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Travel News

Mexicos Pacific shores

By Judy Newell

Mexico Travel News

Hampton Inn by Hilton opens in Mérida

The new 130-room property, Hampton Inn by Hilton in Mérida, is located in the city’s business district. It is equipped with the brand’s signature Perfect Mix Lobby, a business center, fitness center, dining room, bar, and 3,000 square feet of meeting space. The property offers complimentary amenities including Wi-Fi, in-room movie channel, hot breakfast, coffee and tea in the lobby, and a local shuttle service.

International News

Why you should travel to Kenya now

With a blockbuster migration underway, 30-percent-off hotels, new e-visas, and  fewer tourists, savvy travelers should head to Kenya. As the “Great Migration” of East Africa moves north from Tanzania to Kenya, there is unprecedented availability and value for money this year in the lodges and camps of the Maasai Mara Game Reserve and its surrounds.

Such deals come on the back of a catalogue of terrorist incidents in Kenya. The Ebola crisis also compounded problems, as travelers turned away from the whole of Africa. Safari tourism has been hit especially hard despite no terrorist incidents in Kenya’s national parks or game reserves.

An array of operations have been forced to shut down. “The numbers are staggering,” said the chief executive of the African Travel and Tourism Association. “As many as 350,000 Kenyans have been put out of work in the tourism sector.”

From now through October, the Maasai Mara Game Reserve will draw up to two million wildebeests, zebras, and antelopes in one of the natural world’s great spectacles. In normal times, it would also draw thousands of tourists. But this is the year to book a last-minute trip and get a really good deal.

Guides say that 2015 should be even more dramatic because of late and heavy rains. “The Mara River is full, which means crocodiles will be able to hide more easily from their prey,” said one Maasai Mara guide. “There will be some dramatic kills at the crossings.”

The river crossing sites—where the migratory animals traverse the Mara River—are typically overcrowded with jostling safari vehicles, but this year is unique because it’s almost the emptiest it has been.

The Kenyan government is also easing bureaucracy for tourists. Beginning July 2, they introduced a new e-visa service. Travelers can now apply in advance online for entry visas to Kenya, which should cut down on notorious airport immigration queues.

Cruise News

Fall voyages to Fiji

Paul Gauguin Cruises, operator of the longest continually operating luxury sailing ship in the South Pacific, the m/s Paul Gauguin, is offering exotic fall Fiji sailings that feature optional shore excursions celebrating the destination’s culture, history, and traditions.

Roundtrip Fiji voyage:

Adventuresome travelers with a taste for exotic discovery will thrill to this 10-night voyage, which sails from the heart of Fiji’s sugar industry to New Caledonia ‒ an impossibly beautiful island group that blends French sophistication with influences of its Melanesian heritage.

The sailing departs from Lautoka, Vitu Levu, Fiji, on October 31. In New Caledonia, the ship calls at Ile des Pins, Noumea, and Ile de Lifou. Stops in Vanuatu include Tanna Island and Port Vila, and then Suva, Viti Levu, Fiji, before returning to Lautoka.

Cruise fares start from US$5,445 per person, including round-trip airfare from Los Ángeles. Optional shore excursions range from US$45 to US$179 per person.

Fiji, Tonga, Cook and Society Islands voyages:

These comprehensive voyages follow in the wake of explorers, encompassing the exquisite Society Islands and the Cook Islands with their its unique culture and exquisite lagoons. Other highlights include sailing across the International Date Line, a rare visit to the Kingdom of Tonga, and the paradisal Fijian islands.

Ports of call on the voyages include Papeete, Tahiti. In the Society Islands: Moorea, Taha’a (Motu Mahana), and Bora Bora. In the Cook Islands: Aitutaki. In Tonga: Viava’u. In Fiji: Savusavu, and Suva, Viti Levu; Beqa Island (13-night sailing only), and Lautoka.

The 13-night voyage departs October 17, with cruise fares from US$7,195 per person. The 12-night sailing departs November 10, 2015, with cruise fares from US$6,695 per person. Both sailings include round-trip airfare from Los Angeles. Optional shore excursions in Fiji and Tonga range from US$75 to US$109 per person.

Deal of the Week

Small ship cruises to Latin America

Book August 31 for special fares starting at US$1,099* on Voyages of Discovery. Just 540 passengers join you on your journey to iconic sites and off-the-beaten-track destinations with knowledgeable guest speakers on each cruise.

“Wonders of Central America,” January 17, 2016; 15 days from Cozumel to Cartagena. Saver Fares from US$1,099 per person. Uncover the natural gems and intriguing wildlife of Central America: Cozumel, Costa Maya, Belize City, Puerto Cortés, Roatan, Puerto Limón.

“Mexico’s Pacific Shores,” February 14, 2016; 14 days round-trip Acapulco. Saver fares from US$1,099* per person. Uncover the fascinating history, spectacular wildlife, and unique culture of Mexico’s Pacific coast: Acapulco, Huatulco, Manzanillo, Puerto Vallarta, Topolobampo, La Paz, Ixtapa, Acapulco.

*Saver Fares have limited availability, are payable in full at time of booking, and 100 percent cancellation and amendment fees apply. Prices include port charges, pre-paid airport and government taxes, and service fees and on board gratuities for your cabin steward, dining room waiter, and his assistant.

Judy Newell heads the travel company Perfect Journeys that specializes in crafting personalized cruise and land itineraries for couples, singles, families, and small groups. She designs trips that are carefully tailored to suit client’s interests, ability, and budget. Please contact Judy for reservations or further information on any of the Travel News topics; cell phone 415 111 8765; Vonage 949 300 3682; email or view the latest travel specials on the website where you can book your hotels, tours and cruises online.

Sources: Hampton Inn Hotels, The Telegraph (London), Paul Gauguin Cruises, Voyages of Discovery


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