News & Views of the Week

Sunday, March 17, 2019

 

Erin Go Bragh!!!!!!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!!!!

It's the wearin' o the green day?  Are you appropriate today?  We hope so and hope you can celebrate the day in Irish style.  Yes of course here in America that does mean a dinner involving corned beef but remember in Ireland they actually celebrate with roast beef and all the trimmings.

OK let's move on to the big announcement.  If you click the link below it will take you to a portion of our website that gives you some of the details but if all goes well we will be in Scotland in May of 2020.  It involves a 6 day pre cruise land tour that begins in Dundee and then picks up a one week cruise froundtrip from Dundee and back then to the states.  Check it out below and contact Fred or Bill so we can get you wearing a kilt next year.  It can be a refrshing experience wearing a tartan desing made specific for you clan.

http://www.getawaycruisesntours.com/Page/CruisingSale3

 

 

And of course just like we said Southwest is going to the Islands of Aloha starting today actually.  

It has been said the service can be questionable because of the Southwest business model of no perks, no entertainmet and no food whcih all the other carriers offer.  They do offer a snack bag you can purchase but will that be enough to keep people comfortable and entertained for the long haul service to and from the islands?

And one other thing is that on the return flight you can only connect with flights on the west coast since Southwest does not fly any "owl" service to the East.  Maybe they can work on that but for now welcome to the Islands of Aloha on Southwest from Oakland starting today.

 

Southwest Heads to Hawaii: New Travel Ideas

by Chuck Dobrosielski | 

Mar 10, 2019 8:00am

Haleakala National Park

Photo by StevenGaertner/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

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With Southwest’s recent announcement that it will begin offering flights to Hawaii this month, the state’s marketing organization has outlined some new travel tips for returning visitors. With options on all six major islands, Hawaii Tourism United States’ suggestions include hiking the trails at a national park, visiting historic sites and eating at some of the local restaurants.

On the island of Hawaii, HTUSA has outlined several options for those who have been to Akaka or Waianuenue (Rainbow) Falls. For visitors in the Hamakua and North Kohala districts, it suggests they take a birding tour in the Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge, zipline at Umauma Falls, hike at Pololu Valley or go on a helicopter tour of the North Kohala sea cliffs and valleys. To those who have already explored Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, it highlights the island’s four other members of the National Park ServicePuukohola Heiau National Historic SitePuuhonua o Honaunau National Historical ParkKaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park and the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail.

On Kauai, HTUSA advises travelers to take a deeper dive into Waimea Canyon State Park if they only have ever gotten a cursory view from an overlook. Specifically, it mentions the Kukui and Iliau Nature Loop Trails, which extend to the canyon floor and follow the gorge’s west rim, respectively. Those interested in cycling can take Outfitters Kauai’s sunrise or afternoon downhill bicycle tour along the canyon-side Kokee Road. While visitors are on the island, HTUSA also suggests a trip to Allerton Garden or McBryde Garden.

For Oahu, the organization advises those who have already been to Diamond Head State Monument to take a trip to the volcano’s base for a meal at one of the area’s dining establishments. Specifically, it mentions Diamond Head Market & Grillda Cove Health Bar and CaféPioneer SaloonMonsarrat Ave Shave IceSouth Shore GrillBanán and Bogart’s Café. Visitors with a passion for history can explore some of the Pearl Harbor Historic Sites, including the Battleship Missouri Memorial, the Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor and the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park.

HTUSA also encourages those visiting Maui to spend some time at Haleakala National Park. On its summit, 30 miles of trails provide options for hikers of all abilities. Further down its slope, travelers can walk through the towering trees at Hosmer Grove. Like at Diamond Head, the organization recommends those who have seen the Iao Valley State Monument take some time to dine at one of the area’s nearby restaurants (Tiffany’s Bar & GrillSam Sato’sTokyo TeiStillwell’s Bakery & Café and Geste Shrimp Truck were all mentioned).

Finally, the organization suggests a day trip to Lanai and Molokai for those who have only seen them from afar. After a ride on the Expeditions Maui-Lanai Ferry, visitors can spend the day at Hulopoe or Polihua Beach or hike the Munro Trail to the summit of the island’s tallest peak. On Molokai, HTUSA advises starting off with a stop at the small town of Kaunakakai and then relaxing for the rest of the day at Papohaku Beach, one of the state’s largest white sand beaches.

Southwest Airlines will begin its Hawaii service on March 17 with travel between Oakland and Honolulu. Connections between Oakland and Kahului will follow on April 8, with flights from San Jose to Honolulu and Kahului beginning May 5 and 26. Southwest also expects to announce details on flights out ofSan Diego and Sacramento soon.

 

 

Mexico is one of the tourist areas that many Americans tend to flock to but recently there has been some conerns about Safety especially in Cancun.  May we offer an alternate to Cancun and that is Costa Rica.

While they don't have mile to mile of seaside resorts they do offer all inclusive resorts on the pAcific side and there is lots to see and do in Costa Rica.  So we have these types of breaks to offer you as an alternate to Cancun at this time.

 

Having trouble viewing the graphics? Go here.

 

 

COSTA RICA IS AN ALTERNATIVE TO MEXICO--WE'RE JUST SAYIN'

 

 

Hotel Parador Resort & Spa


Starting At: $ 751.00

Hotel Parador "Boutique Resort & Spa", is located on Punta Quepos in the most pristine and tranquil area of Manuel Antonio. The resort is perched atop a majestic bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean and surrounded by 400 acres of lush tropical forests.

 

Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo

 

Starting At: $ 2170.00

Spilling down a coastal hillside to an isthmus of golden sand, Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica creates an ambience of simple luxury in this pristine natural setting.

 

Arenal Kioro Suites & Spa


Starting At: $ 922.50

Arenal Kioro is located 10 kilometers Northwest of La Fortuna in San Carlos, in front of the majestic Arenal Volcano. The hotel has 53 suites, all with terraces and upgraded amenities. Enjoy panoramic volcano and mountain views, and attentive service.

 

El Mangroove, Autograph Collection


Starting At: $ 705.00

Spanning for 17 acres this beachfront resort is located only 15 minutes from the artsy and bustling town of El Coco. 85 bohemian-chic suites are nestled amid mangrove and beachfront forest. Enjoy a laid-back vibe and barefoot luxury at this beautiful and hip resort.

 

Planet Hollywood Beach Resort Costa Rica

 

Starting At: $ 876.00

Get the star treatment at the all-suite Planet Hollywood Beach Resort Costa Rica. Enjoy authentic celebrity memorabilia, all-inclusive themed dining, red-carpet spa services, and cinematic accommodations. Upgrade to STAR Class for A-List exclusives, such as a Personal Agent for arrangements and reservations, Personal rider with bar labels and in-rooms snacks of your choice, and elite access to The Green Room Lounge & Bar, The Beach Club, and hydrotherapy pool.

 

The Westin Golf Resort & Spa, Playa Conchal

 

Starting At: $ 1156.00

Nestled in the green forests of Costa Rica's magnificent North-Pacific Riviera, the Paradisus Playa Conchal All-Suite, Beach & Golf Resort, spreads its 2,400 lush acres in an enchanted land where challenging golf meets thrilling eco-adventure.

 

Tabacon Thermal Resort & Spa


Starting At: $ 858.00

Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort offers the unique combination of the energy of the active Arenal Volcano, the heat of the Tabacon Hot Springs and the purity and mystic of the surrounding rainforest.

 

Riu Palace Costa Rica


Starting At: $ 803.00

This magnificent new hotel features four swimming pools (one with a wet bar), a "Renova Spa" and a wealth of amenities to ensure you maximum comfort during your stay. The hotel's idyllic location offers a variety of activities on the beautiful beaches.

 

Dreams Las Mareas Costa Rica


Starting At: $ 838.00

Located on sugar-white sand and surrounded by lush green mountains and jungles in the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica, guests of all ages enjoy an action-packed vacation featuring watersports, land activities, and swimming pools while sunbathing or laying under a thatched palapa. Dreams Las Mareas features 447 luxurious suites filled with amenities for your comfort and convenience.

 

Hacienda AltaGracia, an Auberge Resort

 

Starting At: $ 1319.00

This luxurious resort is the only "Boutique Hacienda" in Costa Rica and like a true Hacienda, is defined by its exceptional home-style service culture. Warm, friendly and graciously attentive, the resort's team offers a truly memorable vacation experience. Perched atop the lush mountains of Pérez Zeledón in southern Costa Rica, the resort offers a picture-perfect setting.

 

W Costa Rica - Reserva Conchal

 

Starting At: $ 1057.00

Opening in November 2018, W Costa Rica stands tall between beautiful beaches and the mangroves, bringing a fresh spin to a Costa Rica adventure. From a Living Room inspired by the local Guanacaste tree to the vibrant accommodations, natural elements complement a modern sensibility. 150 rooms and suites feature surf-cultured MIX Bars, locally influenced accents, and glass-enclosed showers with incredible views.

 

The Springs Resort & Spa


Starting At: $ 1163.00

With a spectacular view of the Arenal Volcano, natural hot and cold springs, four unique dining experiences, and an impressive full service spa, The Springs Resort and Spa at Arenal promises to overwhelm you in every aspect of quality, service and design.

 

Nayara Springs


Starting At: $ 1383.00

This exclusive boutique hotel is located in the Arenal Volcano National Park, host to one of the world's highest concentrations of tropical plants and wildlife. Sitting on an unspoiled mountain, the secluded luxury villas are surrounded by the lush vegetation of Costa Rica's pristine rainforest, and bounded by a creek and underground mineral thermal springs.

 

Riu Guanacaste


Starting At: $ 933.00

The oceanfront Riu Guanacaste resort is located in the beautiful region of Guanacaste, on Costa Rica's Pacific coast. In addition to a superb range of leisure options, the hotel offers five modern, fully-equipped conference rooms and fine restaurants.

 

Costa Rica Marriott San Jose


Starting At: $ 850.00

Voted as one of the top ten hotels in Mexico and Central America by Conde Nast, Costa Rica Marriott features a colonial hacienda set on a 30 acre coffee plantation, decorated with antiques for an elegant and relaxed atmosphere. This luxury hotel boasts captivating grounds, exceptional service and a relaxing ambiance. This hotel is the perfect base from which to explore Costa Rica's splendor.

 

El Silencio Lodge & Spa


Starting At: $ 935.00

El Silencio provides a seamless natural immersion experience that showcases elements of Costa Rica's traditional rural farms and countryside homes. El Silencio Lodge & Spa is a perfect retreat for travelers who seek respite from the stress of daily life. This upscale Costa Rican hotel features premium facilities, five hundred private acres of carbon-offsetting tropical cloud forest, hidden waterfalls, a nature-immersed spa, yoga, hiking, horseback riding, meditation, and healthy organic cuisine.

 

Hotel Villa Caletas & Zephyr Palace


Starting At: $ 1928.00

The hotel offers a variety of facilities including an infinity pool, spa, restaurants and bars, boutique, tour center and a private beach. Alongside Villa Caletas also offers the Zephyr Palace (separate complex) a lavish mansion with seven distinct themed suites, the ultimate of luxury hotels in Costa Rica.

 

Conrad London St. James


Starting At: $ 1753.00

Conrad London St. James boasts a central location with 256 contemporary rooms, a fully equipped 24 hour fitness center, spa, restaurants, and afternoon tea lounge.

 

Hacienda AltaGracia, an Auberge Resort

 

Starting At: $ 1976.00

This luxurious resort is the only "Boutique Hacienda" in Costa Rica and like a true Hacienda, is defined by its exceptional home-style service culture. Warm, friendly and graciously attentive, the resort's team offers a truly memorable vacation experience. Perched atop the lush mountains of Pérez Zeledón in southern Costa Rica, the resort offers a picture-perfect setting.

 

Costa Rica Marriott


Starting At: $ 1012.00

Voted as one of the top ten hotels in Mexico and Central America by Conde Nast, Costa Rica Marriott features a colonial hacienda set on a 30 acre coffee plantation, decorated with antiques for an elegant and relaxed atmosphere.

