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Bahamas on a record-breaking pace for tourism. But can it last?

By Omar Perez 


Jul 11, 2023



The Goldwynn Resort & Residences is one of several properties to open in the Bahamas this year.

The Goldwynn Resort & Residences is one of several properties to open in the Bahamas this year. Photo Credit: Omar Perez


Omar Perez

Omar Perez

This year is shaping up to be a busy one for the Bahamas, and if visitor forecasts hold, year-end figures for 2023 will break the destination's record-setting 2019 tourism year.

With increased air service, a multimillion-dollar port renovation and recent and scheduled resort openings, the Bahamas anticipates close to 8 million visitors this year, based on data from the first quarter. The Bahamas welcomed some 7.2 million visitors in 2019, despite Hurricane Dorian, which ravaged parts of the Bahamas.

During Q1, the Bahamas reported 637,345 air arrivals, up 33.7% from 2022. And with JetBlue adding weekly, nonstop service from Los Angeles in November and Alaska Airlines debuting winter nonstops from Los Angeles and Seattle in December, those numbers are bound to increase.

Air arrival figures, however, pale in comparison to cruise arrivals, which totaled some 2.8 million during the first quarter. Nassau Cruise Port officials expect 4.2 million passengers this year, which would eclipse the record of 3.9 million who came ashore in 2019. They expect that number to be even higher, 4.5 million, next year.

21st century cruise port

Nassau Cruise Port recently went through a three-year renovation to the tune of more than $300 million and debuted May 26. The port was updated from a rustic, aging facility to one that is not only modernized and can accommodate larger ships but offers a taste of Bahamian culture with the Museum of Junkanoo and locally owned shops offering authentic eats and goods.

"This [port] is a critical part of our tourism industry," said Mike Maura Jr., CEO and director of Nassau Cruise Port. "This project is also serving as the catalyst for Nassau."

In conjunction with the port renovation, the Bahamian government instituted a tourism development fund geared to clean up surrounding areas around Bay Street, including knocking down aging and damaged buildings and improving existing infrastructure such as roads and sidewalks. Those projects would be funded by a tax hike on cruise passengers.

"That is one of the concerns that visitors have who have just left this fantastic, brand new facility and ask, 'What did I just step into?' Maura said.

(The cruise tax hike originally was scheduled to go into effect this month, but the Bahamas government postponed it until January after concerns were raised by the cruise lines, according to Bahamian media reports.)

Helping to accommodate the anticipated increase in tourists is the number of new resorts opening in Nassau this year, including the Goldwynn Resort & Residences. The 100-year-old British Colonial Hotel closed last year but has since changed hands and is being renovated; a reopening is expected later this year. And next year will see the opening of other resorts, including Montage Cay on Abaco.

Roadblocks ahead?

Still, that may not satisfy client demand, at least for the short-term. In March, Robert Sands, president of the Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association, told Tribune Business that it may take 12 to 18 months to meet booking demand, not just because of higher demand but because 15% to 20% of accommodations are not availablefor various reasons, including ongoing renovations.

"The demand for the destination is outpacing our ability to provide supply at the moment. It's testament to the fact that the Bahamas as a destination is very much in demand, and that's a major incentive for further investors to invest in hospitality in the islands of the Bahamas," Sands told Tribune Business.

As for the number of visitors, Joy Jibrilu, CEO of the Nassau Paradise Island Promotion Board, said she hasn't seen a slowdown, despite economists' predictions about the economy.

"There is this conversation about recession," Jibrilu said. "But this is eight, nine months that we've been on this trajectory, and there is no sign [of recession]. If you look at our bookings through December, we're surpassing even our record year of 2019. It makes it very challenging to plan for when the bubble will burst."

Also making tourism predictions difficult is the recent trend of shorter booking windows, often as close in as 30 days.

"Everyone thought at some point there would be some sort of leveling off [of the booking windows], but that's not happening," Jibrilu said.


These are Mexico's newest Magical Towns

By Meagan Drillinger 


Jul 05, 2023



Meagan Drillinger

Meagan Drillinger

Mexico's Magical Towns are among its most prized attractions. This collection of historical towns and villages are given the government designation of Pueblo Magico for meeting a lengthy list of criteria, including stunning natural beauty, preserved culture or historical significance. The government of Mexico has released a list of 45 towns to be added to the Magical Towns roster for 2023. 

In order for a town to receive Magical Town recognition, it must also have a population of at least 20,000 people, a location less than 124 miles from a major tourist destination, a tourism development program that has been maintained for at least three years, guaranteed health and public safety for tourists and unique symbolic or cultural attractions.

For 2023, Mexico's secretary of tourism received more than 100 nominations across 27 states. A total of 45 towns met the requirements, and their addition brings the number of Magical Towns to 177.

Among the new entries, there are a few standout recognitions. First, the state of Quintana Roo has now recognized the world-famous island of Cozumel as a Magical Town. Cozumel joins Bacalar, Isla Mujeres and Tulum in Quintana Roo.

Mexico's state of Sonora reached a milestone this year, as well. For years, Sonora had no new entries on the list, but this year two were added: San Carlos and Ures. San Carlos is known for its epic natural beauty, including the Arcos y Cuevas, or rock arches and sea caves teeming with wildlife. Its Tetakawi Hill is one of the top spots to see the sunset over the Sea of Cortez, as well. Ures is known for its historical significance, having served as the capital of the state until it was moved to Hermosillo. 

Guerrero's Zihuatanejo has also finally achieved Magical Town status. This fishing village sits in the shadow of nearby resort-heavy Ixtapa. It's known for its quiet coves and bays, epic surf, toes-in-the-sand restaurants and whale-watching opportunities.

Campeche's wild and rugged Candelaria, tucked in the heart of the jungle, is known for its stunning natural beauty, ecotourism and pre-Hispanic ruins. It includes El Tigre, or Itzamkanac, the alleged site of Cuauhtemoc's murder by the conquistador Hernan Cortes. Visitors can also take in the Salto Grande waterfall, one of Mexico's largest waterfalls.

Of course, these are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the new list of adventures that travelers can choose from when exploring the Magical Towns of Mexico. 

