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Picking the right cruise can be a tricky process. From small sailing ships to mega cruise ships, how do you know what is right for you?

Here are a few of our personal suggestions and tips to get your started.

Who is travelling? A couple, a family? Perhaps a solo traveller?

Most cruise lines cater for all sorts of traveller, but in fairness some are better suited than others to particular guests. We like Royal Caribbean for families as they cater extraordinarily well for children of all ages. If travelling solo, consider a cruise line such as Holland America or Norwegian Cruise Lines, where single travellers are welcomed aboard with special single cabins and events.

Budgeting?

The million-dollar question. Our biggest tip is this: While all-inclusive lines such as Seabourn Cruises, Silversea and Regent Seven Seas Cruises on the face of it are more expensive than others, they are all suites (amazing space compared to a regular stateroom), include all your drinks onboard including mini bar set up of your choice, and in the case of Regent Seven Seas, they include your Shore Excursions. Speciality dining is often included in nearly all cases, so by the time you add up a few cocktails, that bottle of wine over dinner etc, often the cost is worth it for a stress free journey and no nasty credit card bill at the end.

What size ship is best? Those floating hotels are somewhat daunting!

Ask what you want out of your holiday. Are you seeking exploration ashore, with extended time in port? If so, go for a “mid size” or small ship experience. Often smaller ships can get into ports the big ones cannot, and getting ashore can be a little easier. We love Holland America Line (max 2650 guests) and Windstar Cruises (max 310 guests) for 5 star service coupled with excellent itineraries and time ashore.

If a myriad of dining options, incredible nightlife and shows, a few sea days lazing by the pool or enjoying spa treatments floats your boat, then you would love the larger ships, offering such variety we doubt you will have a second to get bored. Celebrity Cruises are our pick for gorgeous ships and innovation.

When is the best time to book?

Earlier is better. Yes, these days the cruise lines may bring out a late special, but there is no guarantee of this, and by the time they release a special, it may be the last cabins or suites they are trying to fill, and they may not be in the best location. By booking early, you get a much wider choice of your stateroom. Often when a new itinerary or season is released, this is the time the cruise lines will entice you to book early with discounts on onboard offers.

Now a little info on some of our favourites...

Holland America Line: 5 star traditional mid size cruising

✓ 5 star, mid sizes ships (no more than 2650 guests onboard)
✓ Traditional cruising experience with modern touches
✓ Around-the-world sailings offered
✓ Extensive dining options and enrichment programs

Why we love Holland America Line:

Stepping onboard a Holland America Line ship gives you a sense of warmth and comfort. Colours and fabrics are rich, giving you a sense of what traditional cruising is all about. No gaudy or tacky lighting or unexplainable art pieces, just the right balance of tradition and modern. Dining is exceptional, and service is unobtrusive and professional. Staterooms are of a good size, with comfy beds dressed in high standard linens.

Windstar Cruises: 5 star yacht style cruising

✓ Options to travel on masted sailing ships or all-suite yachts
✓ Intimate ships sail to destinations bigger ships can't 
✓ Attentive service, with a passenger-crew ratio of 1.5 to 1
✓ Casual atmosphere with fine dining

Why we love Windstar Cruises:

Windstar brilliantly combines style with the romance of ocean travel. Smaller vessels get into the ports that the big ships cannot, making for often quicker access to the cities and ports you are visiting. Think casual onboard but with the fine dining and service you would come to expect from a 5 star line.

Seabourn Cruise Line: 6 star luxury

✓ Features exotic itineraries
✓ All inclusive
✓ Outstanding reputation for service

Why we love Seabourn Cruise Line:

Seabourn have a knack of combining soft adventure travel with elegance. Our favourite destination for Seabourn is Antarctica, where you can explore ashore with a team of experts, but be welcomed back into warm, 6 star luxury. Being all inclusive removes the worry for what your drinks bill will be by the end of the cruise – enjoy welcome champagne, your mini bar stocked with your preferences, and an open bar throughout the cruise. To top it off, tipping is not expected, nor included. Pay a bit more and treat yourself.

Silversea Cruises: 6 star luxury

✓ All-suite, all-inclusive cruise line
✓ Adventure ship goes beyond traditional luxury
✓ Itineraries blend exotic ports and mainstream locales
✓ Stellar service and cuisine onboard

Why we love Silversea Cruises:

Silversea give us a lot of reasons to love them – from popular Mediterranean cruises through to small ship expedition opportunities in unique destinations such as the Kimberleys, the Galapagos Islands and Russia, enjoy all suite luxury and explore. And the all-inclusive drinks onboard including fine wines, champagne, your choice of what your mini bar is stocked with does not hurt either. Yes, you will pay a bit more than the ‘mainstream’ cruise lines, but it is worth it.

Avalon Waterways:

✓ Suite class ships feature floor-to-ceiling, retractable windows
✓ Shore Excursions included and local wines with dinner
✓ Cruises great rivers in Europe and Asia 

Why we love Avalon Waterways:

We feel the Avalon Waterways river experience is the best one for Kiwis. Most river companies include of course your meals, wine with dinner, shore excursions, as does Avalon, but what makes them different is each day there is free time to do as you wish. You may do a guided tour in the morning, then you may choose to stay in the village and make your own way back at your leisure, rather than go back for lunch, and feel you have to join the next tour. You can sit back in a towns piazza with a local lunch, enjoy the sunshine with a glass of wine, and relax. Avalon also offer free bikes onboard many of their vessels to enjoy your own exploration, just adding to the reasons why we believe Avalon Waterways is a great way to cruise.

 

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Emirates has tonight unveiled completely refreshed interiors for its Boeing 777 aircraft, including it new first-class private suites it says were inspired by Mercedes Benz and technology from Nasa.

The leather seat reclines into a fully flat bed and can be placed in a "zero-gravity" position inspired by Nasa technology, giving a feeling of relaxation and weightlessness, Emirates says.

To ensure all first-class customers have a view, Emirates is introducing what it says are the industry's first virtual windows for suites located in the middle of the cabin.

These virtual windows - which are used in some cruise ships - project the view from outside the aircraft using real-time camera technology. In the other suites, binoculars are available for customers who want to explore the sky outside their windows.

On the first day of the Dubai Air Show, the airline said the new suites with floor-to-ceiling sliding doors would be a "game changer". The unveiling comes just under a fortnight after rival Singapore Airlines revealed new first-class suites in its superjumbos that could feature double beds.

Emirates president Sir Tim Clark said Emirates pioneered the private suite concept back in 2003, and the airline continued to set the industry benchmark. The suites have nearly 4sq m of personal space and are arranged in a 1-1-1 configuration at the front of the 777s. Emirates' latest first-class product gives a nod to the design philosophy of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class.

"We are very excited about our new fully-enclosed suite which is a real game-changer in terms of privacy, comfort, and thoughtful luxury. This is the first time an Emirates product has been so influenced by another luxury brand, but it is a natural fit," said Clark.

Emirates has updated the most popular features of its private suites, including a personal minibar for drinks and snacks within each suite; and wireless controls to adjust seating positions, as well as to navigate the in-flight entertainment system.

The Boeing 777s don't have the showers that are aboard Emirates' A380s. All parts of the plane have had a multi-million-dollar upgrade.

"The in-flight experience is the heart of our brand and service proposition. features our latest fully-flat leather seats with personal minibars, economy-class seats have adjustable full leather headrests, and the in-flight entertainment system has been upgraded for all cabin classes." Passengers would see more modern and airy cabins, said Clark.

The latest Emirates 777 aircraft with the new features will enter commercial service on December 1, making its debut on flights from Dubai to Geneva and Brussels. Emirates uses A380s on its services out of New Zealand.

Source: NZ Herald

 

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Greater rewards for Marco Polo Club members

Earn more club points with Cathay Pacific wherever you fly from 8 December 2017

Cathay Pacific continues to improve the offerings of its loyalty programme - the Marco Polo Club – in response to members’ feedback. Effective 8 December 2017, all Marco Polo Club members will earn more club points on Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon flights across all distance zones in selected fare classes.

In addition, the annual requirement for Green members will be reduced from 100 to 20 club points. With these enhancements, all members will find it easier to reach their status and continue to enjoy exclusive benefits that enrich their travel experience.

More club points to all destinations

Members travelling short or ultra-short haul to popular destinations such as Taipei, Shanghai, Japan and India with Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon will earn an additional 5 to 10 club points per sector across most fare classes in all cabins. While flights to Europe and the Americas will carry an additional 10 to 15 more club points in Economy and Premium Economy. In addition, 5 to 20 extra club points will be awarded to some discounted and promotional fares on almost all routes.

Complementing the increase in club points to all destinations, the threshold to maintain Green membership will be reduced, allowing our members to enjoy exclusive club benefits such as priority check-in and boarding, lounge access redemption amongst other privileges.

Cathay Pacific Head of Customer Loyalty Elaine Lee said, “We continue to improve our offerings to ensure the Marco Polo Club evolves to meet our members’ travel needs. The new club points will better reward our members so that their travel experience is enhanced and their loyalty recognised.” 

About the Marco Polo Club

The Marco Polo Club is the loyalty programme of Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon, designed to reward its most valuable customers with benefits and services that enhance their travel experience. There are four tiers in the club – Green, Silver, Gold, and Diamond – and each offers its members a range of privileges and benefits that make every journey something to look forward to.

As your Mondo Travel Specialist for more information; simply call 0800 110 108

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Qatar Airways has announced it has acquired a 9.61% stake in Cathay Pacific. “QR is one of the world’s premier airlines,” says CX ceo Rupert Hogg, commenting on the share acquisition. “We already work together closely as fellow members of the oneworld alliance and we look forward to a continued constructive relationship.” CX and QR already collaborate together as oneworld alliance members.

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Tessa is about to head up our brand new Taupo office ... and here's what she has to say ...

"Imagine a truely care free trip which starts from the moment you make contact, via email or in my office! I can handle all your travel arrangements effortlessly and accurately, every time.

"From knowing when is the best time to travel, to suggesting hidden gems and must-see activities, I would love the opportunity to share my knowledge with you and help create your perfect overseas experience.

"Going 'the extra mile' is my personal motto, and I plan to exceed your expectations in creating the perfect itinerary for you, be it for your quick getaway weekend, or that extensive once in a lifetime itinerary!

"I have been fortunate to be a part of the travel industry since 2003. My passion for travel and the desire to create the perfect  experience, unique to you, is what sets me apart from others. As well as retail, I also have experience with Conference & Incentives, Sporting Tours, Corporate travel, school & wedding parties.

"My own journeys have included travel extensively through Asia, the Pacific Islands and Australia, both personally as well as having led over 100 groups off shore through these incredible destinations.  So if you want a travel specialist who offers the personal approach and touch, please make contact with me for your next adventure! "

 

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The Travel Corporation extends flight credit offer...

Due to popular demand, The Travel Corporation has extended its flight credit offer for Europe Summer 2018 bookings across Contiki, Insight Vacations and Trafalgar until 30 November.

Clients can save up to $1,400 on Emirates, Singapore Airlines or Qatar flights when booked in conjunction with selected 2018 Contiki and Trafalgar trips, and up to $1,600 per person when booking an Insight Vacations journey, depending on the value of the trip.

For clients who don’t want to take up the flight credit offer, The Travel Corporation has a 10% early payment discount on a number of its Europe Summer 2018 trips booked and paid before 14 December 2017. The flight credit and early payment discount is not combinable.

Call Mondo today for full details - 0800 110 108

Email: info@mondotravel.co.nz

 

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Singapore Airlines (SIA) has formally signed a firm order with Boeing for 20 777-9s and 19 787-10s, for additional growth and fleet modernisation through the next decade.

The signing took place today (23 October US time) at the White House in Washington DC, at a ceremony witnessed by US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Hsien Loong. It represents the finalisation of an agreement that was announced in February 2017 as a letter of intent.

Signing the agreement for SIA was CEO Goh Choon Phong, with Chairman Peter Seah. Signing for Boeing was Kevin McAllister, President and CEO, Boeing Commercial Airplanes, with Dinesh Keskar, Senior Vice President, Asia Pacific & India Sales, Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

The purchase agreement comprises 39 firm orders, as well as six options for each aircraft type - which if exercised will enlarge the deal to as many as 51 aircraft. The firm orders are valued at US$13.8 billion, based on Boeing’s published list prices.

“SIA has been a Boeing customer for many decades and we are pleased to have finalised this major order for widebody aircraft, which will enable us to continue operating a modern and fuel-efficient fleet,” said SIA CEO Goh Choon Phong.

“These new aircraft will also provide the SIA Group with new growth opportunities, allowing us to expand our network and offer even more travel options for our customers.”

The 777-9s are intended primarily for long-haul routes and are due for delivery from the 2021/22 financial year. The 787-10s are to be operated on medium-range routes and are due for delivery from the 2020/21 financial year.

SIA is due to take delivery of the world’s first 787-10 in the first half of 2018, from a 2013 order with Boeing for 30 aircraft.

“Boeing and Singapore Airlines have been strong partners since the airline’s first operations 70 years ago and we are thrilled to finalise their purchase of 20 777Xs and 19 additional 787-10 Dreamliners,” said Kevin McAllister, President and CEO, Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

“Singapore Airlines’ order is a testament to the market-leading capabilities of Boeing’s widebody airplanes and we look forward to delivering the very first 787- 10 to them next year.”

SIA has more than 50 current-generation Boeing 777 aircraft in service. Subsidiaries SilkAir, Scoot and SIA Cargo also operate Boeing aircraft, with 737 MAX 8 and 737- 800, 787-8/9 and 747-400 Freighter types in service, respectively.

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Air New Zealand has beaten 157 other airlines to be named "Top Airline in the World" by US magazine Condé Nast Traveler.

More than 300,000 readers submitted ratings and comments for the awards which rank the best hotels, cities, islands, airlines, airports and cruise lines in the world.

Air New Zealand was singled out for seat comfort on its wide-body planes and the Economy Skycouch.

The lifestyle magazine also commended the airline for serving customers award-winning New Zealand wine.

Air New Zealand Chief Marketing and Customer Officer Mike Tod says it's terrific to be acknowledged.

"This latest award is a testament to the consistent hard work of our 11,800 staff right around the world."

Qatar Airways came second, with Singapore Airlines third.

In other awards Singapore Changi was named Best Airport, and Tokyo, Japan is Best City.

Source: Stuff.co.nz

 

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Viking has been voted the #1 River Cruise Line by Condé Nast Traveler in the Readers' Choice Awards, 2017.

In these annual awards, Viking was recognised twelve times from 2002 to 2017, and has scored in the top of the list every year since the river cruise category was introduced.

Readers submitted millions of ratings and thousands of comments as part of the 30th annual Readers' Choice Awards survey, and Viking was rated higher than any other river cruise line. Also, after only two years of operating ocean cruises, Viking was again named one of the Best Ocean Cruise Lines. 

 

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The Sunshine Coast is a haven for natural wonders and outdoor adventure. It is the perfect relaxed getaway that is wonderfully balanced with exhilarating experiences.

We've put together five must do places every nature lover must visit when exploring the Sunshine Coast. 

Mary Valley

Escape to the countryside in the Mary Valley. This idyllic valley is dotted with villages that have a welcoming community spirit and are ideal for a technology break. Make a weekend of the experience and stay at Amamoor Lodge. Nestled between magnificent mountain ranges and 50 acres of stunning Australian bush, this local gem boasts breathtaking sunsets and phenomenal stargazing, as well as plenty of outdoor adventure. Explore the Amamoor State Forest parks, go for a swim in the lagoon style pool, relax in the spa, or go for a stroll to the waterhole through the rainforest and say hello to the local wildlife. Head to Imbil to stroll the historic Timber Cutters' Walk that weaves between age-old jacaranda trees right down to Yabba Creek, or hire a kayak from Ride on Mary and explore the tributaries that make up the magnificent river giving the region its name. 

Conondale National Park 

Forming the heart of unspoilt mountain scenery, Conondale National Park creates a picturesque overnight trip to explore the magnificent forests, deep gorges, and spectacular views. A great location to bring the whole family, offering picnic areas, campsites and plenty of walking tracks for beginner’s all the way to advanced hikers. For those who want a 4WD adventure, we recommend the scenic drive starting on Booloumba Creek Road, just make sure you leave yourself enough time for picnics and bushwalks along the way. You can also bring along your mountain bike or go for a horse adventure along the vehicle tracks.

Currimundi Lake (Kathleen McArthur) Regional Park    

Currimundi Lake Regional Park is a natural gem. A great location to immerse yourself in nature and perfect for kayaking, paddle boarding, canoeing, swimming and even fishing, there is something for everyone. If you are looking to hire beach gear contact Kitethrills for a range of choice. Enjoy a stroll along the short walking tracks and take in the local flora and fauna or walk to Currimundi Beach for some epic surf, which is patrolled by lifesavers on weekends and school holidays. 

Baroon Pocket Dam (Lake Baroon)

Tucked away between Montville and Maleny, Baroon Pocket Dam is a hidden treasure perfect for day trips and natural getaways. With picnic tables, free BBQs and kids' playgrounds, it becomes an easy choice for your next catch up with family and friends. The dam's calm waters are perfect for swimming and kayaking, or you can test your fishing skills and try and catch an Australian Bass. Keep an eye out for koalas and kangaroos whilst exploring the bushwalks, and hike to Baroon Lookout, taking in the gorgeous views of the Obi Obi Gorge and Baroon Pocket Dam.

Happy Valley, Caloundra

Happy Valley is a wonderful little beach hidden away from the hustle and bustle between Bulcock Beach and Clarke Place Park. Lie on the sand and soak up the sun or have a picnic or BBQ in the park that runs the length of the beach. For those after some high thrill adventure, bring along your kite or windsurf baord for some action-packed fun. Don't have your own gear? Not a problem, just hire from a local operator. Remember to pack the cricket set, frisbee, and football and enjoy a day of outdoor activity and family fun!

by Anika McMahon, Visit Sunshine Coast

 

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You can now be eligible to upgrade your flight

Cathay Pacific has now introduced Upgrade Bid, giving customers who have purchased Premium Economy or Economy Class tickets*, the opportunity to upgrade to the next cabin class.

World renowned for its outstanding service, dining and lounge experiences, Cathay Pacific are giving more passengers the chance to travel in luxury with this new offer.

Upgrade Bid allows passengers to bid for an upgrade at a price that they can afford, and depending on availability and other bidders, passengers will have the chance to move cabin class for an amount less than a regular ticket price.

Country Manager for Cathay Pacific Airways, New Zealand and Pacific Islands, Mark Pirihi, says this is part of the airlines aim to give passengers more choice and access to the best deals when flying with Cathay Pacific. “At Cathay Pacific we always put our customers first, as we strive to provide them with more personalised services, building loyalty and advocacy and delivering outstanding service from the moment they interact with us. As part of this customer-centric strategy, we are looking at new ways to provide our passengers with more choice and greater convenience at every stage of their journey with us.” 

How does it work?

Passengers need to check if their flight and fare class are eligible to make an Upgrade Bid. For flights booked on the Cathay Pacific website, Upgrade Bid eligibility notification will appear on the booking confirmation page. Passengers can also check their flight’s eligibility by entering their booking reference number and family name on the Upgrade Bid welcome page.

To enter the auction, passengers can visit Cathay Pacific’s Upgrade Bid page to place a starting bid. If the offer is accepted as the winning bid, passengers will receive an email notification confirming the upgrade two to three days before departure. There is still the possibility for customers to change or cancel the bid up to 50 hours before flight departure.

Once an upgrade is confirmed, winners will enjoy the many benefits of travelling in Cathay Pacific’s award-winning Business Class or Premium Economy.

What are the benefits of upgrading?

Premium Economy

Passengers who purchased an Economy Class ticket will have the opportunity to upgrade to Premium Economy and get the chance to experience priority boarding privileges and special boarding attention from cabin crew (including a welcome drink on arrival, hot towel, amenity kit, and noise-cancelling headphones). Travelling Premium Economy will also offer passengers extra comfort thanks to the extra-wide seats showcasing a generous recline and specially designed footrests.

Business Class

Passengers who purchased a Premium Economy ticket will be able to upgrade to Business Class. This will be an incredible opportunity to experience the comfort and ease of the award-winning Business Class, enjoying a seat that adjusts for both sitting and sleeping – fully reclining into a comfortable flat bed – and a gourmet menu. Flying Business Class also gives access to Cathay Pacific’s premium lounges around the world.

Notes:

Terms and conditions for use of Upgrade Bid

Route availability

*Upgrade Bid is not currently available between Hong Kong and any destinations in India, or Japan; or between Taipei and Japan (Tokyo Narita Intl, Osaka, Fukuoka, Nagoya).

Please note that, currently, bookings made in China or India are excluded from participating in Upgrade Bid due to technical limitations.

When upgraded extra baggage allowance will not be included in the upgrade.

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BRANCH:  Dunedin

WHAT SORT OF TRAVEL INSPIRES YOU? Outdoors, cruising etc. Cruising and lots more cruising.

YOUR FAVOURITE HOLIDAY DESTINATION: Tahiti

BEST THING ABOUT THAT DESTINATION: Warm, and beautiful

YOUR BEST TRAVEL TIP: For the best holiday ... Just Add Water

WHAT DO YOU PACK THAT YOU WON’T EVER LEAVE BEHIND?  My pills.

DO YOU SPEAK ANY LANGUAGE APART FROM ENGLISH? If so, what? Mangled French

HOW MANY COUNTRIES HAVE YOU VISITED?  24

HOW LONG HAVE YOU WORKED IN THE TRAVEL INDUSTRY?  45 Years

WHAT’S YOUR BUCKET LIST DESTINATION FOR THE FUTURE? Hate the phrase bucket list, so do not have one.

 

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One year in the making, Singapore Airlines’ Book the Cook service is winging its way to Auckland, with LSG Sky Chefs curating and producing the vision.

Book the Cook gives First Class, Business Class and Premium Economy guests leaving Auckland the opportunity to book a main course from a curated fine dining menu, up to 48 hours before flying with the airline.

Already available at 17 other ports for First Class, 23 ports in Business Class and 19 ports for Premium Economy, Auckland’s menu is available for departures starting 30 October – the same date that the airline’s A380 comes back into rotation.

Simon Turcotte, general manager, Singapore Airlines NZ says the menu aims to keep things local, sustainable and with a Kiwi touch. ‘We really try to be sustainable and to choose fresh products we can use year round,’ he says. ‘Maybe after a year we’ll have a look at what the most popular dishes are and do a refresh, we want to be adaptable and cater to needs and demands.’

Kiwi highlights on the menu are the New Zealand Lobster Thermidor, Southern King Salmon and New Zealand Lamb Loin.  

 

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Singapore Airlines has today committed to significantly enhancing sustainability practices in its in-flight food and beverage offerings. Under the new initiative, a “From Farm to Plane” concept will be introduced to promote environmental sustainability and support local farmers’ communities.

Current efforts in Singapore Airlines’ sustainability strategy include using fish from fisheries certified by the Marine Stewardship Council for their sustainable fishing practices, and obtaining produce from local farms in countries the Airline serves.

With the “From Farm to Plane” concept, Singapore Airlines intends to use more sustainable and meatless ingredients, as well as local produce, in its in-flight meals. The Airline will work with partners overseas and in Singapore to source for such ingredients.

In addition, Singapore Airlines’ International Culinary Panel (ICP) of world-renowned chefs will create in-flight menus using more sustainable ingredients and local produce from farms at the Airline’s destinations, such as cherry tomatoes, pumpkins, green beans and lettuce. The new menus will initially be introduced to Suites customers on selected routes from later this year, and will progressively be made available to customers travelling in other classes. 

The enhanced sustainability plan for Singapore Airlines’ food and beverage offerings was unveiled today at its World Gourmet Forum in Singapore, organised in collaboration with Kranji Countryside Association 1.

All eight ICP Chefs were present for the World Gourmet Forum, where they shared how they are using local produce in their meal creations. Singapore Airlines’ Wine Consultants were also at the event to introduce an organic French Shiraz wine, which will be available to Business Class customers on selected flights from early next year.

“Our food and beverage sustainability efforts will further demonstrate and reinforce Singapore Airlines’ ongoing efforts to help reduce our carbon footprint and ensure a greener environment. While we continue to deliver a quality in-flight dining experience, we would also like our customers to know that we are playing our part in ensuring sustainability,” said Mr Marvin Tan, Singapore Airlines’ Senior Vice President Product & Services.

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River cruises offer you a more intimate cruise holiday, as river cruise ships are typically smaller, allowing for fewer passengers and more attentive service. And, with smaller ships, you will always find yourself in the heart of your destination. To find out more about the top river cruise lines, and what to expect from each of them, check out the information below.

APT Cruising - APT is one of Australia’s leading luxury river cruise operator. They take in destinations throughout Europe and Russia, as well as Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Alaska and Asia.

Viking Cruises - Viking River Cruises’ offers a spectacular way to explore the waterways of the world, as Viking is synonymous with luxury vessels, impeccable service and innovative itineraries.

Uniworld River Cruises - As the world’s only authentic boutique cruise line, Uniworld river cruises offer the highest level of quality, service and comfort, covering 20 countries worldwide.

Avalon Waterways - Avalon Waterways continually sets a new standard in river cruising, offering sophisticated river cruise experiences and unique getaways on board state-of-the-art vessels.

Tauck - Tauck combines all-inclusive, personalised service, with virtually every river cruise expense included, and signature experiences, meaning they offer the ultimate in river cruising.

Travelmarvel offers great value for money on worldwide cruise & tour experiences, as well as the reassurances of travelling with a respected tour operator, APT.

Pandaw River Cruises  - The largest luxury river cruise line in Asia, with ten ships exploring four countries. All of Pandaw’s ships are designed and finished as replicas of colonial river steamers. 

Aqua Expeditions - Aqua offers two exceptional cruising locations in luxurious cabins. This is the way to explore either the Mekong or the Amazone in absolute luxury, with all food, shore excursions and drinks taken care of!

River Cruise Destinations 

River cruises offer you the chance to see exotic lands and historical cities like you’ve never seen them before. From winding medieval streets and elegant architecture, to steamy jungles and bustling marketplaces, with a river cruise you will get closer and see more than ever before. Explore your next destination by river – book your next adventure with one of our Cruise Specialists today.

Danube River - The Danube River crosses Germany, Serbia, Austria, Hungary and Romania, flowing past fairytale castles, Gothic cathedrals, vineyards and unspoiled hamlets.

Rhine River - Starting in Switzerland and flowing through France, Germany and The Netherlands, the romantic Rhine River is lined with mighty fortresses, magical palaces and ancient cities.

Mekong River - Cruise along the Mekong River, through Cambodia and Vietnam, and experience diverse towns, cities and temples, as well as a world of indescribable beauty and charm.

Amazon River - The Amazon is home to an unforgettable array of sights, sounds and cultures, and a river cruise is the perfect way to discover the mysteries and beauty of this vast region.

Yangtze River - Experience China’s landscapes, vibrant culture and architecture on a Yangtze River cruise. Cruise through the cradle of China and soak up some of the most spectacular scenery.

Volga River - Discover the soul of Russia along the shores of the Volga River. Take in the rich culture of Moscow and St. Petersburg, and discover the people who embody this proud country.

Nile River - Discover the dynasties of Kings and Queens, monumental legacies and rural Egypt, as you drift slowly down the River Nile, taking in 5,000 years of history as you do so. 

Kerala River - Cruise the beautiful rivers, canals and lakes of India’s southwest tropical coast, the Kerala backwaters. A truly unique experience beckons you – it will be unlike anything you ever imagined.

