Royal Caribbean offers more cruises in Southeast Asia

Royal Caribbean International’s Mariner of the Seas will be returning to Southeast Asia a month earlier, adding 10 round-trip sailings from Singapore in September 2017.

The cruise brand’s presence in the region will receive another boost with Voyager of the Seas’ first winter/spring season from Singapore in October 2018, bringing more capacity to the region as she swaps places with sister ship Mariner of the Seas.

The 3,807-guest Mariner of the Seas will be returning to Singapore on September 10 for her 2017/18 season with sales for her new September cruises now open.

They include the nine-night one-way cruise from Shanghai to Singapore on September 1 with calls at Xiamen and Ho Chi Minh City, plus an overnight in Hong Kong which coincides with the Singapore one-week school holidays; and a mix of three- to five-night South-east Asian itineraries.

The ship will be deployed to Miami, Florida, in April 2018, after having home ported year-round in Asia out of Singapore and China since 2013.

The 4,269-guest Voyager of the Seas is expected to bring several thousands more tourists to Southeast Asia’s ports for her 2018/19 winter/spring season.  Voyager of the Seas comes with more staterooms and revitalised features such as the FlowRider surf simulator, virtual balcony interior staterooms and added specialty restaurants.

Itineraries will be revealed later when the season opens for sale.

Both Voyager Class ships come with an ice skating rink, a full-sized sports court, DreamWorks Entertainment and a variety of complimentary and specialty restaurants.

5 Reasons Why Cruise Are Great for Families

Have you ever wondered why so many families return home raving about booking their next cruise adventure? Choosing a holiday especially for multi-generational travel can be tough, but cruises are increasingly bridging these differences, thanks to these floating destinations that are decked out with more facilities and fun-packed itineraries than ever before.

1. Travel Without Worries; Unpack Only Once 

On a cruise, you unpack just once – or more if there are kids coming along. After that, you are freed from any potential logistical nightmares even as you cruise from city to island. Gone are the days of booking tickets across multiple transport options, having to keep any eye on the train schedules, or lugging cumbersome luggage down cobblestoned streets. Kids might also appreciate the convenience of settling into one room for the duration of a long holiday, while the adults awake to the beauty of a new location each day.

2. See The World – In Your Home Away from Home

A cruise is easily one of the best ways to explore the furthest and most exotic lands, since ships usually call at major cities and offer tours with English-speaking guides. Cruises also offer the advantage of covering more ground than via land or air, especially with diverse itineraries that match the needs of today’s modern families.

Costa Cruises, for instance, offers 700 cruises every year, disembarking from 69 ports around the world to 250 destinations. In addition, guides fluent in various languages are readily available to ease passengers into new environments. Notable itineraries include the recently launched Costa neoRomantica, which is set to cruise around Japan, South Korea and Russia from April to October 2017. The cruise line will also be the first international cruise line to cruise Sokcho, South Korea this year.

Onboard, guests also enjoy Costa Cruises’ unmistakable “Italy at Sea” experience, where each ship delivers a unique flavour – think Costa Fortuna’s showcase of 4,800 art masterpieces or when ancient Rome comes alive on Costa Serena. As the only Italian cruise homeported in Asia, translations into local languages, as well as native-speaking staff, and special touches such as meals served with chopsticks help Asian passengers feel right at home.

3. Your All-Inclusive Holiday

Cruises provide a fantastic solution for those with tight budgets, because your vacation dollar guarantees nearly everything you’ll need for a fantastic trip: meals, accommodation, full use of facilities, transport, and of course, entertainment. With Costa Cruises, which was awarded ‘Best Cruise Line – Entertainment’ by Travel Weekly Asia last year, you will be ensured a regular line-up of exciting programmes such as Parade at Sea, cabaret, Italian opera and dance nights. Best part: You and your family will also get to be a part of Carnival of Venice, a famous festival in Venice, which has consistently been well-received by past cruisers.

Savvy ones might even score promotions with selected cruise operators, and still others who offer discounted or free kids’ fares such as Costa Cruises – where children under 13 years old get to cruise for free when sharing cabins with two paying adults. Simply reach out to your travel agent to discover the offers and accompanying terms and conditions.

