Associated Press | U.S. citizenship is priceless to some, worthless to others. But now the State Department has a dollar figure: U.S. citizenship is worth $450. (...)
It's also getting more expensive if you want to keep your U.S. citizenship and need a passport to prove it. The application fee for a passport is jumping by 27 percent, from $55 to $70 with a 100 percent increase, from $20 to $40, in the passport security surcharge.
In addition to the increase in the application fee, the department will now charge $82 - up from nothing - to add new pages to a U.S. passport. It says the fee is needed to offset the cost of the pages, the time spent affixing the pages into the passport book, endorsing the passport and performing a quality-control check.
Travel Weekly | UBS Investment Research analyst Robin Farley noted Jan. 24 that cruise fares have held steady or slightly increased since the start of the year, despite the crash of the Costa Concordia.
UBS had forecasted that prices would take a hit as a result of the accident.
“Although we expected that a strong start to Wave season would likely be derailed by the accident in Italy, said Farley, ticket prices appear to be up as much as 1% since the start of the year, according to the UBS Cruise Data Tracker.
It’s often described as the Olympics of the Food World. Entering its 26th edition in 2013, the Bocuse D’Or—a biennial competition started by one of the fathers of French cooking, Paul Bocuse, that brings together the best chefs in a country, and then the world—is one of the great culinary honors.
This year, the top toque award at the U.S.A. competition went to Chef Richard Rosendale The Greenbrier resort in West Virginia. On Sunday, at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, Rosendale—who’s one of only 66 Master Chefs in the country—dazzled the judges’ taste buds with a version of D'Artagnan Winter Chicken Preparations. It's hard not get hungry reading Chef Rosendale's description:
BBC News | Spain's fourth-largest airline Spanair has collapsed, leaving more than 20,000 passengers stranded across Europe and Africa.
The Barcelona-based firm stopped operating on Friday and more than 200 flights were abruptly cancelled.
The Spanish government is taking legal action and said Spanair could be fined 9m euros (£7.6m; $11.9m) over the collapse.
In 2010, Spanair reported an operating loss of 115m euros.
T+L's international editor Mark Orwoll comments on the Department of Transportation's new rules on air travel.
New air travel rules go into effect this week. T+L Features Director Nilou Motamed outlines what you need to know.
This morning at a packed media briefing on the safety of cruising held by Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), key representatives from the industry answered questions, and, not surprisingly, were eager to quash any rising fears in the wake of the Costa Concordia tragedy.
The takeaway? Despite recent events, seafaring travelers have little reason to worry. According to Michael Crye, Executive Vice President of CLIA, between 2005 and 2011 the industry carried 100 million passengers, with 16 fatal maritime casualties. While 16 is far too many, in this less-than-perfect world that number is astoundingly low. The percentage of risk is minimal: broken down, the number implies a one in 6,250,000 chance of passenger casualty per year (that’s far less than the odds of getting struck by lightning in any given year, according to the National Weather Service).
Still, the International Maritime Organization (an arm of the United Nations with 170 member countries) is reviewing all safety practices immediately. A few items up for consideration:
Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts announced yesterday that it was placing an immediate ban on shark fin and phasing out Chilean sea bass and blue-fin tuna within the year. According to Shangri-La spokeswoman Maria Kuhn, the new policy, which affects all 72 properties, has been a long time coming. “In December 2010, we took shark’s fin off our menus as a first step towards completely phasing it out,” says Kuhn, who is based in Hong Kong, where the company’s headquarters are.
Shangri-La joins Peninsula hotels, which announced a ban on shark fin in November. For both properties, it’s a bold, gutsy move. Both have a serious presence in China, where shark fin, long considered a delicacy, has become de rigueur at banquets. In fact, Shangri-La, which already runs 35 hotels in Hong Kong and mainland China, has 23 properties under development in China. It also has hotels in Taiwan and Singapore.
The Costa Concordia’s accident off the Italian coast is a horrible tragedy, with at least 11 people dead and others still missing. But the industry’s record for safety remains strong: Nearly 14 million people cruise each year on major cruise ships, and few industry watchers can even remember the last time a fire or ship failure resulted in passenger deaths.
The U.S. Coast Guard is involved with safety aspects of the cruise ship design before it is even built. Once launched, each cruise ship that sails from the U.S. must pass U.S. Coast Guard certification. Each is inspected at least every six months on both announced and unannounced inspections that include reviewing staff safety procedures. Crews are drilled regularly on safety procedures. Those that don’t sail from U.S. ports still must meet safety standards set by individual countries and by SOLAS, an international safety and standards convention that is set by International Maritime Organization, an arm of the United Nations.
USA Today | Travelers are treating in-flight Wi-Fi like a bag of peanuts: They'll take it, if it's free.
Airlines are spending millions of dollars to equip planes with Wi-Fi capability. But only a small percentage of travelers have used the service since it was introduced in 2008, numbers from providers and analysts indicate.
"It is certainly something everyone recognizes as a value, both to the airlines and the passengers," says Michael Planey, an industry analyst at H&M Planey Consultants. "The question is at what point do airlines or service providers make money or stem losses?"
Airlines and in-flight Wi-Fi providers won't disclose how much the service is used.