor at Shanghai on April 4, and that details of that revised itinerary will be announced soon.


For Seabourn Sojourn in Asia, in light of new restrictions throughout the region on travelers coming from or traveling through Hong Kong, the ship will no longer call in Hong Kong on April 3, 2020. Itinerary revisions are currently being confirmed and details of the revised itineraries will be communicated to guests and travel advisors as soon as possible, the cruise line said.


Moving right along this weekend it appears that some airlines are listening about comfort--at least for those in the front of the bus.

Delta Debuts New Domestic First Class Seats for A321neo Fleet




Get a new aircraft, get a new first class. That’s Delta Air Lines’ strategy for its new Airbus A321neo, which will begin flying for the airline in late 2020. The new state-of-the-art, first-class seat design includes premium cabin features that travelers enjoy on international flights to domestic travel. Seats will have more privacy, more comfort, larger screens and superior storage.

“Customer insights were instrumental to the new design, and we spent hundreds of hours listening to customers so that we could respond with thoughtful improvements,” says Mauricio Parise, Delta’s managing director of product development. “We’ve completely customized every feature on the seat to create a truly unique, premium seating product for domestic first class.”

The airline partnered with RECARO and Factorydesign, using customer feedback and following the latest industry trends, to develop the next generation of domestic first-class cabin seats. The new seat design will bring elements of the international travel experience that customers have enjoyed on widebody aircraft to domestic routes for customers to enjoy at home.

Highlights of Delta’s A321neo First Class seats include: A fixed headrest allowing increased privacy and better sleep without compromising seat width or space; a larger and sturdier tray table, including 25 percent more workspace; three times more volume for storing personal items and devices, including dedicated laptop stowage and  water bottle stowage for all phases of flight; customer-facing power ports and enhanced memory-foam cushions for added comfort.

In addition to its latest seat design, Delta’s new A321neo will feature a next-generation, wireless in-flight entertainment system created by the airline’s in-house start-up, Delta Flight Products. Every seat features an oversized high-definition seatback screen with personalized entertainment experiences that customers are accustomed to seeing at home or on a mobile device.

Delta says these seat enhancements are part of its multi-billion dollar investment in the onboard customer experience. In the past several years, the airline  has made significant enhancements to its inflight product, including seatback entertainment systems with?free entertainment,?free mobile messaging, high-capacity overhead bins, and access to Wi-Fi on nearly all flights (though Delta still won’t say when Wi-Fi will be free, as it promised last year). In addition, passengers get free main cabin meals?on select flights, upgraded?main cabin snacks, the addition of?sparkling wine, an?Alessi-designed collection?of serviceware, Westin Heavenly In-Flight Bedding, new TUMI amenity kits, chef-curated meals paired with wines hand-selected by Master Sommelier Andrea Robinson, premium noise-canceling?headphones in Delta One and Delta Premium Select and more. In 2017, Delta welcomed the A350, the airline's new flagship aircraft introducing the Delta One Suite and Delta Premium Select cabins.

Delta and Airbus have agreed to terms for a 100 firm and 100 optional order for state-of-the-art Airbus 321neo (new engine option) aircraft. The new jets, which will be powered by Pratt & Whitney geared-turbofan engines, will feature cutting-edge safety, efficiency and comfort.

The airline will configure the A321neo to a total of 194 seats including seating for 20 in first class, 42 in Delta Comfort+ and 132 in the main cabin. The aircraft will feature on-demand inflight entertainment,  high-speed satellite Wi-Fi, power ports as well as streaming video content will be available at every seat through Delta Studio. The cabin also will feature 25 percent larger bookshelf-style overhead bins and full spectrum LED cabin lighting. Delta expects to take delivery of its first A321neo in the fourth quarter of 2020 with new aircraft arriving through 2023.

In other Delta news, the airline is partnering with Northwest Advanced Bio-Fuels as part of its long-term goal of reducing its emissions. Building on its $2 million investment for an ongoing feasibility study with NWABF, Delta has entered into one of the largest airline offtake agreements of its kind to purchase sustainable aviation fuel, if produced, from NWABF.

The feasibility study, announced in October 2019 and currently under way, is expected to determine the potential for a facility in Washington state that could supply sustainable aviation fuel for Delta operations in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and Los Angeles by mid-2020.

In parallel with the study’s goal to produce sustainable aviation fuel for West Coast operations, Delta has signed an offtake agreement for sustainable aviation fuel that may be produced from the facility, which would reduce lifecycle emissions up to 80 percent compared to that of conventional jet fuel. This complements the airline’s recent offtake agreement with Gevo for biofuel production in Minnesota, expected to be available between 2022-2023. The NWABF offtake agreement would anticipate fuel production by the end of 2024 while the advanced planning study will conclude later this year.

“This focused study and long-term agreement will support Delta’s goals to lower our carbon footprint aggressively. Investing in developing multiple sources of sustainable aviation fuel is one of the many ways we are looking to address climate change,” said Alison Lathrop, Delta’s managing director-global environment, sustainability and compliance. “Working alongside Northwest Advanced Bio-Fuels to produce and utilize sustainable aviation fuel could serve as an industry-best-practice-model for future endeavors.” 

Since 2005, Delta has reduced its jet fuel consumption, leading to a 9 percent decrease in emissions as the airline works towards its long-term goal of reducing emissions. Delta also is investing in new, more fuel-efficient aircraft to optimize the use of jet fuel. In July of 2019, Delta flew the first of 20 carbon-neutral new aircraft delivery flights from the Airbus final assembly line in Mobile, Ala., using sustainable aviation fuel and carbon offsets in coordination with Airbus and Air BP. For more information, click on


And the cruise lines just keep building and building and each time a bit better at what and how they do it.


Celebrity Cuts Steel for Ship That Will Truly Go Beyond the Edge

We just got through writing about the impending christening of Celebrity Apex—and now Celebrity is touting another ship! Celebrity Beyond, the third ship in Celebrity’s Edge series, made the move from concept to construct on Jan. 29 as the first piece of steel for the vessel was cut at the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France.

(Photo above: Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCCL) and Chantiers de l’Atlantique executives raise the signed commemorative ship cut-out at the ceremonial steel-cutting for Celebrity Beyond, coming fall 2021. From left to right: Richard Fain, chairman and CEO for RCCL; Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, president and CEO for Celebrity Cruises; Harri Kulovaara, executive vice president, maritime and newbuilding for RCCL; and Laurent Castaing, general manager for Chantiers de l’Atlantique.)

“Celebrity Beyond is the perfect natural next-step in the Edge series,” said Richard Fain, chairman and CEO of Celebrity parent Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. “The Edge series is all about innovation and pushing beyond boundaries and convention, and Celebrity Beyond will continue this legacy.”

