UPDATE: Changes have been made below to the original post to clarify certain details about the import and export of musical instruments that were made using endangered species.
As individual musicians and orchestras make their plans now for the summer touring season, many face the distinct possibility are concerned that their rare and antique instruments may be confiscated when the musicians travel abroad or return to this country they cross international borders. That's because an international convention called CITESprohibits places restrictions on the import and export of musical instruments made from endangered materials like ivory, sea-tortoise shell, and Brazilian rosewood, among others. Enter an unlikely musicians' friend: the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, which announced today that it will propose issuing "musical passports" that would permit international transport of such instruments made before the prohibitions were enacted.
This would be a huge relief to musicians with such instruments as vintage guitars and violins, as well as ivory-keyed pianos, since they currently have to file lengthy and complicated import and export forms every time they travel, for each and every country visit. If the proposal passes (and a FWS spokesperson seemed optimistic at a press conference today), musicians will be able to get an actual passport for their instruments, complete with a physical description on one page and spaces for entry stamps on another. The musical passports would be valid for three years. The proposal is expected to be made at a CITES conference in Thailand on March 3.
This post was updated February 26, 2012.
Mark Orwoll is the International Editor of Travel + Leisure. Follow him on Twitter.
In the summer and fall of 2009, Emmy-winning director, writer, and veteran mariner Sprague Theobald took on one of travel's greatest challenges: sailing through the fabled Northwest Passage, which connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans through the Arctic Circle. Only 24 other personal craft have completed the harrowing, often ice-bound journey since explorer Roald Amundsen did it in 1903. Untold ships and hundreds of lives have been lost in the attempt. So when Theobald and his crew set sail in the 57-foot trawler Bagan on the five-month, 8,500-mile sea-trek from Newport, Rhode Island, to Seattle, there were no guarantees that they would succeed--or even live to tell about it.
You've probably read most of the horrors experienced by the passengers on the ill-fated Carnival Triumph, currently being towed to Mobile, Alabama, after an engine-room fire disabled the ship's generators on Sunday. By all accounts the situation can only be described as heinous. But it gets worse…
Among the nightmarish conditions: nonworking toilets, odors so overpowering that people are vomiting everywhere, so little food that passengers must stand in line for hours in the hopes of getting nothing more than an onion sandwich, and sewage "sloshing" in the hallways and seeping through the walls! And yet few media are reporting an equally horrifying (though unconfirmed) bit of news: The ship may have stopped serving alcohol.
Would you pay $42.95 a day (plus 15 percent gratuity) for virtually unlimited bar drinks on your next Carnival cruise? What about paying the same amount for, say, 15 drinks? That's the big change now being tested on 13 Carnival ships.
The statement from Carnival:
We are still in a trial period with the CHEERS! beverage program which is currently being piloted on 13 ships. We recently made a change to the program, formalizing the limit on how many alcoholic drinks guests will be served within a 24-hour period (15 drinks total within the 24-hour period which runs from 6am to 6am the following day). Sodas and other applicable non-alcoholic beverages remain unlimited and will not be counted toward the 15 alcoholic beverages limit, and all other policies and procedures remain the same.
Westin Hotels & Resorts is rolling out new gyms worldwide, all with a more spalike atmosphere—neutral colors; woven flooring—and special blue light-therapy fixtures, which (apparently) have an energizing effect.
InterContinental Hotels Group, meanwhile, has announced a new wellness-themed brand called Even Hotels. Rooms will have jump ropes and exercise balls; breakfasts include free smoothies. The first property is expected in early 2013, perfectly timed to help with New Year’s resolutions.
Would everybody please stop picking on the TSA for a cotton-pickin' minute?! Hey, no question the airport-security agency has taken a pummeling from critics lately, especially over accusations of theft. A report by ABC's Nightlinelast week was particularly damning when an iPad stolen from an airport security checkpoint was tracked down to the home of the TSA agent on-duty at the time. And now comes another dust-up. But this time the TSA claims it had nothing to do with it.
Arrash "Ash" Durrani, sexy model, aspiring actor, and maker of groovy T-shirts, may be too-cool-for-school, but passengers on Tuesday's United Airlines Flight 473 from Chicago to Orange County, California, schooled him anyway when the apparently drunken California man began harassing others around him during the flight. Concerned passengers shouted at him to sit down, then ultimately tackled him to the floor of the aisle and sat atop him for hours until the plane landed safely at its destination, John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana.
Kangaroos are desperate to flee Europe, and their freedom-loving woodland well-wishers are determined to aid and abet in any way they can. In the latest incident, on Saturday, three incarcerated marsupials, Skippy, Jack, and Mick (last names unknown), bolted from the confines of the Hochwildschutzpark Hunsrueck, an animal park near Frankfurt, Germany, with the help of animal accomplices. According to the Associated Press, the jailed joeys, using a tunnel dug by a local fox, made a breakout reminiscent of Steve McQueen in The Great Escape. Continuing their quest for liberty, the 'roos-on-the-run headed for a hole under a secondary fence--this one dug by a boar--where one of the kangaroos was forced to abandon his bid for independence. Of the remaining two absconders, one was soon captured and the other, a "super friendly, super nice" male, according to a zookeeper, remains at large.
Thou shalt not steal from your hotel—no matter how big or small the item might be. Take New York's iconic palace of luxury, the Waldorf-Astoria. Over the years, larcenous lodgers have walked off with ornate art deco grillwork from the heating and air conditioning units. They've filched guestroom doorbells. They've absconded with brass-plated mail slots from the corridors. "Some guests will take pretty much anything," says Matt Zolbe, the hotel's director of marketing, "even if it's bolted down." The famed hostelry has embarked on an Amnesty Program to retrieve some of that long-lost plunder, specifically historic, pre-1960s swag. The question is, will the program be enough to compel high-rent kleptos to return their purloined property?
After the Battle of Fort McHenry in Baltimore Harbor during the War of 1812, Francis Scott Key was so moved by the American victory over the British that he rewrote the words to a hearty English drinking song and came up with "The Star-Spangled Banner" to honor the fact that Americans thenceforth would have the guaranteed right to sing "The Star-Spangled Banner" as if they had been drinking heartily (see videos, below).
Baltimore itself is commemorating the War of 1812 bicentennial in a big way, well beyond a mere salute to the National Anthem, with the Star-Spangled Sailabration, a week's worth of free patriotic events, June 13-19. Among the activities: An international flotilla of more than two dozen warships and tall ships; a Blue Angels air show; fireworks recalling the Fort McHenry battle; an aircraft display (and a chance to get the autographs of the Blue Angels pilots); and a newly written patriotic symphony at the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall.