At this time of year, everyone is looking for the same thing:
The best possible holiday airfares.
Our friends at the priceline.com airline team say it's best to wait till Santa is on approach. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day hold the best airfare bargains. Roundtrip airfares this holiday are averaging $456. But that figure drops to $403 on Christmas Eve and $410 on Christmas Day.
The priciest day to fly this year is December 21. Average airfares for that day are slightly above $500. And the weekends before Christmas and New Year's are high-fare days, as well.
Is it worth it to wait ? The savings can add up if you're traveling with 0r arranging travel for a family.
And aren't there 12 Days of Christmas anyway?
Let me know how your holiday flight plans are going.
Photo Courtesy Strategic Travel Media
Virtuoso has given us the following statement on the death of Mauricio Leyton:
Mauricio Leyton, a beloved colleague of the Virtuoso network and a travel industry veteran, passed away unexpectedly on Sunday, December 1, 2013. Mauricio's travel career spanned more than 25 years, with more than 15 of those years spent with Virtuoso.
During his tenure, Mauricio was responsible for building Virtuoso's travel agency membership and operations throughout Mexico, South America and the Caribbean, opening up Virtuoso's first markets outside of North America. He later served as Vice President of Virtuoso's Global Member Partnerships, before moving on to oversee the acquisition and development of key relationships with tourism boards all over the world.
While revered as a true travel professional, Mauricio was an accomplished actor with films, plays, commercials, and TV appearances to his credit. His greatest talent, though, was cultivating personal relationships and it was his ability to make everyone in his presence feel special for which he will be remembered most. Mauricio Leyton was 52 years old.
"I mourn my loss and that of so many who Mauricio touched with his amazing soul. His love enriched the lives of everyone lucky enough to have come across his path and know him. His kindness, creativity and compassion will be with us forever." - Matthew D. Upchurch, CTC, Chairman and CEO of Virtuoso
Photo Courtesy Virtuoso
Photo Courtesy Norwegian Cruise Line
Sad news over the weekend. Virtuoso's Director of Alliances Mauricio Leyton passed away in Chile. He suffered a heart attack after checking in to hospital there.
I've always found Mauricio such a pleasure to work with over the years. His enthusiasm and passion always shone through. He will be missed by the Virtuoso team and the global travel and tourism industry.
We'll bring you more shortly, including some official comments from the understandably heartbroken Virtuoso staff.
Did you know Mauricio?
Share your thoughts with us.
It's easy to see why Atlantis, Paradise Island the Bahamas is a magnet for leisure travelers. That's especially true during weekends like this, when holiday vacationers are eager to avoid chilly fall temperatures.
But Atlantis is making a big push for MICE business as well.
Meetings at Atlantis?
Why not? It's the largest convention facility in the Caribbean. And, the huge property offers enough options for meetings, incentive planners and convention brokers.
John Washko, Atlantis' vice president of group marketing and sales spoke to us about the advantages of group functions at a leisure haven.
It made us take a look at the iconic Caribbean property in a whole new light. How about you?
Photo Courtesy Atlantis Paradise Island the Bahamas
Congrats are in order today for JetBlue. The carrier launched daily nonstop service from Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood to Lima, Peru. The capital city is the airline's 81st destination and third in South America.
JetBlue's expansion in Latin America is another sign of that region's growing economy and importance as a commercial partner. It comes on the fifteenth anniversary of the Open Skies agreement between the US and Peru.
I'm a huge fan of Lima for its juxtaposition of the colonial, the indigenous and the modern. It's one of the most important gateways on the continent for trips to must-see landmarks. And Lima's cuisine has taken on a life of its own as far as attracting visitors.
JetBlue will operate daily flights on its Airbus A320 fleet.
You will probably see me on board soon.
Photo Courtesy Strategic Travel Media
If you were near PortMiami last night, you may have seen a fireworks display light up the sky.
The occasion? A formal welcome to the MSC Divina. She arrived in Italian style a few days ago, escorted by a fleet of Fiat personal watercraft.
MSC Divina will reside in Miami year-round. It's the first such deployment in North America for the line.
And for fans of MSC Cruises, it's about time!
Photo Courtesy MSC Cruises USA
Few destinations are as synonymous with a movie franchise as New Zealand and "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy.
Now, it's The Hobbit's turn to transfix our attentions back to Middle-earth. Actually, it's the second installment of The Hobbit Trilogy that's about to debut.
The bucolic landscape of the North Island will once again shine as the Shire. And countless international visitors will flock to New Zealand seeking magical adventures of their own.
Air New Zealand, "the official airline of Middle-earth," is joining in the fun. They're giving fans of The Hobbit the chance to win a trip to Hollywood for the red carpet premiere of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug on December 2.
The Hobbit figures prominently in Air New Zealand's latest marketing campaign as well. Entitled "Middle-earth is closer than you think," the campaign's centerpiece is a video inspired by The Hobbit films.
"Just Another Day in Middle-earth" stars actual Air New Zealand crew and ground staff (and perhaps a few hobbits as well).
It's designed to inspire unexpected journeys, especially to New Zealand.
Fans viewing the video can enter for the chance to win one of four trips for two to either New Zealand or to the film premiere in Los Angeles.
A Boeing 777-300 aircraft with special Hobbit film-inspired livery will also take to the skies to mark the film premiere. The aircraft will leave Auckland on December 2 and arrive in Los Angeles as the red carpet is being rolled out.
Photos Courtesy Air New Zealand and Strategic Travel Media
The list of proposed legislation for the benefit of cruise passengers continues to expand. Congressman John Garamendi (D-Fairfield, CA) has introduced H.R. 3475, the Cruise Vessel Consumer Confidence Act of 2013.
Garamendi is the former Insurance Commissioner of California, and the Ranking Member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation.
Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-Sacramento, CA) is a cosponsor of the legislation.
The Act grants oversight and investigative authority to the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) in matters involving cruise travel deceptive practices and unfair competition. It creates a number of new disclosure and reimbursement requirements for cruise lines, among other things.
"Reviewing the many horror stories from cruise ships in recent years, it is clear that proper oversight of the industry and consumer protections for passengers are desperately lacking. At times, it is the Wild West on the high seas," said Garamendi.
"I have long advocated for increased protections and greater disclosures for cruise ship passengers. The thousands of Americans who embark on cruise vacations every year deserve access to transparent and accurate information about incidents that occur on cruise ships," said Congresswoman Matsui. "Earlier this year I introduced the Cruise Passenger Protection Act to build upon the security and safety measures aboard our cruise ships, and ensure that passengers can make an informed decision when considering a trip. Today's bill is another piece of the puzzle in ensuring protections for cruise ship passengers."
Do you agree that cruise lines must still do more to protect cruise passengers?
Let us know your thoughts.
It was 93 degrees today in L.A. But that doesn't mean we're not excited about winter-time escapes. In the next few days, we'll highlight enticing ideas from around the globe. And we'll start close to home.
Las Vegas for the holidays can be over-the-top fun. And certain customs are well on their way to becoming traditions. Take ice skating at The Cosmopolitan for example.
The Ice Rink returns to Boulevard Pool on November 22. Once again, it will serve as a wintery background for parties, outdoor movies and other festivities throughout the season. This year the venue features an expanded skating area, full bar, seasonal food and weekly events such as "Date Skate" Mondays.
A special New Year's Eve celebration will include a live stream of Bruno Mars in concert at The Cosmopolitan, an open bar and prime viewing of midnight fireworks.
Early Bird tickets for the New Year's event are now available, and make a great gift for clients who'll be in town.
I try not to miss a Vegas visit at least once during the holiday season. What about you?
Photo Courtesy The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas