Monthly Archives: January 2009

American Airlines Limiting Passengers on Some Jets

The Associated Press reported last night that American Airlines is voluntarily limiting the number of passengers it allows to fly on some of its 767 airplanes. They are reducing the capacity from 236 to 228. They’re doing this in light of a review of life raft capacity on its fleet. No doubt, this comes as a result of US Airways flight 1549 water landing on the Hudson almost 2 weeks ago.

American flies the affected 767-300 primarily (which incidentally, still lists its capacity at 225 passengers) on Transatlantic and Latin American routes.  Both routes take flights over water for a large part of the flight.  The airline says that the problem arose when they increased the number of seats after redesigning the planes’ Business Class cabin. This happened between 2005 and 2007. This means the planes have been flying with not enough raft capacity for at least over a year, possibly up to 4.

On its defense, American states that the FAA requires planes to have one extra raft in case of failure. Also, they maintain that passengers were never at risk, as the planes are equipped with other flotation devices (like seat cushions).

The way I see it, it’s very possible that passengers were never at risk, and that there would have been enough space in the existing rafts for every passenger, assuming no raft failed. However, in my mind, American’s behavior has been negligent on the one aspect it must always remain vigilant: safety. How come noone thought about this when they redesigned the seating? What would have happened if fligth 1549 had been an American 767 landing on the Atlantic? Yes, passengers may have been forced to use their seat cushions instead of a raft. They may have been perfectly safe. But, would you have liked to be one of those passengers force the wait for rescue floating on the ocean instead of in a raft?

Please share your thoughts and comments below.

Regards,

Enrique Brener
KC Travel
N. Miami Beach, FL
www.kctravel.jurni.net
info@kctravel.jurni.net
305-792-0618
FL Seller of Travel Reg. TI-35171


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Holland America – Responsible Corporate Citizen

The Miami Herald has reported that starting last Friday, Holland America has started a new program in Fort Lauderdale called Ship to Shelter. It was started in Seattle in April of 2008, and is designed to take advantage of items that would otherwise be discarded. Instead, every time a Holland America ship docks in Port Everglades (Fort Lauderdale’s port), partly used toiletries and other items will be taken to shelters in Broward County, where they can be used by the more than 600 people that use their facilities every day.  Periodic donations of linens, cookware, dishes, silverware, and even mattresses, will also be made and given away to families in need.

I think this is a great initiative to put perfectly usable products to good use, instead of discarding them. Holland America is providing a great example of how a company can work to benefit the community. Let’s hope other cruise lines, and perhaps some hotels, follow their example.

Regards,

Enrique Brener
KC Travel
N. Miami Beach, FL
www.kctravel.jurni.net
info@kctravel.jurni.net
305-792-0618
FL Seller of Travel Reg. TI-35171


Soccer Safari

Or football safari, as the rest of the world would say. I am referring, of course, to sport’s most watched event, the World Cup. The finals of the next World Cup will start in June of 2010.  Qualifying games are well under way, and we will soon start finding out who the teams that will play in South Africa are. Thirty two teams from all over the world will make it to the finals in June of next year (South Africa is in for being the host nation). They will be cheered on by multitudes of fans that make the trip to watch their national teams compete.

If you’re planning to go, whether your team is playing or not, you will want to spend some time in the host country. After all, you don’t get to go to South Africa too often.  Tour operators are already advertising packages for the World Cup. One I just saw, for example, includes:

  • 5 nights accommodations in one of Cape Town‘s finest hotels (they have several to choose from)
  • 2 full days private sightseeing around Cape Town and the Winelands (including Cape of Good Hope National Park, Table Mountain, and the Cape Winelands)
  • Round trip airport transfers in Cape Town

Prices start at $2515 per person (based on double occupancy), plus the cost of tickets to the games. The cost of tickets depends on the match (games played in Cape Town start with the First Round and include one of the Semi Finals) and the location of the seats. Airfare is not included but can be arranged. Also, tickets at other locations can also be obtained.