“With the launch of our Edge series, Celebrity Cruises redefined modern cruising,” added Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, president and CEO of Celebrity Cruises. “Celebrity Edge impressed the world with its outward-facing design and innovation. Celebrity Apex takes the onboard vacation experience to the pinnacle, and now with Celebrity Beyond, we’re charting new territory once again. While we can’t say much just yet, with Celebrity Beyond three’s a charm.”

With the second Edge series ship Celebrity Apex set to arrive in Southampton in April 2020, the brand expects delivery of Celebrity Beyond in fall 2021


And while we tend to shy away from lengthy articles we do find this one from Conde Nast a bit inetesting.  Quite frankly there are more things to do in our southland than the amusement parks.  Check these out.


26 Best Things to Do in Los Angeles



January 27, 2020

The city may sprawl, but we've mapped out your visit. All you have to do is connect the dots.

L.A. is a great place to live, but to visit? It’s complicated. You have to navigate a vast expanse of land clogged by standstill traffic and through neighborhoods that can make it seem like you’re hopping from one universe to another. But, if you're game, just think of all you could fit in a single day! We've narrowed it down to the city’s best museums and hiking trails and cemeteries, a weird sculpture in Watts, and even the best place in the world to see more than one magic show. Read on for our picks for the best things to do in Los Angeles.

Click the link for our full Los Angeles city guide.

LA Phil Walt Disney Concert Hall venue music concert symphony Los Angeles Exterior

Matt Marriott



Walt Disney Concert Hall


No matter what you think of Frank Gehry's bombastic, swooping Walt Disney Concert Hall building, the home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic is the best place to see classical music on the West Coast. In the same building is the Roy and Edna Disney CalArts Theater (REDCAT), which is as entrenched in the L.A. cultural scene as the Phil. Host to experimental theater, edgy performance art, and film screenings year round, REDCAT is an underrated spot to catch cutting-edge live art.

Echo Park Lake, Los Angeles




Echo Park Lake


Echo Park Lake is in dozens of movies and TV shows, but it remains one of the most down-to-earth spots in Los Angeles. Since its renovation in 2014, the lake has become even more of a meeting point, picnic spot, and jogger's paradise. With plenty of ducks, swan-shaped pedal boats available for rent, and lotuses floating on the man-made body of water, the lake is a family-friendly and date-friendly destination, complete with a fountain.

United States, California, Los Angeles, Gallery, ROW DTLA

Katie Gibbs/Courtesy ROW DTLA





Housed in the former American Apparel manufacturing facility, the ROW DTLA is a massive development with offices, restaurants, shops, bars, and events spaces. You'll find some of the most artful bento boxes outside Japan (at Hayato), a sophisticated caffeine fix (at Go Get Em Tiger), and gluten-free karaage (at Pikunico). For shopping, there's the homegrown design boutique Poketo, Still Life Ceramics, and legendary sneaker shop Bodega (hidden speakeasy-style behind a false loading dock for an imaginary bodega); and every Sunday, the complex hosts Smorgasburg, a weekly street-food festival with some of the best artisan eats in the city.

MOCA Museum Los Angeles Exterior

Benny Chan/Courtesy The Broad and DIller Scofidio + Renfro



The Museum of Contemporary Art


Two museums in one, really, MOCA is a cutting-edge museum with temporary exhibitions by established and emerging artists. Also, it's home to one of the greatest contemporary art collections in the world. The 6,000-piece collection contains prime works by Agnes Martin, Nam June Paik, Jackson Pollock, and Mike Kelley. And the spacious Geffen Contemporary outpost in Little Tokyo hosts bigger temporary exhibitions. The docents at MOCA are top-notch, and the best part? The museum just started to offer free admission at the beginning of 2020.

Angeles National Forest Hike hiking Los Angeles Woods




Angeles National Forest


With over 1,000 square miles of wilderness and 53 trailheads, it's no wonder Angeles National Forest is one of the most popular day trips for locals and visitors alike. Whether you're hiking, biking, running, boating, or even skiing, there's something for every outdoors-y type here. The drive up Mt. Baldy is pleasant and results in spectacular views from nearly 10,000 feet. The hikes to the Devil's Punchbowl and the Bridge to Nowhere are some of the best day hikes in the region.

LACMA Los Angeles Museum Exterior

LACMA - The Los Angeles County Museum of Art



Los Angeles County Museum of Art


Labyrinthine and extensive, LACMA is one of the more comprehensive art  museums in the world. The campus is huge, so expect to walk, a lot. There are galleries for permanent collections on art from North America, Korea, Japan, Latin America, the Islamic world, and Europe, the latter which includes paintings from masters like Matisse, Magritte, Picasso, and Rembrandt. It's also known for its temporary exhibitions of blockbuster shows.

United States, California, Los Angeles, Gallery, Hauser & Wirth

Courtesy Hauser & Wirth



Hauser & Wirth


Founded in 1992 in Zurich, Hauser & Wirth has since grown to include outposts in Hong Kong, London, New York City, and beyond, making the institution a major force in the art world. The opening of the Los Angeles location was a feather in the cap of the flourishing Arts District  scene. Programming here includes performances, film screenings, workshops, and artist-led conversations. Ever-changing exhibitions have recently included a spectacular installation by legendary Los Angeles artist David Hammons, as well as blacklight paintings by mid-20th Century Italian artist Lucio Fontana.

La Brea Tar Pits Los Angeles

Victor Decolongon



The La Brea Tar Pits & Museum


The La Brea Tar Pits are pits of, well, tar that has been bubbling up from beneath the earth for tens of thousands of years. The pits are viewable for free, and the compact La Brea Tar Pits Museum exhibits fossils and bones that were preserved when animals became trapped in said tar. It's a major landmark, and one of the most visited tourist spots in all of Los Angeles. The collection of bones is extraordinary. There are spectacular composite skeletons of many extinct species, including Columbian mammoths, ground sloths, dire wolves, North American camels, and, of course, the saber-toothed cat. Beyond the skeletons, there are over a million Ice Age fossils to peruse.

United States, California, Los Angeles, Restaurant, Wi Spa

Natasha Lee



Wi Spa


For anyone who's experienced the spa culture in Korea or say, Hungary, Wi Spa is the best stateside analog. The facilities are massive, with co-ed areas with meditation zones, separate men's and women's floors with multiple soaking tubs, a restaurant counter, a fitness room, an open-air terrace, and even a kids' area. It’s overwhelming—in the most relaxing way, of course. Be sure to leave enough time before or after your appointment for lunch; the restaurant is actually a solid place to nosh on Korean soups and noodles, and you can't beat the price.