4. Fun for the Whole Family

Cruising works particularly well for multi-generational families. Within this safe and contained environment, it is possible for grandparents, parents and kids to entertain themselves with different activities in the day, before convening for a short traipse off the ship, or for a family dinner in the dining halls. This frees everyone to pursue his or her own pocket of privacy, without sacrificing on bonding time.

At Costa Cruises, professionally trained staff will entertain with activities suitable for young guests, ages three and up to 17 years old. Most ships have a Squok Club, which welcomes with the latest video and party games, plus the unique opportunity to turn little girls into a princess for a day, or for young men to step into the shoes of ‘Captain In Training’ for a nominal fee. Parents may even take advantage of late-night hours in the kids’ clubs to sneak in a romantic candlelit dinner for two.

5. Endless Dining Options

No cruise is complete without the luxury of all-day dining, and for Costa Cruises, its signature is definitely in honouring the Italian flavour. Themed dinners such as Carnival of Venice and the Italian Night special menu are a popular hit across the fleet, where the recently restyled Costa neoRomantica even offers up Italian wine and cheese pairing sessions, authentic wood-fired pizzas, and ice-cold gelatos. Local menus are readily available should Asian guests yearn for a taste of home.

Etihad Airways cuts back on limo service for premium passengers

Starting 03 July 2017, Etihad Airways will end its free chauffeur service for all destinations except for its home base in Abu Dhabi.

First and Business Class travellers in all other cities other will be charge at specially negotiated rates, through designated local operators. Guest will also be able to earn Etihad Guest Miles on every journey.

Guest travelling in The Residence cabin will continue to receive complimentary chauffeur services at all its destinations – Abu Dhabi, London, Paris, Sydney and New York.

First and Business class tickets purchased prior to 03 July 2017 will continue to receive complimentary service across destinations where the service is currently offered. However if a date change or reissuance of the ticket is required, the new policy will be applied.

Etihad Airways passengers were less than happy when the airline announced it was opening its lounges to anyone who paid a fee to enter.

Now lounges across the world, including the ones a Abu Dhabi, London, Manchester, Dublin, Paris, Washington DC , New York and Sydney can be enjoyed by Economy class guest for a fee.

AirHelp – Airline claims made simple

AirHelp has launch the world’s first app designed to help with compensation claim for passengers experiencing flight delays or cancellation by scanning their board pass with their mobile phone.

The company says the app lets travellers check their eligibility for compensation directly from the boarding gate and make a claim instantly by scanning the boarding pass barcode using their mobile phone’s camera and your flight details are automatically imported for you, faster than you can say ‘flight delay’

The AirHelp app will let you know right away if you are eligible for compensation for your travel disruption and get your claim started while you are stranded at the airport.

The app uses the same technology used by airlines and airports.

Download the app:
iOS
Android

Guinness Storehouse in Dublin

I visited the Guinness Storehouse at St. James’ Gate Brewery in Dublin as part of my invitation by Value Retail.

The complex consist of 8 floors, with the top floor being a bar that lets you have a panoramic view of Dublin city.

The tour begins on the 1st floor with the introduction of the four ingredients that makes the iconic Irish stout.

First ingredient: Barley – 75% of Ireland’s supply belongs to Guinness.

Second ingredient: Hops

Third ingredient: Yeast

Last but most important ingredient: Water

Arthur Guinness was a determined man and particularly in defence of his rights. The brewery lease granted him free access to water supply. In 1775 the Dublin Corporation tried to make him pay for this access be sending the sheriff with a body of men to cut off his water source. Arthur responded vigorously by seizing a pick-axe from one of the men and declaring ‘with very much improper language that they should not proceed’. He won his point and the brewery maintained its vital free water supply.

In 1784, Arthur Guinness signed a 8,795 year lease where he agreed to pay an extra £10 annually for use of water.

 

The tour continues with the brewing and barreling process through virtual exhibits, equipment displays and videos on the card of the coppers – the original wooden barrel makers.

The history of Guinness which is vast and interesting, aided by the clever use of video on each floor.

Our private tour also includes a Guinness appreciation class. Our guide teaches us how to drink and enjoy the different flavours of Guinness for the front to the back of the mouth.

