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Carnival's soon-to-be-introduced Ocean Medal;lion can be worn around the wrist. Photo from Princess Cruises. .

Carnival’s soon-to-be-introduced Ocean Medallion can be worn around the wrist. Photo from Princess Cruises.

Every year brings advances to the world of cruising: new ships and amenities, breakthrough technologies, more enticing itineraries.

As cruise lines jostle to stay one wave or river bend ahead of the competition, they grow ever more creative – and passengers reap the rewards.

In 2017, that means more personalized experiences, a more varied choice of destinations, and more “Wow!” factors than ever. Happy sailing!

A Techno-Gizmo That Does It All, Almost

Carnival Corporation, the world’s largest cruise company, has announced plans to begin rolling out a techno-marvel medallion in 2017 that will do almost anything for you on board except mix your drinks (for that, you’ll need to sail on Royal Caribbean’s new mega-ship the Harmony of the Seas, which sports cocktail-preparing robots in its Bionic Bar).

Paired with an optional app for maximum… Continue reading

flightSpeak lets you know what to expect at TSA security lines

flightSpeak lets you know what to expect at TSA security lines

‘Tis the season for holiday travel. But, in many cases, before you get home (or perhaps someplace that’s warm and tropical) for the holidays, you have to fight the Airport Wars.

Everyone who has flown during the holidays knows what this means: long lines to get through security, frantic searches for places to charge your cellphones, dodging other stressed-out travelers dashing to make their flights, maybe missing your own connections, and more — just the sorts of headaches that crush the holiday spirit before you even hit the eggnog.

You may even be at the airport right now as you read this (and, I hope, have your phone or laptop charged enough to do so).

If you’re en route, still packing, or just thinking about an upcoming trip now or any time of year, check out an app called… Continue reading

The white RYO adapter and the green Kushi flash drive, offered as prizes for donations.  Photo from RYO Technology.

The white RYO adapter and the green Kushi flash drive, offered as prizes for donations. Photo from RYO Technology.

A reader from New Zealand alerted me to a new travel gadget — so new it’s still on the drawing board — that you can help fund on Kickstarter if you wish.

The gadget — which can be used at home as well as on the road — is a reversible USB adapter that plugs in to any USB port and works with all types of existing cables, whether for a laptop, a smartphone, a tablet, a portable hard drive, or what have you.

It’s called an RYO Adapter and it’s from a company called RYO Technology.

Why would you need a reversible USB adapter?

Well, how many times have you tried to plug in a USB cable and realized you had it in backwards so it didn’t fit?… Continue reading

Paris' Arc de Triomphe -- will a wronged customer triumph in the end? Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

Paris’ Arc de Triomphe — will a wronged customer triumph in the end? Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

I received a note from a reader yesterday about a travel company that has a lavish website and sells a luxury product that is geared to customizing trips for individual travelers.

The problem, according to this reader — who wants to be identified only by his initials, G.M. — is that when he asked for service, they didn’t want to take his money — and a fair amount of it, at that.

It seems they wanted more.

Here’s the backstory: G.M., a longtime, now retired operating room nurse, is planning his first big vacation  in decades, a two-week trip to Paris. Due to the generosity of a wealthy patient, he’ll be staying in a suite at one of Paris’ most luxurious hotels, and, with the help of donated frequent flyer miles, winging… Continue reading

The Aranui 3 sails the remote Marquesas Islands in French Polynesia.

The Aranui 3 sails the remote Marquesas Islands in French Polynesia. Photo courtesy of Aranui 3.

Some of the most interesting things you pick up at a huge travel-trade gathering like this past weekend’s New York Times Travel Show are what I would call tidbits — not big enough for an entire blog post, but nonetheless fun stuff.

Here are a few of my favorites from the show:

* You have to love a company — in this case Lion World Travel — whose eastern USA director of sales’ business card is, quote, “made by hand using the sanitized fibre from the dung of elephants, rhino and other wild herbivores of Africa.”

I didn’t get to meet the director of sales — Kathi Scott of Toronto — but her “100 % natural, 100% African, 110% recycled” paper business card intrigued me enough that I googled Lion World Travel and… Continue reading

The Tablift lets you read your tablet lying down or sitting up. Photo from Tablift.

The Tablift lets you read your tablet lying down or sitting up. Photo from Tablift.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ll confess: My wife can always tell when I’ve been drinking out of a particular glass by whether or not it has greasy fingerprints all over it (mine).