This image may contain Banister, Handrail, and Staircase

Photo by Hufton + Crow



The Broad


Where the city's other museums often play out like indie theaters or revival cinemas, the Broad is a megaplex that shows only tentpole action features and that has made it one of the hottest tickets in town, since it opened in late 2015. Lines are often out the door. The building, by star firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro, sticks out in Downtown Los Angeles for its resemblance to a cheese grater (some say it looks like a Bose speaker).

Venice Canal park Los Angeles




Venice Canals


Hidden in plain sight, the canals flow behind adorable Venice bungalows just blocks from the beach. Built in 1905 by developer Abbot Kinney, it’s not unusual to see herons, egrets, pelicans, and parrots, making it one of the best off-the-beaten-path landmarks in all of L.A. There are a number of bridges perfect for romantic photo ops, and there are enough quiet corners to find your own little patch of bliss. It’s a perfect place to stroll and catch your breath amid the hustle and bustle of the city.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery outdoor Los Angeles

Courtesy Hollywood Forever Cemetery



Hollywood Forever Cemetery


Home to the graves of silent film stars like Douglas Fairbanks and Rudolph Valentino, you'll also find the tombs of modern celebrities like Johnny Ramone and Kim Fowley. During the summer, the cemetery holds film screenings on its front lawn, and cool Angelenos know that the Masonic Lodge is one of the best music venues in town. Try and find the memorial to Toto, Dorothy's dog in The Wizard of Oz. There's also a section of the cemetery where peacocks roam.

Hollywood bowl music venue amphitheater Los Angeles

Courtesy The Hollywood Bowl



Hollywood Bowl


The Hollywood Bowl is one of Los Angeles's best summertime evenings out. Opened in 1922, the outdoor amphitheater is an Angeleno institution: grand in scale and glitzy enough to attract the city's elite. The band shell's distinctive shape creates an acoustically magnificent experience to boot. Everyone from classical icon Andrea Bocelli to throwbacks like Rod Stewart and Morrissey to big pop stars like the Jonas Brothers and Lana Del Rey have played the Bowl within the past year. And it's not the only place to see the world-class Los Angeles Philharmonic (there's the Walt Disney Concert Hall), but it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience to have a picnic and a glass of wine in a box seat while hearing them.

WAtts Tower Arts Center Los Angeles

Courtney Hopkins



Watts Towers


Somehow both space-age and D.I.Y., Watts Towers are an awe-inspiring series of 17 interwoven sculptural pillars built from scrap metal and concrete and decorated with found objects like glass bottles, volcanic rock, and ceramic tile. Italian immigrant construction worker and artist Sabato "Simon" Rodia built them over a 33-year period, from the 1920s through the 1950s. They're considered a prime example of "outsider art," and can be visited for free in the Simon Rodia Historic State Park in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles.

Barnsdall Hikes Los Angeles

Araya Diaz / Getty



Barnsdall Art Park


Quiet, big, secluded, and full of art galleries, historic buildings, and a theater, the Barnsdall Art Park is one of L.A.'s best-kept secrets. Start with the Hollyhock House, the first Frank Lloyd Wright project in Los Angeles—get a tour; the building has a fascinating history. The Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery (LAMAG) and the Barnsdall Gallery Theatre, built in the mid-century, play host to excellent exhibitions of contemporary art, plays, and panel discussions.

Los Angeles Hiking Huntington Park




The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens


Millions of manuscripts, hundreds of thousands of books, tens of thousands of plant species, and thousands of art objects add up to a lot to see here. The Huntington is more than your run of the mill institution—in fact, there are few places in the world quite like it. If you’re pressed for time, the Huntington has an area that that can be calibrated to suit every mood. The Desert Garden, the Rose Garden, and the Japanese Garden are all spectacular enough that if a visitor wanted to just go to one of them it would be enough. The Library or Gallery could be zoomed through, adding on a quick pop over to the Conservatory, where the Carnivorous Plant Bog and the Rain Forest offer educational opportunities for the whole family.

Museum of Jurassic Technology




Museum of Jurassic Technology


The vibe of The Museum of Jurassic Technology hits you the moment you pass through the ticket room: a labyrinth of dark and cramped exhibits where you may even have to turn your body as someone squeezes by you to get to the next one. Exhibits begin and end without warning, and they’re sometimes confusing as to what they’re even about. This place is legendary for in-the-know Angelenos and tourists alike who love off-the-beaten-path quirk.

Santa Monica Farmers Market




Santa Monica Farmers Market


The Los Angeles area is famous for having a farmers market every day of the week, and the Santa Monica Farmers Market, held on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday, is the mother of them all. Taking up several city blocks, the market is lined with seasonal fruits, vegetables, and other products and provisions. There are some remarkable splurge items that you won't find other farmers markets; for instance, black truffles, bergamot, emu eggs, and sea urchin.

Musso & Frank Bar Los Angeles Interior

Tina Whatcott



Musso and Frank Grill



Smack dab in the middle of Hollywood, Musso & Frank’s is as much a cultural touchstone as it is a restaurant and bar. The interior has barely changed since 1919, and its old Tinseltown reputation is what makes it so special. In the early days, its clientele were writers; the Screen Writers Guild was across the street back then, as was the famed bookstore Stanley Rose. Over the years, the restaurant has drawn everyone from Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald to George Clooney and Brad Pitt.

Architecture Tours L.A. Binoculars los angeles




Architecture Tours L.A.


The perfect mix of informal and ultra-pro, tours are led by Laura Massino Smith, a historian specializing in L.A.'s architectural marvels. The tours are small—only five people can fit comfortably into a luxury van—which makes it intimate, but it also means reservations are a necessity. Each tour takes about three hours, and you're limited to one neighborhood per tour. Silver Lake and Hollywood are highlights, but there are separate itineraries for Beverly Hills, Downtown, Pasadena, and more.

Bradbury Building




Bradbury Building


The Victorian-style atrium of the Bradbury Building, built for gold baron Lewis Bradbury, is filled with architectural flourishes like open-cage hydraulic elevators, marble staircases, and wrought-iron balconies. The massive skylight and  open balconies create a mood that is like no other building; it's both haunting and magical. Culture buffs will know it from appearances in movies like Chinatown (1974), Blade Runner (1982), 500 Days of Summer (2009), and a smattering of music videos and commercials.

Magic Castle Los Angeles




The Magic Castle


There are few places in the world quite like the Magic Castle. This mansion in Hollywood serves as a clubhouse for magicians, with illusionists, mentalists, and more performing nightly to a crowd required to dress in vintage formal attire. At a small magic club's show, you may see few magicians in the course of an evening, but at the Magic Castle you could see a dozen shows in a single night. You have to be invited by a magician to get in but there’s a secret tip: Find out which magicians are performing the night you’d like to see, and email them a few weeks in advance to see if they’ll get you an invite.

