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Carnival to Spend $700 Million in Ship Improvements

Carnival Corporation, parent company of Carnival Cruise Lines, will spend up to $300 million dollars making important changes to Carnival ships, plus another $400 million on vessels from its other lines, which include Princess, Holland America, Seabourn, and Cunard. The entire Carnival Cruise Lines fleet will undergo an overhaul, enhancing the 24 ships’ emergency power capabilities and fire safety technologies.

In an interview with USA Today’s Gene Sloan, Carnival president and CEO Gerry Cahill pointed out that the company's ships are already safe. "It’s not a safety issue. Carnival always will operate ships that are entirely safe," said Cahill, noting that nobody was injured in February's Carnival Triumph debacle and the subsequent Carnival misadventures in March.

The expansive (and expensive) overhaul will ensure that passenger comfort is not compromised in the unlikely event of future mishaps. Skift's Samantha Shankman,has a different take: She calls the overhaul, while needed, a PR stunt, “first and foremost."

Carnival also posted a video on YouTube which can be seen above.

 

Peter Schlesinger is an editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.

American Airlines Temporarily Grounds Fleet Over Computer Error

News sources from The New York Times to Skift are reporting that American Airlines has grounded its entire fleet after a computer glitch caused its reservation system to go offline, making it impossible to check passengers in. The airline plans to resume service at 5 p.m. EST.

This is just the latest news in a jittery day for travelers. After the bombings in Boston yesterday, security in cities and at airports around the country has been on high alert. Earlier today, the central terminal building at New York’s LaGuardia Airport was evacuated for an hour due to a suspicious package. The airport was reopened after police determined the package posed no threat.

Peter Schlesinger is an editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.

A Big Wave of News from Royal Caribbean

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Royal Caribbean is going overboard with a skydiving experience, bumper cars, and Ferris Wheel-like capsule ride aboard its new ship, Quantum of the Seas, launching in fall 2014.

The New Jersey-based ship will be the first from Royal Caribbean to offer solo cabins—and though it's not the biggest among the brand's fleet, it'll carry a whopping 4,180 passengers. Other new features unveiled at a Tuesday press conference include balconies with video scenery for interior cabins. Follow the story here for more details and watch this official video of the ship featuring Kristin Chenoweth.

 

Jane WoolridgeJane Wooldridge is T+L's cruise editor.

 

 

 

Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean International

Sticky Fingers: Who Steals What From Hotel Rooms

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Better nail down those in-room amenities! Hotels.com has just released the results of a poll it conducted asking 8,500 travelers from 28 different countries what they have stolen from hotel rooms (beyond toiletries, of course). The results are full of surprises.

Danes are apparently the most scrupulous travelers among us. A full 88 percent of them claimed to have not stolen anything from their hotel rooms. Dutch and Norwegians rounded out the honor roll of ethical travelers, with 85 and 84 percent, respectively, taking nothing extra home with them. The most admittedly sticky-fingered travelers in the world: Colombians—57 percent of whom conceded to have taken something from a hotel.

What do people take? Thirty percent of Indian travelers admit to taking books and magazines from their rooms. Seventeen percent of Americans have walked home with linens and towels. Seven percent of Colombian travelers have slipped either a robe or a pillow into their bag. Electronics (!!!) are most popular with Finnish travelers (4 percent), while furnishings—including lamps, clocks, and artwork—go home most frequently with Chinese travelers (13 percent).

Of course, whether the results of this poll reflect the actual thieving tendencies of travelers or their honesty in filling out a survey is unknown. Who knows? Maybe those upstanding Danes are just pulling the wool over our collective eyes.

See: Stealing Hotel Amenities: Right or Wrong? and Hotel Detectives

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 credit: © 2013 Hotels.com

Trip Doctor Series: Cooking Schools (Vietnam)

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For this month’s weekly series on immersive culinary courses, we’re transporting you to the foodie mecca of Vietnam. Still hungry? Check out our April food issue’s Global Guide to Cooking Schools

The School: The Hanoi Cooking Centre, located near the city’s Old Quarter, offers hands-on, half-day lessons on everything from the flavor-rich dishes of the northern highlands to the seafood-centric specialties of the country’s southern coast.

The Class: Sign up for Vietnamese Street Food, a course that teaches students how to whip up their own pho cuon (fresh noodle spring rolls) and green pawpaw salad, among other delicacies from the streets of Hanoi.

Jennifer FlowersJennifer 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 Hanoi Cooking Centre

The Doctor Recommends: Must Reads for the Week Ending April 12, 2013

Fans of the Ping Island rescue operation scene in Wes Anderson's Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou will love these Tokyo Times photos of the abandoned Fujiya Hotel in Shimoda. (Matt Haber)

Coffee fanatics should check out David Farley's Afar piece "Coffeland," in which the author went to southern Ethiopia to learn more about coffee culture. (M.H.)

