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BREAKING: Windstar Cruise Line Expands

Windstar Cruises

Fans of Windstar Cruises will soon be able to expand their horizons in Asia, Europe, and Tahiti. Tuesday, the company announced it will buy three 200-passenger ships from the Yachts of Seabourn. The purchase doubles the number of Windstar ships and the number of berths, raising total capacity to six ships and about 1,200 berths, said Windstar CEO Hans Birkholz.

The first of the ships, Pride, will move to Windstar in spring of 2014; the Legend and Spirit, will join the fleet in spring 2015. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Xanterra, Windstar's parent company, bought the line in 2011 and has refurbished all three ships. The current ships all sport electronically raised sails. The Seabourn ships are traditional motor-driven yachts. But its the size and shipboard style—not the propulsion—that made the purchase attractive, according to Birkholz.

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Trip Doctor: Carnival Triumph Updates: More Photos and Stories from Aboard

Carnival Triumph

The disabled Carnival Triumph limped into port in Mobile, Alabama late Thursday night four days after a fire stranded it off the coast of Mexico and left it with limited power, air conditioning, and functioning toilets. Conditions aboard the ship had deteriorated, and its decidedly untriumphant return to the States was watched closely by the media. Here’s what’s being said:

CNN delivers an iReport compiling tweets and photos from Triumph passengers. Among them: shots of people sleeping in hallways and a tweet from a passenger thanking the ship’s crew for taking care of the ship.

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New Destination Club G2G to Donate $1 Billion to Charity

Getaway 2 Give

As I reported earlier, the UN World Tourism Organization has a new campaign encouraging international tourists to travel more responsibly. There are endless options, ranging from staying at locally-owned hotels to traveling by train and taking part in voluntourism. Then there’s newcomer destination company The Giving Plan. Billing itself as the world’s first philanthropic vacation club, its Getaway 2 Give Collection is aiming to donate $1 billion to charities every ten years.

So, how does that work?

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Carnival Triumph Update

Carnival Cruises

After a brief delay caused by a broken tow line, a trio of tugs is again hauling the disabled Carnival Triumph toward in Mobile, Alabama. It should arrive later this evening.
Triumph departed Thursday with 3,143 passengers and 1,086 crew. It was scheduled to return to port early Monday after a weekend stop in Cozumel, but fire broke out Sunday morning in the engine room. The cause of the blaze, which was put out by automatic systems, is still not known.

The ship lost propulsion and had to rely on emergency generator power, leaving passengers with a limited number of working bathrooms and no air conditioning. Guests have reported long lines for food and said they were forced to use bags as toilets. 

Sailings aboard the ship have been cancelled through April 13, the cruise line said. Current passengers will receive a full refund, plus $500 and a discount on a future voyage.

For updates, see stories from The Miami Herald, where Travel + Leisure cruise editor Jane Wooldridge, the Miami Herald's Business editor, oversees cruise news coverage.

Jane WoolridgeJane Wooldridge is the cruise editor at Travel + Leisure.

 

 

Photo courtesy of Carnival Cruises

Take That, Cabbie: Seoul Offers Rewards for Ripped-Off Riders

taxi

Usually, your only chance at "revenge" against a shady cab driver is just denying him a tip—or, perhaps less satisfying, yelling a few choice words over your shoulder as the cab peels away.

Not anymore. The city of Seoul is now offering cash money—to the tune of about $450—to anyone who blows the whistle on cabbies who are bilking foreign tourists.

Government officials say that despite past efforts to rein them in, corrupt cabs are "still rampant" in the city; the most common offenses by drivers include tacking on extra charges, or getting creative with the cab fare calculator.

To report a bad apple, just call the city's English-speaking tourism hotline (02-1330), and they'll investigate. To avoid the worst situations, however, you can look for the city-run cabs marked as International Taxis, and whose drivers speak both English and Japanese. Meanwhile, in a contentious situation, we imagine that cheerfully asking the cabbie for his ID number might not butter him up—but it could pay off.