Why River Cruising?

Cruising isn’t just about sailing over vast expanses of ocean – some of the best cruise experiences can be found in the winding waterways of Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Even if you’re a cruising veteran, a smaller river cruise ship, barge or river boat will grant you a completely new and unique experience, and here is why:

See the World’s Great Cities: Paris, Vienna, Budapest, St. Petersburg.... So many cities and towns were developed along rivers, and on a river cruise ship you can arrive in the heart of your destination without even leaving the ship. You will often dock right in the heart of town, mere steps away from charming squares, beautiful cathedrals and vibrant market places.

New Scenery – All Day, Every Day: Fairytale palaces, towering gorges, tiny villages... on a river cruise you will experience ever- changing scenery close up and at eye level. Your proximity to the shore means that colourful hillside villages, picturesque castles and ancient ruins are within view from all areas of your intimate ship.

A More Intimate Experience: Smaller vessels mean fewer passengers, more attentive service and a more intimate cruise holiday. On a river cruise you never have to wait in long lines to get on or off the ship, you’ll never have to tender into port and you’ll never spend long hours wave watching on a vast ocean.

Fantastic Cuisine: Dining on rover cruises has come a very long way. Most river cruise lines now feature fresh, local produce and foods from the regions you are visiting, giving you yet another cultural experience to add to your river cruise tick list.

Travel with Ease : In your river-view stateroom, just unpack once and then relax in comfort as you cruise along the smooth river. No matter which cruise you choose, you can always go at your own pace. So, whether you choose to go on a group guided tour, or do it on your own – it’s all at the pace of your liking. Easy! 

Call us today to talk to one of our Cruise Specialists : 0800 110 108'

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Luxury cruising is all about comfort and convenience as well as those little extras that transform a cruise into the trip of a lifetime and make passengers feel special. Whether that means returning from an excursion to find a chilled towel and exotic fruit drink waiting for you, or having your dust-covered shoes whisked away to reappear at your stateroom door 30 minutes later looking like new, luxury is a special way to cruise.

Is luxury cruising your style? Then take a look at our list of the top 10 cruise ships, in no particular order, offering five-star accommodation.

1. Seabourn Quest

With only 450 passengers, Seabourn Quest epitomises luxury on the high seas with all-suite accommodation, daily restocked mini-bars, open bars serving premium wine, champagne and spirits, gourmet cuisine, a retractable aft marina and fabulous spa. The new Seabourn Encore, which will accommodate 600 passengers, is set to join the fleet in December 2016.

2. Seven Seas Mariner

With 700 guests on-board, the Seven Seas Mariner from Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ was the world's first all- suite, all-balcony ship, offering its passengers unprecedented comfort and views from their rooms. The Seven Seas Mariner features lots of luxury inclusions with its main drawcard being unlimited shore excursions. As well as replenished minibars, open bars and personalised service, penthouse suites provide a butler service, an iPad and Hermes toiletries. Their newest & most luxurious ship to sail the seven seas, Seven Seas Explorer, will launch this year.

3. MS EUROPA

This 5-star-plus* flagship awaits you with first-class service, luxurious spaciousness and the highest standards of cuisine and comfort. As you travel to the world's most thrilling destinations, enjoy a stylish cruise in the company of a small group of no more than 400 guests. Simply perfect in each and every moment. That is how it feels when the luxury to which the multiple award-winning EUROPA owes its unrivalled exclusivity accompanies you over the oceans.

4. Riviera

A trip on the Riviera feels like a trip on your own private luxury yacht, with designer décor and stunning suites providing you with a special intimate vacation to exotic destinations around the world. Featuring gourmet cuisine curated by world-renowned chef Jacques Pepin, this 1,250 passenger occupant cruise ship
from Oceania Cruises is home to the only hands-on cooking school at sea, the Culinary Centre, where well- known master chefs offer excellent cooking classes. Art lovers are catered for by the Artist Loft program and the Canyon Ranch SpaClub has great treatments.

5. The Gauguin

M/S Paul Gauguin is the flagship of Paul Gauguin Cruises and showcases the magnificent beauty of Tahiti and surrounds. The 332 passenger small ship offers spacious suites and staterooms, some with butler service & more than 70% with private balconies, and has an on-board water sports marina, three dining venues and a spa. A troupe of Tahitians known as Gaugines and Gauguins are employed as cruise staff, entertainers and storytellers.

6. S.S. Antoinette

Expect nothing less than the royal treatment on-board the luxurious S.S. Antoinette. The 443-foot, 154- passenger from Uniworld River Cruises is a one-of-a-kind "Super Ship" and dubbed "the most luxurious river cruise ship in the world". The SS Antoinette features a range of exclusive services and facilities that cannot be found on any other river ship. Look out for the 22-seat cinema with Dolby Surround Sound, sheltered public spaces on the top deck, a pool and adjoining hot tub, and a 10-foot Baccarat crystal and sapphire blue chandelier that once hung in New York's famous Tavern on the Green can be found in the two story foyer.

7. Crystal Serenity

The Crystal Serenity is consistently ranked as one of the best cruise ships in the world and it’s not hard to see why. With a capacity of 1,070 passengers, the Crystal Serenity sparkles in the luxury cruise market with extras such as free Wi-Fi to all guests for 60 minutes a day, Medi-Spa services, Etro toiletries and an impressive enrichment program. Spectacular international cuisine can be found in the elegant restaurants throughout the ship, including celebrity chef Nobu Matsuhisa's, Silk Road. The penthouse's bathroom features incredible Italian marble mosaics, heated flooring, and a TV embedded in the vanity. Bridge tournaments are held regularly on the ship and have a big following. The new 62-passenger luxury yacht, Crystal Esprit, launched in December 2015 as part of the cruise line's expansion plan.

8. Silver Spirit

Silversea’s Silver Spirit features stylish surroundings with spacious, ocean-view suites complete with full marble baths and mostly private verandas. The Silver Spirit's personalised butler service is the highlight of the on-board experience with a staff to guest ratio of nearly one to one. Lavish deck parties featuring all the trimmings are held on-board where chefs spend the day preparing a feast of roast suckling pig, carved meats, shrimp and crab leg cocktail, pasta, salads and an array of mouth-watering desserts.

9. Scenic Jasper

Scenic Jasper holds 169 passengers and is the newest in the chic fleet of Scenic space-ships cruising European rivers. Luxury suites feature sun lounges that are perfect for soaking up those views. Electric bicycles take the hard work out of cycling and the sunken Riverview terrace at the front of the Sun Deck remains open when passing under low bridges.

10. SeaDream II

With 112 passengers cared for by 95 crew members, SeaDream II from the Sea Dream Yacht Club provides a luxurious yachting experience for cruise lovers with its intimate size and passenger numbers. As well as stylish staterooms, passengers can sleep under the stars on Balinese Dream beds on the all-teak deck and peek below the sea from glass-bottom kayaks. Gourmet cuisine with selections like lobster filet mignon, and chocolate soufflé are on offer along with a raw food, gluten free & vegetarian menu. 

Talk to one of our cruise specialists today - 0800 110 108

 

submitted by -- Gayle

Best Cruises for Kids:

  1. Royal Caribbean. Ships: Anthem, Harmony, Allure and Oasis of the Seas

  2. Norwegian Cruise Line. Ships: Norwegian Escape, Breakaway, Getaway and Epic

  3. Carnival Cruise Line. Ships: Carnival Vista, Breeze, Dream and Magic

  4. Disney Cruise Line. Ships: Disney Dream, Fantasy and Magic

  5. Princess Cruises. Ships: Regal, Royal, Ruby, Crown and Emerald Princess

Despite great strides made by cruise lines in accommodating children on-board in recent years, choosing the best cruises for families with kids is still complicated. Where once it was a struggle to find ships that were kid-friendly, the challenge now is wading through the bevy of activities, kids clubs, family cabins and child-themed bells and whistles many ships offer to determine which cruise ships are best for your youngsters.

Some ships are still better for infants than others, and ditto for teens. Not all itineraries are created equal, either. (Alaska and the Caribbean are destinations that tend to be kid-friendly.) To make decisions even trickier, ships vary greatly, not just from line to line but within fleets, making some better than others in terms of on-board activities. We tend to recommend cruise lines' newer ships because the facilities were designed for families from the outset, not just adapted. They also tend to be the biggest ships, offering more space for fun activities, such as bowling alleys, elaborate water parks with massive slides, ropes courses, bumper cars and surfing and skydiving simulators. They're likely to have more dining options, family-specific accommodations and the latest brand-name partnerships.

The ships -- and cruise lines -- that follow are our top cruises for kids. That said, you know your family's tastes and preferences better than we ever could. By no means are they the only ships to consider. Think of them as a starting point as you narrow your choices for an unforgettable family vacation at sea.

1. Royal Caribbean International Ships : Anthem of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas, Allure of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas

Why: These ships, Royal Caribbean's largest, are ideal for families with kids of all ages, as well as multigenerational family groups. The Oasis-class ships have an impressive selection of family-friendly activities and entertainment -- four fantastic pools, 10 hot tubs, a 3D theatre, rock climbing walls, ice skating rink, two FlowRider surf simulators and a zip line -- and an array of family cabins to accommodate groups of varying sizes. And did we mention the ships' indoor promenades, which feature all manner of parades and special events? Anthem of the Seas takes it up a notch with SeaPlex (featuring bumper cars, roller-skating, video games and more), the first skydiving attraction at sea and the North Star, a London Eye-esque ride that takes passengers in a glass capsule 300 feet above the ocean .

A sizable amount of real estate is dedicated to the kids clubs on all of these ships, and the counsellors are some of the friendliest and most engaging in the business. Parents and grandparents can enjoy adults-only Solariums and a plethora of dining and evening entertainment options. With nursery care, after-hours fun in the kids clubs and in- cabin babysitting, adults can enjoy grown-up time in the evenings while kids play or sleep. (Voyager- and Freedom- class ships are also great choices for families.)

The Program: Royal Caribbean divides kids into Aquanauts (ages 3 to 5), Explorers (6 to 8) and Voyagers (9 to 11). Kids ages 12 to 14 can take part in "open mic" karaoke contests and rock wall challenges, while members of the oldest group (15 to 17) have their own toga parties and sports competitions. Both tweens and teens have access to a separate teen lounge, where they can come and go as they like. The Royal Tots and Royal Babies programs provide interactive classes and activities (when children are accompanied by a parent) for children from 6 months to 36 months old, as well as drop-off babysitting services. In-cabin babysitting is available for children who are at least 1 year old.

Royal Caribbean's kids clubs are among the largest dedicated kids facilities in cruising. The children's section on Oasis-class ships has more than 28,700 square feet and is the largest of its kind. There's a toddlers-only splash pool, an arts and crafts workshop, a video arcade and computer stations. Oasis-class and Quantum-class ships also have a theatre and Science Lab, and teens will love the Fuel teen club and the Living Room, a coffeehouse-style hangout.

Kid-Friendly Features: Plenty of family staterooms and loft suites mean room for the family to spread out. There's even a Royal Family cabin that sleeps eight. The spa offers special treatments for teens. More than two dozen dining options, including casual eateries like a hot dog joint and a New York-style pizza joint, as well as a variety of upscale specialty restaurants, mean no taste is overlooked. Johnny Rockets, the 1950s-style luncheonette, is always a kid magnet (and parents think it's pretty cool, too). Anthem of the Seas features an enormous family-friendly SeaPlex with bumper cars, roller-skating, a circus school, foosball and video games.

Excellent Broadway-style shows in the evenings will keep the older crowd engaged, while the DreamWorks experience offers character breakfasts, parades and meet-and-greets with Shrek and the Kung Fu Panda for little ones. There's a DJ Academy for teens, and budding artists will be thrilled with Royal Caribbean's partnership with Crayola, which brings all the newest and coolest art supplies on-board.

2. Norwegian Cruise Line Ships: Norwegian Escape, Norwegian Breakaway, Norwegian Getaway and Norwegian Epic

Why : Norwegian's casual atmosphere makes it a great choice for kid cruises, particularly for families who don't want to be beholden to strict dining times and venues. Norwegian's newest ships, along with Norwegian Epic, offer all the mega-ship bells and whistles families have come to expect.

The Program: Norwegian's Splash Academy features separate activities for kids’ ages 3 to 5, 6 to 9 and 10 to 12. Children can do arts and crafts, sing karaoke and play video games. Epic's facility has a jungle gym, plenty of room to roam and a cool interactive light-up dance floor. The two-story Splash Academies on Norwegian Escape, Breakaway and Getaway are the line's largest children's spaces at sea, home to high-tech games, a circus school and a small cinema. Entourage is a space for teens 13 to 17, and it has air hockey, video games, plush couches and flat-screen TVs. Entourage turns into a teens-only nightclub at night. Late-night group babysitting is available for a fee. While all ships have parent- child play areas and programming for babies 6 months to 3 years, only Norwegian Escape offers drop-off, extra-fee childcare for very small children in the Guppies Nursery.

Kid-Friendly Features : Popular activities throughout these ships include rock-climbing and rappelling walls, climbing cages, six bowling lanes and impressive water park areas. Epic has a 303-foot-long corkscrew tube and the Drainpipe, a 104-foot tube that empties into a giant funnel. Breakaway and Getaway have five multi-storey water slides, as well as The Plank, an 8- foot walk that extends off the edge of the ship and out over the sea. Escape offers the largest ropes course at sea, as well as the largest water park at sea. All four have two main pools, including a separate kid’s pool.

Norwegian Epic hosts "Priscilla Queen of the Desert the Musical," a great show for kids of all ages. Epic also has 46 two-bedroom family villas that sleep up to six people, while Breakaway and Getaway have 20 two-bedroom villas. On Escape, the Haven has two-bedroom family suites that sleep up to six passengers, and there are an additional 40 family mini-suites that feature bathtubs.

3. Carnival Cruise Line Ships : Carnival Vista, Carnival Breeze, Carnival Dream and Carnival Magic

Why : Carnival Cruise Line's Dream-class ships and its newest vessel, Vista, offer an array of on-board fun and do a great job accommodating kids of all ages, with separate clubs for the 2 to 11 set, tweens and teens. The ships offer a terrific variety of family activities and spaces, plus top-notch kids clubs. Families will make good use of two outdoor pools and SportsSquare; a multi-storey IMAX theatre (Vista only); and some of the largest at-sea water parks.

The Program : The fleet wide Camp Ocean entertains cruisers ages 2 to 11 with marine-themes activities and more. Camp Ocean occupies a large chunk of upper-deck real estate, while the tween and teen clubs are separate from the little ones on lower decks. Toddler’s ages 2 to 5 (called Penguins) have sing-alongs and dabble in arts and crafts. Stingrays ages 6 to 8 get to design custom aquariums and take part in Pirate Game Night. Sharks ages 9 to 11 play music Jeopardy, design their own cruise ships and play sports like basketball and volleyball. Circle C pre-teens (12 to 14) and Club O2 teens (15 to 17) have their own spaces, and kids have access to regular dance and pool parties, special teens-only shore excursions and PlayStation and Xbox consoles.

Kid-Friendly Features : A huge draw for kids on all ships is Waterworks, an aqua park with a variety of water slides, sprayers, soakers and even a dump bucket. Kids can play in the pool, as well as SportSquare, an outdoor activity area with a mini-golf course, basketball courts and foosball tables, and the thrilling new SkyRide cycling attraction on Vista. A SplashZone (a tot-friendly section of WaterWorks with water sprayers and room for splashing) for younger kids also is on offer.

Watch movies outside on the Dream-class ships at the Seaside Theatre, a 22-foot jumbo screen. Breeze is home to the Thrill Theatre, a 3D-movie joint with "multidimensional effects" (think seats moving, wind blowing and even water splashing during films). On Vista, a huge Multiplex Lobby screens flicks in both an IMAX Theatre and a Thrill Theatre. Families can cavort on a deceptively scary ropes course or take part in Carnival's "Hasbro, The Game" show, a friendly competition and stage show with games as prizes. The Dream-class ships also have more (and larger) cabin choices for families. Family Harbour, a collection of staterooms that can accommodate up to five cruisers, ups the ante on Vista, with access to an exclusive Family Lounge, free meals for kids at select extra-fee restaurants, one free night at the after-hours group babysitting in Camp Ocean and pint-size bathrobes. Teens are welcome in Carnival's spas. And the first Build-A-Bear workshop for Carnival is coming to Carnival Dream, and the program will be rolled out fleet wide by 2017.

4. Disney Cruise Line Ships: Disney Dream, Disney Fantasy and Disney Magic

Why : Disney ships are ideal for families with kid’s ages 4 to 11, as Disney has the best facilities, dining schemes and programs for this age group. Disney Cruise Line has done a lot more to accommodate tweens and teens -- but its ships still hold the most appeal for the younger set. We prefer the line's biggest ships, Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy, and the completely refurbished Disney Magic, though Disney Wonder can be a great choice, as well.

The Program : Disney takes a separate-but-together approach to its kids programming, mainly to accommodate siblings and friends traveling together. The Oceaneer Club and Oceaneer Lab allow children ages 3 to 12 to access the same spaces but with programming geared toward each younger and older children. (The age groupings are suggestions, not requirements, and children may participate in any of the activities offered.) On all three ships, the Oceaneer Club offers several themed play areas, including Andy's Room (from "Toy Story"). On Fantasy, you'll find Monsters Academy (inspired by "Monsters, Inc."), while on Magic you'll encounter Marvel's Avengers Academy, a S.H.I.E.L.D. command post where kids can interact with the Avengers through a virtual game. A new addition to Dream is a replica of the Millennium Falcon from "Star Wars." Here, young ones can play pilot in a cockpit and learn lightsabre techniques from a Jedi Master.

The Oceaneer Lab has an Animator's Studio and a mini sound studio. On Dream and Fantasy, you'll find Magic PlayFloors that allow kids to use their feet to play interactive games. There is a for-fee nursery available to care for little ones, ages 6 months to 3 years. These ships also have a kids club, Edge, dedicated entirely to tweens ages 11 to 14, with video games, karaoke and computers. The teen club, Vibe (for cruisers ages 14 to 17), has modular furniture and a coffee shop feel.

Kid-Friendly Features : Mickey's Pool, for the youngest cruisers, is on one side of the ship, and an adults-only pool is located on the other, with Donald's Pool in the centre for families or general use. The popular AquaDuck waterslide is a big hit with families on Fantasy and Dream, while the AquaDunk thrills on-board Disney Magic. On Fantasy and Magic, the AquaLab has sprayers and geysers perfect for the smallest passengers. Other great facilities include the Walt Disney Theatre, which features live shows featuring favourite Disney characters; the Buena Vista Theatre, which screens first-run movies; and D Lounge, which presents interactive activities for kids and parents.

The bath-and-a-half in most staterooms allows folks to shower in one while someone else is using the toilet in the other. Castaway Cay, Disney's private Bahamian island, is one of the industries nicest. Disney's ships also hold a cool "Pirates of the Caribbean" deck party, complete with fireworks and Jack Sparrow rappelling off the ship's funnel. Disney Fantasy celebrates Star Wars Day at Sea (through spring 2017). All three ships feature the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, where children are transformed into princesses, pirates, knights and sea captains.

5. Princess Cruises Ships : Regal Princess, Royal Princess, Ruby Princess, Crown Princess and Emerald Princess

Why : Princess' ships include expansive programs, facilities and accommodations for parents and children. Princess' newest and largest ships, Royal and Regal Princess, have even more great additions for families, including expanded kids club spaces, more dining options, a batting cage and laser shooting range, a bigger pool deck with a water and light show and poolside cabanas.

Further, as part of the expansion of its partnership with Discovery Communications, Princess is revamping the youth spaces on several of its ships to include lively, modern decor. Although only some ships are receiving physical renovations, the programming itself, which includes fun and educational activities -- think science experiments and destination-immersive pursuits -- has rolled out fleet wide.

The Program : Dubbed Camp Discovery, the rebranded kids' clubs include The Treehouse (formerly Pelicans) for ages 3 to 7, The Lodge (formerly Shockwaves) for ages 8 to 12, and The Beach House (formerly Remix) for ages 13 to 17. In addition to activities that inspire learning, children, tweens and teens will find story time, video game tournaments, movie nights, Skee-Ball play, scavenger hunts and themed parties on the agenda.

Kid-Friendly Features : On Grand-class ships (Ruby Princess, Crown Princess, Emerald Princess), there are two large pools that are suitable for families (Calypso Reef and Pool and Neptune Reef and Pool), and there's a splash pool dedicated to kids. Royal and Regal Princess have outdoor play areas with a jungle gym for kids ages 3 to 7, and another for teens with a teens-only hot tub and space for outdoor parties.

Movies under the Stars is the line's huge outdoor movie theatre that plays poolside features on the top deck after the sun sets. The 300-square-foot screen broadcasts kid- and teen-friendly movies, as well as fun-for-the-whole-gang blockbusters, and live sporting events and awards shows. Another cool offering: Parents are welcome to attend the Jr. Chef@Sea Program, a hands-on chef-led cooking class that takes place in a shipboard kitchen, alongside their budding-chef kiddos.

Princess offers an Adventures Ashore tour program with shore excursions appropriate for families. Plus, the line's Discovery at Sea program features special excursions and activities inspired by programming such as Shark Week. For example, families can embark on a search for Big Foot on select Alaska sailings (a la "Finding Bigfoot") or enjoy "Shark Week" programming in cabin TVs.

Information courtesy of Cruise Critic Family cruising review

 

submitted by -- Gayle

From March 2018, Emirates will stop flying from Melbourne and Brisbane to Auckland and instead focus on its non-stop Auckland-Dubai service. Emirates will retain its existing daily A380 flights from Dubai to Christchurch via Sydney, and the airline is also evaluating potential new direct services between New Zealand and Dubai.

At the same time, to provide greater choice across the Tasman, Qantas will increase the frequency of its services between the two countries, adding seven new return flights per week between Melbourne and Auckland and an extra two return services per week between Brisbane and Auckland. Some of these services will be up-gauged from a 737 to a wide-body A330.

Qantas’ new trans-Tasman services will carry Emirates code and will connect seamlessly to Qantas’ London services via Perth or Singapore and Emirates’ services between Australia and Europe via Dubai.

Customers flying between Australia and New Zealand, particularly business travellers, will benefit from the improved schedule choice.

The changes also enable Emirates to reschedule its Australia flights to create a better spread of departure times throughout the day, offering customers more choice when connecting and arriving in to the 38 European and 28 Middle East and North African destinations served by the airline’s popular A380 and 777 aircraft. The changes are included in the airlines' application to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and New Zealand Minister of Transport for the extension of authorisation for the airlines' joint business for another five years.

submitted by -- Gayle

Travelling excites Rochelle today just as much as it did when she was first lucky enough to land her dream job as a travel agent in 2007.

Rochelle loves to explore and learn about new destinations and to share her experiences with her clients. She prides herself in putting in the extra effort to ensure clients' travelling

experiences are enjoyable. She loves encouraging people to travel to new and exciting destinations that they sometimes wouldn't have ever dreamed of travelling to.

Rochelle has travelled to America, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Bali, Vietnam, the Philippines, Rarotonga & Aitutaki, Fiji, Tahiti, extensively throughout Australia many times & cruised with P&O. They say if you have the passion and do what you love, you will never have to work a day in your life!

 

submitted by -- Gayle

Having lived and travelled extensively in Europe for several years I can share my knowledge of the many delightful secrets and special places off the beaten track that the continent holds.

My favourites include Venice... Rome... the Balearics ....

I was fortunate enough to spend 5 years living in Italy travelling extensively throughout Europe and the rest of the world.

I specialise in all facets of travel, and I am passionate about sharing the knowledge of my own unique experiences and tailoring my client’s needs to exceed their expectations, creating something special and memorable.

Sharing the love and dreams of travelling with my clients, we quickly become friends, and it is my privilege to turn their dreams into reality.

submitted by -- Gayle

Air New Zealand has started trialling its new inflight Wi-Fi service on a long-haul Boeing 777-300 aircraft.

The airline is joining a growing list of carriers offering connectivity in the air and those on board will be able to access email, social media channels, websites and go shopping. It is still working out what it will charge for the service once it is rolled across the fleet.

The 777-300 aircraft mainly fly transtasman, US, London and some Pacific Island routes. Following the trial Air New Zealand will begin installing equipment in all of its seven Boeing777-300s.

Air New Zealand will use Inmarsat's global GX satellite constellation and has partnered with Panasonic Avionics as the onboard technology supplier.

Air New Zealand chief digital officer Avi Golan said it was trialling Wi-Fi initially in order to gather customer feedback and ensure it met their needs before it was rolled out across the international jet fleet. 

"The trial will not only test the technical aspects of the service, it will also gather feedback on pricing options. Going forward, customers will be able to choose to sign up for different timeframes and have the ability to pay in a variety of ways," he said.

This would include spending airpoints earnings.

Golan said new content could include links to Air New Zealand's chatbot, Oscar, to help passengers resolve any travel-related questions during their journey.

Last year the airline's chief executive Christopher Luxon said the airline had been patient over Wi-Fi.

"Given Air New Zealand operates some of the longest flights in the world, and in oceanic areas where there has historically been poor quality satellite service, we have patiently worked with partners until comfortable that a service which meets the high expectations of our customers is available," he said.

Airlines with Wi-Fi now serving New Zealand include Emirates and Cathay Pacific.

 

Source: NZ Herald

 

submitted by -- Gayle

The first of Air New Zealand's new-look Boeing 787-9s has arrived in Auckland, with a freshly configured interior offering more premium seats.

The airline says this is in response to growing demand for premium travel and the aircraft will be used on its Auckland-Houston route from December, the first time a Dreamliner has been used regularly on North American services.

Airlines make their best returns per seat in premium cabins. Increasing numbers of leisure travellers are sitting up the front of planes to and from New Zealand as fares drop amid hot competition.

Air New Zealand's four new Dreamliners will have 27 Business Premier seats, up from 18, and 33 Premium Economy, up from 21.

Air New Zealand was the first airline in the world to take delivery of the 787-9 aircraft in 2014 and this latest arrival takes the airline's fleet to 10 Dreamliners. The aircraft, which arrived on yesterday, is also the airline's first from Boeing's facility in North Charleston, South Carolina.

The airline's other aircraft have come from Boeing's manufacturing base in Seattle, Washington state.

Air New Zealand chief marketing and customer officer Mike Tod said the airline was expecting the new cabin layout to be popular with customers.

Air New Zealand's premium economy section in the new-look Dreamliner.

"Increasing the size of these cabins on our new 787-9 Dreamliners will give more customers than ever the opportunity to experience why Air New Zealand has been named by Airlineratings.com as the best airline in the world for the past four years," he said.

Boeing commercial airplanes senior vice president, Asia Pacific and India sales Dinesh Keskar, said the manufacturer had enjoyed the opportunity to work with the 787-9 Dreamliner launch customer on this reconfiguration of the aircraft.

The fleet has performed well to date, delivering good fuel efficiencies with each aircraft 20 percent more efficient than the aircraft they have replaced. The Dreamliner's reduced weight, aerodynamic features and more efficient engines have contributed to those savings.

Source: NZ Herald

 

submitted by -- Gayle

For a limited time now, Seoul’s Incheon Airport is offering free use of their SkyHub Lounge.

Transit passengers travelling on Korean Air can enjoy WiFi Internet, alcoholic refreshments, television entertainment and other amenities at the lounge for up to 3 hours at both, the East and West, wings.

Effective dates: Now – 31st December 2017 (based on arrival date at Incheon Airport, Seoul, i.e., this service must be utilised on or before the 31DEC17).