The full list of Mexico's newest Magical Towns includes:

• Pabellon de Hidalgo, Aguascalientes
• Santa Rosalia, Baja California Sur
• Candelaria, Campeche
• Copainala, Chiapas
• Ocozocoautla de Espinosa, Chiapas
• Guachochi, Chihuahua
• Hidalgo del Parral, Chihuahua
• General de Cepeda, Coahuila
• Jilotepec, State of Mexico
• Otumba, State of Mexico
• Ixcateopan de Cuauhtemoc, Guerrero
• Zihuatanejo, Guerrero
• Acaxochitlan, Hidalgo
• Meztitlan, Hidalgo
• Cocula, Jalisco
• Temacapulin, Jalisco
• Cotija, Michoacan
• Tlaltizapan de Zapata, Morelos
• Xochitepec, Morelos
• Ahuacatlan, Nayarit
• Amatlan de Canas, Nayarit
• Ixtlan del rio, Nayarit
• San Blas, Nayarit
• Puerto Balleto (Islas Marias), Nayarit
• General Teran, Nuevo Leon
• General Zaragoza, Nuevo Leon
• Huejotzingo, Puebla
• Pinal de Amoles, Queretaro
• Cozumel, Quintana Roo
• Ciudad del Maiz, San Luis Potosi
• Tierra Nueva, San Luis Potosi
• San Ignacio, Sinaloa
• San Carlos, Sonora
• Ures, Sonora
• Frontera, Tabasco
• Teapa, Tabasco
• Ixtenco, Tlaxcala
• Cordoba, Veracruz
• Naolinco de Victoria, Veracruz
• Espita, YucatanMotul, YucatanTekax, Yucatan
• Villa Nueva, Zacatecas
• Sayula, Jalisco
• Teziutlan, Puebla


Norse Atlantic Launches Service from L.A. and SF to London

By NewsdeskJul 7, 2023 09:40am

Norse Atlantic AirwaysLos Angeles International AirportSan Francisco AirportAirline Information


Norse Atlantic Airways

(Norse Atlantic Airways)

Norse Atlantic Airways celebrated two inaugural flights on June 30 and July 1, respectively, with the launch of services from Los Angeles and San Francisco to London. These new direct routes provide an affordable and convenient travel option for passengers seeking to explore the United Kingdom.

“Los Angeles and San Francisco are now the fifth and sixth destinations connecting the U.S. to London. With the addition of these two destinations Norse Atlantic is now the largest long-haul operator from the U.S. to London Gatwick,” said Bjorn Tore Larsen, CEO of Norse Atlantic Airways.

Flights from Los Angeles (LAX) to London Gatwick (LGW) operate daily and depart at 4:25 p.m. PDT and arrive at 11:00 a.m. local time the following day. Flights depart London Gatwick (LGW) 10:35 a.m. local time, arriving at Los Angeles (LAX) at 2:10 p.m. PDT the same day. Fares in Economy start from $209 one-way including all taxes and fees.

Flights from San Francisco (SFO) to London Gatwick (LGW) operate three times a week and depart San Francisco (SFO) at 3:25 p.m. PDT and arrive at London Gatwick (LGW) at 9:50 a.m. local time the following day. Flights depart London Gatwick (LGW) at 10:10 a.m. local time, arriving at San Francisco (SFO) 1:25 p.m. PDT the same day. Fares in Economy start from $229 one-way including all taxes and fees.

Norse Atlantic exclusively operates modern Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft. It offers two cabin choices, Economy and Norse Premium. Passengers can choose from a simple range of fares, LightClassic and Flextra, that reflect the way that they want to travel, and which options are important to them. Light fares represent Norse’s value option, while Flextra fares include the maximum baggage allowance, two meal services, an enhanced airport and onboard experience and increased ticket flexibility.


Viking Adds Arctic Expeditions and Winter Rhine River Cruise

Jun 02, 2023

Adventure Travel  Cruise  River Cruise  


Viking Adds Arctic Expeditions and Winter Rhine River Cruise

Viking will be the first line to operate year-round European river cruises.
Credit: 2023 Viking

As the only line to offer river and expedition ocean cruises, Viking is expanding both in a big way. First, it is adding a new winter river cruise itinerary along the Rhine. And second, the brand will debut three new summer expedition voyages in the Arctic in 2025.

River Expansion: Winter on the Rhine 

Beginning in December 2023, Viking’s new “Treasures of the Rhine” itinerary will establish the line as the first to operate year-round European river cruises, according to the brand. Of particular interest is the opportunity to visit the region in winter among fewer crowds.

“The Middle Rhine is one of our most popular destinations — with constantly changing views of hilltop castles, historic towns and terraced vineyards along the steep valley sides, it is a region that will always be best explored by the river,” said Torstein Hagen, chairman of Viking. “Many of our guests have sailed the Rhine during other seasons, so we are pleased to offer a new option for those who may be interested experiencing Europe during a quieter time of year.”

The 10-day route will showcase the Upper Middle Rhine Valley, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with its outstanding collection of cathedrals, fortresses, vineyards and medieval towns among gorgeous scenery. Towns (which will be less crowded in winter) along the way will include Amsterdam, Netherlands; Basel, Switzerland; and Cologne, Germany.

Treasures of the Rhine will be available onboard the fleet of Viking Longships, which are identical and consistent from riverboat to riverboat. Signature elements include contemporary Scandinavian design, offset cabin corridors for more efficient use of stateroom space and an alfresco Aquavit Terrace at the bow, plus comfortable lounges, bars, restaurants, libraries and sun decks.

New Expeditions to the Arctic

As for Viking’s expedition cruises, the line already offers voyages to Antarctica and even to the Great Lakes — in addition to longitudinal world cruises — but it will begin sailing to the Arctic, as well, starting in July 2025. Three summer-season itineraries will stretch in length from 13 to 27 days, featuring northern Canada and Greenland.

"Our guests are curious travelers who are eager to explore new and different regions of the world, in Viking comfort,” Hagen said. “From the time of Leif Eriksson and the original Vikings, Greenland and the Canadian High Arctic have fascinated intrepid explorers. Today, there is no better way to experience this pristine area of the world than from the comfort of our purpose-built expedition ships.”

The 13-day “Into the Northwest Passage” route will embark roundtrip from Nuuk, Greenland, exploring the Ilulissat Icefjord and the eastern entrance of the renowned Northwest Passage at Pond Inlet, Canada. Guests will have the opportunity to kayak in the fjord or go for Zodiac cruises and landings among dramatic mountains and glaciers. Eight tours will be included. The itinerary, exploring the Canadian High Arctic below the midnight sun, will be scheduled from July through September 2025.

A bit longer, the 15-day “Canada & Greenland Explorer” will traverse between Toronto and Nuuk, Canada, heading farther south while still emphasizing the Inuit culture and bold landscapes from July to September 2025. Eleven tours will be bundled in.

Or, guests can combine the two with the 27-day “Canada & the Northwest Passage” path, also between Nuuk and Toronto.

The cruises are currently scheduled to take place onboard Viking Octantis. The polar-class ship will provide safe passage along with its exceptional venues, not the least of which are a Nordic Spa with included thermal suite; double-decker Explorers’ Lounge for front-facing observation; The Hide secondary observation lounge, nestled in the bow; the expansive Living Room library and bar; The Hangar, full of expedition equipment and vessels; The Aula scenic theater; and the outdoor Finse Terrace, behind at the stern. 


American Queen Voyages Pulls Out of the Great Lakes and Refocuses on Rivers

Jun 29, 2023

River Cruise  Travel News  


American Queen Voyages Pulls Out of the Great Lakes and Refocuses on Rivers

American Queen Voyages will focus on its river itineraries moving forward.
Credit: 2023 Jason Leppert

American Queen Voyages (AQV) has announced it will depart the Great Lakes next season and sell its Ocean Navigator and Ocean Voyager vessels, which are currently sailing there. While all published cruises will still operate as scheduled through November 2023, the line will strategically renew its focus on domestic river cruising and introduce a series of revised 2024 itineraries, extending into 2025.