Photo © Park Jin Hee/Xinhua Press/Corbis

Empty Russian Cruise Ship (Sorta) Lost at Sea

Lyubov Orlova

Is it a bit like The Shining at sea?

The Russian cruise ship Lyubov Orlova is currently adrift in the North Atlantic—with no passengers, or even a crew, aboard. The 237-passenger ship—named after a Russian movie star from the 1930s and '40s—had languished in the harbor for two years at St. John's, NL, after a cancelled cruise and a lawsuit led to its falling into disrepair, and gradually becoming a Love Boat for rats. Perhaps as a result, the ship's new owners had decided to sell the ship for scrap in the Dominican Republic, but the trip to the D.R. was doomed by a series of tow boat snafus—the last being on Jan. 24 when the tow line broke in rough seas.

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Jailbird! Parrot Robs Tourist in New Zealand

Parrot Robs Tourist in New Zealand

Most travelers know to avoid gypsy airport cabs, or to be mindful of pickpockets in crowds—but most of us don’t think to be leery of local thieving birds.

But that’s pretty much what befell Peter Leach, a Scottish traveler in New Zealand who pulled over in his rented camper to soak up the views at Arthur’s Pass—and, to take a picture of a colorful kea parrot posing near his vehicle. Reportedly, while Leach was distracted, said parrot swooped into the camper’s open window and took Leach’s wallet—holding about $1,100.

Adding insult to injury, Leach filed a police report—so that he could recoup some losses through his travel insurance—and met with some resistance. “The officer was very serious for the first few questions,” Leach told reporters. “Then he said, ‘Do you mind if I just stop to laugh?’ I suppose I can’t blame him.”

Apparently, many locals are already aware that the large, olive-green kea parrots are known for being pretty sharp—and perhaps even being malicious, with a reputation for upending trash bins and vandalizing cars. (Perhaps pecking “Go Home Campers” on vehicle hoods?)

Photo by iStockphoto

NYC Restaurant Hosts Ultra-Luxurious Culinary Ski Trips to French Alps

luxury food

Sometimes we all need a little more luxury in our life. Maybe even a lot more luxury. That’s what Donna Lennard, owner of New York’s il Buco restaurant group, must have had in mind when she announced her latest culinary endeavor—a food, wine, and ski adventure at private chalets in the heart of France's Alpine resort town Courchevel. This ultra-extravagant vacation is also ultra-expensive (sticker shock: $50,000-$150,000 per chalet per week).

Why so pricey?

For starters, it's in a great location. Courchevel is part of the famed Les Trois Vallées region, which is the world's largest connected ski area and offers hundreds of miles of ski runs that connect three Alpine valleys.

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Cruise News from CLIA

Cunard cruises

Calling all cruisers: yesterday in New York at its State of the Industry Conference, Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) released some very exciting news. The industry is moving full steam ahead: bookings are up (this year CLIA expects 17.6 million passengers in North America alone),cruises in Asia are expanding to meet the needs of China’s burgeoning middle class (there will be 7 million Chinese cruisers a year by 2020, according to Carnival Asia Chairman and CEO Pier Luigi Foschi), and nearly every line is introducing a new ship or revamp of some sort (read more in T+L Cruise Editor Jane Wooldridge’s recent piece).

Wondering where to go next? These two initiatives from CLIA may help you decide:

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Trip Doctor: Delta Brings an Outdoor Lounge to JFK

Delta outdoor lounge

Fancy a little sunbathing on your next trip through JFK? As part of its $1.2 billion expansion of the airport’s Terminal 4, Delta Air Lines will open an outdoor sun terrace—a bold addition to its already ambitious plans for a 24,000-square-foot Sky Club lounge. The JFK Sky Deck, with runway views and Miami Beach-style seating, is expected to debut in May. A Sky Deck will also open near the Delta Sky Club at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport over the summer.

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.

 

Photo courtesy of Delta Airlines

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