 

Guinness was shipped around the world using ships. The operations discontinued in 1993.

The first Guinness advertisement – “Guinness is Good For You”.

Characters used in Guinness advertisements.

Guinness and Oysters

Guinness Fish on a Bicycle Ad.

Private lesson on how to pour the perfect pint. You will get a certificate upon completion.

The interactions mixed with the variety of displays and educational material keep you intrigued throughout the tour and I had a great time and learned more than expected.

On the 5th floor, are restaurants where you can enjoy Guinness-inspired dishes (on your own expenses). One of the most popular dish is chicken breast infused in Guinness.

Lastly, visit the glass-walled Gravity Bar and enjoy a free pint of Guinness while you enjoy a 360-degree view of Dublin.

I really loved the Guinness Storehouse. The museum tour was a perfect blend of old and new, with its classic industrial brewery feel with modern interactive information about the process. There are also lots of great merchandise which works as great souvenirs for friends and family at the end of the tour.

Skip the long queues and purchase your entrance tickets to the Guinness Storehouse here

 

British Airways Club World Review

I recently had a chance to fly a British Airways Boeing 787-900 between Kuala Lumpur and London on Club World. The flight was enjoyable and the plane is an excellent addition to the British Airways fleet.

There are 42 seats in Club World with a seating configuration of 2-3-2. Window and middle seats are rear facing while aisle seats are front facing.

The Club World seats were very comfortable, with plenty of seat width and ample legroom. Each seat is also presented with a duvet and pillow.

The foot rest are latched in front of the seat for take off. The seat has various settings for the travellers comfort. For take off, the seat is set to a semi-cradle position.

Between the seats is a privacy divider that can be raised to create a mini-suite or lowered for conversation or to be served by the cabin crew. With the divider up, you will get an extremely private business class experience. The British Airways Club World blows away what’s offered by other European Airlines or Malaysia Airlines.

To the right of the seat was a remote control for the Inflight Entertainment System as well as seat, privacy screen and light controls.

The television and tray table is built into the suite divider. The table can be slid back and forth for a comfortable distance. Below the tray table is a storage locker for your laptop and your personal items. The noise cancelling headphones are also located in the storage locker.

Each seat also has a USB port and universal power port.

The Inflight Entertainment System offers a wide variety of movies, tv shows and music. I love one of the music collections on board that I added it to my Spotify playlist when I arrived in London.

One of the coolest things about the Boeing 787 is the windows. The windows are much larger that other aircraft that I have flown. There are no manual window shades. Each has a button underneath to control the darkness of the window. At the darkest setting, the window acts like a very tinted glass rather than completely shutting out the light.

I ordered a lactose intolerant meal and the portions were generous. The main course was salmon with potatoes, carrots and broccoli.

After the meal, I put the seat into a bed position to relax and sleep for the rest of the flight. The bed is the best feature of Club World. The bed is fully flat and combines with the foot rest to form a long bed that is wider at the top, so that you have plenty of room for your shoulders. The arm rest also lowers to the same height as the bed so you don’t feel trapped by the arm rest like other business class products.

Overall, I absolutely love the British Airways Boeing 787-900. British Airways flies daily between Kuala Lumpur and London. For Summer 2017, the flight departs Kuala Lumpur at 2310 hours and arrives London Heathrow Terminal 5 at 0520 hours, the next day.  From London Heathrow Terminal 5, the flight departs at 2010 hours and arrives Kuala Lumpur at 1605 hours, the next day. The timing of these flights offers great connections to and from Europe and North America.

Travel and Donate to Charity

Winter in Europe is a treasure chest of authentic experiences and local flavours with Trafalgar, the leader in European guided holidays. Plan for your year-end holidays and visit Holiday Tours’ ‘Icons of Europe’ travel roadshows from 30 June to 3 July 2017 in Kuala Lumpur and Penang.

Unwind from your hectic routine, book your magical holiday, and do your part for charity. 1% of Sales Proceeds from any Trafalgar packages purchased during the 4-day roadshows will be donated to Living Hope, as part of a joint initiative by Trafalgar and Holiday Tours to celebrate the magic of festive cheer with a “Gift of Hope” charity donation.