“Our primary commitment is to deliver a best-in-class cruise vacation with a focus on immersive culinary and destination experiences,” said Cindy D’Aoust, president of AQV. “Our customers consistently tell us our U.S. river itineraries are exceptional, and demonstrate this by returning again and again.”

The line points out that a recent McKinsey market survey determined that AQV is known as the U.S. river operator with the highest brand affinity. So, D’Aoust explained that all of the line’s efforts are now being put into enhancing its popular river lineup with key partnerships and an elevated culinary program, which she notes has been particularly well received.

Among the revised 2024 routes will be the Lower Mississippi onboard the 417-guest American Queen, and a series of new three- and four-day sailings for travelers with limited vacation time. Or, for a longer alternative, AQV’s 16-day Upper Mississippi voyage will return from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico, highlighting Southern culture, wildlife, jazz and country music.

Our customers consistently tell us our U.S. river itineraries are exceptional, and demonstrate this by returning again and again.

The line’s latest ship, American Countess, will also feature America’s Heartland, traversing along the Ohio, Tennessee and Cumberland rivers with fresh Experiential Voyages, including a bourbon-themed cruise hosted by food and spirits connoisseurs such as Dickie Brennan, the chef and owner of New Orleans’ Bourbon House. And floating on the Snake and Columbia rivers will also be American Empress, celebrating new wine-themed cruises. On select voyages, guests will even be able to embark on a salmon tour to catch and clean their own fish and then eat it onboard.

RELATED: Industry Q&A: Cindy D’Aoust, President of American Queen Voyages

Beyond the line’s core rivers, AQV will continue to offer ocean voyages on the 186-guest Ocean Victory’s third season in Alaska and British Columbia. Adventures extend to Zodiac cruising and kayaking, all led by an expedition team of naturalists and field guides in partnership with California Polytechnic State University.

Travel Agent Response

In regard to the line ditching the Great Lakes, Sharece Lendl, owner and advisor at Lincoln, Calif.-based Travel On Travel, believes it’s an odd decision.

"Baby boomers account for 80% of luxury travel market spending,” she said. “Since COVID-19, boomers are looking for travel opportunities that do not entail a long flight overseas. Just recently, I had to book a client for the September 2023 [AQV] Great Lakes sailing because there were no sailings in 2024 to offer, which was their preference. Moving forward, advisors will have only one option to offer clients for the Great Lakes: Viking Expeditions.”

As for AQV, its new river routes are now open to book, and early savings are available on certain dates.


Celebrity Ascent to Feature New and Returning Experiences

Jun 21, 2023

Cruise  Travel News  


Celebrity Ascent to Feature New and Returning Experiences

Celebrity Ascent is slated to debut in November 2023.
Credit: 2023 Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Cruises’ new Celebrity Ascent, the fourth ship in the line’s Edge class, is scheduled to launch in November as a sister ship to the slightly larger Celebrity Beyond. Onboard will be venues and experiences that are returning favorites among clients, as well as several new enhancements.

“I am so excited to introduce the world to Celebrity Ascent and continue the legacy of Celebrity’s Edge Series,” said Laura Hodges Bethge, president of Celebrity Cruises. “First launched in 2018, the Edge Series transformed what cruising could be, and its ships like EdgeApex and Beyond quickly became consumer favorites. Continuously striving to offer travelers a better way to enjoy travel and reach the world around them, we are so proud of what we have built and look forward to welcoming seasoned and new cruisers alike.”

New Dining Venues

Initially introduced on Beyond, Le Voyage by Daniel Boulud will be reprised onboard Ascent, but as a redesigned restaurant. The celebrity chef’s second dining venue at sea will be reimagined by KTGY Simeone Deary Design Group to “offer an intimate fine-dining experience inspired by the chef’s travels,” according to the line.


The private dining room of Le Voyage

The private dining room of Le Voyage
Credit: 2023 Celebrity Cruises

The fantastical Eden Restaurant will offer a new plant-based tasting menu showcasing seasonal ingredients, and the Le Petit Chef animated dinner experience at Le Grand Bistro will feature both a playful new video and menu. Main dining onboard Ascent encompasses four options including the Cosmopolitan restaurant, which will be redesigned with inspiration from “the culture of Champagne.” Meanwhile, Blu, an AquaClass-exclusive restaurant, will include a 24-person outdoor terrace for alfresco brunches and lunches.

For drinks, Craft Social will expand on its brews with bourbon whiskey tastings, and the Martini Bar will add low-sugar options to the menu, such as lychee and passion fruit concoctions.

New Art and Entertainment Options

Also redesigned on Ascent will be the casino — set to feature deep red and gold tones and an updated gaming floor layout for the latest slot machines — as well as the shipboard art gallery, which is ideal for auctions and other events. The Sunset Collection by Nate Berkus will be available for exclusive travel and home accessories (Berkus is an Edge-series travel ambassador).


The ship’s art gallery

The ship’s art gallery
Credit: 2023 Celebrity Cruises

In The Theatre, creatives will craft three new production shows, in addition to interactive digital experiences and performances in The Club and immersive dance, vocals, music and other artistry at the Eden Bar and Restaurant. The resort deck, which will still meander among martini-glass-shaped whirlpools, will also be the nighttime home for a DJ and live performances.

Returning Favorites

Of course, Edge-class signatures will be along for the ride, including Infinite Veranda staterooms and suites, the Magic Carpet convertible cantilevered deck, the Grand Plaza central atrium, the terraced Sunset Bar designed by Berkus, the outdoor Rooftop Garden, the spa with its Sea Thermal Suite and more.

Ascent will first sail from Florida to the Bahamas, Grand Cayman, Puerto Rico and the British Virgin Islands, and then navigate toward Europe for a summer Mediterranean season.


7 Things to Do After Dark on Oahu

Jul 09, 2023

Adventure Travel  Arts & Entertainment  Family Travel  Hotels and Resorts  Tours  


7 Things to Do After Dark on Oahu

Yoga Floats’ yoga classes are held on the water on SUPs. At night, the boards are lit with bright LEDs that vie for attention with the glittering Waikiki skyline.
Credit: 2023 Raf Bergstrom

When the sun goes down, the fun and excitement on Oahu ramp up. Here are seven great activity options that clients should consider.

Ghost Tours, Mysteries of Hawaii 

Tales of Portuguese "feiteceira" (sorceresses), Japanese "inugami" (dog demons), Filipino "aswang" (shape-shifting creatures) and “night marchers” (ghosts of ancient Hawaiian warriors) are among the stories Lopaka Kapanui might tell during a Mysteries of Hawaii tour as he leads visitors around haunted sites in Honolulu. The anecdotes he shares about some of the groups that make up Hawaii’s melting pot are gleaned from his extensive research and conversations with elders versed in Hawaiian history and culture.


Lopaka Kapanui’s Ghosts of Old Honolulu Tour pauses in front of the famous statue of Kamehameha the Great in front of Aliiolani Hale in downtown Honolulu.

