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 Following months of violent protests that divided France and saw some of Paris' most historic landmarks defaced, travel professionals expressed hope that the devastating fire at Notre Dame Cathedral will reunite the country and turn around the drop in tourism that France has been experiencing.

Hotel tracking companies have reported occupancy declines of as much as much as 7% in Paris since the so-called yellow vest, or gilets jaunes, protests began in November. The demonstrations have continued almost every weekend since, with windows smashed and fires set around the Champs-Elysees and other famous Paris sites as well as across the country.

Then, the world watched in horror as a key piece of France's cultural heritage was devastated by flames. And while the blaze was apparently an unrelated accident, Tim Fairhurst, secretary general of the European Tourism Association, predicted it might have been the final straw for Parisians weary of the riots, which began as demonstrations to protest rising diesel fuel prices.


​"I think it's a reasonably safe bet that some or all of the venom will come out of the gilets jaunes activity, especially in Paris," Fairhurst wrote in an email. "For sure, any further vandalism of national monuments now that the most treasured has been devastated will be seen in a much less sympathetic light -- if there ever was any sympathy; that such behavior was/is the act of an unrepresentative minority of demonstrators is a detail that would be lost. The emergency services -- thus [sort of] the state -- have renewed prestige, and I'd guess the community will come together." 

Indeed, French president Emmanuel Macron last week called on citizens to move beyond the divisions and mobilize to rebuild the 850-year-old structure within five years.

Travel advisors who specialize in France said last week that they hadn't seen any cancellations. In fact, several thought the blaze might increase visits to the City of Light.

"Several clients traveling with me in the next months have written to say how sorry they are, to express support and to say how excited they are to be coming to Paris," said Bob Preston, founder of Globe Bleu.


​Julie Mautner, owner of Provence Post Travel, said, "If anything, I would think this would make people more inclined to come to France. ... I think je suis Paris is the sentiment millions of people are feeling around the world today."

Tour operators agreed. Jeremy Palmer, senior vice president of Tauck Land Journeys, said, "In the short term, it's likely that a few people might decide to defer a trip to Paris to a later time, while many, many others will feel, admirably, a very strong urge to support the city and its people during a difficult time."

Derek Kehl, European operations director for G Adventures, said that while the fire will obviously limit the number of visitors inside the cathedral, "We do not expect it will have a detrimental influence on the overall flow of travelers to Paris this season. The City of Light is still a beacon of beauty, romance and resilience, and it stands ready to welcome new generations of guests" to its many other "European masterpieces."

Fairhurst said the closure of the 12th-century architectural marvel likely won't affect a lot of tour itineraries, since most don't make group stops because it is too hard to get coaches close to the cathedral.

Still, other iconic tour sites, including the Champs-Elysees, have also been affected as protestors have gathered there regularly on weekends in sometimes violent protests. 


​In December, a group of journalists staying at Le Royal Monceau, Raffles Paris said they were locked in the hotel for a full day, and at one point they were moved to the basement theater or ordered to stay in their rooms as protestors pounded on the front doors, eventually cracking the glass.

Other cities in France have also seen regular weekend protests.

Last week in Bordeaux, the windows of multiple banks, real estate offices and other buildings near the city center had been taped or boarded up where thrown objects had left large cracks. And finding a street ATM that was still dispensing cash was almost impossible, as they have become the target of looters in the regular Saturday protests.

The demonstrations have been a drag on tourism. In Paris, hotel analytics firm STR reports, demand was down 6.5% in December, 4.2% in January and 4.4% in February. January's 65% occupancy level was the lowest for a January in Paris since 2016, when the market was in decline following the November 2015 terrorist attacks, STR said. 

Hotel benchmark service HotStats reported that occupancy in Paris fell 7% in December, 5% in January and 0.5% in February.


​Fairhurst said that according to his members, the biggest impact was on the meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions business.

With the cathedral's closure, G Adventures said it might alter its Parisian walking tours to instead include an inside look at the Sacre-Coeur Basilica on Montmartre near the Moulin Rouge.

In a move that’s being described by some in the travel industry as catering to southern Florida’s hard-liners in advance of the 2020 presidential elections, the Trump administration has announced harsh new Cuba sanctions and travel policy changes.

The administration is largely reversing Obama-era engagement policies toward the Caribbean island nation, while also describing its latest actions as an attempt to increase pressure on Cuba’s government in response to its support of the Nicolás Maduro regime in Venezuela.

