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.

Continue reading Qantas unveils Brisbane lounge

Jamaica: I went of my own accord

OK, so the headline on this piece is a lazy reference to an old joke, but don’t let that put you off a visit to Jamaica, one of the jewels of the Caribbean.

Falmouth, Jamaica

I visited Falmouth as part of a cruise itinerary, and I’m keen to see more. The people, from the local tour guide to the people we met on the streets, were friendly and the weather was superb.

Continue reading Jamaica: I went of my own accord

Magical, mysterious Macau

Macau has become a magnet for mainland Chinese and other gamblers in recent years, but to think of it as the Las Vegas of South East Asia would be doing it a great disservice.

Sao Paulo cathedral ruins

The former Portuguese colony about an hour by boat from Hong Kong has its own unique cultural flavour — a potent blend of East and West that can be alluring even for those who are not interested in playing the tables or the machines. Continue reading Magical, mysterious Macau

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.

Continue reading Symphony rules the seas

Petra: the jewel of Jordan

The ancient “rose city” of Petra, in Jordan, is on many a bucket list, and for good reason.

The remnants of a 2,300-year-old civilisation include the ornate Treasury (Al Khazneh), which is carved into solid sandstone. Take a moment, or more, to contemplate the artistry and sheer effort involved in achieving that without the machinery or technology we have today.

Continue reading Petra: the jewel of Jordan

Meanwhile, near the Acropolis

Almost everybody knows about the Parthenon, the Temple of  Venus Nike and the Erechtheion on the Acropolis in Athens.

“Socrates’ Prison”

But a walk around the area where the tourist buses park reveals some other architectural and natural delights, including a church and the (probably bogus) prison of Socrates.

Continue reading Meanwhile, near the Acropolis

We want affordable wi-fi!

There is one area where the hospitality industry has struggled (or is unwilling) to keep up and be competitive: the provision of internet services.

It is ridiculous in this day and age that some hotels, airlines and cruise ships offer near-extortionate prices for internet access (which, according to the United Nations, is a basic human right, no less).

Continue reading We want affordable wi-fi!

Kusadasi in pictures

Kusadasi is a city on the western Aegean coast of Turkey, perhaps best known to tourists as the gateway to the remarkable Roman ruins at Ephesus.

Sadly, a lot of cruise ships have stopped calling at Turkish ports following political unrest in that country. Hopefully the delights of the city, with its winding passages and interesting shops will be available to travellers again soon.

Continue reading Kusadasi in pictures

Is the ‘Trump slump’ real?

Like much of the news coming out of America these days, it’s a matter of claim and counter claim.

But respected travel writer Arthur Frommer has joined those who say the “Trump slump” — a large decline in the number of foreign tourists coming to America — is real, and it’s putting the jobs of those in the tourist industry at risk.

Continue reading Is the ‘Trump slump’ real?

Gratuitous advice about tipping

Tipping is a way of life in some parts of the world, and something to be avoided in other places. Travellers soon learn whether they need to tip or not.

Do you need to tip on ships?

But it’s on the high seas where things get confusing. Cruise holidays bring together passengers from all parts of the world, and there is often no consensus about how much, or even whether, they should tip.

Continue reading Gratuitous advice about tipping

Keeping it clean

I wouldn’t normally write about a press release announcing that a cruise line, or other travel company, had won some kind of award or distinction.

ms Eurodam (hollandamerica.com)

However, this is different. Holland America Line has announced that its ms Eurodam has registered a particular achievement for the 11th consecutive time. And that should interest everyone who has ever cruised, or has ever contemplated a cruise holiday.

Continue reading Keeping it clean

Feeling free at sea

The interior stateroom I had on my most recent cruise could fit at least four times into the apartment I currently call home. But in many ways, the apartment is smaller.

That’s despite the fact that the windowless cabin barely had enough room for a double bed and a desk, and had a bathroom in which one, even if so cruelly inclined, could not swing a cat.

Continue reading Feeling free at sea

A premium flight experience

In the current climate of austerity, many people are thinking twice about paying for business-class airfares.

Emirates is introducing a premium economy option on some flights

As I’ve argued before, if you can afford to fly business and you want to, nothing should stop you from treating yourself. However, if it’s going to break the bank, you don’t have to totally slum it in the ever-tighter economy or “basic economy” seats.

Continue reading A premium flight experience

It’s not all smooth sailing

I love to cruise. I’ve averaged three cruises a year for the past four years, and I’ve been to some fabulous places on some wonderful ships.

But, as with all experiences in life, things don’t always go smoothly. So, here I’m listing some of the things I wish were different about cruise ships in general and about experiences that I’ve had in particular.

Continue reading It’s not all smooth sailing

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.

Continue reading Considering a cruising career?

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.

Continue reading Secrets of the sea

Breaking free at sea

I broke one of my own rules. I decided this time that I would not spend money while at sea when I’m cruising.

4Ever plus one

The idea was to pay for everything in advance — and get the applicable discouts — then pretend to be having a free holiday (Hey, it works for me. I certainly got a good deal on the internet, paying about $5 a day less than I would had I bought it on board).

But I found one thing I couldn’t resist. Well, two actually.

Continue reading Breaking free at sea