Vanity Fair's William Langewiesche goes inside the mind of Felix Baumgartner, the daredevil who undertook the highest free-fall in history last October. (M.H.)

Real life princess (and mother-to-be), the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton will soon be the godmother of a new cruise ship, the Royal Princess, reports Chloe Berman of Travel Weekly UK. (Peter Schlesinger)

The Twitterverse is now expanding into music. According to Mashable's Chris Taylor, the social network is launching an app today after its acquisition of the music discovery site We Are Hunted. All the more tunes for your weekend getaway. (Maria Pedone)

Jay-Z's "Open Letter" says all it takes to go to Cuba is an OK from the President, but CBS News travel editor Peter Greenberg isn't about to let you believe it. Over on his blog, he sets the record straight for those who aren't buddies with the First Family (or prefer to do things legally). (Nikki Ekstein)

Travel Weekly's Michelle Baran takes an in-depth look at the rise of culinary travel in the last decade. (N.E.)

Trip Doctor: Delta's Expiration-Free SkyMiles Now Expire With You

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In 2011, Delta made headlines by axing expiration dates on SkyMiles, the airline’s frequent flier mileage program. Last month, the carrier garnered some less friendly press with a slight addendum to its no-expiration policy: The miles don’t expire…until the mileage holder does.

Prior to the March 20 announcement, SkyMiles could transfer to next of kin, but as NBC reported, such transactions are no longer permitted by Delta. Frequent fliers are unsurprisingly displeased at the policy change, and have even started an online petition against it.

But not all the heat should fall on Delta. JetBlue, Southwest, and United all have similar restrictions. Meanwhile, a slew of other airlines, including Alaska, American Airlines, and US Airways allow miles earned to transfer after death.

Delta spokeswoman Chris Kelly Singley has countered any criticism by noting that SkyMiles reward those who have directly participated in the program and showed loyalty to the airline.

Frequent Flier's Tim Winship explained the main takeaway to NBC: “The lesson there is don’t allow yourself to be in a position where you’re sitting on a huge cache of frequent flier miles because tomorrow the program that you earned those miles in could make some kind of an enormous systemic change that pulls the rug out from under the value of those miles.” How comforting.

Peter Schlesinger is an editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.

Photo by Lyndsey Matthews

Tech Thursday: The Solar Plane Heading Across America

Think solar-powered airplanes are the talk of futurists? Not really. Solar Impulse, a company started by two innovative engineers, has been flying by the power of the sun since 2010, when it accomplished an incredible 26-hour flight without an ounce of fuel. Their plane, covered in solar panels across the length of its 208-foot wingspan, is now embarking on a new mission, criss-crossing America to raise awareness for sustainable energy.

The journey begins on May 1, with stops in San Francisco, Phoenix, Dallas, St. Louis, Atlanta, Washington D.C., and New York. But keep an eye out for open houses, where guests will be able to check out the plane in all its high-tech glory at various airports (the first is tentatively slated for next Saturday at Moffett Federal Airfield, in San Francisco).

As for the company’s next goal? A flight around the world, currently scheduled for 2015.

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

 

TripAdvisor Acquires Jetsetter

After much speculation, travel reviews giant TripAdvisor announced yesterday that it had acquired Jetsetter, an invitation-only luxury vacation deals site previously part of the Gilt Groupe.

Details are scant, but a Wall Street Journal article last October revealed that Gilt Groupe was seeking $50 million for Jetsetter. Given the six months that have passed since then, business experts quoted by Upstart Business Journal’s Alex Dalenberg believe that TripAdvisor likely paid much less than that original asking price.

The deal brings two such members-based travel sites under TripAdvisor’s wing, as the reviews site also owns SniqueAway. The Next Web's Alex Wilhelm reports that there are no plans to merge the two sites, with Jetsetter’s operations remaining in New York City and SniqueAway's staying put at TripAdvisor's headquarters near Boston. As TripAdvisor CEO Steve Kaufer said in the release, "the Jetsetter team has built a great site with a loyal following that we value and plan to continue to let it operate independently."

 

Peter Schlesinger is an editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.

Trip Doctor: Airlines Cautiously Optimistic About Dreamliner's Return to the Skies

Even though Boeing’s beleaguered 787 Dreamliner has yet to get FAA approval for its proposed battery improvements, multiple airlines have included the new plane in updated flight schedules, as USA Today's Ben Mutzabaugh reports.

Qatar Airways, for example, plans to resume Dreamliner service between Doha and London on May 15th, while United Airlines hopes to use the troubled jet for some Houston-Denver flights by May 31, five days earlier than the company had previously announced. Spokespeople are quick to clarify that these schedule changes are tentative, and entirely dependent on the FAA’s clearing the Dreamliner to fly.

Still, the news that airlines are adding Dreamliners back into their schedules at all suggests restored confidence that Boeing’s fix to the lithium batteries will be enacted and approved soon.

Peter Schlesinger is an editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.

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