Of course, if you’re going all the way to Cape Town, you will also like to spend more time in Africa, and extensions can be booked for Kruger National Park, one of the most famous safari locations, Victoria Falls, the Okavango’s delta in Botswana, and many others. You can even cage-dive with great white sharks if you want to!

Just make sure you buy from a reputable tour company. You don’t want to run the risk of having problems with your tickets.

If you want to start planning your trip to South Africa and the World Cup, we’ll be happy to help you. Just contact us and we’ll take care of it.
Regards,

Enrique Brener
KC Travel
N. Miami Beach, FL
www.kctravel.jurni.net
info@kctravel.jurni.net
305-792-0618
FL Seller of Travel Reg. TI-35171


Valentine’s at the Regent Bal Harbor

The Regent Bal Harbor is a luxury oceanfront hotel, 15 minutes away from South Beach and less than half an hour from Fort Lauderdale. If you still don’t have a plan for Valentine’s Day, they are offering a 2-night package (that can be extended) for the nights of the 13th to the 15th of February. The package includes:

  • Two nights luxury accommodations, in a room or suite overlooking Biscayne Bay or the Atlantic Ocean
  • Four course dinner for two at 1 Bleu, the hotel’s restaurant, led by chef Mark Militello. The dinner includes wine pairings
  • Special “Bath Turndown” by the hotel’s Bath Butler, featuring Guerlain Spa products
  • A bottle of champagne and chocolates to enjoy in your room
  • Breakfast both mornings

If you’re not familiar with Bal Harbor, it is renowned for the exclusive Bal Harbor Shops, and for the many excellent restaurants in the area. I can personally recommend Cafe Ragazzi (Italian) and Adriana (Peruvian), which are less than a 5 minute drive away.

The package starts at $600 per night. It’s not cheap, but if you want to plan something very special for that day, this may fit the bill. If you don’t want to spend quite that much, I can help you find other alternatives as well.

Regards,

Enrique Brener
KC Travel
N. Miami Beach, FL
www.kctravel.jurni.net
info@kctravel.jurni.net
305-792-0618
FL Seller of Travel Reg. TI-35171


The 49th’s 50th

This month, Alaska celebrated its 50th year as a State. It was admitted to the Union on January 3rd, 1959, and was followed by Hawaii a few months later.  Fifty years later, Alaska remains one of the country’s distant frontiers and an exotic destination.

There are 3 popular ways of exploring this largest of the States: By cruise, by tour, and by combination tour/cruise.

Alaska cruises are offered by most major cruise lines, and offer the opportunity to visit several ports, get up close  and personal with glaciers, and see spectacular scenery. As can be expected, demand for these cruises increases as the weather gets milder in July and August. In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Statehood, Princess Cruises is offering 2-for-1 fares on many of its Alaska sailings. Most Alaska cruises are either 7-day round trip sailings from Seattle or Vancouver, or one-way cruises between one of these ports and Seward or Whittier. The following is a typical round-trip itinerary:

Alaska itinerary

Other cruise lines, which use smaller ships, like Cruise West, also have sailings in Alaska, and offer the opportunity to get to places where the bigger ships can’t.

The second popular way to visit Alaska is by land. Companies like Tauck, Globus, Abercrombie&Kent, Trafalgar, and others, offer tours from 6 to more than 15 days. Some like Tauck, offer tours geared to multigenerational families, so everyone from kids to grandparents can enjoy the State’s attractions, from watching varied fauna that includes bald eagles, moose, beavers, and perhaps even bears, to experiencing true Alaskan traditions like dogsledding, hiking, fishing, etc. A detailed itinerary can be seen here.

The third way to visit Alaska is by combining a tour and a cruise. In my opinion, this is the best option because it combines the opportunity to see glaciers and navigate through the majestic Alaskan waterways with the unique experiences that only an inland tour can provide. You can combine any cruise with any tour, even if they are offered by different companies, provided that the dates match. Cruise lines, however, offer extensions to their cruises that allow travelers to stay in Alaska in combination with sailings starting or ending in the State. Right now, there are very good offers from several cruise lines on cruisetours. For example, Princess is helping passengers save money by allowing them to fly into Seattle instead of Vancouver, and is including a motorcoach transfer to the port, the cruise, tour, flight back to Seattle, and a night’s hotel in  Seattle before the flight back home.  Celebrity is offering $200 shipboard credit per stateroom:

Celebrity alaska

There are many other offers from most suppliers, so feel free to contact us to find the best deal and the best fit for you and your family.

