Monthly Archives: December 2022

Posted In: Top Headlines

Ponant Adds Europe Itineraries for 2024



Poignant cruise ship surrounded by ice

Ponant’s 2024 itineraries are now on sale, and among the 50 voyages are four new ones in the Mediterranean, the Atlantic and northern Europe.

The new cruises include Islands and Cities of the Mediterranean and Landscapes and Cultures of the Adriatic, both on Le Bougainville, and an Adriatic round-trip from Venice, visiting the Croatian ports of Rovinj, Primosten, Split, Hvar, Brac and Pula, plus Piran in Slovenia.

Poignant Cruises LogoThere are two new Mediterranean cruises: one from Athens to Malta, visiting Paros, Hydra, Pylos and Taormina; and a 10-night sailing from Valletta, Malta, to Antalya, Turkey on L’Austral.

Other new options are Cultural Treasures and Scandinavian Panoramas, an 11-night sailing on Le Dumont-d’Urville, from Edinburgh to the Orkney Islands and then to Norway, Sweden and Denmark; and British Archipelagos and Celtic Shores, sailing from the French port of Saint-Malo to the Channel Islands, Dartmouth, the Isles of Scilly, and Bantry, Cobh and Dublin, Ireland.

Ponant earlier this week announced another new expedition, a nine-day Cruising the Historic Cities of the Baltic Sea, the first of 21 planned itineraries in partnership with Smithsonian Journeys. Departing Stockholm on August 10, it will feature an onboard presentation and discussion with the former president of Poland and Nobel Peace Prize-laureate Lech Wałęsa, as well as Baltic historian Glenn Kranking and foreign affairs journalist Robin Wright.

Sailing the Baltic Sea on Le Champlain, it will visit seven countries: Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Denmark, and five UNESCO World Heritage sites, including the 18th-century Fortress of Suomenlinna in Helsinki and the Curonian Peninsula of Lithuania.

Other journeys in the partnership will see a solar eclipse in Australia’s Kimberley, and “sun and merry live steel drums while our Ducasse-trained chefs prepare a regional barbecue lunch during a stopover on a private Caribbean beach,” business development director Dale Woods told TRO. “Traveling closer to home does not mean sacrificing experience, however, as you will also be joined by Boston Pops conductor Keith Lockhart for a musical celebration along the St. Lawrence Seaway.”

Ponant’s new itineraries in Asia will be announced in January, the company said.

Posted In: Deck Plans

Leaving home for the holidays can be hard. For some, it feels like you are leaving behind tradition, family and friends, all of which seems unthinkable. I was one of those people – until I did my first Christmas Markets cruise.

The year was 2010, and I was a mere 14 years old. I had done only one other river cruise, and that was on the Mekong. So not only was this my first Christmas Markets cruise, but also my first river cruise in Europe.

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Posted In: Top Headlines

Lost luggage piles up at airports around country

Lost luggage

The winter season brought chaos to airports across the United States as Southwest Airlines canceled thousands of flights at the last minute, leaving hundreds of thousands of travelers stuck in limbo. Many passengers were left with no way to get to their destination or any knowledge of where their luggage may be.

Southwest passengers can file lost luggage claims here:

This travel season was expected to be one of the busiest since before the pandemic, and airlines had already been preparing for higher traffic. But when treacherous winter storms hit, all major airlines had no choice but to cancel or delay flights due to safety concerns. Then, the Southwest “meltdown” compounded the situation.

The process is slow going, with thousands of bags still unaccounted for across multiple airports. While there are some suggestions from experts on how travelers can keep track of their belongings while traveling during bad weather, most customers have found themselves in limbo while they wait for Southwest’s customer service centers to help them out.

In response, Southwest Airlines has issued a statement apologizing for any inconvenience caused and assuring customers that they are doing everything they can do help get luggage returned quickly and safely. They’ve also created a dedicated team of workers assigned solely to helping these lost luggage cases. In addition, many airport personnel have stepped up to provide additional assistance.

