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There is generally one main factor at play when it comes to cruise prices during the holiday season: the strength of the cruise industry. If it’s been a gangbuster year, don’t expect the cruise lines to wave you aboard for a pittance. Conversely, if sales have been lagging over the past ten months, they’re more likely to roll out holiday deals in a bid to shore up fourth quarter revenues. Value offers will vary by line, so consumers will benefit from some comparison shopping.
Though 2013 brought some challenges to the cruise market – remember the Carnival Triumph power loss in February? – deals seem to be on the scarce side this season. Nevertheless, we found a few decent ones floating around: Read more
Angkor Wat, the Grand Canyon, the Blue Lagoon: just a few of the natural and man-made wonders many of us, if we’re lucky, get to experience during a lifetime of travel. In most cases, visiting them is as easy as just showing up. But what about the countless other jaw-dropping sites we’ll never get to see? Whether too remote, or frozen under ice, or sunk at the bottom of the ocean, here are a few “hidden” sites that no technological advancements – or wishful thinking – can ever bring us closer to.
Earlier this month, a team of scientists discovered a previously-unknown volcano, located deep under the Pacific, 1,000 miles off the coast of Japan. Confirmed as the largest volcano in the world (about a hundred times bigger than Hawaii’s Mauna Loa, which previously held the title), the rock mound, nicknamed Tamu Massif, would make for a pretty impressive sight – too bad its summit lies 4,500 feet below the ocean’s surface. Evidence shows that the 124-million-year-old volcano likely went dormant shortly after it formed, though that doesn’t bring us any closer to traversing its wide, craggy surface. Read more
Eurostar recently tested service between London and Aix-en-Provence. Later this year, the TGV will begin running a direct service between Paris and Barcelona, and, starting in 2016, a new Deutsche Bahn route through the Channel Tunnel will link London to Amsterdam, Cologne, and Frankfurt. Ditching Europe’s budget airlines in favor of its railways is beginning to look more attractive. Not only is rail travel throughout Europe often as quick as, if not quicker than flying, it also has the bonus of spectacular scenery along the way.
Our favorite European rail journeys are not necessarily the fastest, but they are some of the most memorable.
The Bergen Line: Bergen to Oslo, Norway
Traveling along the 231-mile-long highest mainline railway line in Northern Europe offers you a front row seat for some of Norway’s most spectacular landscapes; think dramatic fjords, lush forests, and crystalline waterfalls. If you have the time, take the branch line that runs from Myrdal to Flåm, a village at the inner end of Aurlansfjord, an arm of Sognefjord, Norway’s biggest fjord. This 12-mile route takes around one hour and climbs more than 2,838 feet making it the steepest standard-gauge railway in Europe. Read more
Don’t let the Carnival Cruise Line’s recent newsworthy items deter you from hitting the high seas. There are millions of cruises that sail each year without making the news. They have great customer service, activities for families, couples, and seniors, onboard entertainment, and unique ports around the world. Today we’ve rounded up the best of the best, from exotic international cruises to the always-popular beach destinations. Read more
There we were, in a packed funicular suspended hundreds of feet from the ground, gliding our way up to the Cristo Redentor statue towering atop Corcovado Mountain in Rio de Janeiro, when my mischievous travel buddy leaned over and whispered, “I dare you to just start screaming.”
The image of that scenario – blasting out a blood-curdling scream to the baffled terror of my fellow passengers – cracked me up so much that I started laughing like a madwoman instead (which I’m sure seemed plenty disturbing in itself).
I still chuckle when I think about it, and although I opted not to scream that day, Norway’s tourism board, Visit Norway, is encouraging people all over the world to do just that, with the chance to win a trip to this spectacular Scandinavian country as incentive. The quirky tourism campaign, called “Scream Your Way to Norway” (warning: be careful clicking at work) is inspired by Norwegian artist Edvard Munch, who painted (you guessed it) The Scream and would have turned 150 this year. Read more
For American travelers contending with a cutthroat dollar-to-kroner conversion rate, budget Norway travel may read somewhat as an oxymoron. Happily, a bit of budget-savvy planning can help you to tuck a few kroner away during your Norwegian stay.
