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Cruise News: New Princess Ship and Hong Kong Terminal

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The past week has been a big one for cruising:

Last week in Southampton, England, a very pregnant Duchess of Cambridge (née Kate Middleton) christened the new 3,600-passenger “Royal Princess” ship from Princess Cruises. She said: “May God bless her and all who sail in her!” before cutting a ribbon that sent a bottle of Moët & Chandon champagne scurrying towards the bow (godmothers for previous Princess ships have been equally glamorous, from Audrey Hepburn to Diana, Princess of Wales, who named the first Royal Princess in 1984). Life on board is decidedly royal-worthy, with private poolside cabanas and SeaWalk, a glass-bottomed walkway that extends 28 feet beyond the top deck.

In other news: Hong Kong just opened its new state of the art cruise terminal. The $1 billion, Norman Foster-designed space will allow mega ships to dock in Hong Kong (the first to pull in: Royal Caribbean’s 3,000-passenger Mariner of the Seas). Our favorite part of the terminal? The rooftop garden, where you can picnic with locals while taking in a prime view of the Hong Kong skyline.

Kathryn O'Shea-EvansKathryn O'Shea-Evans is an associate editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter @ThePluckyOne.

Photo courtesy of Kai Tak Cruise Terminal

The Doctor Recommends: Must-Reads for the Week Ending June 14, 2013

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This week, Amazon launched a fun new tool called "Around the World in 80 Books," poised to help you find the required reading for your upcoming vacation. The picks are great, from Peter Godwin's When A Crocodile Eats the Sun (for imminent safari-goers) to Kurt Vonnegut's Galapagos (for the South America-bound). (Nikki Ekstein)

This Buzzfeed list of the 16 ways to make flying easier has a few ingenious solutions. Who'd have thought to bring golf balls on board to create your own little spa treatment? (Peter Schlesinger)

A Connecticut bill is claiming that the Wright brothers were not the "first in flight," 110 years after their historic plane took off in Kitty Hawk, NC. Whether or not German-born  Gustave Whitehead is truly the grandfather of aviation, there's no doubt about his level of wanderlust. Via Circa. (Adrien Glover)

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Trip Doctor: New Index Ranks International Cities by Cost

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Newsflash: Oslo (pictured) is an expensive city.

Actually, according to a recent study by TripAdvisor, the Norwegian capital is the most expensive city for travelers. And while the priciest cities shouldn’t be too surprising (Oslo is followed by Zürich, Switzerland, and Stockholm, Sweden), the results are fascinating.

The website ranked 49 popular travel destinations around the world on a pricing index based on the relative costs of an evening out (cab rides, dinner, and drinks) and a one-night stay at a four-star hotel.

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Trip Doctor: Legislators Renew Push for Family Flying Policy Changes

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Back in February we reported that several senators had expressed opposition to recent airline fees that force families to pay extra if they wish to sit together. Now, five lawmakers from New York and California are sponsoring a bill that would require airlines to change their policies.

The legislative push is still in its "early stages," according to the offices of the resolution's main sponsor, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (NY), so no news on when (or even if) to expect a vote. Right now the sponsors are working on outreach both with other members in Congress and their constituents.

Nadler introduced a similar proposal last July with 10 co-sponsers, but the resolution was never enacted.

Have strong feelings about this? Contact your Congress representative and write to them about House Resolution 2191.

Peter Schlesinger is a research assistant at Travel + Leisure.

Photo credit: iStockphoto

Trip Doctor: Tag Heuer's Waterproof Watch

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Q: We’re going scuba diving in Belize, and I’m looking for a watch that works as well underwater as it does on land. —Anthony Dwyer, Westport, Conn.

A: Just ask the U.S. Navy SEALs, who tested and approved elements of the Tag Heuer Limited Edition Oracle Team USA Aquaracer 500M ($4,200). It’s the latest in sporting chronographs: water-resistant to 1,640 feet, with rhodium-plated hands and a scratch-resistant crystal—and cool-looking, to boot.

Mimi LombardoMimi Lombardo is Travel + Leisure’s style director. Packing is rarely easy-we're here to help. Send your question to tripdoctor@aexp.com.