Lopaka Kapanui’s Ghosts of Old Honolulu Tour pauses in front of the famous statue of Kamehameha the Great in front of Aliiolani Hale in downtown Honolulu.
Credit: 2023 Tanya Kapanui

HoMA Nights, Honolulu Museum of Art 

On Fridays and Saturdays, Honolulu Museum of Art (HoMA) invites visitors to view exhibitions, listen to live music and savor sips and bites at its open-air cafe until 9 p.m. On Friday evenings, they can channel their creativity by participating in a make-and-take art activity that’s suitable for all ages. Movie enthusiasts will want to catch a flick at HoMA’s Doris Duke Theatre, Hawaii’s largest independent arthouse theater.


HoMA Night attendees admire a bust in the Portrait Gallery.

HoMA Night attendees admire a bust in the Portrait Gallery.
Credit: 2023 Honolulu Museum of Art

RELATED: What to Do During at Stay at Halekulani Hotel in Waikiki

Lewers Lounge, Halekulani 

Night owls can enjoy live contemporary jazz, savory plates, luscious sweets (the signature coconut cake is a must), fine wines, classic spirits, rare whiskeys and imaginative cocktails and mocktails at this chic lounge at Halekulani, which seats 50 guests. Heads up: There’s a strict dress code — elegant resort attire is required for the ladies, and a collared shirt, dress slacks and closed-toe shoes are mandatory for gentlemen.


The chic, intimate Lewers Lounge features contemporary live jazz from 8:30 to midnight Tuesdays through Thursdays and until 12:30 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

The chic, intimate Lewers Lounge features contemporary live jazz from 8:30 to midnight Tuesdays through Thursdays and until 12:30 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
Credit: 2023 Halekulani

Moonwalks, Waimea Valley

Waimea Valey is renowned for its cultural, historical and botanical treasures. From May through October, visitors can walk two-thirds of a mile to its 45-foot waterfall by the light of a full or nearly full moon. Learn the significance of the moon to Hawaiians, see the site where a high priest and his family lived long ago and inhale the fragrance of tropical and subtropical plants, including native and endangered species.


On Moonwalk evenings, visitors can tour an authentic Hawaiian living site and learn learn about the life of Hawaiians who lived there centuries ago.

On Moonwalk evenings, visitors can tour an authentic Hawaiian living site and learn learn about the life of Hawaiians who lived there centuries ago.
Credit: 2023 Waimea Valley

Stargazing, Stars Above Hawaii 

Astronomer and NASA ambassador Greg McCartney offers a fascinating tour of the night sky at Ko Olina Resort using a laser pointer and powerful computerized telescopes.

Depending on the season, Saturn’s rings, Jupiter’s colorful bands and the interior of the moon’s craters are among the deep-space phenomena participants might see. Guests will also learn how the early Polynesians navigated by the stars, and the myths associated with planets, constellations and other celestial bodies.


Astronomer Greg McCartney uses powerful computerized telescopes for his star shows.

Astronomer Greg McCartney uses powerful computerized telescopes for his star shows.
Credit: 2023 Greg McCartney

Twilight Tour, Honolulu Zoo 

During this guided after-hours walk at the Honolulu Zoo, clients will see its amazing residents in a different light — literally. Moxie, the lioness, will likely be lounging and chuffing by her pool. The cheetah sisters Nagini, Fawkes and Pickett will be playing tag. Mari and Vaigai, the elephants, sleep just four hours each day, so they’ll no doubt be wide awake, eating and dust bathing. 


Two of the zoo’s three female cheetahs

Two of the zoo’s three female cheetahs
Credit: 2023 Honolulu Zoo Society

Yoga on the Ocean, Yoga Floats

As night falls, yogis of all levels head to the calm waters off Waikiki to perfect poses on stand-up paddleboards lit with brightly colored LEDs. The glittering skyline, the moon and stars overhead, and the gentle rocking and soothing song of the sea promote peaceful meditation and a mindful practice. On Fridays, the Yoga Floats class concludes with a front-row view of a spectacular fireworks show.


Top 10 Wellness Retreats in Mexico for Travelers

Aug 14, 2023

Mexico  Wellness  Travel Trends  



Mexico has numerous wellness retreats and resorts that offer nature immersion, healthy eating and more.
Credit: 2021 Rancho La Puerta

Editor's Note: This article was last updated on Aug. 14, 2023.

For those seeking a vacation that emphasizes personal health, Mexico is an ideal spot. Many visitors travel to the country to stay at the different wellness retreats that have been designed to improve physical and mental well-being. These 10 retreats each offer a unique experience that will kick start a client’s journey to better health.

For a Yoga Retreat

Located on 12 acres of wild land and just five minutes by car from Sayulita, Haramara Retreat is a luxurious yoga retreat on the Pacific Coast just north of Puerto Vallarta focused on detoxification and relaxation. Guests stay in palm-thatched huts that feature ocean views and are surrounded by lush tropical vegetation, and the property includes two yoga pavilions, an infinity pool and an open-air spa. In order to minimize environmental impact, there’s no electricity, aside from inside the restaurant and yoga studio.

For a Seven-Day Detox


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Baja Cleanse takes place in a private beachfront home between Los Cabos and La Paz, where a raw-food chef prepares organic meals and fresh juices daily. Designed for a solo guest or for a couple, cleanse participants receive nutritional counseling and meet with experienced therapists who provide treatments such as massage, acupuncture and holistic facials. The seven-day program is meant to clear the mind, body and spirit of stress and toxins, and includes meditation, yoga, breath work and other outdoor activities.

For a Zen Escape

Nestled between the jungle and the beach in Chacala, in the state of Nayarit, lies Mar de Jade — a unique property that offers a multitude of yoga and meditation retreats throughout the year. Its Silent Zen Meditation Retreat occurs twice per year and is led by a well-known Buddhist priest. The retreat includes daily vegetarian meals, sitting and walking meditation, Buddhist teachings and a private session with the teacher. 

For Sun, Surf and Sand

At Las Olas Surf Safaris, just outside of Puerto Vallarta, an all-female crew of instructors teach women how to hang 10 in a relaxed and supportive environment. A typical day includes morning yoga, multiple surf sessions, a fun activity such as margarita-making or Spanish lessons and three balanced meals. These retreats are suited for any age and any experience level in terms of surfing — it’s about learning through play and letting your confidence grow.

For Weight Loss

Popular with celebrities such as Drew Barrymore and Cameron Diaz, Tulum’s Bikini Bootcamp is a weight-loss vacation combined with a yoga retreat that helps tone the body and center the mind and spirit. This six-day program provides daily beach walks and workout classes (from Pilates and yoga to dance and sculpt), daily journaling and meditation sessions, healthful meals, spa services and tours.

For Fitness and Holistic Therapy

Designed to strengthen the body and enrich the mind, Rancho La Puerta in Baja encourages integrative wellness by offering fitness classes, wellness workshops, educational lectures and holistic therapies. Unique class offerings include chanting/crystal bowls, sound healing, acupuncture, water dance and biodynamic craniosacral therapy. Weeklong experiences are set on 4,000 acres that include an organic garden, gyms, spas, pools, hiking trails and more.

For Total Mind and Body Wellness

Yaan Healing Sanctuary in Tulum hosts Moon Temazcal Ceremonies led by a Maya healer during the monthly moon cycles. These sessions enable participants to cleanse and heal as they are guided through the four doors of a pre-Hispanic sweat lodge ceremony. Treetop yoga and meditation classes are offered daily, and the spa has purified crystalline water pools; energy healing; an Aztec chakra massage treatment; and herbal and flower baths in copper tubs.