  1.   Transit-time/stop-over in Korea must be no more than 24 hours. Passengers travelling to Korea as a final destination are not eligible.
  2.   Includes all nationalities, international transit and code-share passengers.

Talk to your Mondo Travel Specialist today!

 

submitted by -- Gayle

Bangkok is the leading travel destination for 2017, according to the Mastercard Global Destinations Cities Index 2017.

Asia Pacific destinations made up five of the top 10 in the annual survey, which ranks the world’s 132 top destination cities – with Bangkok in Thailand taking out first place.

‘It is easy to see why Bangkok has topped the Global Destinations Cities Index as a great place to travel. For New Zealanders it is a close, cost-effective and exciting destination. Lots of Kiwis are making the most of the close proximity of Southeast Asia to enjoy fantastic cuisine, scenery and nwarmer weather,’ says Peter Chisnall, Mastercard country manager for New Zealand and Pacific Islands.

Asia Pacific had the highest amount of international overnight visitor spending among its top 10 cities bringing in $91.16 billion USD in travel expenditure in 2016.

Following Asia Pacific was Europe ($74.74 billion USD), and North America ($55.02 billion USD).

 

submitted by -- Gayle

Vanuatu: Ambae volcano has no effect on tourists 

Vanuatu Tourism Office and Air Vanuatu says that international tourism is unlikely to be effected by the volcanic activity on Ambae Island.

In a statement NF says: ‘Whilst not wishing to make light of the situation in Ambae, currently approximately 8000 people have been evacuated
from the eastern side of the island as volcanic ash is contaminating the water supplies.

‘The alert is on a relatively confined basis and this is not currently affecting air services either to Ambae itself or the rest of the Air Vanuatu network.’

VTO’s new Zealand rep Jacquie Carson says Ambae is a small island in the Penma Province, not highly visited

by tourists. ‘The situation on Ambae is not impacting other more populated and tourist focussed destinations. Tanna volcano remains accessible to visitors and its operations have not been affected.’ 

submitted by -- Gayle

While the Sunshine Coast is renowned for its beachside culture and its nightlife being as relaxed as its day time counterpart, after the sun sets behind the Glass House Mountains, there are pockets of bustling activity if you know where to look.

1. Aussie World’s Halloween FestEvil

Experience Aussie World’s dark side during their Halloween FestEvil! Back by popular demand, this night isn’t for the faint hearted but is for those who are looking for a bit of fun! Held on Friday the 13th of October, horror buffs (M15+) are invited to come face to face with their ultimate fears with a range of rides, mazes and entertainment that’s bound to shake everyone down to the bone! On 28 October, you’re in for a treat, as Aussie World turns into a Halloween FestEvil fantasy wonderland for a night of spooky fun the whole family will enjoy. Expect thrills and chills!

2. Caloundra Twilight Markets

With a variety of markets that rotate along the Sunshine Coast’s ever bustling coastal lines, the Caloundra Twilight Market, held every Friday during the September school holidays, is set to bring a whole new feel to market atmosphere. Take a walk through the countless stalls as the sun sets on Bulcock Beach while listening to the sweet tunes of street entertainment!  Your Friday night starts here.

3. Opera at the Castle

If you’re a fan of opera and musical theatre, this event is for you! Opera at the Castle is run by the Underground Opera Company and will showcase some of Australia’s finest voices as they perform pieces from popular operas and numbers from musical theatre showstoppers! Held in the magnificent banquet hall in Sunshine Castle Bli Bli, we recommend this experience for all music lovers on the Sunshine Coast! 

4. Sundowners in Twin Waters  

The Shore at Novotel Twin Waters Resort is a new pop-up Sundowner Lounge where drinks are enjoyed as the sun disappears over  the Twin Water’s lagoon. Running until Sunday 8 October, there’s a retro van serving cocktails and bean bags on the sand to relax on! What better way to kick off the Queensland long weekend! Cruise into the evening with cool tunes and cocktails by the lagoon at Novotel Twin Waters Resort.

5. Nights on Ocean 

On the second Friday of every month, Nights on Ocean comes to life on Maroochydore’s Ocean Street. With the street already famous for being the Sunshine Coast’s nightlife capital, Nights on Ocean builds on the street’s many restaurants and bars and amplifies the already pumping atmosphere. With food stalls to take you on a culinary tour around the world and desserts to satisfy the biggest sweet tooth craving, Nights on Ocean places you at the centre of Sunshine Coast’s nightlife.

6. Taps Mooloolaba 

What better way to kick off the weekend than by getting a table at Taps Mooloolaba and pouring yourself your own craft beers! With a variety of frothies only an arm’s reach away, your toughest decision won’t be what beer to try next, but what food you’ll have on their sensational menu! 

7. Degustation dinner

With fresh produce and innovative food being the heart of the Sunshine Coast, what better way to celebrate locals than by going out for a degustation dinner. Experience food differently by having the chefs choose your meals and courses for you! Guaranteed to make you appreciate the finer things in life, degustation dinners are a fancier way to spend your nights on the Sunshine Coast. Our suggestions are, Spice BarWasabiThe Long Apron and Spicers Tamarind

8. Take a full moon horse ride

Pony-up for an after dark saddle club adventure with Rainbow Beach Horse Rides. This two-and-a-half hour ride is an unforgettable experience. You’ll see the moon turn from orange to milky white as it rises and casts a reflection across the Pacific Ocean. All levels of riding ability are catered for so this is an easy one to tick off your bucket list.  Ride on the beach as the sun sets or take a moonlit country ride.

9. Night vision tours

Xperiences’ Night Vision Tours are a must-do after dark adventure. Kit up with military grade high definition night goggles and discover the nocturnal wildlife in the forest around Novotel Twin Waters Resort. Choose from a suspenseful adventure tour, or a slow-paced tour for nature lovers, or give yourself a scare with a “Wolf Creek” escapade.  Xperiences night vision escapades.

10. Take a sunset cruise

Join a Whale OneMooloolaba Harbour Reef Canal Cruises, or Coastal Cruises Mooloolaba for a sunset cruise to discover the waterways of Mooloolaba. Relax and admire the magnificent homes that line the canals and enjoy the sun disappearing behind the Glass House Mountains. If you're up Noosa way, hop aboard a Noosa Ferry for a one-hour, pre-dinner sunset cruise that'll take you up close the the wildlife of Lake Weyba before taking in the sunset at the river entrance.

 

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Cathay Pacific to resume direct flights from Auckland to Hong Kong while operating under fuel restrictions

The Auckland jet fuel shortage is ongoing, with airlines operating under strict restrictions however Cathay Pacific will today return to normal operations, with direct flights from Auckland to Hong Kong.

Cathay Pacific is able to bring in extra fuel on their Hong Kong to Auckland flights and with fuel allocated from Auckland this will allow the airline to complete their direct flight without being re-routed via Brisbane.

As the fuel shortage is changeable, Cathay Pacific would like to encourage all passengers to check their flight status on cathaypacific.co.nz in case of any last-minute changes to schedules.

 

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CHOICE says consumers should know their travel rights amid airport outage chaos and Bali volcano

With thousands of Australian passengers facing delays or cancellations following an air traffic control system failure at Sydney Airport and the ongoing issue with the Bali volcano, consumer advocacy group CHOICE is reminding people of their travel rights.
 
“Getting stranded on the first day of the school holidays is a painful situation for anyone who is getting ready to hop on a plane,” says CHOICE Head of Media and spokesperson, Tom Godfrey.
 
“In Australia, payments for accommodation, transport, meals and phone calls if your flight is delayed or cancelled is at the discretion of the airline but it's always worth asking if you need any assistance.
 
“If the issue is out of the airline's control, like volcanic ash clouds or an air traffic control problem, airlines will usually try to help you get to your destination but they may not pay for any costs or expenses you may incur as a result of the delay or cancellation[1].”
 
“Now that the status of the Bali volcano is a known event, meaning it’s been published widely in the media and on the Smart Traveller website, it’s too late to take out travel insurance to cover delays for the volcano if you haven’t already got it. If you’re still planning to travel, you still need insurance but know that you may not be covered for some delays,” says Mr Godfrey.
 
“Taking it out now would be the equivalent of taking out car insurance after you’ve had an accident.”
 
“It’s a different story if the airline is at fault, such as a staffing issue. We believe the airlines should take responsibility and compensate travellers for any costs they may have incurred,” says Mr Godfrey.
 
Choice has renewed its call for Australians to receive fixed-dollar compensation when an airline makes a mistake.[2]
 
“We’re also encouraging travellers who do experience mistakes that are within an airline’s control to lodge a complaint through our Complane.com.au tool[3],” says Mr Godfrey.
 
“Consumers can help put the pressure on the airlines to do the right thing by their passengers.”
 
Travel Tips:

  • If you are out of pocket because of flight delays or cancellations in Australia, keep your receipts but try to keep your expenditure as low as possible – you may never get the money back 
  • Airlines will often address claims for reimbursements on a case by case basis so if you're stranded or in need of assistance, approach the counter or call your airline to see if they can offer you assistance
  • Check if your travel insurance covers you for flight delays or cancellations - good policies will cover you when something goes wrong 
  • Keep all receipts to lodge a claim with your insurer if you get stuck

 

[1] https://www.choice.com.au/travel/on-holidays/airlines/articles/your-rights-on-school-holiday-flights-250917

[2] https://www.choice.com.au/travel/on-holidays/airlines/articles/flight-delays-and-cancellations-compensation

[3] http://www.complane.com.au/

 

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Niue’s Government and the island’s tourism industry have launched a Responsible Tourism Policy which is complemented by Tourism Business and Visitor Codes of Conduct.

The Policy and Codes were announced and released today to mark Niue’s contribution to World Tourism Day – 27 September.

Niue Tourism Director of Marketing Felicity Bollen says tourism is a vital part of the island’s economy and the Policy is intended to help preserve Niue’s largely unspoilt natural attractions. It also marks Niue’s support for the United Nations’ 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly given the UN’s adoption of 2017 as the International year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.

Developed by the Niue Government in consultation with the island’s tourism sector, the Responsible Tourism Policy identifies how local planning and strategic developments will contribute to a responsible tourism industry which operates sustainably and with respect for the environment and the local community, says Felicity.

“It outlines actions that will deliver triple-bottom-line benefits to Niue - for the environment, the community and the economy – but also looks at how we will meet those UN sustainability goals as well as support Pacific Region initiatives.”

Felicity says the Tourism Business and Visitor Codes of Conduct weave in the actions of the other important stakeholders in responsible tourism – the visitors to the island and the businesses that offer them services. “There’s a growing awareness among visitors of the need to respect and protect the environments they visit like our forests and reefs, make sustainable choices, and thus contribute to the conservation of those environments.

“But visitors are also increasingly wanting to enhance their experience by learning more about the island’s natural habitats and what’s being done to conserve them, as well as looking to tourism operators to act responsibly towards the environment and have a commitment to sustainable practices.

“The Codes are a guide for both the tourism operators and the visitors on how they can meet the requirements of responsible tourism – respecting the local people and environment and contributing to Niue’s sustainable economic development.”

The Codes of Conduct will be made available to visitors in a number of ways, says Felicity. “They will be on display and available to visitors at the island’s accommodation and other tourism businesses, as well as being emailed to visitors when they book their Niue holiday.

“The main changes we see arising from this initiative are a much greater sharing of the responsibility for responsible tourism between the tourism industry, government agencies and those coming to Niue. It will bring a more coordinated and comprehensive approach to improving sustainability, and greater encouragement to the tourism sector to access finance and other support to progress sustainability initiatives.”

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Hawaiian Airlines has this morning announced plans to move to up to five A330 services a week between Auckland and Honolulu, from 21 March.

The carrier says the move is in response to demand and will offer its passengers greater convenience and flexibility to Hawaii and the US mainland. HA's AKL-HNL flights have also been re-timed from 21 Mar.

Fares for the additional services are on sale now - contact your nearest Mondo Travel specialist now by calling 0800 110 108!

 

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Thanks to an objectively sweet promotion from the J.W. Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa in Palm Dessert, Calif., guests can now have a whopping 10-pound pink doughnut delivered straight to their door. As the main event of the hotel’s new $219 “Donut Disturb” package, the hefty treat, which measures three feet wide by a foot high, will be wheeled straight to the room with a side of milkshakes when guests are ready for a serious sugar high.

While the lines are fine as to whether the confection is a technically a donut or a cake, FoodBeast reports that the layers of Tahitian vanilla cake, cream, and raspberry jelly smothered with pink cream frosting, macaron crisps and sprinkles classify it as "Homer Simpson's version of heaven."

Included with the purchase of the Donut Disturb package, guests also receive a $50 hotel credit for the spa, dining, or golfing — though it would likely prove difficult to get up from the couch, let alone golf, after chowing down on the doughnut.

Source: Fox News

Image: J.W. Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa

 

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Cathay Pacific is set to launch non-stop routes ex Hong Kong to Brussels, Dublin and Copenhagen, the carrier has announced.

CX will commence a four times weekly service to the Belgian capital from 25 Mar; while the new four times weekly Hong Kong to Dublin service will be launched 02 Jun; and Denmark’s cultural centre will be served by a three times weekly seasonal service between 02 May and 12 Oct.

The commencement of the new routes will see CX serve 15 European destinations direct from Hong Kong.

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My dream…is to make your travel dream a reality.

Meet Mehul Thakkar who is based in Wellington

Whether it’s to visit family or friends overseas, travel on business, a romantic getaway, an adventure trip, a cruise or just a getaway….let me help make the trip an experience of a lifetime. Passionate about the industry I gain the most satisfaction from planning a trip that builds on your lifetime of memories.

Having travelled extensively around the world I have the knowledge and experience to help you plan that trouble-free holiday on a budget that works for you. I know where to go to find the best value-added deal. I will research options and come back to you with a plan that will make your dream trip a reality. I am also happy to share the tips and tricks of the trade to make your trip especially enjoyable. 

What’s on your list? Give me a call – you tell me your experiences and aspirations and I’ll tell you mine! Even you if need general travel information, give me a call and I am more than happy to discuss the best or suitable option with you.

Taking care of all aspects of your travel in one place, saving you time searching in numerous places and booking in 5 different places – choose a total service option – a ‘one stop shop’ for all your travel needs:

  • Airfares & Airpasses
  • Accommodation
  • Rental Cars
  • Coach Tours
  • Sightseeing
  • Cruises
  • Insurance
  • Foreign Exchange
  • Rail Tours

You can contact Mahul on:

E: mehul.thakkar@mondotravel.co.nz

T: +64 21 292 3480

 

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United Airlines has confirmed it will operate a larger 777-300ER  aircraft on its seasonal Auckland-San Francisco route when it recommences services from 31 Oct--featuring its flash new Polaris business class product.

The move will add another 114 seats on each flight from the 787-9 aircraft originally scheduled, and as a result UA is moving to six services a week (was daily) on the route, through to 17 Dec; and then operate daily through to 24 Mar.

 

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Cathay Pacific continues to grow Hong Kong’s connections to the world. From Summer 2018, the airline will launch pioneering non-stop routes linking Hong Kong with Brussels, Dublin and Copenhagen, further strengthening the airline’s network and providing new trade and tourism opportunities between Asia and Europe.

Cathay Pacific Chief Executive Officer Rupert Hogg said that the announced services will meet customer demand for non-stop travel to these vibrant cities, while at the same time providing Europe-based passengers with more convenient access to key destinations in Asia and Southwest Pacific through the airline’s home in Hong Kong.

“We’re excited to offer the only direct flights between Hong Kong and Brussels, Dublin and Copenhagen. These are all fantastic destinations and attract business and leisure travellers from the world over. We listened to our customers’ demands for more options and greater flexibility and have responded by building direct air links with these great cities,” said Mr Hogg. 

“Growing our reach to new destinations that aren’t served from Hong Kong boosts the city’s status as Asia’s largest international hub and enables us to capture new and important sources of revenue.”

Following the recent launch of services to Gatwick, Madrid and Barcelona, Cathay Pacific’s European expansion continues. With the commencement of the new routes, the airline’s network will cover 15 European destinations served direct from Hong Kong.

New levels of on-board comfort

Cathay Pacific’s long-haul fleet of aircraft averages just five years of age, making it one of the youngest in the industry. The three new routes will be operated by Cathay Pacific’s state-of-the-art Airbus A350-900 aircraft, which feature the latest seats and cabin design and which have been especially well-received by the airline’s customers. All flights to Brussels, Dublin and Copenhagen are equipped with the aircraft’s enhanced inflight entertainment system and Wi-Fi on board. 

Cathay Pacific has in operation 18 of the 22 A350-900s it has on order, with the remaining four aircraft due for delivery before the end of 2017. Additionally, the airline has 26 of the larger A350-1000 type scheduled to join its fleet from 2018. These environmentally friendly and fuel-efficient aircraft allow Cathay Pacific to open up new markets not otherwise served from Hong Kong.

Brussels

 

The administrative and financial heart of Belgium – and the de facto capital of the European Union, cosmopolitan Brussels is famed for its beautiful parks, architecture and myriad cultural attractions. Cathay Pacific will commence a four-times weekly service to the Belgian capital from 25 March 2018. 

Dublin

Immortalised in the works of author James Joyce, the ever-evolving Irish capital is known for being one of Europe’s great sporting, music and nightlife centres. It is also ranked one of the world’s most innovative cities and is a global hub for the leasing and finance of aircraft, a status that Hong Kong, following recent tax legislation, is on course to emulate. The new four-times weekly Hong Kong to Dublin service will be launched on 2 June 2018. 

Copenhagen

Considered Scandinavia’s capital of cool, Copenhagen is a thriving eco-friendly metropolis with a small-town feel and a breathtakingly beautiful harbour. The lifelong home of fairy tale writer Hans Christian Andersen, Copenhagen has been named the world’s most liveable city on numerous occasions. Denmark’s cultural centre will be served by a three-times weekly seasonal service between 2 May and 12 October 2018

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Qantas and Emirates are set to apply to extend their partnership for another five years, in a move that will see some changes to QF's flight network, including the removal of Dubai as a stopover on two routes.

Qantas will re-route its daily Sydney-London A380 service via Singapore rather than Dubai; while its Melbourne-Dubai-London service will be replaced with its Dreamliner service flying Melbourne-Perth-London, as previously announced.

Other changes include that Qantas's Melbourne-Singapore flight will be operated with an A380, instead of an A330.

Emirates says the changes will allow it to offer an 'even stronger' product proposition for travel to Dubai, along with onward connections, with updates to be announced in the coming weeks. 

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Going on that once in a lifetime safari? Wear light coloured clothing to blend in with your environment whilst on safari. Take some warm clothes for those early morning game drives - it’s one of the times in Africa when you would be glad to go out with a warm beanie hat, and also be sure to have a sun hat handy for when the sun warms up.

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When visiting Niue, there's definitely no shortage of water sport activities!

Fishing, diving, snorkelling with the dolphins & swimming in beautiful coves are high on the list for many travellers to Niue. If any of these tours are priorities, we recommend that clients tick these boxes early in their stay. Don’t save the best till last in case changes in the weather preclude some of these activities.

Niue is one of the very few places in the world where you can swim with whales – but you will need to plan your holiday from Jun-Sep when these magnificent mammals migrate from Antarctica to warmer water.

Niue is riddled with sea tracks that lead to beautiful and secluded swimming holes. To enjoy this experience you should definitely be packing some reef shoes!

We recommend renting a car as Niue has no public transport system and is a “place to explore”. With over 120kms of paved roads, a rental car is definitely a must. To rent a car you will be required to show your NZ licence and then will be issued with a Niue licence (cost is approx. $22.50 NZD – Subject to change).

On arrival in Niue, you will be handed a Visitor's Guide at the airport. DO NOT leave it in your bag until the last few days. This book is a valuable planning guide and includes relevant information for your stay. The team at the Visitors Centre in Alofi are a great source of information and they’re on hand Mon-Fri and Sat morning to answer any questions that comes their way from visitors.

Note: Shops and eateries are generally closed on Sundays as this is their religious day, so if you need to purchase supplies plan on any day other than a Sunday!

Plus: Make sure you have a bit of NZ currency in hand as some of the smaller businesses on the island don’t take Eftpos or credit cards. Niue does not have an ATM machine either, however if you need to get cash out, Swanson’s Supermarket will extend cash out with a minimum $5 purchase.

 

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The world of Viking Cruises keeps expanding, yet there are some destinations and some journeys that will forever remain on the list of favourites. Take a look at their current top selling ocean and river cruises. Some have already become familiar favourites, while others are recent additions to their exciting cruise offerings.

Their inspiring new ocean itineraries are walking off the shelves, and even more so with a choice of AU$1,000 Air Credit per couple or $1,000 Shipboard Credit per couple.

Plus their fly free river cruise offers makes it a very easy decision to choose Viking, and we know their Business Class return to Europe at AU$4,995 per person is appealing to many guests who think of travelling to Europe in 2018.

The sooner you book, the greater the availability, so secure the holiday of their dreams now at an amazing price.

THEIR TOP 3 SELLING OCEAN CRUISES

  1. IN SEARCH OF THE NORTHERN LIGHTS - London to Bergen or vice versa. 13 Days, 2 Countries | Jan - Mar 2019 - from AU$9,095 per person PLUS $1,000 Air Credit per person.
  2. VIKING HOMELANDS - Stockholm - Bergen or vice versa. 15 Days, 8 Countries | Apr - Sep 2018 - from AU$9,649 per person PLUS $1,000 Air Credit or Shipboard Credit per couple.
  3. IN THE WAKE OF THE VIKINGS - Bergen to Montreal. 15 Days, 6 Countries | Sep 2018 - from AU$10,895 per person PLUS $1,000 Air Credit or Shipboard Credit per couple.

TOP 3 SELLING RIVER CRUISES

  1. GRAND EUROPEAN TOUR - Amsterdam to Budapest or vice versa. 15 Days, 4 Countries | Mar - Oct 2018 - from AU$7,295 per person PLUS FLY FREE TO EUROPE.
  2. LYON & PROVENCE - Avignon - Lyon or vice versa. 8 Days, 1 Country | Mar - Nov 2018 - from AU$3,295 per person PLUS Fly for $995 per person
  3. RHINE GETAWAY - Amsterdam to Basel or vice versa. 8 Days, 4 Countries | Mar - Dec 2018 - from AU$3,495 per person PLUS Fly for $995 per person

Talk to us about your next cruise holiday. Viking has a huge selection of cruises across their Ocean and River portfolio. They're a privately-owned company offering river and ocean cruises, aimed at more experienced travellers with an interest in geography, culture and history. If this sounds like you get in touch with us today!

Call 0800 110 108 or email info@mondotravel.co.nz

 

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Air New Zealand will increase its operations to Samoa with a move to fly up to six Dreamliner services a week to Apia during the peak season.  The airline will operate between four and six weekly services using its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner between April and October 2018.

Between November 2017 and March 2018 Dreamliner aircraft will operate three services a week on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.  Other services will be operated by the airline’s Airbus A320 aircraft.

Air New Zealand’s senior manager Pacific Islands, Brent Roxburgh, says the move to operate more widebody services comes in response to growing customer demand for travel to and from Apia.

'The move to more Dreamliner flights between Auckland and Samoa represents around 20% more seats into Samoa year-on-year.'

The number of visitors to Samoa from New Zealand increased by 6.4% to nearly 60,000 in the year to July 2017.

Source: One Minute Memo

 

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Excitement was in the air on 16th August at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany, as Royal Caribbean International marked the official start of construction of its next generation of ship – dubbed the Quantum Ultra class.

In line with tradition, a ceremony was held for cutting the first piece of steel where the ship was officially named Spectrum of the Seas.

Set to debut in 2019, Spectrum will be the next evolution of the cruise line’s groundbreaking and high-tech Quantum class, and will join sister ships, Quantum of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas and Ovation of the Seas

The new ship is destined to be based in China and the Asia-Pacific region, and will feature unprecedented experiences and amenities.

“Today is a very special day in the development of our new Quantum Ultra ship, Spectrum of the Seas. We are now one step closer to delighting our guests in Asia Pacific with this remarkable ship,” said Michael Bayley, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. “Spectrum will be a leap forward in vessel design and guest experiences that will provide travelers with ample opportunities to create unforgettable memories.”  

 

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While the city has much to offer urban explorers, Perth is even more blessed when it comes to natural beauty.

Catch the sunrise at Kings Park 

It’s an outdoor movie and concert venue, a popular vantage point for Australia Day fireworks and home to the state’s biggest Anzac Day Dawn Service. Kings Park, Perth’s sprawling inner-city green lung, knows how to rise to the occasion yet it’s equally impressive outside of a special event. Do a self-guided tour of the park’s Boodja Gnarning Walk, hit the running trails or simply soak up the views of the city and Swan River.

Take time out at the beach  

Want to really get away from it all? Perth’s coastline boasts plenty of quiet beaches. Consider setting course for enclaves such as the northerly stretches of Port Beach, near Fremantle, or Mettams Pool, a natural rock pool protected by a reef at North Beach.

Bushwalk at Bold Park  

It’s hard to believe you’re less than eight kilometres from the city centre. A world-class urban reserve in Floreat, Bold Parkhas more than 15 kilometres of walking trails plus a bridle trail for horseriding. Cycling is permitted on one trail. Lookouts give spectacular views of the coast and city.

Swim with dolphins at Rockingham 

Just a 40-minute drive south of Perth, Rockingham’s sheltered bays serve as a playground for more than 200 wild dolphins. The pod is never fed or trained – they welcome visitors into their world on their own terms – and you can frolic with them from September to May. 

Spend the day at Rottnest Island  

Named for the furry “rats” (actually quokkas) that are native to the island, Rottnest is a popular getaway just 25 minutes by ferry from Fremantle. No cars are allowed and hiring a bike is the best (and most eco) way to explore the postcard-perfect swimming bays.

Main image: Rottnest Island

Source: Travel Insider

 

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American Airlines have announced that it is moving to a seasonal service between Auckland and Los Angeles.

The carrier is set to re-start its flights between the city pair from 7 October (ex AKL) and will continue to offer daily 787-9 services on the route through until 25 March. It will then suspend its Auckland operations, with plans to resume another seasonal service from October 2018-March 2019. Affected passengers are being offered refunds or re-accommodated onto other flights.

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Polar Code: MS BREMEN becomes one of the first passenger ships in the world to receive the Polar Ship Certificate

  • It will be mandatory for ships operating in the polar regions to have the certificate from January 2018
  • The extensive preparatory phase lasts two years
  • All other ships in the fleet will receive the certification in future

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ 4-star expedition cruise ship, the 155-passenger MS BREMEN has become one of the first passenger ships in the world to receive the Polar Ship Certificate which will be mandatory for ships operating in the Polar Regions. Following a two-year long phase of intense preparation, finally, the Polar Code certification has been awarded. All of the other ships in the fleet are also due to meet the requirements of the Polar Code by the Arctic season in 2018.

The International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters (Polar Code) – adopted by the International Maritime Organisation – contains regulations concerning the ships’ construction, equipment and training and their crews that intend to operate in the polar regions. Issued by the classification society DNV GL, the Polar Ship Certificate confirming compliance with the Polar Code will be mandatory for all ships from January 2018. The Polar Code is intended to increase the safety of ships and pay greater attention to environmental protection.

“The Polar Code will improve the safety of navigation in polar waters significantly. We have taken a pioneering step in certifying the BREMEN and paved the way for the other ships in the fleet of Hapag-Lloyd Cruises to comply with the Polar Code. I am happy to have contributed”, says Captain Thilo Natke, who oversaw the certification process for Hapag-Lloyd Cruises. Natke prepared a Polar Water Operational Manual that will, in particular, familiarise younger officers with the ship-specific particularities of navigating in ice.

