News & Views of the Week

Deals and Steals are on the way but before that we do want to thank all of those that came by to see us at the Sonora Celtic Faire last weekend.

While Saturday was a bit on the iffy side in the way of weather Sunday was mostly bright and pleasant.

We no move on to the annual SCOTTISH GAMES AND GATHERING venue on September 1 and 2 this year.

More details a bit later on that but now back to regular programming.


Deals and Steals


Our email listing various travel deals both for land and cruise vacations.

This week we feature touring around France.  It time to start planning a summer time vacation to somewhere in Europe… why not learn to speak a little French.


Viva La France



Hotel Napoleon

Starting At: $ 1564.00

This luxury hotel, affectionately named 'The Place' by Errol Flynn, has 102 guestrooms, including 47 suites, all equipped with the very latest innovations. Set in the heart of the Triangle d'Or, a stone's throw from the Arc de Triomphe and just a step away from the world famous Avenue des Champs Elysées, this haven of serenity boasts a truly exceptional and easily accessible location, and is a marvel of Empire-style decoration.


La Belle France

Starting At: $ 4215.00


European Impressions (Start London, end London)

Starting At: $ 3815.00

Want a bit more time in all the best destinations on the Euro map, but can't commit to a huge chunk of time? The European Impressions caters accordingly. Cycling through the storybook city of Munich, & visiting a French perfumery are just some of the hallmark experiences we have in store.


European Traveller Summer 2018

Starting At: $ 2655.25

Explore the tradition and elegance of Europe's most romantic capital cities - the majestic Arc de Triomphe, Bridge of Sighs and Sistine Chapel your gateways to an unforgettable journey. Enjoy radiant Paris and the Renaissance romance of Florence, dramatic Alpine landscapes and the Eternal City of Rome where you'll toss a coin in the Trevi Fountain to secure your swift return...


French Impressions

Starting At: $ 3599.00

Welcome to the "City of Lights." Your tour begins in the world's cultural capital - Paris. Grand sights such as Notre Dame Cathedral, the Place de la Concorde and the Champs Elysees await during your three-night stay. Enjoy dinner with breathtaking views on the Eiffel Tower. Embark on a scenic cruise on the Seine River. Visit the magnificent palace and gardens of Versailles. Cross the countryside aboard the high speed TGV Train on your way to Provence. Stay three nights in charming Aix-en-Pro...


Flavours of Europe return Eurostar (Summer 2018)

Starting At: $ 3605.00

Experience the essence of Europe as you travel through bustling Rome and Paris, stopping off in Renaissance Florence, the colourful ocean-side villages of the Cinque Terre and the glittering snow-capped peaks of Switzerland. Explore local life as you enjoy small-group dining in Lucerne and cross paths with locals who are passionate about sharing Europe's rich heritage, culture and traditions with you. Get a taste of the Parisian way of life as you join our friends in Paris for an intimate gourmet walking tour of a local neighbourhood. Ascend Mount Stanserhorn in Switzerland for breath-taking views of Lake Lucerne and learn about regional fauna and flora from a Swiss Ranger. Join a Local E...


Loire Valley cruise

Starting At: $ 3670.00


Wwi Memorials & Battlefields

Starting At: $ 1249.00

5 Days, featuring: Amiens. Excursion To Fromelles & Vimy


Best of France Summer 2018

Starting At: $ 3348.75

Enjoy France la carte - chteaux, chic beach resorts and delicious cuisine served with a dash of French Riviera, medieval Bastide villages and a healthy helping of Bordeaux. Journey through the romantic Loire Valley to the beaches of Biarritz and Carcassonne with its enchanting city walls. Marvel at Avignon's famous bridge, see the D-Day Landing beaches in Normandy and visit Claude Monet's home in Giverny.


French Heritage (Summer 2018)

Starting At: $ 6816.25

A quintessential French experience, showcasing award-winning wines, fashionable ski resorts, medieval villages and famous cities.


9 Day Paris and the Wines of Bordeaux & Burgundy

Starting At: $ 8505.00

Discover glorious Paris and sample the heavenly wines of the Bordeaux and Burgundy regions. Taste exquisite wines in a Parisian cellar and enjoy private tastings in Saint-Émilion, the Médoc, the Côte de Beaune and more.