An official who spoke on the condition of anonymity told the Miami Herald that travel to Cuba will now be limited to family visits, restricting those visits to the island deemed as “veiled tourism.”

That could have sweeping effects on travel to the island, which has blossomed since President Obama’s administration.


​By some accounts, Trump’s new stance could mean the end of cruises that started to operate during the Obama years as part of the expansion of the types of travel allowed, the Miami Herald reported.

The re-tightened restrictions could also impact air travel, reducing the numbers of passengers headed to the island. Travel by Cuban Americans to reunite with relatives on the island will remain unchanged.

The just announced changes also include new limits on remittances made to Cubans from family members in the United States. They will be slashed from the unlimited remittances allowed by Obama to just $1,000 per person every three months.Many of the measures were announced by National Security Advisor John Bolton during a speech at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables Wednesday afternoon.

The crackdown also includes the full implementation of the Helms-Burton law, which will allow lawsuits in U.S. courts against American and foreign companies doing business in Cuba over the use of property nationalized by the Cuban government following the 1959 revolution.

Aside from its goal of reversing changes put in place by the Obama administration, the new Trump policies on Cuba are being described as an attempt to show the Cuban government that “its support for Maduro will cost it," according to the official who spoke to the Miami Herald on the condition of anonymity.

Travel industry reaction to the news varied from disappointment to anger, to concern about the future for both the island's nascent tourism industry and also for companies in this country that have benefitted from open relations with Cuba.


​“President Trump is doing this for one reason, and one reason only: to appease fringe hardliners in South Florida ahead of the 2020 election,” said James Williams, President of Engage Cuba, a coalition of private companies and organizations that have been working to end the travel and trade embargo on Cuba.


​“The hypocrisy of the Trump administration cozying up to the most brutal dictatorships in the world in Saudi Arabia, Russia, and North Korea, but claiming to care about democracy and human rights in Cuba, is like living in a parallel universe,” Williams added. “President Trump himself tried for years to open up a Trump Hotel and golf resort in Cuba.”

U.S. travel and remittances are the lifeblood of private sector entrepreneurs in Cuba, Williams added, who called the restrictions “a cruel betrayal and a knife in the back of Cuban civil society” and the prospects for a growing independent private sector in Cuba.

“The Cuban people are already struggling under tremendous difficulties, and these actions only make it worse,” Williams said. “We need a policy that focuses on empowering the Cuban people and advancing American interests, not continuing a 60-year failed policy that only serves fringe domestic politics in South Florida.”

Williams added that the new limit on U.S. remittances to the island will be a heavy blow to Cuba’s nascent private sector (roughly one-third of the workforce) which greatly depends on remittances and U.S. travelers to keep their small businesses alive.

Andrea Holbrook, president of Florida-based Holbrook Travel, which has been providing trips to the island since 2000, expressed disappointment and concern about Trump's latest announcement.

"We are very worried about what this means," Holbrook told TravelPulse. "We are really disappointed by the attitude of our lawmakers who don’t see the tremendous economic opportunity that the opening of Cuba represents."

Gainesville-based Holbrook Travel employs about 40 people, 30 of them locally. In 2017 the company suffered a disappointing year due in large part to all of the confusion caused by the Trump administration's initial policy announcements tied to Cuba.

"This is certainly something we are disappointed to see happen. It means jobs, income, economic development. Here in Gainesville, Florida. Our opportunity to grow what we do in Cuba means growth in Gainesville," said Holbrook.

She also expressed concern about the full implementation of the Helms-Burton law and the lawsuits that might stem from that change, which will be aimed at foreign companies doing business in Cuba.

“The majority of investment in hotels is coming from Canadian and other foreign sources. This will expose those companies to foreign lawsuits,” said Holbrook. “It’s obviously an attempt to strangle foreign investment in Cuba. That’s a big concern in the long term and possibly the short term. I can imagine it being potentially titanic in terms of impact.”

Martha Honey, the executive director of the Center for Responsible Travel (CREST), expressed similar dismay over the news.

“This sweeping suite of hardline policies will make life more difficult for average Cubans, including those involved in Cuba’s private tourism sector, which has burgeoned in the wake of the Obama-Raul Castro accords that opened Cuba to US travelers," Honey told TravelPulse.

