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Travel News

By Judy Newell

The Evolution

Mexico Travel News

US/Mexico pact lifts airline restrictions

The US and Mexico have agreed to update their bilateral aviation agreement to permit more airlines to serve US-Mexico routes. The existing agreement, which dates from 2005, generally permits up to two airlines of each side to serve most US-Mexico city pairs, with a three-carrier limit for 14 specific destinations including Acapulco, Cancun, Cozumel, Mazatlan, Huatulco, Puerto Vallarta, and San Jose del Cabo.

The new agreement will do away with those limits and allow an unlimited number of carriers to serve any US-Mexico city pair. It is expected to become effective on January 1, 2016.

In a statement, the Transportation Department said the agreement will introduce more pricing flexibility into the market, but it refrained from referring to it as an “open skies” pact, a term that generally refers to the elimination of all pricing and routing restrictions, including routes to, from, and beyond.

US citizens told to stay away from Acapulco

The Associated Press reports that the Pacific coast town of Acapulco is too unsafe as a travel destination, according to the US embassy in Mexico. Embassy personnel have been instructed to defer non-essential travel to Acapulco, by air or land, and added that it cautions US citizens to follow the same guidelines. Acapulco’s latest troubles result from a round of protests related to the disappearance of 43 students in nearby Iguala, thought by the demonstrators to be murdered by a local drug gang working with local police. The protesters have blocked roads leading to Acapulco, hijacked buses, and focused their rage at the airport, wielding clubs, machetes, and gasoline bombs.

Mexico City hostel too upscale to believe

Downtown Beds, Mexico City’s newest hostel, is in the former servants’ quarters of a 17th-century palace in the heart of the Centro Histórico. Original details like vaulted ceilings mix with lattice-brick bunk beds for an interesting mix of traditional and modern.

Downtown Beds has dorm rooms with four, six, and eight beds and en suite bathrooms, as well as private rooms. There’s a beer patio, a rooftop pool and bar, a projection room, a self-catering kitchen, and a cafe serving Mexican street snacks. Plus bike rentals and breakfast are free.

If it takes a mention in the New York Times to get you to contemplate a hostel stay, this is your place — Downtown Beds was the featured property in the newspaper’s recent “This Is a Hostel?” story. Weekend rates are from US$16.

International News

Hilton, Marriott to implement fee for last-minute cancellations

Beginning January 1, Hilton and Marriott hotels will charge a single night’s room rate for late cancellations. Traditionally, Hilton and Marriott have allowed same-day cancellations without penalty, but the new rule requires canceling your reservation by the day before your arrival.

Turkish President claims first New World explorers were Muslim

Historians are still debating as to when the first contact between Old World and New World occurred, but now Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has thrown down a public gauntlet, claiming Muslims were first in 1178 AD, according to a BBC News report. During a meeting of Latin American Muslim leaders in Istanbul, he cited a journal entry by Columbus popularized by controversial historian Youssef Mroueh. In it, Columbus supposedly documents a mosque on a hill in Cuba, providing incontrovertible proof that Islamic explorers crossed the finish line first.

No Islamic ruins have been found at the New World end of this now-well-traveled route, and scholars say that that particular journal entry describes a landform that looks like a mosque, not a mosque itself. Either way, Erdogan believes “a mosque would go perfectly on the hill today,” and he would want to discuss this further with Cuba.

Cruise News

Norwegian completes purchase of Oceania, Regent Seven Seas

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings has completed its acquisition of the parent company of Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises. The US$3.03 billion purchase of Prestige Cruise Holdings will make the company the third-largest cruise operator in the world. Norwegian’s three brands operate a combined 21 ships with approximately 40,000 lower berths visiting more than 430 destinations worldwide. The company’s brands will introduce five new ships through 2019.

Norwegian’s portfolio compares to Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.’s five brands and Carnival Corporation’s nine brands.

Cunard, P&O Cruises cancel all Black Sea port calls

Add Cunard and P&O Cruises to the long list of cruise lines that have opted to avoid Black Sea ports of call heading into the 2015 season. The cruise lines cited safety and security concerns amid the standoff between Russia and the Ukraine. The US State Department issued a travel warning on February 23 urging Americans to defer non-essential travel to Ukraine, based on the political demonstrations punctuated by violence in Kiev and Crimea. Since then, a total of eight cruise lines — Cunard, P&O, Azamara, Oceania, Regent Seven Seas, Silversea, and Windstar — have cancelled Black Sea stops and replaced them with other ports of call.

Deal of the Week

Save big in the Galapagos

The Evolution, a Galapagos motor yacht carrying only 32 passengers, boasts tons of outdoor space, sea kayaks, a cruise director, and two Level III naturalist guides. For a limited time it is offering US$500 off per person, cruise only; or US$1500 off per person when booking cruise and air. Hurry – offer ends December 31. Valid for departures prior to June 31, 2015.

Judy Newell heads the travel company Perfect Journeys, which specializes designing tours, cruises, and independent travel for discerning travelers. Please contact Judy for reservations or further information on any of the Travel News topics; cell phone 415 111 8765, email, or view the latest travel specials on the website where you can book your hotels, tours, and cruises online.

Sources: Travel Weekly, Travel Pulse, Smarter Travel, The New York Times, Cruise Critic, G Adventures


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