For Self-Care, Guided Meditation and Corporate Retreats

A variety of retreats and workshops are offered year-round at Present Moment Retreat — a private boutique resort situated on a peaceful beach in Troncones, near Zihuatanejo. The diverse monthly retreats include self-care for women, yoga and wellness, guided meditation, chakra balancing, dancing and more. Present Moment also operates Lake Zirahuen Mountain Retreat Center in Mexico’s Sierra Madre Mountains, which offers corporate and group retreats, silent and guided meditation, qigong, tai chi and more.

For Nutrition Counseling, Crystal Healing and More

Sanara Tulum is home to a world-class wellness center that provides guests with alternative treatments, including nutritional consultation, crystal healing and aromatherapy. Guests can expect a la carte healing therapies and spa treatments, as well as multi-day cleansing and healing options. 

For Detoxification and Restoration

Set in Baja California’s Guadalupe Valley, Montevalle Health and Wellness Resort is among Mexico’s newest all-inclusive retreats. Owned and operated by physician Carlos Bautista, who is a natural and holistic therapies devotee, the property attracts guests looking to detox and boost their health. Those in a hurry might try the retreat’s one-day plan, which includes a health consultation, two intravenous infusions, a massage, treatments, full access to services and activities and two meals.

Visitors staying longer have the luxury of three meals per day and the time to try more of Montevalle’s offerings, including biomagnetic therapy, Rife therapy, Mag Ray therapy, hyperbaric oxygen, pulsed electromagnetic field therapy, laser therapy and UVBI therapy. There’s even wine therapy, which utilizes grapes from Montevalle’s vineyard, to relax and stimulate the immune system. 


Viking Christens Saturn and Shares Details on Future Plans

Jun 25, 2023

Cruise  Travel News  


Viking Christens Saturn and Shares Details on Future Plans

Viking Saturn was recently christened in New York City.
Credit: 2023 Viking

When Viking, then a successful river cruise line, announced in 2013 that it was going to launch ocean cruise ships, the initial plan was for six vessels. Not only did the company meet that goal, but exceeded it, with the 10 they have now introduced internationally (one has since been rededicated to the Chinese market). 

And, remarkably, the brand is planning yet another 10 by 2030.

Due to a dense haze of smoke caused by recent Canadian wildfires, the bow of the newest ship, Viking Saturn, was shrouded some when godmother Ann Ziff, chairman of the Metropolitan Opera, officially named the ship in New York. But that didn’t damper the spirit of the celebration, which included the presence of Torstein Hagen, chairman of Viking, as well as performances by crossover soprano Sissel Kyrkjebo and talented vocalists from the Metropolitan Opera.

“This is a very proud day for Viking, as we name our newest identical ocean ship in New York City, one of the great cultural capitals of the world,” Hagen said. “It is especially fitting that Ann Ziff, chairman of the Metropolitan Opera — one of the world’s greatest cultural institutions — has honored us by serving as godmother of the Viking Saturn. We thank Ann for her loyalty as a Viking guest, as well as her many impressive contributions to the arts and other important causes.”

Viking Saturn

Saturn follows nearly identical Viking Star, Viking Sea, Viking Sky, Viking Sun (now Zhao Shang Yi Dun), Viking Orion, Viking Jupiter, Viking Venus, Viking Mars and Viking Neptune, and another 10 ships are expected to follow. The next series will be slightly larger, in part to support next-generation, hydrogen-powered propulsion technology — which is only a fraction of the plans Viking has on the horizon.

While onboard Saturn, Hagen gave a familiar presentation outlining what sets Viking ocean ships apart, including “residential” qualities that make them feel like “a floating vacation home.”

The executive pointed out that while liquefied natural gas (LNG) has been popular in cruise industry conversations about fuel lately, he is instead in favor of more sustainable hydrogen fuel cells. In fact, Neptune currently has a testing plant onboard for the future fuel. 

When asked about other means of power, Hagen even noted that nuclear could eventually see the light of day.

Post-Pandemic Success

Taking a step back to look at the company as a whole, Viking says it has fully recovered from the pandemic. Its 2019 and 2022 revenue both totaled $3 billion in tickets, and profitability has rebounded to $375 million in 2022 versus $769 million in 2019 — a significantly higher percentage of recovery than Viking estimates of corporate competitors. What’s more, its delta in revenue growth from 2015 to 2022 has been 90%, greatly outpacing others, according to the line.

Viking cites several reasons for its success, including its singular customer-centric brand and clearly defined customer group — curious and interested, well-educated and affluent English speakers in the 55+ age bracket.

Also, despite the pandemic, Viking launched 16 total vessels from 2020 to 2022: three ocean vessels (Venus, Mars and Neptune), two expedition ships (Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris), 10 international riverboats and the domestic Viking Mississippi.

Hagen admits to a few “teething” problems on the new Mississippi River product, but he believes it will soon come up to the brand’s usual standards.

Looking to the Future

In regard to bookings for this and next year, 96% of river capacity (12% higher than this time in 2019) and 89% of ocean capacity (53% above 2019) has already been sold, and for 2024, 31% of river and 49% of ocean space has also been reserved.

According to Hagen, Viking has been “ordering ships right, left and center,” and many more vessels for each segment are on their way. By 2026, this includes another 14 riverboats, with three in Egypt (one each year from 2023 to 2025), and another ship for the Mekong in 2025. Plus, five more longships are planned for Europe in 2025, with another five coming in 2026.

Ocean-wise, the line’s 11th and 12th ships are already under construction for launch in December 2024 and July 2025, respectively, and an additional four are under contract from 2026 to 2028. Through 2030, four more are options with the shipyard, which could amount to 20 Viking ocean ships (though some may go to China). 

Looking further out, as Hagen says, “I have a few years left,” further plans for Viking under his leadership could expand into land operations. During his presentation, he said he could see ocean ships heading to Africa along the coast, but also guests going inland for safaris.

After all, he believes the spirit of Viking is that “nothing is impossible.”


Carnival Cruise Line Welcomes Next Roller Coaster at Sea

Patrick Clarke

by Patrick Clarke
Last updated: 10:55 AM ET, Wed August 16, 2023


BOLT: Ultimate Sea Coaster aboard Carnival Celebration

BOLT: Ultimate Sea Coaster aboard Carnival Celebration. (Photo Credit: Carnival Cruise Line)


Carnival Cruise Line is set to welcome its third BOLT: Ultimate Sea Coaster aboard Carnival Jubilee.

Crews at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Germany are installing the roller coaster's 800-foot track on Deck 19 this week. The installation is expected to be complete next month and test runs are scheduled for October.

The award-winning attraction features two all-electric, two-person cars that riders can race up to 40 miles per hour through drops, twists and turns as high as 187 feet above the water line.

Already, more than 150,000 guests have experienced BOLT aboard Carnival Jubilee's sister ships Mardi Gras and Carnival Celebration. It became the first roller coaster at sea in 2021 with the debut of Mardi Gras.