 

Nayara Gardens


Starting At: $ 1582.00

A world of comfort and style surrounded by an untouched natural paradise. Located in the outskirts of one of the world's most amazing volcanoes, Arenal Nayara Hotel & Gardens is the experience of a lifetime.

 

Cala Luna Boutique Hotel & Villas


Starting At: $ 1138.00

With picturesque "eco-chic" architecture of hardwoods, this stunning property blends with its lush surroundings. 41 accommodations are fashioned in sophisticated comforts, and range from Deluxe Rooms to Villas expansive enough to sleep six. Each Villa in distinguished décor has a private pool, tranquil terraced garden and sleek gourmand's kitchen.

 

JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort & Spa


Starting At: $ 1210.00

With 310 luxuriously appointed guest rooms, this beautiful resort is situated on a secluded beach in a prime location within Costa Rica's renowned central coast.

 

El Mangroove, Autograph Collection


Starting At: $ 782.00

El Mangroove is a luxury boutique resort with an all-inclusive option, located right on Playa Panama overlooking Papagayo Bay. El Mangroove's resort includes 85 suites of great design, impeccable service, numerous amenities, and access to a tranquil beach, making it perfect choice for couples and families alike.

 

Arenal Kioro Green Luxury


Starting At: $ 1743.00

The 53 room all-suite hotel is set on 27 acres and features panoramic view of the majestic Arenal Volcano.

 

The Westin Golf Resort & Spa, Playa Conchal

 

Starting At: $ 1529.00

Discover complete renewal at the all-inclusive Westin Playa Conchal Resort & Spa, where ivory beaches and lush forests meet detailed service along with a destination spa.

 

Andaz Costa Rica Resort at Peninsula Papagayo


Starting At: $ 1522.00

Inspired by the local flora and fauna, the layout of the resort is based on an imaginary gathering of animals using the shapes of cocoons and shells for the design of the studios and pools. True to the Andaz brand, Andaz Papagayo reflects the indigenous nature of Costa Rica, offers uncomplicated and personal service by real people who have a passion for their heritage and their role in the community.

 

The Springs Resort & Spa


Starting At: $ 1876.00
Ship: Carnival Spirit

The resort perches above the Arenal Valley on a mountain ridge just north of the active volcano but safely outside the government declared danger zone. The higher altitude allows for not only incomparable views of the volcano, the lush valley, and the surrounding towns that sparkle at night, but also access to the area's famous prevailing breezes.

 

Hotel Punta Islita, Autograph Collection


Starting At: $ 1285.00

Inlaid in a pristine outpost of Costa Rica's Nicoya Peninsula in Guanacaste, Hotel Punta Islita interweaves nature, community, and art in a colorful tapestry that cascades from the summit unto the intimate cove and namesake islet at the far end of the beach. Enjoy spectacular ocean cove views, a distinctive architectural style, warm ambiance, and privacy.

 

Si Como No Resort, Spa & Wildlife Refuge


Starting At: $ 1255.00

It's barefoot luxury with a pura vida vibe, ideal for both for families and couples, offering superb dinning and guided adventure tours.

 

 

And while we are on the subject of beaches Conde Nast has this contricution of the best beaches here in America.

 

10 Best Beaches in the U.S.

10 PHOTOS

by KATHERINE LAGRAVE

May 24, 2018

Each year, Steve Leatherman—also known as Dr. Beach—evaluates America's seashores based on criteria like water, safety, and sand quality. This year's list just came out, and unsurprisingly, the top ten is stacked with strips of sand in Hawaii, the Carolinas, and Florida. This gallery was originally published in May 2015. It has been updated with new information.

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1

Kapalua Bay Beach, Maui, Hawaii

Kapalua's water is calm and clear, thanks largely due its position protected "by two headlands formed long ago by lava flows into the sea." The beach is ideal for swimming, and as the coral sand beach slopes off, it gives way to vibrant marine life.

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2

Ocracoke Lifeguarded Beach, Outer Banks, North Carolina

Perfect for all sorts of visitors, Ocracoke has mild surf in the spring and early summer and large swells in late summer. Once the reputed home to the pirate Blackbeard, today, people come to Ocracoke for a different sort of treasure-hunting: beachcombing.

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3

Grayton Beach State Park, Florida Panhandle

Tall dunes, soft white sand, and clear, green water help keep Grayton near the top of the list. According to Dr. Beach, visitors also come to camp in the park and visit its other highlights—think tidal lakes and freshwater ponds.

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4

Coopers Beach, Southampton, New York

Hundreds of yards wide, Coopers Beach comprises white coarse sand backed by large sand dunes and American beach grass. Dr. Beach notes that "some of the best beach access in the Hamptons" can be found here.

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5

Coast Guard Beach, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Swimmers here tend to be on the braver side, as sand is coarse, and water temps only reach 60-70 degrees in the summer. (Getting here will also require a bicycle or shuttle bus ride from Salt Pond Visitor’s Center.) Still, views of the Nauset Spit barrier system and bay keep it ranking in the middle of the pack, and a photo of the quaint old Coast Guard station, which sits on top of sandy bluffs, is practically Instagram-required.

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6

Lighthouse Beach, Buxton, Outer Banks, North Carolina

The historic Cape Hatteras Light (pictured) that gave the beach its name was moved farther inland in 1999, and today sits 2,970 feet off the sand—the perfect backdrop for all those sunset photos. Yet Lighthouse Beach also remains a draw for its offshore swells, ever-present lifeguards, and beachcombing.

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7

Caladesi Island State Park, Dunedin, Florida

Accessible by pedestrian ferry boat, private boats, or a long walk from Clearwater Beach, Caladesi is worth it, no matter how you get there. Soft, crystalline quartz sand and clear waters are the highlights, but visitors should also make time for kayaking and canoeing through the mangroves.

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8

Hapuna Beach State Park, Big Island, Hawaii

This white coral sand beach—one of the largest in Hawaii, and one of the few white sand beaches on the west coast of the Big Island— draws crowds in the summer for swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving, but bigger waves in the winter can be dangerous.

