Monday, July 21, 2014

News Update: Crystal Cruises Launches 'Unprecedented' Route, TSA Fees Rise, and the State of Malaysia Airlines

Crystal Cruises Launches 'Unprecedented' Northwest Passage Cruise

Los Angeles Times - July 18, 2014

One of the experiences offered on the first Northwest Passage voyage from Alaska to New York City © Crystal Cruises. 
Crystal Cruises announced its first cruise along the Northwest Passage from Alaska to New York. The 900-mile trip passes through more than 20 waterways, stopping at locations like Canada's Arctic region and Greenland, among others. Crystal will sail the Serenity along the route in 32 days, starting in 2016, making it the first luxury line to follow the passage. The cruise includes hiking, climbing, fishing and even golfing, as well as some "surprise days" for passengers.

MyTake: This is yet another example of travel companies catering to the growing desire for adventure trips. People are eager to try something different and exciting, and Crystal knows that many are willing to pay for an epic adventure such as this. I expect we'll see more cruise companies expanding their offerings to include adventure tour options.

TSA Security Fee Rises

Chicago Tribune - July 21, 2014

The security fee meant to fund the TSA increased today. The fee went up from $2.50 per leg with a $5 cap, to a flat fee of $5.60 per one-way trip with no cap. Basically, a round-trip flight would cost $11.20, but if there are layovers of more than four hours, it will cost more. The question is, does the extra money actually going to the TSA and improved security? TSA officials said they agency isn't getting a revenue hike because Congress directed the money to help reduce the government deficit.

MyTake: If the money were actually going to TSA to streamline the security process and improve the system at airports, I don't think it would be such a big deal. But people are angered by the fact that the industry is already highly taxed, and consumers take the brunt of fees that claim to make flying better. The fact is, security lines at airports continue to be a problem, especially with numerous lanes remaining closed even with hundreds of people waiting. As a result, this fee hike is facing a lot of backlash. Unfortunately, all the complaints probably won't do anything, and the fee will stay the same.

Diagon Alley is the Place to Shop in Orlando

Orlando Sentinel - July 20, 2014

When Universal Studios opened Diagon alley, the new expansion of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, it took theme park shopping to the next level. The new area is based on a fictional shopping district from the books/films, and any part of the story fans love is there to purchase, according to industry blogger Jim Hill. The magical shopping complex features just one ride, along with nine shops, a restaurant, an ice cream parlor and a photography studio.

MyTake: Amusement parks are known for their rides, and retail is usually a second thought after food and games. But the idea behind Diagon Alley is to make retail the main attraction, especially since it was such a major part of the series. Harry Potter has such a strong following, it makes sense that people would want to take part of the experience home with them, and they are willing to pay copious amounts of money for these items. I don't deny the commercialization of it all, but people want to immerse themselves in this world, and Diagon Alley allows them to do just that.

What Flight MH17 Means for Malaysia Airlines

TravelPulse - July 18, 2014

After Flight MH17 was apparently shot down by a surface to air missile last week, questions began to arise as to who fired it and if it had something to do with the carrier, Malaysia Airlines. The airline has already experienced another tragic incident this year after Flight 370 disappeared into thin air back in March. The brand was already struggling to maintain its image, and this will certainly have some kind of negative effect on the company, as well as Malaysian tourism. 

MyTake: This was a horrible tragedy that should never have happened. While it was a Malaysia Airlines flight, it was not the airline's fault that this took place. This was completely out of their control, and I think most travelers will take note of that fact. What travelers will be concerned about it flight routes in that region. Many airlines have revamped their flight patterns to avoid flying over Ukraine, but people are still going to be concerned. We might not see people canceling Malaysia flights, but rather any flight that could potentially pass over the war zone. Airlines would be wise to strongly promote the fact that they are not flying over the region, and taking all precautions to avoid it.


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