News & Views of the Week

Sunday, December 9, 2018

It is the season to be Merry as the holiday actually says MERRY CHRISTMAS.

And what better way to feel merry than to give the gift of travel.

The Grand Princess will be with us sailing roundtrip San Francisco itineraries till spring of 2020 and then she will move on to Vancouver doing Alaska sailings for summer of 2020.  

Until then we can enjoy her sailing her coastal, Hawaiian, Mexican and Alaska sailings.  And of course our group to the North Coast of the Pacific in October of next year.  We now provide you with information on her remining sailings as well as our group cruise going North to Astoria, Seattle, Vancouver and Victoria.

 

Having trouble viewing the graphics? Go here.

 

 

THE GRAND PRICNESS SAILS ROUNDTRIP FROM THE CITY BY THE BAY

 

 

Mexico


Starting At: $ 599.00
+ 178.95 taxes/fees
Ship: Grand Princess

Newly enhanced with our latest innovations, Grand Princess continues to offer the signature service for which Princess Cruises is renowned. With our innovative features like Movies Under the Stars®, our Italian-inspired Piazza and The Sanctuary®, there are plenty of ways to help you escape completely. Sip on a variety of soothing teas at Leaves Tea Lounge & Library, or enjoy hand-tossed pizza in Alfredo's, our full-service pizzeria.

 

Hawaiian Islands


Starting At: $ 1427.00
+ 240.00 taxes/fees
Ship: Grand Princess

Newly enhanced with our latest innovations, Grand Princess continues to offer the signature service for which Princess Cruises is renowned. With our innovative features like Movies Under the Stars®, our Italian-inspired Piazza and The Sanctuary®, there are plenty of ways to help you escape completely. Sip on a variety of soothing teas at Leaves Tea Lounge & Library, or enjoy hand-tossed pizza in Alfredo's, our full-service pizzeria.

 

Mexican Riviera


Starting At: $ 698.00
+ 195.00 taxes/fees
Ship: Grand Princess

With an atmosphere of comfortable elegance, tantalizing dining options and dazzling entertainment, your stay on board Grand Princess® will be anything but ordinary. Relax at The Sanctuary, a tranquil haven reserved for adults, enjoy Movies Under the Stars® poolside or experience something new with our Discovery at SEAT enrichment programs.

 

Hawaiian Islands


Starting At: $ 1308.00
+ 240.00 taxes/fees
Ship: Grand Princess

 

 

Hawaiian Islands


Starting At: $ 1699.00
+ 240.00 taxes/fees
Ship: Grand Princess

 

 

Inside Passage (Roundtrip San Francisco)


Starting At: $ 1169.00
+ 250.00 taxes/fees
Ship: Grand Princess

Newly enhanced with our latest innovations, Grand Princess continues to offer the signature service for which Princess Cruises is renowned. With our innovative features like Movies Under the Stars®, our Italian-inspired Piazza and The Sanctuary®, there are plenty of ways to help you escape completely. Sip on a variety of soothing teas at Leaves Tea Lounge & Library, or enjoy hand-tossed pizza in Alfredo's, our full-service pizzeria.

 

Inside Passage (Roundtrip San Francisco)


Starting At: $ 1169.00
+ 250.00 taxes/fees
Ship: Grand Princess

With an atmosphere of comfortable elegance, tantalizing dining options and dazzling entertainment, your stay on board Grand Princess® will be anything but ordinary. Relax at The Sanctuary, a tranquil haven reserved for adults, enjoy Movies Under the Stars® poolside or experience something new with our Discovery at SEAT enrichment programs.

 

Inside Passage (Roundtrip San Francisco)


Starting At: $ 1349.00
+ 250.00 taxes/fees
Ship: Grand Princess

Newly enhanced with our latest innovations, Grand Princess continues to offer the signature service for which Princess Cruises is renowned. With our innovative features like Movies Under the Stars®, our Italian-inspired Piazza and The Sanctuary®, there are plenty of ways to help you escape completely. Sip on a variety of soothing teas at Leaves Tea Lounge & Library, or enjoy hand-tossed pizza in Alfredo's, our full-service pizzeria.

 

Inside Passage with Tracy Arm Fjord


Starting At: $ 1149.00
+ 250.00 taxes/fees
Ship: Grand Princess

Newly enhanced with our latest innovations, Grand Princess continues to offer the signature service for which Princess Cruises is renowned. With our innovative features like Movies Under the Stars®, our Italian-inspired Piazza and The Sanctuary®, there are plenty of ways to help you escape completely. Sip on a variety of soothing teas at Leaves Tea Lounge & Library, or enjoy hand-tossed pizza in Alfredo's, our full-service pizzeria.

 

Inside Passage (Roundtrip San Francisco)


Starting At: $ 1229.00
+ 250.00 taxes/fees
Ship: Grand Princess

Newly enhanced with our latest innovations, Grand Princess continues to offer the signature service for which Princess Cruises is renowned. With our innovative features like Movies Under the Stars®, our Italian-inspired Piazza and The Sanctuary®, there are plenty of ways to help you escape completely. Sip on a variety of soothing teas at Leaves Tea Lounge & Library, or enjoy hand-tossed pizza in Alfredo's, our full-service pizzeria.

 

Inside Passage (Roundtrip San Francisco)


Starting At: $ 1219.00
+ 250.00 taxes/fees
Ship: Grand Princess

With an atmosphere of comfortable elegance, tantalizing dining options and dazzling entertainment, your stay on board Grand Princess® will be anything but ordinary. Relax at The Sanctuary, a tranquil haven reserved for adults, enjoy Movies Under the Stars® poolside or experience something new with our Discovery at SEAT enrichment programs.

 

Classic California Coast


Starting At: $ 699.00
+ 195.00 taxes/fees
Ship: Grand Princess

With an atmosphere of comfortable elegance, tantalizing dining options and dazzling entertainment, your stay on board Grand Princess® will be anything but ordinary. Relax at The Sanctuary, a tranquil haven reserved for adults, enjoy Movies Under the Stars® poolside or experience something new with our Discovery at SEAT enrichment programs.

 

Hawaiian Islands


Starting At: $ 1499.00
+ 250.00 taxes/fees
Ship: Grand Princess

 

 

Mexican Riviera


Starting At: $ 1499.00
+ 205.00 taxes/fees
Ship: Grand Princess

With an atmosphere of comfortable elegance, tantalizing dining options and dazzling entertainment, your stay on board Grand Princess® will be anything but ordinary. Relax at The Sanctuary, a tranquil haven reserved for adults, enjoy Movies Under the Stars® poolside or experience something new with our Discovery at SEAT enrichment programs.

 

West Coast Getaway with San Diego


Starting At: $ 499.00
+ 110.00 taxes/fees
Ship: Grand Princess

With an atmosphere of comfortable elegance, tantalizing dining options and dazzling entertainment, your stay on board Grand Princess® will be anything but ordinary. Relax at The Sanctuary, a tranquil haven reserved for adults, enjoy Movies Under the Stars® poolside or experience something new with our Discovery at SEAT enrichment programs.