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9

Coronado Beach, San Diego, California

One of Southern California's most popular beaches, Coronado has fine sand, mild surf, and is privy to a Mediterranean climate that makes it a year-round destination. The landmark hotel associated with the beach, Hotel del Coronado, was built more than a century ago, and has a long history with celebrities: It was here that Edward, Prince of Wales, reportedly first laid eyes on American divorcee Wallis Simpson, resulting in a romance that would eventually lead to his abdication of the throne.

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10

Beachwalker Park, Kiawah Island, South Carolina

A public beach known for drawing nature-lovers, Beachwalker Park has tidal inlets perfect for canoeing and kayaking. Water, though not clear, is "clean and provides fantastic seafood for low-country cooking," reports Dr. Beach.

 

 

Well if you want to go with us on the North Coast cruise in October here is the current offerings of rates.  We no longer have our group rates but even if you do decide to go you can still be part of the group but at standard rates.  It's a normal practice of all cruise lines to recall group rates when the ship is beginning to get short on inventory so they can sell remaining space at a more premium price.

 

 

Cruise North to Canada and Back this October


Pacific Northwest Coast(#5373304)

 

Prices Starting At: $ 1149.00
+ 195.00 taxes/fees
Date(s): 10/20/2019 - 10/27/2019
Ship: Grand Princess

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

 

 

 

 

While we remain confident we do stand by the suspension of Boeing 737 Max 8 and 9 aircraft service until the software issue can be worked out.  Safety is the main concern of all airlines and with the recent 2 incidents it really is up to Boeing to figure out a fix that will return this fantastic flying machine to safe and reliable service.  

It probably will not take long but then pilots will have to be retrained on new procedures before all those aircraft will be certified as airworthy.

 

 

Fred has some offering from his vault of tidbits this week...

 

Coolest Cities for Arts and Culture

 

These cities are centers of music and dance, museums, and theater. They are where iconic design and classical concertos were born, and where the latest in creative experimentation is happening seemingly on every corner. Here are the best cities in the world, including a few spots in the USA, for soaking in culture and finding inspiration in the arts:

 

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Florence, Italy

Despite initial appearances, Florence is no stuck-in-amber Renaissance city, but the fact that it can seem that way speaks to how well-preserved and significant it is from a historical and cultural perspective. In reality, though, it's no surprise Florence takes the top spot this year, as it strikes a perfect balance between the old and new, masterpiece and modern, from Michelangelo's David to the Gucci Museum.

Yes, you should save a day for the Uffizi (say hi to Venus for us), but you should also make time for the oft-overlooked Bargello Museum, rich with sculpture, including early works by Michelangelo, and the Museo Bardini, a former convent that now houses an impressive collection of medieval armor and antiquities. 

 

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Rome, Italy

At its peak, the Roman Empire extended over nearly two million square miles of land across Europe, Asia Minor, and North Africa. Today, that history—and the far-flung influences that made their mark on this ancient capital—are on display everywhere. (Vespas zip by the Roman Forum, which dates back to the seventh century BC, like its no big deal.) The recently restored Colosseum is such a part of the modern city's fabric that after a few days you start taking its grandeur for granted.

The city's main attractions are famous not because of tourist hype, but because they really are that impressive—the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, the Capitoline Museums...the list goes on and on. No wonder it's known as the Eternal City: You could spend forever here and find new artistic and cultural treasures every day.

 

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Paris, France

Hemingway famously called Paris “a moveable feast” for its tendency to stick with you long after you've left. But he may have also been hinting at, how, no matter where you go while in the city, there's always something to see, hear, taste, or feel. He, like so many authors from around the world, found inspiration in the city's cafes, alleyways, and bars. Meanwhile, with some 150 museums, Paris doubles as an art history class, offering the very best of the discipline across centuries and styles. Facing so much choice, travelers will be forgiven for skipping the Louvre in favor of quieter moments at Musée Rodin or L'Orangerie.

Paris continues to set the pace for innovation, as well, all while lending technological progress an aesthete's eye for perfection. Recent endeavors have included greening its urban landscape and experimenting with everything from stylish water taxis to VR time-travel telescopes.

 

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Kyoto, Japan

You'd be forgiven for thinking Kyoto's nickname, the "City of Ten Thousand Shrines," is an exaggeration. But after a walk through its beautifully preserved streets, you'll quickly be correcting your assumption. While it's hard to nail down the exact number of shrines—new ones seemingly pop up overnight—there are at least 1,600 temples within the city limits. There are the world-famous landmarks, of course—think the vermillion gates of Fushimi Inari-taisha and the shimmering Golden Pavilion of Kinkaku-ji. But the truly magical thing about Kyoto is the way you can explore the city, without a guide book or itinerary, and stumble upon Zen gardens, sprawling temple complexes, and immaculately maintained shrines with nary a tourist in site. Its seventeen UNESCO World Heritage sites speak to this ancient capital's cultural significance, but they're really just the beginning when it comes to all the beauty that Kyoto offers.

 

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Santa Fe, New Mexico

You can't see all the art that Santa Fe has on offer on a single trip, so unless you're one for total sensory overstimulation, we don't suggest you try. On a first visit, it can seem there are more art galleries than restaurants in the city—they line the central plaza and its side streets, while the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum is downtown's centerpiece.

The city has a unique ability to look outward, while also staying true to its traditions: The Museum of International Folk Art is packed with 130,000 objects, a tribute to craftspeople from around the world, while the annual SWAIA Indian Market, which runs every August, is the showcase for the region's Native American artists and artisans.

 

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Vienna, Austria

Western music as we know it would be unrecognizable without Austria’s capital, which nurtured the talents of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, and Mahler, plus local boys Schubert and Strauss. It’s also the site of the Vienna Secession, a revolutionary art movement founded in 1897 by luminaries like Gustav Klimt. Visitors today can see the fruits of all that creativity in the city’s 100-odd museums—including the Belvedere and the Museum Moderner Kunst—and hear it at legendary opera houses such as the Staatsoper and Theater an der Wien.