Certain technical modifications have to be carried out on board the ships in order for them to meet the requirements of the Polar Code. For instance, fire lines located on deck were fitted with additional insulation and an additional ice spotlight was installed when the BREMEN was in dock in October 2016. A wide range of extra equipment has also been sourced in order to ensure the survival of passengers and crew members in potential emergencies in the Polar Regions. During 2017, as part of their routine dry-dock periods in the shipyard, the other ships in the Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ fleet will also be brought in line with the criteria of the certificate in order that they meet the requirements of the Polar Code at the latest by the Arctic season in 2018 and are able to operate in the regions successfully.

BREMEN will be operating three international cruises during the 2018/2019 season, including sailing to the North East Passage in the summer of 2018.

For more information on Hapag Lloyd, call one of our cruise specialists today - 0800 110 108.

 

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Abu Dhabi has been named the safest city in the world by Numbeo, a website that curates and collates data to develop the world’s largest user-contributed database about cities and countries worldwide. 

With the lowest crime index of just 13.54 in the past six months, and the highest safety index of 86.46, Abu Dhabi was well ahead of its closest rivals for overall safety. Respondents to the index stated that Abu Dhabi has very low crime levels and scored the capital at 94 per cent for a general feeling of safety in the city.   

Last month, Abu Dhabi was named the second-best city in the world to live, work and do business in, overtaking both London and Paris in the most recent Ipsos City Index. 

HE Saif Saeed Ghobash, Director General, TCA Abu Dhabi, said: “Abu Dhabi has a solid reputation for safety with a virtually crime-free society. It is a priority when choosing a city to visit or live in and provides peace of mind knowing that you can feel safe anywhere you go in Abu Dhabi. The result of this index supports Abu Dhabi’s position as the leading city in the world to live, work and do business in, and highlights an aspect of life in Abu Dhabi that is a matter of great pride to all residents.”

The index, which ranked 334 countries globally, is an estimation of overall level of crime in a given city or a country. Crime levels lower than 20 are considered as “very low,” crime levels between 20 and 40 as being “low,” crime levels between 40 and 60 as being “moderate,” crime levels between 60 and 80 as being “high” and crime levels higher than 80 as being “very high.” Alternatively, if the city has a high safety index, it is considered very safe.

Ghobash continued: “The position of Abu Dhabi in this global ranking is a testament to the ongoing efforts to establish the Emirate as a destination of distinction with international standards of safety that are on par with global metropolises. Whether visiting for business or for an extended stay, we hope that our unique Emirati hospitality continues to enrich the experiences of any visitor to Abu Dhabi.”

Established in 2009, Numbeo is a collaborative online database which enables users to share and compare information about the cost of living between countries and cities.

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Thai Airways New Zealand have announced the introduction of a new 787-900 Dreamliner aircraft on their Auckland-Bangkok-Auckland route from 16 November this year. At the same time, days of operation will increase from the current 5 days a week to a daily service.

The 787-900 will have a configuration of 30 fully lie-flat Business Class seats and 268 Economy Class seats. It is a state-of-the-art aircraft that has received wide praise from both the travel industry and passengers. With its spacious, quiet cabin, modern LED lighting, large windows and seating that provides the latest in comfort and technology, the 789 offers a premium travel experience.

The introduction of these new services also coincides with the 30th anniversary of THAI Airways services between Auckland and Bangkok.

 

 

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A major, long-term project for The Islands of Tahiti became a reality with the official recognition of the Taputapuatea marae, a highly sacred site on the island of Raiatea, as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

This important recognition not only highlights a level of cultural significance present in the destination, but stimulates a source of great pride for the Polynesian people, bringing with it an opportunity for tourism to leverage the visibility of The Islands of Tahiti.

The Islands of Tahiti are a unique and colourful destination. Now with The World Heritage label bestowed upon the Taputapuatea marae, this global accolade will aid in attracting visitors in search of history and a rich cultural experience.

Located on the beautiful island of Raiatea, the second largest economic centre in The Islands of Tahiti, the marae is an ancient sacred site where ancient ceremonies took place prior to the arrival of European missionaries.

Its preservation, whilst a symbol of ancient Polynesian culture, also showcases the importance of mana, a source of great power and spiritual strength present in the surrounding nature. Notably, The Taputapuatea marae is the first cultural site in a French overseas region to be recognised by UNESCO.

With a string of activities dotted throughout the island, Raiatea makes a highly attractive island for visitors in search of thrill and adventure. Hiking trails in the island's lush tropical interior take visitors to Mount Tapioi and Mount Temehani. Sea lovers can also sail the open ocean to the nearby islands of Huahine and Bora Bora, as well as to the neighbouring lagoons of its sister island Taha'a, an area defined by its production of vanilla.

With its combination of rugged coastline and mountainous landscapes, Raiatea creates a diverse region with picturesque beaches and beautiful hiking trails. There are also many scuba diving sites, including the Nordby, a wreck lying 95 feet under the surface.

With this prestigious UNESCO cultural label, Tahiti Tourisme can position the destination, highlighting the wealth of Polynesian culture and the diversity of activities as a sustainable tourism hub. The classification of the Taputapuatea marae as a UNESCO World Heritage site provides the Polynesian people with new, unifying opportunity to share their traditions, and ancient heritage to the wider world.

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Philippine Airlines will fly non-stop on the Auckland - Manila route from 6 December 2017. PR 219 will operate thrice weekly - departing Auckland every Friday, Saturday and Tuesday at 12.30am local time, touching down in Manila 5.45am. The return flight leaves Manila every Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday, departing Manila at 11.15pm and arriving Auckland at 2.05pm local time the following day.

The non-stop service will will reduce the flight time to 10 hours from the current 12.15 hour Auckland - Cairns - Manila flight (which continues until 5 December).

PAL will utilise its twin-aisle dual class 254 seater A340s instead of the single aisle 156 seater A320s, thus increasing capacity by 60%.

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Kel has been organising and escorting groups to sporting events worldwide for the past 40 years! The Melbourne Cup is a personal favourite, and he can't wait to accompany the next group to his 37th Cup event!

So what makes Kel's Melbourne Cup tour package so special? It's the passion, for starters, as well as being accompanied by the legendary Des Coppins, both of whom go the extra mile to ensure tour members have an enjoyable and memorable experience.

In fact, Kel recalls with much delight, one particular tour. He often receives requests to accommodate solo travellers who prefer to share a room and generally tries his best to match up age and personality. On this trip, at breakfast after the first night, Kel was approached by one such tour member who asked "where the hell did you find my room mate?". When Kel dug deeper, it turned out the room mate snored horrendously. Kel offered to find him a single room, but he said he'd give it one more night and see how things went.

After breakfast the following day, Kel approached the gentleman and asked how his night had been. His response had Kel in fits: "No problem. i think i have sorted it." Kel dug deeper and the explanation was: "Being a bit of a night owl, I stayed out longer than my room mate. When I let myself into the room, my room mate was in bed reading. I  went to the bathroom and got myself ready for bed ... but before turning my bed light off, I lent down and gave my room mate a peck on the cheek and said 'sleep well, dear'. Well, I slept like a log but I don't know about him - he must have been awake all night because i never heard any snoring!"

While the Melbourne Cup race is obviously the big drawcard, these tours do include a lot more! This year, just some of the tour highlights they have lined up include:

  • Friday night - Welcome function with drinks and nibbles 
  • Saturday night - Drinks after the races
  • Sunday - Full day tour to Racing stables and luch at Dingley Hotel owned by former well known jockey Gary Willets 
  • Monday morning - Sporting Tours Social Bowls Tournament  and in the evening Cup Eve Dinner
  • Tuesday - Drinks an nibbles after the races
  • Wednesday - A choice of 2 full day tours to either Kyneton Races or Wine Tasting
  • Thursday - Farewell function with drinks and nibbles

At this stage, there are a mix of folk from all ages booked into the tour, including horse trainers, horse owners and everyday racegoers.

And you may just be on a winning streak if you take the advice of Des' good friend, Brett Davison. Brett is a leading Australian racing tipster, and both he and Des will offer their tips for picking a winner. In fact, their tipping sheets are given to tour members on the bus trip to the racecourse each year. Over the years, they have picked many winners at very lucrative odds!

The tours are always fun, action packed and thoroughly memorable ... will you be on the next one? If you're keen, get in touch soon as spaces are limited!

 

 

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Singapore Airlines has today launched HighFlyer, a new rewards program specifically designed to enable small to medium enterprises (SMEs) to reward businesses, and their employees, for flying on the carrier as well as SilkAir.

Under the new scheme, the business will earn HighFlyer points, while the employee continues to earn KrisFlyer miles.

And there’s NO minimum spend, meaning it’s something you can all take advantage of if you travel long-haul a few times a year!

Given that 97% of businesses in New Zealand have fewer than 20 employees, their volume of travel undertaken often doesn’t reach the required limits of corporate travel programs. Singapore Airlines' HighFlyer program bridges the gap between the program for large corporates, and the benefits offered to individual frequent flyer members.

SMEs can take advantage of business rewards when their employees are travelling for business, while the individual traveller will still accrue their own points. ‘It’s a win:win!

The Details

SMEs earn five HighFlyer points for every SGD1 spent on tickets booked through SQ’s booking platform or an approved travel agent.

SMEs can check their points and manage travellers and bookings via a self-service web portal.

Businesses that reach a stipulated annual spend will have the choice of transferring to the SQ Corporate Travel Program, a corporate program for large businesses to enjoy corporate fares and additional benefits.

For more details on HighFlyer, see www.singaporeair.com/highflyer 

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Beyond Resort Khaolak, the adults only, all-villa resort operated by Thailand’s Kata Group at Khaolak, has for the third time been awarded Travelife Gold status.Travelife is an international sustainability certification scheme for hotels and accommodations, allowing holidaymakers to relax in the knowledge they are supporting local people and helping to protect the environment.

All Travelife certified hotels and accommodations must undertake an independent on-site audit to prove they meet strict sustainability criteria before they receive certification.

For a Travelife Gold hotel to maintain certification it must be audited every two years, with audits being undertaken on a rolling basis.
Beyond Resort Khaolak, with its certification now achieved for the third time, has a long-established programme that is committed to saving natural resources.
Water is recycled to use in the gardens, while the laundry is outsourced to professional laundries with ISO 14000 standards. Modern single lever mixers on sinks and showers automatically reduce the water consumption by up to 50 percent compared to conventional models.

Energy saving bulbs are used for 99 percent of all lighting in the resort, and in the public areas timer controls or light sensors control the lights depending on times and weather conditions.

The resort uses solar water heaters for all guestrooms and all back-of-house facilities.

Along with the established 3Rs policy of “reduce, reuse and recycle”, the resort purchases only what it needs, and not the packaging. Overall the waste products going to landfill or incinerators has been dramatically reduced since the resort joined the guidelines of Travelife.

To support the local community, all tours sold within the resort are operated by local businesses. Locally crafted souvenirs are sold within the resort grounds on certain nights to create a small marketplace, and local people provide Thai language and cuisine lessons for guests who wish to learn during their stay.

Staff participation in these programmes has always been highly enthusiastic, and management provides an environmental briefing every month.

Beyond Resort Khaolak is set directly on the white sands of Pakweep Beach, in Khaolak, and provides a selection of villa styles including one-and two-bedroom units, and villas with a private pool. No guests below the age of 18 years are allowed.

 

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Markets!!!

The biggest market in the Gold Coast is the Carrara Markets in Surfers Paradise which is held every weekend. There is also a beachfront night market on the Esplanade every Friday from 5.30 pm. Not to mention that they have several markets held across the Gold Coast region on the weekends in the following areas: Broadbeach, Burleigh Heads and Coolangatta.

Cruise!!!

The Gold Coast is all about activities and action but if you need the time out from the buzz of theme parks and shopping, then we recommend going on a Blue water River Cruise. These cruises will take you on a tranquil trip through the broad waters of the Gold Coast, which is the perfect way to relax and unwind.

Food Tip!!!!

We recommend eating at one of the local surf clubs, which is a great place to eat, drink and not to mention, mingle with locals. The local surf clubs al so often have an amazing view right on to the beach! You do not have to be a member to eat at a surf club, as long as you are staying no more than 15kms away - then you just sign the visitor’s book and head on in! Currumbin Vikings Club is a crowd favourite sitting right on Elephant Rock - check out their free courtesy shuttle on their website which has more information about the shuttle.

Outdoors!!!

Fancy a bushwalk or a reprieve from the blue and glitz of the Gold Coast? Visit the Springbrook National Park and see tumbling waterfalls and a subtropical rainforest. One of the key highlights is the Natural Bridge which can be accessed via a relatively easy walking track which is about 30-40 minutes long and get a selfie at the iconic "cave waterfall".

Family!!!

The Apartment style accommodation on offer in the Gold Coast is real value for money and is ideal for families. You can be sure that if you stay at Break free Diamond Beach, parents will feel safe with their kids as there is no busy road between the beach and the resort. You may also find that you don’t need to leave the property some days as you can enjoy the lagoon pools, BBQ’s and the kid’s playground.

 

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Train-Suite Shiki-Shima train, Japan:

Luxury train by Ferrari, Maserati designer

Japan has long had a love affair with its trains – and what's not to love about a system of fast commuter trains that run with such precision, 20-second delays are cause for apology? Now, though, Japan has a train to swoon over.

The Train-Suite Shiki-Shima, operated by East Japan Railway Company, is one of the world's most exclusive – and expensive trains. It hosts only 34 passengers at a time at a cost of from ¥740,000 ($9011) a night, a person, twin share.

Industrial designer Ken Kiyoyuki Okuyama, with design projects for Ferrari and Maserati on his impressive CV, lent his refined aesthetic to the 10-car sleeper, referencing Japanese tradition, culture and the golden age of travel.

The champagne-gold exterior is something to behold, as many a Japanese trainspotter has already done. The Shiki-Shima has become a well-photographed celebrity as she rolls across the northern Tohoku region and Hokkaido, on one-to three-night itineraries.

What's so special? Well, suites, for instance, variously include a working fireplace, a cypress wood bath, a loft, and for those who know and love the Rocky Mountaineer's domed observation deck, the corresponding Shiki-Shima cars are next level, with a futuristic white look and glass panels providing virtually floor-to-floor panoramas.

Katsuhiro Nakamura, Japan's first Michelin-starred chef, has devised the menus that include dishes which reflect specific locations along the journey and are served accordingly in a glamorous, chandelier-festooned dining room.

The Komorebi lounge is designed so the walls and windows reflect the organic forms and light of the countryside and even the music has been specifically designed for the experience by an award-winning film composer, Naoki Sato, and service is, of course, gracious and attentive.

The champagne-gold exterior is something to behold, as many a Japanese trainspotter has already done. The Shiki-Shima has become a well-photographed celebrity as she rolls across the northern Tohoku region and Hokkaido, on one- to three-night itineraries.

Currently booked out till mid-2018, you can "apply" via a ballot system.

 

Source: Stuff NZ

 

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Located in West Zone of Rio de Janeiro City, Barra da Tijuca beach is the biggest beach of the State of Rio de Janeiro, with 14,4 km of length. The the greenish and clear waters extend along the Lucio Costa Avenue until Recreio dos Bandeirantes. In the beginning is Barraca do Pepê, the most famous juice kiosk and sandwiches of the city and meeting place to the youth who live in the neighborhood. Ideal beach to practice surf, windsurf, bodyboarding and fishing.

Barra tha Tijuca is known as Brazilian Miami, with its wide avenues, lovely beach. This was the area where the 2016 Olympic Games took place and also the place where all major events, concerts or major sports games are held.

Barra da Tijuca is the district of Rio de Janeiro that counts with more Shopping Centers and modern centers of commerce, leisure and entertainment in Great City of Rio de Janeiro. Most of big offices, companies and public adminstration are moving to the morden buiding of Barra da Tijuca.

Make sure you visit Olympic Park and the RioCentro Complex.

 

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The glorious and varied islands of New Caledonia provide a feast for the eyes, the mind and the tastebuds and they are almost on our doorstep, writes Alexia Santamaria

It's quite incredible to take a flight of fewer than three hours from Auckland and suddenly find yourself on a tropical island where everyone speaks French. New Caledonia is a fascinating destination where European and Pacific culture meld, creating a unique environment. It's gorgeous too, as I found out on a recent trip. Here are some must-dos and must-eats for those considering a holiday there.

Must-Dos

1. Get under water

The smaller islands away from La Grand Terre (Lifou, Ouvea, Mare and the Isle of Pines) offer snorkelling and diving opportunities galore but if you're staying in Noumea, a five minute boat ride from Anse Vata beach will get you to Ile aux Canards, an islet where you can float through the marine reserve and see all types of pretty coloured sea life. I loved swimming in the crystal-clear bath temperature water and hanging with Nemo and his mates. If it's just a dip you're after, Anse Vata and Baie des Citrons in Noumea itself are lovely.

2. Get some Kanak culture

There are multiple nationalities making up New Caledonia. The Kanaks and the French are the best-known, but there have also been huge waves of Vietnamese, Indonesians and other ethnic groups who have more recently contributed to this fascinating melting pot. To understand the Pacific side, the Tjibaou Cultural Centre is an absolute must-do. A celebration of modern and traditional Kanak culture mixed with art and sculpture from all over the Pacific, it was built as a tribute to pro-independence Kanak leader Jean-Marie Tjibaou. It is one of the best cultural museum experiences I've had anywhere in the world. I loved the indigenous houses and was gobsmacked by the incredible wooden structures (designed by well-known Italian architect Renzo Piano) which rise way above the treetops.

3. Get active

We've all seen the white-sand beaches and clear water in the brochures, but I was surprised just how mountainous New Caledonia is too. It's a great place for hiking and I really enjoyed getting up a bit higher in Bourail and enjoying the bush and views from an elevated position. Horse riding is also a popular activity. I tried it in Deva at Le Carre 9 Ranch and enjoyed the relaxation of ambling along the beach and up into the golden grass on my new equine friend.

4. Get French

Of course, one of the things New Caledonia is best known for is its "Frenchness". There are 28 regional Kanak dialects but French is the only language that unifies the whole country. Make sure you get your fill of bread, charcuterie and good wine from supermarkets; ride bicycles; and have a go at playing petanque at any of the pistes dotted around the place.

5. Get to an island

There's plenty of magnificent scenery on the main island but the Loyalty Islands and Ile de Pins will complete your total Pacific island fantasy of fine white sand and azure-blue ocean. Ile de Pins is the most easily accessed but if you can get out to Mare, Lifou or Ouvea, it's worth the journey for some of the best beaches you'll ever see.

Must-Eats

1. French pastries and crepes

Load up on patisserie wherever you go in New Caledonia as it really is fantastic. If you've ever been to France, you will be transported back immediately in one bite of a gorgeous pain au chocolat or croissant. I loved L'Atelier Gourmand and Au Pain d'Antan in Noumea but didn't have a bad pastry anywhere. Also worth a mention are the crepes - especially at Le Rocher in Noumea. Stunning views and fantastic-tasting galettes and crepes.

2. Seafood

There are so many types of fish and seafood available in New Caledonia that it's a bit mind boggling. I tried octopus (very popular with locals) at Au P'tit Cafe and it was tender and beautifully cooked. Local prawns and fish cooked with a Kanak twist at L'Assiette de Cagou were delightful as was the seared tuna at very recently opened Les 3 Chefs. Seafood lovers will be in heaven in this Pacific paradise.

3. Bougna meal

This is a traditional Kanak-style meal where banana leaves are used to wrap chicken, lobster or fish with soft yams, bananas, sweet potatoes and coconut milk. This is then steamed over hot stones underground for a few hours. I believe you can get it in restaurants in the city but I would totally recommend going with a guide into a local tribal area for the real deal. I went with Emeric from Gecko Evasions to have a Bougna lunch with the lovely Anderson and Kathy up in the mountains in Bourail, and it was an unforgettable experience. I even got to walk around their land afterwards, see the river, and marvel at their fruit and veges.

4. Tropical fruit

Definitely indulge in local fruit while in New Caledonia. The papaya, mango and passionfruit (so much prettier externally than their New Zealand counterparts) are all sensational. I could not get enough of the local pineapple - way sweeter than what we get in New Zealand. It's at roadside stalls and in abundance at the lovely 
city markets (right next to the water) in Noumea. The markets are worth a visit whether you're a fruit fan or not. Go during the weekend if you can, as they are vibrant with more vendors present.

5. Venison

Try and have some venison somewhere during your stay. New Caledonia has an excess of deer (I have seen evidence of this on the golf course in the Sheraton in Deva, where they popped in to say hi) so the locals eat a lot of it. I tried it tartare style in Noumea at La Table des Gourmets but if raw deer meat doesn't appeal, you can get it cooked in many eateries.

Source: NZ Herald

 

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Hot Tip : Buenos Aires is squarely divided into barrios (neighbourhoods), each with a distinctive identity.

Don’t miss the colourful La Boca district, home of the tango, charming San Telmo with its many cafés or Recoleta, the fashionable restaurant and shopping area.

Whilst there, visit the legendary Recoleta Cemetery where 'Evita' is buried.

Another favourite of ours is to visit the Markets’ in Recoleta which take place every Saturday and Sunday, and the Antique Markets in San Telmo on Sundays.

Happy travels!

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Malaysia Airlines will launch a radical upgrade to its Boeing 737 business class, adopting lie-flat suites with direct aisle access for all passengers.

The airline will debut the seats on its new Boeing 737 MAX 10 fleet, due for delivery from 2021, with CEO Peter Bellew indicating to Australian Business Traveller they could use an all-new staggered design from Thompson Aero Seating. 

Thompson provided the new business class seats for Malaysian flag-carrier's Airbus A330 fleet as well as first class and business class for the forthcoming Airbus A350s

The Irish company also developed the revolutionary Vantage design chosen by US airline JetBlue for its transcontinental Airbus A321 Mint class, which sees each pair of business class seats followed by a single seat with sliding suite-like privacy doors... a version of which has also featured in Boeing's promotional material for its 737 MAX jets.

“I’m shamelessly copying what JetBlue have done with Mint, which is a fantastically innovative transcontinental product in the US” Bellew tells Australian Business Traveller. “I’m shamelessly ripping off their ideas!”

That could include Mint’s suite-like approach, which sees some seats sport “a privacy panel you can pull across so it’s like a private cabin,” Bellew hints.

However, whereas only three out of every five Mint passengers have direct access to the aisle, Bellew aims to see all travellers at the pointy end of Malaysia Airlines’ Boeing 737 MAX 10 fleet just one ginger step away from the aisle.

“That’s what we’re going to try and do. We may have to use a bit more real estate on the aircraft,” he admits, adding that the new seat will likely adopt a “staggered” design similar to that of the Thompson Vantage XL seats used by Qantas for its Airbus A330 and Boeing 787 Business Suites.

“Thompson are working on the final design at the moment, but we’ll have 16 business class seats in the Boeing 737 MAX 10s... we have the space to do that (although) we’ll probably have to go a bit further back in the aircraft.”

The seat manufacturer has already revealed an angled herringbone-style Vantage Solo lie-flat seat for single-aisle jets (below), with a launch airline flying an Airbus A320-series jet expected to be announced later this year. 

Paying a premium for sleep

Very few airlines are currently flying lie-flat business class seats on single-aisle jets like the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 series, but Bellew believes there’s pent-up and profitable demand for sleep even on Malaysia Airlines’ regional flights of four to five hours “to secondary cities in China, maybe to Perth overnight.” 

“If you ask business travellers what’s the number one thing they want from their flying, it’s sleep. (Above) food and inflight entertainment, this, that and the other, the most important thing for them is to get some sleep, even  on a short flight, and  people will pay a good premium for that.”

“There’s a lot of wealthy people in Asia, a lot of people who lead extraordinarily busy lives, and to be able to get three to four hours’ sleep on a flight is worth a lot of money to a lot of those people.”

Bellew will aim the Boeing 737 MAX 10 aircraft at "secondary and tertiary markets in China", which he sees as premium regional routes primed for growth due to the explosion of a moneyed middle-class with an appetite for travel.

As previously reported, Virgin Australia is also planning to fit an all-new business class seat to Boeing 737s flying east-west routes – referred to as "the Perth product" and which CEO John Borghetti says will represent a “quantum leap in domestic business class” – and it's been speculated that this seat could also come from Thompson Aero.

Source: Australian Business Traveller

 

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Venture Travel have been awarded Top Shop for Air New Zealand at the GTN Conference over this past weekend!!!

Read more about Venture Travel and the team here: https://mondotravel.co.nz/store and selecting ALBANY.

Venture Travel beat out all the other Mondo and GTN offices to take out the top accolade from Air New Zealand.

A wonderful performance and everyone at Mondo is delighted with Kim, and her team’s, success.

Pictured: Patricia Xu (Air NZ), Kim Herd (Venture Travel) and Stuart Long (Air NZ)

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Mondo Travel is involved in supporting Heroworx as they pull together their inaugual fishing tournament ("Busted and Bruised") in Rarotonga to raise funds to help pay for a covered bay for Puaikura Volunteer Fire Brigade in Arorangi, Rarotonga. Mondo are keen to see Peter raise the much needed $6,000 target!

Find out more about Heroworx HERE

Read the coverage HERE

Get details of the trip HERE ... come on and join Jo Holley on this fantastic trip that will be fun, fun, fun ... and do a whole lot of good!

 

 

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Cook Islands

Clients travelling to the Cook Islands who are thinking about taking food with them should note ...

You are able to take items such as frozen meat, cheese, olives etc with you, provided it is vacuum packed or sealed to abide by the Cook Island’s government law.

Another tip for the Cook Islands is that it is recommended to take cash out before leaving NZ. The island of Rarotonga charges a NZ$7.00 fee per transaction from an ATM.

Keep in mind that most properties in Rarotonga have safes in their rooms to keep your cash in for safe keeping.

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Air New Zealand will nearly double capacity on its seasonal Auckland to Denpasar service in 2018 and will also extend the season it flies there by almost two months.

The airline currently operates two services per week from Auckland to Denpasar International Airport between the end of May and mid-October, increasing to three services per week during peak times.

Next year the airline's Auckland to Bali season will start at the beginning of April with up to five services operating per week using the airline's Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, subject to regulatory approval.

Air New Zealand chief revenue officer Cam Wallace says Bali continues to prove popular with customers. 'The increase in services between Auckland and Bali, as well as the extension to the seasonal service, represents year-on-year growth of more than 90%.'

The additional capacity for the 2018 Bali season is on sale now - talk to us to book you in before they're all sold!

 

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Singapore Airlines today announced flights SQ291/292 will be retimed from 28 October 2017 following a review of the ‘Capital Express’ service.

The new schedule will see SQ291 depart 55 minutes later from Singapore, while SQ292 will depart Wellington 1 hour and 5 minutes earlier.

Singapore Airlines General Manager New Zealand, Simon Turcotte, said the timing changes were being made to improve the operational efficiency of the service.

“While the flights have met our expectations with regards to loads, there are some areas where we believe we can operate the service more efficiently,” Mr Turcotte said.  “Re-timing the flights will assist in this goal, while also providing additional connections from the Singapore Airlines global network to SQ291.  

“The later departure from Singapore will allow customers travelling from Bali, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Phuket, and Shanghai to connect to the Singapore-Canberra-Wellington flight.

“We’ve seen an increase in demand to cities in Southeast Asia, and these new timings will allow us to better serve those markets to Wellington. These new connections provide a great opportunity to increase the number of inbound visitors to Wellington, while the shorter turnaround in Wellington will further assist in improving efficiency of the service.”

