Harmony Christened In Fort Lauderdale

by Daniel McCarthy

View of the Zipline, Ultimate Abyss and boardwalk.

After making its European debut earlier this year, Royal Caribbean’s mammoth Harmony of the Seas is setting up for its first North American season after a christening and naming ceremony at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale yesterday.  

The ship’s godmother, Teach for America educator Brittany Affolter, was on hand to do the honors, pushing a button that sent a huge bottle of champagne down the ship’s zip line, cracking above Harmony’s Central Park.   

The 23-year-old Affolter was chosen through an open call for submissions for a “Hometown Hero in Education.” Affolter, who works with low-income students in Miami-Dade and trains teachers, was picked from more than 1,000 submissions.  

At the ceremony, chairman and CEO Richard Fain praised her as someone who “pours her all into transforming the lives of children.”  

Fain also applauded Royal Caribbean’s decision to build a ship that is 20% more energy-efficient than its Oasis-class sister ships.  

Among Harmony’s other innovations is the 10-story Ultimate Abyss, the tallest slide at sea, a bionic bar with robot bartenders, an outdoor Central Park, two rock-climbing walls, a zip line, a skating rink and the first two-story Wonderland restaurant. 

Harmony also features a DreamWorks Experience and more family options including character—Po from “Kung Fu Panda,” Shrek and Puss in Boots from “Shrek” and the Penguins from “Madagascar”—meet and greets onboard.  

The ship will now sail seven-night Caribbean itineraries out of Port Everglades. 

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News From the World of Travel

09 January, 2017

Well, I did throw my coins in Trevi Fountain, so I guess I need to go back to Rome….

Citing Citigroup predictions that the U.S. dollar could become stronger than the euro “by next year, if not sooner,” the article notes that it a euro today costs just $1.04, the lowest rate in 14 years and down 10% from $1.15 just seven months ago.

Travel Market Report – Europe is a DEAL!

 

July 24, 2015 –

US flights have switched to AA

As part of the final phase of the US Airways (US) merger with American Airlines (AA), all remaining US flights for travel from October 17, 2015 have switched to become AA operated flights.

 

This means that the US flight number has simply changed to an AA flight number. Everything else remains the same, including the routing, aircraft type and timings. Please see below for details of the flight change.

 

July 1, 2015

Greece is broke. What does it mean for tourists?

This article paints a pretty rosy picture but I’m not so sure. I think I’m taking the wait-and-see position. jw

From Travel Market Report by Daniel McCarthy / July 01, 2015

At midnight on Tuesday, June 30, Greece’s existing European bailout expired, meaning the country defaulted on its 1.5 billion euro ($1.7 billion) loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF)—the first developed economy to do so.

While everyday life in Greece has been greatly affected by the news, it has been business as usual for tour operators and travel agents selling the country.

No ATM restriction for travelers – 
“There is no restriction for American bank account owners to withdraw money from the ATMs. The only limitation is what your U.S. bank account usually has,” said Veronica Liadis, president of PA.-based Liadis Travel, specialists in travel to Greece.

Despite banks closing and a limit of 60 euros ($66) imposed on ATMs across the country, international tourists traveling with credit cards and bank cards will still have access to cash.

Still, Liadis said they tell clients who are in Greece that, to play it safe, it’s best to carry euros exchanged at home or in another European country.

No cancellations –
Greece bookings have not only been unaffected by financial concerns, rather travel to the country has increased.

“The hotels are very accommodating, the people have been as pleasant as can be, there is no unrest from the locals,” Liadis said, “I think they understand how important tourism is to their economy.”

Greek appeal –
“The appeal of Athens and Greece for cultural reasons and the beauty of its islands; they’re not going anywhere and people will go,”  said Paula Twidale, Exec VP of Collette Travel.

Greece has, not only the appeal, but also the prices to continue as a major player in travel.

 

May 2015

Public Perception of Travel Agents Makes a Remarkable Turnaround

by Marilee Crocker /

Released this week, the study summarizes results of an online survey of 3,000 U.S. consumers. The survey group comprised adults who had taken at least one leisure trip with paid accommodations in the previous year and who had household incomes of $50,000 or more. Lodestar Advisory Partners of Princeton, N.J. conducted the survey over a two-week period.

A solid reputation
The three attributes that travelers associated most strongly with travel agents were:

1)    Agents make travel planning easy, cited by 72% of all travelers.
2)    Agents take care of things when something goes wrong, 69%.
3)    Agents are good for booking special trips, 68%.

More than half of the respondents said agents provide a valuable service and that they have the knowledge to plan better vacations.

In the recent survey, fully 44% of travelers who currently don’t use agents said they planned to do so in the future, Teates noted. “Six years ago they were like, ‘Why would I ever use an agent?’”

Why use an agent?
Travelers said that for most types of leisure vacations the top reason for consulting an agent was his or her access to the best deals.

There was one exception: When planning tour vacations, it was travel professionals’ destination-related knowledge that travelers valued most, though this was followed closely by agents’ ability to get customers a deal.

Interestingly, leisure travelers who had not used an agent in recent years said the top reason to consult a professional was because “agents have knowledge to make the best recommendations.”

 

 

April 2015

New fave airline – Fiji Airways.

Newer planes with personal entertainment system for each seat including a USB charger AND a power outlet! Yay, all my toys never ran out of juice. Pretty important on a 10 hour flight.

And the crew was NICE. Novel concept. United could take a lesson…

IMG_3923

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