The Federal Aviation Authority approved yesterday Boeing’s plan to redesign the lithium-ion battery system aboard its troubled Dreamliner aircraft.
The announcement comes after a series of disturbing battery fires forced the FAA to ground the long-awaited new plane in January. Boeing has been under intense pressure to come up with a solution to the battery problem—preferably one that doesn’t scrap the entire lithium-ion system altogether. The proposed modifications involve better insulation for the batteries, along with changes that make them less prone to short circuiting. Transportation secretary Ray LaHood said that the aircraft would still be subject to a series of tests to ensure the batteries work: “We won't allow the plane to return to service unless we're satisfied that the new design ensures the safety of the aircraft and its passengers.”
Which raises the question: After all the talk about inherent trouble with lithium-ion batteries, will passengers be eager to jump on a Dreamliner when it returns to service?
Have a travel dilemma? Need some tips and remedies? Send your questions to news editor Amy Farley at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @tltripdoctor on Twitter.
Photo by Robert Clayton / Alamy
Cruise lines often use the Cruise Shipping Miami conference as a place to reveal details of new ships, and this year is no exception.
Tuesday, Princess Cruises held a press conference to highlight new features of its Royal Princess, which debuts in Europe this June. Its signature feature — a "seawalk'' extending 28 feet beyond the hull — has been driving chatter for the past year. The latest revelations are details designed to keep the conversation going. About half require a separate fee. Among the offerings:
° New (and complimentary) on-demand programming in stateroom TVs, including movies and television series.
° A tea tower and tea sommelier who will help passengers create their own blend to take home.
° Mobile QR-code tour of the ship's $2 million collection of art
° Outdoor art installation by the marine artist, Wyland
° Whiskey flights offered at the signature Wheelhouse Bar
° Onboard intranet
° $3,000 spa package for four including all-day massages in a private cabana
° Largest outdoor movie screen (this one is 30 percent bigger than those elsewhere)
° A daily menu of 8 flavors of hand-made gelato
° Four different "dancing fountain'' shows
Windstar execs also talked about new itineraries for the three ships it has purchased from Seabourn that join the fleet over the next two years. Expect sailings in Latin America, the British Isles, the Far East and a circumnavigation of Sicily. Tahiti sailings start in spring of 2014.
Jane Wooldridge is T+L's cruise editor.
Photo by istockphoto
The cruise industry addressed safety issues head-on at its annual industry conference, giving the first question of the annual CEO panel to Carnival CEO Gerry Cahill, who described an in-depth review by Carnival and outside experts to determine how the company and other cruise lines can prevent future incidents. Still, the industry response to the recent Carnival Triumph breakdown and other ship failures at the Cruise Shipping Miami conference were carefully scripted, and specifics about both the cause and future changes were limited.
Cahill stressed the rareness of such incidents and the fact that no one was hurt. But Royal Caribbean CEO Adam Goldstein, who also appeared on the panel, said that in the future all lines will likely pay attention not only to strict safety but also to passenger comfort when an incident does occur. Goldstein also addressed a commonly expressed concern that the industry is poorly regularly. Not so, he said. Regardless of where a ship is, it is under the regulation of various agencies at all times.
South Florida is always a hot spot for cruising, but for a single week each March Miami truly becomes the center of the cruise universe. That's because every cruise executive, vendor and journalist is scurrying from conference room to exhibition hall for the industry's annual Cruise Shipping Miami confab. Though it's an industry-only event, cruise fans watch for conference reports to find out about the latest details on new ships, ports and trends.
This is the 29th year of the conference, and organizers say they're expecting "a significant'' increase -- up 8 percent in attendees over its usual crowd of 11,000. The increase, they say, is because cruising increasingly is going global. (The Miami Herald's Hannah Sampson has more details on the industry's global push.)
Monday is always the slow day; the confab kicks into high gear with Tuesday's State of the Industry address featuring the heads of many major lines. But even Monday, two trends were underscored, giving cruisers some idea of what they can look for in the future:
° Snappier port facilities. In June, Hong Kong will open its long-awaited new cruise terminal, designed by star architect Sir Norman Foster. In the next few years passengers will also find sleek new terminals in Busan, South Korea, due in late 2014; and in Dubai, due at the end of this year. China also has new terminals under construction.
° More international itineraries. Charles Robertson, CEO of luxury small-ship American Cruise Line, said his line expects to announce an international itinerary in the next few months, possibly in Latin America, the Caribbean or the British Isles. Its current six ships -- a seventh is coming this year -- win kudos for airy cabins, attentive service and atypical itineraries in the northeast, Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, the Mississippi and the U.S. southeast. Its ships are built in the U.S. and run with all-American crew.
Other tidbits from Monday:
- Look for new itineraries along Chile's coast and north into Peru and Ecuador in the coming years, predicted Sebastian Montero, a Chilean port official.
- Despite recent saber-rattling by North Korea, Asian cruising will continue to grow, said Lim Ki-Tack of the Busan, Korea, Port Authority.
Jane Wooldridge is T+L's cruise editor.