Same with who used our tablet last — my fingerprints are everywhere. Maybe it’s the chips I like to snack on. Maybe it’s because I have long fingers. Maybe it’s…well, who cares, I leave fingerprints. Fortunately, I’m not a burglar by trade.

But I do like to read, look at photos I’ve taken, and write and watch things, etc., on our tablet, and I especially like to do these things when I’m traveling, which I do for a living, so if I can spare getting fingerprints all over… Continue reading

Tuvalu, a small island nation in the South Pacific, is profiting from its country URL code, .tv. Photo from timelesstuvalu.com

Tuvalu, a small island nation in the South Pacific, is profiting from its country URL code, .tv. Photo from timelesstuvalu.com

Until I read about it in The New York Times, I had no idea that Tuvalu — a small South Pacific island nation previously best known as one of the most likely to sink below water as the oceans rise (“Toodle-oo, Tuvalu,” goes the sardonic refrain) — has been making millions of dollars by selling its Internet URL suffix .tv to companies that stream videos and the like.

Every country and a number of dependencies has been assigned a country code, usually based on its name, and Tuvalu lucked into the .tv designation years ago.

I salute their entrepreneurial spirit, even as their low-lying atolls threaten to become the next Atlantis.

It turns out Tuvalu isn’t the only country doing this sort of business.

According to The Times, Colombia has… Continue reading

Vilnius, Lithuania -- if you leave tomorrow, you can get a great deal on a flight there via Kayak.com.

Vilnius, Lithuania — if you leave tomorrow, you can get a great deal on a flight there via Kayak.com.

Whenever I book a plane flight, I always turn first to the website Kayak.com, which displays an array of choices from a wide variety of airlines, and allows you to sort by price, airline, preferred takeoff or landing times, and flight duration.

You can also compare Kayak’s findings against different sites like Priceline, Hotwire and Expedia, so you get a pretty complete picture of what’s out there before you book. And Kayak lets you compare hotel and rental car offerings as well.

But when I went to the site yesterday, I noticed something new — at least new to me.

It’s a feature called “Explore,” which shows you “where you can go for how much.” That is, you can see the lowest fares for round-trip economy-class flights to destinations around the… Continue reading

The foldable front cover of the "studio" iPad Air case converts to viewing as well as typing modes. Photo by Lia Norton.

The foldable front cover of the “studio” iPad Air case converts to viewing as well as typing modes. Photo by Lia Norton.

The "studio" iPad Air case comes in a variety of colors. Photo by Lia Norton.

The “studio” iPad Air case comes in a variety of colors. Photo by Lia Norton.

If you’re like a number of other baby boomers I know, you’re trying to keep up with the latest generations of iPads and iPhones. (Yes, it’s true, baby boomers are big consumers of all things Apple.)

You might even get a free upgrade — but you still have to buy new protective cases. 

Perhaps knowing that I’m always dropping my smartphone and tablet and generally treating them roughly when I travel, STM Bags asked if I’d like to review a couple of their cases. I wasn’t familiar with STM, but that’s all the more reason to see what they had to offer, and I’m always glad to keep up with the… Continue reading

Besides these standard amenities, Loews Vanderbilt Hotel might have a birthday cake waiting in your room when you arrive.

Besides these standard amenities, Loews Vanderbilt Hotel might have a birthday cake waiting in your room when you arrive.

A few months ago on this blog I posed the question, “Is ‘Personalization’ the Next Big Trend in Hotels?”

The blog post laid out the vision of Starwood Hotels CEO Frits van Passchen that emerging technology would soon allow hotels to know in advance what their guests are looking for and like — much as Amazon.com, Facebook, and, as I recently wrote about, Pandora, the internet music service, know about their customers through mining their vast data banks.

It turns out that several luxury hotels are already using social media to do just that.

According to the Toronto Globe and Mail, hotels in the Loews chain are checking out the Facebook pages of future arrivals to add those little personal touches to their rooms that will be memorable enough… Continue reading

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According to government and private surveys:

  • Leading-edge baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1955) and seniors account for four out of every five dollars spent on luxury travel today.
  • Roughly half the consumer spending money in the U.S.--more than $2 trillion--is in the hands of leading-edge baby boomers and seniors.
  • Baby boomers (born 1946-1964) travel more than any other age group.
  • When asked what they would most like to spend their money on, baby boomers answered “travel” more than any other category, including improving their health or finances.

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