 

Hawaiian Islands


Starting At: $ 1399.00
+ 250.00 taxes/fees
Ship: Grand Princess

With an atmosphere of comfortable elegance, tantalizing dining options and dazzling entertainment, your stay on board Grand Princess® will be anything but ordinary. Relax at The Sanctuary, a tranquil haven reserved for adults, enjoy Movies Under the Stars® poolside or experience something new with our Discovery at SEAT enrichment programs.

 

Hawaiian Islands


Starting At: $ 1399.00
+ 250.00 taxes/fees
Ship: Grand Princess

 

 

Pacific Northwest Coast


Starting At: $ 859.00
+ 195.00 taxes/fees
Ship: Grand Princess

Newly enhanced with our latest innovations, Grand Princess continues to offer the signature service for which Princess Cruises is renowned. With our innovative features like Movies Under the Stars®, our Italian-inspired Piazza and The Sanctuary®, there are plenty of ways to help you escape completely. Sip on a variety of soothing teas at Leaves Tea Lounge & Library, or enjoy hand-tossed pizza in Alfredo's, our full-service pizzeria.

 

Hawaiian Islands


Starting At: $ 1399.00
+ 250.00 taxes/fees
Ship: Grand Princess

With an atmosphere of comfortable elegance, tantalizing dining options and dazzling entertainment, your stay on board Grand Princess® will be anything but ordinary. Relax at The Sanctuary, a tranquil haven reserved for adults, enjoy Movies Under the Stars® poolside or experience something new with our Discovery at SEAT enrichment programs.

 

Pacific Coastal


Starting At: $ 299.00
+ 95.00 taxes/fees
Ship: Grand Princess

With an atmosphere of comfortable elegance, tantalizing dining options and dazzling entertainment, your stay on board Grand Princess® will be anything but ordinary. Relax at The Sanctuary, a tranquil haven reserved for adults, enjoy Movies Under the Stars® poolside or experience something new with our Discovery at SEAT enrichment programs.

 

OUR NOTH COAST GROUP FROM SAN FRANCISCO NEXT YEAR


Pacific Northwest Coast(#5373303)

 

Prices Starting At: $ 979.00
+ 195.00 taxes/fees
Date(s): 10/13/2019 - 10/20/2019
Ship: Grand Princess

Newly enhanced with our latest innovations, Grand Princess continues to offer the signature service for which Princess Cruises is renowned. With our innovative features like Movies Under the Stars®, our Italian-inspired Piazza and The Sanctuary®, there are plenty of ways to help you escape completely. Sip on a variety of soothing teas at Leaves Tea Lounge & Library, or enjoy hand-tossed pizza in Alfredo's, our full-service pizzeria.

 

We do want to remind you that we will not publish next weekend as Bill will be in recovery mode from his upcoming eye surgery.  With only one eye it is a bit difficult to sit at an extended time at a computer so please do excuse the interruption for a week.  He should be able to perfomr his duties on the weekend just before Christmas.

And of course Fred will fill in at the controls for a few days as well so you are still in good hands.  

 

Thinking of places to go this Christmas?  It's not too late as hotels are not filled up just yet and maybe, just maybe you can grab a good airfare but some of these places can certainly be a good and ejoyable Christmas time away from home.

We see this as taken from a recent article from Conde Nast.

23 Best Places to Spend Christmas: The World's Most Festive Cities

23 PHOTOS

by CAITLIN MORTON

December 4, 2018

There's no place like Rome for the holidays. (Or Cape Town. Or Tokyo. Or...)

We're all for snow days and cuddling up with loved ones by the fire, but the month of December is also prime time for traveling—mainly to see how the rest of the world celebrates Christmas. These cities are worth a visit any time of year, sure, but they seem to be exceptionally magical during the holiday season. Whether they're European classics with storybook Christmas markets, Asian cities where you can see twinkling lights from a rooftop pool, or ski paradises right here in the U.S., some celebrations are worth the price of a plane ticket. And let's face it: You haven't really seen Christmas lights until you've seen 26 million lights all at once (we're looking at you, Colombia). From Cologne to Cape Town, here are the best places to spend Christmas this year.

This gallery was originally published in 2015. It has been updated with new information.

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Cape Town, South Africa

Why we go: If you're looking to escape winter this Christmas, you can't do much better than Cape Town—it's summer in the Southern Hemisphere, after all. You can even visit one (or several) of the South African city's holiday markets without having to wear a coat and scarf.

This one thing will really get you in the spirit: An outdoor screening of Home Alone at the beautiful Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens on Christmas Day at 8:30 p.m.

Stay here: The ocean-side Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa, which will be offering a special five-course Christmas dinner on December 24.

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Quebec City, Canada

Why we go: Quebec City is one of the oldest cities in North America, and its colonial French architecture gives it an unmistakably European feel. The cobbled streets of the Old Town are packed with quaint shops and delicious bistros, all merrily decorated for the holidays.

This one thing will really get you in the spirit:: The toboggan run at Château Frontenac (open from mid-December to March), one of the city’s oldest traditions—and quite the thrill. Zoom down icy tracks overlooking the city on a wooden sled reaching speeds of up to 45 miles per hour.

Stay here: You can't go wrong with Auberge Saint-Antoine, especially with its lobby fireplace and heated bathroom floors.

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Rovaniemi, Finland

Why we go: Hugging the Arctic Circle, Finland’s Lapland region is the birthplace and home of Santa Claus. In the city of Rovaniemi, Santa Claus Village amusement park and resort creates an unforgettable Christmas experience for children with snow-covered cottages, reindeer rides, and a friendly staff dressed as elves who refuse to break character.

This one thing will really get you in the spirit: An evening snowmobile trip to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights overhead (we recommend the Rovaniemi Adventureprogram through Off the Map Travel).

Stay here: One of the houses at Arctic TreeHouse Hotel, a truly once-in-a-lifetime accommodation with panoramic views and private saunas.

WATCH THIS

 

A Day in Cape Town

 

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Sydney, Australia

Why we go: You haven't seen Christmas lights until you've seen Sydney's Christmas lights. Plus, the holiday season lasts an entire month here (take that, 12 days of Christmas) with "Sydney Christmas," an aptly-named festival taking place from November 24 through December 25. The citywide celebration kicked off this year with a tree lighting at Martin Place, and continues with Christmas markets and nightly concerts.

This one thing will really get you in the spirit: The 94,000 twinkling LEDs at the incredible Pitt Street Mall Boulevard of Light.

Stay here: The 2017-launched Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour hotel, where you can enjoy a Christmas Day buffet lunch followed by a nap by the rooftop pool (remember, it's summertime Down Under).