Living Hope is a registered NGO run by volunteers who seek to inspire hope in underprivileged children for a better future. Donations will be used to provide children from the ages of 3 to 12 years old who are in need of basic essentials for education such as books, school uniforms, school bags, and shoes.

Share the joy of festive cheer as you look forward to authentic, fun and hassle-free travel moments in Europe accompanied by your well-trained and knowledgeable Travel Director and Local Experts who will share their passion for travel and discovery, and bring you deeper into the destinations visited.

During Autumn, Winter and Spring, travellers can enjoy superb savings and fewer crowds and will be able to stretch their money further and see so much more. With over 30 European trips to choose from, Christmas Spectacular trips to visit Europe’s Christmas Markets and a special tailored 15-day Christmas and New Year festive trip, what’s not to love about the wide choice of trips available with departures starting from October 2017 to April 2018.

With Russia becoming popular as a travel destination, Trafalgar has added a NEW 7-day Festive St Petersburg and Moscow (prices from US $1,424 per person after discount, based on twin sharing, excluding airfare). This Christmas Spectacular trip is a grand discovery of two fairy-tale imperial cities. Guests will experience Russia’s vibrant, modern culture, while visiting grand palaces and the iconic Red Square. Visit the Kremlin in Moscow with a Local Specialist and in St Petersburg, explore Peter and Paul Fortress. Enjoy a small group guided tour of the Hermitage Museum, a unique institution rich in history being the former residence of the Russian sovereign and now home to one of the world’s largest and most valuable art collections.

Guests will also get a chance to explore the Christmas markets in St Petersburg and Moscow. There will be stalls with traditional festive treats and wooden handcrafts. Moscow’s imposing Red Square will also transform into a Christmas Market with a grand scale skating rink!

For those seeking an easy-paced holiday with lots of free time to explore two iconic European cities, Delights of London and Paris (prices from US $1,866 per person after discount, based on twin sharing, excluding airfare) will delight travellers of all ages! Highlights of the 9-day trip include a visit to Windsor Castle, Oxford, Shakespeare’s birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon, Stonehenge, London’s Big Ben, Paris’ iconic Eiffel tower and the Palace of Versailles. In addition to a sightseeing tour by a Local Specialist in Paris, you can choose how you want to explore the city of romance. Plan to visit the Louvre or climb romantic Montmartre. For those wanting to do something different, check out the outdoor skating rinks located at some of the most striking locations in both cities like London’s National History Museum and Paris’ Eiffel tower.

Trafalgar recommends that guests book early for popular trips including:

Northern Lights of Iceland including the Blue Lagoon (prices from US $1,998 per person after discount, based on twin sharing, excluding airfare) is a 6-day trip to witness the Aurora Borealis and travel amidst the natural beauty of Iceland. From spectacular waterfalls, a black sand beach at Vik or an ice-capped mountain covering a volcano, this trip will showcase many miracles of nature. Gain Cultural Insights when you visit the Skorgar Folk Museum to learn about Icelandic heritage or bathe in the world famous Blue Lagoon

Imperial Europe (prices from US $1,488 per person after discount, based on twin sharing, excluding airfare) is a 10-day trip where you will explore the history and culture of Munich, Prague, Vienna, Budapest and Salzburg and taste the various festive flavours of their Christmas markets. Meet a local family during a Be My Guest Dinner and enjoy hearty Hungarian fare as they tell the story of their winery, which doubled as a hiding place for friends fleeing Nazi persecution.

Spanish Wonder (prices from US $1,356 per person after discount, based on twin sharing, excluding airfare) is a 9-day journey across Spain from Madrid to Andalusia, with included sightseeing with a Local Specialist in Toldeo, Madrid, Cordorba, Seville, Granada and Barcelona. Enjoy a traditional Andalusian Be My Guest dinner with the Morillo family and learn about how they produce their olive oil before having the opportunity to taste it.

