In the News this Week...

brought to you by News Editor, Roger Bray
  • News 178

    Volga Dream – into the Heart of Russia

    over 8 years ago

    eWaterways have a new itinerary for 2012 on Europe’s largest and longest river – the Volga. The 11-day Russian Cruise and Stay package takes place on the Volga Dream, a luxurious ship which journeys along this emblematic river and other important waterways to Russia’s ‘Golden Ring’ cities. Starting in Peter the Great’s ‘Window on the West’ St Petersburg and ending in the medieval yet modern capital Moscow, this cruise is an exploration of this vast country’s vistas, history and culture. The all-inclusive Volga Discovery holiday is crammed with excursions, informative tours and the best of Russian cuisine. Starting in either St Petersburg or Moscow (depending on departure dates), the cruise starts from £2059 per person sharing a cabin which includes 5-star hotel stay in Moscow (2 nights) and St Petersburg (2 nights), a 6-night deluxe cruise aboard the Volga Dream (full board basis), all transfers, tours and excursions, house wine and soft drinks with meals onboard and lunches and dinners in local restaurants. Flights and visas are not included.

  • News 175

    City Cruises is offering passengers some great two for the price of one deals.

    over 8 years ago

    City Cruises is offering passengers some great two for the price of one deals on its sightseeing cruises as part of the Mayor's Thames Festival, which takes place on the 10th and 11th September 2011.
    Throughout the whole month of September passengers will be able to purchase two River Red Rover tickets for the price of one, saving up to £13.50 per person. The River Red Rover ticket offers great value as it gives passengers unlimited one-day travel with City Cruises.

    For the duration of the two day Festival the two for one offer will also be extended to include all single sightseeing service tickets, saving up to £10.00 per person.

    These fabulous offers are valid on City Cruises' scheduled sightseeing service, which operates between the four major destination piers on the River Thames (Westminster, London Eye, Tower and Greenwich) and each one is on the doorstep of many popular sights and leading attractions.

    Passengers can travel in comfort onboard modern boats with panoramic windows and open deck areas, which offer access to the mobility impaired. Light refreshments and bar services are available onboard and these can be enjoyed whilst discovering the sights of London along the Thames.

    To enhance the sightseeing experience City Cruises also offers a state-of-the-art multilingual commentary system in five languages (French, German, Spanish, Mandarin and Japanese), in addition to the live commentary in English.

  • Over 60s may soon no longer benefit from half price long distance coach travel.

    over 8 years ago

    Over 60s may soon no longer benefit from half price long distance coach travel. The Government is to withdraw a subsidy to coach operators which enables them to discount tickets for silver travellers and disabled people. Free local bus travel will be unaffected but the move has come under fire from several quarters – including the coach industry. National Express, which is estimated to carry around 3m such passengers annually, is urging them to write to their MPs the raise the issue with the Department for Transport. The operator says it has received emails and letters from customers anxious that, without the concession, they may be unable to travel. They will still be able to take advantage of the scheme provided they book by midnight on October 31 and travel by the end of August next year. 

  • News 174

    The 17th International Alpine Cheese Olympics take place in the Austrian village of Galtur.

    over 8 years ago

    The hangover will be indigestion rather than an indigestible bill for taxpayers and if there is to be a symbolic flame it will probably flicker under a fondue dish. Next month the 17th International Alpine Cheese Olympics take place in the Austrian village of Galtur. Top cheese will be awarded the Galtür Sennerharfe – a harp in gold, silver, or bronze. Visitors can taste and buy. The event takes place on 24 September 2011 from 11am to 9pm. Entry before 6pm is €9, after that it’s €7.

  • News 173

    The Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles is scheduled to reopen in October.

    over 8 years ago

    The Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles, which was frequented by Hollywood stars inclulding Grace Kelly, Cary Grant and Marilyn Monroe, is scheduled to reopen in October after a major refurbishment which has taken two years. Its characteristic pink coloured Spanish Colonial architecture has been retained but among the changes are the addition of 12 new hillside suites, promsing “sweeping canyon views” -  with big sliding glass walls, outdoor fireplaces, spacious decks with private spa pools. The hotel, which has a “Swan Lake” in its lush grounds, was created from a stable complex where wealthy Bel-Air residents saddled up to follow trails through the surrounding canyons. Its oval swimming pool is on the site of the former riding ring.

  • News 172

    Looking to cut costs on a visit to Holland?

    over 8 years ago

    Looking to cut costs on a visit to Holland? Try smaller cities. While  Amsterdam hotels reported an average rise of 18.3% in revenue per room in the year to June, those in Utrecht, for example, which is within easy travelling distance by train, saw theirs fall by 0.4%. The figures come from hotel industry researchers STR Global. Utrecht, with its canals and  almshouses, is a lovely base in its own right, and worth visiting no least for the fascinating National Museum of Music Boxes and Barrel Organs.