"Today’s announcement appears intended to strangle US citizens from visiting Cuba, except for family reasons. While the details are still not fully known, the announcement may bar US citizens from visiting one of our nearest neighbors, a country that is widely viewed as one of the safest and most peaceful in the world. Here in Havana, we are deeply saddened by this back to the future announcement based on 50 years of failed US policies.”

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U.S. Warns of Deadly Traffic Accidents in The Bahamas

Police responded to Hilton Miami Downtown after a guest refused to leave his hotel room after checking out.

Around 9:30 a.m., officers went to the man’s room on the 21st floor and heard loud bangs that may have been gunshots. They called for a SWAT team for back up.


​“We thought we heard some loud banging,” said witness John Gore. “We were just coming down here to look at the Ferrari dealership and just go see what was going on around town and we saw like 30 cop cars pulled up outside the hotel and we saw that there were cops running in with rifles and cops shutting down the street. It was crazy stuff.”

The hotel was evacuated while SWAT and a hostage negotiation team spoke with the man who barricaded himself in the building. Eventually, the Miami Police took him into custody when he surrendered himself voluntarily.


​The Miami Herald reported that the man had no gun when he was taken into custody. A law enforcement source familiar with the incident told the outlet, “An officer reported gunfire after he got there. Police didn’t find any evidence of gunfire. The initial call was just to remove the guy from the room.”

The outlet hinted that the gunshots may have come from a police officer, though the police haven’t confirmed or denied that.

Miami police spokeswoman Kiara Delva, said, “They’re still searching for bullet holes. At this time there are no charges.”

The man whose name has not been released is undergoing a psychological evaluation.

It's not pleasant, but it is an inevitable part of travel: delays. And worse, even, than sitting in an airport waiting for your delayed flight to finally begin boarding is when you've made it all the way onto the plane, squeezed yourself into your tiny seat, buckled up and then you just ... wait. And wait and wait.

In spite of the voice over the intercom optimistically informing passengers that they should "sit tight" because "we'll be on our way soon," soon never seems to arrive, leaving patience to wane and tempers to fray. If you've been sitting on the tarmac for more than than hour, you might start to seriously think about just getting off the plane. But is that really an option?


​Actually, yes. Although you'll need to sit tight for a little longer. U.S Department of Transportation regulations state that "airlines are required to begin to move the airplane to a location where passengers can safely get off before three hours (of delay) for domestic flights and four hours for international flights."

Weigh your decision carefully though, as airlines are not required to let you back on once the flight is ready to depart, and you might end up separated from your luggage: "The airline may not be required to offload any passenger’s checked bags before the plane takes off," the DOT states. "Passengers will need to contact the airline about returning their checked luggage at a later time."

Should you choose to wait it out, you won't go hungry or thirsty, according to the DOT. "Airlines must provide you with a snack, such as a granola bar, and drinking water no later than two hours after the aircraft leaves the gate (in the case of a departure) or touches down (in the case of an arrival)." There are no federal requirements for an airline to financially compensate passengers, but many will do so anyway, so don't be afraid to ask, politely.


​Surprisingly, considering they meet the very basic level of humanity, such regulations are fairly new. Following a few highly publicized cases in 2008 and 2009 in which people were trapped on planes for hours, the DOT to mandated the new rules in 2011. And it takes them seriously. When Southwest broke the law in 2014, the DOT fined it $1.6 million.

Nevertheless, flyers' rights advocates are concerned that the Trump administration may roll back the tarmac delay regulations (along with others). Last year, reported The Los Angeles Times, the DOT temporarily froze all pending airline-industry regulations as part of an administration push to cut the burden of red tape on American businesses. And it asked the public and airlines for comments on existing regulations that could be halted, revised or repealed.

"Many of the regulations/initiatives adopted or issued at the end of the previous administration are extremely costly, will be unduly burdensome on the airline industry, and should be repealed or permanently terminated," United Airlines said in its statement filed with the DOT.

Consumers' groups are not convinced. "The airlines are pretty clear that they want every consumer protection law repealed or not enforced," Paul Hudson, president of the nonprofit group Flyersrights.org, told The L.A. Times in March. "I'm concerned that they would try to repeal the few consumer-protection regulations that are out there." 

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A LOT of them were due to "odor events."


​If you watch the news at all (you shouldn’t, by the way), you probably feel like there are reports of airplane emergency landings every single day. Debilitating turbulence! Landing gear failure! Angry passengers threatening to kill everyone on board! (That one happened pretty recently.) Honestly, the deluge of information could make a nervous flier out of pretty much anyone.