Singapore Airlines will work with customers whose domestic connections in New Zealand are affected by the re-timing.

“It is normal practice to continually monitor and review any new route we launch and make changes where necessary,” Mr Turcotte said.  “We will continue working closely with our key stakeholders to develop and grow the route through promotion of the service and Wellington as a destination. As the first airline to operate the Singapore-Canberra-Wellington route, there have been a number of learnings that we have taken out of the first 10 months of operation. These learnings have resulted in our decision to re-time the flights.

“We will continue to monitor the performance of the operation and if required make further adjustments where necessary.”

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Air New Zealand passengers have a thing for roast chicken, Cookie Time and Kiwi wine and movies, research from the airline has shown. 

Of the more than six million "New Zealand-inspired" meals served across the airline's global network over the past 12 months, more than half a million (530,000) were the roast chicken dish, the airline said. 

More specifically, roast chicken with tarragon cream sauce, roasted kumara and garden vegetables.

When it comes to snacking though, most passengers prefer sweet over savoury. 

Some 5.8 million Cookie Time cookies were served on domestic flights over the same period, compared with just 1.8 million savoury snacks. Customers also chomped their way through more than 14.5 million of the airline's signature lollies. 

The complimentary New Zealand wine also went down well, with cabin crew pouring almost eight million glasses. Beer proved less popular, with 476,000 cans served. 

Passengers are also keen on Kiwi entertainment - Taika Waititi's Hunt for the Wilderpeople was watched more than 177,000 times on flights over the past year, making it the most viewed film. 

Disney animated blockbuster Moana earned the highest number of views per month - 39,000 to be exact. 

Adele's Hello was the most listened to song onboard with around 5000 hits a month and kids worked their way through 142,000 activity packs.

The airline's Airpoints members cashed in their Airpoints Dollars to take nearly 895,000 flights. 

Source: Stuff.co.nz

 

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On 6 July 2017 Virgin Australia welcomed four new Airline Partners into their program: Hainan Airlines, Hong Kong Airlines, Capital Airlines and Tianjin Airlines. 

Together with Virgin Australia, these airlines operate over 75 weekly flights from Hong Kong and 13 destinations in mainland China to Australia and New Zealand. You will be able to earn Velocity Points and Status Credits on these flights. 

In the coming months you will also be able to book reward flights on these new partners and eligible Velocity members will also receive Priority Check-in, Priority Boarding, Additional Baggage allowances and Lounge access.

From 31 July 2017, Velocity Platinum, Gold and Silver members will earn even more Velocity Points when flying on Delta Air Lines or Virgin Australia operated flights with a Delta flight number.

Velocity members will continue to be able to earn and redeem Points and receive other benefits when travelling on Air New Zealand operated flights within and between Australia and New Zealand. However, from 1 November 2017 you will no longer be able earn or redeem Velocity Points and Status Credits, or receive other benefits on all other flights operated by Air New Zealand.

Virgin America’s loyalty program, 'Elevate', is dissolving meaning Velocity members will not be able to earn and redeem Points on Virgin America flights for bookings made after 30 September 2017.

From 31 August 2017, Velocity members can use their Points for Singapore Airlines Premium Economy Reward Seats. What’s most exciting is that Velocity members can now redeem Velocity Points across all cabin classes on Singapore Airlines' flights.

 

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Effective immediately, the electronics ban has been lifted for Emirates’ flights from Dubai International Airport to the U.S.A.

Emirates has been working hard in coordination with various aviation stakeholders and the local authorities to implement heightened security measures and protocols that meet the requirements of the US Department of Homeland Security’s new security guidelines for all US bound flights.

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Cathay Pacific and MIAT Mongolian Airlines today announced a new codeshare agreement which is set to benefit the customers of both airlines.

Starting 12 July 2017, Cathay Pacific will place its “CX” code on MIAT’s four-times weekly service between Hong Kong and Ulaanbaatar, the vibrant and historic Mongolian capital, providing its customers with a new, direct link to one of the most unique and fastest-growing destinations in Asia.

At the same time, MIAT Mongolian Airlines will place its “OM” code on selected Cathay Pacific services between Hong Kong and Singapore, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.

Eligible MIAT customers connecting on Cathay Pacific flights via its Hong Kong hub can choose to relax at one of the airline’s premium lounges conveniently located at Terminal 1 at Hong Kong International Airport. These include The Wing, The Cabin, The Bridge and the much-lauded lounges at The Pier, which have been designed to embody Cathay Pacific’s philosophy of a Life Well Travelled.

Cathay Pacific Chief Customer and Commercial Officer Paul Loo welcomed the new partnership, saying the agreement underlines the airline’s commitment to provide its customers with enhanced connectivity to an ever-increasing number of new destinations.

“We are very happy to work with MIAT Mongolian Airlines in adding Ulaanbaatar to our expanding global network,” said Mr Loo. “Mongolia is an attractive destination in that it appeals to both tourists and business travellers alike thanks to its pristine natural landscapes, rich culture and rapid development. Ulaanbaatar is quickly making a name for itself as an important business hub, one which we expect to grow on the back of this new agreement.”

MIAT Mongolian Airlines President and CEO Tamir Tumurbaatar added: “This is a winning step for both airlines and will provide our passengers with convenient access to Singapore and Australia via the super hub in Hong Kong. The codeshare and interline agreement brings advantages for the passengers of both MIAT Mongolian Airlines and Cathay Pacific because our route networks complement each other perfectly. This cooperation is very significant for our landlocked country’s national flag carrier.” 

Tickets for the new codeshare flights are now open for sale - speak to one of our Travel Specialists.

 

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Part of Marriott International, the Ritz-Carlton hotel group is set for a new departure: with the promise that they will provide one of the most luxurious experiences it will be possible to have at sea, the chain is set to launch three lavishly appointed cruise ships from 2019.

Measuring 190 metres and seemingly designed to resemble privately owned superyachts, the vessels will accommodate up to 298 passengers and feature 149 suites, all with balconies. The most desirable residences of all will be two 138sq metre duplex penthouse suites, designed by Ritz-Carlton in collaboration with cruise-ship design firm Tillberg Design of Sweden. Facilities expected on each ship will include a restaurant offering a culinary concept designed by Sven Elverfeld of Aqua, the three Michelin-starred restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton Wolfsburg; a spa; and a panorama lounge and wine bar, which will host live entertainment.

Although complete itineraries are yet to be released, the hotel group says they will offer “a uniquely curated destination experience… that includes both overnight and daytime ports of call.” Trips will last between seven and 10 days and will serve expected destinations such as the Mediterranean and Caribbean, as well as Colombia’s Cartagena and other intimate, exclusive destinations, such as Capri and Portofino, that are usually inaccessible to larger cruise ships. Announcing the initiative, Ritz-Carlton president and COO Herve Humler said: “The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection will have a distinctive personality and the vessels are sure to be true stand outs in some of the most glamorous ports around the world.”

No word has been given on package prices as yet, but reservations will be possible from May 2018 onwards. As exciting as the launch will be for the brand’s many fans, the company’s claim that it makes Marriott International the only provider of luxury accommodations both on land and at sea doesn’t seem entirely accurate.

Though a much more discreet offering, The Wellesley hotel in London’s Knightsbridge also operates the 56m MY The Wellesley superyacht. Already in service, the ship accommodates just 12 guests and features an arsenal of high-spec toys including jet skis, water skis and diving equipment.

In the Maldives, Four Seasons hotel group operates the Four Seasons Explorer, a three-deck catamaran that offers three-, four- and seven-night cruises in the Maldives as well as a leisurely way of transiting between Four Seasons Kuda Huraa and Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru (or Four Seasons’ recently launched Voavah exclusive-use private island).

In Italy, Borgo Santo Pietro hotel has launched its superyacht Satori. It features just five guest rooms (best is the master suite with its freestanding walnut bathtub); mahogany bar and dining area with open-view kitchen and 200-bottle wine cellar. At night, an outdoor cinema can be set up on deck.

In Oman, Six Senses Zighy Bay has just launched its 90m dhow Dhahab. Accommodating just six guests in three cabins, it features multiple dining areas and two sun decks, and will provide three-day itineraries (from $22,000) that explore the coast of Musandam, remote fishing villages and little-visited fishing spots.

Aman Resorts, meanwhile, already offers intimate voyages aboard the 52m hand-crafted Indonesian phinisi Amandira - five-night tours of the spectacular Raja Ampat marine area are popular; Alila Hotels’ 46m Alila Purnama also provides tours of this region.

Source: Telegraph

 

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22 June 2017: Today, the ceremonial keel laying took place for Celebrity Edge in Saint-Nazaire, France setting the foundation for the ship's innovative new structure. 

An 875 ton block was lifted in the air and a lucky coin was placed in the dock before the block was lowered into position. With the solid foundation in place, the building blocks can be joined together to create the ship of the future. 

Leaders from both Celebrity Cruises and STX France were at the event to celebrate the next stage of the ships evolution.  

Celebrity Edge will homeport in Fort Lauderdale, FL., making her first sailing December 16, 2018. 

Bookings are now open so contact one of our travel specialists if you'd like to be one of the first onboard!

 

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Royal Caribbean invites the world to experience a first of its kind underwater adventure through the lens of Snapchat Spectacles. From June 21 to June 25, Royal Caribbean’s Snapchat channel will immerse viewers in a one of-a-kind underwater adventure thanks to a custom-designed scuba mask dubbed “SeaSeekers.” 

The mask was custom engineered by the cruise line for use with Snapchat Spectacles. It allows the wearer to snap while underwater and will give those above the surface a unique perspective into the intriguing underwater world of marine life. Fans can #SeekDeeper by following @RoyalCaribbean on Snapchat. 

“The SeaSeeker will enable all adventure-seekers to get a front-row seat to the thrilling adventures found underwater in a way that has never been possible before,” said Jim Berra, chief marketing officer Royal Caribbean International. “We’ve even taken the added step of applying for a patent for the SeaSeeker mask so that we can bring it to our guests exclusively.”

“Snapchat continues to be a favourite channel for curious travellers and is the ideal platform for this first-of-its-kind undersea exploration.”

The three dives will feature incredible underwater adventures seen through the eyes of three well-known divers. In Cozumel, Mexico marine wildlife photographer and conservationist Roberto Ochoa will give viewers a rare glimpse into the annual migration of Whale Sharks. 

Marine Biologist Gabriela Nava and co-founder of the organization Oceanus, A.C. based in Mexico, will then take viewers to see a coral reef restoration project where she and her team have been working to restore the local reefs. 

In Belize, fans can follow along as free diver Ashleigh Baird visits the Great Blue Hole, an underwater sinkhole that is believed to be the largest of its kind.

Fans can follow along on Royal Caribbean’s Snapchat channel or by searching on other social platforms by using #SeekDeeper.

 

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We've just heard the great wews from Cruise Whitsundays Hardy Reef!

Images taken 14 June on their Great Barrier Reef Adventure show that, if you look closely, you can see the coral is growing with new buds forming on the branching coral!  

The coral is still looking colourful and the marine life are abundant.

Image: Reef Safari Diving & Photography

 

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It seems all of the cruise lines are flexing their muscles to see who can manufacture the greatest and most imaginative cruise ship, and French expedition cruise company Ponant is certainly getting in on the diversion.

Ponant are launching the first-ever underwater lounge at sea that will unquestionably heighten the experience of the sea.

Blue Eye, a shiny, multi-tactile space where guests can see, hear and for all intents and purposes touch the passing nautical life in the ocean, will be divulged on the brand’s four new Ponant Explorers: Le Bougainville, Le Dumont-d’Urville, Le Lapérouse and Le Champlain.

On board each ship, guests will have the capacity to head underneath the water line to the Blue Eye lounge. There are two substantial glass viewing windows proposed to look like the eyes of a whale that let guests find the marvels of the dark blue sea, computerised screens that venture live pictures filmed by three submerged cameras, marine surroundsound in view of sounds in inside a three-mile range of the ship, and couches that vibrate in amicability with the ocean.

Sarina Bratton, who founded Australia’s Orion Expedition Cruises and moved on to Ponant to help internationalise the France-based business, emphasised Blue Eye was unique, inclusive and complimentary.

“It allows all guests to indulge in the subaquatic world, not just a few passengers in a submarine or a helicopter,” she said, referring to other luxury expedition yachts with these extra-fee features. But she added: “We welcome other companies’ new ships as the luxury expedition market cannot be sustained with 20 and 30 year old vessels.” Bratton said to Cruise Critics.

Expedition leader Mick Fogg said the sound experience would be a phenomenal natural symphony of whales singing, dolphins frolicking and fish chomping on coral. “With over five kilometres of noise, you’re going to want to turn that volume down, ” he said. “They don’t look like normal cruise ships, ” Bratton said. “But people now expect luxury on an expedition cruise. Luxury expedition is no longer an oxymoron. “

Source: Wheelie Good Cruises

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Here's your chance to experience an epic train journey that's like no other, as you traverse CHINA, MONGOLIA & RUSSIA for 22 Days!

This train journey has captured the imagination of travellers' since the early 20th Century and our superb itinerary combines the classic route from Beijing, with many exciting stopovers enroute to St Petersburg.

Beginning in Beijing, we will have ample time to view the iconic attractions of this great city, before continuing to the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar. Our time on the Mongolian Steppe provides us with a taste of nomadic life and a chance to experience the genuinely warm hospitality of the local people as we stay in a ger camp.

The next part of our journey enters the heart of Siberia to Lake Baikal, the world's deepest and largest freshwater lake. Finally, we first head to the city of Moscow to soak up its history and then to St Petersburg to be awed by the magnificence and sheer beauty of this Imperial city. 

Highlights include: Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City and Summer Palace in Beijing and a remote section of The Great Wall. Dine on traditional roast Peking Duck dinner in Beijing and overnight with a local nomadic family in Mongolia.

After national park visits in Mongolia, well visit Lake Baikal in Siberia as well as Red Square, St Basil's Cathedral & Kremlin visits in Moscow.

You'll enjoy this special hand-crafted itinerary with included sightseeing, scenic drives and excursions accompanied by local English speaking Tour Leaders in each region. EuroVista's Paul Leigh and Ken Bowie will escort you from Beijing to Moscow.

For the full itinerary, travel dates and more, visit this link: https://www.mondotravel.co.nz/article/2105

You can also contact: david.boyce@mondotravel.co.nz or ph: 0274 776619.

 

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When it's in the Swiss Alps ... has no roof ... has no walls ... has no staff!

See for yourself: http://www.myswitzerland.com/en-us/null-sterne-hotel.html

 

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Earlier this month MSC Cruises — the Swiss-based world’s largest privately-owned cruise line and brand market leader in Europe, South America and South Africa took delivery of MSC Meraviglia, marking the launch of the next chapter of the cruise line’s growth.

MSC Meraviglia is the largest cruise ship entering into service in 2017, and will be the fourth largest cruise ship in the world except for the three gigantic Oasis Class ships from Royal Caribbean International.

At 171,598 GRT and with guest capacity of 5,714 (4,488 at double occupancy), MSC Meraviglia is equally the biggest ship to ever be built by a European ship owner — MSC Cruises — and the biggest to come into service in 2017.

Following her christening ceremony,  MSC Meraviglia will start her inaugural season sailing the Western Mediterranean.

The ship will have the following features:

  • At full capacity, the ship can accommodate 5,714 guests
  • The ship offers 12 distinct dining venues, serving a range of international dining options including five speciality restaurants
  • There will be will be exclusive world-class entertainment with 12 Cirque du Soleil at Sea performances each week
  • 75% of all staterooms have a balcony and family modular connected staterooms can be joined together to accommodate up to 10 guests
  • The ship will be the 5th ship in MSC Cruises’ fleet to feature a Swarovski staircase
  • The ship will feature a Mediterranean-style promenade featuring multiple bars, restaurants and shops, as well as the longest LED
  • Sky Screen at sea which will broadcast atmospheric images and entertainment 24-hours a day
  • Guests have access to 355,209 sq. ft. of public space across 15 public decks
  • The longest LED Sky Screen at sea will broadcast atmospheric images and entertainment 24 hours a day
  • There are 7 different kids clubs including a technology lab and a TV studio for the first time on a MSC Cruises ship
  • The ship will offer more than 20 hours of daily entertainment
  • More than 24 musicians will perform 40 hours of live music each day
  • The ship will have a Star Wars pod and a flight simulator
  • The ‘Himalayan Bridge’ which spans the ship will allow guests to climb 269 ft. above sea level
  • There are 20 bars and lounges on the ship
  • Guests will be able to use a NFC bracelet to unlock stateroom doors, make payments on board and book restaurants and shows
  • Guests will be able to geolocate their children using the MSC Cruises App thanks to Bluetooth Beacons and wearable technology
  • Guests will also be able to embark and disembark from the ship using their bracelet together with their Cruise Card
  • Guests will be able to experience shore excursions in advance using Virtual Reality (“VR”) technology

MSC Meraviglia will home port in Miami, Florida for the 2019-2020 winter

season.

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Seabourn, acclaimed as the world’s finest ultra-luxury cruise line, have enriched the guests experience onboard Seabourn Odyssey with the addition of its signature restaurant, The Grill by Thomas Keller, and the new mindful living program created by Dr. Andrew Weil.

“The addition of The Grill by Thomas Keller and Spa and Wellness with Dr. Andrew Weil continue a new chapter in Seabourn’s long history of offering the finest guest experiences in luxury travel,” Seabourn President Richard Meadows said.

“Through our outstanding partnerships with Chef Keller and Dr. Weil, we are excited to expand these programs on Seabourn Odyssey, with a fleet-wide rollout scheduled to be completed by the end of this year.”

Seabourn Odyssey is the third of the cruise line’s four ships to offer The Grill and the second to feature Dr. Weil’s program. The additions follow a dry dock period for Seabourn Odyssey which allowed an array of carefully and thoughtfully designed updates to the vessel.

Some of the main changes on Seabourn Odyssey include:

  • The Spa has been refreshed
  • The Fitness Centre features new equipment
  • All suites have been recarpeted
  • Seabourn’s new bespoke luxury mattresses have been added
  • Newly designed furniture has been placed in a range of suites
  • New carpet, furniture, teak flooring and refinished woodwork has been added throughout the ship.

Inspired by the classic American chophouse, The Grill by Thomas Keller is a alliance flanked by three-star Michelin chef Thomas Keller and designer Adam D. Tihany, exclusively for Seabourn.

The Grill is now featured on Seabourn Encore, Seabourn Quest, and Seabourn Odyssey, with Seabourn Sojourn scheduled for opening in late 2017. Seabourn Ovation will launch with the restaurant in May 2018. Spa and Wellness with Dr. Andrew Weil is a mindful living program that offers guests a holistic spa and wellness experience that assimilates physical, social, environmental and spiritual well-being.

Created in conjunction with The Onboard Spa by Steiner, Spa and Wellness with Dr. Andrew Weil will be led by Seabourn Odyssey’s onboard Mindful Living Coach, a certified yoga and meditation practitioner whose role is to inspire and educate guests during the voyage.

Eventually destined for every ship in the Seabourn fleet, Dr. Weil’s program is the first-ever of its kind available at sea.

 

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The final countdown is on for the debut of P&O Cruises’ Pacific Explorer, and the long anticipated ship’s multi-million dollar transformation is currently in progress in Singapore.

During her drydock, the vessel – formerly sailing as Princess Cruises’ Dawn Princess – will undertake a colossal refurbishment which will see the addition of a variety of stimulating innovative features for Australian seafarers.

When she sails from Sydney on her maiden cruise on June 22, Pacific Explorer will wow Australian’s with two of the longest and wildest waterslides ever seen on an Australian-based ship – each stretching more than 80 metres – along with an thrilling waterpark and a barefoot lawn bowling green. Top-deck favourites P&O Edge Adventure Park (https://www.pocruises.com.au/experiences/at-sea/play/po-edge) and the Big Screen will also be mounted during the ship’s dry dock.

Pacific Explorer’s public spaces will get a total facelift, together with its multi-storey atrium, lounges, bars and restaurants, the introduction of the trendy Australian décor and quirky features which have become a trademark of the P&O fleet in recent years.

Keeping with P&O Cruises’ continuing food evolution, Pacific Explorer’s refurbishment will embrace the construction of new dining selections from fast-casual dining at Luke’s (https://www.lukemangan.com/), a new poolside grill by Australian chef and restauranteur Luke Mangan to a traditional Neapolitan pizzeria called 400 Gradi (http://www.400gradi.com.au/), by award-winning Melbourne chef Johnny Di Francesco.

Guests will also be able to dine in the ship’s Waterfront Restaurant, try a taste of la dolce vita in its Italian restaurant Angelo’s (https://www.pocruises.com.au/experiences/at-sea/dining/angelos), indulge your senses in the sultry atmosphere of the pan-Asian restaurant Dragon Lady (https://www.pocruises.com.au/experiences/atsea/dining/dragon-lady) or be spoilt for choice in The Pantry, an international marketplace of nine fresh food outlets popular across the P&O Cruises’ fleet.

The Bonded Store (http://www.wheeliegoodcruises.com.au/archie-rosedistilling-co-pacific-explorer/) the place to unwind and relax with friends will also be added, featuring a cocktail list created in partnership with Sydney-based award-winning Archie Rose Distilling Co, as well as whisky and gin-making classes.

P&O Cruises President Sture Myrmell said Pacific Explorer was the perfect addition to P&O’s existing four-ship fleet. “Pacific Explorer is the next stage in the evolution of P&O, building on our very popular modern Australian holiday offering with some exciting new features. We can’t wait to show her off to our guests,” Mr Myrmell said.

Pacific Explorer will set sail from Singapore on June 9.

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IF YOU WANT SOME PEACE AND QUIET THE NEXT TIME YOU FLY, TRY THESE TRAVEL DATES.

December is obviously off the cards, but some months (and airlines) stand out more than others for consistently boasting flights that take off at a lower capacity.

Quality service, an on-time flight and having an empty seat on either side of you on the plane can really alter your travel experience.

While there’s no perfect answer as to how to secure a row to yourself, that is, aside from purchasing three seats, finder.com.au‘s recent research have found the optimal times to fly, when airlines depart at their emptiest and optimal airlines to fly with that consistently don’t run anywhere near full capacity.

The best months to fly

The best months to fly for quiet planes are during low-peak seasons, particularly on the shoulder months of the Christmas holidays.

Overall, October was the winner with flights running at only 72 per cent capacity on Australian departures throughout 2016. This was closely followed by February and May, both flying at 74 per cent capacity.

All three are particularly good months for a roomy flight to Europe and North America with seat utilisation to these nations no greater than 73 per cent (for flights to North America in October).

Not surprisingly December proved to be the worst month to travel to secure some additional plane room, flying at 88 per cent capacity. This was not-so-closely followed by June at 82 per cent capacity and September at 81 per cent capacity.

On average, flights departed Australia 78 per cent full throughout the year.

Honing in on Qantas’ seat utilisation in particular, the percentages read much the same with December being the least likely to find yourself with a row to yourself and October being the most.

Which airline to fly with?

To increase your chances of finding an empty seat beside you on the plane, you not only have to fly during less popular periods, you also have to fly less popular airlines. You only need to look at Qantas, who flew at an average of 79.9 per cent capacity over the last four years to be assured of this.

Of the 50 airlines researched, Air Niugini was the emptiest averaging 54.1 per cent full over the past four years. This Papua New Guinea airline flies from Brisbane, Cairns, Melbourne, Sydney and Townsville to Asian destinations including Bali, Hong Kong, Port Moresby, Singapore and Tokyo, making it an attractive option for anyone wishing to stretch out on the plane – even during more popular months.

Other airlines running at a similarly low flight capacity include Cebu Pacific Air and Philippines Airlines (59.5 per cent and 60.1 per cent respectively). Both fly to various Asian destinations via the Philippines.

For those looking to travel elsewhere, Royal Brunei Airlines had the lowest seat utilisation for flights further afield at 69.1% capacity. Its international routes depart from Melbourne to destinations including London and Dubai.

The next emptiest airlines were Thai Airways International (70 per cent) and Malaysia Airlines (71.8 per cent). Both own departures from Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney (Malaysia Airlines also flies out of Adelaide) and can take you to Europe, the Middle East, Africa and America.

Check out the top 10 fullest flights out of Australia:

RankAirlineSeat utilisation % (four year average)*1All Nippon Airways91.32American Airlines87.73Delta Air Lines87.34Cathay Pacific Airways86.55British Airways85.66Etihad Airways85.37Japan Airlines84.38Aerolineas Argentinas83.99Air Canada82.610Qatar Airways82.4

Stephanie Yip is Travel Expert at comparison site, finder.com.au

 

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Headed to New York and unsure where to find the best coffees?

The image of black-clad New Yorkers cradling their cups of coffee while rushing up and down the subway has been an instantly recognisable NYC icon for decades. Put together New York's unwavering love for caffeine and rustic or Scandinavian design trends, and we have some of the best ways to relax and recharge in the midst of the city's hustle and bustle.

Cortado Please

Originating from Spain, cortado, which is equal parts espresso and steamed milk, has been an NYC coffee staple for the past 5 years. In this guide, you'll be introduced to some of the best cafes that serve the best cortados and many more in Manhattan.

But First Coffee

Clean interior and laid-back atmosphere, here are 6 locations situated on both sides of the Brooklyn bridge that do not only deliver in coffee, but also up the game in presentation.

A Summer Day in Brooklyn

Fend off summer's heat with an ice-cold latte or two in Brooklyn. From garden cafes to rooftop bars, this guide will take you to some of the unique offerings in the neighbourhood.

 

 

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In the age of technology, booking trips online is an easy choice for travelers. And yet the business of travel agents in the United States soared last year.

Here are 10 reasons that help explain why that is, from a customer’s perspective.

1. Accountability
A travel agent’s job is on the line with every trip. Travel agents have a boss to answer to—or they are the boss—and they are a real person clients can speak with to work things out.

2. Knowledge
Travel agents have been doing the job for years and know all the ins and outs. Traveling to Europe for the first time? Instead of deciding where to go based on anonymous comments on a website, speak to someone who does this for a living and knows what they’re talking about.  

3. More for your money
When booking an expensive trip, travelers want to see everything and experience the best a city has to offer. A travel agent can ensure travelers dollars go a long way—and make sure they don’t miss that amazing restaurant down the street, or the special event going on the day their in town.  A travel agent knows where to go and when.

4. Setting an Itinerary
While some people enjoy “just winging it,” a travel agent can give a clear-cut schedule of what will be happening on a day-to-day basis, and keep clear records of everything that is included in the trip.

5. Budgeting
A travel agent can help map out exactly how much a trip will cost, so there are no surprises. Does that excursion on Monday include lunch, for example, or do you have to buy your own? Does it pay to take the drinks package on the cruise ship, or pay for the excursions in advance? A travel agent can guide you and save you money.

6. Insurance
Things happen. A travel agent can offer insurance in a number of ways, from guaranteeing that the hotel is safe and the company running the excursion won’t rob a traveler, to actually advising on which insurance policies are needed, from trip cancellation to medical emergencies. They also insure that travelers will have the correct travel documents, so they don’t end up missing their plane or cruise. And when things do go wrong, travel agents have the resources and the contacts to get travelers to the head of the line.

7. Resources
At the touch of travel agents’ fingertips they have resources a traveler simply does not. Yes, we have the internet, but there is so much still left unknown, especially in places that are undiscovered.