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Málaga, Spain

Why we go: Located in southern Spain, Málaga really goes all out for the holidays. Aside from the Christmas markets, massive nativity scenes, and free concerts at Plaza de la Constitución, the city holds its annual Verdiales Music Festival on December 28. All day, visitors can watch competing couples don extravagant costumes and practice different forms of verdiales, the regional flamenco dance. Now where can you get something like that in the States?

This one thing will really get you in the spirit: The lights along shopping street Calle Larios, lit in late November and kept on through December.

Stay here: Finca Cortesin, an RCA favorite complete with private villas and Mediterranean views.

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Kennebunkport, Maine

Why we go: Every December, this tiny New England town bursts with holiday cheer during its annual Christmas Prelude, an 11-day bash that's about as New England as it gets (I mean, one of the main attractions is a tree made of lobster traps). The lobster rolls at The Clam Shack—considered to be some of the best rolls in Maine—will make you forget about gingerbread and sugar plums altogether.

This one thing will really get you in the spirit: Santa Claus arriving to the Christmas Prelude on a lobster boat. (This year's arrival already occurred on November 29, but the festival lasts until December 9.)

Stay here: Our readers love Cape Arundel Inn & Resort for its oceanside location and restaurant serving up fresh seafood (and, unlike a lot of Maine resorts, it's actually open during the winter months).

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Prague, Czech Republic

Why we go: The Christmas markets in Prague are some of the best in the world and run a full month, with locals and travelers passing through for a dose of mulled wine, sticky pastries, and roasted ham. The main markets take place in the Old Town and Wenceslas squares, just five minutes apart by foot—and set to the backdrop of some of the prettiest Gothic architecture you'll ever see.

This one thing will really get you in the spirit: The annual performance of The Nutcracker at the National Theater.

Stay here: Aria Hotel Prague by Library Hotel Collection, located within walking distance of Old Town Square.

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Tokyo, Japan

Why we go: The city turns the voltage up each year with its winter illuminations, with different districts competing with each other to create some truly sensational displays. This year's illuminations include over 100,000 twinkly blue and silver lights at Tokyo Midtown and a massive Baccarat crystal chandelier at Yebisu Garden Place. And don't worry if you can't get there before December 25—the winter illuminations have become so popular that most remain up until February.

This one thing will really get you in the spirit: The Blue Cavern ("Ao no Dokutsu") illumination in Shibuya (pictured), an electric version of the blue grottos found in the Mediterranean.

Stay here: Hoshinoya Tokyo, a Gold List winner complete with hot spring-fed soaking pool.

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Bruges, Belgium

Why we go: Europe’s best-preserved medieval city oozes charm year-round, but is especially charming during the holidays. It's hard to imagine a place more magical as you wander the cobblestone streets, admire the shimmering lights, and warm up with mugs of Belgian hot chocolate in cafes.

This one thing will really get you in the spirit: Ice skating with someone special at the picture-perfect ice rink, located near the downtown Christmas market.

Stay here: Grand Hotel Casselbergh (steps away from the Markt) has inviting touches like wooden beams in rooms, in-house library, and lobby bar with fireplace.

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Reykjavík, Iceland

Why we go: Reykjavík shines on the streets and in the sky in December. Strings of glinting Christmas bulbs illuminate the city during its very long nights; and on the clearest evenings, the Northern Lights can be seen from the city’s darker streets.

This one thing will really get you in the spirit: The 13 Yule Lads, a group of holiday trolls you'll see about town who are—in local folklore—Iceland’s equivalent to Santa Claus (and have actually been around a lot longer than St. Nick).

Stay here: Hotel Borg, the city's oldest and most elegant hotel, still reigns supreme.

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Cologne, Germany

Why we go: Nothing embodies old-world yuletide charm like the Christmas market, and nobody takes Christmas markets more seriously than the Germans, with Cologne’s drawing four million visitors each winter.

This one thing will really get you in the spirit: Taking in the merry sights from the observation deck of KölnTriangle, the tower directly opposite the Cathedral on the Rhine.

Stay here: The Hyatt Regency has great views of the Cologne Cathedral, plus a five-course menu at Glashaus Restaurant on Christmas Eve.

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Rome, Italy

Why we go: The streets around town will be festively alight, sure, but the home to the seat of Catholicism is an excellent option for folks seeking a more sacrosanct Christmas experience.

This one thing will really get you in the spirit: Midnight mass at the Pantheon, where you can hear hymns echoing off the walls of the 1,900-year-old architectural marvel.

Stay here: The immaculate Hotel de Russie, with its peaceful spa, secret garden, and best aperitivos in the city.

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Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Why we go: December in Rio is all about enjoying an icy caipirinha on a spectacular beach (who says Christmas has to be about ugly sweaters and hot cocoa?). The city also happens to host the world's largest display of full-sized nativity scenes during its annual Festival de Presépios ("Crib Festival"), found at Jardim de Alah between Leblon and Ipanema.

This one thing will really get you in the spirit: Riding a bike around the Rodrigo Freitas Lagoon and enjoying views of the world’s largest floating Christmas tree from every angle.

Stay here: The Emiliano has easy access to Copacabana Beach, although the expansive spa menus and travel-worthy breakfasts might tempt you to stay indoors.

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New York City

Why we go: There’s no shortage of ways to make your New York City Christmasmagical, whether it's ice skating at Rockefeller Center, carriage rides through Central Park, or lurking around 34th street hoping to witness a miracle.

This one thing will really get you in the spirit: Watching the Rockettes do their thing during the Radio City Christmas Spectacular (showing this year through January 1, 2019).

Stay here: The Plaza. (If it's good enough for Kevin McCallister...)

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Hong Kong

Why we go: Hong Kong's yuletide urban offerings rival that of NYC's, with holiday markets, window displays, and concerts galore (they even have a Santa Con). Then there are the lights. The Symphony of Lights show—held nightly, beginning November 29—will leave you breathless thanks to an extravagantly choreographed neon show displayed across more than 40 of the city’s iconic skyscrapers along Victoria Harbor.

This one thing will really get you in the spirit: Experiencing the Symphony of Lights during a harbor-front dinner cruise.

Stay here: As if the Ritz-Carlton wasn't swanky enough, the hotel will be hosting Christmas parties, dinners, and afternoon teas all season—they even have a Christmas market right there in the lobby.

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Vienna, Austria

Why we go: Vienna practically sparkles with holiday spirit during the Christmas season (the lights covering nearly every building certainly don't hurt). The city is known for its markets, with the Viennese Christmas Market at City Hall stealing the show every year. From November 17 to December 26, 2018, the plaza comes alive with more than 150 vendors selling toys and candles and cookies—all in authentic Austrian style, of course.

This one thing will really get you in the spirit: Christmas Mass at the Hofburgkapelle (Hofburg Chapel), where you can enjoy the crystalline tones of the one and only Vienna Boys Choir.