Starting December 23, 2023, Carnival Jubilee will operate year-round from Galveston, Texas, sailing week-long Western Caribbean voyages and visiting popular destinations such as Mahogany Bay, Isla Roatan, Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico.


Seven Destinations in Mexico That Surprise and Delight


Image: Women of Oaxaca, Mexico. (Photo Credit: Michael Kompanik)

Image: Women of Oaxaca, Mexico. (Photo Credit: Michael Kompanik)

Noreen Kompanik

by Noreen Kompanik
Last updated: 7:00 AM ET, Tue July 18, 2023

Our family loves traveling to Mexico. And all the times we’ve visited, we always felt safe, were treated with wonderful hospitality, and enjoyed a myriad of great adventures. Not to mention the incredible Mexican cuisine we adore.

And though we’ve had fun in vibrant bustling more popular places such as Cancun and Los Cabos, we much prefer the slower pace that other less-traveled Mexican destinations provide. Overall, they are less crowded, more authentic and offer unforgettable experiences we talk about for years.

Here are some of our favorite destinations offering a slice of the real and more undiscovered Mexico.


You may not have heard of Zihuatanejo, but in the iconic blockbuster The Shawshank Redemption, Zihuatanejo is the idyllic beach where Red finally meets up with Andy working on his boat in the movie's final scene.

Zihautanejo, or Zihua (zee-wah) as the locals call it, is situated on the Mexican (west coast) Riviera midway between Puerto Vallarta and Acapulco. Throughout the years, this unpretentious and charming destination with its protected picturesque bay ringed by lush verdant mountains has somehow managed to retain its small-town fishing village vibe.

One of the main draws are its stunning beaches: Playa La Ropa for its golden sand and calm sea ideal for swimming and Playa Las Gatas for its crystal-clear waters, abundant marine life and incredible snorkeling.


Magnificent bay views in Zihuatanejo

Magnificent bay views in Zihuatanejo. (Photo Credit: Michael Kompanik)


San Miguel de Allende



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Located in the far eastern portion of Guanajuato, Mexico at 6,200-feet above sea level, San Miguel de Allende is considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

Earning a distinctive honor as a UNESCO World Heritage City, this delightful mountaintop community nicknamed the ‘Heart of Mexico’ is filled with unforgettable Old Mexican charm.

It’s here in this magical place that the modern and the ancient blend together in perfect harmony. Picturesque cobblestone streets, Spanish colonial architecture, inspired works of art, and fascinating 18th-century churches celebrate San Miguel De Allende’s folklore and age-old traditions. 

The purity of San Miguel’s seductive colors, character, and light draws painters, writers, and sculptures like moths to a flame. It’s all this and more that gives the town a mystical quality that lures visitors time and again.


Strolling through Todos Santos

Strolling through Todos Santos. (Photo Credit: Noreen Kompanik)

Todos Santos, Baja California Sur

A small coastal town on Pacific coast of Baja California Sur, Mexico, Todos Santos is situated about 50 miles north of Cabo San Lucas and 45 miles south of La Paz. The town is known for its picturesque beauty, charming atmosphere, cobblestoned streets, rich cultural heritage and history dating back to the 18th century when it was established as a mission town by Spanish missionaries.

There’s no doubt the town’s prestigious designation as one of Mexico’s Pueblos Mágicos is well-deserved. With its colonial architecture, iconic structures like the Hotel California that inspired the famous Eagles song, its stunning natural beauty, remote beaches and quaint boutique shops, Todos Santos is a destination you need to put on your must-visit and one you’ll long remember.


In Spanish, Bucerías means “place of divers.” Once a small fishing village with cobblestone roads and brightly colored homes (with enormous doors), this town in the state of Nayarit still maintains a laid-back simple lifestyle that feels like a trip back in time.


Bucerias, Mexico

Bucerias, Mexico. (Photo Credit: Michael Kompanik)

Many say that Bucerías is what Puerto Vallarta was 50 years ago. It’s an easily walkable town that’s a photographer’s dream with its vibrant colors, fascinating sculptures, creative wall murals and charming boutique shops. As the sleepy village with its fun, teeming marketplace is slowly becoming more cosmopolitan, we wonder how long before the word gets out about this secret slice of Mexican paradise. But for now, it’s still delightfully quaint.


Though Merida is the capital city of the state of Yucatan in the southeastern part of Mexico, it’s renowned for its rich history, vibrant culture and impressive colonial architecture. It’s often called the “White City” due to its prevalent use of white limestone in its buildings.

Merida is a fascinating blend of Mayan and Spanish influences. Founded in 1542, the current city is located on the site of a former Mayan City of T'hó, and remnants of this ancient civilization can still be found in its environs.

The historic downtown area known as the Centro Historico is one of its main draws with magnificently preserved colonial buildings. Add in museums which provide insight into Mayan life, a lively cultural scene which includes the Jarana, the traditional Yucatan dance, numerous festivals and an impressive culinary scene and you have all the ingredients of a beloved Mexico destination. In addition, the ancient Mayan ruins of Uxmal and Chichen Itza are easily accessible from the town.

La Paz, Baja California Sur

Some visitors to Mexico may have experienced the magical paradise of this capital city of Baja California Sur sitting about 2/3 down the lengthy Baja Peninsula along the Sea of Cortez. La Paz is well-renowned for its abundant biodiverse marine life. Home to an impressive array of marine species which includes whales, dolphins, sea lions and more than 800 species of fish including the immense whale sharks, La Paz has become a popular destination for eco-tourism and water-based adventures such as scuba diving, snorkeling and kayaking.

Espiritu Santo Island, named a UNESCO World Heritage Site is a nearby treasure that offers many opportunities for wildlife encounters, pristine beaches and crystalline waters that visitors are often unaware of.


Stunning Belandra Bay in La Paz, Mexico

Stunning Belandra Bay in La Paz, Mexico. (Photo Credit: Noreen Kompanik)

And even more secretive, stunning Belandra Bay located just 20 minutes from the heart of La Paz feels a world away. Surrounded by massive rock formations, Belandra Bay is also known as the “Laguna de la Colores” for its six different contrasting colors of blue and turquoise and its warm shallow pristine waters ideal for swimming and kayaking.

Mazunte, Oaxaca

A small coastal village on the Pacific coast of Oaxaca, Mazunte is beloved for its pristine beaches, laid-back ambience and ecological consciousness.

Once a bustling fishing village, Mazunte has transformed into a destination sought out by travelers looking for a tranquil and nature-oriented experience often associated with holistic and alternative lifestyles. Visitors will find yoga retreats, meditation centers and workshops promoting sustainable living and natural medicine.

The village itself is nestled between lush verdant hills with breathtaking views overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Its beaches are wide and golden with crystal-clear turquoise waters. Mazunte’s National Mexican Turtle Center plays a crucial role in the conservation and preservation of sea turtles.

What we also love about this area is its incredibly fresh seafood that creative chefs transform into artistic culinary treasures. Seafood lovers will find an abundance of beachfront restaurants and seafood shacks offering delicious meals and stunning ocean views.