 

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Venice, Italy

Nowhere else on earth is quite like Venice—a town built on water, accessible only by foot or boat, and a trading hub that linked the disparate cultures of the Old World. Western Europe is famous for its cathedrals, but there's none that match the magnificence of St. Mark’s Basilica, an architectural marvel owing to its blend of Byzantine and Italian architectural styles.

But its not all about the past: The Venice Biennale, which runs this year until November 18, and late summer's Venice Film Festival, the oldest film festival in the world (its first edition was in 1932), continue to cement the city as a gathering place for artistic innovators. And there's no more colorful time to visit than during the masked extravaganza of the Venice Carnevale in February. Just remember, as the locals continue to emphasize, to be respectful while joining the tourist crowds.

 

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New York City

Take it from us: It can be exhausting living in New York City. It's not only the subway stress, the crowds, and the delightful smells. It's also because there's just so much to do and it can be hard to summon the willpower to say no and have a night in. But then again, why would you want to?

Free party at the Brooklyn Museum with a sneak-peek of an exhibition highlighting black female artists, followed by a live performance by a multicultural brass band? We'll be there. Beer tasting and lectures on brewing and botany amid the greenery of the Botanical Gardens in the Bronx? Yep. A career-spanning film retrospective of Frank Lloyd Wright at MoMA? As good as done. We'll sleep when we're dead.

 

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Barcelona, Spain

Ground zero for Catalonia's proud and resilient culture is home to Gaudí's (still under construction) psychedelic masterpiece La Sagrada Família and his Seussian Park Güell; the Museu Picasso, with 3,500 works by the Spanish master; and the Gothic Quarter—all vestiges of its storied past. But today, it's a whirlwind of creative energy, with abstract artists live-painting in the refreshingly rough-around-the-edges El Raval, and local indie rock and electronica on display at the Sidecar Factory Club, which has been showcasing Barcelona's underground since 1982.

For the exhibition-hoppers out there, the possibilities are virtually endless, but this fall, you might want to start at an exhibit highlighting the work of the minimalist master Brian Eno at Arts Santa Mònica or a celebration of Giorgio de Chirico, who pioneered so-called "metaphysical art" in the early twentieth century, at Caixa Forum.

 

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London, United Kingdom

Where do we begin? There's the obvious—London as inspiration and setting for the rise of Shakespeare, Dickens, Orwell, Eliot; the West End as the stage for, well, all the world's top talent; and the breeding ground for all those iconic bands that only need a "the": The Kinks, The Clash, The Stones. But London is also Banksy's favorite canvas, home to more than 1,000 galleries; and the kind of place where you can spend a whole day in a single museum and still be ready for more when it opens the next morning. 

 

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Mexico City, Mexico

La Casa Azul, an electric-blue house in Mexico City's Coyoacan district, is more pilgrimage site than museum. That's because it once was home to Frida Kahlo, the famous artist whose work—and mystique—is known and revered around the world. Now it houses a vast collection of her work and personal effects, and is one of the city's most frequented stops for art-loving tourists. But, to visit the densely packed space, or even the grandiose Palacio de Bellas Artes, is to scratch the surface of this constantly-buzzing city's creative scene.

New destination-worthy museums open every few years in Mexico's capital: Take 2011's ultra-modern Soumaya, stocked with the personal collection of the multi-billionaire Carlos Slim, and 2013's Museo Jumex, which houses an impressive collection of contemporary art in an imposing, jagged building. And that's not even mentioning the one-room galleries and hole-in-the-wall music venues that pop up seemingly ever week, or the art fairs, like February's Zona Maco, which draws crowds rivaling Art Basel in Miami Beach.

 

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Jerusalem

Somehow, a city that dates to the fourth millennium BC has one of the most thriving contemporary cultural scenes in the world right now. To wit: There's the annual Sacred Music Festival, which puts cross-cultural collaboration on full display—this year has Indian percussionists, Israeli orchestras, and Malian singer sharing the same stage. In October, the Manofim Contemporary Art Festival draws people to performances, poetry readings, and exhibits in unexpected places, like private homes or down Asael Street in Abu Tor.

 

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Istanbul, Turkey

It's the boundary between two continents; the entry-point into Europe for the Silk Road that extended all the way to the Korean peninsula; a place where you can sip an espresso in a third-wave coffee shop, steps from a Roman aqueduct, while the call to prayer emanates from a mosque that was built in the time of the Ottomans. There are the classics, of course, like the syncretic Hagia Sophia—once a church, then a mosque, and now a museum—and the famous Whirling Dervishes whose entrancing, twirling dance is an act of devotion to their Sufi faith.

But under all that history and millennia-old tradition is a thriving, and subversive, hip-hop, contemporary art, and film scene, spurred by creators who use their expression as a way to comment on the turbulent times the country currently finds itself in. To find up-and-coming and established creatives alike, start with a Saturday evening in Karaköy, where Istanbul's old-meets-new aesthetic is in full bloom. Or head to the 15th Istanbul Biennale, taking place from September 16 through November 12, where everything from modern dance to street art will be on display.

 

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Athens, Greece

When it comes to arts capitals, Athens is often overshadowed by its European neighbors. But the ancient city is undoubtedly having a moment. This summer saw the arrival of documenta, the spectacle of modern and contemporary art occurring every five years that, for the first time, took place somewhere else other than Kassel, Germany. (The two cities shared hosting duties.) During the July and August heat, paintings, sculptures, and performances could be found everywhere, from the Acropolis to private homes and tavernas.

While it remains to be seen whether the visual extravaganza will leave a permanent mark on the city’s art scene, other cultural stalwarts have been cropping up, too: The Renzo Piano-designed, $623 million Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center, home to the National Opera and the National Library of Greece, opened last year, while the revamped National Museum of Contemporary Art is finally open to the public after a 12-year hiatus. To really get a feel for the city’s creative scene, Athens is best explored by foot without any specific agenda in mind: With street art to rival Berlin, neighborhoods like Metaxourgeio and Kerameikos offer enough gallery-hopping to fill an afternoon—and then some. —Lale Arikoglu

 

 

And while we were gone there was a lot of NEWS AND VIEWS so here ya go for this week.  Sometimes it really is a difficlut decision to actually put in it what we feel are the necessary things for you to see.  We probably could make just an issue of NEWS AND VIEWS each week for you but then wheere would all the other offerings go to?

