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Travel News

explore Italy

By Judy Newell

México News

Trip to “The Island of Birds”

Guests at Grand Velas Riviera Maya can now explore the small Mexican island Isla Contoy, also known as “La Isla de Los Pajaros” (The Island of Birds). The experience offers guests the opportunity to sail to the uninhabited island aboard a 50-foot private yacht and spend the day snorkeling and exploring the crystal-clear waters.

México declared Isla Contoy a national park in 1998. The island, five miles long and off the northeast coast of Quintana Roo, is considered an important nesting place for seabirds from all over the Mexican Caribbean. More than 150 migrating and resident bird species live on the island at some point during the year, including the orange-breasted frigate, the brown pelican, and the double-crested cormorant.

Additionally, the island acts as a key nesting place for four sea turtle species: the loggerhead, the green, the hawksbill, and the leatherback.

The Grand Velas Riviera Maya spreads across 206 acres of jungle, mangroves, and white-sand beach. Each of the property’s 539 suites is over 1,100 square feet and includes a balcony. The resort has eight restaurants, the region’s largest spa—at over 90,000 square feet—three swimming pools, two fitness centers, water sports, and more.


International News

Snorkeling Raja Ampat

One of the underwater wonders of our planet! Don your mask and snorkel and dive beneath the surface of the clear blue water to find a whole new universe—the snorkeling in Raja Ampat is nothing short of mind-blowing. Home to 75 percent of the world’s coral species and over 1,400 types of fish, the Coral Triangle is one of the most biodiverse places on Earth.

On the 12-day Snorkeling Raja Ampat adventure, you’ll travel aboard a traditional double-masted Indonesian schooner anchoring in beautiful coves. Cost from US$5,895 per person.

Nonstop to Fiji from $699


Fly nonstop to Nadi, Fiji, from Los Angeles, San Francisco, or Honolulu. It’s just US$699 from LAX or SFO and US$599 from Honolulu. Sale ends February 9, 2019. Travel dates: February 8–December 10, 2019. Blackout dates apply. Fiji Airways is partnered with the American Airlines Advantage Program and the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan.


Cruise News

Scenic Wave Season Deals

As Wave Season shifts into high gear, there simply is no better time for you to find amazing deals and terrific value. This is certainly true when you choose to sail Scenic Rivers, Emerald Waterways, or Scenic Eclipse! Check out these incredible Wave Season offers:


Scenic Rivers: Start your year the Scenic way with a five-star, all-inclusive river cruise. Take advantage of the best offer for 2019 cruising: round-trip airfare or up to US$1,500 per person Scenic Savings. Extend your holiday by choosing a complimentary pre- or post-extension.


Emerald Waterways: The offer is absolutely inviting for 2019 cruises and tours: up to free airfare—savings up to US$3,400 per couple to all destinations, from Europe to Egypt, Southeast Asia, and beyond. They are offering reduced deposits, too at only US$250 per person. Space is limited.


Scenic Eclipse: Book by February 28, and enjoy free deposit protection and private round-trip transfers from home to the airport on all 2019-2020 departures. Also, receive up to US$500 per person onboard credit to experience a helicopter or submarine excursion or spa treatment (Amount varies by voyage). Plus, for all 2019 North America voyages, guests will enjoy a free two-night/three-day city stay in New York City.


Travel Trivia

Which City Features the World’s Oldest Working Opera House?

Moscow–Naples–Paris–Buenos Aires

Built in 1736, Naples’ nearly 200-year-old Real Teatro di San Carlo (St Charles Royal Theater) is the oldest working opera house in the world. Built during a period when Naples was at the forefront of music in Europe, the San Carlo has seen the likes of Handel, Bach, Mozart, and many other famous composers on its stage.

The opera house has faced both a fire in the 1800s and heavy bombing during WWII, so it’s taken a lot of work to keep it standing. To see an opera, ballet, or concert performance, visit San Carlo, but not until after you have a slice of pizza. Naples is its birthplace, after all.

Words of the Wise and Well-Traveled

Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.” —Jack Kerouac

Deal of the Week

Discover Authentic Tuscany

Announcing the first-ever small group tour dates for this Tuscany cooking vacation. There are never more than 12 guests on a tour, giving you access to culture, cuisine, and connection simply not possible for larger groups.

Explore the traditional hill towns of Tuscany on one of the sumptuous five-day Italy culinary tours. Based in the charming village of Cortona, walking distance from the lively piazza, you’ll explore the region through its cuisine, and of course, through some of the best wines in Tuscany.

You’ll learn to cook an authentic Italian meal; visit local food producers; sip wine at lush, rolling vineyards; and nibble on treats as you explore the delightful hill towns of Montepulciano, Pienza, Siena, and, of course, Cortona.

Culminating with a traditional truffle hunt and dinner at a Michelin-starred restaurant, this Italian culinary tour is a relaxing getaway on its own. Or explore more of Italy by combining it with visits to Florence and Venice.

Duration: five days. Dates: MarchNovember 2019; Maximum group size: 12; Prices from US$3,490. Please note that although this trip is not exceptionally active, there is quite a bit of walking.

Optional Florence Extension: Ask about the three-day/two-night Florence extension, which you can enjoy either before or after your Tuscany food and wine tour.


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 custom designs journeys that are tailored to suit your interests, abilities, and budget. Please contact Judy for further information on Travel News topics and around-the-world travel; cell phone 415 111 8765; Vonage 949 300 3682; email Her office is in Rancho Los Labradores, carr a Dolores Hidalgo. View the latest travel specials on the website

Sources: Luxury Travel Advisor, Wilderness Travel, Fiji Airlines, Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours, Access Culinary Trips


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