Paris Getaway 5 Nights

Starting At: $ 954.00

6 Days, featuring: Paris


Champagne and The Great War cruise

Starting At: $ 4515.00


French Sampler

Starting At: $ 2569.00

8 Days, featuring: Monte Carlo


Secrets of France Summer 2018

Starting At: $ 3657.50

A foodie frenzy awaits you in the south-west corner of France - the gastronomic centres of Bordeaux, Sarlat-la-Canéda and Dordogne promising a culinary feast of ruby red wines, fresh oysters and foie gras. Explore the region's bustling village markets, medieval cities and the prehistoric paintings at Lascaux Caves before returning to Paris and the historic town of Versailles.


Jewels of France including Normandy Summer 2018

Starting At: $ 1275.00

Centuries of French heritage can be traced on this journey through the valleys and vineyards of the north to the Loire Valley and majestic Paris. Visit Joan of Arc's Rouen, the fairytale Chenonceau chteau and D-Day landing beach at Omaha.


10 Day L'Amour en France: Paris, Loire & Burgundy

Starting At: $ 9270.00

Fall in love with three romantic locales - Paris, Burgundy, and the Loire Valley - on a panoramic journey through France. Taste local wines at charming vineyards, cruise the Seine over a candlelight dinner and more.



LOGO Viking Cruises

HERO Viking Cruises



Spring Sale: Additional Cruise Savings
on Rhine Getaway Sailings


You can savor the various culinary traditions of Alsace, explore the Black Forest region and spend time in Cologne’s Dom, a remarkable Gothic cathedral. From Amsterdam and Cologne to Basel, this journey reveals a rich landscape of beauty and culture.





Rhine Getaway

8 Days | Amsterdam to Basel


APR 25-MAY 2018 Departures
From $2,499 per person,
plus Up to 
Ask for Offer SLS18


This spectacular cruise highlights the legendary Rhine. In Germany, your clients will sail past castles commanding the riverbanks, visit the beautiful sandstone ruins of Heidelberg Castle and see well-preserved Marksburg Castle.

BUTTON View Itinerary



Paris & the Heart of Normandy

8 Days | Paris to Paris


JUL–AUG 2018 Departures
From $2,899 per person,
Ask for AIR18


Your clients will experience history at the Normandy beaches, delight in the Gothic architecture of Rouen and immerse themselves in Monet’s exquisite gardens at Giverny.

BUTTON View Itinerary





Cuba, Panama & the Pacific

22 Days | Miami to Los Angeles


NOV 22 & DEC 13, 2018 Departures
From $6,999 per person,
plus Air for 
$195 per person*
Ask for Offer EBD


This itinerary highlights the historic riches and natural beauty of Central America, transiting the Panama Canal and visiting Cuba, Mexico, Belize, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and more.

BUTTON View Itinerary




Discover Australia by Rail

The Ghan

The Ghan Expedition - Darwin to Adelaide from $3463pp*

4 day/3 night train journey, Gold Twin Cabin, with all-inclusive dining; select Australian wines, beers, base spirits and non-alcoholic beverages & Off Train Excursions in Katherine, Alice Springs and Coober Pedy

Explore Now

Indian Pacific

Sunburnt Flats and Railway Tracks from $6499pp*

Includes 2 nights Margaret River; 1 night Perth, 2 nights Indian Pacific, Gold Superior Cabin, from Perth to Adelaide including all meals and Off Train Excursions; 2 night Adelaide, 2 night Kangaroo Island tour, 3 nights Melbourne, tours, transfers & rental car

Explore Now

The Ghan

Treasures and Tracks from $6849pp*

Includes 4 nights Palm Cove; 3 nights Adelaide; overnight journey on The Ghan, Gold Superior Cabin, from Adelaide to Alice Springs including all meals and Off Train Excursions; 1 night Alice Springs; 2 nights Ayers Rock; 4 nights Sydney; tours & transfers.

Explore Now

Flights not included. Please ask for best available airfare at time of travel.




Amtrak Vacations







9 Days From $1349 – Call to book today!


Venture from the breathtaking great plains of the Midwest to the serene waters of the Pacific Coast on this scenic rail journey from Chicago to San Francisco, with a stop in Seattle.








4 Days From $499 – Save $50 per couple!


From the monuments along the Washington Mall and Pennsylvania Avenue, to the many popular museums around the city, there’s something special for everyone when visiting Washington DC.








5 Days From $649 – Call to book today!


Get ready for a scenic trip of a lifetime to the majestic Grand Canyon! Board Amtrak in Los Angeles and enjoy the scenery of the great American Southwest as you venture to Arizona.








