Travel News

By Judy Newell

Mexico Travel News

New Aloft Hotel in Cancun Hotel Zone

Starwood Hotels & Resorts opened Aloft Cancun in the Cancun Hotel Zone. It’s Starwood’s 25th hotel in Mexico. The business hotel is adjacent to Cancun Center, the city’s convention and exhibition center. It features 177 loft-styled rooms with nine-foot ceilings and oversized windows. Public areas include the communal lobby area and bar, a rooftop pool, café, gym and banquet and meeting space. Aloft Merida and Aloft Guadalajara are slated to open in 2014.

International News

“Master Peruvian Chef” hotel packages

The Hilton Lima Miraflores is offering a “Master Peruvian Chef” package with a variety of exclusive amenities for traveling gourmands. It features a Peruvian culinary course at Le Cordon Bleu, a private kitchen tour with the executive chef, a gastronomic tour with a visit to a typical Peruvian market and the La Rosa Nautica restaurant for an array of Peruvian dishes.

The package includes three nights’ accommodations, daily breakfast for two, Internet access, parking, access to the fitness center and early check-in/late check-out. Available through August 30, the package starts at US$1,365 for two guests.

Hawaii polo package

The Equus Hotel in Waikiki has created the Sport of Kings polo package plan in time for the Hawaii polo season. The package includes accommodations in an executive King Polo room, a private polo lesson for two at the Hawaii Polo Club on the North Shore and two tickets to a Sunday Hawaii Polo Club match. Rates start at US$260 per night, double, with a three-night minimum stay required.

Cruise News

Duchess christens Princess Cruises’ newest ship

The Duchess of Cambridge officially named Princess Cruises’ newest ship, the aptly named Royal Princess, on June 13. In her last public engagement before giving birth, she was introduced by the captain of the new ship who asked, “Duchess, will you name my ship?”

The Duchess christened the ship with the words: “I name this ship Royal Princess. May God bless her and all who sail in her.”

She then cut the ribbon to release the giant Nebuchadnezzar-sized bottle of Moët & Chandon champagne, which smashed against the hull of the ship. It was followed by a blast of confetti and streamers, which covered the assembled crowd.

Twenty-nine years ago, Princess Diana had done the same thing with a previous Royal Princess ship.

Free air to Galapagos cruises

International Expeditions is offering free airfare − up to US$1,400 per person − on three small-ship Galapagos expedition cruises departing August 23, and September 6 and 20. The 10-day Galapagos cruises are on the newly renovated 32-guest M/V Evolution. The vessel has an observation deck for whale watching, canopied bar, and complimentary snorkeling equipment, wetsuits and kayaks.

The trip features daily snorkeling and hiking in search of flightless cormorants, marine iguanas, giant tortoises, blue-footed boobies, sea lions and penguins. Travelers also will stop at the Charles Darwin Research Center, famous for its tortoise breeding programs.

Prices start at US$5,098, and include accommodations, all excursions, most meals, transfers and tips to porters and waiters for included meals.

Air News

Airlines: One of the most hated industries in America

The airline industry has failed miserably in yet another consumer survey. Earlier this year, there was the low 2013 Airline Quality Rating score. And then came the unfavorable airline satisfaction scores from J.D. Power and Associates. Oh, airlines, you are so predictable!

According to this year’s American Customer Satisfaction Index, in which 70,000 participants were asked to size up more than 230 companies, the airline industry is one of the most hated in America.

Only two industries were ranked below the airlines: subscription television service and Internet service providers. Look at it this way: At least your airline isn’t as awful as your cable company.

Coming to you soon – less legroom on American

American Airlines announced plans to add seats to more than half of its planes, most likely shrinking the already modest amount of space in coach.

American will add seats to Boeing 737 and MD-80 planes, which make up more than 60 percent of the airline’s fleet. The exact number of seats to be added to the aircraft is yet to be determined. But virtually any amount of extra seats added to a plane’s interior will cause a reduction in seat pitch.

Deal of the Week

Luxury cruises on sale

Oceania Cruises − whose slogan is “Your World. Your Way” − is offering a special that includes free airfare, US$500 shipboard credit, pre-paid gratuities, an unlimited internet package, business class air upgrade from US$799 and 50 percent off deposits. The offers expire August 31 and are for select 2013 voyages.

Judy Newell heads the travel company Perfect Journeys, which specializes in custom-designed independent tours, cruises and travel for singles, couples and friends. Her private small-group trips this year include “Splendor of Turkey,” July 9-22. Contact Judy by cell phone at 415-111-8765, by email at, or on the website

Sources: Travel Plus, Travel Weekly, Cruise Critic, Smarter Travel, Oceania Cruises

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