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Travel News

By Judy Newell

Playa Mita

Mexico Travel News

Aeromexico’s new service San Francisco to León

Aeromexico started new flights from San Francisco to Leon/Bajio on April 7. The schedules for the new flights are as follows:

San Francisco–León/Bajío, AM 640, Thu & Sun, 10:17pm-4:05am; León/Bajío, AM 641, Mon & Fri, 6am–8:25am.

The flights are served with Boeing 737 airplanes configured for the Aeromexico Contigo program with 174 seats, 18 of which are in the AM Plus section with greater legroom. Times published are local to each country and are subject to change without notice.

International News

Iranians await more tourism from the US

On April 3, Chicago’s Oriental Institute returned 350 ancient tablets to Iran from its horde of more than 8,000. The tablets, which date from Achaemenid Persia (circa 500 B.C.E.), are at the center of a decades-old struggle by Iran to retrieve the full horde. The return of the tablets is a sign of some movement in American/Iranian relations.

The biggest hope for those relations resides in the presidency of Iran’s Hassan Rouhani, the tourism-friendly leader who replaced Mahmoud Ahmadinejad last August. From the start, Rouhani has made re-engagement with the international community the hallmark of his presidency and he sees tourism as a major tool for achieving that.

There is no doubt that Iran has plenty to offer tourists with its ancient Persian archeological wonders, the beauty of the Alborz Mountains, and beaches on the Caspian Sea and the Persian Gulf. Tehran, Shiraz, Isfahan have amazing monuments that hearken back to a civilization that spread from Anatolia to Rajasthan.

Last November, Iran’s Tasnim News Agency stated that direct charter flights between Tehran and the US could take place before the end of the year. Allegedly both American and European carriers have made approaches about offering service to Iran. Iran Air said the carrier was ready to fly to the US, as are two other Iranian carriers Aseman and Mahan Air.

Exploring the Rhine on foot

The Rhine—in its most breathtaking stretch, the Rhine Gorge—was the inspiration for Richard Wagner and much of German mythology. It is now the focus of a new walking itinerary from On Foot Holidays, a specialist in self-guided walking and hiking tours through the lesser known back roads of Europe.

The eight-night trek features three and a half to six hours of walking per day as it goes from Bingen to Koblenz passing castles, old villages, vineyards and the famous Lorelei rock. Along the way, trekkers can sample local beers and Rieslings as they dine in local inns, beer gardens and wine cellars. Priced from US$900, the package includes eight bed and breakfasts, one evening meal, three picnics, and luggage transfers between hotels.

Cruise News

Cruise lines slashing fares in advance of summer

Boy, is it a good time to buy a cruise. Many cruise lines are slashing fares, especially on shoulder-season departures and those coming up fairly quickly. Here are some recently announced, limited-time promotions.

Holland America Line is offering “Summer on Sale” specials on select cruises to Europe, Canada/New England and Alaska. Some sailings include free or reduced third- and fourth-berth fares for kids 17 and under. Some also include a US$50-per-person beverage card.

A quick check found seven-day Alaska cruises from US$499 per person, double occupancy. This price was good on the Statendam’s cruise from Seward to Vancouver departing May 25 for an inside cabin — but including, at least for now, a free upgrade to an obstructed ocean-view stateroom.

The May 10 departure of the Veendam from Quebec to Boston is priced from US$399 for an inside and US$449 for an obstructed-view window stateroom. Select weeklong Europe cruises start at US$699 per person.

Ends today: Windstar Cruises is offering up to 66 percent savings on new Exotic Destinations voyages to Asia, Arabia and Tahiti booked by Friday, April 25 for departures from May 2014 through February 2015. Voyages start at US$2,199 per person. The Exotic Destinations cruises feature new complimentary private events, such as dinner on a private motu (island) at Bora Bora and a lion dance performance followed by dinner in a garden in Hoi An, Vietnam.

Azamara Club Cruises is again offering double stateroom upgrades on 60 cruises when booked by May 31. That means when you book an interior stateroom, you’re upgraded for free to a veranda stateroom.

If you’re interested, act fast. Fares like this won’t last long.

Deal of the Week

Kids free in Playa Mita

•The deal: Three all-inclusive nights for US$1,594 per family.

•The savings: Save US$698; over 30 percent.

•Must be booked by: April 30, 2014.

•Travel window: May 1-Dec. 23, 2014

Enjoy the best all–inclusive family destination vacation in Mexico at the new, upscale, all–inclusive IBEROSTAR Playa Mita in Riviera Nayarit. Treat yourself to spacious accommodations, specialty restaurants and extensive recreation and entertainment options. The kids can live it up at the splash park or supervised Kids Club while the adults relax.

The all-inclusive package includes: roundtrip hotel transfers; three-night hotel accommodations in a Standard Ocean View room; hotel tax and service charges; all meals, drinks and snacks; daily activities; non-motorized watersports; and nightly entertainment


Judy Newell heads the travel company Perfect Journeys which specializes in custom-designed tours, cruises and travel for couples, singles, and groups of friends. Perfect Journey’s next outstanding small group tour is “Luxury Argentina & Chile −A Wine Lovers Adventure”, departing October 2, 2014. Contact Judy by cell phone at 415-111-8765, by email at, or view the latest travel specials on the website

Sources: Travel Pulse, Aeromexico, Holland America Line, Windstar Cruises, Azamara Club Cruises, IBEROSTAR


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