But listen, it’s not as bad as it seems. We consulted Aviation’s Global Incident Map of 2017 (January 1 through December 26) and reviewed each and every recorded emergency landing of a passenger plane in the U.S. The good news: There were only 185 emergency landings total in the domestic U.S. out of an estimated 9.7 million flights — all of which concluded without incident. That’s a nerves-alleviating 0.00002 percent chance of having an emergency landing.

Even more relieving: The majority of those emergency landings were caused by weird-yet-innocuous odors or smells. Why is a smell worthy grounding a plane? Well, it’s a combination of taking precautionary measures, easing passengers’ fears, and avoiding odor-induced illness. (One American Airlines flight famously landed because a passenger “passed gas,” causing other fliers to become nauseous, according to the Raleigh-Durham International Airport.)

For at least two decades, industry experts have been speculating about basic timing factors in finding the lowest airfares. The big question: When is the best time to buy plane tickets? So far, nobody has been able to come up with definitive answers that stand the test of time for very long. But that doesn’t stop them from trying. There are numbers-based guidelines touted by travel experts. And there are tools and data that can help you ascertain the right time to buy. Here’s the latest information on mastering the art of airfare booking.


How Far in Advance Should I Book My Flight?

According to the CDC, 14 cruise ships earned a perfect health score during their surprise inspections in the last year.

The ships can be found among 10 different cruise lines and include Celebrity Summit, Rhapsody of the Seas, Norwegian Gem, Disney Wonder, Seabourn Quest, Viking Star, Auroa, Disney Fantasy, Noordam, Sea Princess, Disney Dream, Amsterdam, AIDAVITA and Emerald Princess.


​All cruise ships that sail to or from the U.S. must undergo a surprise health inspection by the VSP or Vessel Sanitation Program.

Everything from the medical facilities to the swimming pools, portable water systems, child centers, rooms, ventilation systems and common areas of the ship are inspected.

There are 44 items on the VSP’s checklist, so to get a score of 100, the cruise ship had to receive perfect scores on every single item.

Alternatively, a score of 85 or below is considered failing which occurred with the following ships: Ocean Insignia, Ocean Dream, Silver Spirit, Safari Endeavor and Le Boreal.

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Measles is spreading at a terrifying rate across Europe with more than 100,000 people hit by the outbreak in the last year.

Authorities are being urged to increase their response to combat the deadly surge in the preventable disease, The World Health Organization (WHO) said.

In February, the organization said that the number of people infected with measles in Europe hit a decade high.

New figures now show more than 100,000 cases of measles have been reported in 47 of the 53 European countries since January 1, 2018, including 90 deaths.


​There were 913 measles in England and Wales between January and October 2018, the most recent data from Public Health England shows.

Two adults died from measles in 2017 in the UK but there were none last year.

Ukraine reported the highest number of measles cases in 2018, and more than nine in ten were in 10 countries, including France, Italy and Greece.

The surge in cases followed a year when Europe achieved the highest ever estimated coverage for measles vaccinations.

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When Should You Buy Your Flight?

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How Do I Stay on Top of Fare Sales?


​Unless you enjoy the prospect of spending much of every day searching airline and OTA websites, the best way to keep on top of airfare sales is to subscribe to one or more airfare alerts. You have a range of choices. And we can help. Start with our own free fare alerts, our sister site BookingBuddy, and Airfarewatchdog’s famous fare alerts. In addition, many individual airlines, big OTAs, and metasearch systems offer airfare alerts or promotional bulletins.

Keep two important factors in mind when you search: First, Southwest fares are not available from any OTA or metasearch system; you can get these alerts from the SmarterTravel, BookingBuddy, and Airfarewatchdog links above or from Southwest directly. Second, any time a big airline announces a sale, competitors usually match it, at least where they compete directly, within 24 hours. So always take some time to shop around before you book.

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What Time of Day Should I Book My Flight?


​According to urban legend, you should buy on Tuesday mornings because airlines dump new fares and seat allocations on Monday nights. It’s also rumored that travelers shouldn’t buy on weekends, as consumers lap up the seats allocated to the lowest fare buckets on Saturdays and Sundays, leaving less low-priced inventory.

Here’s what George Hobica, founder of our sister site Airfarewatchdog, says: “No one can accurately predict where airfares are heading any more than we can predict the stock market.”