 

EU to Add Registration Requirement for U.S. Travelers

by Matt Turner | 

Mar 11, 2019 10:22am

A federal judge in Hawaii blocked President Trump's second travel ban hours before it was set to go into effect, and is quickly joined by another in Maryland.

Photo by zimmytws/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

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Travel throughout parts of Europe for American citizens just became slightly more difficult. Starting in 2021, the European Union (E.U.) will require U.S. citizens to register to visit upwards of 26 European countries.

Last July, the E.U. established the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS), which would require “pre-travel screening for security and migration risks of travelers benefiting from visa-free access to the Schengen area.” Upon arrival at E.U. borders, travelers will need to provide both a valid travel document and ETIAS authorization.

The authorization is distinct from a visa, the E.U. adds. The New York Times reports that “Americans will not be required to visit a consulate to file any kind of application, fingerprinting is not required, and less information will be asked than is expected of visa applicants.”

According to CNN, the Schengen Area is a zone of 26 European countries that do not have internal borders and allow people to move between them freely. The full list of countries includes: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Swedenand Switzerland.

Currently, U.S. residents may travel for up to 90 days throughout Europe without any sort of travel authorization. Even visa-free travelers will need to register for ETIAS authorization, CNN reports.

There is a service fee of 7 euros (approximately $7.87) to register and the authorization is valid for three years—or until your passport expires, if that is less than three years. If your passport does expire prior to your ETIAS authorization, you will need to reapply for approval with the new passport. Within the three-year period, however, travelers will be able to visit Europe any number of times.

In addition to the U.S., roughly 60 countries will be required to apply for ETIAS authorization, including Brazil, Mexico, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Israel.

 

 

 

Luxury Travel Advisor’s ULTRA Summit

Inspiring the luxury travel industry further. May 21-23, 2019 | Reunion Resort | Kissimmee, FL

 

 

Transportation

 

Air Travel: AA Updates Support Animal Policy, New Hawaii Flights

by Adam Leposa | 

Mar 9, 2019 8:00am

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Another update to American Airlines’ policy on emotional support animals and Southwest’s new flights to Hawaii lead this week’s air travel news. 

American’s latest updates to its policies regarding emotional support animals follows a series of changes the airline made in May 2018 that included placing restrictions on animal types and adding pre-clearance notifications; those changes were part of a series of policy updates from major U.S. carriers after a number of high-profile incidents involving animals onboard aircraft. 

As part of the latest changes, which are effective for travel on or after April 1, 2019, a traditional service animal may be a dog, a cat, or, in some limited circumstances, a miniature horse. Emotional support animals will be limited to either a dog or a cat only, and a customer may only bring one. The airline will also require a Veterinary Health Form, along with immunization details, for emotional support animals, and animals under four months of age will no longer be permitted to travel as service or support animals, because they usually have not received necessary vaccinations. 

In another policy update from American Airlines, this week the airline announced a relationship with Hyatt Hotels on a new loyalty program collaboration. The agreement will allow elite members of both the American Airlines AAdvantage and World of Hyatt loyalty programs more access to earning both points and miles on qualifying American flights and Hyatt hotel stays. In addition to World of Hyatt points earned through Hyatt hotel stays, AAdvantage Gold, Platinum, Platinum Pro, Executive Platinum and ConciergeKey members will be able to earn one AAdvantage bonus mile for every eligible pound spent at qualifying Hyatt properties. On top of earning more miles, American’s invitation-only ConciergeKey members will receive World of Hyatt Globalist status. In addition to AAdvantage miles earned by flying on American, World of Hyatt Discoverist, Explorist and Globalist members will be able to earn one World of Hyatt bonus point for every eligible pound spent on qualifying American flights.

Additionally, AAdvantage Platinum, Platinum Pro and Executive Platinum members, and Explorist and Globalist World of Hyatt members, will have the opportunity to participate in limited time status challenges. Upon registering, these members will be able to immediately enjoy their new loyalty benefits in the reciprocal program tier as they work to maintain that elite tier status. AAdvantage elite members will have access to World of Hyatt elite status benefits, including a dedicated check-in area, late check-out upon request, room upgrades and free premium internet. World of Hyatt elite members will have access to AAdvantage elite status benefits such as priority boarding, free checked bags, free preferred seats and more.

In flight news, this week saw Southwest Airlines open bookings for its first Hawaii routes. The first flights, which will run between In its latest update, the carrier reports that its inaugural flight to the state will take place March 17 between Oakland and Honolulu, followed by the airline’s first flight between Oakland and Kahului on April 7. After that, the airline will begin two routes from San Jose: to Honolulu starting May 5 and to Kahului starting May 26. 

Southwest will also begin operating its first inter-island service within Hawaii, between Honolulu and Kahului. The service will operate four times daily in each direction, starting April 28. The carrier will also begin flying four times daily in each direction between Honolulu and Hawaii Island starting May 12. Southwest says that the additional inter-island service will enable connecting service between Kona and both Oakland and San Jose. 

Additional service details, including plans for previously announced gateways of San Diego and Sacramento, and for Lihue on Kauai, will be announced in the coming weeks, Southwest said. 

In Europe, this week saw the launch of a new codeshare partnership between Virgin Atlantic, Air France and KLM. The partnership offers Virgin Atlantic customers up to 58 new routes from 18 UK airports across the Atlantic via Paris and Amsterdam, while Air France and KLM customers will have access to 24 new North America routes operated by Virgin Atlantic/Delta departing the UK, including connections via London Heathrow or Manchester.