Photo by istockphoto
Where should a traveler completely obsessed with cats go for a feline-themed getaway? (Asking for a friend, of course.) Check out T+L's latest must-click article, Craziest Places for Cat Lovers and find out.
Marvel at the descendants of Ernest Hemingway's six-toed cats in Key West, Florida. See a thousand-year-old mummified cat at the Kuchuing Cat Museum in Malaysia. Enjoy the rides at the Hello Kitty Theme Park in Tokyo. All of that and more, in the only cat-related slideshow ever on the internet*.
*Update: Apparently there are one or two other cat-related slideshows on the internet. But do they include a houseboat for cats in Amsterdam?
Photo by Lyndsey Matthews
We weren't the only ones baffled by the TSA's announcement last week that airline passengers can now bring small knives, baseball bats, and golf clubs unto flights: Delta CEO Richard Anderson released a letter to the security agency expressing his "legitimate concerns" about the changes.
"If the purpose is to increase security checkpoint flow, there are much more effective steps we can take together to streamline the security checkpoints with risk-based screening mechanisms," he wrote, according to a report from The Associated Press. The Association of Professional Flight Attendants has already condemned the new regulations. Laura Glading, head of the union, was quoted as saying she was "a little puzzled" by the TSA's decision to allow the banned items. "Nobody knows what it takes to keep passengers safe better than we do."
Update, March 13: Representatives from American Airlines and its soon-to-be partner US Airways have also weighed in. Per Skift's Dennis Schaal, American Airlines wrote in a letter to the TSA, "The safety of our people and our customers is paramount..."
The new rules go into effect April 25, 2013. A searchable list of TSA banned and approved carry-on items can be found at the agency's official website.
Fox & Squirrel: Itineraries focus on arts and culture and highlight topics such as fashion and food. From $48.
Guild of Registered Tourist Guides: Tours are led by guides who specialize in everything from the monarchy to the music scene. From $213.
London Walks: With more than a dozen drop-in walks daily, it’s perfect for last-minute planners. From $14.
Send your dilemmas to news editor Amy Farley at email@example.com. Follow @afarles on Twitter.
Photo by Christian Kerber
Here are a few recent travel stories that piqued the interest of T+L's news team.
Clearly, we're not alone in our obsession with Hotel Tonight. Here, the folks at Hotel Chatter put together a few nifty tips for maximizing your deal on the last-minute booking app. (Nikki Ekstein)
What happens when American Airlines opens up its software to a SXSW-hosted hackathon? Hopefully, something cool, according to Skift. (N.E.)
Is free wifi the key to turning hotels into social hubs? Maybe, says Barbara De Lollis in USA Today, but we're still pining for free wifi in our rooms, thank-you-very-much. (N.E.)
Need another reason to heed the TSA's warnings against checking luggage you didn't pack yourself? You might wind up in an Argentine prison like Paul Frampton, a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill physics professor who was just trying to help a friendly Czech bikini model he thought he'd met on the internet retrieve a bag with "sentimental value" in Bolivia. Maxine Swann's New York Times Magazine story must be read to be believed. (Matt Haber)
Also, check out this map of United States Passport Ownership that comes via one of the internet's best curators, Maria Popova. Now, go make sure your passport is up to date. (M.H.)
See a story you'd recommend to us? Send it via Facebook or Twitter.
Ever wanted to live like a local in a new destination, with, say, your own kitchen, living spaces, backyard, and neighbors? Then T+L's Global Guide to Villa Rentals is your go-to resource. Even better: renting a house or apartment can often translate into big savings. Each week this month, we'll feature a standout property we love—with a price tag that's easy on the wallet.
THE RUSTIC RETREAT
Broadwell Farm, the Cotswolds, England
$79 per night, per room
The Details: You can indulge your inner Anglophile at this 17th-Century, five-bedroom property, set on 280 acres of working farmland. Cook up farm-fresh eggs for breakfast in the light-filled kitchen, camp out with a Charles Dickens novel in the private garden (and, on cooler nights, in front of the living room's open fireplace), or take a pastry-making course at the famous Daylesford Organic Farm, just two miles away.
The Agent: Susanne B. Cohen & Associates: 207/622-0743; villaeurope.com.
Jennifer Flowers is an Associate Editor at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @JennFlowers.
Photo courtesy of Suzanne B. Cohen & Associates
The U.S. Embassy in Lima, Peru has posted a new message on its official website walking back some of the warnings it issued in February about the threat of kidnappings in the country.
The statement says, in part:
"The U.S. Embassy has conducted a thorough review of current information surrounding the potential kidnapping threat against U.S. citizens in the Cusco and Machu Picchu area by members of a criminal organization. Based upon this review, the February 13 restriction on travel by U.S. Embassy personnel to the region has been lifted."
The kidnapping scare, kicked off by the mother of an American cyclist who'd stopped updating his Facebook feed while in Peru, rippled through the country's travel and hospitality industries. Garrett Hand, the "missing" cyclist, has since been in touch with his mom.
The embassy still has some suggestions for American travelers like signing up for the Department of State's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program and avoiding certain regions known for crime. We'd add another suggestion to the list: Call your mother.
See also: Insider's Travel Guide to Peru.