Getty Center museum Los Angeles Exterior

Courtesy Getty Center



The Getty Center


A cluster of beige travertine buildings set atop a hill on the West Side, the Getty Center is one of the most prestigious art institutions in the world. There's always an enriching exhibition or five happening at the Getty, whether it focuses on contemporary art, photography, or classical painting. There are a number of fruitful tours, all of them free. Spend an entire day marveling at the art, relaxing in the garden (which, with a floating labyrinth and more than 500 plant species, is a "living sculpture” by famed L.A.-area artist Robert Irwin), and enjoying the hilltop views.

Griffith Observatory Exterior Los Angeles

Anthony Cook, Griffith Observatory



Griffith Observatory


Griffith Observatory is an Art Deco stargazing spot atop Mount Hollywood in Griffith Park. It's one of the most visited observatories in the world for a reason, with exhibit halls (one of which houses a rare, electricity-pulsing Tesla coil), photogenic views of the Hollywood sign, a planetarium that hosts brainy but fun shows about the universe, and, of course, the 12-inch Zeiss telescope. More than 600 guests look through that telescope each night, which the observatory claims makes it the highest trafficked telescope in the world.




Chateau Marmont



The Chateau Marmont, hallowed ground in Los Angeles, is one of the best spots around to hang with the stars. The hotel is where Hollywood stars have holed up with their paramours and where screenwriters have penned some of the greatest movies of all time. The ghosts of John Belushi and the famed fashion photographer Helmut Newton, who both met their untimely demises at the Chateau, still haunt the grounds. The restaurant makes a mean aged ribeye—don’t forget the side of truffle fries and a classic Sidecar. 

Lake Hollywood Park Los Angeles Hollywood sign outdoors

Juancarlos Chan



Lake Hollywood Park


As the best place to get close-up photos of the Hollywood sign, this park is a major tourist attraction. It's also a dog-friendly, so between the frisbee and ball-toss games, it can seem like there are as many canines as people. There are two notable hiking paths: one that takes you around the reservoir and one that takes you up to the Hollywood sign.


And while we gave it a bit of a rest we do want to remind you about our upcoming group to Tahiti and surrounding islands this November.  Keep in mind that during the current Princess BEST SALE EVER WE CAN OFFER YOU PREPAID GRATUITIES, FREE WI FI AND UPGRADES.  This sale will end at the end of this month.  And we will be promoting this at the upcoming Sonora Celtic Faire.  When we run out of our group allotment there will be no more rooms to purchase on baord at the group rate.



Tahiti & French Polynesia(#6395368)


Prices Starting At: $ 2059.00
+ 100.00 taxes/fees
Date(s): 11/14/2020 - 11/24/2020
Ship: Pacific Princess

There's a certain romance to sailing on a small ship like Pacific Princess® which offers a refined elegance yet with many of the wonderful amenities found on larger ships. With a smaller group of guests on board, you'll enjoy the camaraderie among fellow guests who share your passion for travel and visit unique ports that only smaller ships have access to.


We do have som tidbits from Fred's vailt of goodies this week...


Stopover Programs You Should Try

Instead of spending all day in an airport waiting for your connecting flight, take advantage of these airlines' stopover programs, which let you spend up to ten days exploring a new city, with no additional cost of airfare. (Some offer vacation packages, discounted hotel stays, and complimentary city tours, too.) From Toronto to Dubai, happy,c_limit/GettyImages-539633301.jpg

Porto and Lisbon (pictured)

In 2019, Portuguese tourism increased—big time. And while it isn't quite the next Iceland, Portugal can tip its hat to its flag carrier TAP Air Portugal for a lot of that tourism. Thanks to the airline's stopover program, you can stay up to five days in Porto or Lisbon. Lisbon, in the midst of an architecture and contemporary art boom, is the perfect stop for a Portugal first-timer: There's pastel de nata to eat, iconic azulejo tiles to see, and fado music to listen to. Porto is for the return visitor (or wino) who's up for renting a car to zip around the area. (Pack a bathing suit for a visit to the man-made saltwater Piscinas das Marés, 20 minutes away.)

Head straight to TAP's "Discover Portugal" page, where you can book flights and pick from a list of hotels that offer discounts for people taking part in the stopover program. The site will also direct you to the Apple App Store to download TAP's branded app full of tips for your visit.


This image may contain Nature, Urban, Town, Building, High Rise, City, Fog, Smoke, Metropolis, and Smog


Not only is Emirates consistently rated one of the best airlines in the world, it also offers a great way to see its hub city of Dubai. The airline sells a range of stopover packages that can be booked as little as 48 hours ahead of your flight, which is great for impulsive travelers, and an agent can book your hotel or apartment for you at the same time. An airline rep will greet you at the airport, and you'll get a free booklet with info about what to do in town. Bonus: All hotels included in the package let Emirates guests check in at anytime, 24 hours a day, because jet lag is for real.

Once you've nailed down your flight details, contact Emirates online or by phone to book one of its stopover packages. There's a huge online catalogue of layover options, but absolutely zero prices—you'll need to ask an agent for quotes.,c_limit/Singapore_GettyImages-515286749.jpg


While we'd happily spend days in the world's best airport, Changi, Singapore Airlines offers travelers up to a ten-day Singapore stopover. You can book your hotel stay (like $169 per night at the Traveler fave M Social Singapore) through the airline's stopover site and get access to complimentary rides on the hop-on, hop-off bus, with stops at Marina Bay Sands and the Peranakan Museum. You'll also get free admission to the Gardens by the Bay's' Cloud Forest and Singapore Zoo's River Safari.

How to book it: Go to the Singapore Stopover Holiday site for information on hotels, booking, and additional deals. There's also a step-by-step booking guide that's particularly helpful. (If you didn't know this was a thing until now, you can even add a stopover to an existing booking.),c_limit/stopovers-helsinki-GettyImages-182286445.jpg


Never flown FinnAir? Now's your chance. The Nordic airline is sweetening the deal for trips to Europe and Asia via Helsinki by offering free layovers in the Finnish capital. You can stay for up to five days on either side of your trip, so choose wisely. The under-the-radar city has hundreds of islands to explore, like Seurasaari for the 16th-century homes and Suomenlinna to explore the fortress. We'd even visit the ultra-walkable city in the winter—when temperatures dip into the teens—just to hop into the Löyly sauna and pick up some cozy knitwear at Arela.

