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Travel News

By Judy Newell

Mexico Travel News

TAR Aerolíneas —New regional airline in Mexico

On March 14 in the clear dawn of Querétaro, TAR Airlines began their operations with flight 001 to Monterrey. TAR is quoted as offering service with a fair price to connect the cities of Querétaro, Monterrey, Guadalajara, Puerto Vallarta, Zihuatanejo, Acapulco, Durango, Los Mochis and Tampico. For more information visit

International News

Venetian Island for sale! The catch? It’s haunted.

In the market for your very own private Italian island? You’re in luck, as the Italian government is putting a 99-year lease on Poveglia Island in the Venetian Lagoon up for public auction. According to Conde Nast Traveler, the bidding starts at just US$490,000. Can’t quite afford that? Why not get some friends together to all throw in—bids are open to groups.

A real estate agent would have a field day with the ad for this island: 17-acres of prime land located just a ten minute boat ride from the famous St. Mark’s Square. Existing structures on Poveglia include a quaint 17th-century fort, historic church, bell tower and hospital!

Too bad that quaint hospital is actually a former mental hospital, and the whole island has quite a horrific history—earning it the title of the “Most Haunted Place in the World.”

Legend has it that a doctor, who was insane himself, performed horrible experiments on patients in the psychiatric ward and was eventually driven mad by ghosts. Depending on which account you believe, the doctor either ended up throwing himself to his death from the bell tower or was dragged up and tossed off it by angry patients. Hospital beds and other creepy remnants of the past have been left, untouched, to rot on the island.

The island’s history gets even scarier, though—during the Roman Era, bodies of plague victims were brought to the island, where they were dumped in mass graves and set on fire. In the 1500s, the island became a dumping ground for plague victims both dead and alive—people suspected of having the bubonic plague were forcibly removed from Venice and brought (alongside corpses of other plague victims) to Poveglia for quarantine.

So why is the Italian government auctioning off this gem property? Well, because it’s broke. The government is actually selling five properties to try and raise money to help reduce the country’s massive national debt. (A castle and monastery are also up for grabs, if a haunted island isn’t quite your thing.)

The government is reportedly hoping that whoever buys the island will turn the property into a luxury hotel—because nothing says five-stars like a hotel built on the haunted mass grave of plague victims.

Cruise News

Carnival unveils “Camp Ocean” program for children

Camp Ocean—an exciting, new marine-themed children’s program—is coming to Carnival’s fleet of 24 “Fun Ships.” Carnival announced a revamp on its program for 2-11-year-olds, which aims to make the line more appealing to family cruisers. The Camp Ocean program, which will be officially launched in May aboard the Carnival Freedom, will replace the Camp Carnival program and offer play areas for three age groups and 200 aquatic-themed activities. Carnival expects to roll out the program for the more than 700,000 children it hosts annually to the Carnival Magic, Carnival Breeze and Carnival Triumph later in 2014 and on the rest of the fleet by 2016.

Holland America sets epic cruise to the Amazon

Holland America has unveiled plans for an epic cruise from Florida to South America’s Amazon River and back. The 49-day “Amazon and Carnaval Explorer”, sailing on the 1,258-passenger Maasdam, will kick off in Fort Lauderdale on January 23, 2015 and include calls at 25 ports in the Caribbean, Central America and South America.

The trip will feature 14 stops in Brazil, including a multi-day stay in Rio de Janeiro during Carnaval in mid-February and several stops along the Amazon River. Caribbean islands on the schedule include Aruba, Bonaire, Barbados, Dominica, Trinidad, Tobago and Curaçao. The sailing ends March 13, 2015, in Fort Lauderdale.

Fares for the trip start at US$7,999 per person, based on double occupancy, with two shorter segments of the voyage available at a lower cost. The first 23 days of the trip, from Fort Lauderdale to Rio de Janeiro, can be booked starting at US$3,799 per person. The final 26-day segment, from Rio de Janeiro to Fort Lauderdale, is available starting at US$4,999 per person.

Air News

Four Seasons takes hotel to the skies

Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts has branded its own Boeing jet for transporting guests on a 24-day, around-the-world trip to stay at various Four Seasons hotels. The jet comes with an on-board concierge, lie-flat seats and a US$119,000 price tag per person for double occupancy.



Deal of the Week

Karisma Gourmet Inclusive experience

Save US$432 per couple plus receive US$150 in resort credits in adults-only El Dorado Seaside Suites by Karisma. Located on a secluded beach in the heart of Mexico’s Riviera Maya, it offers an adults-only setting where couples can share a picnic lunch overlooking the azure Caribbean, sip champagne together under the stars and savor every moment of the Gourmet Inclusive vacation experience. Three Gourmet Inclusive nights: US$637 per person—was US$853. The rate is based on a Jacuzzi Jr. Suite room category and is valid for travel 6/1/14-8/16/14.


Judy Newell heads the travel company Perfect Journeys, which specializes in custom-designed travel for couples, singles and groups of friends. For more information on any Travel News topics, please contact her. Cell phone at 415-111-8765, email:, or view the latest travel specials on the website

Sources: Journey Mexico, Smarter Travel, USA Today, Travel Weekly, Bloomberg, Karisma


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