8. Exclusivity
Let’s face it, we all want to be a little bit different. A travel agent knows the new destinations and the new places in them —and often they can get their client in. Through their partners, they also often get freebies for their customers that range from a free drink to an exclusive admission to a hot event.

9. Time savings 
Spending hours and weeks researching the perfect trip can take up a ton of time during a busy work week. Travel agents will spend a little time getting to know their clients and what they are looking for, and then put together an entire vacation customized for them.

10. Leverage
Can’t book a room at a place you really want? Had a last minute addition to a trip but all the rooms are booked? No problem. Travel agents spend years developing long-term relationships, and travel companies understand how important their repeat business is. Travel agents have leverage with most hotel companies and resorts, and they are more likely to get what they want than a single consumer.

In short, if you have never visited a travel agent, you are missing out on a chance to save time and hassles and aggravation—and often, money as well.

Source: Travelmarket Report

 

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All QR (Qatar Airways) flights operating to/from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain (BAH), and Egypt (EGY) have been suspended with effect from June 6 2017 00:00 UTC to June 6 2017 23:59 UTC.

All bookings on 157– tickets to/from the aforementioned origins and destinations will be open for cancellations, refunds, or changes, including rerouting to other airlines (with the exception of EK and EY). These changes are free of charge for passengers holding a confirmed reservation and a confirmed ticket issued on/or prior to June 5 2017, for travel from June 5 2017, until further notice.

Please speak to one of our travel specialists if you have been affected.

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Due to the completion of scheduled tasks and network routes adjustment, please note that our Auckland-Sydney services (CI51/CI52) will be suspended as from 15JUL2017. China Airlines would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your kind support on this route over the years.
 
For the passengers holding valid tickets affected by these flight cancellations, they are entitled to refunds or reservation changes without incurring any surcharges. Should you have any further queries or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact your travel specialist.

 

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Auckland Airport has today announced the details of four new transport projects as part of its longer term plan to improve travel around the airport over the next three years.

 

Adrian Littlewood, Auckland Airport’s chief executive, says, “We have a 30-year plan for developing Auckland Airport and as part of the plan, ensuring that passengers, staff and crew can easily access all parts of the airport precinct remains a priority. These new transport projects are an important investment in our infrastructure that will help to improve the way public transport users, motorists, pedestrians and cyclists move around our airport precinct.”

 

Auckland Airport’s new transport projects include:

·         upgrading Nixon Road by October 2017 to provide a new route to Auckland Airport’s Park&Ride on Verissimo Drive without the need for drivers to use the main intersection that connects the domestic and international terminals at Tom Pearce Drive and George Bolt Memorial Drive;

·         improving traffic flows and improving public transport access to the domestic terminal by Christmas 2017 through the provision of more space for buses on the terminal forecourt and a new and separate access road for taxis and buses;

·         construction of an iconic new gateway bridge over George Bolt Memorial Drive by the end of 2018 for pedestrians and cyclists to connect “the Quad” hotel and commercial precinct with the airport terminals and take cars off the main road network; and

·         implementing a transit lane system across the airport precinct between December 2017 and 2020 for buses and high occupancy vehicles.

 

“These new projects will help improve traffic flows and travel times around the airport, and help our transport network accommodate the increasing number of buses that will travel to and from the airport in the future.”

 

“Our new gateway bridge will be a spectacular sight as you enter and leave Auckland Airport to the north towards the city. Designed by architects Warren and Mahoney, the suspension bridge features a 40 metre high concrete mast that is inspired by the form of a huia feather with a white light tipped column and Māori motifs. It will be an urban beacon and precinct marker that will be visible across the airport, both during the day and at night. The bridge will also significantly improve the walking and cycling experience between our commercial precinct and the terminals.”

 

“This new investment in our precinct’s transport infrastructure also supports the ongoing and collaborative efforts of the New Zealand Transport Agency, Auckland Transport and Auckland Airport to improve travel times to and from the airport.”

 

“It also builds on other improvements we have made to our precinct’s transport infrastructure in the past year.”

 

In the first half of the 2017 financial year Auckland Airport fast-tracked a number of planned roading and transport upgrades on its transport network:

·         upgrading the Puhinui Road roundabout to help improve the eastern access to the airport from State Highway 20B/Puhinui Road;

·         adding 1,400 more car parks to our Park&Ride facility, mostly for use by staff working at the international terminal to remove staff traffic from the inner airport roads;

·         upgrading the traffic light phasing and lane configurations at the airport’s George Bolt Memorial Drive and Tom Pearce Drive intersection to improve traffic flows;

·         updating the lane configurations at the airport’s George Bolt Memorial Drive and Laurence Stevens Drive roundabout to improve traffic flows; and

·         developing new traffic management plans for use when the airport roading network is particularly busy.

 

“Auckland Airport is planning a number of additional infrastructure projects to upgrade our transport network and further improve journeys around the airport precinct. These will be announced in due course,” says Mr Littlewood.

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Singapore Airlines has announced that from today Wellington-based brewery Garage Project’s craft beer, Hāpi Daze, will be served on all Singapore Airlines flights departing New Zealand.

The announcement is an extension of a partnership that began last September when Garage Project and Singapore Airlines teamed up to brew a limited edition, bespoke beer ‘SQ292’ to celebrate the launch of the ‘Capital Express’ service.

Singapore Airlines General Manager New Zealand, Simon Turcotte said Singapore Airlines prides itself on going above and beyond for customers.

“We are constantly looking to ensure our customers are provided with an exceptional in-flight experience that exceeds their expectations – whether this be through our first-class suites, or our world-renowned food and beverage service,” Mr Turcotte said.

“When we launched our Capital Express service last year, the feedback we had on Garage Project’s bespoke SQ292 beer was fantastic.

“This led to us looking more closely at New Zealander’s love affair with craft beer and its growing popularity worldwide. We then started working with Garage Project to find a brew that would work well for our passengers in-flight.

“It was not easy to choose, as Garage Project has developed a wide variety of innovative beers. Ultimately, we selected Hāpi Daze Pacific Pale Ale as it showcases New Zealand ingredients, will have broad appeal and will serve as a great ambassador for New Zealand craft beer to our customers worldwide.”

Jos Ruffell, co-founder of Garage Project, said the number one request we get in the Garage is to see our beer become available on flights out of New Zealand, and we’re thrilled to see that become a reality today with Singapore Airlines.

“We applaud Singapore Airlines for taking a true leadership position and offering their customers a world class experience that will deliver a quality of beer second to none,” Jos said.

“New Zealand wine is often put forward as a special in-flight offering, but we also have world renowned breweries with unique offerings that also deserve to be showcased and enjoyed in flight and today is a critical step towards that.”

Garage Project co-founder Pete Gillespie added “Working with Singapore Airlines has been an absolute pleasure. Their dedication and passion for offering the best customer experience matches our ethos completely. As a brewer, it’s a dream come true to see Hāpi Daze reach these new heights.”

Garage Project’s Hāpi Daze Pacific Pale Ale, will be available in all cabin classes on Singapore Airlines flights departing New Zealand from 1 June 2017 enhancing the inflight options for over 400,000 passengers per year.

If you want to book your next flight on Singpore Airlines, call us on 0800 110 108 or search our FLIGHTS section

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Emirates’ customers from New Zealand can explore more of Dubai this northern summer by enjoying exclusive offers and discounts across the city with My Emirates Pass, which turns the Emirates boarding pass into an exclusive membership card.

Those flying to or through Dubai between today and August 31 on one of Emirates’ daily A380 services from New Zealand to Dubai and beyond can take advantage of a range of offers at some of Dubai's best known hotspots by simply showing their Emirates boarding pass* and a valid form of identification.

My Emirates Pass gives customers special discounts at over 120 world class restaurants and hotel dining outlets in Dubai. Exclusive offers are also available on a range of leisure activities including visits to championship golf courses, thrilling theme parks or luxury spas across the city.

My Emirates Pass can be used to enjoy some of the city’s must-see new attractions such as Dubai Parks and Resorts which features three theme parks: Bollywood Parks™ Dubai, MOTIONGATE™ Dubai, as well as the region’s first LEGOLAND® Park and LEGOLAND® Water Park.

To see all My Emirates Pass offers, please click here.

To book your next Emirates flight, call us on 0800 110 108, or search here.

 

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Leading cruise line P&O Cruises has strengthened its commitment to New Zealand, adding FIVE more voyages to its sailings from Auckland next year.

The cruise line today released full details of its largest New Zealand program yet, with local holidaymakers able to choose from an unprecedented 22 roundtrip cruises in 2018.

With the extension of its latest program, P&O’s superliner Pacific Jewel will now be based in Auckland between March and August 2018, offering itineraries ranging from themed three-night Sea Break cruises, perfect for a weekend getaway, to a 15-night cruise exploring the islands of Polynesia.

The additional five itineraries now on offer in July and August include:

• a 10-night cruise to Tonga departing July 24, 2018 and visiting four ports including Vava’u and Nuku’alofa

• a nine-night cruise to the Pacific Islands, visiting Noumea, Lifou, Port Vila and Mare, departing August 6, 2018

• an eight-night cruise to Fiji departing August 15, 2018

• a three-night comedy cruise departing August 3, 2018

• a three-night food and wine cruise, departing August 23, 2018.

Also on offer is a new four-night comedy cruise sailing one-way from Auckland to Brisbane on August 26, 2018.

Accommodating 1950 guests, the 70,310-tonne Pacific Jewel features almost 200 private balcony rooms and mini-suites, an indulgent spa and a host of great onboard activities including the action-packed P&OEdge Adventure Park. Its many dining options include fine dining at Salt grill by Luke Mangan and contemporary casual eating in the Pantry, a stylish international food market featuring eight fresh food outlets and a bar.

Call 0800 110 108 to speak toone of our Cruising Specialists soon to ensure you don't miss out!

 

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Peabody Ducks - These ducks live on the roof at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis. Every day at 11am they come down the elevator with the ‘duck master’ and head to the fountain in the hotel lobby where they spend the day. This has been going on since the 1930s! You need to get there early to get a good spot to see the ducks - a drink in the lobby bar gives you a good vantage point!

 

 

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With a travel background spanning four decades ... and a passion for fishing going back even further ... the man at the helm of our Bay of Islands offce is Peter Barry

Going under his alias of “Phat Buoy”, Peter has spent the last ten years providing sportfishing adventures to enthusiasts from New Zealand and around the world.

Utilising the latest technology, Pete’s crew are not office bound; they are usually out in the field undertaking R&D programs (i.e. they’re out fishing), ensuring only the very best sportfishing destinations and product is delivered to their fishing buddies everywhere.

If you're keen to take on some sportfishing, whether that's partaking in a tournament or on a private charter, get in touch with Peter ....

Ph: +64 021 434 220

Email: bayofislands@mondotravel.co.nz

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David is based at Mt Eden office, and boasts over 25 years experience in the travel industry. He has worked in a variety of positions, lending to his impressive skill set and a wealth of knowledge.

His career has seen him working within and owning travel agencies across the United Kingdom & New Zealand. He has experience in corporate and retail travel, luxury cruises, sporting groups and also was a tour operator.

David's extensive travel experience across numerous destinations means he is uniquely capable of giving expert advice­, whatever your requirements.

Drop into the store, give him a call or fire him an email to arrange a visit to your home or office. He will help make your next holiday picture-prefect!

Ph: (09) 630 2435 
Mob: 027 477 6619 
Email :david. boyce@mondotravel.co. nz

 

 

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Sean is based at Mt Eden and says:

"What I love most about travelling is the excitement. Counting down the days until departure, experiencing what you see on a postcard in real life, and sampling the local cuisine (drinks mainly) is what made me want to work within this industry.

"I have worked with larger group tours, family holidays and solo travellers, and I pride myself on the fact that I have coordinated at least one trip to every corner of the world.

Do feel free to touch base with Sean directly by calling in to: 4/433 Dominion Road, Mt Eden, Auckland 1024

You can also ring him on 09 630 2435.

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With winter getting colder, many super city commuters may be dreaming of some freedom from the rat race. Fortunately, real estate website Curbed has made a helpful list of car-free cities around the world. Some are historic town centres that have banned cars; some have streets that are simply too narrow for vehicles. Others, like Venice, rely on boats. 

Ghent, Belgium

In an effort to end traffic chaos and air pollution, the Ghent city centre banned cars in 1996. The streets are now free for exploring on foot, by bike or public transport.

Lamu, Kenya

Lamu is a car-free island in Kenya, and is the oldest, most well-preserved Swahili settlement in East Africa, earning it a listing as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The narrow streets of the old town only permit walkers, bicycles, and donkeys.

Fes el Bali, Morocco

Another UNESCO World Heritage site - Fes el Bali is one of the largest car-free urban areas in the world. Like Lamu, the preferred way of travel is on foot, by bike, donkey or cart. There are about 9,400 winding streets to explore, Curbed says.

Fire Island, New York

Off the coast of Long Island, Fire Island is a car-free oasis for the US. The only means of travel is by foot, bicycle or golf cart.

Hydra Island, Greece

The only big vehicles in this ancient town are the rubbish trucks. Part of the Saronic Islands, residents get around on foot, by donkey, or water taxi.

La Cumbrecita, Argentina

La Cumbrecita is known as Argentina's first pedestrian-only town. Strangely it features alpine-inspired Bavarian-style houses.

Venice, Italy 

The most famous car-free city - Venice boasts 416 bridges, 177 canals and beautiful, brightly-painted buildings.

Giethoorn, the Netherlands

Giethoorn is often nicknamed "the Dutch Venice" for its waterways filled with boats, and its plethora of bike trails. It's also famous for its thatched-roof buildings.

Dubrovnik's Old Town, Croatia

Dubrovnik is a busy city, but its Old Town centre is a pedestrian-only UNESCO World Heritage site.

Sark, Channel Islands

Off the coast of France, the island of Sark could be the perfect place for travellers to unplug. The only motors are the island's tractors. Even the ambulance is pulled by a tractor.

Source: NZ Herald

 

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Regent Seven Seas Cruises and the Monaco Government Tourism & Convention Authority have come together again to celebrate the one year anniversary of the christening of the Seven Seas Explorer in Monaco, which was presided over by the Seven Seas Explorer’s godmother, HSH Princess Charlene of Monaco on 13 July 2016. The anniversary celebration recognises the unique link between the most luxurious ship ever built and the most luxurious port of call in the world.

 

Held last night at Bistro Guillaume, the newly opened restaurant of one of Australia’s most popular chefs, Guillaume Brahimi, the celebratory dinner included an impressive ensemble of valued guests and friends of Regent Seven Seas Cruises and the Monaco Government.

 

Steve Odell, Senior Vice President & Managing Director Asia Pacific for Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings said, “The collaboration between Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Monaco, a Principality renowned for its glamour, prestige and stylish lifestyle, is truly fitting for a brand that sets new benchmarks in cruising luxury. “

He added, “From opulent suites to gourmet restaurants and elegant lounges, the Seven Seas Explorer unsurprisingly lives up to her reputation as the most luxurious ship ever built. Her return to Monte Carlo’s famed Port Hercule, marks the culmination of a successful first year of spectacular voyages on both sides of the Atlantic.”  

Hadrien Bourely, Honorary Consul de Monaco (NSW, NT & QLD) said, “In recent years the Port Authority of Monaco has taken the decision to realign itself with the luxury cruise industry, as such Regent Seven Seas is a most valued partner.  In 2016, Monaco welcomed 191 ship visits, carrying almost 200,000 cruise passengers with 67 percent of the visits falling in the luxury segment.  With HSH Princess Charlene as the Godmother of the most luxurious ship ever built we are thrilled to be welcoming Seven Seas Explorer back to her place of christening. We hope that more Australians will travel to Monaco and experience the perfect combination of our Principality with the ultimate in luxury cruising”.

 

The newest member of the Regent Seven Seas Cruises fleet, Seven Seas Explorer boasts one of the highest space and staff to guest ratios in the cruise industry and includes a range of unique features, including a one-of-a-kind 360-square-metre suite, extravagantly designed lounges and showplaces, and lavish gourmet restaurants.

 

For more information about Regent Seven Seas Cruises or specific itineraries, please contact a professional travel agent; visit www.rssc.com; or call 1300 455 200 (Australia) or 0800 625 692 (New Zealand).

 

Photo caption: Andrew M. Cannon AM- Honorary Consul of Monaco (SA, TAS , VIC, WA), Steve Odell, Senior Vice President, Managing Director Asia Pacific Norwegian Cruise Lines Holdings, Lisa Pile, Vice President Sales, Australia & New Zealand, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Guillaume Brahimi, Celebrated Sydney Chef, Alison Roberts-Brown, Regional Director, Australia & NZ, Monaco Tourism, Hadrien Bourely, Honorary Consul of Monaco (NSW, NT & QLD) and Mathew Butterworth.

                                                         

About Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Regent Seven Seas Cruises is the world's most inclusive luxury cruise line with a four-ship fleet that visits more than 425 destinations around the globe.  The line’s newest ship, Seven Seas Explorer, entered service on 20 July, 2016 and has been recognised as The Most Luxurious Ship Ever Built™. A leader in the luxury cruise segment, the line's fares include all-suite accommodation, highly personalised service, exquisite cuisine, fine wines and spirits, unlimited internet access, sightseeing excursions in every port, gratuities, a 1 night pre-cruise hotel package and transfer from hotel to ship for guests staying in concierge level suites and higher. 

 

About Monaco

The Principality of Monaco is an independent sovereign state located between France and Italy on the Mediterranean coast.  Monaco enjoys 300 days of sunshine a year, the perfect destination from which to explore the French and Italian Rivieras. Boasting an incredible calendar of events, a wide choice of luxury accommodation and dining experiences, Monaco’s clear cut focus on providing outstanding hospitality excellent is evident. Renowned for the glitz and glamour Monaco remains serious about environmental sustainability under the watchful eye of Prince Albert II and the Prince Albert II Foundation.

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Carnival Cruise Line's newest ship, the 3934-passenger Carnival Ho-rizon, will be the first in the fleet to feature Dr. Seuss WaterWorks, a water park inspired by the worlds of the children’s author, advises Francis Travel Marketing.

Located on Deck 12, the water park will offer Dr. Seuss-themed slides, tipping buckets, a kiddies splash zone and more. The ship will also feature the Dr. Seuss Bookville family reading and play venue, and popular Seuss at Sea activities like The Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast with The Cat in the Hat and Friends and the Seuss-a-palooza Parade and Story Time.

Carnival Horizon will make its maid-en voyage 02 Apr 2018, with a 13-day Mediterranean cruise from Barcelona.

Speak to your Mondo Travel specialist to book soon - there is no doubt this one will fill fast for fun family holidays.

Source: TABS on TRAVEL

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Air New Zealand is to increase its successful Houston flights to a daily service from December.

Air New Zealand chief Chris Luxon announced at TRENZ 2017 in Auckland today the flights will be upgraded from 777 200 aircraft to Dreamliners to provide passengers with more premium economy and business seats.

 ‘There are fewer seats, but it will attract higher-value customers.’

Meanwhile, the carrier is also upping its Buenos Aires flights from four to five from November.

This service has enjoyed considerable success, Luxon says, particularly among Australians who total 40% of the passenger numbers.

The trend for Australians to travel from Adelaide to Auckland for the Buenos Aires flight has prompted the airline to up its promotions across the ditch.

Luxton says the launch of both services came after 18 months into the markets, and the airline was now building on that work. ‘It’s very exciting,’ he says.

 
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Twice-a-week return flights to Niue from Auckland will now operate year-round following an agreement between the Niue Government and Air New Zealand.

 

Previously the airline has operated one service a week between early November and late March; it is now extending operations during that period to twice-weekly.

 

Niue Tourism Director of Marketing Felicity Bollen says growing visitor numbers and an increasing demand for seats has prompted the airline to extend the service.  

 

“We’re seeing not just an increase in international travellers wanting to experience the unique attractions of the island they’re hearing so much about, but also increasing numbers of Niueans overseas returning to visit friends and relatives on the island – particularly through the summer months.”

Felicity Bollen says the growth in tourist numbers and the tourism developments taking place on Niue, such as the current expansion of the Scenic Matavai Resort to add accommodation and a conference centre, have given the airline confidence in extending the service.

Flights to Niue from Auckland operate on Saturdays and Wednesdays, using an Airbus A320 aircraft with a capacity for up to 168 passengers. The flight time is 3.5 hours.

Let Mondo get you there in style - ask our travel specialist for the best deals at the best prices!

0800 1110 108

 

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Have you ever wanted to have a good nosey around a cruise line BEFORE you make your booking?

Well, with Crystal Cruises, you now can!

Through The Crystal Lens is an exclusive virtual reality experience that takes you aboard their award-winning ships and into the fascinating destinations to which they visit.

Look for the 360° video icon on deck plans and destination maps to view exclusive content.

https://preview.crystalcruises.com

 

 

 

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Congratulations to Mondo Travel Mt Eden, who have been nominated in the Albert-Eden Business Awards.

Why Mondo ... and why Mt Eden?

  • Their number one focus is on their clients; quality of service is paramount.
  • The primary objectives, and a key area of their success is the fact they endeavor to respond to email and Internet inquiries within two hours of receiving them.
  • Their mantra is to prioritise new inquiries as a preference to other tasks.
  • They respond to existing business in a timely manner.

In their words: "Our clients are our livelihood, we treat them like friends and look after their every travel need like it were our own..."

If you've had the pleasure of dealing with Mt Eden, they'd be honoured if you would vote for them.

Voting is now live - go to www.albertedenbusinessawards.co.nz to vote. 

Each person may only vote once. You may vote for as many categories as you like but only once in each category.

Voting closes 5 May

Thank you for your support!

 

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If you're headed to Africa, here's handy packing list of just about everything you’ll need on your African adventure so you don’t miss key items. Use this list in conjunction with your itinerary notes to ensure you have no more and no less than you need for your adventure.

LUGGAGE

  • Soft duffle bag
  • Daypack
  • Waterproof liner for kitbag Luggage labels or ID tags 

Tip: There may be a restriction on luggage limits on your safari – please ensure that you have the luggage details from your agent ahead of time and also enquire about the feasibility and costs of taking excess luggage with you on any of these restricted luggage safaris.

DOCUMENTS

  • Document wallet or moneybelt Passports (and visas)
  • Vaccination certificates (if applicable) Travel insurance documents
  • Local currency or hard currency Cashcards
  • e-ticket or flight details
  • Map, guidebook & novel Notebook & pen

PHOTOGRAPHY

  • Camera & lenses (along with cleaning wipes for lenses) Memory cards
  • Spare batteries & charger
  • Waterproof/dustproof camera bag along with
  • A good camera strap 

BATHROOM & HYGIENE

  • Toiletry bag
  • Toothbrush & toothpaste
  • Shampoo & conditioner
  • Soap or shower gel
  • Razor & shaving cream
  • Contact lenses & solution
  • Moisturiser & sunscreen
  • Travel towel
  • Hand sanitiser
  • Washing kit (if you wish to do your own hand washing)

GADGETS

  • Mobile phone & charger
  • Universal travel plug adapter
  • MP3 player or iPod
  • Binoculars (recommended 8x40 or 10x42) 

Tip: Most lodges will provide reference materials in their camps and vehicles, so it is not necessary to bring these with you. However, we highly recommend that you do bring your own pair of binoculars in order to get the most out of your safari. 

SHOES

  • Walking boots
  • Trainers or walking shoes
  • Sandals 

CLOTHING

  • Sunhat/bush hat
  • Headscarf/bandana - for dusty dry regions
  • T-shirts
  • Long-sleeved cotton shirts
  • Shorts and/or skirts
  • Long trousers/slacks
  • Underwear (suitable bra for game drives)
  • Swimwear
  • Sunglasses
  • Socks (thermal options during winter months)
  • Lightweight jersey or fleece/light rain gear for summer months Thick jacket, scarf, gloves & woollen hats for winter months 

Tip: We recommend netural coloured clothing. Camouflage, bright colours and white are not advisable whilst on safari. 

HEALTH & MEDICAL

  • Water bottles
  • Small first aid kit
  • Painkillers, cold & flu medicine Immodium & rehydration salts Personal medication
  • Insect repellent
  • Malaria Tablets (if applicable) Sunscreen and lip balm Antiseptic wipes
  • Torch 

Do ask your Mondo Travel specialist if you have any questions or doubts; they're there to help you!

 

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A trendy pop-up restaurant is serving only airline food from Air New Zealand.

The temporary eatery in London's Soho opened on Monday after it was revealed a quarter of Brits think airplane food is worse than school dinners and hospital food, the Daily Mail reported.

A fifth of people believe bad cuisine is the worst thing about flying long-haul and more than half don't like the food served on planes.

The menu on offer at the pop-up, This Is How We Fly, was devised by Kiwi chef and restaurateur Peter Gordon to show off Air New Zealand's fare.

The airline opened the temporary restaurant and also commissioned the research of 1000 UK adults who have flown long haul.

Gordon said: "When you're sitting on an airplane you want food with fresh ingredients and great texture that's going to awaken your taste buds and really excite you.

"The food served on board Air New Zealand uses the finest, fresh ingredients that are simply bursting with flavour."

Nearly half of British flyers said they would enjoy airline food if it was made from fresh ingredients, while almost a quarter would like to see a range of cuisines offered.

And around a fifth said that a menu put together by a top chef would make airplane food more appealing.

Almost half of respondents believe airline food cannot better restaurant quality.

The biggest gripes people have about airplane food are its unappetising look, the freshness of the food and the portion sizes.

Jo Copestake, Air New Zealand General Manager UK and Europe, said, 'At Air New Zealand we make a virtue of flying long-haul so serving great food is just one element of the in-flight experience.

"The research findings are interesting but I suspect they just haven't travelled with us - flying should be enjoyed, not endured!"

When asked for their views on the food, one member of the public said: '"I couldn't believe it - the food was delicious and probably on par with what I would pay for in a restaurant.

"I had the lamb with minted peas, braised lettuce with bacon lardons and salt roasted crushed new potatoes with mint jelly - it was really good."

Another said: "I'm always interested in trying new foods and Soho is really good for that. In all honesty I never thought airplane food could be so nice."

Air New Zealand's This Is How We Fly runs from Tuesday 25 April to Wednesday 26 April at Unit London Gallery, 147 Wardour Street, London, W1F 8WD.

To try out the menu and register your interest in the pop-up visit: www.airnewzealand.co.uk/howwefly.

Jo Copestake, Air New Zealand General Manager UK and Europe, said: "People will have a chance to sample Air New Zealand canapes, created with the finest, freshest ingredients.

"They'll also be able to sample some of the best wines from New Zealand courtesy of winery Villa Maria and discover Auckland via LA in an immersive 4D experience."

Source - Daily Mail

 

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Keen for a new travel adventure? Can you imagine yourself cruising the great rivers of Europe? Gliding past the medieval castles and lush riverbank vineyards on a luxurious river cruise ship as it winds its way through some of the most beautiful sights and delivers you to Europe’s most celebrated towns & cities.

If that sparks the wanderlust in you then now is the time to pick up the brand new 2018 Avalon Waterways’ brochure from your local travel agent and start planning a European river cruise.

Just one year ago this month, New Zealand’s very own Judy Bailey became the godmother of Avalon’s newest ship as she took part in its inaugural cruise and officially christened it; Avalon Imagery II.

The Avalon Imagery II is just one of 12 revolutionary Avalon Suite ships in their European fleet of 15 ships offering casual luxury and amazing travel experiences on the waterways of Europe.  These new ships are so innovative in their design that guests get to experience Europe from a unique and intimate perspective.

