Awaken Travels’ owner Cindi Sanden and agent Teresa DeGraff discuss the top travel headlines.

What’s New in Travel

  • In a deal valued at USD 6.6 billion, Frontier Airlines will acquire Spirit Airlines, combining the two largest U.S. low-fare carriers. Over 1,000 daily flights will be offered to over 145 destinations in 19 countries by the new airline. A final name for the merged company will be determined later this year.
  • The Yacht Portfolio (the company that operates The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection with Marriott) has acquired Sea Cloud Cruises, the company that operates three-masted full-rigged luxury tall ships (the Sea Cloud, the Sea Cloud II, and the Sea Cloud Spirit). Sea Cloud Cruises will continue to run on its own at this time, with the team remaining in place.
  • Due to a drop in demand for business travel and groups as well as the loss of its Hilton branding agreement, the 300-room British Colonial Hilton in Nassau (Bahamas) will close on Feb. 15. There is no word on what will happen to the property, which stands on the site of Fort Nassau (built-in 1697).
  • With two new vessels – the Enchante and the Finesse – European Waterways now has 17 hotel barges in its fleet. The “Enchante” will sail the Canal du Midi in southern France, while the “Finesse” will sail the canals of southern Burgundy.
  • Australia will welcome fully vaccinated visitors beginning Feb. 21. Additional rules may be imposed by particular regions (e.g., Western Australia requires a 14-day quarantine for international arrivals, including a week in their hotels).
  • The New Zealand government announced its reopening plans in phases throughout 2022, including options for fully vaccinated U.S. visitors to arrive this summer if their PCR tests are negative within 48 hours of arrival. (They must still stay in isolation for 10 days after entry.)
  • Puerto Rico will no longer require negative COVID tests for fully vaccinated domestic U.S. visitors (while unvaccinated visitors with negative results within two days of arrival will not be required to quarantine).
  • Starting Feb. 7, COVID-19 booster proof will no longer be required to enter indoor bars, restaurants, or fitness centers on Maui.
  • The Moroccan government reopened its borders to fully vaccinated visitors who can present a negative PCR test taken within 48 hours of boarding their arrival flight. (A second rapid antigen test will be conducted at the airport upon arrival.)
  • There are reports in various media outlets that Crystal Cruises ships “Crystal Serenity” and “Crystal Symphony” were arrested by Bahamas authorities due to unpaid fuel bills. Last Thursday, the line’s third ship, the expedition vessel Endeavor, docked in Ushuaia, Argentina.
  • Carnival Cruise Line has announced the loss of two ships in its fleet: the 2,056-passenger “Carnival Sensation” (28 years old) and the 2,052-passenger “Carnival Ecstasy” (30 years old). It is unclear where the ships will go, but they will likely be scrapped. As a result, the cruise line has changed its schedules in Jacksonville, Mobile, and Australia.
  • African Travel Inc. unveiled a new line of romantic safaris custom-tailored to clients’ needs.
  • Celebrity Cruises’ new 3,260-passenger ship “Celebrity Beyond” has completed sea trials – the longest and tallest in its fleet. There will be unique features such as two-story villas with plunge pools, cantilevered float pools, a multi-level aft Sunset Bar, and the first Daniel Boulud restaurant at sea when it debuts in late April.
  • The new Viking Osiris will debut in August on the Nile River. A 12-day itinerary featuring Pharaohs and Pyramids will be offered.
  • Travel Weekly reports that Windstar Cruises will move its largest wind vessel, the 342-passenger “Wind Surf,” to Tahiti soon to compete more heavily with Paul Gauguin Cruises.
  • As a result of shipyard delays, Disney Cruise Line will delay the inaugural voyage of its new 4,000-passenger ship “Disney Wish” by six weeks to July 14. Passengers will be given a choice of shifting sail dates or a full refund.
  • After years of a business partnership, Great Safaris and Goway Travel have severed their ties (because they competed too directly in Africa and the Middle East). As a result of the split, Great Safaris no longer belongs to the US Tour Operators Association and its $1 million Travelers Assistance Program (although the company plans to reapply to USTOA on its own).
  • Hotel minibars are disappearing steadily, according to this interesting article.
  • On March 27, Air France will resume its Paris/Orly-New York/Kennedy (daily) and Paris/CDG-Dallas Fort Worth (five times weekly) services.
  • Starting March 28, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines will offer direct flights (three times weekly) between Amsterdam and Austin.
  • Alaska Airlines will offer Finnair passengers connecting flights to more than 50 destinations as part of a codeshare deal with Finnair.
  • On Feb. 16, Southwest Airlines will offer in-flight alcohol again.
  • Hotels that opened/reopened recently include:
    • The eight-room Art Hotel and 11-room Tiki Hotel in Palm Springs, Calif.
    • The 82-room Holiday Inn & Suites Sydney Bondi Junction
    • The 141-room DoubleTree by Hilton Lyon Eurexpo in France
    • The 62-room voco The Tiger Hotel in Columbia, Mo.
    • The 101-room avid hotel Ft. Lauderdale Airport
    • The 161-room Avani Muscat Hotel in Oman
    • The 60-room Prezident Palace Belgrade in Serbia.
  • Hotels coming soon include:
    • The 67-room Standard, Ibiza (April)
    • The 246-room DoubleTree by Hilton Milan Malpensa Solbiate Olona in Italy (April)
    • The 161-room YOTEL London Shoreditch, formerly the East London Hotel (April)
    • The 14-room Azure Sky in Palm Springs, Calif. (May)
    • The 182-room Radisson Blu Hotel, Barcelona Sagrada Familia in Spain (spring 2022)
    • The 222-room Virgin Hotels Edinburgh and the 240-room Virgin Hotels Glasgow in Scotland (spring 2022)
    • The 463-room Virgin Hotels New York in Manhattan (late summer 2022)
    • The 76-room 7Pines Resort Sardinia (July)
    • The 73-room, 19-villa One&Only Moonlight Basin in Big Sky Mont. (2024)
    • The 83-room Hampton by Hilton Piraeus Mikrolimano in Greece (spring 2024)
    • The 117-room Pantelikon Athens, Curio Collection by Hilton (fall 2024).

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