Stay here: The Park Hyatt hotel is within walking distance of St. Stephen’s Cathedral and features some of the largest rooms in Vienna.

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Strasbourg, France

Why we go: Strasbourg is home to the oldest of France’s Christmas markets, dating back nearly 450 years. There are 12 in total to check out, which is sure to keep you busy throughout the end of 2018. Pro tip: Though the markets will be full of delicious goodies, many choose to indulge in the king of Alsatian delicacies, foie gras, which is also a French Christmas tradition.

This one thing will really get you in the spirit: The superlative market beneath the stunning Strasbourg Cathedral, the tallest surviving structure built entirely in the Middle Ages.

Stay here: We're huge fans of the impossibly luxurious Hôtel Les Haras, installed in Louis XV’s historic stables in Strasbourg.

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New Orleans, Louisiana

Why we go: We aren't surprised that New Orleans leans into the holiday season, but we still get all tingly thinking about the Christmas in the city (it might even beat uber-crowded Mardi Gras). NOLA lights up with events like LUNA Fête, where the Central Business District around Lafayette Square fills up with installations and animated graphics from December 6-9. City Park also becomes a wonderland for the entire month, with vendors, food and drink stands, and decorations adorning the centuries-old oak trees.

This one thing will really get you in the spirit: The annual Christmas Eve lighting of the bonfires along the banks of the Mississippi River, a seasonal tradition that's as authentically "New Orleans" as they come.

Stay here: The exceptional Hotel Maison de Ville, easily one of the best hotels in New Orleans.

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Medellín, Colombia

Why we go: It may be known as the “City of Eternal Spring,” but Medellín celebrates the winter holiday season pretty damn well. The Colombian city puts Christmas into overdrive with its annual Alumbrados, a festival of lights that began back in 1967. The event is known for its massive displays and this year's festival (November 30, 2018 until January 7, 2019) will feature 26 million LED lights, primarily in the Parque Norte amusement park (and admission is free).

This one thing will really get you in the spirit: Starting each morning with a cup of coffee and an almond croissant at Pergamino Café.

Stay here: The Charlee Lifestyle Hotel for its central location and artsy-chic rooms (think fresh flowers and blue crystal chandeliers).

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Copenhagen, Denmark

Why we go: According to the World Happiness Report, Denmark is one of the world’s happiest countries, making it a great place to spend the holidays. In Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens, antique amusement park rides decorated with lights are surrounded by yet another adorable, alpine-village style Christmas market selling gifts and snacks through the end of December.

This one thing will really get you in the spirit: Booking a table at Restaurant Vita for some andesteg, a traditional Danish holiday dish of crispy, succulent roast duck served with potatoes and cabbage.

Stay here: Hotel Sanders is practically perfect, and it even has fireplaces in each of the large rooms.

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Park City, Utah

Why we go: As if the world-class skiing and Sundance Film Festival weren't reason enough to visit Park City this winter, the town also happens to be a wonderful place to spend Christmas. The former Olympic city has ample opportunities for skiing, fly fishing, snowmobiling, and dog sledding—with no shortage of resorts to warm up in between runs, too.

This one thing will really get you in the spirit: Snowfest (December 22, 2018-January 6, 2019), a festival at Park City Mountain that includes live music, ugly sweater parties, fireworks, and Santa skiing down the slopes.

Stay here: The 12-room Washington School House (pictured) is just a hop away from Park City's lit-up Main Street, and we must say its Christmas decorations put a lot of other hotels' to shame.

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Dubai, UAE

Why we go: Dubai does Christmas the same way Dubai does nearly everything—in true, over-the-top fashion. Don’t miss the tree lightings happening around town, including ones at FIVE Palm Jumeirah (December 4) and Bab Al Shams Desert Resort & Spa (December 7). And since no visit to Dubai is complete without several shopping sprees, set aside time to stock up on goodies at one of the city's Christmas markets.

This one thing will really get you in the spirit: Cirque De Cuisine at Atlantis, The Palm (December 6), a three-hour dining experience that includes food from some of Dubai’s best restaurants—plus circus performers and dancing elves, of course.

Stay here: Jumeirah Al Naseem (opened in 2017) earns high marks from us for its posh rooms and easy beach access.

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Saulius Ziura

Vilnius, Lithuania

Why we go: Vilnius becomes a true winter wonderland in December, with a Christmas train that weaves through Old Town, 3D nativity stories projected onto buildings, and Christmas villages filled with local goods and treats (open until January 7).

This one thing will really get you in the spirit: The headline-making Christmas trees. This year’s tree is nearly 90 feet high, made up of 6,000 branches, and resembles the city’s Cathedral Square Bell Tower clock when viewed from above.

Stay here: Unless you actually camp out under the tree, the warm and inviting Kempinski Hotel Cathedral Square is as close to all the Christmas magic as you can get.

 

THE BIG APPLE has definitelynot  lost it s charm and allure for the holidays...Conde Nast has these ideas for you all.

 

Christmas in New York: 10 Festive Things to See and Do in NYC

10 PHOTOS

by CNT EDITORS

November 30, 2018

Our editors share their tried-and-true favorites.

We may be a bit biased, but nothing quite compares to Christmastime in New York City. Sure, everyone knows about the city's most beloved holiday traditions—admiring the Rockefeller Center tree, ice skating in Central Park, gawking at window displays (which locals enjoy just as much as the tourists)—but there are plenty of under-the-radar traditions that are just as fun as the classics. So we tapped our NYC editors to share their favorite things to do in the city during December, whether its sipping the best hot chocolate in town or watching a modern take on the Nutcracker. Scroll down for our favorite ways to spend Christmas in New York.

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Photo by Chris Lee

Handel's Messiah

The New York Philharmonic only performs Handel’s Messiah for five nights a year (December 12-15 this year) and no matter what we have going on, my husband and I buy tickets to hear a performance. I love filing in with everyone at David Geffen Hall, seeing the stage covered in poinsettias, and feeling the hush fall over the hundreds of people as the conductor raises his baton and the opening notes begin. —Katherine LaGrave

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Christmas Lights at Dyker Heights

For the past four years, I've taken the long subway ride out to Dyker Heights, Brooklyn to be awestruck by the dedicated neighborhood of houses that go all out with holiday cheer. It's like Christmas vomited in everyone's yard, but in the best way: Giant inflatable lawn animals, motorized Santas, a mob of nutcrackers, so many lights that you question the time of day. Looking to kick the holidays into high gear? This always does it. —Lara Kramer

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Courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

The Met's Christmas Tree

I love ducking out of the cold into the Met’s Great Hall, then heading straight past the stairs to Gallery 305, where each year, the museum displays a 20-foot blue spruce in its Medieval Sculpture Hall. This ain’t just any ol’ tree display: there’s also an eighteenth-century Neapolitan Nativity scene at its base, all backed by an eighteenth-century Spanish choir screen from the Cathedral of Valladolid. No matter how crowded the Met gets, I always, somehow, manage to get a moment of quiet here—and it’s worth the wait. —K.L.G

WATCH THIS

 

Spring in New York City

 

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Courtesy Serendipity

Frrrozen Hot Chocolate at Serendipity

I first went to Serendipity with friends as a joke, in large part because of that 2001 movie by the same name. But I’ve kept going back, because even though the interiors can smack a little OTT Mad Hatter, the Frrrozen Hot Chocolate (actual name) is Actually So Good—so good that Oprah has called it “one of her favorite things” and Jackie Kennedy once asked for the recipe so she could serve it at the White House (she was denied). Come Christmastime, I like to order the mint chocolate version to really get into the season. —K.L.G

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Strolling Through Central Park

For an ice queen such as myself, winter in New York is something to be adored, not feared. One of my favorite NYC activities is visiting Central Park on chilly December evenings, where I can (mostly) avoid the Fifth Avenue crowds while still feeling a part of the merriment. Ice skating and carriage riding are spectator sports for me, since I'd rather laugh at children falling down than actually don the skates myself. I can seriously stroll around the park for a couple hours and be fully content, hands in my pockets and Christmas music on my headphones. (Bonus: Milk Bar Midtown is just a couple blocks away for a post-walk treat.) —Caitlin Morton

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Photo by Meg Reinhardt

The Botanical Garden's Holiday Train

Looking for a warm way to show my out-of-town guests New York City, I stumbled upon the Botanical Garden’s Holiday Train Show. It's more natural wonderland than train show, but well worth the trek up to the Bronx: New York's concrete jungle becomes a dreamy forest landscape, reimagined by designer Paul Busse. It's the quickest way to tour NYC's many landmarks, and this year features lower Manhattan—including a stunning recreation of One World Trade Center. I left with an annual membership. —Meg Reinhardt

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Fifth Avenue Window Displays

I love walking Fifth Avenue from Rockefeller Center (a quick peek at the tree but without diving into the crowds) up past Saks, Bergdorf's, and Tiffany's to gawk at the window displays. Then I duck into the The Plaza for a swanky cocktail in the lounge, or a hot chocolate in the food hall down below, to recharge. —Laura Dannen Redman

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Courtesy The Carlyle

Drinks at Bemelmans Bar

Whenever I want to experience a little bit of New York magic during the holidays, I head to Bemelmans Bar at the Carlyle. Sure, it costs a small fortune just for the honor of sitting at one of those little, round tables, but the Madeline murals, shimmering gold ceiling, tinkly piano music, and the thrill of never quite knowing who you’ll see there (I once spotted a cheery-looking Paul McCartney) make it instantly worth your while. It’s a slice of old-school Manhattan that doesn’t really exist anymore—and the dirty martinis are just about perfect. —Lale Arikoglu

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Courtesy Union Square Holiday Market

Union Square Christmas Market

Bryant Park may have the ice rink but the Union Square Holiday Market is where I actually do my shopping (and binge-eating). I start by wandering all the red-and-white-striped stalls—the market isn’t huge, so you can do it in an hour or so, but keep moving when the crowds are there—in search of the best knit beanies and gloves. (Coal hats are my go-to.) Then on to the wooden Scandinavian toys for my nephews, a German Advent calendar for our apartment, and finish with empanadas, Migliorelli Farm Stand’s apple cider doughnuts, and hot cider. —L.D.R.

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The Hard Nut at BAM

I try not to miss the Mark Morris The Hard Nut riff on the Nutcracker at BAM. It's beautifully danced and totally irreverent, and it puts me in the holiday spirit like the Grinch's heart growing three sizes bigger. —L.D.R.

 

 

And Fred has dug into his vault for these really interesting tidbits of information.

 

Visit Places That Might Disappear

 

 

Everyone has a bucket list don’t they? How about a list that includes places that may change forever some time in our lifetime…. Hmm, that sounds a bit ominous.  Well, you know that old saying – get’em before there gone…  Well, that can be applied to places around the world too.  That means putting these spots on the top of your travel list.

 

As ice caps melt and wildfires rage, scientific assertions that climate change is occurring at a rate faster than formerly expected have become manifest in locales around the world. The effects of global warming have put many of the world’s prime travel destinations at risk of suffering serious consequences, with some facing the prospect of vanishing entirely. From Australia to the Amazon, here are some places to visit before they disappear, or at the very least change dramatically from what they are now:

 

 


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The Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Spanning more than 1,400 miles, the Great Barrier Reef, located off the northeast coast of Australia, is the largest coral reef system in the world. Replete with marine life, the reef draws millions of snorkelers and scuba divers each year. But rising ocean temperatures have caused coral bleaching in vast portions—a condition in which the coral turns white and is prone to mass die-offs. Following back-to-back bleaching incidents in 2016 and 2017, scientists report coral mortality rates in the range of 50 percent, meaning half the living corals have died from bleaching.

 

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Venice, Italy

It’s impossible to walk the streets of Venice without being seduced by its anachronistic charm: the Adriatic Sea coursing through its canals, the romance of a gondolier’s serenade as you float beneath the Bridge of Sighs. In a place so at one with water, locals have come to expect flooding in Piazza San Marco and other parts of the low-lying city—but as ocean levels rise, Venice inches toward more serious inundation. Activists have taken on the challenge, investing in advanced flood gates and other technologies to stymie the impending swells. Artists have also taken a stand; in 2017, Italian artist Lorenzo Quinn created a massive sculpture of hands reaching out of the Grand Canal in an effort to draw attention to the sinking city.

 

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Glacier National Park, Montana

Spread over a million acres in Montana on the U.S.-Canada border, Glacier National Park attracted some 3.3 million visitors in 2017. But as global temperatures rise, this pristine ecosystem, home to hundreds of species of animals and thousands of plants, is rapidly losing one of its main attractions: the very glaciers that give it its name. According to data released in May 2017 by the U.S. Geological Survey and Portland State University, since 1966, a warming climate has significantly reduced the size of 39 different glaciers in the park—the worst of which have seen reductions up to 85 percent. And the shrinkage shows no sign of slowing down, either. As the glaciers melt, entire ecosystems will be altered, and scientists predict there will be little ice left after a couple more decades—and none at all by the end of the century.

 

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The Dead Sea

The Dead Sea is shrinking at a rate of around four feet a year; the body of water has already lost one-third of its surface area since development in the region started earlier this century, and sinkholes are appearing in spots where the water has receded. Construction of dams, storage reservoirs, and pipelines over the years has reduced inflow water levels to just five percent of their original volume, and given that the Dead Sea's minerals have been heralded as therapeutic, too, extraction on the part of cosmetic companies has also proved detrimental. Add that to the fact that the Middle East's increasingly hot climate makes it difficult for the lake to replenish itself, and therein lies the problem: Experts estimate that if it continues to disappear at its present rate, the Dead Sea could be completely dry by 2050.