9 Days From $819 – Call to book today!


This getaway includes a leisurely boat cruise in the scenic Two Medicine Valley, a spectacular tour along Going-to-the-Sun Road, and a sightseeing journey through verdant Lake McDonald Valley.







Abercrombie & Kent





Wings Over China



Immerse Yourself in China on a One-of-a-Kind Itinerary Designed Around Private Flights


Far-flung Beijing, Xian, Shanghai, Guilin and Hong Kong are all within easy reach — on a single itinerary — when you whisk between them by privately chartered jet on spectacular Wings Over China. Bask in stellar in-flight service from a dedicated flight crew and stay in unique, exclusive luxury hotels that rank among the best in the world.


Explore the many facets of this vast nation, led by the finest local experts, viewing the Terra Cotta Warriors in Xian, floating gently through the picturesque landscapes of Guilin and absorbing the vibe of Hong Kong’s Aberdeen, all while enjoying the ultimate luxury: more time to explore.








Wings Over China




Limited to 18 guests | 12 days from $32,995 | Oct 11, 2018; May 9, 2019






Experience an Unbeatable Combination of Top Destinations








Enjoy morning tai chi with a master instructor at the Ming-period Temple of Heaven, explore the imperial grandeur of the Forbidden City and walk along the well-preserved Mutianyu section of the Great Wall of China. Enjoy three nights in utmost luxury at the Peninsula Beijing, a spacious Travel + LeisureWorld’s Best hotel.







In this ancient one-time Chinese capital, visit the Muslim Quarter with its teeming markets and 14th-century Great Mosque, enjoy a dumpling-making demonstration and join an on-site specialist to explore the life-size Terra Cotta Warriors. Stay in the luxuriously styled, architecturally iconic Sofitel Legend People’s Grand Hotel, Xian.










Visit the 16th-century Yu Garden, witness thrilling feats of athleticism from VIP seats at an acrobatic performance and explore the world-renowned Shanghai Museum, as you stay for three blissful nights at the fabulous Peninsula Shanghai, basking in a Deluxe River View Room on the Bund at this luxurious hotel on the Condé Nast Traveler Gold List.







Discover this picturesque destination rarely included on a group journey, drifting down the scenic Li River on a traditional bamboo raft, observing rural farmers in their fields with towering limestone pinnacles providing a dramatic backdrop. Take in gorgeous views from your Condé Nast Traveler Gold List hotel, the Banyon Tree Yangshuo.





Hong Kong


Explore vibrant, electric Hong Kong, a must-see destination where East meets West. Stroll an herbal medicine market, view the city from Victoria Peak and observe life at an authentic floating village. Relax in a Grand Deluxe Harbor View Room at the Peninsula Hong Kong, which has earned its place on the Condé Nast Traveler Gold List.












More Wings Over the World Journeys








Wings Over the Mediterranean


Limited to 13 guests | 14 days from $29,995

Jun 12; Sep 25, 2018; Jun 11, 2019






Wings Over India


Limited to 17 guests | 15 days from $37,995

Oct 31, 2018; Feb 6, 2019




East Africa




Wings Over East Africa


Limited to 16 guests | 12 days from $29,995

Sep 12, 2018; Feb 9, 2019






Wings Over Australia


Limited to 20 guests | 13 days from $29,995

Save 75% on the single supplement on the Oct 22 departure.

Oct 22, 2018; Feb 24, 2019












Ireland, Dublin, Butler's Cafe-01-299592-edited.jpg


FREE Rental Car Upgrade!
9 Day Discover Ireland Culinary Experience Self Drive Vacation
From $995 per person, land only

Explore Ireland’s gastronomic towns including Dublin, Kinsale, Wicklow, Waterford, and Cork for an authentic Irish culinary experience. Visit Butler’s Chocolate Factory in north Dublin, visit Harty Oysters Farm in Dungarvan Bay, visit the Cork Butter Museum, Desmond Castle and the Wine Museum, and enjoy dinner in Kinsale, known as the “Gourmet Capital of Ireland.”

More Information

Ireland, Connemara, 12 Bens-02-391360-edited.jpg


FREE Guinness Storehouse Tour!
12 Day Ireland Explorer Escorted Vacation
 From $2,695 per person, land only

Drive along the picturesque Ring of Kerry and the steep Cliffs of Moher, take a horse-drawn carriage ride in Killarney Park, view the limestone landscapes at the Burren and visit Galway, unspoiled Connemara, and the legendary Giant’s Causeway. Visit the birthplace of the legendary Titanic in Belfast and admire the lavishly ornamented Book of Kells at Trinity College in Dublin.