The next time you’re thinking of heading to Mexico, consider one of these lesser-visited destinations for a more authentic and enriching Mexican experience that you’ll long remember.


Cruise Ship Wi-Fi: A Guide to Onboard Internet Services

Jul 28, 2023

Cruise  Technology  


Cruise Ship Wi-Fi: A Guide to Onboard Internet Services

Many cruise lines are improving their onboard internet offerings.
Credit: 2023 Prostock-studio/

More and more cruise lines are jumping on the bandwidth bandwagon by implementing next-generation Starlink internet access onboard. This improved connectivity option utilizes low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites operated by Elon Musk’s SpaceX, and the technology allows for a faster and more reliable connection in remote corners of the world. This is a game changer for both small-ship operators and large cruise companies — and clients aiming to work or simply stay connected at sea.

To keep track of Starlink’s growing reach in the cruise industry, we’ve created a guide of which cruise lines and corporations are (or are not) offering Starlink, and what exactly their service options are, including if its free or for a cost.

Editor’s Note: The details below are likely to change over time. We’ll keep this page updated, reflecting adjustments made in the cruise world, but we recommend that you double check the details with individual lines if needed.

American Cruise Lines

As of 2023, American Cruise Lines has added Starlink to its entire fleet of domestic riverboats and coastal ships, from vessels visiting Alaska and the Florida Keys to the Mississippi River and California’s Napa Valley. Best of all, the Wi-Fi connection is free for all guests.

American Queen Voyages

American Queen Voyages bundles in free Starlink internet access across its entire fleet of river, ocean and lake (discontinued in December 2023) vessels. The ships also have a cellular back-up connection provided by FMC Global Sat 5G.


American Queen’s American Countess riverboat

American Queen’s American Countess riverboat
Credit: 2023 American Queen Voyages

Atlas Ocean Voyages

Atlas Ocean Voyages utilizes Starlink onboard vessels World Traveller and World Navigator, and its forthcoming World Voyager, will offer connectivity, as well. Every cruise guest is provided with 1 GB of complimentary data.

Aqua Expeditions

Aqua Mare, Aqua Nera and Aqua Blu of Aqua Expeditions now utilize Starlink, and by September 2023, Aria Amazon and Aqua Mekong will, as well. Guests receive two hours of complimentary daily access, or they can purchase unlimited connectivity for $100, giving them internet access for the entire duration of their voyage.

Carnival Corporation

Carnival Corporation is currently working on installing Starlink on its worldwide fleet, first on the Carnival Cruise Line and Aida Cruises brands, then later on Cunard Line, Holland America Line (HAL), Princess Cruises and Seabourn Cruise Line, as well as Costa Cruises and P&O Cruises in Australia and the United Kingdom.

As of now, Carnival has three tiers of internet plans available for purchase, while Cunard and Holland America offer two purchasable options; HAL also includes internet access in its “Have It All” package. Starlink is already being used on HAL’s Koningsdam, while the rest of its fleet is slated to do the same by the end of 2023.

On Seabourn, unlimited complimentary basic access is provided for one device per guest, or passengers can upgrade to a premium plan for streaming on up to four devices — note that this perk is included for Penthouse and Premium suite categories, as well as Seabourn Club members who have Diamond-level status or higher. Seabourn Venture and Seabourn Pursuit are the first ships in the luxury fleet to use Starlink.


Seabourn Venture

Seabourn Venture
Credit: 2023 Jason Leppert

Princess is unique for featuring its proprietary MedallionNet internet service, which combines multi-orbit satellite constellations — geostationary Earth orbit (GEO), mid-Earth orbit (MEO) and low Earth orbit (LEO or Starlink) — with 5G terrestrial networks. Plans can be purchased per device. Passengers with Princess Plus or Premier have MedallionNet already bundled in.

Explora Journeys

Complimentary Wi-Fi access is available to all Explora Journeys guests. The line currently employs SES’s O3b mPOWER satellite solution.

Hurtigruten Expeditions

Hurtigruten Expeditions uses Starlink onboard and offers the service for free to guests and crew. The adventure line’s entire fleet, except its ship in the Galapagos, utilizes the new internet connection in collaboration with long-time partner Speedcast.


Hurtigruten’s Santa Cruz II in the Galapagos.

Hurtigruten’s Santa Cruz II in the Galapagos.
Credit: 2023 Hurtigruten Expeditions

Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic

By the end of 2023, Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic will offer three new internet package tiers, all utilizing Starlink connectivity. The high-speed solution is already available onboard National Geographic Endurance, National Geographic Explorer, National Geographic Quest, National Geographic Resolution, National Geographic Sea Bird, National Geographic Sea Lion and National Geographic Venture.

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd.

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. — comprised of Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL), Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises — plans to employ Starlink across its corporate fleet in phases. Access on Norwegian Breakaway will come first, followed by seven more ships through 2023, including Norwegian Viva, Oceania’s Vista and Regent’s Seven Seas Grandeur. Specific to NCL, the line offers various package tiers for a charge, or bundled as a part of its “Free at Sea” promotions.

On Oceania, one login per cabin is included in the cruise fare, but guests can upgrade to the line’s premium Wavenet Prime streaming service for a fee.


Regent’s Seven Seas Navigator

Regent’s Seven Seas Navigator
Credit: 2023 Regent Seven Seas Cruises

On Regent, guests get free unlimited basic Wi-Fi, but a streaming plan costs extra. The line provides one login/device per suite, whereas gold-level and higher members of the Seven Seas Society and passengers in Concierge Suites and above receive up to four logins/devices per suite.

Royal Caribbean Group

Under Royal Caribbean Group is Celebrity CruisesRoyal Caribbean International and Silversea Cruises. Celebrity utilizes Starlink on its ships, with the exception of Celebrity Flora in the Galapagos. Basic Wi-Fi either costs extra or comes included for passengers who have purchased an all-inclusive package. Those who buy access can also upgrade to a premium level of service for more bandwidth.


Celebrity Ascent

Celebrity Ascent
Credit: 2023 Celebrity Cruises

Silversea is also going the Starlink route, offering complimentary standard internet to Vista and Veranda Suites; premium Wi-Fi to Medallion, Silver, Royal, Grand and Owner’s Suites; and premium Wi-Fi to passengers on world or grand cruise itineraries and on its classic and expedition vessels. All guests on Silver Origin in the Galapagos receive free standard internet access. Complimentary service applies to two devices at a time, and upgrades can be purchased when available.

Scenic Group

Scenic Group, overseeing Emerald Cruises and Scenic Luxury Cruises and Tours, plans to implement complimentary Starlink across its oceangoing fleets. Emerald Azzurra and Scenic Eclipse II are already connected, and Emerald Sakara will be outfitted with Starlink when it launches in August 2023. Scenic Eclipse I will also offer Starlink access by the end of 2023.


All Viking riverboats and ocean ships offer free Wi-Fi internet access, and the line’s seagoing and expedition ships utilize Starlink.

Virgin Voyages

Virgin Voyages does not specify its service provider, but unlimited basic Wi-Fi is included for guests, and premium internet is available as an upgrade for a daily fee. Either plan allows for two connected devices per person.

