They were good while they lasted. Or maybe, in a few cases, they weren’t. Here’s a look at major travel trends — including a few entire destinations — that radically changed, lost a lot of steam, or ended entirely in 2014.
The Buzz in Atlantic City
We watched in horrified awe as it happened: One major Atlantic City resort hotel closed after another. The one that shocked us most was the closing of the Revel, a sprawling, Vegas-style resort that boasted top-name restaurants, a swimming pool that made it into every Best-Of eye candy roundup, and endless casino space. It had only opened two years before. With four other major casino hotels closing besides the Revel — including the Trump Plaza — things were looking grim for Atlantic City by the end of 2014. Gamblers and entertainment hounds were headed to more accessible places like Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, both in Connecticut, to try their luck. The upside here for those wanting to visit Atlantic City? You’ll have no trouble finding a bargain on a room right now.
SeaWorld as The Place to See Animals
The documentary Blackfish, which investigated the treatment of trained orcas in captivity, came out in 2013 and cast its main subject, SeaWorld, in an incredibly negative light. It also made lots of already eco-conscious travelers and general consumers alike rethink how they interacted with wildlife on their vacations. The result? What the media dubbed the “Blackfish Effect” — attendance and revenue at SeaWorld parks fell steeply through 2014. We think, too, that there’s a bigger trend in play here. Travelers are looking for ways to interact with nature that feels safe for animals and their habitat, but they’re also looking to experience the habitat itself. Why watch orcas in a tank when you can watch them frolic in the open ocean off of British Columbia or Alaska? Whale-spotting tours are safe, inexpensive, and get travelers out of their seats and onto the water. For modern travelers, this fits the bill better than any show.
Free Bags on JetBlue
While this perk — one of our favorite things about one of our favorite airlines — technically won’t disappear until 2015, our hearts were solidly broken in 2014 when we heard the news. Yes, it’s true. JetBlue will begin charging for bags this year. And we’re sad to part with our hard-earned dollars, but something about this decision hurt on a deeper level: We really like JetBlue. We love their friendly customer service and their design-conscious aesthetic, and who can deny those Terra Blues potato chips? Taking away free bags means they’re just a little bit more like, well, all those other guys — the depressing major-carrier airlines that nickel-and-dime us when we want a drink, a badly prepared chicken sandwich, and enough room to wiggle our toes. Our hope for 2015? That even with a baggage fee, JetBlue can stick to its friendlier roots and continue to distinguish itself amongst its peers.
Ukraine on Your Bucket List
Ukraine offers a wealth of things for travelers to see. Greek ruins, the iconic “Swallow’s Nest” castle, and lavish palaces are just the beginning, but political unrest in the area has travelers feeling skittish about the entire region. Viking River Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises, among others, altered their itineraries in 2014 to avoid Crimean ports on the Black Sea, and the U.S. State Department is still warning travelers to defer non-essential travel to Crimea and the Eastern parts of the country.