Posted In: Top Headlines

Southwest Airlines jet

The U.S. Department of Transportation has created a dashboard to ensure the traveling public has easy access to information about services that U.S. airlines provide to mitigate passenger inconveniences when the cause of a cancellation or delay was due to circumstances within the airline’s control. A green check mark on the dashboard means an airline has committed to providing that service or amenity to its customers. A red “x” means the airline has not made that commitment. However, airlines with a red “x” may provide these services and amenities in some instances in their discretion.

The Dashboard and additional information can be found here:

See also:

Posted In: Top Headlines

Southwest Airlines jet


U.S. air travelers who have faced a tumultuous week of cancellations and delays due to poor weather conditions will have to wait a bit longer for the skies to clear. The situation is particularly difficult if they’re planning on taking a flight with Southwest Airlines.

Approximately 2,850 flights have been canceled for Tuesday, as reported by the flight tracking website FlightAware. Of those canceled flights, 2,500, or 88%, are operated by Southwest. Many passengers have been informed rebooking may be delayed for days.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has announced that it is conducting a review into the airline’s handling of its operations in light of its recent series of canceled flights, which has seen thousands of disgruntled passengers unable to make their desired journey. The FAA’s investigation follows complaints from customers and employees about how Southwest Airlines responded or failed to respond when bad weather forced them to cancel hundreds of its flights over the past week.

This latest incident marks yet another setback for an airline already struggling before the onset of this chaotic period caused by the turbulent winter weather patterns.  The latest incidents put further pressure on Southwest Airlines as more and more customers take to social media to express their dismay at the airline’s increasingly poor service standards. Customers are lashing out against what they perceive as sloppy responses from both frontline staff and executives in particular. There also seems to be a certain amount of confusion regarding how many passengers can be rebooked or provided refunds for their canceled flights; some people are reporting that they were told there were no available seats left on other flights operated by Southwest Airlines, while others said that no refund was offered despite having purchased travel insurance policies meant to protect them against such situations.

The FAA is currently taking all these complaints into account while attempting to figure out what exactly led to such extensive flight cancellations within such a short time frame, including whether or not Southwest Airlines made full use of any technology available in order to minimize disruption and inconvenience as much as possible for impacted passengers. All involved are hoping that whatever findings emerge from this review lead to solutions so as not only to prevent similar incidents from occurring again but also to help restore trust in the airline among customers.

The Motivational Speaker

I recently heard myself say it again. “I can’t motivate anybody. You have to find something that motivates yourself.”

For nearly 45 years, I have been promoted as “Motivational Speaker.” The fact is, nothing could be further from the truth. What I am, and what I always was, was a speaker who got paid to share many of life’s experiences in an effort to “stimulate” others to action.

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Posted In: Top Headlines

chart of hosted travel agent report

It takes three years for travel advisors to hit their highest income potential—and about a third of that comes from fees. Indeed, in 2022, travel advisors who charge fees earned almost twice as much as those who did not.

That’s just one of the interesting findings of The Hosted Travel Advisor Report, a study of 1,492 travel advisors released last week by Host Agency Reviews. The respondents averaged six years of experience in the industry, with an average annual income of $37,440 on annual sales of $319,605 in 2021. Eight out of 10 were female, and 49% charged fees (21% charged service fees, 9% charged consultation fees and 19% charged both.

Fees are clearly gaining in popularity, and for good reason. Among travel advisors who charged fees, these accounted for 30% of their income in 2021—up from 11% in 2019. Two-thirds of the most experienced advisors, those in the business more than 15 years, charged fees, and another two-thirds of those who did not charge fees this year said they plan to charge in 2023.

Also interesting were the demographic data in the report. While 63% of respondents to the 2020 survey, conducted before the coronavirus outbreak, reported working full time, only 46% did so in the 2022 survey.

Corporate agents earned the most, averaging $65,309, followed by luxury agents at $49,113, honeymoon specialists at $44,151 and generalists at $31,926.
Happily, 93% of respondents said if they had it all to do again, they’d still opt to become travel advisors.

Perhaps that’s because of the best benefit: the average advisor had visited 73 countries.
For the full survey, go to 2022 Hosted Travel Advisor Report | Host Agency Reviews – Google Drive.

Posted In: Top Headlines

Airport Security Line in Atlanta

On Friday, millions of Americans were hit by an unprecedented winter storm with bone-chilling temperatures, blizzard conditions, and widespread power outages causing serious disruption to holiday plans. The winter weather affected more than 60% of the U.S. population with warnings or advisories from California to New England and as far south as Florida.

The impact on air travel was particularly severe, with FlightAware reporting almost 4,800 flight cancellations within and into the United States, in addition to over 7,700 delayed flights. This has caused huge disruption for travelers trying to make it home for the holidays. Cancellations are likely to continue into Saturday and beyond due to weather-related delays.

In many states hundreds of thousands of homes have been left without power due to high winds bringing down trees onto power lines; emergency services have been overwhelmed by calls; roads were closed due to flooding or blocked by snow drifts; and schools were forced to close early before their Christmas break began.

Local authorities are providing shelter for those without electricity or running water, offering advice about how best cope with any disruptions caused by snow or flooding, as well as spreading messages about staying indoors during blizzards or avoiding flooded areas during storms such as this one.

Most major carriers have changed their policies regarding flight cancellations and rebooking fees due to extreme weather conditions associated with this event. It is important that customers check with their airline beforehand so they can understand any potential waiver policies if their flight is canceled or significantly delayed due to this weather system over the coming days.

Travelers are strongly advised against leaving last minute preparations until nearer to departure time as there may be additional disruptions if another significant snowfall occurs in a particular location during peak times.

Posted In: Top Headlines

UK Passport Control Strike


Strike Hit Stop Work Stamp Word IllustrationBah humbug.

British passport control workers will be the newest class of workers to go on strike today, in a move bound to slow things for US travelers trying to enter the country.

About 1,000 passport control workers at six airports—Heathrow, Birmingham, Cardiff, Gatwick, Glasgow, and Manchester, and the port of Newhaven in East Sussex—are expected to walk off the job between December 23 and 26, and again between Dec. 28 to 31, over demands for higher wages amid rising inflation. In the busiest travel year since 2019, 1,290 flights are scheduled to land at the affected airports on Friday, carrying more than a quarter of a million passengers.

Heathrow Airport has reached an agreement with British Airways and Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd. to halt ticket sales on most inbound flights on the strike days, The Wall Street Journal reports, and the British military will step in to man the immigration counters. But still, Border Force head of operations Steve Dann noted that the “contingency workforce will not be able to operate with the same efficiency as our permanent workforce” and “people should be prepared for disruption.”

And once you arrive, be careful with the eggnog—it’s surely not a week to drink and drive, cautions the National Health Service. Wage disputes are spreading across the UK, and nurses and ambulance paramedics, as well as postal workers, driving instructors, and train drivers, also are planning strikes.

Posted In: The Rosen Report

It all started at 3 am on a June morning in 2021, with an email from Facebook. “Someone may have accessed your account from another computer,” it read. “Did you authorize this access?”

When Allison Carrow said no, Facebook asked for her two-factor authorization code—which she never had set up. Apparently, though, whoever had stolen her Facebook page had.

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Posted In: Deck Plans

In anticipation of wave season, Emerald Cruises will expand its ‘Explore the Extraordinary’ campaign into the new year. This campaign, which runs from December 16, 2022 to March 31, 2023, offers savings on a variety of 2023 and 2024 river cruises, along with bonus offers when guests pay in full.

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Posted In: Top Headlines

Iceland Digs Out

They don’t call it Iceland for nothing.

Iceland’s airport is still digging out from a blizzard that trapped visitors to the Land of Fire and Ice in Keflavík International Airport, 30 snow-covered miles from Reykjavík, for days.

Icelandair yesterday leased two additional aircraft to help clear the backlog at Iceland’s only international airport.

“Our team has worked tirelessly throughout the night to rebook passengers on new flights, and they will continue to do this today,” Icelandair said in an update yesterday. “It is our absolute priority to get passengers to where they need to be before Christmas.”

While Icelandair and easyJet offered hotel accommodations and reimbursements for stranded customers, many passengers couldn’t get out, and many hotels already were full. The crowd included “Billions” actor Damian Lewis.

“High winds and dangerous icy road conditions are affecting transfers from Keflavik International airport,” said the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office said. Emergency services are “providing blankets and water at the airport for those stranded.”

