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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

Four Seasons: Two Openings in China

Four Seasons Pudong

The Four Seasons Hotel Chain continued its China streak with the 2012 opening of a 187-room property in Shanghai’s Pudong district (above). Design firm Wilson Associates has created some seriously sexy interiors—ebony woods, stingray-colored smoked glass, and a red–black–grey palette—while SPIN and AB Concept will probably create some visual fireworks with the two restaurants, Camelia and Shang-Xi.

The chain’s real showstopper, Four Seasons Guangzhou, however, opened last July. It occupies the 70th to 98th floors of the 103-story IFC mall and has a 30-story atrium, swish red–white–gold interiors, and an extensive contemporary art collection.

Four Seasons Guangzhou Lounge

Jennifer Chen is Travel + Leisure's Asia correspondent. You can follow her on Twitter  @xiaochen6.

Photos courtesy of Four Seasons Hotels

Trip Doctor: Egypt Hotel Tweets SOS

Tahir Square

Hotels have harnessed social media to their advantage in innumerable ways in recent years, usually for marketing and customer service initiatives. But the medium has even more powerful and profound applications, as evidenced by the harrowing recent example of Egypt’s Intercontinental Semiramis, located adjacent to Tahir Square in Cairo.

As demonstrations in the city have escalated in recent days, the hotel has found itself in the hot seat. Two days ago, things took a particularly frightening turn as a group of armed marauders apparently used the demonstrations as an opportunity to break into the hotel and begin looting. After its attempts to reach the police for help yielded nothing, the hotel began sending out SOS messages on Twitter—the medium of choice for Egypt’s protest movement. The hotel’s Twitter feed reflects the staff’s growing desperation; “PLEASE SEND HELP #EMERGENCY! WE ARE UNDER ATTACK!” reads one tweet from the early-morning hours of Monday. A little later: “SOS If anyone knows anyone in #Military #Police #Government, please send help! Thugs in Lobby #Emergency #Tahrir #Jan28 #Egypt”

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Grand Central Celebrates 100th Birthday

201301-a-grandcentral-lmjpg

On February 1, 1913 Grand Central’s stationmaster received the first set of keys to the Terminal. One-hundred years later, New York will celebrate the beloved landmark (and one of the world's most beautiful train stations) with a full day of activities including a rededication ceremony in the morning and the opening of “Grand by Design,” a multimedia exhibit of the terminal’s history by the New York Transit Museum that runs through March 15, 2013.


Lyndsey Matthews is an assistant digital editor at Travel + Leisure

Photo by Lyndsey Matthews

Trip Doctor: Disney Introduces MyMagic+ RFID Bracelets

Disney's Magic Kingdom

As a native Floridian who spent half her childhood at Walt Disney World, I reacted to the recent announcement of MyMagic+, an RFID-enabled system that lets visitors interact with (and pay for) nearly anything in the Disney village, with a sense of cautious excitement—thrilled by all the possibilities this offers travelers, though wary of the privacy concerns that come with it.

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Trip Doctor: Cruise Safety Update

cruise safety

Silversea's luxury expedition ship, Silver Explorer, was damaged by heavy weather during a recent Antarctic cruise, causing the ship to return early to port in Ushuaia, Argentina, and cancel its Jan. 21 sailing, the company said this week. No injuries were reported among the 133 passengers, according to Silversea; four of the 113 crew members were treated for onboard for injuries.

Though all passengers appear to be safe, the incident—along with the Jan. 13 anniversary of the Costa Concordia shipwreck off the coast of Italy—brings cruise safety top of mind.

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