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.
My bicycle excursions are largely limited to the Hudson Valley's very flat and nicely paved North County Trailway, with a cozy little tea shop at trail's end. So it will be no surprise that my bike has a spring-loaded comfort seat, an excess of safety reflectors, and a handlebar-mounted cup-holder for a can of, uh, Diet Pepsi. My biking attire leans more toward flip-flops and Hawaiian shirts than Spandex. Even so, I've always been impressed with those bikers I see hurtling over mountain passes and barreling along desert highways at 30 mph and more. So my interest was piqued by an upcoming series of luxury biking itineraries recently announced by Cannondale, the high-end bicycle manufacturer. Participants in the six tours offered in the inaugural season will follow the path of some of biking's most famous races in the United States and Europe, and even hang out with some of the sport's top athletes.