  • News 171

    Lithuanian capital Vilnius becomes first city in Europe to introduce a public electric bike hire scheme.

    over 8 years ago

    The Lithuanian capital Vilnius claims to have become the first city in Europe to introduce a public electric bike hire scheme. The “e-orange” bikes – so named because of the colour of their bright stripes – are available at four Tourism Information Centres they are aimed at people wanting them for short periods, costing €3 for the first hour but more per hour if you keep them for longerf (four hours cost €26 euros). A €145 deposit  by credit card is refunded immediately upon return of the bike to the original rental point. A built in GPS system monitors the location of the bicycle at any given time. The scheme is one of a series of initiatives by Vilnius Mayor Arturas Zuokas with the goals of making he city a world leader in providing environmentally friendly transport. That's the same mayor who recently drew attention to drivers who flout parking rules by driving over an illegally parked car with a tank. 

  • Between March and April 1942, Malta was hit by more bombs than fell on London during the entire Blitz.

    over 8 years ago

    Between March and April 1942, according to some calculations, Malta was hit by more bombs than fell on London during the entire Blitz. To recall the islanders' heroism, which was recognised with the award of the George Cross, the British Legion's travel arm, Poppy Travel, is organising a special tour in association with Leger Holidays. During the eight day guided trip, customers will visit relevanht parts of the island such as the National War Museum and the formerly secret Lascaris war rooms.

  • The cost of emergency medical claims by UK travellers has nearly quadrupled in six years.

    over 8 years ago

    The cost of emergency medical claims by UK travellers has nearly quadrupled in six years, according to the Association of British Insurers – and mature travellers like you, it says, are largely to blame. More of us are living longer and travelling further afield. People over 65 are three times more likely to make a claim than those aged 35 and those claims are three and a half times as expensive, a spokesman says. We at are a little sceptical We would like to see a closer analysis of those statistics. We'd like to see devaluation of sterling and inflation taken out of the totals, for one thing. That would amount to a 40 – 50% increase in the cost of claims in the  Eurozone and the US alone, never mind in countries where costs have been rising faster. It would certainly go some way to explaining the ABI's calculation that medical treatment now represents 55% of all travel insurance costs, compared with 33% in 2005. Then we would need to know how the rising cost of medical treatment compared with RPI changes around the world. For another the ABI says its members now deal with 337,000 claims for emergency medical treatment a year. That's about one for every 163 trips abroad (fewer if you exclude quick shopping visits to France and business travel). Really? And if more mature travellers are exploring more exotic places and pushing up claims, how much more are they paying insurance companies in premiums? That figure, we are not surprised to note, is not included in these stats. 

  • Most holidaymakers buying all inclusive packages wind up paying unexpected bills.

    over 8 years ago

    Most holidaymakers buying all inclusive packages wind up paying unexpected bills, according to a new survey. Nearly half (46%) think cocktails will be included – but 56% of hotels exclude them, it reports. The research was conducted by Populus for Post Office Travel Money. It says only 28% of resorts include international brand drinks, so unless you stick to local face additional charges. About one on five all inclusive holidaymakers fork out for wine other than that included in the price, 24% pay internet charges – and only 21 per cent fly home having paid only the upfront price. 

  • News 168

    Hotel room entertainment systems become ever more sophisticated.

    over 8 years ago

    Hotel room entertainment systems become ever more sophisticated. The Marriott Marquis Miami has installed equipment that allows guests to watch movies stored on their laptops or iPads on flat screens by simply plugging them in – or to listen to their own choice of music from personal devices by channelling it through in room speakers via Bluetooth. The state of the art technology has been supplied by TeleAdapt, international specialists in developing this kind of technology for the hospitality industry. 

  • News 166

    Costa Cruises is about to resume calls in Japan.

    over 8 years ago

    Costa Cruises is about to resume calls in Japan – a boost for the country's tourism industry as it struggles to recover from the devastating impact of the recent earthquake and tsunami, according to reports, On August 26 the Costa Classica will depart on a four day itinerary from Shanghai calling at Fukuoka. Costa is expected to operate a total of 12 cruises from China taking in Japanese ports which will also include Nagasaki.

  • Thomson won’t leave police out of pocket.

    over 8 years ago

    In support of the bravery Britain’s Police Force has shown this week Thomson and First Choice will allow police officers to rebook their holidays without incurring any extra charges.

    Police Officers across the country were advised yesterday that all leave has been cancelled in order to deal with any further disturbances in England’s cities. While this will be hugely disappointing for hardworking members of the Police Force, if they’ve booked their holidays with either Thomson or First Choice they will be able to change their holiday dates free of charge.“We know how important holidays are and that nobody needs a holiday more than members of the Police Force right now,” says Nick Longman, Director of Distribution for Thomson and First Choice.

    “We want to ensure that all members of the Police will still be able to take their well earned break with us, at a time convenient to them. Our retail staff, some of whom have been affected by the riots, will be only too happy to help Police Officers rebook their holidays, so we advise all officers affected to pop into their local Thomson or First Choice shop. Alternatively they can call our call centre for Thomson bookings call 0844 0871 0879 and for First Choice bookings call 0871 200 7799. As a national retailer Thomson and First Choice would like to thank Britain’s police force for protecting our high streets so fearlessly, and we look forward to welcoming them on our holidays.”

  • News 164

    The return of the pumpkin people.

    over 8 years ago

    Autumn is pumpkin time in New England, with huge orange globes piled up outside shops, churches and schools. On the front porches of homes and old inns are jack o’ lanterns, pumpkins carved with scary faces and lit with candles. 

    But for creativity, nowhere has more fun that the picture-pretty White Mountain resort of Jackson, and neighbouring villages like Bartlett, North Conway and Glen.

    Here pumpkins become heads for scarecrows in fancy dress. So, forget Worzel Gummidge. Think Hannah Montana in a sparkly dress, Elvis Presley, characters from The Wizard of Oz, vampire brides and grooms, even surgeons and golfers in full gear.

    Throughout October, some 50 hotels and B&Bs, inns and taverns all try to outdo one another in the annual Return of the Pumpkin People event, as they compete for prizes in categories ranging from Funniest and Cutest to Scariest and Most Family-friendly.

    If you are in the White Mountains, download a Pumpkin People Driving Tour ( and vote for your favourite creation: the most coveted award is the People’s Choice! The winners are announced in Jackson on October 31.

  • News 163

    Travellers to New York will be unable to enter the Statue of Liberty for a year from October 29.

    over 8 years ago

    Travellers to New York will be unable to enter the Statue of Liberty for a year from October 29. The 30ft tall copper statue needs almost £17.5m – worth of repairs. Improvements will include the replacement of its stairs and lifts.  However the island on which it stands will remain open. Most of the 3.5m people who visit the island do not bother to climb the 125 year old statue, which reopened to the public only two years ago after it was closed following the September 11 attacks.

    Photo courtesy of NYC Tourist Office 

  • Norwegian Cruise Line has followed rivals by banning smoking in cabins.

    over 8 years ago

    Norwegian Cruise Line has followed rivals by banning smoking in cabins on its eleven ships. The move will take effect in January. Passengers whose staterooms have balconies will be able to smoke cigarettes on them, but not cigars or pipes. The company's current policy is to allow smoking in some outdoor areas – though not close to points where food is served, for example, or around children's pools. Four of its ships – Norwegian Epic, Pearl, Dawn and Spirit – have enclosed cigar bars.

  • News 161

    Britain's biggest wintersports tour operator is now offering ski holidays in Russia.

    over 8 years ago

    Britain's biggest wintersports tour operator Crystal Ski, is now offering ski holidays in Russia. This winter it will operate packages to resorts near Sochi, site of the 2014 Winter Olympics. Flights will be on Turkish Airlines from Heathrow via Istanbul. Transfer time from Sochi airport to resorts is 1hr. Skiing will be in three areas – Gasprom, Rosa Khutor and Mountain Carousel which has no accommodation yet but is recommended to advanced and expert skiers.
    Bookings are available by telephone only at 0871 971 0579.

  • News 160

    Low cost airline is to launch flights between Glasgow and Rome.

    over 8 years ago

    Low cost airline is to launch flights between Glasgow and Rome. It boasts its cheapest fare, starting at  £29.99, will be “less than the price of an Italian meal for two”. The carrier will start flying the route on March 20 2012, operating up to three rounds trips a week (on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays) to Fiumicino airport.

  • News 159

    Planemaker Boeing has at last “rolled out” the first of its much delayed Dreamliners.

    over 8 years ago

    Planemaker Boeing has at last “rolled out” the first of its much delayed Dreamliners at its Seattle plant in the US. The fuel efficient jet, otherwise known as the Boeing 787, is scheduled to be delivered to Japan's All Nippon Airlines in September. British Airways is due to start operating the aircraft, which will carry 210 – 250  passengers, next year. The manufacturer claims passengers will enjoy bigger than usual windows, cleaner cabin air and higher humidity and more comfortable pressure which will make them feel they are flying at a lower altitude. 

  • Hotel Crowne Plaza launches anti snoring room.

    over 8 years ago

    Dread sharing room with a snoring partner? Don’t worry – just head for Copenhagen.

    Are you also sleep-deprived due to your partner’s bad snoring habits? If so, you will be relieved to know that Hotel Crowne Plaza Copenhagen Towers, Denmark, has launched an anti snoring room. The room has been especially designed using technology that absorbs and insulates sounds in order to minimise snoring – a useful technology that benefits tired spouses and, on severe occasions, annoyed neighbours.

    Read more about the anti snoring room here: