by Matt Turner
Jan 14, 2021 1:23pm
Following an eight-year absence, Celebrity Cruises will return to the Mexican Riviera with a variety of seven- and eight-night sailings in 2022. Departing from the Port of Los Angeles, Celebrity Millennium will offer 12 sailings from late September through mid-December, before embarking on a 15-night “bucket-list” Panama Canal crossing over the holidays.
Celebrity Millennium was recently transformed as part of the line’s multimillion-dollar “Celebrity Revolution.” The ship has contemporary, high-style spaces and onboard experiences including generous staterooms with new eXhale bedding and cashmere mattresses; The Retreat, an exclusive area for suite guests offering a private sundeck, lounge and an exclusive restaurant, Luminae, with a menu created by chef Daniel Boulud; a newly redesigned spa; and the Sunset Bar.
The two Mexican Riviera itineraries visit some of the top destinations on the Pacific Coast, including Puerto Vallarta, located between the Sierra Madre mountains and the Pacific Ocean; Cabo San Lucas at the tip of the Baja Peninsula; Mazatlán, also known as the "Pacific Pearl;" and Ensenada, perfect for culinary tours and Guadalupe Valley wine tastings.
On the Panama Canal journey, guests will ring in the New Year onboard, while visiting Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta in the Mexican Riviera; Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala; Puntarenas, Costa Rica; Colon, Panama; and Cartagena, Colombia.
Good to know: Wi-Fi, drinks and tips are now “Always Included” in a Celebrity cruise purchase, simplifying the booking experience. In addition, the line’s “Cruise with Confidence” program provides flexible cancellations and best price guarantees. Celebrity Cruises is also applying the recommendations of its Healthy Sail Panel of public health and scientific experts to ensure a safe and healthy cruise vacation.
by Matt Turner
Jan 15, 2021 11:41am
Not much needs to be said about 2020 being a rough year: 76 percent of Americans said it was harder to stay positive in 2020 than in previous years, according to new research commissioned by Exodus Travels and conducted by OnePoll. To that end, the survey, which included 2,000 international travelers, found that 79 percent said embracing new hobbies was key to coping with the pandemic and lack of travel.
With that said, the survey also looked into the factors contributing to a cautious approach to optimism in the new year—with “a hope that the pandemic will end in 2021” topping the list (52 percent)." This was closely followed by the end of 2020 (51 percent) and the idea of traveling more in 2021 (45 percent). Also high on the list of why respondents are feeling more hopeful were practicing a positive mindset (28 percent) and choosing to believe the future is full of possibilities (19 percent).
And while 75 percent said they followed the news more closely during 2020 than ever before, 76 percent said limiting screen time overall is contributing to being more optimistic. Additionally, 82 percent of respondents said they made a conscious effort in 2020 to do things that make them happy in order to combat the events of the year.
Sixty-four percent of respondents have hobbies, and they were more than twice as likely to identify as “very happy” than those without hobbies (40 percent versus 18 percent). Of those with hobbies, 77 percent said they’ve started new ones during the COVID-19 pandemic. These hobbies aren’t just a way to pass time, either, as results found 70 percent admitted to picking up hobbies that will benefit their future travel plans (such as learning a new language).
Results of the survey found hobbies might contribute to happiness, but it appears travel does, too: 78 percent of respondents said they are happiest when they can travel. And even when they couldn’t travel, some respondents found ways to adventure vicariously. In 2020, respondents read about vacations (49 percent), watched travel shows (45 percent) and even looked at hotel options for a destination (44 percent).
Perhaps not so surprising: According to a past OnePoll survey, those who rated their current happiness at a nine or 10 (in a 10-point scale) were the most likely to be currently planning a trip—showing people are happiest when they have an upcoming adventure to look forward to.
Still, none of this compares to the real thing, according to Exodus Travels. In fact, just over one-third of respondents (36 percent) stated that if they could take their perfect trip tomorrow, they would be willing to give up coffee shops or Netflix (34 percent)—while almost a fifth (18 percent) would even give up sex.
In 2021, respondents are prioritizing travel to Europe (37 percent), Central America (36 percent) and Asia (34 percent)—while 14 percent said they want to go “anywhere and everywhere.” They’re also most likely to want to travel with their significant other (56 percent), child (51 percent) or friends (38 percent).
But while 67 percent said they will travel as soon as they can, respondents are also being cautious. The survey revealed 77 percent are paying more attention to what companies they’re traveling with (including hotels, tour groups, airlines, etc.) to ensure they’re taking proper precautions for COVID-19.
Source: Exodus Travels
Nov 24, 2020
Guests of Sea Kayak Adventures stay on Santo Domingo barrier island for three days to immerse themselves in whale watching.
We petted a wild whale, my four tour mates and I. Hanging precariously over the side of the seaward-tilting fishing panga (a modest-sized, open boat), we splashed the sun-warmed waters of Mexico’s protected Magdalena Bay just off Baja California Sur’s Pacific coast. The splashes, we hoped, would draw the attention of the gray whale mother and calf from the nearby boat, whose passengers they were favoring as their petting zoo.