 

Photo courtesy of Tag Heuer

Trip Doctor: TSA Caves on Knife Policy

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Cue a collective sigh of relief: after much hoopla several months ago, the TSA has finally retracted their effort to take small knives off their banned items list. Also still prohibited: novelty baseball bats, billiard cues, ski poles, hockey sticks, golf clubs, and lacrosse sticks—all of which fell under the same (now dropped) proposal that would have allowed the potentially dangerous items on planes. We asked a TSA spokesperson what pulled the final straw, and it seems there was plenty of consensus between the Aviation Security Advisory Committee, law enforcement officials, passenger advocates, and "other important stakeholders"—opening this can of worms simply wouldn’t be a good idea (told you so). Instead, the TSA says they’ll continue to focus on Risk-Based Security, which allows them to “keep passengers safe by focusing on those we know less about.”

Nikki Ekstein is an Editorial Assistant at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her at on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.

Photo credit: Anthony Dunn / Alamy

Trip Doctor: The Final Say on "Stealing" Hotel Shampoo

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Our informal poll of luxury hotels found that taking one set of toiletries a day is generally acceptable—even expected. (They know us well.) But don’t be surprised if the hotel—especially a mid- or lower-tier property—cuts you off during a longer stay. if that happens, you’ll just have to dig some of that shampoo back out of your suitcase.

17: The percentage of U.S. hotel guests who admit to taking linens and towels from their rooms in a Hotels.com survey.

Amy FarleyHave a travel dilemma? Need some tips and remedies? Send your questions to news editor Amy Farley at tripdoctor@aexp.com. Follow @tltripdoctor on Twitter.

Illustration by Ben Wiseman

The Doctor Recommends: Must-Reads for the Week Ending June 7, 2013

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Earler this year, Anthony Bourdain confessed that his most memorable meal was in Granada, Spain. Now the traveling chef and TV personality is making more memories in the African Congo, as told to Eatocracy, where dishes include everything from fufu (cornmeal paste) to caterpilars. (Maria Pedone)

Sure, National Donut Day might be the perfect excuse to try a SoHo cronut (croissant + donut), but did you know the Salvation Army started the holiday 75 years ago to raise funds during the Great Depression? Neither did we. (M.P.)

Tourism in Myanmar is estimated to increase by a full 700% in the next seven years—but thanks to a $500 million loan from the government of Norway, concerned citizens can rest assured that the resulting footprint will be a light one. The Asian Development Bank outlines their plans (and we raise a glass to the generous Norweigans who made it happen). (Nikki Ekstein)

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Trip Doctor: What to Wear in Nantucket

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Q: I’m heading to Nantucket’s Wauwinet resort in July. Any New England summer wardrobe tips? —Jake Collistro, Santa Monica, Calif.

A: The Wauwinet is a casual classic; you won’t feel out of place in a few East Coast mainstays. A preppy nylon windbreaker from Gant Rugger ($225) and wrinkle-free seersucker Mac pants ($225) are fantastic options in the summer months, when afternoon temperatures hover around 75 degrees but nights are cool. For accessories, we love these lightweight yet sturdy Hush Puppies slip-ons ($89)—perfect for walking Great Point beach—and Steve McQueen–worthy folding Ray-Ban aviators ($470).

Mimi LombardoMimi Lombardo is Travel + Leisure’s style director. Packing is rarely easy-we're here to help. Send your question to tripdoctor@aexp.com.

 

Photo by John Lawton

Hotels Cut Room Service and Other Perks

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

The New York Hilton Midtown Hotel will observe two milestones this summer: its 50th anniversary in June and, in August, the end of room service.

The 1,980-room hotel, New York City's largest, isn't the first hotel to discontinue that amenity, but it's probably the biggest. It's all part of a lodging industry trend to cut the frills and concentrate on basic service—a trend that the airlines pioneered with the introduction of controversial fees.

Around the nation and across the globe, hotels are curtailing such extras as business centers, minibars, bellhops, doormen and even traditional front desks for checking in. Yotel New York in Midtown Manhattan, for instance, asks guests to check themselves in at kiosks in the hotel's "Ground Control." And if their rooms aren't ready, Yotel's guests check their suitcases with a robotic baggage storage system.

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