Symphony rules the seas

With the launch next year of a new contender for the title of world’s biggest cruise ship, the question arises: just how big can a passenger vessel be?

Symphony of the Seas (royalcaribbean.com)

Royal Caribbean, which already has more megaships than any other company, is gearing up to launch Symphony of the Seas, and its vital statistics are incredible.

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Fantastic plastic blanket

Airlines and the environment have an uneasy relationship. Despite economies and advances in fuel technologies, there are fewer bigger polluters than jet airplanes.

(emirates.com)

It sometimes rings a little hollow when airlines boast about their environmental credentials, so it’s nice to hear any news of a “green” initiative.

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When will flights be faster?

Ever since commercial air travel became a reality, we have been teased by the promise of faster and faster flight times.

(http://imaginactive.org/)

In the 1970s, it became a reality with supersonic flight on Concorde. But only two airlines ever offered the service, it wasn’t commercially viable and, after a big accident, it was discontinued.

So in a world where we expect everything to be better, what is next?

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Powerful passports revealed

All ttavellers know that not all passports are equal. Some people have free access to foreign countries via via-on-arrival agreements, while others have to go to a lot of trouble and expense to organise visas in advance.

(passportindex.org)

Every year, Arton Capital releases its Passport Index, which ranks the useful of national passport on the basis of the number of countries they can get you into. This year’s figures has just been released, and you may be surprised which documents are the most powerful.

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The safest way to fly

Updated

Although airline incidents are rare, and flying is statistically much safer than driving, we all sometimes have concerns when we fly.

And the winner is … (qantas.com)

I know a few people who refuse to fly with certain airlines because of a past incident or a belief that there is a greater risk of an accident.

So lists like that of the world’s safest airlines are eagerly read.

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What’s stopping driverless cars?

We’ve been hearing a lot lately about driverless cars: how they are being trialled by big names like Google and Uber in the United States, in Singapore and Dubai, and how their wide acceptance is just around the corner.

A self-driving Uber vehicle in San Francisco (uber.com)

However, one car manufacturer says fully driver-free vehicles are a long way down the track — for one simple reason.

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Cruising solo with no supplement

Despite the fact that more and more people remain, or become, single well into their adult years, most travel deals are still offered on a per-person, twin-share basis.

(fredolsencruises.com)

Quite often, that fact is buried deep into the fine print on the brochure or website, and many people have begun the booking process to find that that bargain journey is only going to be a bargain if they can find a friend.

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SeaWorld comes to UAE

Marine life conservation will be a priority at the new SeaWorld on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, which is scheduled to open in 2022.

SeaWorld Orlando (seaworld.com)

The park,  a joint venture between the American company and the UAE’s Miral ­Asset Management, will join a growing number of attractions on the island, which is already home to a Formula 1 race track, concert arena, water theme park and an attraction devoted to Ferrari vehicles.

Mohamed Al Zaabi, chief executive of Miral, said there would be a strong emphasis on rescue and rehabilitation of marine life.

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Animal welfare comes first

Let’s hear it for the travel agents, including the giant  Thomas Cook chain, for putting the welfare of animals ahead of profit opportunities.

(thomascook.com)

Thomas Cook has recently reaffirmed its commitment to the Global Welfare Guidance for Animals in Tourism from ABTA, the UK travel association.

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Sweet ceremony for Harmony

16 November

The world’s largest cruise ship, Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas, has been officially named in Miami, Florida.

(http://www.royalcaribbeanblog.com/)
Brittany Affolter (http://www.royalcaribbeanblog.com/)

In an update of an age-old “christening” ceremony, Brittany Affolter, a 23-year-old teacher who is the ship’s godmother, pushed a button that led to a champagne bottle being broken over the ship.

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Brown is the new black

14 November

(dullmensclub.com)
Sign of the times: Amanda Hone (dullmensclub.com)

The hobby of “brown signing” is being celebrated in Britain via the annual calendar of the Dull Men’s Club.

The 2017 calendar, the first to feature women, includes a picture of Amanda Hone, 36, who has an obsession with the brown signs that point the way to points of interest to tourists.

Ms Hone said: “Soon after leaving university I quit my job, saved up some money and spent a year travelling around Britain following brown signs.”

She runs a website that lists all the brown signs in the United Kingdom.

NZ hit by quake

November 14

New Zealand”s South Island has been hit by a powerful earthquake that has left at least two people dead.

Evacuations were underway early on Monday local time after a 7.8 magnitude quake and reports of  a tsunami heading for the east coast of both islands.

Quake-related damage has been reported in several places including the capital of Wellington.

The Guardian has coverage here and the NZ Herald here.

Travel and tourism news

Hong Kong
Hong Kong

Updated 13 November, 2016

The official Visit Britain tourism site is offering a free downloadable 2017 guide to Scotland here.

The Celebrity Solstice will become the first major cruise ship to be based in Dublin. The decision by Celebrity Cruises, to come into effect by 2018, is said to be worth 6 million euros to the Irish economy.

Emirates airlines has announced I n online advertisements and elsewhere that it will now only fly two types of aircraft — the Airbus A380 and the Boeing B777.

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