 

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The Amazon

The largest rainforest on earth, the Amazon covers roughly 40 percent of South America. Here, travelers will find scarlet macaws and blue poison dart frogs living side-by-side with jaguars and brown-throated sloths in the wet broadleaf rainforest. Yet despite the Amazon's size, climate change has made it a fragile habitat. Extreme droughts have left tree species throughout the tropical jungle parched, as a result, they're vulnerable to large-scale dieback and more susceptible to forest fires. NASA reports that the Amazon's trees will start to die if the area's dry season lasts longer than 5-7 months—right now, the dry season clocks in at just a few weeks shy of that threshold.

 

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Yamal Peninsula, Russia

The indigenous Nenets people have seen their reindeer-herding ways in northwest Siberia realigned by climate change, which is already affecting Russia’s far north as the permafrost melts, the weather becomes increasingly unpredictable, and the vital winter season shortens. In the winter of 2013, unusually warm temperatures brought rain to the peninsula, which then froze and covered the pastured in a thick layer of ice; the reindeer couldn't dig through the ice to find food, resulting in tens of thousands of the animals starving to death. Climate scientists predict that this type of weather will only become more frequent as earth continues to warm—a dangerous premonition for Russia's reindeer herds.

 

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The Maldives

Clustered in the Indian Ocean, the Maldives is made up of a series of atolls—ring-shaped islands formed from coral—and with year-round temperatures that range from 81–84 degrees Fahrenheit, it's the perfect place to channel your inner beach bum. The Maldives is also the lowest-lying country in the world (sitting an average of only 1.3 meters above sea level), however, and risks vanishing entirely as climbing tides are already displacing locals

 

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Key West, Florida

A sun-soaked paradise once home to Ernest Hemingway, Key West is known for its pastel-colored buildings, ideal snorkeling conditions, and a relaxed atmosphere. But even before Hurricane Irma wreaked havoc last year, the southernmost city in the U.S. was facing environmental challenges: The Army Corps of Engineers estimates that the sea level in the Florida Keys will rise 15 inches over the next 30-odd years. Continual flooding has pushed Key West to undergo a massive, $1 million effort to elevate roads before they become a permanent underwater attraction.

 

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The Rhône Valley, France

Situated in the south of France, the Rhône Valley is among the most vaunted winemaking regions in the world. It covers a corridor of more than 120 miles in length, and visitors could spend a full week driving from one tasting to the next, admiring the sprawling vineyards surrounded by mountainous backdrops. But as global temperatures rise, making the environment inhospitable for grapevines, many experts predict production will shrivel (we're talking an 85 percent decrease) and winemakers will be forced to relocate to cooler locales in Northern Europe.

 

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Mumbai, India

Home to more than 18 million people, Mumbai is one of the world's most populous cities—and it surges with energy. From the vendors lining the Colaba Causeway to the Victorian Gothic Revival architecture of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, it's a city that immerses you in its all-consuming spirit. It's also a city that continues to expand, with recently redacted regulations allowing developers to construct skyscrapers along the shoreline. Unfortunately, such structures could prove a problem, as they represent a bureaucratic tin ear to warnings of sea level rise from climate change, which, without proper preparation, could leave major parts of the city underwater in future decades—a likely outcome, seeing as a mere two-inch rise in water by 2050 would leave the city prone to frequent flooding.

 

 

 

Getaway Cruises ‘n Tours can help put together a world hopping tour, that’s can take you to several of the above places.  This type of trip is more that a Getaway from your Everyday…. It’s a once in lifetime world tour!

 

NEWS AND VIEWS for this week is abit brief as we had so many other larger ideas for you but here we go anyway.

Delta Air Lines starts offering bare-bones basic economy award tickets to frequent flyers

·         Delta Air Lines has been quietly testing offering bare-bones basic economy tickets to frequent flyers.

·         Domestic basic economy tickets don't allow passengers to make changes to their tickets or select a seat ahead of time.

·         Delta is testing its offer of basic economy award tickets in select markets.

Leslie Josephs | @lesliejosephs

Published 23 Hours Ago  Updated 18 Hours Ago

     
     
     
     
     

Delta Airlines Airbus A330-200 airplane with registration N851NW is seen landing at London's Heathrow Airport.

Nicolas Economou | SOPA Images | LightRocket | Getty Images

Delta Airlines Airbus A330-200 airplane with registration N851NW is seen landing at London's Heathrow Airport.

Frequent flyers who like to pick their seats may need to shell out more miles for their next award ticket.

Delta Air Lines has been quietly offering its most restrictive tickets to loyal travelers on some routes. Since last month, Delta has been offering SkyMiles members no-frills basic economy award tickets, along side those for standard coach class and first or business class. Passengers booked in basic economy are barred from making changes to their tickets and from selecting a seat ahead of time, and also board last.

Delta was the first among the three biggest U.S. airlines to offer basic economy fares in 2012. American Airlines and United Airlinesrolled out their own versions of the bare-bones fares last year. Executives have not been shy that they measure the success of this fare class by how many passengers book the higher fare to avoid the basic economy restrictions.

The frequent-flyer miles required for a free ticket varies by route and demand, but a search for Dec. 14-21 trip from Detroit to Charleston, South Carolina, was 47,000 Skymiles in basic economy and 50,500 for a regular coach ticket.

"It seems like a really risky move," said Gary Leff, a travel and loyalty program specialist who noted the new offering in his View from the Wing blog. A ticket purchased with miles is "supposed to be an experience, not a pain."

If the SkyMiles member chooses the basic economy award ticket on Delta's website, a window pops up reminding the loyalty program member of the basic economy restrictions, much like it does if the traveler simply bought the ticket.

Delta is currently presenting the basic economy option on nonstop and connecting flights from Minneapolis to Phoenix and flights to and from Charleston from within the U.S. and Canada.

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"Our customers have told us they want the flexibility to use their SkyMiles on more types of Delta products, and we are always looking at new ways to expand those options, while making that process simple and intuitive for them," Delta said in a statement. "As a part of this effort, we are testing the ability for customers to use miles for Basic Economy tickets on select flights."

Delta declined to say whether it plans to offer basic economy award tickets more broadly.

Delta also allows use of frequent-flyers mileage to book into its premium economy class, which it offers on certain international flights and comes with more legroom, an amenities kit and more dining options.

United, which started selling premium economy seats this week, also allows members of its MileagePlus program to use miles toward that class but does not offer travelers seats in its restrictive basic economy class if they're using miles. American does not offer basic economy fares to members of its Aadvantage frequent flyer program and it is planning to allow travelers to use miles toward premium economy tickets in the future but it has not specified a date.

 

Carnival Goes Back to the Future to Name Largest New Ship

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In tribute to Carnival Cruise Line’s rich history as one of the pioneering cruise lines in the U.S., the line said it will name its new XL-class ship the Carnival Mardi Gras. Set for delivery in 2020, the new Mardi Gras will bear the name of the first Carnival ship that entered service in 1972. Carnival revealed the name to a nationwide television audience on the popular game show “Wheel of Fortune” on its signature Puzzleboard at the conclusion of the broadcast.