More Information

Northern Ireland, Giants Causeway-05-517846-edited.jpg


FREE Dublin Historical Walking Tour!
5 Day Northern Ireland Panorama Small Group Journey
From $1,095 per person, land only

Drive north to Belfast and visit the Titanic Shipyard. Trace the footsteps of giants along the spectacular Giant’s Causeway, experience the wild beauty of County Donegal, and explore remote Connemara. Travel to colorful Westport, the village of Cong, and lively Galway and stop at the legendary Kilbeggan Distillery, one of the oldest in the world.

Ireland, Co Westmeath, Kilbeggan Distillery-01-627802-edited.jpg


FREE Dublin Historical Walking Tour!
5 Day West Ireland Discovery Small Group Journey
From $1,095 per person, land only

Start in Dublin and travel west to Galway, stopping en-route at the Kilbeggan Distillery and a traditional pub. Drive to the ‘fertile rocks’ of the Burren and visit the plunging Cliffs of Moher. Three nights in charming lakeside Killarney with the coastal scenery on the Dingle Peninsula, stroll through colorful Dingle town, and tour the dramatic Ring of Kerry. 



Keep in mind that this summer Celebrity as well as Princess will have a presence in the Caribbean.

Normally they do not but since the small pullback from Europe they have hardware now in the Caribbean for this summer.

Deals are abundant so if a Caribbean vacation interests you for this summer you do have choices in addition to the usual offerings from Royal Caribbean, NCL and Carnival.


NEWS AND VIEWS are fresh and ready to be viewed and taken in by all of you now.

New ships are always an interest to many and this week is no disappointment.



State Dept. Advisory Warns Against Using Playa del Carmen Ferries

by Adam Leposa | 

Mar 13, 2018 10:11am

Playa del Carmen Ferry Explosion

This photo taken from a video by Periódico Enfoque Puebla shows an explosion on a ferry in Playa del Carmen.


The U.S. State Department and U.S. Embassy in Mexico City are both advising U.S. travelers to avoid using ferry services between Playa del Carmen and CozumelMexico, as the investigation into a February 21 explosion onboard a Barcos Caribe ferry continues.

In a new update to its Mexico travel advisory, the State Department writes that U.S. government personnel are still prohibited from using the ferries, and that U.S. citizens should not use ferry services operating between the two destinations. The State Department is also prohibiting travel by U.S. government personnel to, and advising U.S. citizens to avoid, the Centro, Calica, Gonzalo Guerrero, Quintas del Carmen and Villas del Carmen neighborhoods in Playa del Carmen. There are no other restrictions on travel to other parts of the state of Quintana Roo, including the tourist areas of Cancun, Cozumel, Tulum and the Riviera Maya, and the overall travel advisory level remains at Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution, out of a possible four, due to crime.

The U.S. Embassy in Mexico City has also issued an updated security message following the previous security message issued March 7. The Embassy also reports that U.S. government personnel are prohibited from traveling to the neighborhoods listed above, and for U.S. citizens to avoid them. The Embassy also mirrored the State Department’s restriction and caution on the ferries.

Notably, in its latest message the Embassy now writes that the “circumstances surrounding the security threat affecting the above neighborhoods is separate from the threat against ferries operating between Playa del Carmen and Cozumel.”

The Embassy also reports that the U.S. Consular Agency in Playa del Carmen reopened for operations March 12, after it had closed following the previous security notice.

Cruise Impact

Since the February 21 explosion and the subsequent discovery of suspicious devices onboard another Barcos Caribe ferry, cruise lines have cancelled excursions that make use of the Cozumel – Playa del Carmen ferries.

Carnival Cruise Line reports that all such ship-sponsored tours have been cancelled until further notice, and the cruise line has strongly advised its guests to avoid using the ferries.

Investigation Update

Authorities in Quintana Roo, meanwhile, have ruled out terrorism and organized crime as potential causes of the February 21 explosion, according to the Riviera Maya News. When asked about the possibility that the explosion was self-inflicted, as some local media had speculated after reports surfaced that security footage showed the owners of Barcos Caribe and an unidentified person with a backpack boarding the ferry before the explosion, officials would only say that all lines of investigation remain open.

