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Travel News

William and Kate

By Judy Newell

Regulators Approve Billion Dollar Aeromexico-Delta Joint Venture

Aeromexico has announced that its joint venture deal with Delta Air Lines has been conditionally approved. Cofece, the federal commission in charge of assuring fair economic competition in Mexico, had been looking closely at the $1.5 billion joint venture between the two airlines.

The parent companies of the two airlines, Grupo Aeromexico SAB de CV and Delta Air Lines Inc, had asked for immunity from Mexican antitrust laws. To take full advantage of the joint venture, they need to be able to control capacity, coordinate schedules, and set advantageous fares.

The air travel deal will allow carriers from both countries to fly an unlimited number of cross-border routes and to create alliances such as the one Delta and Aeromexico are now pursuing.

Delta will acquire an eight percent share in Aeromexico as part of the agreement. This won’t give it control of the Mexican-flagged carrier, but it will give some small say in how the company is run.

US regulators still have to approve the deal, but getting approval from Mexican regulators was seen as the bigger hurdle.

An air travel treaty will open up the world’s second busiest cross-border market to a greater number of airlines. Smaller airlines and low-cost carriers will also be able to benefit from the air travel agreement between the two countries.

Low-cost carriers in the US have shown a strong interest in expanding their Latin American operations. Southwest CEO Gary Kelly is hyping an announcement of new services to Mexico from Southwest’s US bases. Mexican companies like Volaris, Interjet, and VivaAerobus stand to gain a lot from the deal, too, because they will be free to open new routes between Mexico and the US.

Cruise News

Celestyal Cruises to Sail to Cuba Year-Round

Seatrade Cruise News reported that Celestyal Cruises will deploy its Celestyal Crystal year-round to Cuba starting November 21, 2016. The ship has previously sailed to Cuba on a seasonal basis under Cuba Cruise.

The Celestyal Crystal is a 480-stateroom ship that will offer seven-night Cuban cruises featuring an overnight in Havana and stops at Maria La Gorda, Cienfuegos, and Santiago de Cuba. Sailings will include two embarkations and disembarkations a week—from Havana on Mondays and from Montego Bay, Jamaica on Fridays.

Although it doesn’t depart from the US, Celestyal Cruises accommodates US citizens with a people-to-people program.

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises to Deploy Europa 2 to Cuba

There is no shortage of announced cruises to Cuba recently, and now Hapag-Lloyd Cruises is joining in by sending its Europa 2 to the Caribbean country for the first time on two sailings, in October and November of 2016. The super luxury ship, one of the most beautiful ships afloat, has been awarded the coveted distinction of 5-stars-plus by the Berlitz Cruise Guide 2016.

Highlighted port calls are Havana, Santiago de Cuba, Cienfuegos, and Isla de la Juventud. Excursion opportunities will include a city tour in Santiago de Cuba and a salsa dance course in Cienfuegos, as well as stops at El Floridita, a favorite bar of Ernest Hemingway, Casa de la Musica, and Variete Tropicana, all classic Cuban haunts. Other Caribbean stops along the way on 12- or 13-day itineraries will be Aruba, Curacao, St. Lucia, St. Martin, the British Virgin Islands, Ocho Ríos, and Montego Bay.

Unlike lines such as Fathom, which operates Cuban cruises roundtrip from Miami, Florida, Hapag-Lloyd will not visit any American destinations. When asked if the cruises will accommodate US citizens under person-to-person government requirements, a spokesperson for the line said that such guests will need to secure their own visas.

The 12-day sailing is scheduled for October 24–November 6 with a starting cost of US$8,870 per person, and the 13-day cruise is set for November 5–19, beginning at US$9,470 per person.

Words of the Wise and Well-Traveled

“Paris is always a good idea.”—Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina

Deal of the Week

Follow in William and Kate’s Footsteps

Prince William and Kate recently traveled to India and Bhutan, and their visit captivated the public with the stunning photographs of the places they visited. If you were inspired by their trip, why not consider traveling there yourself?

Visit the UNESCO site of Kaziranga National Park, located in the Golaghat and Nagaon districts of the state of Assam on the mighty Brahmaputra River, or combine India’s Golden Triangle or Bhutan with the Brahmaputra expedition.

The national park hosts two-thirds of the world’s great one-horned rhinoceroses. Like William and Kate, you will enjoy a safari on an elephant, while searching for the elusive greater one-horned rhinoceros and Indian tiger.

The Mighty Brahmaputra River: 7-night cruise between Guwahati and Jorhat. Departures from November 2016 to April 2017. Prices from US$2,512 per person. Save 10 percent off this expedition if you book by May 31, 2016.

Itinerary highlights:

7-night cruise on the specially designed 46-passenger MV Majabaahu on a full board basis

Knowledgeable expedition team to take you on safaris by small boat, jeep, and even elephant

Sail in the shadow of the Himalayas along the mighty Brahmaputra River in Northern India

Discover the beautiful Assam Valley, with its UNESCO-protected national parks and remote rural communities

Fascinating visit to the “Mishing” people on the world’s largest river island

Tea plantations and many exotic satras to explore

Spot river dolphins and birds of prey as you sail up river.

Combine your Brahmaputra River expedition with a 6-day tour of the Golden Triangle. Visit Delhi, Agra, the Taj Mahal and Jaipur. Discover the villages of the Aravalli Hills, home to the Meena Tribal people. 13-night tour from US$3,951 per person.  Or combine your 7-night Brahmaputra River expedition with a 5-night visit to the ancient kingdom of Bhutan. 12-night tour from US$6,104 per person.

Judy Newell, an international travel consultant for over 40 years, heads Perfect Journeys and specializes in unique travel experiences to destinations around the world. She designs journeys that are tailored to suit a client’s interests, abilities, and budget. Please contact Judy for reservations or further information on any Travel News topics; cell phone 415 111 8765; Vonage 949 300 3682; email Her office is in Rancho Los Labradores across from the entrance road to Atontonilco; hours Mon–Fri, 11am–4pm. View the latest travel specials on the website

Sources: Travel Pulse, Seatrade Cruise News, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, Pandaw


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