The curious baby, about a month to six weeks old, daringly left its mom’s side to sidle up alongside our boat. I held my breath, praying the calf would stay. With smiles lighting their faces, each passenger reached down and stroked the little one. Leaning over the higher bow, I could not reach before the errant calf returned to its mother.
Silently I pleaded for another chance. Minutes later, the elder leviathan obliged, propelling her enormous barnacle-encrusted head, ramrod straight, out of the sea behind the stern of the boat. One jet-black eye surveyed us, a picture-perfect snapshot I was too startled to take.
She sunk soundlessly back into the depths before drawing parallel to the panga, her calf nestled along her far side. As I ran my hand across her rubbery, white-spotted back, I was so overcome that tears trickled from my eyes.
Each winter, thousands of eastern North Pacific gray whales migrate more than 5,000 miles from Alaska’s Bering Sea to three protected Baja lagoons to give birth or mate from mid-January through mid-March. Nowhere else in the world do inquisitive mothers and calves approach skiffs and allow delighted humans to pet them.
While most visitors spend two hours watching the whales’ playful antics, we had the rare privilege of three days in the bay with Sea Kayak Adventures, which has a coveted permit to erect a self-sustaining seasonal base camp on uninhabited Santo Domingo, one of the barrier islands that shelter the lagoon from the open ocean.
Thousands of eastern North Pacific gray whales spend the winter in Baja lagoons.
It is the only company with a long-term concession in Magdalena Bay, as well as the only to offer a trip that combines a whale camp with kayaking the Sea of Cortez, the body of water that frames the eastern shore of the Baja California peninsula. Called the 3x3 Kayak & Whale Watching Combo, it is a six-day, all-inclusive, small-group itinerary (maximum 13 passengers) in the tour operator’s portfolio of Baja Tours.
The itinerary includes four boat trips (whale sightings guaranteed) and activities such as birdwatching, a guided nature hike across pillowy sand dunes, strolls on silken beaches and whale pep talks in the domed library tent, presented by marine biologist Mario Escalera. He served as trip leader for our group of eleven 40- to 70-somethings from the U.S., Canada and England and was assisted by two more local guides, a cook and panga drivers.
In the evenings, happy hour was followed by dinners featuring fresh-caught fish and Mexican specialties. Night brought blazing campfires and stargazing, unpolluted by a single light. Nestled on my cozy cot in our roomy wall tent mere feet from the sea, each time I awoke I heard the unmistakable sound of whales spouting, right outside our canvas shelter.
The grays are just one of the migrant and resident species in the whale-rich waters lapping both sides of Baja’s peninsula. We were eager to see more.
An easy two-hour highway drive east across the desert and over the Sierra de la Giganta mountains delivered us to historic Loreto, the 323-year-old first capital of the Californias, midway along the peninsula’s east coast. Early the next morning, we shuttled about a half-hour south to a beach near Puerto Escondido, our point of entry for the kayak touring half of our expedition.
After a paddling lesson, we piled into tandem sea kayaks to gently propel ourselves a few miles each day while exploring the wonders of Loreto Bay, Mexico’s largest national marine park and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Proclaimed “the world’s aquarium” by Jacques Cousteau, the nutrient-rich Sea of Cortez supports the world’s largest and most varied whale population, including blue whales, for whom the sheltered waters are a winter nursery.
On day one, we pointed our bows for Danzante Island, one of five uninhabited isles in the park, where we camped in dome tents all alone on a white-sand beach. The second day, we paddled further east toward the rugged, stark cliffs of Isla Carmen, the largest isle. Pods of common dolphins, sea lions and pelicans entertained us and, once it was dark, so did the twinkling bioluminescence that lit the sea like underwater fireflies.
Thankfully, no mega-whales rose from the inky depths beside our teeny kayaks, but we were delighted to see them once we were safely perched in a panga, capping off a trip full of magical wildlife highs.
Departures of the 3x3 Kayak & Whale Watching Combo are available Jan. 17 to March 7 for 2021 (the two segments can be sold separately), with additional Baja itineraries on offer from November 2020 to May 2021). Custom private trips are also available.
Sea Kayak Adventures
Nov 30, 2020
The Gateway Arches light up with 61,000 watts of power at dusk each day.
The new, 80-foot-tall Gateway Arches on Las Vegas Boulevard at the base of the Strat Hotel, Casino and SkyPod were illuminated for the first time last month.
The $6.5 million project was an effort to clarify a common misconception: While the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign at the south end of the Las Vegas Strip is globally famous, many don't realize that it and the rest of the Strip are actually outside Las Vegas' municipal boundaries, in unincorporated Clark County.
The Gateway Arches, brightly lit beginning at dusk every day, welcomes visitors to the City of Las Vegas as they travel north on Las Vegas Boulevard. A pink, retro Las Vegas emblem is suspended above the boulevard.