Meanwhile, authorities in Quintana Roo are working to beef up security. According to a separate Riviera Maya News report, state officials say that within six months, all ports in the state will have more stringent International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS) protocols in place. Currently, ISPS only covers international routes.


Travel Leaders: Alaska Cruises Most Popular Domestic Trip for 2018

by Newsdesk | 

Mar 15, 2018 11:49am

Princess Cruises Alaska

Photo by Princess Cruises


Alaska cruises jumped to the top spot from last year’s fifth place to become the most booked domestic vacation for 2018, according to findings from Travel Leaders Group’s new 2018 Travel Trends SurveyOrlando was bumped down a notch to second place. Las Vegas, Maui and New York City rounded out the Top 5. Internationally, Caribbean cruises and Cancun, Mexico, respectively, maintained the top two spots, while European river cruises edged up one place to third. Mediterranean cruises and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, were fourth and fifth, respectively.

Top “up and coming” destinations include Iceland, New Zealand, Thailand, Vietnam and Croatia. Additionally, of the respondents who book travel to the Caribbean, 45.6 percent said their 2018 bookings to the Caribbean are about even with last year, while 13.3 percent said their bookings to the Caribbean are higher. When it comes to Caribbean cruises, 71.7 percent said these bookings are either higher than or equal to last year’s bookings.

“It is important to note that interest in the Caribbean, whether it is a cruise or land-based travel, remains high,” said Travel Leaders Group CEO Ninan Chacko in a written statement. “Cruising overall, whether it’s to the Caribbean, a European river cruise or a cruise in the Mediterranean, is a popular vacation pick for Americans due to the multiple destinations one can visit, along with the tremendous value and convenience cruises offer.”

Alaska cruises have been among the top 10 domestic trips booked by Travel Leaders Group travel advisors over the last several years, but this is the first year Alaska cruises have reached the number one spot in the annual Travel Trends Survey. According to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), 1,089,700 passengers cruised in Alaska in 2017 and that number is projected to grow another seven percent to 1,165,500 passengers in 2018.

“Alaska is a truly unique bucket-list destination and more and more people from around the world are discovering its awe-inspiring beauty,” noted Chacko. “Our travel advisors frequently recommend it as a not-to-be-missed travel experience, especially for those interested in vivid scenery, wildlife or expedition travel.

Chacko added, “Also, optimism among Travel Leaders Group agents with respect to their travel business is at the highest level we’ve seen this decade.”

Key findings from Travel Leaders Group’s 2018 Travel Trends Survey include top international and domestic destinations, as well as top Canadian and top “up and coming” destinations.

Top 2018 U.S. and International Destinations:


2018 Top U.S. Destinations


Rank '17


Cruise - Alaska




Orlando, FL




Las Vegas, NV




Maui, HI




New York City, NY




Honolulu, HI




Cruise - Hawaii




Miami / Miami Beach, FL




Washington, DC




Los Angeles, CA





2018 Top International Destinations


Rank '17


Cruise - Caribbean




Cancun, Mexico




Cruise - Europe (River)




Cruise - Europe (Mediterranean)




Punta Cana, Dominican Republic




Rome, Italy




London, England



8 (tie)

Amsterdam, the Netherlands



8 (tie)

Montego Bay, Jamaica




Playa del Carmen / Riviera Maya, Mexico




Paris, France



Top “Up and Coming” International Destinations

·         Europe - Up and Coming: Iceland (42.9%), Croatia (17.9%), and Portugal (11.5%).

·         Pacific - Up and Coming:  New Zealand (28.7%), Tahiti (13%), and Bora Bora (11.1%).

·         Asia - Up and Coming: Thailand (24.8%), Vietnam (20.8%), and Maldives (15.6%).

·         Central/South America - Up and Coming: Peru (16.7%), Panama (14.6%), and the Galapagos Islands(14.2%).

·         Africa - Up and Coming: Kenya (10.2%), Morocco (6.9%), and Tanzania (6.5%).

Top Canada Destinations

1. Vancouver, British Columbia

2. Montreal, Quebec

3. Toronto, Ontario

4. Banff, Alberta

5. Calgary, Alberta

6. Quebec City, Quebec

7 (tie). Niagara Falls, Ontario

7 (tie). Lake Louise, Alberta

8. Halifax, Nova Scotia

9. Vancouver Island

10. Whistler, British Columbia


Holland America Line Details Upcoming Ship, Nieuw Statendam

by Newsdesk | 

Mar 16, 2018 10:25am

Exterior of Nieuw Statendam


Holland America Line has revealed details on its new ship, Nieuw Statendam, set to debut in December 2018. When the ship sets sail from the Fincantieri shipyard in MargheraItaly, it will offer distinct stateroom enhancements. The 2,666-guest Pinnacle-Class ship will have eight more staterooms than sister-ship Koningsdam, and all categories have been reimagined with new amenities and design changes.