Posted In: Top Headlines

national weather service map

Winter Storm Elliott is poised to bring an array of severe weather conditions, including snow, wind, and bitterly cold temperatures, across the United States. The storm could have a serious impact on holiday travel over the next few days, and experts are advising travelers to remain flexible and have a backup plan in place.

Some 26 states are under wind chill warnings, and the National Weather Service is advising of  “record-breaking low temperatures”. This comes when air travel is expected to be higher than it has been in 20 years. According to Airlines for America (A4A), a trade organization comprising major airlines, more than 64 million passengers are expected to fly between Saturday, December 21st, and Tuesday, January 1st. While airports will be bustling with activity during this period, many flights may end up delayed or canceled due to Winter Storm Elliott’s effects.

The storm is predicted to move from west to east and could lead to blizzards, icy roads, and below-freezing temperatures across much of the country. According to the National Weather Service (NWS), 17 states will likely experience winter storm warnings by Friday evening. The NWS also anticipates that extreme cold will accompany this storm system as it moves through the Midwest and into the Northeast regions of the United States. Temperatures in some areas have already dropped into single digits as far south as Texas.

Travelers are being urged not only to be mindful of flight cancelations and delays but also hazardous driving conditions due to icy roadways and reduced visibility caused by blowing snowfall.

Those who do decide to brave Winter Storm Elliott should remain updated on any changes via their airline’s websites or mobile apps as well as local media outlets for real-time information about potential delays or closures along their routes; they should also keep an open mind when making any travel plans – allowing extra time for delays rerouting if necessary.

Croatia has been approved to join the Schengen area, becoming the 27th country to become part of the world’s largest free-travel area. The decision was finalized at a Dec. 8 meeting of the Ministers of Internal Affairs and Justice of the EU member states. The change will take place officially on Jan. 1, 2023.

The tour operators I’ve spoken to about this tell me the change is not expected to have much impact immediately, or directly, on American travelers. The US and Canada are already visa-free nations for entry into Croatia. But there are some good possibilities for positive long-term effects.

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Posted In: Top Headlines

Marriott all inclusive property in Cancun

Marriott this week upped the ante in Cancun with the debut of its 31st all-inclusive property in the Caribbean and Latin America, the Royalton Splash Riviera Cancun, An Autograph Collection All-Inclusive Resort.

Located on the hotel strip, the new-build property features 1,005 suites; an expansive water park with two lazy rivers, a splash pad and pool, a family pool and the main pool, and 14 water slides and tubes; an outdoor theater; a kid’s club; a GameUp Center with laser tag arena, bowling, and a trampoline park; and 12 “culinary destinations,” including international, Indian, American, Italian, and Mexican cuisine.

For groups and conferences, there’s a 25,000-square-foot convention center with eight meeting rooms and high-quality AV services. And for luxury clients, there’s a hotel-within-a-hotel, a Diamond Club™ service upgrade section that promises the best ocean views, upgraded menu options, personalized butler service, and private pool access, as well as the Chairman and Sky Chairman Suites, which can accommodate up to eight people.

All suites in the hotel have a terrace or balcony, rain showers and in-room jacuzzis, and high-speed wifi.

Posted In: Top Headlines

Government weather forecast map

A Wind Chill Advisory is in effect, as the combination of very cold temperatures and brisk west-to-northwest winds will produce wind chills of 20 below to 30 below zero. Temperatures early this week will be 15 to 25 degrees below average. The arctic blast is expected to bring life-threatening temperatures and major travel disruptions across parts of the United States over the next few days. With snow forecasted in areas from the Midwest to the Northeast, air travelers should brace for delays and cancellations as airports struggle to keep up with the demand. Those planning on flying may expect delays or cancellations due to the arctic weather situation unfolding across the country at present.

A surge of Arctic air behind a cold front crossing the U.S. through the week will bring widespread, dangerous wind chill temperatures through much of the central U.S. and a potential flash freeze from the mid-South to the East Coast. A major winter storm will form on this front bringing heavy snow and high winds creating blizzard conditions for parts of the Plains into the Great Lakes. Strong winds will hit “nearly the entire eastern half of the U.S. as this large system becomes fully mature by Thursday night.