Hobica’s blog points to a quote from an airline revenue manager on the subject: “To say that there is one time of the day or one day of the week that is better than another is false. Plus, fares are so dynamic, since they are based on market conditions and the actual number of passengers who are currently booked on a specific flight, that they can change rapidly at any time.”


​But the manager goes on to contradict himself a little bit: “Many airlines tend to announce sales on a Monday, leading other airlines to match certain fares the following day, but this is not a hard and fast rule.”

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Being savvy with your devices will almost certainly help save you money. Before the cruise, find out what WiFi packages are available and budget for what you think you will need. On sea days and away from land, if your data roaming is on, the ship will connect to satellites which your phone will then connect to. This is when things can get pricey so switch off data roaming, switch your phone to airplane mode and use the ship's WiFi if you've bought a plan. Don't forget, if your data roaming plan includes certain parts of the world, it may be better to wait till you're in port to use your phone. If you stop at a bar or cafe when on land, you can also use their WiFi hotspot.

Top Tip: Switch to "Airplane" mode the moment the ship is out of range of land signals.

7. The Excursion Blunder

You want your time ashore to be enriching rather than infuriating, so choose excursions wisely: if you want to explore on foot, there's no point in complaining about it from the back of a bus. If you have kids in tow, make sure its suitable -- keeping a constant watch on little Johnny when half the world has descended on St Mark's Square in Venice is not ideal. "We'll meet back at the bus in 10 minutes," your guide says. You may think that's not enough time to get lost but there is inevitably going to be a straggler or two following a "brief" trip to the gift shop or toilets. Do you want to do the walk of shame through the coach with your fellow passengers scowling at you? Thought not…

Top Tip: Sometimes it's often to go it alone, especially in a port you know well (but don't forget the advice above about getting back to the ship on time!).

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Several sources publish data on the correlation between advance purchase period and airfares. The ideal time to buy a domestic ticket is 54 days in advance, says CheapAir, or seven weeks ahead, says Expedia, which are essentially the same findings. For international trips, the ideal period is 171 days ahead of departure, according to the same Expedia report. CheapAir refines the estimates: 96 days before trips to Europe and 96 days prior to Latin America trips. Both sources indicate that you can come close to the absolute lowest price over a wide range of dates: CheapAir’s “window” for good deals on domestic tickets is 27–114 days in advance; Expedia’s window is 50–100 days.

Avoid booking too early and too late. Too late is especially bad; you pay a huge premium for buying within a week or two of departure—even on airlines that nominally assess no advance-purchase limit.

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A United States agency has issued a report that claims serious injuries and deaths caused by traffic accidents in The Bahamas are a major concern for tourists.

According to The Nassau Guardian, the U.S. Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) said in its 2019 Crime and Safety Report there was a 29 percent overall increase in traffic-related deaths from 2017 to 2018.


​The report also found that one of the leading causes is intolerant drivers who show reckless and sometimes antagonistic behavior on the road. OSAC cites reports of pedestrians being struck by cars and fatal accidents caused by impatient drivers in areas known for heavy traffic.


​“The embassy continues to see a significant number of serious injuries from accidents in which the operator suffered from alcohol/drug impairment, lack of experience or inattention operator and/or other motorists,” the report said.

Police have warned locals and tourists about ignoring stop signs, speed limits and traffic signals, but the number of accidents continues to be a problem. In January, the commissioner of police announced there were 63 fatal traffic accidents recorded in The Bahamas last year that resulted in 69 deaths.


​For tourists who rent cars while in The Bahamas, OSAC warns them to drive defensively and exercise caution. The agency also recommends avoiding travel on scooters and bicycles, especially in heavy traffic conditions.

Poor planning and maintenance of roads were also cited as hazards for visitors.

As always, talk to your travel agent about best safety practices before visiting.

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Other non-alarming causes of emergency landings include minor mechanical issues (think: a spilled soft drink on an electrical outlet), broken bathrooms (like this Delta flight from New York City to Seattle that made an emergency landing in Billings, Montana because the plane’s bathrooms had stopped functioning and passengers “couldn’t hold it any longer,”) and a lithium battery laptop that started burning a passenger’s backpack en route to SFO.

With all of that said, emergency landings should still be taken seriously. Our point is simply that they happen very rarely, and when they do, they’re rarely a true emergency, like a loss of cabin pressure or engine failure. So feel free to relax, recline, and enjoy your flight.

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It’s no secret that sleep is one of the most important things your body does.