FinnAir's stopover page should have everything you need. You can even choose to book one of FinnAir's stopover packages from the site—you can take the ferry to Tallinn or hop on a two-night cruise to Stockholm if you want to squeeze in another city break.,c_limit/Addis-Ababa_GettyImages-157330719.jpg

Addis Ababa

In June, Ethiopian Airlines launched the very first flight from Chicago to Africa, connecting the Windy City with Ethiopia's capital. But, the airline flies on from Addis Ababa all over the continent—from Cape Town to Windhoek, Namibia to Antananarivo, Madagascar—and as of August 2018, offers stopovers, too. You can explore Addis Ababa and get a complimentary hotel room if you've got an eight- to 24-hour layover. If you want to stay longer, you can book one of the airline's multi-day vacation packages, which take you an hour's flight north to the rock churches of Lalibela and the dormant Mount Wonchi volcano, a three-hour drive from Addis Ababa.

Ethiopian Airlines doesn't make it easy, per se, to figure out its stopover program. For the eight- to 24-hour trip, you won't need to do anything ahead of time—just head down to Ethiopian's hotel desk at the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport to get a free transit visa, hotel assignment, and meal vouchers. Check the transit services site for more info. For a package stopover, set your dates, departure airport, and destination on the booking homepage. Then, click "yes" on the stopover pop-up screen, which will direct you to Ethiopian's stopover packages (prices aren't listed online). Submit an inquiry on the one that interests you most—an Ethiopian Airlines rep will contact you to help plan the rest of your trip.,c_limit/stopovers-toronto-GettyImages-554974501.jpg

Montreal, Vancouver, and Toronto (pictured)

Air Canada's free Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver stopover programs came out of two goals: to encourage people to take advantage of flight deals to Europe and Asia, and to boost tourism for Canada's biggest cities. Travelers can spend up to one week on their way to or from another destination, and even hit a different city on the way back. We've got full guides to help plan your time on the ground in Montreal and TorontoBonne chance!

After you've booked your flight with a six-hour layover or more, head straight to the stopover microsite. You can book your hotel through Air Canada (starting at $79 per night), though you won't know which rooms are available until you have a booking confirmation number.,c_limit/stopovers-reykjavik-GettyImages-485690859.jpg


Icelandair's famous stopover program in Reykjavik is the grandfather of these programs. Conceived in the 1970s as a way to boost tourism to then-largely unknown Nordic capital, the program—which lets North Americans en route to Europe (or vice versa) spend three to seven days in Iceland for free—is so successful that it was credited with helping make Reykjavik a major tourist destination to this day. Icelandair doesn't offer any tours explicitly in conjunction with its stopover program, but you can book Reykjavík walking tour, trips to geothermal baths, and even a cruise to see the city's puffin colony online.

The layover program is such a core part of Icelandair's business that it has its very own website. Plug in your dates, specify whether you want to do the stopover on the way to or from your final destination, and go from there.,c_limit/stopovers-abu-dhabi-GettyImages-500049417.jpg

Abu Dhabi

If you're flying on Etihad and connecting in Abu Dhabi, take a break and stretch your legs in town. The airline offers a deal where you can get two nights in a three- to five-star hotel for the price of one. It's not free, but it is very affordable: hotel rates begin from $37 USD per person. Stopover business class and first class passengers are really in luck—they get one or two nights free, respectively, at the Rosewood Abu DhabiEastern Mangroves Hotel & Spa by Anantara, or one of the airline's six other partner hotels. Curious about what to do? So glad you asked: We've got a whole guide to turning a layover in Abu Dhabi into a mini-vacation.

You'll need to book your flight as a multi-city route and then head to the dedicated hotel page to book your discounted hotel room. Visit the Etihad stopover page for more information.,c_limit/Zurich_GettyImages-623046986.jpg


Switzerland is one of the world's most expensive countries. But thanks to a collaboration between SWISS Air Lines, Switzerland Tourism, and Switzerland Travel Centre, the largest tour operator for Swiss holidays, it's now easier—and cheaper—to see it: Dubbed 'Stopover Switzerland,' the program lets travelers flying on SWISS stop in the country for up to four nights, on either in-bound or out-bound flights, plan their own trip, or choose from a number of available packages. You can visit Zurich, for example, or book one of SWISS's packages to Interlaken, Lucerne (one of the best cities in Europe, according to our readers), Montreaux, ski-central Zermatt, or even take a scenic train ride.

SWISS's stopover site is the most user-friendly by far. You can select your departure and arrival cities, flight dates, in-bound or out-bound stopover, stopover dates, and fare class all at once. Plus, you can tack on a vacation package or 50-percent-off train trip there, too.


And News and Views has some interesing ideas this week for sure.


Thank goodness the Holland AAmerica WESTERDAM found a home and it seems Australia tourism is on the mend to normalcy.

Find Romance in Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit



Puerto Vallarta Tourism BoardPHOTO: Dock on Los Muertos Beach. (photo via Puerto Vallarta Tourism Board)

Whether your relationship needs rekindling or not, a recent study revealed that travel enhances romance. Traveling with a significant other allows for couples to spend quality time together, experience something new with one another and reignite romance, among many other benefits.

There are several dreamy destinations to visit with a loved one, but couples are sure to find romance during a vacation to Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit.

To start, there are endless amounts of romantic resorts to choose from in this area, from larger adult-only all-inclusive properties to smaller, quaint boutique options. Most of the hotels and resorts are located beachfront, nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the Sierra Madre Mountains.

No matter which resort you choose to call home for your vacation, there are a number of exciting excursions to choose from in the Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit area. And what better way to reignite a spark than by trying something new together?

Whether it’s strolling hand in hand along the Malecon, horseback riding on the beach or enjoying a quiet dinner and cocktails on an evening catamaran cruise, you’ll be feeling the love in no time.

There are also several authentic fishing villages and charming towns to explore together. Bucerias is the place to go for a laidback day or some beach time, and Yelapa is ideal for a lush hike or a snorkeling session. Try delicious seafood at one of the many restaurants in Sayulita, located just north of Punta Mita.

Rivera NayaritPHOTO: The small town of Sayulita. (photo via Rivera Nayarit)

Those who prefer to enjoy lazy days filled with complete relaxation can park near the pool or on the beach and soak in the sun while they wait for their spa appointment—nothing says romance quite like a couples massage.

The constant year-round warm weather makes it an ideal spot to visit at any time, and you’ll be able to enjoy sunny days and evenings filled with pleasant temps and tropical breezes.

To top it off, Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit boast some of the best sunsets around, providing couples with a perfect backdrop during a candlelight dinner on the beach.

From the moment you step foot in this enchanting destination, you’ll understand why it’s the place to be to find romance.

Contact a travel agent to start getting your trip to this destination planned.



Princess Sets World Record for Largest Multi-Location Vow Renewal



Princess Cruises vow renewalPHOTO: Princess Cruises vow renewal (photo courtesy Princess Cruises)

Princess Cruises continues to uphold its legacy of romance. It was the first cruise ship to have an onboard wedding chapel and the cruise line was home to the television show “The Love Boat.”