"Las Vegas is known worldwide as the getaway for the best in entertainment, fun, dining and convention business," mayor Carolyn G. Goodman said. "What better way to invite everyone into historic downtown than by passing through this massive new archway into the heart of a revitalized Las Vegas."
Selbert Perkins Design conceived and designed the arches. The Young Electric Sign Co. (Yesco), the business behind some of the area's most iconic signs, fabricated and installed the latest distinctive photo opportunity for visitors.
"Yesco has a long history of fabricating, installing and maintaining Las Vegas' most internationally recognizable signs, and the Gateway Arches represent the newest monumental addition to that portfolio," said Jeff Young, senior vice president and chief marketing officer of Yesco.
A few fun facts:
• One leg weighs 18,400 pounds.
• Each arch leg spans 140 feet across Las Vegas Boulevard.
• There are 13,016 individually programmable lights.
• The emblem is 20-by-40-feet and weighs 7,300 pounds.
• The arches draw more 61,000 watts of power.
"The Gateway Arches are a striking landmark to designate what has long been the gateway from the Las Vegas Strip to the City of Las Vegas," said Stephen Thayer, vice president and general manager at the Strat. "We are thrilled that this beautiful monument has been erected just steps away from our iconic tower."
You don't have to go far for us in California to GETAWAY FROM YOUR EVERYDAY as Conde Nast has a good idea for a truly enjoyable weekend.
A new hotel gives travelers yet another reason to get on the ferry from Long Beach.
November 14, 2019
Los Angeles and gridlock are virtually synonymous. But in Avalon, a hamlet of 4,000 people on Catalina Island, built a hundred years ago by chewing gum magnate William Wrigley Jr., you're more likely to find yourself riding in a golf cart (there's a 25-year wait list for a vehicle permit). Or, you could hop on the back of an eco-friendly H1 Hummer (it runs on biofuel) for a tour of the rugged interior in hopes of spotting the island's herd of wild bison.
Many Angelenos, who on a clear day are able to see the green and yellow grass-covered speck 22 miles off the coast, think of Catalina as not much more than a place where Boy Scouts go camping and rich people dock their sailboats. But this year brings new reasons to catch the 60-minute ferry from Long Beach. In August the seaside Hotel Atwater reopened after a restoration that brought back much of the familial character Wrigley imbued it with in 1920, when he hoped to turn Catalina into a world-class holiday destination. Sweet rooms have beds in corals and teal and cozy comforters, while the lobby holds the Wrigley family's albums and heirlooms.
Nearby, the Catalina Island Museum has an exhibition devoted to the tycoon's influence. You can also head around to the coast to dive with bat rays or zip-line through a lush canyon—though for all of Catalina's natural beauty, there are still reminders of Hollywood's proximity: Avalon is home to one of the first talkie theaters, where Cecil B. DeMille hosted lavish preview parties, and the Art Deco rotunda Catalina Casino, where Benny Goodman's big band played in the 1930s. Even those bison roaming the island have silver-screen cachet; rumor has it that they're descended from a few menacing extras who broke free from the set of the 1925 Western movie The Vanishing American.
And maybe it's family travel time as Conde Nast tells us some really great family places to go.
Look no further for a family outing destination that fits every need.
October 19, 2020
Planning a family vacation is never easy. For starters, there are many factors to consider: affordability, distance, dining options, activities for all ages, and of course, safety—not to mention, if you’ve got an infant in tow, there’s extra planning that goes around the feeding and nap schedules. With the rise of COVID-19, this year looks wildly different from years past, shifting how we travel, as well as where and when.
The good news is that there are plenty of places right here in the U.S. suitable for your next family trip, no matter the criteria. So whether you and your brood prefer to spend a week touring museums or lying belly up on the beach—or both—we’ve got you covered. Here, we’ve rounded up seven of the best family vacation spots in the U.S., with options that everyone is guaranteed to love.
All listings featured on Condé Nast Traveler are independently selected by our editors. If you book something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
If you are a fan of the Below Deck programs on Bravo perhaps this idea pleases you from Conde Nast.
PHOTO: Carnival Pride docked in Nassau, Bahamas. (photo via JohnArcher/iStock Unreleased)
The cruise industry is working diligently to safely return to service, but some travelers are already booking voyages, including a newly announced nude sailing.
According to Bare Necessities, a company offering nudist cruise events, it would host its Big Nude Boat event aboard Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Pride starting on February 13, 2022.
The voyage is currently scheduled to sail for two weeks and will depart from Tampa before making stops in Panama, Colombia, Bonaire, Curacao, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and the Bahamas.
“Passengers have requested longer cruises and many have extended their vacation by taking an admittedly less fun textile cruise before or after our charter,” according to a Bare Necessities spokesperson. “European and Aussie travelers have said they want longer cruises to make flying across the pond or from down under truly worthwhile.”
The company also revealed the Carnival Pride would make nudist guests “feel right at home,” according to Bare Necessities’ website, as the ship is adorned with classic nude statues and paintings.
All passengers are informed before booking that clothing must be worn any time the ship is in port or the Captain announces it’s required.