Not getting enough sleep has been linked to several other disorders. Getting enough sleep is key to a healthy lifestyle, but it’s not always easy to get a good night’s sleep or to catch up on sleep.

Still, a lot of U.S. workers — about one in three according to the CDC — are not getting their recommended six to nine hours of sleep a night and are going about their days without proper rest. Sure, it’s technically more “efficient,” but it’s definitely doing people more than good.

According to the Huffington Post, sleep can impair your performance at work, even if you’re just a little bit sleep deprived.

“If you got fewer than seven hours of sleep last night, you are a little bit sleep-deprived. And you will probably deny that and say, ‘No, I’m fine,’” said Jeanne Duffy, a neuroscientist and associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School to the Huffington Post. “But if we were to bring you into one of our sleep labs and have you do some performance tests, we would be able to see that you are not as good at doing those as you are fully rested.”


​Not only can sleep deprivation lead to workers being easily distracted or anxious, they can also cause some other emotional effects like being quick to anger and less patient with their coworkers, according to the Huffington Post.

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Dr. Osvaldo A. Perez, at your service!

It’s like an episode of Holidays from Hell -- a missed flight leading to a mad dash for a departing ship, trying to locate said ship when you've enjoyed one too many cava sangrias and forgot to make a note of the terminal location, and running up a phone or drinks bill the size of which would give your bank manager a coronary.

Cruising is no different to most holidays, and it pays to be organised when you're due to set sail -- it’s not worth getting stressed over badly calculated timings, or have your fellow holidaymakers scowl at you when they know you're responsible for the ship's late departure.

Because we're good like that, we've done the groundwork to help you avoid some of the most embarrassing cruise blunders. With everything under control, all you need to do is relax and enjoy an unforgettable voyage.


1. The Buffet Blunder

Ever heard the expression, "eyes bigger than your belly"? If you identify with this, beware the lure of the buffet, especially if you don't want to end up holed up in your cabin with indigestion, or blowing the diet in one fell swoop. It's so easy to be seduced by the wonderful aromas, station after station offering the best in global cuisine and desserts begging for your attention. We have even been known to load up our plates with a stomach-ache inducing combo of Indian, Italian and French cuisine -- and that was just the starter. But you can have too much of a good thing, and it starts right there at the buffet. We know it's tough, but try and exercise a little restraint -- you're on for seven days so you don't need to eat everything at the first meal.

Top Tip: Think how you eat at home -- a sandwich and a salad will often suffice at lunch rather than a Sunday roast.

2. The Boarding Blunder

This is probably one of the most important blunders to avoid -- not making it onto the ship in good time for sailaway, or worse -- watching the ship disappear into the sunset after a white-knuckle taxi ride from the airport. You may think that a couple of hours is more than enough time, but what if your flight is delayed, or god forbid, cancelled? We've learnt by our mistakes and always book a pre-cruise stay the night before sailing, so we know that we'll make it on board in plenty of time. Don't even contemplate the worst case scenarios, get booking that hotel now.

Top Tip: It's always worth taking a carry on bag as your suitcases take a while to arrive to your cabin.

3. The Spa Blunder

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You may be asking yourself, what could possibly go wrong in these havens of tranquility? Quite a lot, actually. The first rule of spa is never turn up bang on time for your appointment -- you need to aim to be there around 10 minutes early to fill out the prerequisite disclaimer form, change into your robe and soak up the zen-like surroundings. If you're a little late, you'll miss valuable treatment time. When you're on the bed, don't natter non-stop to the therapist -- he or she wants you to relax and won't take offence if you decide to catch up on a few zzzs from the night before.

Top Tip: Do not get seduced into buying the overpriced spa products that your therapist will try and sell you after your massage.  

4. The Budget Blunder

Don't let that onboard account go unnoticed, especially if you're on a budget. If your cruise is not all inclusive and you like a tipple, pay attention. To avoid being handed an unexpected bill at the end of the holiday, pay-as-you-go is a no-no. Plan ahead and make the most of any drinks packages on offer; if you're booking through a travel agent, mention it to them as they may be able to secure you a deal. It's also useful knowing your bill ahead of time. On the flip side, if you like a certain gin brand or have a penchant for champagne cocktails, it's worth considering upgrading to a premium package as the standard packages tend to cover drinks only up to a certain amount.

Top Tip: Always, always buy your package before you board -- it's always cheaper than buying onboard.  