Princess is continuing to celebrate the love, holding a record-setting vow renewal ceremony on three ships.

More than 1,400 couples reaffirmed their love for one another during simultaneous ceremonies onboard the top decks of Regal Princess, Royal Princess and Crown Princess. The ceremonies set a Guinness World Record for the largest mass renewal of vows. The previous record was 1,201 couples, set in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

A record-setting accomplishment has to be measurable, verifiable and have a single superlative," said Michael Empric, Guinness World Records adjudicator onboard Regal Princess. "It's always exciting being a part of a new official record, especially when it's aboard 'The Love Boat.' You could feel the excitement and love in the air from all of the couples participating in this monumental moment with Princess."

Ceremonies on board the Regal Princess included officiants Gavin MacLeod, who portrayed the endearing Captain Stubing on "The Love Boat" with his television daughter, Jill Whelan, who played Vicki.

"For more than 20 years, Princess has hosted renewal of vows ceremonies, helping thousands of couples reconnect and celebrate their love for one another," said Gavin MacLeod, Princess Cruises ambassador. "This is the first time we attempted to break a GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS title so this particular milestone is extra special and it's been amazing to hear from the guests who booked this cruise especially to become a part of history with Princess Cruises."

Ceremonies on board the Royal Princess in Cabo San Lucas and Crown Princess in the Caribbean were officiated by the captains of each ship.



Tourism Australia Updates Travel Information Following Wildfires



Lord Howe Island, New South Wales, AustraliaPHOTO: Areas impacted by Australia’s wildfires, including New South Wales, are now welcoming back visitors. (Photo by Jim Byers)

Australia’s main visitor attractions and top vacation spots were not impacted by January’s wildfires, said officials from Tourism Australia, the country’s tourism board, at a press briefing Tuesday.

Speaking at the Australian Consulate in New York, Tourism Australia officials sought to alleviate consumers’ concerns about traveling to Australia, explain the wildfires’ impact and outline steps the country is taking to re-start travel.


Travel Intel

Travel technology, man with airplane and laptop

Chicago, Illinois

International Inbound Travel to US Expected to Decrease


Eiffel Tower, Paris, City, Airplane Window

 The 10 Most Popular Countries for Business Travel

Tourist taking photos in Venice, Italy.

Venice is Monitoring Tourists’ Movements Via Their Own...


United States Capitol Building, Washington DC

Congress Proposes Trusted Traveler REAL ID Relief Act


Australia’s southeast region, including South Australia, New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria, have been impacted the most by the wildfires, said Jane Whitehead, vice president and regional general manager for Tourism Australia. However, those areas account for less than 15 percent of the country.

Whitehead said this season’s bushfires were very unusual, adding that rainfall in recent days has extinguished any lingering fires.

“Bushfires are an annual natural occurrence in the area,” Whitehead said. “It was just the scale of the bushfires this most recent season that was unprecedented. We’ve had heavy rainfall over recent days so most, if not all, of the fires have been extinguished.”

According to Whitehead, tourism in Australia from the U.S. and Canada increased last year and Tourism Australia wants to continue that trend: “We have a five percent growth from 2018 with more than 819,000 visitors from the U.S. and a seven percent growth from Canada with more than 191,000 visitors.”

With the fires no longer posing a threat, the bushfire recovery effort is already moving forward with new initiatives to let those interested know Australia is ready for travelers and tourists. The first program is an effort to get Australian citizens to travel the country with a new “Holiday Here This Year” campaign.

"We launched a domestic campaign to immediately encourage Australians to holiday here," Whitehead said. "This solution provides quick support to an industry that has been impacted by declining inquiries. We're also very focused from an international perspective on getting back into the market within the next couple of weeks, reassuring travelers that Australia is open for business."

Brisbane city skyline and Brisbane river at twilightPHOTO: Brisbane city skyline and Brisbane river at twilight in Australia (photo via f11photo / iStock/ Getty Images Plus)

In fact, traveling to Australia is one of the best ways to help bushfire recovery, and it's been inspiring to see the support from people in Australia and around the world extending a hand to those affected.

Tourism Australia will continue to focus on U.S. markets to get the word out with briefings in Los Angeles, Denver Chicago, San Diego and Dallas within the next few weeks.

“Obviously there was a lot of news coverage on the bushfires and there were maps and images circulating on social media that were very inaccurate and gave a false impression of the fires and the scale of the fires,” Whitehead said. “So we wanted to show the country and tourism is safe.”



Norwegian Spirit Emerges From $100 Million Revitalization



Aerial rendering of the renovated Norwegian SpiritPHOTO: Aerial rendering of the renovated Norwegian Spirit. (photo courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line)

Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Spirit has undergone a $100 million renovation as part of The Norwegian Edge program, designed to update and elevate the standard of the fleet.

Norwegian Spirit emerged from a 43-day dry dock in Marseille, France, with 14 new venues, additional and updated staterooms, enhanced public areas and new hull art.

Rendering of a new-look suite aboard Norwegian SpiritPHOTO: Rendering of a new-look suite aboard Norwegian Spirit. (photo courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line)

It now sets sail on 17-, 20- and 28-day cruises from Civitavecchia, Italy, on Feb. 14, 2020; Dubai on March 2, 2020; and Cape Town, South Africa, on March 22, 2020, before homeporting in Athens (Piraeus), Greece for the first time on April 19, 2020.

The ship originally was scheduled to operate some Asia sailings, but that program was canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak.

From the port for Athens, Norwegian Spirit will operate seven-day voyages to the Greek Isles, Turkey, and Israel through Nov. 8, 2020. Ports of call include Rhodes, Mykonos, Santorini and Corfu, Greece; Kusadasi and Istanbul, Turkey; Ashdod and Haifa, Israel; and Limassol, Cyprus. The program also has two new ports of call for the brand, Patmos and Volos, Greece.

The renovation doubled the size of the Mandara Spa, which now has a new thermal suite and relaxation area, and added the second Onda by Scarpetta restaurant at sea. New complimentary dining venues include an additional main dining room, Taste; the 24-hour eatery, The Local Bar and Grill; the all-day dining outlet, Garden Café; the Great Outdoors Bar; and Waves Pool Bar.

Also making their debut are Bliss Ultra Lounge and Spinnaker Lounge, which features the Humidor Cigar Lounge, and an adults-only retreat, Spice H2O, a daytime lounge featuring two new hot tubs and a dedicated bar, which transforms into an after-hours entertainment venue.

Rendering of the adults-only retreat, Spice H2O aboard Norwegian SpiritPHOTO: Rendering of the adults-only retreat, Spice H2O aboard Norwegian Spirit. (photo courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line

The ship also will be free of single-use plastics, as is the entire NCL fleet.