Regards,

Enrique Brener
KC Travel
N. Miami Beach, FL
www.kctravel.jurni.net
info@kctravel.jurni.net
305-792-0618
FL Seller of Travel Reg. TI-35171


Oceania Turns Five

When you think of cruises, Oceania is probably not the first cruise line that comes to mind. If you’re not a cruise fanatic, you may have not even heard about it. It only has 3 ships (and 2 currently on order), each of which carries only 684 passengers (compared that to the 2850 Celebrity’s Solstice carries). The ships are not new, but they are superbly maintained.Oceania's Regatta They are called Regatta, Insignia, and Nautica.

Oceania caters to a mature audience, and considers itself an upper-premium cruise line, with gourmet cuisine, excellent service, luxury accomodations, and great value. It sails to more than 180 ports across the world, and prides itself in visiting ports that most cruise lines don’t touch. Some of them are St. Barts, Antigua, Dominica, Kyoto, Darwin, Komodo, Ko Samui, Mikonos, Sorrento, Tallin, etc.

I saw the Regatta a couple of years ago on a ship inspection, and these are some of the pictures I took:

 

Pool Area

RegattaBalcony StateroomRegattaFor their 5th Anniversary, Oceania has just announced a terrific promotion with savings of up to 72% and prices as low as $1249 per passenger. Also, single cruisers, who usually pay twice the passenger rate, only pay a 25% premium.

RestaurantFor 2009 sailings included in the promotion, passengers receive  $2000 off a reduced rate and free airfare from over 20 airports on certain categories. For some of next Winter’s sailings, the promotion includes up to $1500 off reduced prices, free airfare from major airports, $500 shipboard credit, and free gratuities.

The list of sailings that apply are (if you can’t see the list clearly, click on it and it will take you to our website):

 

Oceania 2009 Sale

 

Oceania 2010 Sale

If you’re interested in learning more about Oceania Cruises and this promotion, please contact us. We’ll be happy to help you plan your next cruise!

 

Enrique Brener
KC Travel
N. Miami Beach, FL
www.kctravel.jurni.net
info@kctravel.jurni.net
305-792-0618
FL Seller of Travel Reg. TI-35171


News from Continental

Last week there were two interesting press releases from Continental Airlines. The first one announced the introduction of paperless check-in.  Single passengers traveling on non-stop, domestic flights, from certain airports, will be able to get their boarding passes e-mailed to their mobile phones or PDA’s when checking in on Continental’s website.When going through security, the boarding pass will be displayed on the phone and scanned to validate the person’s identity. American Airlines is also testing this technology in 3 airports.

The second one announced the first test in the U.S. of a commercial airplane powered by biofuel. As in previous tests done by Virgin Atlantic and Air New Zealand, the fuel used is a mixture of algae and jathropa oil. The biofuel was used in a 50%mixture to fuel one of the plane’s two engines. The important detail on the plants used is that they are sustainable and don’t deplete food sources, as corn does, for example.

I’m more excited about the second announcement than the first. To be honest, I don’t really see the benefit of the electronic boarding pass. With e-tickets, there is a real benefit compared to paper tickets. If you lost a paper ticket, you either had to buy a new ticket or submit paperwork for a replacement ticket, and it was a slow and expensive process. With paper boarding passes, the worst that can happen is to have to get another one at the airport.

The use of boifuel, though, even if it’s in its infancy, is a promising development. Hopefully it will eventually replace the use of fossil fuels in airplanes.

Enrique Brener
KC Travel
N. Miami Beach, FL
www.kctravel.jurni.net
info@kctravel.jurni.net
305-792-0618
FL Seller of Travel Reg. TI-35171