Spreading it around: why cruise lines ban sick people

It seems like a case of damned if they do, damned if they don’t. Here’s a news story about a cruise line that’s under fire because it ruined a family’s holiday when it refused to allow two sick children to board.

Serenade of the Seas (Royal Caribbean)

And yet the same web site — and many others — regularly runs stories (such as this and this) about large numbers of passengers whose holidays are ruined because they got norovirus (“gastro” in Australian headline-writing parlance) on cruise ships.

Continue reading Spreading it around: why cruise lines ban sick people

Review: Cathay Pacific’s business lounges

In the past few years, I’ve been fortunate to do quite a bit of travel at the pointy end of the aircraft. And with that, of course, comes entry to business lounges at various airports.

In this post, I want to focus on Cathay Pacific’s excellent offerings in Hong Kong and Bangkok.

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Marmite, furry handcuffs and other carry-on essentials


I once was foolish enough to put a bottle of vodka — a gift from a Slavic friend — in my hand luggage, and it was confiscated by security at Gatwick Airport.

But is seems that booze isn’t the most popular item that people try to take onboard aircraft departing the United Kingdom.

Continue reading Marmite, furry handcuffs and other carry-on essentials

Tourism and taboo topics in the Middle East

Updated (see footnote)

I’ve mentioned here before that I’ve become a regular contributor to Quora.com, and that my answers to questions on travel are gaining a small amount of attention.

Well, in the past few days, one of them has gone through the roof. There have been tens of thousands of engagements with my answer to this question: Is it okay to stay in a hotel with a fiancée for a vacation in Abu Dhabi?

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I’m sold on this sailing deal

On a whim, I’ve booked a week-long cruise starting in four days — on Friday, May 19. I nearly booked it yesterday, but by waiting a day I saved about US$75 (A$100) on what was already a bargain price.

Last-minute deals are fantastic if you are at a loose end — on holiday with no firm plans (as I am), retired, or otherwise flexible with your time — and you don’t mind missing out if it’s already sold out. Continue reading I’m sold on this sailing deal

Extras. Read all about them

We’ve all been asked if we “want fries with that” or otherwise been enticed to buy something more than we originally planned.

Are special touches worth paying extra for?

It’s no different in the travel business, but sometimes what’s part of the package and what’s extra isn’t quite as easy to understand as an upsized Big Mac meal deal.

Continue reading Extras. Read all about them

The lowdown on the UAE

Having just finished a five-year stint in Abu Dhabi, I find myself bombarded with questions about the United Arab Emirates. Generally, it comes down to three questions: What’s it like in Dubai? (Abu Dhabi and Dubai are conflated in many people’s minds, apparently), Should I visit? and Can you get a drink there?

Sunset on the Abu Dhabi Corniche

Bars are plentiful in the UAE, although they are generally hidden away from public view inside hotels. But there are other, more important things, visitors and would-be residents ought to know about the UAE. And here they are:

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The man from the Mercure

I’ve moved from the Ramada Downtown and I’m now ensconced at the Mercure City Centre, Abu Dhabi.

As this is an Accor Hotel, I’m on more familiar turf here. The hotel — one of the oldest in the Abu Dhabi CBD (and, I believe, originally The Novotel), is showing a bit of wear and tear, but the experience so far has been very pleasant.

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A dummy’s guide to travel

I recently read an online guide to budget travel that really got my goat*, as my granny used to say.

Spending more is sometimes worth it

It also got me thinking about all the bad travel advice I’ve read online, and how some of it ought to be challenged. Which is what I’m about to do.

Continue reading A dummy’s guide to travel

Qantas unveils Brisbane lounge

Some travel news from my home town: Qantas has released details, and images, of its new business lounge at Brisbane international airport.

The lounge, which will open in October, will be the first of several new facilities the national carrier will open at Brisbane Airport as part of a multi-million dollar upgrade this year, according to Qantas International CEO Gareth Evans.

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Considering a cruising career?

I once wanted to work on a cruise ship; part of me still does. What’s not to like about working on board a ship; to get paid to see the world, with accommodation, food and drinks thrown in?

Vision of the Seas

Well, there are quite a few things to think about if you are considering taking the leap into the world of hospitality and entertainment on the high seas.

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Secrets of the sea

One of my favourite activities onboard a cruise ship is the question-and-answer session with the captain and senior officers. Not every cruise line does it, but Royal Caribbean does on at least some of its ships, and it’s called Captain’s Corner.

On my cruise aboard Vision of the Seas, I learned — or was reminded of — quite a few “fun facts” about that particular ship and cruising in general in a session hosted by Captain Marek Slaby.

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World’s cheapest, and dearest, cities

Zurich, Switzerland, is the most expensive place on Earth for tourists, according to research by airport transfer company Hoppa.

Sofia (bulgariatravel.org)

And the cheapest of 84 cities rated is Sofia in Bulgaria. The survey threw up quite a few surprises.

Continue reading World’s cheapest, and dearest, cities

Brew with a view

A lot of us can’t face the day without first facing a cup of coffee. But what if that coffee featured a famous face — perhaps even our own?

(Tub of Butter, Dubai; Instagram)

Special stencils for commercial coffee machines now mean your latte can feature just about any design. And in Dubai — where else — you can see yourself, or your favourite photo, in your cup the day after emailing an attachment to the barista.

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One size doesn’t fit all

The most depressing thing about travel stories and advertisements — be they in newspapers or magazines, on radio or on TV — is that they assume that we all want the same thing.

Typical planesailing.co reader

Sure, relaxing on a beach with a colourful drink in hand may be some people’s idea of a good time, but other (misguided, to my mind) people would rather be scaling a rockface, riding the rapids or swimming with sharks.

Continue reading One size doesn’t fit all