NCL will position seven ships in Europe in 2020: Norwegian Spirit, Norwegian Escape, Norwegian Getaway, Norwegian Dawn, Norwegian Star, Norwegian Epic and Norwegian Jade.



Westerdam Docks In Cambodia, Guests Cleared Of Coronavirus


 Matt Turner

Feb 14, 2020 10:32am



Holland America Line's Westerdam docked in Cambodia

Photo by AP Photo/Heng Sinith via Newscred

After being denied entry to several countries, Holland America Line’s Westerdam began disembarking guests at the Port of Sihanoukville, Cambodia, Friday morning. Holland America credits the efforts of a coalition of governments that came to the aid of the cruise line, noting President Donald Trump, the State Department and National Security Council teams worked closely with Cambodian officials and were instrumental in Westerdam gaining access to the port.

To be cautious, 20 guests and crew who visited the medical center during this cruise were screened for coronavirus. All results came back negative from the Pasteur Laboratory in Phnom Penh and the results were announced by the Cambodian Health Ministry on Thursday.

Westerdam departed Hong Kong, February 1 for a 14-day cruise and was originally scheduled to call at ports in the PhilippinesTaiwanJapan and South Korea, but was denied entry following an outbreak of novel coronavirus in mainland China, which spread to other countries. Despite not having any known cases of coronavirus on board, Westerdam was denied entry to several countries to end the cruise and allow guests to return home. Separately, Westerdam was not able to call at Manila on February 3 due to a new policy prohibiting any ship with guests that had passed through China, Hong Kong or Macau in the prior 14 days.

Westerdam was carrying 1,455 guests and 802 crew. The cruise was previously scheduled to disembark February 15 at Yokohama, Japan. Guests are now disembarking in Sihanoukville over the next few days and transfer via charter flights to Phnom Penh for forward travel home. Holland America Line is arranging and paying for all flights and guests have received a full refund of their cruise fare as well as a 100 percent future cruise credit.



Discover Puerto Rico Assures Travelers Island Is Open, Launches New Campaign


 Matt Turner

Feb 13, 2020 1:33pm



Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Discover Puerto Rico has begun rolling out a new campaign, #GoForPuertoRico, to encourage travel to the Island following January's seismic activity. The new creative reminds travelers that Puerto Rico is open for tourism, focuses on the Island's diverse offerings and communicates that by traveling, visitors are fueling local communities. 

Puerto Rico had record-breaking numbers in lodging revenue, airport arrivals and meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) bookings for the 2019 calendar year and expects to sustain the tourism momentum through 2020. From air access being at an all-time high to advancements in the lodging industry, tourism numbers in 2019 surpassed the Island's past high. To note: Lodging revenue reached nearly $1 billion in the past year. The island also received 5.2 million travelers across all airports throughout the Island, which include tourists, diaspora and visiting friends and relatives.

The new campaign builds upon Discover Puerto Rico's brand campaign "Have We Met Yet?," which re-introduced the island to the world in April 2019. The campaign showed off  “the many aspects that make Puerto Rico a unique and meaningful destination,” including the hospitality of the Puerto Rican people, the cuisine, the

"Our destination is ready and continues to receive visitors not only in the San Juan area, but across all regions," said Brad Dean, CEO of Discover Puerto Rico, in an official release. "A way people can show their support for the island is to travel to Puerto Rico for their vacations, work trips, meetings, conferences and events." He adds that flights are operating normally to all airports, attractions across the island are open and that all major hotels are accepting guests. 

Leah Chandler, CMO of Discover Puerto Rico, said the campaign has launched across digital banners, social and pre-roll in key markets and in over-the-top TV—the first since the DMO's inception. "The overall impetus behind the development of the campaign is to remind people that the best way to support Puerto Rico is to go.”  



Airlines Registering Strong Demand For U.S. Virgin Islands


 Matt Turner

Feb 13, 2020 1:22pm



Travel demand for the U.S. Virgin Islands is strong and forecasts look positive, reports U.S. Virgin Islands Commissioner of Tourism Joseph Boschulte after completing meetings at Routes Americas, a leading aviation event, on the U.S. mainland last week.

Commissioner Boschulte, who held bilateral conversations with about a dozen airline executives while in Indianapolis, reported that carriers were upbeat about business to the Territory as he delivered important destination updates to help guide their decisions for the next winter season.

The tourism chief explained that there was particularly strong interest in St. Croix, and he took the opportunity to update partners on the marketing initiatives which leverage the island's new brand "St. Croix: A Vibe Like No Other.” In fact, Spirit Airlines announced its nearly doubling its flights to St. Croix from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.



What to Know About Viking Expeditions' Launch in 2022

Feb 10, 2020What to Know About Viking Expeditions' Launch in 2022Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris will debut in January and August 2022, respectively.
Credit: 2020 Viking

The story of Viking is a remarkable one. It was just in 1997 that it first launched to swift fame on the rivers, and it has since expanded successfully into the ocean market. This year, the line will have 78 riverboats and six ocean ships, and many more of each are on the way — in addition to a pair of expedition ships. 

Viking Expeditions effectively marks the line’s third venture, with trips to the Arctic, Antarctica and the Great Lakes on the horizon for 2022. At a time when dozens of new expedition ships are scheduled to launch and compete, the upcoming Viking Octantis (January 2022) and Viking Polaris (August 2022) promise to offer innovative touches that will stand out from the crowd. Each ship will measure 30,150 tons with a guest capacity of 378, resulting in a passenger-space ratio (or ship volume per guest) of 79.8, which is even roomier than the line’s other ocean ships (51.4).

The ships will feature the popular double-decker Explorers’ Lounge.The ships will feature the popular double-decker Explorers’ Lounge.
Credit: 2020 Viking

As they are set to head to the icy north and south, both vessels will sport Polar Class 6 strength standards and, most important for those prone to motion sickness, some significant stability features. Traditional fin stabilizers and modern dynamic positioning will be in play, along with a U-tank. This ballast container is shaped like a “U” at the keel and ship sides for liquid to slosh from port to starboard, thus dampening its roll.

In fact, Torstein Hagen, chairman of Viking, says that according to model tank testing, the U-tank mitigates roll by around 50%. Meanwhile, the vessels’ substantial length — closer to the proportions of Viking’s signature Longships on the river — should help reduce pitching.

A Nordic Junior SuiteA Nordic Junior Suite
Credit: 2020 Viking

It would altogether seem that Viking has taken the best elements of its riverboats and its ocean ships for Octantis and Polaris, as they will be sized in between both and include seagoing venues such as the celebrated double-decker Explorers’ Lounge.