RELATED: Review: Virgin Voyages' Scarlet Lady  

Windstar Cruises

Windstar Cruises has aimed to implement Starlink across most of its fleet by now, midway through 2023. Wind Spirit will get the service once it is available in French Polynesia. The technology supports the line’s existing geostationary satellite service, Anuvu. Windstar’s paid internet packages are based on data usage, increasing in cost from an email-optimized option to a surfing plan before reaching an unlimited one, which is also bundled in the line’s all-inclusive fare option. Packages permit only one connected device at a time.


Airlines keeping their word on accessibility

By Robert Silk 


Aug 14, 2023



Robert Silk

Robert Silk

For too long, flyers with disabilities have had to struggle through an air travel system that must simply feel indifferent to their challenges.
But maybe, just maybe, that page has begun to turn.

In this column last November, I wrote that the large U.S. airlines, through their trade group Airlines for America, had issued a pledge to improve accessibility. But I wondered if that pledge would prove to be more than just lip service.

In the short time since then, there's early evidence that the airlines meant what they said.

Of particular importance was the revelation in June by the Delta Air Line subsidiary Delta Flight Products of a prototype seat design that would enable travelers who use a powered wheelchair to remain in that chair while flying. Such passengers would still have access to the tray table, armrest and headrest while flying. And the convertible seat would be available for standard use when not booked by a wheelchair user.

Delta Flight Products expects the development and certification process for the product to take another year and a half. And there's no guarantee the prototype will ever come to market. Still, the design is an important early attempt to tackle a huge pain point for many flyers with disabilities who rightfully fear that their own chair could be damaged during transport and who also worry about the process of transferring into an airline chair and then into a standard seat during boarding and deplaning. 

Another welcome announcement came in late July from United, which plans to outfit its entire mainline fleet with Braille signage by 2026. The Braille will denote seat numbers and be deployed within and outside of lavatories. United is the first U.S. carrier to utilize Braille in cabins, having already put the feature on a dozen planes. 

Beyond the airlines themselves, recent weeks have brought good news from regulators, and potentially from Congress, for flyers with disabilities.

Late last month the DOT finalized a long-awaited regulation that will require mainline aircraft with more than 125 seats to have at least one wheelchair-accessible lavatory. The bad news is that it will be another decade until the rule takes effect for new aircraft orders. But that's still eight years sooner than the DOT had previously proposed.

In the meantime, requirements that lavatories have assist handles and accessible call buttons will take effect in three years for new deliveries.

Congress, too, appears to be giving flyers with disabilities a close look these days as it moves toward a five-year reauthorization of FAA funding. Accessibility-related measures in the House version of the bill, which was passed in mid-July, include requirements that the DOT develop minimum training standards for workers who assist passengers with wheelchairs and for workers who load wheelchairs into cargo areas. Both measures are responsive to concerns of disability rights advocates.

The Senate FAA reauthorization bill was stalled as Congress went on its August recess. But both those measures were in the bill initially put forward by the Senate Transportation Committee in June. The House bill and the proposed Senate bill would also direct airlines to publish cargo stowage dimensions for wheelchairs on their websites so that flyers can see whether their chair would be especially vulnerable.  

For an industry that pales from an accessibility standpoint compared with bus and train travel, these are important steps. 


New Flight Routes Launching This Fall


Image: A JetBlue flight taking off from LAX. (photo via MichaelGordon1/iStock Editorial/Getty Images Plus)

Image: A JetBlue flight taking off from LAX. (photo via MichaelGordon1/iStock Editorial/Getty Images Plus)

Patrick Clarke

by Patrick Clarke
Last updated: 7:00 AM ET, Sat August 12, 2023

After a chaotic summer travel period, September's shoulder season should be a welcome reprieve for weary travelers.

With the transition to fall comes new flight routes. Here are some of the notable network enhancements being planned by major U.S. carriers this autumn.


Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines will expand service between Yakima and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Washington State on November 17. The carrier will also add service from Los Angeles to Guatemala City, Guatemala on December 14.


American Airlines

American Airlines will fly travelers to see their favorite college football teams in action this fall. Notable routes include Austin, Texas to Birmingham, Alabama; Nashville to Gainesville, Florida and Los Angeles to Eugene, Oregon.


The carrier is also expanding service on 10 routes from North Carolina's Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) starting December 5. Destinations include Belize City, Belize; Cancun, Mexico; Curacao; Liberia, Costa Rica; Los Cabos, Mexico; Montego Bay, Jamaica; Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic; Punta Cana, Dominican Republic; San Juan, Puerto Rico and St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands.

Starting December 9, American will launch a new nonstop service to Cancun from Nashville and Cincinnati.


Avelo Airlines plane takes off from Hollywood Burbank Airport

Avelo Airlines plane takes off from Hollywood Burbank Airport. (photo courtesy of Avelo Airlines)


Avelo Airlines

Budget carrier Avelo Airlines will make its Caribbean debut this fall when it launches twice weekly service between Connecticut's Tweed-New Haven Airport and Puerto Rico’s San Juan Luis Munoz Marín International Airport. The new flights will commence on November 15.

Delta Air Lines

Delta Air Lines will re-launch service to Curacao from Atlanta for the first time since 2010 starting December 16.


JetBlue is expanding service to the Caribbean this fall, connecting New York City's John F. Kennedy International Airport with Robert Llewellyn Bradshaw International Airport (SKB) in St. Kitts and Nevis starting November 2 and flying from JFK to Belize City, Belize beginning December 6.

Meanwhile, the carrier will commence flights from Boston to Grenada and connect Los Angeles with Nassau, Bahamas starting on November 4. JetBlue will also launch new Orlando to Raleigh, North Carolina service beginning November 2.


Southwest Airlines, Austin–Bergstrom International Airport, Austin, Texas, Spirit Airlines, airplanes, runway, airport

Southwest Airlines flight arriving at Austin–Bergstrom International Airport, Texas. (photo via Wikimedia Commons/Brett Spangler)

Southwest Airlines

Low-cost carrier Southwest Airlines will launch daily nonstop service between Long Beach, California and Albuquerque, New Mexico on September 5. Starting October 7, the carrier will offer seasonal service on Saturdays between Kansas City, Missouri and Montego Bay, Jamaica and Los Cabos, Mexico.

Meanwhile, Southwest's current service between Kansas City and Cancun, Mexico will operate daily starting October 5.

Spirit Airlines

Ultra-low-cost carrier Spirit Airlines will offer a new nonstop route to Las Vegas from Charleston, South Carolina starting September 7. The flight will operate five times weekly.


United Airlines plane.

United Airlines plane. (photo via United Airlines Media)

United Airlines

Last month, United Airlines announced the addition of 127 new, nonstop flights for the upcoming college football season. More flights and larger planes will be flying to numerous college towns and cities, including Ann Arbor, Michigan; Knoxville, Tennessee and Columbus, Ohio, among others.

"We're committed to providing a best-in-class travel experience for our customers, whether they're traveling around the globe, or flying to see their favorite college football team play," Patrick Quayle, Senior Vice President of Global Network Planning and Alliances, said in a statement. "We're pleased to deliver a schedule this season that makes it easy for fans to come together and support their teams on the road."