By Judy Newell
Mexico Travel News
Cancun celebrates end of Mayan Calendar
Cancun Convention and Visitors Bureau reported that the week of December 21 was among the most successful tourism weeks in the destination’s history. Hotels across Cancun enjoyed above average occupancy rates, while locals and tourists alike took part in celebrations that would bid farewell to the end of an era and welcome in a new one.
One of the most popular and moving festivities took place at Punta Sur on the southernmost point of Isla Mujeres. Hosted by Dolphin Discovery, the all-night celebration began the evening of December 20 and lasted until daybreak on December 21. More than 600 people gathered in all-white clothing to embrace the first rays of sunlight to reach Mexico’s shores, a moment the Mayan community had been awaiting for 5,125 years. Prior to sunrise, Mayan dancers entertained guests while shamans blessed them using ceremonial copal.
New “Generations” brand in Riviera Maya
Karisma Hotels & Resorts plans to expand its new Generations brand adjacent to El Dorado Beach Riviera Maya this summer. It will cater to families who want to combine adult and family experiences. The Riviera property will initially launch with at least 100 rooms this summer, with more accommodations and facilities opening in phases. Generations enables families to experience separate activities so that parents may enjoy time away from the kids.
Queen Elizabeth 2 to become floating hotel in Asia
A Singapore-based ship management company, Oceanic Group, is heading up plans to transform Cunard’s former Queen Elizabeth 2 into a floating luxury hotel based at an undisclosed location in Asia.
After the renovation, the liner will offer 400 European-style guest rooms and suites, three Michelin-starred restaurants, over 100,000 square feet of retail shopping, a QE2-themed museum, exhibition space, and a grand ballroom.
Oceanic announced the plans in Port Rashid, Dubai, where the beloved vessel has been docked since 2008. Before its retirement to Dubai, the QE2 cruised around the world and operated scheduled liner service across the Atlantic Ocean between Southampton and New York. The iconic vessel carried 2.5 million passengers, sailed nearly 6 million miles and completed 806 trans-Atlantic crossings during 39 years of service for Cunard.
Europe’s highest suspension bridge opens in Swiss Alps
Caution: Switzerland’s newest tourist attraction may make your knees go weak and your heart beat a little faster, but, oh, what a view.
The Titlis Cliff Walk, Europe’s highest suspension bridge, sways at 10,000 feet above sea level in the Swiss Alps. On a clear day, visitors can gaze at central Switzerland, experience a beautiful panorama of the surrounding mountains, and glimpse parts of Italy and peek down more than 1,600 feet into the abyss.
The 3-foot wide, 320-foot long bridge will be open whenever the Mount Titlis cable car is operational and the cost of walking across it is included in the roundtrip ticket up to the mountain – about US$90.
Amsterdam won’t enforce coffee shop tourist ban, mayor says
Amsterdam police will turn a blind eye to foreigners buying cannabis in its famous “coffee shops” when a national ban comes into force next year. The mayor put an end to months of uncertainty over a ban that was introduced last year by a Dutch national government coalition, which has since collapsed.
“It has been decided that Amsterdam law enforcement authorities will not attach any priority to enforcing the local residence requirement,” Amsterdam mayor Eberhard van der Laan wrote in a letter to the current government.
The previous Liberal-Christian Democrat coalition government, which introduced the ban, complained that coffee shops attracted crime and unwelcome visitors. But the legislation was greeted with dismay by officials in Amsterdam, whose more than 200 coffee shops are a major source of income.
Deal of the Week
Cunard & Princess launch promotions
Sister companies Cunard Line and Princess Cruises launched Wave Season promotions. Cunard is offering savings on select trans-Atlantic crossings aboard Queen Mary 2 and European cruises on Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria. In addition, savings of up to US$1,000 per couple on airfare are available on select European cruises of 12 days or longer. The offers expire March 31.
Fares now start at US$999 per person (including government fees and taxes) on seven-day crossings departing April 26, May 3, May 25, December 15 and January 3. Additionally, guests booking a Britannia Club on the Queen Elizabeth’s May 26 “Norwegian Fjords & North Cape Explorer” can save up to US$1,200 per stateroom in cruise fare.
Princess is offering savings on both cruise prices and airfare when booking with Princess eZAir through February 15. Featured cruise deals will save passengers up to US$1,000 per stateroom on their sailing, plus up to US$1,000 savings per couple on airfare.
The sale includes cruises in Europe and Alaska. Sample cruise deals include a 12-day Greek Isles cruise priced from US$2,529 for a balcony (was US$3,029) and air savings of US$500, as well as a seven-day Alaska cruise priced from US$1,299 for a balcony (was US$1,399) and air savings of US$100.
Judy Newell heads the travel company Perfect Journeys which specializes in tour and cruise travel for everyone. She also conducts private small group tours from San Miguel de Allende. 2013 tours will be announced in soon. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sources: Travel Pulse, NBC News.com, Cunard Line, Princess Cruises