Great Italian Cities (prices from US$1,764 per person after discount, based on twin sharing, excluding airfare) is a 10-day at-leisure trip that allows guests to explore Italy’s top cities. Guests stay 3 nights in Rome, Florence and Venice with the flexibility to explore on their own while having a Local Specialist introducing them to Rome, Assisi, Pisa, Florence, Bologna and Venice.  Discover Italian art, history and culture while visiting historical monuments including the iconic Learning Tower of Pisa. Enjoy a Be My Guest dinner with the Landi family at their home near Siena, set within a garden of oak trees against the backdrop of Tuscan vineyards and olive groves.

European White Christmas Delights and New Year Lights (prices from US $4,042 per person after discount) is a 15-day regional discovery trip departing on 20 December and visits some of Europe’s iconic cities including Paris, Reims, Strasbourg, St Moritz and Venice. Enjoy unique Trafalgar Insider Experiences with introductions by a local specialist to Paris, Florence and Rome, and a Be My Guest lunch with an Italian family who own a vineyard in the picturesque Chianti region. Delightful regional flavours await as you learn how champagne is produced in one of France’s great Champagne Houses and visit a Christmas market in Reims. Spend Christmas in St Moritz’s original ski resort with Champagne served with your festive breakfast. Learn to ski or ride the cable car to the top of the mountain for alpine views. Other trip highlights include a guided tour of the Vatican Museums’ Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s Basilica, a traditional gondola ride in Venice, a Cultural Insight experience as Venetian craftsmen demonstrate their glass-blowing skills on Giudecca Island and a New Year’s Eve Highlight Dinner in Florence.

Book Trafalgar’s Autumn Winter & Spring 2017/18 itineraries and enjoy up to 30% savings off for the 2nd guest. With Trafalgar’s Family Promotion, a Young Traveller aged 5-17 years old will save up to 72.5%, subject to minimum four persons travelling together. Holiday Tours is running a Facebook contest and will giveaway RM100 shopping vouchers. Simply head on down to the roadshows at 1 Utama or Gurney Plaza and capture your #SimplyTrafalgarMoment.  Add this hashtag to your post, check-in and share the photo on your Facebook Timeline (remember to set your Facebook privacy setting to “Public” for this post)  and Holiday Tours will pick the top 40 winners with the most likes after 4 July 2017.

Details of Roadshows

Dates
Friday, 30 June to Monday, 3 July, 2017

Kuala Lumpur
1 Utama Shopping Centre, Lower Ground Floor Oval, New Wing

Penang
Gurney Plaza, Ground Floor NP2, New Wing

Enjoy extra savings with Emirates all-inclusive airfares to Europe starting from RM2429 per person and guests who book their holiday with Trafalgar can enjoy an additional RM500 flight rebate per couple when they book at the roadshows.  Plus! There is an exclusive L’Occitane gift pack worth RM150 per person with a minimum spend of RM 8000, Lucky Draw giveaway with attractive prizes including two return air tickets to Europe and ten Trafalgar commemorative gold bars. Logon to www.holidaytoursonline.com or contact Holiday Tours at 03-6286 6218 for more details.

Malaysia Airlines New Seat Selection Policy

Malaysia Airlines introduce a new seat selection policy effective 11 June 2017. The new chargeable service excludes First Class, Business Class and Enrich Platinum member bookings.

The chargeable fee for Economy Class bookings will be charged when a customer secures their preferred seat at the time of booking or any time before check-in opens.

Standard Seating

From Malaysia to Malaysia / ASEAN
RM11 per seat per sector

From Kuala Lumpur to Asia except China
RM20 per seat per sector

From Kuala Lumpur to China, UK, Australia & New Zealand
RM50 per seat per sector

Emergency Exit Seating

From Malaysia to Malaysia / ASEAN
RM22 per seat per sector

From Kuala Lumpur to Asia except China
RM40 per seat per sector

From Kuala Lumpur to China, UK, Australia & New Zealand
RM150 per seat per sector

Extra Legroom Seat Selection (A330 only)

From Malaysia to Malaysia / ASEAN
RM50 per seat per sector

From Kuala Lumpur to Asia except China
RM150 per seat per sector

From Kuala Lumpur to China, UK, Australia & New Zealand
RM200 per seat per sector

Upper Deck Seat Selection (A380 only)
RM100 per seat per sector