Finally, in airport lounge news, this week saw the opening of a new Star Alliance lounge at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport. The lounge, which will be available to First and Business Class passengers and Star Alliance Gold Card holders, as well as eligible paid lounge members of the Air Canada Maple Leaf Worldwide Cluband United Club programs, is located airside in the Departures 2, Schengen Area on the Panorama terrace level. The lounge offers guests free Wi-Fi, standard and USB power outlets, a luggage storage area, individual work booths, communal work table, dining area, bar area, relaxation area and a wine bar. Amenities feature a serviced bar during afternoon hours, beer on tap, a complimentary buffet with hot and cold meal options, flight information, business services such as printing and scanning, complimentary reading material and personal care amenities upon request.

 

 

 

Luxury Travel Advisor’s ULTRA Summit

Inspiring the luxury travel industry further. May 21-23, 2019 | Reunion Resort | Kissimmee, FL

 

 

Transportation

 

UK, EU Reach Agreement to Continue Flights in No-Deal Brexit

by Adam Leposa | 

Mar 8, 2019 9:33am

British flag being cut by scissors from the European union flag

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The UK government and the European Union (EU) have reached an agreement that will ensure flights will continue between the UK and EU in the event of a “no-deal” BrexitTravel Leaders Group CEO Ninan Chacko applauded the move as building confidence for travelers headed to the UK and Europe

“This will give extra assurance to travelers headed to the UK and points beyond in the EU,” Chacko said. “North Americans considering a trip to the UK should pack their bags and have a great time. The dollar is strong, the UK is just as attractive as always and it’s a perfect time to go.”

According to the latest statement from the UK’s Department for Transport and the Civil Aviation Authority, the government has finalized a detailed plan confirming protection for flights in a no-deal scenario. Additionally, the UK reports that the EU is about to finalize its no-deal aviation regulation that will protect UK airlines flying into Europe. 

“Measures put forward by the UK and the EU will ensure that flights can continue in any scenario; deal or no deal,” said Aviation Minister Baroness Sugg, CBE. “This is good news, not only for the industry but most importantly it reaffirms the fact that passengers can book flights with confidence, as normal. We expect these contingency measures will never be needed and our efforts remain focused on securing a deal from the EU.”

Back in November, the United States and the UK concluded their own “open skies” agreement to govern air travel between the two countries after Brexit, replacing the existing aviation agreement between the EU and the U.S. with respect to the UK. That agreement guaranteed the continuation of transatlantic air travel routes between the U.S. and the UK; with the latest agreement, connecting flights into Europe will also be able to continue to operate in a no-deal scenario. 

In the latest update from the BBC on the Brexit negotiations, UK Prime Minister Theresa May is calling on EU leaders for “one more push” to get Parliamentary approval on a Brexit deal. May warned that, if the deal is voted down again, it could result in a softer Brexit, or the UK not leaving the EU “at all.”

The UK is due to leave the EU on March 29. 

Chacko also noted that, this summer, the UK is introducing ePassport gate access for American and Canadian travelers, which will speed airport wait times.

“Our message to travelers is to book with a travel advisor,” Chacko said regarding travelers concerned about Brexit. “We have close relationships with the airlines, travel suppliers and tourism officials. Our advisors continually monitor travel scenarios for all destinations and keep our clients informed of any developments that might affect their travel plans. As with any trip, we recommend travel insurance in the event that there is a trip disruption or a traveler experiences an unexpected illness or situation.”

 

Carnival Partners With Emeril Lagasse on Mardi Gras’ New Restaurant

by Adam Leposa | 

Mar 6, 2019 11:59am

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Carnival Cruise Line has announced its new celebrity chef partner for the upcoming Mardi GrasNew Orleans-based chef and restaurateur Emeril Lagasse. Lagasse will helm Emeril’s Bistro 1396, which will be located in the heart of the ship’s French Quarter zone. 

Carnival teased the introduction of a new celebrity chef partnership for a restaurant in the French Quarter zone, which aims to capture the spirit of the New Orleans, when it announced details on the new ship’s design of six themed zones back in January. The neighborhood will also include a two-deck-high promenade leading to a traditional New Orleans jazz club, in addition to Lagasse’s restaurant. 

Named after the ship’s hull number at the Meyer Turku shipyard in Finland, Emeril’s Bistro 1396 will serve a menu of Creole favorites with daily specials. Notable dishes will include muffaletta sandwiches, Emeril’s signature barbecue shrimp, fresh seafood ceviche, roasted duck & Andouille sausage gumbo, jambalaya, and complements such as Creole potato salad with diced scallions, and red beans and “jazz-man” rice. Breakfast offerings will feature shrimp and grits and a shrimp Creole omelet. The New Orleans classic Bananas Foster and lemon ice box pie will be available for dessert.

The Mardi Gras is the first of Carnival’s new XL class of ships, which will be the largest ships ever built for the brand. In addition to the French Quarter, the other areas of the ship will range from Grand Central to La Piazza, Summer Landing, Lido and The Ultimate Playground, which will host the ship’s signature roller coaster at sea. 

The Mardi Gras is scheduled to enter service in Europe on August 31, 2020, before repositioning to New Yorkfor a series of voyages. Starting in October 2020, the ship will homeport in Port Canaveral, sailing year-round seven-day Caribbean cruises. 

 

 

Cruise Ship Preview: Staterooms on Carnival’s New Mardi Gras

by Adam Leposa | 

Mar 13, 2019 9:52am

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Carnival Cruise Line has released a preview of the staterooms onboard its newest cruise ship, the Mardi Gras

Designed with a color scheme emphasizing muted turquoise hues, Carnival said that the new staterooms will include floor-to-ceiling glass sliding doors on nearly all verandahs for easier balcony access, as well as new sofas that flip into a bed and foot stools that open up for extra storage. For guest devices, accommodations will have more 110V power outlets and USB connections, both on the vanity and by the bed, as well as extra shelf space, and the beds will also have flexible reading lamps to allow guests to read without disturbing others. 

Other in-room amenities will include clear glass doors on the minifridge so that guests can see what’s inside, as well as a larger, customizable wardrobe with two pull-out bins, a sliding shoe rack, folding shelves and under-the-bed storage for luggage. In the bathrooms, there will be the line’s first glass shower doors, along with an in-shower shaving bar. 