Mardi Gras will be the largest Carnival ship ever constructed and the first in North America to be powered by Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), part of Carnival Corporation’s green cruising platform. Displacing 180,000 gross registered tons, the new Mardi Gras will be more than six times the size of its namesake.

Currently under construction at Meyer Turku in Finland, the 5,200-plus lower berth vessel will offer of number of before seen innovations and attractions. Itineraries for Mardi Gras will be announced in January and go on sale later that same month. Carnival said its fans who want to be the first to book on Mardi Gras can get a head start by clicking on Exclusive Offer where they can register to get a “first to know” alert and special promotional offer when itineraries are opened for sale.

The original 27,000-gross-registered-ton Carnival Mardi Gras, a converted trans-Atlantic ocean liner purchased by Carnival founder Ted Arison, ushered in a new era of affordable contemporary cruising when it set sail on its inaugural voyage in 1972. The ship also got stuck on a sandbar temporarily as it departed on its maiden voyage out of Miami back in 1972 (we think that sandbar probably isn’t around anymore).

“Our first ship Mardi Gras was a historic vessel, introducing a brand new style of cruising to the vacationing public,” said Carnival President Christine Duffy. “What better way to pay tribute to our company’s nearly 50-year history of creating wonderful vacation memories than by naming this groundbreaking vessel after our original and beloved Fun Ship. The new Mardi Gras will follow the trailblazing lead of her predecessor, introducing features and technological innovations that have never been seen before on a cruise ship while setting a new standard for seagoing vacations.”

Carnival previously announced that the ship will be based in Port Canaveral, Fla., which will feature a new state-of-the-art terminal.  A second XL ship will start construction in 2020 and be delivered in 2022 to mark the 50th anniversary of Carnival’s founding. For more information, call 800-CARNIVAL or click on BookCCL.com or Carnival.com.

 

 

Why This Billion-Dollar Cruise Ship Is The Ultimate Ship For Women

Laura Begley Bloom

Laura Begley Bloom

ForbesWomenTransformative Travel: I look at how travel can change lives.

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The new Celebrity Edge is a game-changing cruise ship.PHOTO COURTESY OF CELEBRITY CRUISES

On December 1, Celebrity Cruises will make the public debut of the coolest cruise ship at seaCelebrity Edge, followed by a naming ceremony on December 4. Celebrity poured a reported $1 billion into creating this game-changing new ship. It's making waves, thanks to cutting-edge design features like the Magic Carpet, an open-air platform that floats up and down the side of the ship; a clever space-enhancing stateroom feature called the infinite veranda; not to mention a parabolic ultra-bow that is transformative in terms of comfort and fuel consumption.

But it's also a game changer due to its impressive pedigree. Its godmother is none other than Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani activist and youngest Nobel Prize laureate. Its design is the work of superstars such as Kelly Hoppen and Patricia Urquiola. And the driving force behind the launch is Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, the first and only woman CEO of a publicly traded cruise line.

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Celebrity Cruises CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, at a ceremony to lay the keel for a future ship, the Apex.PHOTO COURTESY OF PHOTO BY STEVE DUNLOP

An innovator in the cruise space, Lutoff-Perlo is known for championing diversity of all kinds and for inspiring and supporting women in the workforce. In a groundbreaking move, she hired the first American woman captain of a cruise ship; Celebrity now has an unprecedented three female captains.

With the launch of Edge, Lutoff-Perlo is elevating women to new heights. We caught up with Lutoff-Perlo right before the ship's debut to find out why this is the ultimate ship by women and for women.

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Malala: "We thought about our purpose as a brand. We thought about our gender equality as a brand. We talked about all of our diversity inclusion efforts. We talked about this heroic and transformational shift. And then we said, 'Who should be our heroic and transformational godmother?' says Lutoff-Perlo. The 21-year-old Malala Yousafzai — a human rights advocate and cofounder of the Malala Fund, which fights for women's education — was a natural choice, but getting her onboard wasn't easy.

"As you can imagine, the last thing that Malala or her team at the Fund would have thought would be a natural fit would be a cruise line. But their minds changed completely after they realized that we weren't just a cruise line," says Lutoff-Perlo. "We were a cruise line that really cared. We were a cruise line that had a purpose bigger than just offering vacations. And we were a cruise line that was all about gender equality. And when Malala saw that, especially the makeup of our crew and where they come from around the world, she decided she would be as honored to be our godmother as we are honored to have her."

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A photograph of Malala, Celebrity Edge's godmother, onboard the ship.PHOTO COURTESY OF CELEBRITY CRUISES

The Crew: Women make up 30% of the crew onboard Celebrity Edge versus the industry average in the high teens. And 37% of the guest-facing crew on the ship are women. "Gender equality and gender balance is really important to me and all the people I work with, but probably because I live it every day and really try to be purposeful about it," says Lutoff-Perlo. "As we think about how the crew is made-up across our fleet, we really want more women. It creates a better culture. If society is 50/50, then everywhere you go it should be 50/50. That's why I'm always amazed by the imbalance in corporate America and in politics, although we just had a lot of good things happen in the midterms where a lot of women were elected. So as I think of Edge as the pinnacle of that balance, it's really exciting that we've come so far."

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CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo and crew member Nicholine Tifuh Azirh.PHOTO COURTESY OF CELEBRITY CRUISES

Women at the Helm: "We've just hired our third woman captain at Celebrity, which is a big deal," says Lutoff-Perlo. "Captain Kate McCue will be taking over this ship as captain in 2019. And we have Nicholine Tifuh Azirh, who is on Edge's bridge. She's the first woman from Ghana to work on the bridge of a cruise ship, part of a unique partnership with the Regional Maritime University in Ghana."

Women Designers: In creating Edge, Lutoff-Perlo worked closely with Kelly Gonzalez, Celebrity's senior vice president of design. Together, they employed some of the hottest names in the design space, and two of the stand-outs are Patricia Urquiola and Kelly Hoppen. "We've been able to create these unique environments by these amazing women designers who have made tremendous names for themselves in the design world. And even that's not always so easy for women, because, like chefs, most of the top designers have historically been men," says Lutoff-Perlo. "As you walk around and as you think about the most transformative spaces, transformative design and even transformative furniture, it's because of these women."

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A Celebrity Edge stateroom designed by Kelly Hoppen, with an infinite veranda.PHOTO COURTESY OF CELEBRITY CRUISES

Women Product Designers: Throughout the retail spaces on Edge, women are showcased, from fragrance designer Jo Malone to clothing designer Melissa Odabash to jewelry designer Kallati, who created a selection of Edge-inspired jewelry. "We have digital signage for some of our shops, and one of the digital signs that rotates through is called 'Women with an Edge,' and it's all the women that are part of our retail experience," says Lutoff-Perlo. "We've partnered with a lot of women who, historically, have not been part of our brand because we believe that they are the future, they are very modern luxury, they are brands that are up-and-coming."

