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Travel News

By Judy Newell

Mexico Travel News

Carnival moves port calls from Belize to Puerto Costa Maya

Carnival Cruise Lines has switched scheduled Belize calls to Puerto Costa Maya in Mexico on nine cruises by the Carnival Glory and Carnival Legend. The company said the change was made “due to port congestion in Belize on those dates.”

The affected dates will be in February, March, and December 2013. Carnival plans to update the shore excursion packages for those cruises and add on additional port time for passengers to enjoy Cozumel.

New invitational golf tournament in Nuevo Vallarta

Vidanta Golf, the largest golf course operator in Mexico, announced the creation of the Grand Luxxe Member Invitational golf tournament at its Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course in Nuevo Vallarta. The tournament is scheduled to be held from May 27 to 29.

The tournament will feature a $1 million prize hole-in-one contest for the 12 players closest to the pin during the tournament. An additional prize of a TaylorMade driver will be presented for the man and the woman who make the longest drives on Hole Number 8. Vidanta Golf will also present several other closest-to-the-hole prizes.

Cruise News

No single supplement on Amazon and Galapagos cruises

International Expeditions is offering select cabins on all 2013 Amazon and Galapagos Voyage departures with no single supplement fees. A new Amazon riverboat for 24 passengers has been launched that offers unrivaled access to the Peruvian rainforest’s most pristine areas. In the Galapagos Islands, enjoy an intimate experience with a nature cruise aboard the 32-guest Evolution. Space is limited.

Smash hit “Dancing With the Stars” sizzles on board

Holland America Line has added a host of celebrity and professional dancers to its “Dancing With the Stars: At Sea” theme cruises. “Dancing With the Stars” is one of the biggest television shows on earth and the six theme cruises in 2013 and early 2014 will give guests a chance to learn the steps, meet the stars, and join in the fun. They’ll also feature dance lessons and a production starring the celebrities and dance pros. Performers are subject to change.

International News

What do Gandhi, Jesus and Stalin have in common? Theme parks!

Mahatma Gandhi is the latest historical figure to rate a theme park created in his image. The “Gandhi for Tomorrow” theme park is to be built on 10 acres near an ashram he established and inhabited for six years.

As theme parks go, this one sounds more sedate than riotous. Its centerpiece will be a convention center adjoining the existing Sewagram Ashram in the Indian state of Maharashtra. It will include space for local artisans and scientists and have a study center and hostel for those “keen to learn Gandhian thoughts.”

But Gandhi isn’t the only historical figure − peace-loving or otherwise − to be a theme-park catalyst. Last year, the mayor of a small town southwest of Paris announced plans for a “Napoleonland,” which will celebrate the diminutive emperor’s empire-building conquests. A highlight: re-enactments of the storming of the Bastille.

“The Holy Land Experience,” a Christian theme park in Orlando, puts Jesus stage-front with regular reenactments of the Crucifixion.

Hacienda Nápoles, the former mansion of notorious Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar, was converted into a theme park in 2007 by the local municipality about 100 miles east of Medellin. Highlights: drug-smuggling planes, a bullring and giant plaster dinosaurs.

And 75 miles east of Vilnius, Lithuania, “Grutus Park,” aka “Stalin World,” pays homage to the bad old days of Soviet domination. Featured are Soviet-era statuary and re-creations of Gulag prison camps.

Travel Advisory for El Salvador

The US Department of State issued a travel advisory warning US citizens regarding security in El Salvador. While the advisory notes that US citizens “do not appear to be targeted based on their nationality,” it adds that 22 US citizens have been murdered in El Salvador since January 2010. During the same time period, 230 US citizens reported having their passports stolen and armed robberies of climbers and hikers in El Salvador’s national parks are common.

Tens of thousands of US citizens safely visit El Salvador each year for study, tourism, business and volunteer work, according to the advisory, but crime and violence are “serious problems throughout the country” and “El Salvador lacks sufficient resources to properly investigate and prosecute cases and to deter violent crime.” A country of roughly six million people, El Salvador has hundreds of known street gangs totaling more than 20,000 members, according to the advisory.



Deal of the Week

Celebrate America aboard a steamboat

Summertime savings on the American Queen offer a two-category stateroom upgrade and savings of up to US$750 per stateroom, plus there’s no single supplement on inside cabins and a 20 percent single supplement on outside staterooms.

Celebrate Independence Day on the July 5 voyage with a complimentary hotel night in St. Louis to enjoy Fair St. Louis, one of the nation’s largest Independence Day celebrations. Baseball fans can meet legends of the game face to face on the July 20 and July 27 voyages, with the added bonus of terrific live music each evening. Space is limited.


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. In September, a 14-night program will visit Ireland to celebrate “The Gathering 2013.” Contact her at


Sources: Travel Pulse, International Expeditions, Holland America Line, USA Today, Rail Europe, American Queen Steamboat Company


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