More than 70 percent of the staterooms onboard the Mardi Gras will have an ocean view or balcony, Carnival said, and there will be 300 pairs of connecting staterooms for large families or groups. 

The new ship will also incorporate popular accommodation types introduced on Carnival’s Vista class of ships, including tropics-inspired Havana staterooms with an outdoor patio space and exclusive access to an open deck with sun loungers, a Cuban-themed bar and a relaxation pool, as well as Family Harbor accommodations near the Camp Ocean children’s facility. As with previous Family Harbor accommodations, these rooms onboard the Mardi Gras will also have exclusive access to the Family Harbor Lounge, which will serve breakfast and snacks throughout the day and also offer access to a selection of board games, family movies, video games and more. Finally, also making the jump to the new ship will be the Cloud 9 Spa staterooms, which will offer Elemis toiletries and privileges at the ship’s spa. 

The Mardi Gras will also offer the most suites of any Carnival ship, the cruise line said, with a total of more than 180 of varying size and locations. Details on the suites, including the premium level Carnival Excel Suites, are to be announced in mid-April. 

The Mardi Gras is set to make its debut in Europe on August 31, 2020, before repositioning to New York and then sailing out of Port Canaveral on year-round, seven-day Caribbean cruises starting in October 2020. The ship will mark the first in Carnival’s XL class, the largest ships ever built for the brand, and will offer a number of new features, including a design based around six themed zones, a roller coaster, and a new restaurant concept developed in partnership with famous chef Emeril Lagasse

 

 

Luxury Travel Advisor’s ULTRA Summit

Inspiring the luxury travel industry further. May 21-23, 2019 | Reunion Resort | Kissimmee, FL

 

 

Transportation

 

What Travelers Need to Know About the Boeing 737 Max Grounding

by Adam Leposa | 

Mar 14, 2019 11:18am

Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8

Photo by AP Photo/David Koenig via Newscred

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Following yesterday’s decision to ground the Boeing 737 Max 8 and in the United States, airlines are changing their operations to help passengers on affected flights. Here’s what travelers need to know. 

Southwest Airlines, which operates 34 Max 8 aircraft, will rebook affected customers on alternate flights without any additional fees or fare differences through March 31 between the original city pairs. If customers no longer want to fly, tickets cancelled prior to the date of travel are eligible for a refund, or the funds will be available for future use. Customers affected by the grounding will be notified via the method they selected during booking – phone, email or text. 

Southwest particularly noted that the order would not affect its new flights to Hawaii, as those are operated on 737-800s, a different aircraft type. 

American Airlines reports that it operates 85 of its flight per day on the Max 8, and that it is working to reroute the aircraft throughout the system to cover as much of the airline’s schedule as it can. Affected customers can rebook by contacting the reservations team; and, if their flight is cancelled, they can request a full refund via American’s website. 

United Airlines says that it does not expect the grounding to have a significant impact on its operations, and that it will communicate with customers directly on affected flights. 

Air Canada reports that, following Transport Canada's safety notice closing Canada's airspace to the Max 8, its cancellation and rebooking policies are in place, with a full fee waiver for affected customers. On average, the airline's Max aircraft carry 9,000 to 12,000 customers per day, so travelers should expect delays in rebooking. Customers are further advised to check the status of their flight before going to the airport. 

In Europe, where European Union (EU) aviation authorities grounded the aircraft earlier this week, Air Italyreports that it has arranged a replacement aircraft through its strategic partner, Bulgaria Air. The two airlines had begun a codeshare relationship two weeks ago. Now, Bulgaria Air will lease an A319 to Air Italy for an unspecified time as that airline’s 737 Max fleet remains grounded. 

The announcement follows earlier moves by European airlines, particularly low-cost transatlantic carrier Norwegian, to rework flights affected by the EU order

In Mexico, the General Directorate of Civil Aviation has also grounded the 737 Max until further notice, Riviera Maya News reports. Aeromexico had suspended operations of the Max earlier this week. 

Also in Latin America, a spokesperson for Panama-based Copa Airlines tells Travel Agent that, along with the Civil Aviation Authority of Panama, it will temporarily suspend operations of its six Max 9 airplanes until the cause of the accident is known. The airline said that it will cover the flights that had been planned to operate using the aircraft on other aircraft in its fleet, and that it will do everything it can to minimize the impact on passengers’ itineraries. 

In the Caribbean, the governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands has released an update on flights to the destination affected by the FAA’s decision. Two American Airlines flights between St. Croix and Miami, and one of the two flights between St. Thomas and Miami, are currently serviced by the 737 Max. Flights to and from the islands on other carriers and from other cities are not affected, and the governor said that it is not yet clear if American will replace the aircraft on these routes. 

The FAA issued its order grounding the Max late Wednesday, citing new evidence collected at the site of the latest crash, as well as newly refined satellite data. The order also follows additional reports by U.S. pilots of the plane briefly going into a nose-dive, which closely resembles the issues that affected the pilots on Indonesia’s Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines before those planes crashed. 

“The grounding will remain in effect pending further investigation, including examination of information from the aircraft’s flight data recorders and cockpit voice recorders,” the FAA said in its latest statement. “An FAA team is in Ethiopia assisting the NTSB as parties to the investigation of the Flight 302 accident. The agency will continue to investigate.”

Authorities in multiple countries, as well as the EU, grounded the Max 8 and 9 following a deadly crash involving a Max 8 operated by Ethiopian Airlines. The crash, which killed all 157 onboard, is the second such incident involving this aircraft type in recent months.

 

 

Before we go we do want to thank all those that came by to see us at the Sonora Celtic Faire.  While it was a bit on the chill side it didn't take away from people coming to see us and even making some vacation plans for a few.  

We'll be back next year in March and hopefully in Manzanita Hall one again.

 

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

Remember to check out of Scotland trip for May of 2020.  It has been many years ince we have taken a group of you to Scotland and it really is time.

 

Cheers from a dry and mostly sunny Oakley today.

 

Bill and Fred