The Women Behind the Water: Noteworthy aboard the ship are the signature aluminum water bottles from Open Water, which are used in place of plastic bottles. It's part of the line's commitment to leaving less of a footprint and saving the oceans — and it's part of Lutoff-Perlo's commitment to working with women-owned companies. Lutoff-Perlo's niece, a college student, helped find the Chicago-based company, which is run by two women. "They graduated from the University of Miami and decided to go to Chicago on a shoestring and start up a company with no money because they knew eventually the trend would move away from plastic water bottles," says Lutoff-Perlo. "I'm really proud and excited that we're able to work with these two women with the sole ambition of helping save the oceans. The ironic thing is there is no plastic that leaves our ship — ever. So, we didn't replace our plastic water bottles so that we would put less plastic water bottles in the world, because we're zero landfill. We incinerate everything. We did it because we didn't want to buy the plastic water bottles that keep being down-cycled. It was a statement that we cared."

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Open Water, in an innovative aluminum bottle that is helping save the planet.PHOTO COURTESY OF CELEBRITY CRUISES

Girlfriend Getaways: "When you think about why this is a great ship for women, number one, girlfriend travel is huge. I think women would love this ship, from the design of the staterooms by Kelly Hoppen to the spa — which is absolutely glorious and again designed by Kelly Hoppen — to all of the wonderful restaurants and the attention to detail."

On Supporting Women: "I really believe in sponsorship and advocacy because I think I can help women a lot more by helping them achieve what they're trying to achieve versus giving them advice. So I try to model every day helping women achieve their career aspirations and their personal aspirations."

Advice for Other Women: For other women who are trying to achieve a similar level of success, Lutoff-Perlo has some tips: "Work hard and smart and never give up because I think anybody that's aspiring to this could get derailed at any time on the path. But I think women have a tendency to give up and not ask for things as much as men do. Unless and until that changes, we're not going to significantly increase the percentage of women that have broken the glass ceiling."

Shattering the Glass Ceiling: Lutoff-Perlo recently received a text from her sister, who has two daughters (including the niece who helped find Open Water). "One day, I opened up a text from my sister and it was something that she found on Facebook. It said: 'Teach your daughters to worry less about fitting into the glass slipper and more about shattering the glass ceiling.' And then she said, 'Thanks to you, my girls know all about shattering the glass ceiling.'"

 

 

United Airlines International Premium Economy Seats Go on Sale

Motley Fool Adam Levine-Weinberg, The Motley Fool,Motley Fool 23 hours ago 

Three years ago, American Airlines (NASDAQ: AAL) announced that it would follow many of its international rivals by creating a true premium economy section for its long-haul fleet. Less than a year later, Delta Air Lines (NYSE: DAL) jumped on the bandwagon.

At the time, the third U.S. legacy carrier -- United Continental (NASDAQ: UAL) -- indicated that it was also studying the idea of adding premium economy sections to its fleet. However, it had bigger fish to fry, as the company was just embarking on a multiyear turnaround plan at that point.

Not surprisingly, United eventually came to the same conclusion as American and Delta, and it began retrofitting its widebody fleet with new "Premium Plus" seats earlier this year. Last week, the carrier finally began sales for this important new product.

A Premium Plus cabin on a United Airlines plane

United recently began ticket sales for its new Premium Plus seats. Image source: United Airlines.

Finding a middle ground

In the decade since the Great Recession, American, Delta, and United have invested huge sums to upgrade their international business class cabins. Recliner-style seats have been replaced with seats that convert into fully flat beds, providing a better night's sleep on long red-eye flights. This has allowed the airlines to capture ever higher fares from business travelers, who tend not to be very price-sensitive.

As a result, most leisure travelers have been priced out of the market for international business class fares. Extra-legroom coach seats are much more affordable, but aside from a few extra inches of seat pitch, they don't offer many advantages.

International premium economy sections bridge the divide between business class and the back of the plane. For American, Delta, and United, the seats typically offer 38 inches of pitch -- compared to as little as 31 inches in coach and 34 inches for a normal extra-legroom seat -- plus a wider seat, more recline, and other special amenities.

United Airlines joins the club

United plans to copy American Airlines by keeping its Premium Plus section relatively small, with between 21 and 24 seats, depending on the aircraft. That should allow it to keep fares high. By contrast, Delta went in the opposite direction by installing 48 of its "Premium Select" seats on each of its Airbus A350s.

Premium Plus seats will come preinstalled on United's new Boeing 787-10 planes. The rest of its fleet will need to be retrofitted with the new section. While the modifications began earlier this year, the company is less than 10% of the way through the process so far.

A United Airlines Dreamliner flying over a coastline

United needs to retrofit more than 100 aircraft with Premium Plus cabins. Image source: United Airlines.

Since aircraft substitutions are inevitable from time to time, United Airlines has been selling the Premium Plus seats as regular extra-legroom seats up until now. This is a wise choice. It's better to leave money on the table and delight some loyal customers with upgrades to the new premium economy seats rather than risk alienating people who paid for Premium Plus if the product ends up not being available due to an aircraft substitution.

However, United expects to install the new seats on most of its widebodies by the end of 2020. By next spring, it will have enough of a critical mass of retrofitted planes to deliver the product reliably. Accordingly, last week, the carrier began ticket sales for Premium Plus seats for 25 daily round-trip flights on 21 routes -- in most cases, effective March 30. (A few of the flights will switch over to the new configuration in April and May.)

The initial batch of routes getting Premium Plus includes several of United's longest routes, like Newark-Hong Kong and San Francisco-Tel Aviv. It also includes other high-profile routes like San Francisco-Tokyo and Newark-Paris.

There's substantial upside

Over the past two years, management's strategy of accelerated growth in the domestic market -- particularly in Chicago, Denver, and Houston -- has paid off for United Airlines. Unit revenue has been rising strongly as the increase in connecting flight options has helped United regain market share, while higher asset utilization is starting to reduce nonfuel unit costs.

The introduction of Premium Plus sections beginning in 2019 should lift unit revenue on international routes. Indeed, Delta's initial Premium Select rollout was so successful that the carrier decided earlier this year to install Premium Select sections on its entire international widebody fleet, rather than just a few dozen planes that serve the longest routes.

While United Airlines is still unlikely to catch up to industry leader Delta Air Lines in terms of profit

We'll be back in two weeks as long as Bill is healed enough to sit at a computer for awhile.  It should be OK so until that time remain vigilant and as always be safe, stay safe and travel safe.

Our fog has finally arrived here is Oakley so the season for dampness and cold has arrived.  Some people get snow and we get fog.  

Enjoy your week.

Bill and Fred