If you are a seasoned cruise traveller or if this is your very first voyage, you’ll find the Avalon Waterway’s experience something very special. If you’ve never enjoyed the delights of river cruising, you’ll be sold on the way Europe’s best arrives at your expansive Open Air Balcony.

And that’s part of the Avalon difference - losing a tiny exterior balcony off your room to incorporate the space inside your Panorama Suite and provide floor to ceiling expansive windows that open back to let the outside in. And Avalon’s Panorama Suites have been cleverly designed so the bed faces the view so you wake up to a new European vista every morning.

Avalon Suite Ships are modern and clever in their design, allowing them to feel significantly bigger than others. With two full decks of Panorama Suites offering 30% more space than staterooms on standard river cruising ships, Avalon has allowed for greater comfort along with the views.

And there is an extra incentive for picking up a brochure hot off the press and getting your 2018 booking in early, with great offers available until 6 June this year.

Last year Avalon offered an air credit deal and it was so well received the company has bought it back by popular demand. Depending on the cruise itinerary and departure dates, early bookings will be rewarded with air credits of up to $2,500 per couple on European cruises.

Also new for 2018, Avalon Active cruises will be introduced on the Rhine River. It’s an interactive and energetic option for the more adventurous traveller.

Beginning in Amsterdam, guests can choose an energetic guided running tour, bike rides along the spectacular Rhine, participate in adrenaline fuelled re-enactments of the Roman Games or even climb the steps to Marksburg Castle to experience exceptional views over the river & vistas below. 

After breath-taking excursions through aromatic orchards or vibrant city streets, guests can retreat toward the comfort of their ship. Evenings spent cruising the Rhine, dining whilst surrounded by panoramic views or spotting castles on the hillsides from the sky deck are all part of an Avalon Waterways holiday.

 

Ask your Mondo Travel cruise specialist for the latest itineraries or brochures!

0800 110 108

 

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Malaysia Airlines is the world's first carrier to enlists SITAONAIR, Aireon and FlightAware for 100% Global Flight Tracking
Malaysia Airlines is the first to adopt joint solution for real-time, space-based alerting system for flight tracking

SITAONAIR, Aireon and FlightAware today announced that Malaysia Airlines will be the first SITAONAIR airline customer to benefit from a revolutionary flight tracking partnership. Under the agreement, all Malaysia Airlines aircraft will have access to minute-by-minute, 100% global, flight tracking data, delivered by SITAONAIR’s AIRCOM® FlightTracker. 
 
This solution will enhance the existing SITAONAIR AIRCOM® FlightTracker by adding Aireon’s space-based Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) data to the existing data from FlightAware’s multiple global sources, complementing active Air Navigation Service Provider (ANSP) Future Air Navigation System (FANS) activity data. 
 
By incorporating this data, Malaysia Airlines’ aircraft operations centre will receive real-time position updates of its airborne fleet globally. Aireon’s space-based ADS-B data will also resolve any existing data feed coverage gaps that remain, particularly over oceanic and remote airspace, where there is currently no surveillance. 
No new avionics or modifications are needed for aircraft to take advantage of this service.
 
“Real-time global aircraft tracking has long been a goal of the aviation community,” said Captain Izham Ismail, Chief Operating Officer, Malaysia Airlines. “We are proud to be the first airline to adopt this solution using space-based ADS-B data as part of SITAONAIR’s AIRCOM® FlightTracker.” 
 
Paul Gibson, Portfolio Director, AIRCOM®, at SITAONAIR, said: “With the addition of the AireonSM data, via FlightAware, to SITAONAIR’s AIRCOM® FlightTracker, combined with our active monitoring and automated alerting capabilities, Malaysia Airlines will be at the cutting-edge of real-time flight-tracking technology. With access to up-to-the-minute reporting, Malaysia Airlines will know the location, heading, speed and altitude of all aircraft in its fleet, at all times, and be alerted of any exceptions.” 
 
In November 2016, Aireon, FlightAware and SITAONAIR announced a new partnership to deliver Aireon data via FlightAware to SITAONAIR customers. FlightAware provides a combination of global air traffic control data, aircraft datalink information and terrestrial ADS-B data through a secure streaming data feed. Once the Aireon system is operational, expected in 2018, airlines already using SITAONAIR’s AIRCOM® FlightTracker will automatically begin seeing the new Aireon data appear in their systems, without the need for costly modifications. 
 
“In addition to not requiring any new avionics or modifications to their aircraft, Malaysia Airlines will seamlessly gain real-time flight tracking ability of its fleet, even in areas where regional Air Navigation Service Providers do not have full surveillance,” said FlightAware Chief Executive Officer, Daniel Baker. “The result will be that Malaysia Airlines will have greater visibility of its aircraft’s exact location.” 
 
Aireon Chief Executive Officer Don Thoma added: “Malaysia Airlines has taken a lead role in the industry since the tragic events of 2014. Real-time, global flight tracking, anywhere on the planet will further its safety goals, by allowing Malaysia Airlines to track its aircraft anytime, anywhere." Aireon’s space-based ADS-B system will offer a global solution that works for all ADS-B Out equipped aircraft everywhere. ADS-B Out mandates have been passed by ANSPs and industry governing bodies around the world, resulting in operators automatically knowing that their aircraft are properly equipped. 
 
The Aireon service will be operational in 2018, shortly after the completion of the Iridium NEXT satellite constellation. On January 14, 2017, the first ten Iridium NEXT satellites carrying the Aireon ADS-B hosted payload were successfully launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. In total, the constellation will consist of 66 operational low-earth-orbit satellites providing global coverage. The service will also provide Air Navigation Service Providers with global aircraft surveillance capability, and is expected to help reduce fuel costs, increase safety and enable more efficient flight paths.

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CHIHULY in the Bronx - a major exhibition at The New York Botanical Gardens

Blooming in the Bronx this spring is CHIHULY. A major exhibition at The New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) from world-renowned sculptor Dale Chihuly, dynamic glass installations in brilliant colours will be on display, complementing over one million plants across a 250-acre landscape. Running April 22 through October 29, 2017, not only will the changing seasons create beautiful vistas for the artwork during the day, but evening events will also allow guests to view the sculptures by illumination.

While in the Bronx for NYBG’s CHIHULYNYC & Company (nycgo.com), the City’s official destination marketing organisation, invites visitors to stay in the northernmost borough to discover more attractions, culture, and dining, all only a short distance from Manhattan’s Midtown.

How to Get There:

First, speak to your Mondo Travel Specialist about flights, deals and accomodation offerings!

Once there:

  • Begin at Grand Central Station in Midtown Manhattan. While there, experience the Whispering Gallery and the 2,500 stars on the main concourse’s ceiling mural. To reach NYBG, the Metro-North train to Fordham Road is a 20-minute trip. The Bronx is also easily accessible by the B, D, 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6 MTA subway lines.

Where to Go:

  • Arthur Avenue / “The Real Little Italy”. Famous Arthur Avenue haunts is the Arthur Avenue Retail Market which is home to Mike’s Deli, Mario’s, Calabria Pork Store, Artuso Pastry Shop and Randazzo’s Seafood. While at the Retail Market, enjoy hyper-local brews at Bronx Beer Hall.
  • The Bronx Museum of the Arts - Located along the Grand Concourse, the Bronx Museum of the Arts showcases the borough’s emerging artists and its culturally diverse background.
  • The Bronx Zoo - One of the largest zoos in the world with 6,000 animals.
  • The Edgar Allan Poe Cottage in Fordham, where poet Edgar Allan Poe spent the last years of his life from 1846 to 1849, is a must-see for fans of his work. 
  • With Hush Hip Hop Tours, groups board a bus led by entertaining musicians who showcase important sites throughout the Bronx that played a role in the early days of hip hop, including the Bronx Walk of Fame.
  • Van Cortlandt Park is a sprawling 1,146 acre park is the third largest in the City and features the nation’s first public golf course. Also home to the nine-hole Mosholu Golf Course. The park offers endless green space for picnics, athletic grounds and playgrounds.
  • The 28-acre public garden and cultural center at Wave Hill allows guests to take in vistas of the Hudson River and beautiful landscapes. Their ongoing concert series continues this spring with music for the whole family at the Wave Hill House.
  • Yankee Stadium - Home to the 27-time World Series champion New York Yankees, the stadium is now also host to NYCFC soccer.

More of The Bronx?:

Check out A Bronx Tale the musical, now playing on Broadway in Midtown Manhattan.

 

Call us to chat about an itinerary to suit you!

0800 110 108

 

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When Celebrity Solstice, the region’s highest rated cruise ship*, departs Auckland on 24 April to migrate to warmer climates, she marks the conclusion of an historic cruise season for New Zealand and Royal Caribbean Cruises.

The cruise company brought three lines and an unprecedented seven ships to Australia and New Zealand this season, including superliner Ovation of the Seas, which broke all the records when she arrived at Kiwi shores.

Ovation of the Seas cost USD$1 billion to build, weighing in at 168,666 GRT with capacity for close to 5000 passengers and 1500 crew, making her by far the biggest and most technologically sophisticated cruise ship to ever call this region home.

With 17 visits to ports including Dunedin, Picton, Wellington, Napier, Tauranga, Auckland and Paihia, the inaugural local season has been declared a major success. The 358m long giant has also been confirmed to return here in December 2017 for a longer season.

Adam Armstrong, Managing Director AU & NZ, says that bringing the largest and most advanced vessel drew new crowds to the market.

“What we have learned is that there is a demand for cruises to New Zealand on a large feature-rich ship like Ovation of the Seas, which has validated our decision to invest in this market. SuperCruising has now emerged as an all new category.”

It was also a record breaking season for the cruise line in terms of overall passengers. More than 300,000 guests sailed on seven ships during the 2016/17 summer cruise season.

A quarter of those guests – around 75,000 - sailed itineraries that visited New Zealand.  This injected an estimated $40 million in passenger spend alone into New Zealand’s regional economies.

Australians made up the core demographic of cruisers to New Zealand at 60%, while the other 40% saw a number of nationalities including from the US, Europe, UK, and of course Kiwis themselves.

In addition to Ovation, Royal Caribbean Cruises also brought Radiance of the Seas, Legend of the Seas, Celebrity Solstice, and Azamara Journey for a total of 133 NZ port visits. 

Boutique cruise ship Azamara Journey made her maiden voyage to NZ this season bringing its destination focussed style of cruising to our shores, showcasing our beautiful country with the brand’s signature longer stays and more authentic local experiences.

Returning fresh from an all-encompassing makeover, Azamara Journey’s revitalisation saw the addition of new venues and technologies, a beautiful redesign and rework of her suites and staterooms, a complete refresh of all public spaces and pervasive wi-fi throughout. 

The region’s favourite and highest rated cruise ship, Celebrity Solstice, celebrated a milestone sailing her fifth consecutive local season, fresh from a stunning makeover. Additions included the first Tiffany & Co store at sea for the region, beautiful cabanas on the famed real grass Lawn Club, and an outdoor movie screen to host her new film and gastronomic experience, “A Taste of Film” for guests.

Royal Caribbean is reminding travellers to book their 2017/18 season cruises early as spaces sell out fast. Simply contact your Mondo Travel specialist for information on forward itineraries!

 

www.mondotravel.co.nz

T: 0800 110 108

 

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Carnival Cruise Line has raised a glass to the success of Australia’s first bespoke cruise beer – ThirstyFrog Summer Ale, with almost 200,000 schooners enjoyed at sea since the refreshing craft ale was launched three years ago.

Created in partnership with The Lord Nelson Brewery, ThirstyFrog Summer Ale has proved one of the most popular beers on Australia-based ships Carnival Spirit and Carnival Legend.

Celebrating the three-year milestone at a special event at Sydney’s The Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel on the United States’ National Beer Day (April 7), Carnival Cruise Line Vice President Beverage Operations Eddie Allen said ThirstyFrog Summer Ale had paved the way for the cruise line to work with similar breweries around the world.

“As a nation of beer lovers, it’s no surprise that ThirstyFrog Summer Ale has been a huge hit on our Australia-based ships Carnival Spirit and Carnival Legend.  We worked closely with The Lord Nelson Brewery to create a quality beer that Australians would appreciate and enjoy during a holiday at sea,” Mr Allen said.

“Following the success of Australia’s summer ale, we’ve rolled out similar partnerships with no less than 10 local craft breweries in homeports in the States. And because our guests have such a penchant for craft beer, we’ve even taken the process to sea with the craft brewery on Carnival Vista proving to be a huge hit. We expect similar results when Carnival Horizon debuts with her own onboard brewery.”

ThirstyFrog Summer Ale, which takes its name from the RedFrog pubs featured across Carnival Cruise Line’s fleet, is only available on tap onboard Carnival Spirit and Carnival Legend. The beer is a 100 per cent natural ale, which combines Australian and American hops to create subtle malt flavours and floral citrus aromas in a thoroughly drinkable beer, which was designed to capture the spirit of a holiday at sea.

Since the beer was launched on the cruise line’s Australia-based ships in 2014, Carnival Cruise Line has become one of The Lord Nelson Brewery’s biggest outlets in Australia. 

Ask your Mondo cruise specialist about the itineraries!

 

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The Walking Dead, you ask ..... here's a little background ....

The Walking Dead is a tumunu or traditional bush bar on Atiu, an island of fewer than than 500 people about 45 minutes by plane from Rarotonga. The name comes from tumu, the Cook Islands Maori word for trunk, and nu, or coconut, because the brew was originally made in the hollowed-out stumps of coconut palms.

Tumunu were around long before disapproving missionaries had them banned, and remained illegal until the mid-1980s. That long prohibition explains why even now they are hidden deep in the bush.

Each tumunu has its own clientele and closely guarded recipe, but all brew something that can loosely be described as beer using the oranges that grow wild on Atiu. The result, which takes about three days to ferment, tastes more like a slightly fizzy fruit wine than beer. It's surprisingly palatable but deceptively strong - usually around 12 per cent - which only becomes apparent when you try to stand up.

You can read more on the NZ Herald article HERE.

Then have a look at some of our Cook Island deals HERE.

 

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American Airlines will suspend its Auckland-Los Angeles service from 7 August until 6 October. When the flights resume, they will be operated by the carrier's 787-9 Dreamliner.

The suspension is in line with American Airline's peak season in North America, the carrier says.

Introducing the 787-9 will bring the airline's new Premium Economy service to the route.

As reported by Travel Today.

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G Adventures has introduced the Jane Goodall Collection, a selection of wildlife-focused tours endorsed by the world-renowned primatologist.

Under the guidance of its founder and namesake, the Jane Goodall Institute has worked tirelessly for 40 years towards fostering a deeper understanding of great apes and to protect their natural habitats. G Adventures and Dr Jane Goodall have designed these trips to bring you into close contact with our planet’s most fascinating creatures in a manner that respects their freedom.

G Adventures is proud to partner with the institute to create awareness of and support its mission to protect wildlife and empower local communities. Every Jane Goodall Collection tour sold helps G Adventures support the Jane Goodall Institute’s mission to protect wildlife and empower local communities.

Trips in the Jane Goodall collection include:

Mozambique, Kruger & Swazi Discoverer - 12 nights from $2,852pp

Galapagos Camping Adventure - 8 nights from $2,429pp

Explore Costa Rica - 13 nights from $2,989pp

 

 

 

 

 

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Emirates introduces tablet loan service to USA

Emirates has introduced another service to mitigate the inconvenience of the recent ban on electronic devices on board US-bound flights. First and Business Class passengers will now be able to borrow tablets on board Emirates’ US-bound flights from Dubai allowing them to continue working during their flight.

The new service is in response to the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) directive which requires all passengers travelling on non-stop flights to the US from Dubai to check-in their laptops, tablets, and other personal electronic devices larger than a smart phone.

As part of this latest service, Emirates’ premium customers will have Microsoft Surface tablets equipped with Microsoft Office 2016 available for loan on board. Customers can download their work on to a USB which can be brought on board and plugged into the devices to continue working seamlessly.

The service is complimentary and will be available on all non-stop flights from Dubai to Emirates’ US destinations. Emirates provides connections at Dubai from its five daily A380 services from New Zealand to the US.

For customers who prefer to stow away their personal devices and simply enjoy the award winning inflight entertainment and service on board, Emirates had introduced a laptop and tablet handling service for US-bound customers. This complimentary service has been made available to passengers in all cabin classes since 25 March 2017, which was when the new TSA rules took effect.

This service allows customers to retain and utilise their personal devices until just before they board their US-bound flights. Passengers must then declare and hand over their laptops, tablets, and other banned electronic devices to security staff at the boarding gate, who will pack and tag each device to be stored in the aircraft hold and returned to the customer at their US destination.

Emirates customers flying to the US can find out more about how the new TSA rules impact them at emirates.com/electronicsban.

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Auckland Airport launches Strata – revamps lounge, wifi

A renamed and extended Emperor’s Lounge, plus upgraded wifi are among the changes complementing Auckland Airport’s launch of its new Strata Club.

The club is a new app-based loyalty type programme designed to recognise travellers’ choices with personalised services and benefits. Strata Club benefits are offered in tiers based on a customer’s purchases over a year, and are available to all international and domestic travellers, regardless of their airline and class of travel, as well as to everyone visiting Auckland Airport’s international and domestic terminals.

The Emperor Lounge, the international premium lounge owned and operated by Auckland Airport, is being renamed Strata Lounge. It is being expanded and refurbished and will open in a new location by August 2017. Strata Club Members will collect Strata Points and accrue tier spend when they book their lounge visit online and 24 hours in advance.

The first stage of wifi infrastructure and services for customers is also complete and complements the launch of the club. Improvements include offering customers a choice of time allowances and data volumes according to their needs and Strata Club tier.

Jason Delamore, Auckland Airport’s general manager – marketing and technology, says Strata Club is one of the ways the airport is investing in getting to know its customers better so they can be provided with more personalised services and benefits.

Examples of benefits include longer access to free wifi, parking upgrades and discounts, and special offers from participating retailers (such as duty free and food and beverage outlets).

Thanks to: Travel Inc Memo

 

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Air New Zealand is introducing a new economy class layout that could make the middle seat more appealing – or at least slightly less unappealing.

The new slimline seat design, which was unveiled this week at the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, will feature wider seats across the entire row. But the middle seats will be a full 3cm wider than at present, compared to a 1cm expansion for the aisle and window seats.

The new seats will be wider than previous versions

Air New Zealand said this was aimed at “ensuring a better sense of personal space across the row”.

The airline’s general manager for customer experience, Anita Hawthorne, revealed that the new seat design was created in response to customer feedback.

“The slightly wider middle seat helps balance out the fact that window and aisle seat customers enjoy a greater sense of space. We currently have many customers who state a preference for window or aisle seats and it’s possible the new design may see the middle seat get a boost in popularity,” Ms Hawthorne said.

“We believe what we’ve co-designed is not only practical from an operational perspective but importantly a more comfortable and spacious experience for our customers,” she added.

The new economy class seats, which were created by Acro Aircraft Seating, will be introduced on the airline’s single-aisle fleet, including its existing Airbus A320s and new A320neos. Air New Zealand has ordered 13 A320neo series aircraft, including the larger A321neo model, to replace its current A320 fleet.

As seen on : Travel Daily Media

 

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Brenda Ogilvie of Mondo Travel Christchurch is proud to be the exclusive Travel Provider for the Canterbury Caledonian Society Pipe Band - the current 6 time NZ Champion Band.

Each year the band raises funds holding a Scottish Golf Day ... which is not your normal day on a golf course.  Bagpipes, whisky, haggis, and of course golfers playing in kilts ... and all at the prestigious Clearwater Golf Club, Christchurch. 

Check it out - play in it once and you'll be back every year (it's always a sell out!)

Contact Brenda for more information.

Brenda Ogilvie - International Travel Broker

Mobile NZ: +64 210503838 / Mobile AU: +61 (0)455451597

Email : brenda.ogilvie@mondotravel.co.nz

 

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Cathay Pacific introduces Betsy Beer – the world’s first hand-crafted bottled beer brewed to be enjoyed at 35,000ft 

By using a combination of science and traditional brewing methods, Betsy Beer is a high-quality craft ale that has travel in its DNA

The quality of the inflight dining experience has always been an important focus for Cathay Pacific and to that end Hong Kong’s home carrier is delighted today to announce the launch of Betsy Beer, the world’s first hand-crafted bottled beer specially brewed to be enjoyed at 35,000 feet.

It isn’t a secret that cabin pressure and altitude affects passengers’ taste buds, but by using a combination of science and traditional brewing methods Cathay Pacific and Hong Kong Beer Co have created a brew with the necessary ingredients, aroma, and carbonation to taste great both in the air and on the ground. 

The inclusion of “Dragon Eye” fruit is a unique characteristic of the beverage. Known for its aromatic properties, the fruit adds to the round, rich, textural properties that make the beer distinctive. This flavour is enhanced further by the inclusion of a small component of New Territories’-sourced honey in the  brewing process, giving the beer agreeable floral notes. The use of Fuggle, a revered hop and a mainstay of traditional British craft ales, also lends it a pleasingly earthy and full-bodied flavour. 

Cathay Pacific General Manager Marketing, Loyalty Programme & CRM Julian Lyden said: “We know that when you fly, your sense of taste changes. Airlines address this for food in certain ways. But nobody has ever tried to improve the taste of beer at altitude. That seemed like a great opportunity for us to help our beer-loving passengers travel well.”

Named after “Betsy”, Cathay Pacific’s first aircraft, a Douglas DC-3 which flew passengers around the region in the 1940s and 1950s, Betsy Beer will be first served to First and Business Class passengers onboard flights between Hong Kong and destinations in the United Kingdom – Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester – from 1 March until 30 April 2017.

In addition to Cathay Pacific flights operating on routes to the UK, Betsy Beer will be available at ground level at the airline’s lounges in Hong Kong and Heathrow as well as a select number of Swire-owned restaurants in Hong Kong, including Mr & Mrs Fox, Café Gray Deluxe, Plat du Jour, Public, Sugar (Bar.Deck.Lounge) and The Continental for a limited time. 

It will also be available for online purchase through deli-delight.com, the exclusive retailer for Betsy Beer during March and April.

www.cathaypacific.co.nz

 

Originally found at: Let's Travel Magazine

 

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Air New Zealand's Boeing 767 makes its final journey

It has carried everyone from the Pope to the Rolling Stones but on Friday, Air New Zealand's last Boeing 767 will make its final commercial flight.

The 230-seat aircraft's pending retirement was announced last August by the airline. It will be replaced by Airbus A320s and Boeing 777 and 787-9s. Its final job is the Auckland to Sydney return flight, taking off at 4.05pm and touching back down on New Zealand soil just before midnight – all going according to plan.

"It was the first aircraft of its type to have TV screens," senior fleet manager captain Greg Liddy said. "It led the field of technology."   Liddy said the aircraft hasn't changed too much in the 32 years since Air New Zealand started flying it, but said the "rest of the world has moved on".

"Pilots, engineers and crew have all got some kind of emotional attachment to aircraft, especially this one," said Liddy, who has spent 11 years on the 767. 

The first Boeing 767 in Air NZ's fleet arrived in 1985; that Boeing 767-200ER was followed by the 767-300ER in 1991.

It was an Air NZ Boeing 767 that took off on a scenic Southern Lights spotting trip from Dunedin last Thursday. That flight sold out to 130 Aurora Australis hunters and was the first commercial flight of its kind. In 2016, the aircraft was retired from its four-times-weekly Honolulu service, replaced by the bigger 302-seat Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. It began flying Air NZ's new, direct Vietnam route in mid-2016.

AIR NEW ZEALAND'S 767 FACTS:

- The first 767 joined Air New Zealand in September 1985.

- Air New Zealand has flown both types of Boeing 767 – the 200 and 300 variants.

- The victorious Team New Zealand America's Cup crew flew home on a 767 in 1995.

- A 767 charter flight carried Pope John Paul II between Christchurch and Canberra in November 1986.

 Reported by Stuff - Click to watch video

 

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Mondo Travel and Fiji Airways, in conjunction with the Bealey’s Speight’s Ale House, are supporting the New Zealand Spinal Trust.

All proceeds from the promotion will go to the Trust – the winners get to fly to the Crusaders v Chiefs game in Suva on 19 May.

You can support this effort, too ... simply by purchasing one of the 600 raffle tickets! Everyt ticket sold has TWO chances to win!

First prize: A trip for two to watch the Chiefs versus Crusaders ... in FIJI!

Tickets are only $20 each, and they are available from NZ Spinal Trust at Portacom B, Burwood Hospital (Ph 383 6881) or at The Bealey’s Speight’s Ale House bar (263 Bealey Ave, Christchurch) or by email: anna@oms9.co.nz

 

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Do you love all things travel?

Mondo Travel are looking for Travel Brokers ... are you our next SUPERSTAR??

  • High earning potential
  • Business Development opportunities
  • Choice of commission splits
  • Choice of GDS system
  • Head office admin and marketing support
  • Annual Group Conference

Email in confidence to Ross Manson: ross@mondotravel.co.nz

Or call on 021 892 994

#travel #broker #superstar #GDSsystem #commission

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Tahiti Tourisme is celebrating 50 years of overwater bungalows, the striking over-the-water accommodation that helped put the Islands of Tahiti on the map.

In 1967, Tahiti became the first destination in the world to take accommodation into uncharted waters, building suites over its islands’ beautiful blue lagoons in a move that cemented the Society Islands as one of the world’s most sought-after holiday destinations.

View more at Let's Travel magazine.

 

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Mondo Travel has continued its association with the Tasman Makos by committing to the “Makos 500 Club” in 2017.

The Makos 500 Club was introduced in 2014 when the team was promoted to the Premiership division of the Mitre 10 Cup. The membership monies are earmarked for the team support staff expenses. The Makos 500 Club has enabled the appointment of the very best coaching team, physio, doctor and strength & conditioning coach possible. The 2016 coaching team of Leon MacDonald & Andrew Goodman has been enhanced, in 2017, with the appointment of Leo Crowley & Greg Somerville as assistant coaches.

Since joining the Premiership, the Makos have achieved significant success – 2 x Runner-up and 1 x 3rd placing – a tremendous result for one of the newest, and smallest, unions in the country.

Like the many businesses and individuals in the Nelson/Marlborough region (and supporters throughout the country), Mondo are "delighted to be contributing to the success of the Tasman Makos (through the Makos 500 Club) in 2017,“ said Mondo Travel Chief Executive, Tony Terrill.

 

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Singapore Airlines has announced it will increase its flights to and from Christchurch next summer.

The additional services will operate from 30 November 2017 through to 16 February 2018 to meet demand over the peak season, including Chinese New Year.

The airline celebrated 30 years of flying into the South Island city in 2016, while Wellington also welcomed its first long-haul service in September. 

"The additional flights will provide greater opportunities for New Zealand tourism and will also help to bring more international visitors to places like Kaikoura and Marlborough," Singapore Airlines NZ general manager Simon Turcotte​ said.

The 10 round-trip flights per week will add 8130 seats on the airline's fleet of 777-200ER aircraft.

"We've flown to Christchurch for over 30 years, and we remain committed to our relationship with the Garden city and the wider South Island community, " Turcotte said.

Christchurch Airport chief aeronautical and commercial manager Justin Watson described the announcement as a "win-win". "The 30 double daily services over next summer will bring people here to see the South Island and help South Islanders get to the places they want to see."

Mondo Travel offers you a range of flights and holiday options in Singapore ... have a browse through this SEARCH OPTION.

 

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"This is how the journey begins: slowly, cautiously, as though the bones of this train are old and must be treated with great care.

And it continues so, a gentle, unhurried voyage through the flushed-with-life landscapes of Malaysia and Thailand."