5. The Port Blunder

Last summer, my friend Karen and I cruised the Med, with one of our ports of call being the wonderful city of Barcelona. Having both visited before, we decided to do our own thing, especially as the ship was in port overnight. We shopped, caught the buzz of the Ramblas, sipped cava on the beachfront and enjoyed tapas in Placa Reial. After a lovely evening, we decided on a leisurely stroll to our ship instead of jumping in a taxi as the last port shuttle had already departed. One hour later and we still weren't back -- instead we were stumbling along roads without pavements, nearly fainting in the humidity. Just as panic started to set in, the ship came into view -- and we couldn't get back on board fast enough. Always find out where the cruise terminal is located, and how long it's likely to take you to get back from town.

Top Tip: Remember to change your watch to local time -- not changing the hour is one of the main reasons passengers are late back to the ship.

6. The Connectivity Blunder

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A new study found that around 14 percent of Americans have lied about their vacations.

According to research from flight-comparison site Jet Cost, travelers from the United States have cited being embarrassed, the desire to seem well traveled and the hope of impressing someone as the main reasons behind their lies.


​In addition, two-thirds of the over 4,000 Americans surveyed have also lied about their experiences, with the weather, quality of accommodation and amount of sightseeing done the most common fibs.

The study also found that 27 percent of respondents have traveled internationally, with 61 percent admitting they exaggerated the truth about their vacation. Weather conditions top the list at 34 percent, quality of accommodations was second at 29 percent and the amount of sightseeing was third at 27 percent.


​“Even though it is probably more common than not in the U.S. to have not holidayed abroad, Americans are clearly still feeling the need to appear as if they have traveled,” a Jet Cost spokesperson said. “With the modern pressures of social media, people feel as if they have to prove themselves to others, which is a shame – but life isn’t a competition and just because someone says they’ve done something, doesn’t mean you’re less of a person for not having done it.”

Travelers from the U.S. also lied about the amount of alcohol consumed (23 percent) and how much money they spent (21 percent). Another 68 percent said they told someone they enjoyed their vacation more than they did and 52 percent revealed they wouldn’t tell anyone if their trip was a disaster.

In the most surprising finding, 10 percent of respondents admitted to posting a fake picture on social media to reinforce the lies.

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When Do Plane Tickets Go on Sale?


​The best time to buy an airline ticket is when it’s on sale; that means you have to stay on top of the airline marketplace. Airfare sales crop up at random times. Typically, the purchase window is short—sometimes just one day, often a few days to a week—but the sale fares are usually good for a month or more.

As Hobica puts it, “Pounce when there’s a deal.” And remember: With almost all U.S. airlines, you can cancel your ticket within 24 hours of booking at no charge. Even if you’ve already bought your fare, you can keep looking for a better offer within that 24-hour window.

What Are Some Other Ways to Get Fare Alerts?


​You can get fare alerts directly from your favorite carrier. Many airlines offer weekly or periodic email notifications of special sales and other useful information. It’s a good idea to set up alerts from an airline with which you frequently fly, especially if you collect miles.

Many OTAs and metasearch systems also offer regular airfare-deal bulletins, including the two giants, Expedia and Priceline.

THE CALL GOES OUT: RE-DESIGN NOTRE DAME'S SPIRE

Has the “Trump slump” hit Canadian travelers? New data suggests fewer Canadians are traveling to the U.S. these days.

According to new research from Global Data, the number of outbound travelers departing from Canada to the U.S. is set for a continuous decline from 23.3 million visitors in 2013 to 14.9 million in 2022, decreasing at a compound annual rate of change (CARC) of -4.8 percent.

While the data shows that the “Trump slump” plays a part, cheap flights to Mexico are also enticing Canadians to travel farther afield on vacation as is the desire to go somewhere new.


​“The U.S. has long been and still is the most popular destination for Canadians,” said Ralph Hollister, travel and tourism associate analyst at GlobalData. “Affordability and accessibility is of great importance to them and the U.S. provides this in abundance. However, destinations which can provide cheap flights such as Mexico and low cost, novel experiences such as India are experiencing high growth in Canadian visitor numbers as millennials, aged 22-36, and baby boomers, aged 55-75, have realized their money can get them further afield.”


​A decline in Canadian visitors to the U.S. began in 2013. From 2013 to 2018, visitation numbers from Canada to the US decreased from 23.3 million to 18.9 million due to economic concerns and a recession. However, from 2018 to 2022, negative growth will continue, decreasing by 5.7 percent despite the fact that the economy has improved.