But the clincher is The Aula and Finse Terrace. Positioned at the back of the ship, the venue — which would otherwise be an inward-facing lecture hall — has the ability to transform 270 degrees worth of wall behind the stage into two-story wraparound windows overlooking an alfresco terrace at the stern. In short, these ships will have a pair of multifunction observation lounges, one at the front and one at the back.

The Nordic Spa will feature a hydrotherapy pool positioned along the glass.The Nordic Spa will feature a hydrotherapy pool positioned along the glass.
Credit: 2020 Viking

The Nordic Spa will also place a greater emphasis on the outdoor scenery; the spa will feature a hydrotherapy pool positioned lengthwise right along the glass, and Aquavit Terrace will showcase a pool that is uniquely positioned both inside and outside.

A Nordic Balcony in every stateroom continues the theme of bringing the outdoors in. Instead of a chilly outside veranda, floor-to-ceiling glass around the perimeter of the ship — with indoor seating located just behind — offers warm vantage points. The upper pane can open on demand for cruisers to take photos and use binoculars more freely. Rounding out amenities will be Viking’s spacious bathrooms and drying closets for wet gear.

The Aula and Finse TerraceThe Aula and Finse Terrace
Credit: 2020 Viking

Speaking of gear, expedition equipment will be plentiful, and it will all be complimentary to use — yes, even a pair of Beatles-esque yellow submarines. The Hangar will be the central hub for launching not only the subs, but also kayaks, Zodiacs and rigid inflatable boats (RIBs) in sheltered comfort. The RIBs will be two, 12-seater crafts that can be launched from a stable 85-foot slipway, perfect for those with limited mobility. Besides trekking poles, snowshoes, skis, boots, binoculars and waterproof pants that can be used for free during the trip, guests will receive a complimentary Viking Expeditions jacket to take home.

An indoor-outdoor pool and hot tubs offer scenic views.An indoor-outdoor pool and hot tubs offer scenic views.
Credit: 2020 Viking

As expected, all other Viking inclusions will be available to travelers: every onboard meal (main dining room, buffet, Mamsen’s, Manfredi’s and room service); beer and wine with lunch and dinner; self-service laundry; access to The Nordic Spa; Wi-Fi access; lectures; and nearly all shore excursions and charter flights to the most remote destinations.

Itineraries will range from eight days in the Great Lakes to 44 days repositioning between the Arctic and Antarctica. Regional polar routes last 13 or 19 days, with departures from Buenos Aires and Ushuaia in Argentina, and Tromso, Norway. The first season is already sold out to past guests, but all other sailings are open.

The Details



Diamond Princess guests can disembark, finish quarantine on land

By Johanna Jainchill 


Feb 13, 2020







Japanese health officials are planning a voluntary disembarkation of passengers on the Diamond Princess to a shoreside facility to complete their quarantine, Princess Cruises said.  

Princess also gave guests the option to stay on the ship through the end of the quarantine period, which is Feb. 19.

An additional 44 cases of coronavirus, officially named Covid-19, were confirmed on the ship, bringing the total to 218, up from 174 on Wednesday.

Princess said it was informed by Japanese officials that the voluntary disembarkation will be done in a phased approach over the next few days, with the most medically vulnerable guests in the first phase, such as older adults with pre-existing health conditions.

According to officials, Princess said, passengers in the first group will be tested for Covid-19, and if the test is positive, they will be transported to a local hospital for further evaluation and isolation.

If the test is negative, they will be given the option to leave the ship and be transported to a quarantine housing facility.  

Princess said it has been told by Japanese officials that the temporary housing facilities include individual rooms and individual bathrooms. There are no clinics at these facilities and prescription medication will be provided, but medical care will require transport to a hospital or clinic. Princess also said the meals provided will accommodate certain medical conditions but not dietary preferences; the food will be Japanese bento-style boxes and that no western-style meals will be available.


Time to get a taste for the British Virgin Islands

By Meagan Drillinger 


Feb 07, 2020


The view from a One-Bedroom Pool Suite at the reimagined Rosewood Little Dix Bay.

The view from a One-Bedroom Pool Suite at the reimagined Rosewood Little Dix Bay.






It's been quite the comeback story for the British Virgin Islands. After having been devastated by hurricanes Maria and Irma in 2017, the destination is just now putting the finishing touches on renovations, reopenings and redos.

But it seems the rest of the world is taking notice, as the New York Times recently named the British Virgin Islands one of its 52 places to go in 2020.

If your clients are looking for one of the best times to experience the British Virgin Islands, the annual Food Fete is when the islands flex their collective culinary muscle. Each November, many of the islands host food-themed events to show off what's cooking in their kitchens. Travelers can combine great food, sailing, luxury hotel stays and plenty of beach escapes. The events bring together rising star chefs from across the islands and also spotlight chefs from around the world.

The Taste of Tortola, for example, creates a street festival atmosphere in Road Town, featuring restaurants, vendors and food trucks with island favorites. Jost Van Dyke pays homage to its signature dish, roast pork, with the Jost Pork and More Festival. Capping off the month of food, rum and music, Anegada hosts its annual two-day Lobster Festival, which serves up the local spiny lobster in a dizzying array of styles.

Open for business

Last year, the British Virgin Islands Tourist Board celebrated its 50th anniversary, so it was only fitting that for 2019's Food Fete, some of its most beloved landmarks reopened following the hurricanes. The Scrub Island Resort, Spa and Marina, for example, hosted the inaugural Gourmet Soiree, which kicked off Food Fete, in celebration of its reopening. The 230-acre private island has 52 guestrooms and suites as well as two-, three-, four- and six-bedroom villas.

Jost Van Dyke saw the reopening of the renowned Soggy Dollar, alleged birthplace of the islands' official cocktail, the Painkiller. The bar was leveled by the hurricanes, but it is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Off of Norman Island, the popular Willy T's Floating Bar has reopened, as well.

One of the most anticipated reopenings is the Rosewood Little Dix Bay. The resort was opened in 1964 by Laurance Rockefeller and has been a retreat for repeat guests for decades. It shuttered in 2016 for planned renovations, and just as it was about to reopen, the hurricanes turned a yearlong project into a four-year odyssey. 

But January saw the reopening of the retreat, which ushers in a new age for the property. The reimagined resort has 80 new guestrooms, suites and villas, including Tree House Suites and One-Bedroom Pool Suites. The 500-acre resort on a half-mile stretch of beach features four dining venues, two pools, a new fitness center and Sense, a Rosewood Spa. As an homage, the guestrooms and public spaces are decorated with vintage photographs and tokens from its 1960s heyday. Rates for the Rosewood Little Dix Bay start at $1,625.


So we do want to wish everyone a pleasant weekend and if it is a long one for you an even better pleasant weekend.


Until next week remain vigilant and as always be safe, stay safe and travel safe.


Cheers from Oakley.


Bill and Fred