Fresh off the boat (and train, bus, and ferry) from the country’s popular Norway in a Nutshell tour, which weaves together transportation, lodging, and activities for an unforgettable trip through western Norway’s breathtaking fjord, mountain, and coastal countryside, herewith the full report on how to best crunch those kroner and maximize your wow-factor stopovers when plotting your route.
Granted, a Norway in a Nutshell excursion won’t exactly cost you peanuts, but these money-saving travel tips can help ensure that what you do shell out for won’t leave you plain nuts. Read more
The rapidly expanding network of Scandinavian-based Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA (branded simply as “Norwegian”) is about to get a major boost, with the announcement of 34 soon-to-launch routes set to roll out throughout the Nordic region. The new offerings are scheduled to kick off in March 2012, and will feature flights between cities in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Finland and the rest of Europe, bringing the tally of the airline’s robust network to nearly 300 routes, which spans North Africa and the Middle East, as well.
Some highlights from the new service will include: Bergen–Edinburgh; Oslo–Reykjavik; Stockholm–Corfu; Stockholm–Amsterdam; Copenhagen–Milan; Helsinki–Paris; and more. In addition to the service debuts, Norwegian will be adding capacity to 40 of its most frequented flight routes, with a particular emphasis on Mediterranean destinations. Starting rates are advertised from €27 ($37) one-way. Read more
Norwegians oohed and aahed as Hurtigruten’s cruise ship, the MS NordNorge, completed its 1,500-mile voyage through the icy blue waters of northern Europe’s Norwegian Sea this Wednesday. The fjord trip, entitled “Hurtigruten – Minute by Minute,” was broadcast live from June 16 to June 22 by Norway’s NRK TV station for a straight 134 hours and watched by a whopping 2.54 million Norwegians (over half of the country’s population!). Rune Moeklebust, project leader for the program at NRK, said his team wanted to convey the six-night journey in a way that would make its viewers feel like they were onboard the ship, which departed from Bergen in southwest Norway and finished at Kirkenes near the Russian border. The cruise line has been sailing the Norwegian coast since 1983. Similar voyages will be held year-round; rates start from $914/person. www.hurtigruten.com
New Year’s might seem far off, but for powder hounds, it can’t come soon enough – especially when there are deals to be had for booking some of 2011′s roster of gay ski weeks early. Some even start happening before your hangover has had time to subside. Details below.
Never been to a gay ski week? Looking for something more low key? Ski Bums, the nation’s largest LGBT ski and snowboarder organization, runs group trips across the country and select worldwide pilgrimages (Courchevel, France and heliskiing in Sweden are on tap for in 2011), as well as day trips from NYC, creating what amounts to a mini gay ski week in the process. A new California chapter launches next Friday, October 8 at Gym Sportsbar in WeHo, so West Coasters can start feeling the chilly thrills soon. Both black diamond masters and bunny hill newbies are welcome.
The Luxury What sets Hurtigruten apart from most cruise lines is that its ships are working ferries. So even though the onboard accommodations and restaurants are excellent, the ship’s distractions (such as shows or gambling) are few. Passengers can instead focus on experiencing Norway’s cities and fjords. The 11-day Norwegian Holiday itinerary begins in Oslo with two full days for sightseeing before the journey to Kirkenes and Bergen. Hurtigruten travel experts are on hand to help with planning. Or simply ask the locals.
The late summer months of August and September are an ideal time to visit Northern Europe. Temperatures are still warm and airlines launch abundant autumn fare sales, giving travelers a golden opportunity to snag reduced rates. To top it off, the European cruise season is winding down and cruise lines are making last-ditch efforts to fill cabins on the remaining ships. This 5-night sailing aboard Royal Caribbean’s Vision of the Seas has six sailing dates available to choose from, with prices starting from as little as $471.
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