If you've been considering a trip on the Eastern & Oriental express, have a read of Catherine Marshall's firsthand account of her jouney ... (READ MORE).

And if that's whet your appetite, then head on over and have a look at this deal ... (GET MORE INFO).

 

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Banksy hotel without a view opens to guests in Bethlehem

Guests began arriving at the Walled Off Hotel in Bethlehem on Monday, the quirky guesthouse created by British street artist Banksy that stands a few feet away from Israel's towering security barrier in the occupied West Bank.

The three-storey hotel, its low-lit bar and restaurant decorated like a British colonial clubhouse but with ironic works by the artist covering the walls, was unveiled two weeks ago but has only now opened to overnight stays.

There are 10 rooms, ranging from a budget barracks-style accommodation for backpackers to a presidential suite that can sleep six. None of the rooms has a view -- all of them look out on Israel's five-metre, graffiti-covered concrete wall.

The Bristol-based artist, who has become a global phenomenon over the past decade but whose real identity is a closely guarded secret, has described the guesthouse as having "the worst views of any hotel in the world".

That has not deterred guests.

"I came because I heard Banksy opened a new hotel and I was curious," said one visitor arriving from Melbourne, Australia. "I wanted to check it out and check out the West Bank, too.

"The hotel with the worst views, that's quite interesting. It's unique."

Manager Wissam Salsa, who kept the project secret for more than a year as building work was completed and local staff were trained, said the hotel was fully booked until June.

"We are expecting 18 guests to arrive this afternoon from different parts of the world, from the United Kingdom, the United States, Switzerland, Sweden, Australia and Finland," he said.

The mayor of Bethlehem said that while the town where Jesus was born already attracted a large number of tourists to sites like the Church of the Nativity, the Walled Off added an extra dimension.

"(It's) a very significant addition to the entity of Bethlehem as a touristic city," said Mayor Vera Baboun.

"Having Banksy putting all his paintings in the hotel, it has significant political messages," she said, suggesting it would draw attention to Israel's occupation of the West Bank, which began in June 1967, after the six-day Middle East war.

Bedroom partitions and hallways are embellished with the Banksy's stencil graffiti work. One reveals an Israeli soldier and masked Palestinian youth having a pillow fight, and a statue of a chimpanzee bell-boy stands on the entrance, garments falling out of the suitcase he holds. 

As reported by Reuters. Video and more images on Stuff.

 

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Dubai Airports has unleashed the world’s fastest free wi-fi connection at an airport to millions of passengers who travel through DXB each month.

Aptly named WOW-Fi, the service provides internet connection up to a staggering 100mbps, surpassing all other airports.

This follows Dubai Airports’ launch of an upgraded free unlimited high-speed Wi-Fi connection across Dubai International (DXB) and Dubai World Central (DWC) in December last year.

Michael Ibbitson, Executive Vice President of Technology and Infrastructure at Dubai Airports said, “As the biggest international airport in the world, we are at the heart of many journeys across the globe. To support these travellers, late last year we launched unlimited free high-speed Wi-Fi across our airports but our goal was to offer something they have never experienced at an airport before. With WOW-Fi passengers will get a speed of up to 100mbps to enable them to quickly download or upload emails, pictures, videos and social media updates and then get on with enjoying the airport or connecting to their friends and family across the world.”

The unlimited free Wi-Fi at DXB connects with just one click and offers speed that sets a new benchmark for airports globally. To ensure the speed and reliability, Dubai Airports is investing in more than 6,000 new Wi-Fi access points to upgrade the entire wireless network infrastructure across both airports. Dubai Airports also enhanced the internet links to 5Gbps each to provide the required bandwidth and resilience, while new web applications have also been specially developed for each terminal and concourse to improve information for passengers.

 

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Richard Fain, the chief executive officer of Royal Caribbean Cruises, is willing to bet $5 billion that he can take everything you know about cruising and flip it upside down. Or at least outside in.

On Monday, he and Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, CEO of Celebrity Cruises - one of three brands in the Royal Caribbean family - announced a new category of ship that, among other transformational design moves, brings stateroom balconies indoors. With a push of a button, the floor-to-ceiling windows of Celebrity Edge-class staterooms retract like a super-sleek garage door, leaving nothing but a simple glass railing between your living room furniture and the crystal-blue sea.

Portholes and balconies are set to become a thing of the past. At least, that's what Fain and Lutoff-Perlo are betting on.

These balconies on-demand are just one of the first-to-market design features raising the price tag of Edge-class ships to $1 billion a piece. Here's what else to expect on these tricked-out ocean liners, which are packed with enough bells and whistles to make even the most fervent anti-cruiser consider a trip on the high seas.

"Infinite" Verandas

By redefining the balcony, Celebrity is able to expand cabins right up to the edge of the ship - almost like an infinity pool. As a result, stateroom floor plans are (on average) 23 percent larger than before, with bathrooms gaining an extra 20 percent of square footage.

A Magic Carpet Ride

Imagine a mini-deck that is the length of a tennis court which hovers off the edge of the ship, moving up and down along a vertical track almost like an elevator. That's the Magic Carpet, a new public space that will serve different purposes at different times of the day - a stylish disembarkation point. a lunch spot with wraparound views, an extension to the pool area (sometimes with a DJ), a fine dining restaurant that's cantilevered over the sea. 

Floating Villas With Private Plunge Pools

Suites have traditionally made up 5 percent of Celebrity's room stock; on Edge ships, they'll represent 12 percent of the accommodations. Included are six duplex villas that shed the traditional décor you'll find on, say, luxury cruise line Cunard's two-floor suites-instead, they have private plunge pools and direct access to the one of the ship's sundecks. Eucalyptus-treated cashmere mattresses from Italy, Bulgari bath amenities, butler service, packing and unpacking support, and a bar that's set up based on your own preferences: They're just a few of the signature amenities for suite guests.

Mobile-Controlled Everything

Wearables are a thing of the past. On the Edge ships, you'll be able to do everything on your phone, from checking in to unlocking your stateroom door or controlling your room's temperature and lighting. It all happens via a proprietary Celebrity app, which also puts the concierge, ship map, and daily event schedule in each guest's pocket.

The Ultimate Adult "Playscape"

The so-called resort deck on the Celebrity Edge ships takes the adult pool concept to a whole new level. The pool itself (The Solarium) is enclosed by a tessellated, glass-like dome for all-weather access. It  leads to a rooftop garden landscaped with sculptural trees and maintained by a dedicated horticulturist so that it can be used for parties (think live music, wine, and blankets) or dinner-and-a-movie nights.

The Bottom Line

Lutoff-Perlo and Fain both talk about the Edge class as an evolution in modern luxury, capable of drawing more affluent younger travelers and converting them into cruisers.

"When you have to sign a contract for $5 billion, your hand shakes. But now that I've seen the design, my hand no longer shakes," said Fain. And Lutoff-Perlo indicated there's more to come. "Every new feature needs to be a must-see, must-have experience-that's true of all these additions, along with several more amazing things we'll be revealing later on," she teased.

Want to get a spot on the inaugural sailing? Bookings are officially open for the first ship's maiden voyage, departing from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on Dec. 16, 2018, for a week-long Caribbean circuit.

GET IN TOUCH NOW - Space is guaranteed not to last - Call us on 0800 110 108!

As reported by The Herald and Washington Post

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After four days of fun festivities on the bank of Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River, the 15th King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament wrapped up on Sunday 12th March. A total of ten teams with over 40 players from around the world created many memorable moments on and off the pitch during the annual charity event.

A total of 25 unemployed ex-street elephants took part in this year’s tournament, during which time they received full veterinary checks from the Zoological Parks Organisation of Thailand (under the patronage of His Majesty the King of Thailand) and the Department of Livestock Development. In addition, all elephants were given essential vitamins, food and care which are not available to them during their normal daily lives.

The tournament was introduced to Thailand in 2001 by Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas and is now one of the biggest charitable events in the Kingdom, raising funds for projects that better the lives of Thailand’s elephant population. THB 6 million has been raised this year, taking the total raised to date to over THB 50 million (US$1,400,000)

Funds will be donated to various projects including the Positive Reinforcement Target Training programme for mahouts and vets, the Zoological Parks Organisation of Thailand which supports veterinary and educational projects to improve the year-round lives of the 300 elephants and mahouts in Ban Ta Klang, Surin Province where ex-street elephants face ongoing hardship.

Other significant benefits from the money raised by the tournament include: the ongoing Thai Elephant Therapy Project which has been underway since 2009 in conjunction with Chiang Mai University’s Department of Occupational Therapy, with future clinics to include children with Down’s syndrome and other conditions; a THB 500,000 gantry to help lame elephants stand donated to the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre (TECC); 4,000 trees planted in Hua Hin for elephant corridors to stop farmer/elephant conflicts; funding a conservation curriculum for schools to teach children the importance of conservation and protection of wild elephants in Thailand, and funding Asia’s first workshop to show traditional elephant trainers and camp owners the benefits of Positive Reinforcement Training for captive elephants.

The event had something for everyone, kicking off with a colourful opening parade, with the opening ceremony overseen by the Kru Ba Yai, Thailand’s ‘elephant spirit men’, traditional dancers, plus the daily trunk-to-trunk action on the pitch.

Day two saw the tournament host hundreds of children from local schools in Bangkok. Known as Chang Noi Day (Little Elephant Day), the children were invited to get up close with the elephants and learn more about their national animal. A range of educational walks, games and activities all teaching the benefits of elephant conservation and wellbeing were showcased by the organisers.

Saturday was ‘Ladies Day’, popularly known as ‘Bangkok Ascot’, where ladies dressed to impress with the best dressed lady winning a stay in the Maldives.

The highly anticipated final was presided over by the King of Thailand’s Royal representative, H.E. Air Chief Marshal Chalit Pukbhasuk, Privy Councillor. Reigning champions King Power went head to head with Mekhong, culminating in a thrilling end to the tournament, with Mekhong clinching the title in the last moments of the match, resulting in a final score of 10-11.

Final Leaderboard for 2017 King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament: 

  1. Mekhong
  2. King Power
  3. Casillero del Diablo
  4. Johnnie Walker Blue Label
  5. Arabian Knights
  6. Citi
  7. PWC All Blacks
  8. IBM
  9. Benihana
  10. Anantara

For more information on the 15th Annual King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament, please visit www.anantaraelephantpolo.com

Make sure you're at next year's tournament ... stay tuned by subscribing to the Mondo weekly newsletter for holiday deals and airfares.

 

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Qatar Airways has unveiled a new Business Class suite it says will revolutionise travel in the premium cabin.

QSuite, which has many First Class features, will be introduced on aircraft flying the Auckland-Doha route from the middle of next year.

The airline's chief executive Akbar Al Baker told a packed press conference at the ITB travel Expo in Berlin that his airline was ''raising the bar" in air travel. He said the airline was also working on new Economy Class seats.

The airline said QSuite features the industry's first-ever double bed available in Business Class, with privacy panels that stow away, allowing passengers in adjoining seats to create their own private room. Adjustable panels and movable TV monitors (which are 57cm wide) on the centre four seats allows workmates friends or families travelling together to transform their space into a private suite, allowing them to work, dine and socialise together.

Al Baker joked that ''quiet please" signs maybe needed for couples travelling together, later saying ; ''I'm sure people in the air will behave themselves."

The airline had patented the suites.

''Not only have we developed something of a revolution but we have patented it so none of my competitors will be able to copy as in the past when we raise the bar they then follow us." He said it was ''way above" what anybody else would ever attempt and would change the way that people travel in Business Class.

The first of the retrofitted planes would be operating between Doha and London by June and rolled out across existing Boeing 777 and Airbus A350 planes during the following 18 months. The airline - which started flying to New Zealand just over a month ago - will have the suites installed in new model 777s and A350s as they start to enter the fleet.

He would not reveal the cost of QSuite programme but it is another shot in the fierce fight at the top end of the market being fought by Gulf carriers.

At the other corner of the exhibition hall Emirates was showing off its new lounge bar while in the middle of the room Etihad was exhibiting its three-room residences.

Pricing has not been released for the Qatar suites but they will not take up more space on the aircraft than existing business class seats. Typically if they have to take up much more space for new products fares will go up accordingly. Al Baker said the suites in business would not cannibalise its First Class offering because they would be in different aircraft types than the A380 double decker the airline operated.

They will be installed in a 1-2-1 configuration which will be welcomed by Business Class passengers on the airline's existing 777s who are two abreast against the windows.

The suites will be manufactured by BE Aerospace and the seats fold down to fully flat 2m-long beds. ITB is one of the world's biggest travel expos. Over the course of five days more than 10,000 companies from 184 countries will be represented on 1092 stands - including 15 New Zealand operators.

Grant Bradley travelled to Berlin courtesy of Qatar Airways
As reported in NZ Herald

 

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Have you ever wondered which airline offers the best in terms of legroom. According to the NZ Herald, who got the info from the Daily Mail, it's Qatar ... by a long leg!

Here's the full story to save you clicking on yet another link....

BEST VALUE AIRLINES FOR LEGROOM

1. Qatar Airways
2. Air India
3. Delta Air Lines
4. Etihad Airways
5. Turkish Airlines 
Source: Seatguru

Qatar Airways has been crowned the best value airline for legroom in 2017.

A new study reached the finding based on two factors: which airlines offered the most space between rows on long-haul flights, and how much (if at all) is charged for extra legroom.

Qatar came out on top in terms of overall value for money, closely followed by Air India, Delta Air Lines, Etihad Airways and Turkish Airlines, the Daily Mail reports.

Legroom, which is known in the industry as seat pitch can be defined as the distance between a single point on an aircraft seat and the identical point on the seat in front.

Qatar boasts a pitch of between 31 and 33 inches and doesn't charge extra for passengers wishing to select a seat that offers more, for example an emergency exit seat.

And as the airline currently operates the world's longest flight from Auckland to Doha - clocking in at 14,535km and 17 hours plus in the air - so the extra inches are bound to be appreciated by economy travellers.

The Skyscanner study also took into account that Turkish Airlines and Air India do charge for extra legroom, $8.72 and $10.05 per centimetre respectively, but comparatively less so than other companies.

Indeed, the same study found that a third of all travellers cited this as being the thing that most annoys them on a plane, with one in ten angered by being charged to have more.

The survey also revealed that over half of people found it annoying when the person in front of them reclined their seat.

The debate as to whether this is acceptable social conduct or not, however, rages on.

 

 

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Qantas closed its dedicated lounge at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport in late 2015 but with new lounges from Oneworld partners Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines, along with Qantas' own global alliance partner Emirates, travellers have a surprising amount of choice before waving bye-bye to BKK.

Louis’ Tavern CIP Lounge: The first lounge on our list is one we suggest you skip, unless you're a Qantas Club member – in which case it's the only airport lounge at Bangkok that'll let you through the door.  The Louis’ Tavern CIP Lounge at Concourse G (near gate G2) is the lounge to which Qantas steers all eligible passengers ahead of flight QF24. That includes business class passengers; Gold, Platinum and Platinum One frequent flyers; Qantas Club members, and travellers holding Oneworld Emerald and Sapphire status with any other Oneworld airline. The Louis’ Tavern CIP Lounge is better than having no lounge access at all, but it's more about function than flair. At least it has hot meals and showers, the latter of which can be very welcome after a day in Bangkok. 

Cathay Pacific lounge: Also located in Concourse G is a superb little Cathay Pacific lounge. Opened in 2015, it shares the same Ilse Crawford design as Cathay's most recent lounges.  This is where we suggest that Qantas' business class travellers make tracks for, along with Gold, Platinum and Platinum One frequent flyers – all of whom have access to the lounge under the terms of the Oneworld alliance to which both Qantas and Cathay Pacific belong. Cathay Pacific's Bangkok lounge has a great set of dining options, starting with the airline's signature Noodle Bar and its selection of freshly-prepared Asian noodles including wonton noodle soup, Dan Dan noodles, dim sum and pad Thai (plus a separate vegetarian menu). There's also a cafe-style area with lighter snacks, sandwiches, salads, yoghurt and desserts such as creme caramel and pandan cake. Finally, the tended bar has a wide selection of cocktails and mocktails.

Japan Airlines lounge: From March 1st 2017 there's another Oneworld lounge available for the consideration of Qantas passengers – this is the revamped Sakura Lounge of Japan Airlines. Located on the same floor as the other lounges, but down from the intersection of the E, F and G gates, JAL's upgraded lounge –like the Cathay Pacific one – boasts AC and USB power sockets by at every seat.  There's even a smoking area if you need a last pre-flight gasper. The new menus provided by Japanese restaurant chain NIPPON-TEI include beef curry (below) and Japanese appetisers. As Japan Airlines is a Oneworld member, the same lounge access rules apply as for Cathay Pacific: Qantas business class as well as Gold, Platinum and Platinum One frequent flyers are all entitled to pop into the JAL lounge.

Emirates lounge: Head towards the D gates for the Emirates lounge, which is open to Qantas business class passengers and Gold, Platinum and Platinum One frequent flyers as part of the Qantas/Emirates alliance. (It's not widely known, but the Qantas/Emirates alliance includes frequent flyer access to Emirates lounges across Australia, Europe, Asia, North Africa and the Middle East, when you'e flying either Qantas or Emirates.) It's a typically Emirates lounge: spacious, an upmarket 'international' design with a good selection of food and wine (including champagne) plus shower suites. 

Thanks to David Flynn, Australian Business Traveller

 

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Cunard's Queen Elizabeth is to be based in Australia for a record two months to accommodate the growing demand for local cruises on the luxury cruise line's ships.

Seven cruise options offer destinations such as: New Zealand, South Australia, Tasmania, departing Sydney and Melbourne February-April 2019.

The cruises are a major highlight of the Cunard's 2019 World Voyage program due for release mid-March 2017.

 

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Mondo Travel has selected Kiwi Holiday Insurance as its travel insurance partner to safeguard yourselves and your holiday.

Did you know that up to 35% of travel insurance claims occur before you depart? Something could happen to you or a loved one which affects your ability to travel, resulting in cancellation costs. A Kiwi Holiday Insurance policy covers the financial investment in your holiday from the day it is purchased, giving you peace of mind on a significant expense.

And while you are away on your trip, the policy continues to work providing:

  • $Unlimited Medical Assistance and Expenses coverage
  • Cover for weather or natural disaster events that affect your journey
  • Cover for stolen or damaged items of luggage (including electronics, mobile phones etc)
  • Cover if your luggage is delayed and you need emergency purchases
  • Cover for the Excess on your Rental vehicle (which can save you a lot in Excess Reduction costs)
  • Plus many more sections of benefit outlined in the policy wording.

There are 36 Existing Medical conditions covered free of charge in the Kiwi Holiday Insurance policy, and you can easily have your condition assessed by their friendly team over the phone. They do not require any medical certificates or forms to be filled out – simply call them and answer some simple multi-choice questions!

While you are away, you can access Allianz Global Assistance’s emergency assistance team (based in Brisbane) who can help you with translations, symptom diagnosis and medical advice. Would you know what to do if you were feeling unwell in a foreign country and English was not common? Allianz Global Assistance have been successfully handling these types of situations for 20+ years and can take all of the stress away from a difficult situation with their expertise and experience.

Make sure you check out the $NIL Excess option – only $25.00 per policy to remove the standard $100 Excess and maximise any claim that may eventuate.

Get in touch with your Mondo Travel agent today, or visit the Kiwi Holiday Insurance website.

 

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Cathay Pacific has just confirmed plans to launch a new direct seasonal service between Christchurch and Hong Kong in December 2017, operated by one of its high-tech A350 aircraft.

The new thrice-weekly service will link the two cities for the first time, operating over the seasonal peak 1 December to 28 February, and see Cathay and Air New Zealand extend their services between the two countries.

The flights will depart Hong Kong on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday; and ex Christchurch on Monday, Thursday and Saturday (subject to regulatory approvals).

Cathay Pacific's New Zealand manager Mark Pirihi says the airline is 'delighted' to connect South Islanders with the carrier's global network. "Travellers now have more choice with a one-stop service from Christchurch to a multitude of destinations across Europe and Asia via our global transport hub of HKG," he says.

The Cathay Pacific/Air New Zealand strategic alliance agreement on services between New Zealand and Hong Kong have been extended for five more years, through to 2022, subject to regulatory approvals.

 

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Emirates, Skytrax’s World’s Best Airline 2016, will launch a series of new cabin products and enhancements in 2017 for both its A380 and Boeing 777 fleet. 

The multi-million dollar cabin interiors upgrade programme includes an enhanced Onboard Lounge for its flagship Airbus A380 aircraft.

Sir Tim Clark, President Emirates Airline said: “The A380 Onboard Lounge is hugely popular with our customers, and has become an iconic feature of Emirates’ A380 offering.  Particularly on long-haul flights, our customers tell us they appreciate the opportunity to stretch their legs and mingle in the relaxed, yet classy lounge area.

“Since we first launched the product in 2008, our A380 Onboard Lounge has gone through small but successive enhancements in line with customer feedback to increase the amount of space for our customers to interact in the lounge. In our latest revamp, we have taken inspiration from private yacht cabins, and amongst other thoughtful touches, we have increased the seating space, and also made it more intimate and conducive for our passengers to socialise or enjoy our lounge service.”

The new Emirates A380 Onboard Lounge will make its first public appearance at the Emirates Infinite Possibilities stand during ITB Berlin, one of the world’s largest tourism trade fairs. It is currently being installed onto one of Emirates’ brand new A380 aircraft at Airbus’ facilities, and will make its operational debut in July 2017. 

Enhanced Emirates A380 Onboard Lounge Features

While retaining the trademark horseshoe-shaped bar, Emirates’ latest A380 Onboard Lounge will offer more seating space with a new seating arrangement along the windows on both sides of the bar. Inspired by private yacht cabins, each seating area will have a table and window view. Overall, the lounge can comfortably accommodate up to 26 passengers at a time, including 8 seated.

The new Onboard Lounge will also feature an airier look and feel. Lighter champagne colours will be used in the cabin and lounge seating, accented by a glossy dark wood trim.

Emirates will also introduce soundproof curtains to partition the Onboard Lounge area from the other cabins, put in additional soft ambient lighting options, new window blinds with integrated LED mood lighting, and subwoofers for surround sound. The lounge also features a 55 inch LCD screen so customers can view the latest flight information, or enjoy live TV broadcasts of the latest news or sports updates.

All of Emirates’ 93 A380s currently in service feature the Onboard Lounge. The enhanced lounge product will be similarly located on the upper deck of the aircraft, for First and Business Class passengers.

At the lounge, customers can enjoy gourmet canapés, handpicked wines from around the world and limited edition fine spirits, as well as signature cocktails prepared by the bartender.

Aside from the Onboard Lounge, the Emirates A380 is also renowned for its industry-leading First Class Private Suites and Shower Spas; luxurious lie-flat Business Class pods with personal mini-bars; spacious and quiet cabins; onboard Wi-Fi; and Emirates’ multi-award winning ‘ice’ Digital Widescreen with more than 2,500 channels of movies, TV programs, music and podcasts.

Emirates flies the A380 to 46 cities on 5 continents. It is the world’s largest operator of the A380 aircraft with 93 of these double-decked aircraft in service, and a further 49 on order. Testimony to the popularity of the aircraft amongst travellers, Emirates has carried nearly 70 million passengers on its flagship aircraft since 2008.

Watch the video here

 

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At Mondo Travel, we don't just plan trips ... we go the distance to ensure your journey becomes a treasured memory!

Our travel specialists do their utmost to make every itinerary they work on one that will have you talking about your trip long after the bags have been unpacked at home. We're all about making memories and ensuring that we show you a new way of seeing the world!

Recently, Chris Hammonds at our Mt Eden store booked a Southern African trip for Ed and Jen. This is what they had to say on their return:

Just a note to thank you for all you did to make our South African trip truly memorable. We loved it ... from Table mountain to Stellenbosch to Victoria Falls; and the the animals at the two game parks at Kruger were outstanding. Your itinery was well thought out and we enjoyed every minute. Great! Best wishes

Talk to one of our travel specialists about making YOUR next memory anything but ordinary!

 

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Sichuan Airlines will begin three direct flights per week between Auckland and Chengdu from 13 June 2017.

The new schedule will feature an A330-200 aircraft, with Business and Economy Class configuration and operate initially on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. The flight will take 13 hours direct from New Zealand to the Southwest part of China. The flights will depart Auckland at 20:30 to reach Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport around 06:00, with a 01:55 overnight return leg arriving into Auckland at 18:45.

Sichuan Airlines Company was founded on 19 September 1986. Currently it has more than 215 routes, a well-operating network integrating main, secondary, international, regional and branch routes, contributing to the transportation system of the regional comprehensive transportation hub. 

The new services mean there will be up to 75 flights a week between New Zealand and China, including Hong Kong and depending on the season.

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We've often heard people discussing their upcoming cruise and debating whether to try and sneek the odd bottle of alcohol onboard with them.

All we can say is: DON'T!

Much like airlines, cruise companies have cottoned onto the fact that travellers will sometimes go to great lengths to get that bottle of Jim Beam or Smirnoff into their cabin without detection. Over the years, they have uncovered a raft of attempted deceptions ... decanting drinks into mouthwash bottles, having specific containers made up, stashing vodka in makeup bottles and more!

Do you really want the shame of holding up the queue on embarkation day while you are made to hand over your illegal booze? Will you be able to show your red face again that night at dinner?

Not only do you stand a darn good chance of losing the alcohol that's just been discovered, you'll then be forced to pay for your drinks on top of losing your stash! Would have been cheaper to just pay the bar tab and be done with.

While on the subject of drinking, remember that while you can legally drink in some countries at 18 years of age, if you're on a cruise that departs from an American port, you'll be faced with a minimum drinking age of 21!

If you're celebrating a special occasion onboard, you can take your own champagne with you - ask about the corkage fees if you intend to pop the cork in the dining areas!

Lastly, drinking to excess on a cruise is NEVER a good idea ... cruise companies have been known to disembark passengers who have violated their alcohol policies ... everything in moderation!

Happy sailing!

 

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Nothing to do with Hollywood (although Air New Zealand can get you there, too!), Oscar is their new virtual travel assistant.

His full name is Bravo Oscar Tango, or BOT, and he will initially be helping Air New Zealand customers with their most commonly asked questions, saving them from going through the often lengthy FAQ's. He's a chat bot, meaning he will be able to assist you via voice or text commands pertaining to any Air New Zealand lounge enquiries, baggage queries or Airpoints questions.

He is currently in Beta, and your experience with Oscar will help define his future by providing the training he needs.

Go on ... put Oscar to the test : https://www.airnewzealand.co.nz/help-and-contact

 

 

 

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"My travel agent life began in 1969. My major travel to the UK and Europe was by sea, so I have been selling berths on ships since then; back in the day when NAC as our domestic carrier, before Air New Zealand took over. Then there was the coming of the 747 that saw the demise of the line voyages of all the major shipping companies.

My passion has always been sea voyaging and cruising, and now also includes self-drive canal boats and river boats. I love river boat cruising in Europe, Asia, and America.

I cover all the major cruise companies. If there is anywhere in the world that has a boat floating on it, then I can probably get you a cabin. Budget to 5 Star, there is always a cruise to suit your mood or budget.

Booking the correct cruise will ensure you get great value for your money and a very nice holiday to boot.

My other great passion is rail travel, and I see this as good compliment to cruising as they both allow you space to relax and enjoy the travelling.

If being on water isn't your thing, I also offer you land-based holidays, coach touring and adventure style travel.

I look forward to helping you plan your next incredible journey - by land, sea or air.

--Murray Patterson

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