The cold snap is caused by an extended high-pressure system stretching from western Canada toward the northern Plains. According to the National Weather Service, this powerful arctic system will bring “very cold air” across a wide area, with potential record lows expected in some areas.

In some states, temperatures will drop into the single digits and even below zero Fahrenheit—dangerously low levels that can lead to hypothermia or frostbite if exposed for too long. In anticipation of these extreme conditions, several states have already issued warnings, with many local governments offering advice on how best to stay safe in such frigid weather.

Airlines are already taking preventative steps—such as adding extra flights and additional staff—to limit potential delays or cancellations due to bad weather. Amtrak has also shifted its schedule ahead of any possible weather disruptions. Those expecting to fly can expect turbulence along their journey, as freezing temperatures can make it harder for aircraft to ascend or descend quickly enough.

In addition, snowfall associated with this storm could further hinder travel plans in cities like Detroit and Chicago, where roads are known to get overwhelmed during winter. Road crews may be dispatched around town to help clear away any snow buildup, but commuters should still plan for longer trips than usual when traveling through these regions during a snowstorm.

Posted In: Crossings

Jubilee Synagogue (Jerusalem Synagogue) in Prague, Czech

AmaWaterways will again partner with to offer two “Heritage on the River” cruises in 2023, where guests of European heritage can revisit the places from which their ancestors emigrated.

The seven-night heritage cruises will sail from Nuremberg to Budapest on June 17, 2023, and from Amsterdam to Basel on November 2. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Spotlight

Cruise ship Crystal Symphony

Crystal Cruises is back, offering customers who sign up for its 2023 itineraries a priority reward program.

Guests who join the Open Deposits program will have first access to itineraries, staterooms, suites, and experiences in 2023 and 2024 and also will get a $125 shipboard credit. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Top Headlines

American Eagle SkyWest Airlines Bombardier CRJ-700 airplane Phoenix Airport in Arizona

American Airlines announced on Saturday that it would be discontinuing its agreement with regional carrier Mesa Airlines, citing financial and operational problems. This move comes after American raised concerns about the Arizona-based carrier’s performance, including quality of service and delays in flights.

The decision to end their contract was a mutual one between both airlines. Mesa Airlines has faced a number of financial issues over the last few years, which have hindered its ability to deliver quality service. According to reports, Mesa Airlines struggled with high rates of cancellations, delays, and customer dissatisfaction as a result of its financial instability. These issues affected not only passengers themselves but also impacted American Airlines operations due to their reliance on regional carriers such as Mesa for certain routes.

Reportedly Mesa Airlines is in talks to provide regional airline services for United. However, analysts suggest that other regional carriers may soon follow suit and consider renegotiating contracts with regional carriers if they do not improve their operations quickly enough.

Posted In: Top Headlines

Hawaiian Airlines Airbus A330-200

At least 36 passengers were injured on a Hawaiian Airlines flight after their plane encountered “severe turbulence” in route from Phoenix to Honolulu on Sunday. Of those passengers, 20 were taken to the emergency room after landing, with eleven people sustaining serious injuries requiring extensive medical treatment following the incident once arriving at Honolulu International Airport.

Hawaiian Airlines Flight 35, an Airbus 330, was carrying 278 passengers and 10 crew members at the time of the incident, which occurred approximately a half hour before landing at Honolulu International Airport. It appears that many passengers were not prepared for the sudden turbulence experienced by the aircraft. Flight attendants reported that coffee and other items had been sent flying throughout the cabin.

The National Transportation Safety Board has launched an investigation into what caused this frightening experience for many passengers onboard the aircraft. NTSB representatives plan to review recordings from both voice recorders as well as cameras inside the cabin to gain insight into how this dangerous situation arose.

The Federal Aviation Administration has recommended that all airlines review safety protocols regarding severe turbulence with employees in order to ensure passenger safety is always prioritized during such unexpected events in flight.

It became glaringly obvious to me over the years that most people are still not practicing the simple art of marketing with any consistency. Because there was (is) so much print on the subject, people were not introduced to the finer (simple) points of marketing in a fashion that was taken seriously. My focused observation confirms that people either do not know enough to be concerned about marketing, or they think they have already heard all there is to hear on the subject. This happens to be a popular error.

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