“Canada is one of the slowest growing markets for outbound tourism out of all Group of Seven (G-7) countries, which is a trend that international destinations attempting to attract Canadian tourism need to be mindful of. Canada’s economy has been experiencing improved growth in recent years compared to countries with a higher total GDP in the G-7 group,” said Hollister. “But this has not encouraged a large increase in Canadians taking international vacations, mainly being due to the perceived cost of international travel.”


​Taking into consideration the desires of Canadian travelers could help improve these numbers. Currently, 33 percent of Canadians have no holiday plans, and 23 percent are looking to take city breaks. GlobalData suggests visibly promoting cities such as Denver and Dallas to Canadians who haven’t made any travel plans and could still be motivated to head south of the border.

Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officials at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport discovered a gun hidden inside a DVD player last week.

On April 13, a man’s checked baggage set off alarms in the security scanner. TSA agents pulled the bag aside and discovered a DVD player inside. They looked closer and “detected a 9 mm handgun wrapped in aluminum foil that was artfully concealed inside the DVD player,” according to an statement from the agency.

The gun was not loaded, TSA said.


​Security agents found the owner of the bag waiting at the gate for his flight to Mexico. New York Port Authority removed the man from the gate, arrested him and charged him with weapons violations.


Although this manner of concealment may be highly unusual, finding a concealed weapon in a bag is not uncommon for the TSA. Last year, the agency reported a record-breaking 4,239 firearms found in carry-on bags at checkpoints across the country. The agency averages this out to about 11 firearms found every day.

Earlier this year, a passenger at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport managed to travel with a gun — past TSA — on a Tokyo-bound flight. 

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NEW YORK (AP) -- Uber began trading as a public company at $42 per share Friday, nearly 7% below its initial public offering price on an already volatile day for the markets.


​The ride-hailing giant priced shares in the IPO Thursday at $45 each, raising $8.1 billion and giving the company a valuation of $82 billion.

Shares began publicly trading on the New York Stock Exchange about 2 1/2 hours after the markets opened Friday, with investors already feeling jittery over an escalating trade dispute with China.

They recovered to just over $44 by midday as analysts still called the offering a success despite the price drop.

SharesPost principal analyst Alejandro Ortiz said the timing for Uber to start trading was bad given the uncertainty over the trade spat with China. But Uber's story can't be just one day of trading because of its potential to make billions in a growing ride market, he said.

"It's going to keep bouncing around for months to come," Ortiz said. "It's an important thing to consider if you're an investor and you saw value in the company and its disruptive potential, nothing has really changed in the past 48 hours."

The true story of Uber will come with quarterly earnings reports and at the end of the six-month lockup period in which original IPO investors are prohibited from selling their shares, Ortiz said.


Sure, trying to fit a hair dryer into your already overstuffed luggage may sound like a pain in the butt, but trust us, you’ll want to start making space for it after reading this.

According to an in-depth investigation by ABC, hotels have a plethora of issues when it comes to cleanliness. And though this issue has been well documented, what hasn’t been focused on until now is just how gross hair dryers in hotels can be.

Chuck Gerba, a microbiologist who worked with ABC for their hotel cleanliness experiment, swabbed items in nine different Los Angeles-area hotels to find out which ones are the nastiest, and he was not impressed with what he found. "There must be some things you can do with a hair dryer that I am not aware of, because some of them were pretty germy," he said.


​The investigation noted that items like the hair dryer may become even dirtier than sinks and toilets because they are often overlooked as an item in need of cleaning by housekeeping, and thus can go days – or even years – without ever being disinfected.


​And it wasn’t just in low-cost motels that Gerba found the hair dryers to be particularly disgusting. According to ABC, Gerba tested the dryers at a number of hotels, which varied in price from $98 to $500 per night.

Beyond the dryers, Gerba also found that six of the nine bathroom sinks he tested had germ levels considered excessive.

"The biggest concern in a hotel room is picking up cold, flu virus or viruses that cause diarrhea," Gerba said. "It doesn't take very many to make you ill."

Gerba also noted that looks and price can be deceiving when it comes to hotel health safety. He added that some of the items often found in low-cost hotels, like plastic cups in wrappers or plastic bags for the ice buckets, can actually offer more germ protection than their swankier counterparts.

So next time you travel, perhaps back a blow dryer, or let your mane go au naturale – you are on vacation, after all.