Among the notables is the redesigned Pinnacle Suite — the largest on the ship — as well as reconfigured Family Staterooms. However, Nieuw Statendam still displays all stateroom hallmarks introduced on Koningsdam, including single-cruiser accommodations, as well as a wider range of suite configurations.

Nieuw Statendam adds five more ocean-view and three more interior staterooms, bringing the total stateroom count to 1,339. The ship has 103 ocean-view and 280 interior staterooms, ranging from 225 to 266 square feet. The ship will have 851 verandah or verandah spa accommodations, bringing the total staterooms that have a verandah, including suites, to 912.

The 32 ocean-view family staterooms range from 222 to 231 square feet and have been reconfigured to offer more living space. Accommodating up to five guests, family staterooms offer special amenities including two bathrooms and extra closet space. The 12 single ocean-view staterooms for solo cruisers range from 127 to 172 square feet and are located on the forward main deck.

Aboard Nieuw Statendam, suites offer larger, more luxurious accommodations. The 1,290-square-foot Pinnacle Suite includes a bedroom, living room, dining area, dressing room and private verandah with whirlpool. The Pinnacle Suite was reconfigured to offer an open-concept design with the living room and dining area in one space. Guests are greeted by a spacious grand entrance, a new color scheme and luxury touches like custom furniture and a double-sided television.  

Forty-three Neptune Suites and two Neptune Spa Suites range from 465 to 855 square feet. Guests in these accommodations (as well as the Pinnacle Suite) have access to the exclusive Neptune Lounge, a private place to relax with other suite guests and enjoy the personalized service of a concierge. Nieuw Statendam’s Neptune Lounge was enlarged to allow for additional seating and more windows, and the fleetwide lounges provide worktables, a large screen television, a library, sofas and chairs, and complimentary refreshments throughout the day.

The 14 Signature Suites are up to 400 square feet in size, and the 104 Vista Suites range from 260 to 356 square feet. Signature and Vista suite guests receive many special amenities, including oversized bath towels, fresh flowers, a pillow menu, mini bar and one-touch phone concierge service.

The suites and staterooms aboard Nieuw Statendam include modern details such as bedside USB ports, customized wood cabinets, and frameless glass shower doors. Additional amenities found in all suites and staterooms include Holland America Line’s signature Mariner's Dream bed ; plush bathrobes ; a massage showerhead; flat-panel TV with video-on-demand; mini fridge; complimentary fresh fruit on request; fragrant soaps, lotions, shampoo, and other bath amenities from Elemis Aromapure.

Guests looking to focus on health and wellness during the cruise can book a Spa Suite or Verandah SpaOutside Spa or Inside Spa stateroom, located near the Greenhouse Spa & Salon, and come with yoga mats for use during the voyage and an iPod docking station.

For more, visit



The #1 Event for Specialization | Oct 9-11, 2018 | Hilton West Palm Beach





Is a Smooth Landing the Test of a Good Pilot - and Should We Clap Upon Touchdown?

by Annabel Fenwick Elliott | 

Mar 15, 2018 4:15pm

Photo by Dushlik/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images


by Annabel Fenwick Elliott, The Telegraph, March 15, 2018

If you’ve travelled on a plane enough times, you’ve probably experienced a bumpy landing or two. It’s not a particularly reassuring feeling - but is it the reflection of a bad pilot? Telegraph Travel investigates.

The art of a good landing

“There’s no point denying that the autopilot does most of the work,” Sam Bray, a Monarch pilot, previously  told Telegraph Travel. “On a regular flight the autopilot does around 90 per cent of the flying.” It's the take-off and landings which require by far the most attention on the pilot’s part.

A good landing does therefore reflect a pilot’s skill, according to Joe D’Eon, a former pilot, who suggests: "If you want to say something nice to a pilot as you’re getting off the plane, say ‘Nice landing.’ We do appreciate that.”

According to Mark Vanhoenacker, senior first officer for British Airways and author of How to Land a Plane, it's also one of the best parts of a flight.

“Landings are by definition a transitional experience,” he writes. “We’re guiding a fast, powerful vessel from one unique realm, the air, onto the ground, which is quite another.”

So how does it work? Once you’ve made all the calculations in relation to your speed (too fast - bad, too slow - bad) and altitude, it’s time for the all-important ‘flare’.

“The landing manouver starts with the flare," Mr Vanhoenacker explains. "Techniques vary, but usually, when you flare, you pull the nose up a little while starting to reduce power. Raising the nose reduces the descent rate, allowing you to lightly descend onto the runway. The flare is a tough manoeuvre and it’s one that pilots continue to refine throughout their careers.”

Is smoother better?

The prospect of a ‘good’ landing being a smooth one, however, is a myth. “A firm touchdown is, if anything, preferable to a softer one if the runway is short, wet or snow-covered, or if it’s very windy,” Mr Vanhoenacker writes. “As it says in the fine print of the mighty 747’s manuals: ‘A smooth touchdown is not the criterion for a safe landing.’”

Patrick Smith, a US pilot and author of Cockpit Confidential, agrees: “Although passengers put a lot of stock in the smoothness of a touchdown, this is hardly an accurate benchmark of skill. A firm or ‘crooked’ landing is often exactly what the pilot is aiming for. On short runways, the priority is getting the plane safely onto the ground within the touchdown zone, not finessing it.”

Pilots actually love a tricky landing

Telegraph Travel quizzed a clutch of pilots about their favourite airports to touch down at last year. NaplesMadeiraInnsbruck and Gibraltar cropped up frequently, and they all have one thing in common: they are among the trickiest in Europe, with pilots often needing special training before they’re allowed to tackle them. 

The 15 airports that all pilots love flying to 

If at first you don’t succeed…

According to Mr Vanhoenacker, rushing an approach before you’re ready to land is “pretty much the worst thing you can do” as a pilot.

“An approach to a runway typically features what’s called a ‘decision altitude’ or a ‘decision height’”, he states. “When pilots reach this decision point, we need to be able to see the runway or its associated lights in order to continue the approach. If not, then you must prepare to ascend again and perform a go-around. This decision point is so important that a computer may announce it out loud in the cockpit.”

It’s more or less what went wrong back in 2007 when Garuda Indonesia Flight 200 overshot the runway and crashed into a rice field, killing 21 people. A report later put the accident down to human error, after the pilot made an “excessively steep and fast, unstabilised approach” - ignoring repeated warnings to instead perform a go-around and try again.

How to survive a plane crash 

Landing in a crosswind

A crosswind is a strong wind that blows across the direction the aircraft is travelling in, making it more difficult to keep it stable.

Dave Kistruck, Vice President of Aircraft Operations at Virgin Atlantic told us: “A good landing is about being on the runway centreline, in the touchdown zone with the aircraft at the right speed. However, a pilot can get all these things right but the landing can still be affected by weather - crosswinds for example - which may cause a bumpy or a particularly hard landing.”

“When a plane is landing in a crosswind, pilots will commonly aim the plane into the wind, a manoeuvre that will ensure that the aeroplane’s path over the ground takes it directly to the runway. This technique is effective but challenging,” explains Mr Vanhoenacker.

“The correct technique in a crosswind is a slightly skewed alignment, with one set of tyres hitting the ground before the other,” states Mr Smith.

So while to passengers this uneven landing might feel ‘wrong’, it’s actually quite the opposite.

Best of | Travel Truths 

Why do we clap during landings?

“Clapping upon landing was still widespread as recently as the late 70s and early 80s,” according to Mr Smith, adding that for most of us, the novelty has by now worn off.

“You’ll notice that when it does happen, it’s a strictly economy class phenomenon,” he says. Not for socioeconomic reasons, Mr Smith points out, rather that the dynamics of more people sitting closer together generates a certain “communal spirit.”

So does a good clap give the pilot the warm fuzzies? Oh yes, according to Mr Kistruck: “Although rare these days, it’s always appreciated.”



The #1 Event for Specialization | Oct 9-11, 2018 | Hilton West Palm Beach



Running Your Business


Stats: 55% Don’t Feel Cruise Ships Can Handle Medical Emergencies

by Newsdesk | 

Mar 14, 2018 11:27am


Photo by scyther5/iStock/Getty Image Plus/Getty Images


A new  survey from travel insurance provider Allianz Global Assistance shows that a majority of Americans (55.5 percent) do not feel cruise ships are equipped to handle serious medical emergencies. This is a significant change (15% difference) from last year’s results, which found 60 percent (59.2 percent) of Americans believed cruise ships could handle medical emergencies. The survey was conducted during the height of Wave Season, the company said.

When asked for their estimate of the cost of an air ambulance evacuation to the U.S. from Mexico or the Caribbean, a quarter of respondents (25.7%) drastically underestimated the cost at $0 to $10,000. Another quarter of respondents correctly estimated cost as coming in between $10,001 and $20,000.

“While cruising has become an increasingly popular vacation choice among Americans, consumers are wary of cruise lines’ ability to care for them during a medical emergency,” said Daniel Durazo, director of communications for Allianz Global Assistance USA, in a written statement. “Our Wave Season survey shows that cruisers have become more sophisticated and understand that most ships will disembark seriously ill or injured passengers in the closest port, regardless of whether the closest medical facilities can provide an appropriate level of care.  Smart cruisers are covering themselves with travel insurance in the event that they must be medically evacuated to a facility that is properly equipped to treat them.”

Among other findings, 38 percent of consumers surveyed thought that travel insurance is more important when booking a cruise than it is for other types of travel.

The survey also found that more than two-thirds of respondents (68.2 percent) would prefer to spend all or most of their time exploring their destination instead of staying aboard the cruise ship, a slight increase from last year (65.6 percent). However, safety concerns with the destination were still the top reason (35.7 percent) cruisers would be hesitant to disembark at port. Other reasons include disinterest in the destination (18.4 percent), fear of not getting back on the ship in time (14.1 percent), previously having visited the destination (11.4 percent), taking advantage of the all-inclusive food and drinks on board (9.7 percent), not having pre-booked an off-board activity (7 percent) and lack of Internet/mobile connectivity (3.7 percent).

Allianz’s Wave Season survey also analyzed trends such as themed cruises, finding that more than a quarter of respondents (31.5 percent) were not interested in food, pop culture or music-themed cruises. Fewer respondents are interested in adventure or expedition cruises to places like Alaska over sunny, beach destinations compared to last year (43.8 percent, down from 48.9 percent).

Almost three quarters (74.2 percent) of those surveyed expressed interest in river cruises over ocean cruises thanks to more scenic routes (21.5 percent), lack of waves (13.5 percent), easier disembarking (13.4 percent), smaller ship sizes (12.2 percent), shore excursions being included in the price (9.8 percent), and socializing opportunities (3.8 percent). Only 25.8 percent shared that despite the unique attributes of a river cruise, they would still prefer ocean cruising.


Viking to Expand Ocean Fleet to 16

by Newsdesk | 

Mar 7, 2018 10:37am

VIKING Explorers_Lounge-rev


Viking is expanding its ocean-going fleet of cruise ships to 16 with a new order with Fincantieri that could see the delivery of six new ships by 2027, the cruise line reports. The agreement for the six additional ships, which will be delivered in 2024, 2025, 2026 and 2027, is subject to specific conditions, Viking said.

In a written release, Viking Chairman Torstein Hagen said that, as the line has developed its ocean-going fleet, it has focused on the destination.

This announcement comes just prior to the naming of Viking’s fourth ocean ship, Viking Sun, on March 8 in Shanghai. The ship is currently sailing Viking’s sold-out 141-day World Cruise from Miami to London, and its stop in Shanghai will mark the first time one of Viking’s ocean ships has called in China. Viking Sun will also be the first-ever cruise ship to be named in Shanghai, Viking said.

Classified as “small ships,” Viking’s all-veranda ocean ships have a gross tonnage of 47,800 tons, have 465 staterooms and host 930 guests. Viking Sun is the newest addition to Viking’s ocean fleet, which also includes Viking Star, Viking Sea and Viking Sky. Viking will welcome two more sibling ships in the next two years, including Viking Orion in June 2018. With the arrival of Viking Jupiter in 2019, Viking will be the largest small ship ocean cruise line, it said. Ten additional ships are now on order for delivery starting in 2021, which will bring Viking’s ocean fleet to 16 ships by 2027.




We hope all of you had a very pleasant and grand Irish Day yesterday I honor of the apostle of Ireland, St. Patrick.

Only two months now till we go to Ireland and Iceland and there is still room for 4 people if you want to join us.  For details call Bill at 925-679-8428.


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


From Oakley enjoy the upcoming week.


Bill and Fred