Itineraries for Saga’s new river vessel will be musically themed on The Beatles, and Gilbert and Sullivan.
Saga’s Spirit of the Rhine will sail its inaugural voyage in March 2021
Saga reveals new audio-themed river itineraries
Spirit of the Rhine’s itineraries are perfectly pitched!
Spirit of the Rhine’s inaugural 6-evening voyage in March 2021, Bootleg Beatles, will go to Amsterdam metropolis, Alkmaar Beatles museum, Enkhuizen and Zaandem.
Other itineraries contain the Rhine, Moselle, Main, Danube and waterways of Holland.
DJ Johnnie Walker, cricket commentator Jonathan Agnew, broadcasters Alistair Stewart and John Sergeant, Tv set gardener Charlie Dimmock, art qualified Raj Bisram and wine connoisseur Jilly Goolden will sail on the ship in its very first season.
The 190-passenger ship echoes the styling of Saga Cruises’ new ocean vessels, with most of the 17sqm cabins which include a French balcony and flooring-to-ceiling home windows.
There is also a lounge and bar, gym, library, sun deck with warm tub, barbecue, considerable seating on deck and two restaurants.
All cruises will be marketed on a complete-board offer with a least of 3 excursions.
A Muslim woman was threatened with being kicked off a flight after she asked to sit with her family, her husband claims.
Mehdi Hasan, a British journalist based in the US, said his wife was “in tears” after a Southwest Airlines flight attendant told her she’d be escorted off the plane for asking if another passenger would be willing to swap seats.
He claimed the incident, which occurred during a flight from Houston and Washington DC on 1 December, was racially motivated.
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Southwest operates an open seat policy, whereby passengers can sit where they like on a first-come, first-served basis.
“Hey @SouthwestAir: not a good look for your flight attendant on SW5539 to DC last night to loudly tell a brown woman in a headscarf she’ll be ‘escorted off the plane’ for making people feel ‘uncomfortable’ – because she wanted to sit with her husband and kids,” Mr Hasan tweeted in a Twitter thread that quickly went viral.
“The flight attendant called ground staff onto the plane, complained about the Muslim woman – my wife! – to them, and escalated rather than de-escalated the situation – simply because my wife politely asked a guy if he’d give up his seat for our family (which he was fine with!).”
According to Mr Hasan, fellow passengers supported the family, with one asking aloud, “Why is [the flight attendant] escalating this?” and another telling them the crew member “treated you like a venomous snake”.
“Thanks for ruining the end of our Thanksgiving trip and leaving my wife in tears – because she wanted us all to sit together as a family while your flight attendant wanted to single her out and humiliate her,” he wrote, adding that he doesn’t plan on flying with the airline again.
In a later string of tweets, the journalist said he was even more angry having received a response from Southwest.
He claimed the airline had offered a private apology but refused to say sorry publicly and offered travel vouchers that didn’t cover the costs of their flights.
“I’m now more furious than I was on Sunday,” he wrote. “Then it was a rude and racist flight attendant. Now it’s an entire airline, an entire company, that seems unconcerned by, even maybe covering up, racism and harassment onboard. Shame on you.
“Southwest Airlines just haven’t taken what happened to my wife, or other POC in similar situations, seriously. No recognition of racism, or targeting; no pledge of anti-bias training, no public apology.”
An airline spokesperson told The Sun: “Once we learned about the customer’s social media message, we began to research the flight and gather information internally.
“We also reached out to the customer directly to discuss his family’s experience prior to departure.
“From our initial discussions, we understand that some passengers on Flight 5539 were involved in a disagreement over seat selection near the end of boarding. (Southwest does not assign seats; customers select their seats as they board the aircraft.)
“The flight crew requested a customer service supervisor come onboard to help address the situation and the conversation was resolved before the plane left the gate.
“The family was able to sit together and the flight arrived safely in Washington, D.C. on Sunday night. We remain in communication with the customer who sent the tweet and are working to address his concerns directly.”
The Independent has contacted Southwest Airlines and Mr Hasan for further comment.
The travel sector has set the new governing administration a collection of needs ahead of this week’s general election.
The consensus in travel is that a no-deal Brexit would have dire outcomes for the industry
Vacation business sets out demands forward of common election
The vacation market want a “speedy” resolution to Brexit
With Thursday’s normal election rapidly approaching, some of travel’s foremost organisations have laid down their priorities for the new governing administration and parliament.
Whilst journey did not characteristic prominently across the significant parties’ manifestos, outlined in previous week’s TTG, this has not stopped some of the industry’s top rated leaders from laying out what the new govt requirements to do to help outbound travel thrive around the subsequent 5 a long time.
Some organisations, this kind of as Abta and the Company Vacation Association (BTA), have even developed their have manifestos setting out what they would like the up coming government to do – no matter of who (if anybody) wins on 12 December.
In the meantime Aito and the Benefit Vacation Partnership are among all those contacting for a committed tourism minister.
This election was supposed to be all about Brexit but the topic has not figured as prominently in the campaign as could possibly have been anticipated when parliament at last agreed to go to the polls on 29 October.
A sense of exhaustion and aggravation seems to have settled more than the place when it will come to leaving the EU, with the over-all sentiment of the travel market becoming a need for a “speedy” resolution to the impasse – while steering clear of any kind of tricky Brexit – to enable raise consumer self esteem.
Gary Lewis, chief government of The Vacation Community Group (TTNG), is among people contacting for “a speedy execution” of Brexit.
“This is crucial for the economic system and customer self confidence,” suggests Lewis. “We need to have to shift evidently and rapidly via the ultimate divorce aspects and deliver certainty and clarity to the state.”
Alistair Rowland, chief retail officer – specialist enterprise at the Midcounties Co-operative, provides: “On journey, we want Brexit concluded and a obvious situation on full safety from a no-offer Brexit.”
Meanwhile Clive Wratten, chief govt of the BTA (previously the GTMC), says: “The govt has been paralysed by Brexit more than the earlier 3 many years, which has revented significant conversations about the future requires of the enterprise vacation sector.”
Vacation organisations have also named for other useful issues to be fixed, this kind of as agreeing reciprocal rights to permit British isles staff members to proceed getting utilized in the EU to seem just after British travellers, in addition reciprocal overall health preparations, not expanding cell roaming expenses, and ensuring visa-absolutely free journey to the EU proceeds.
The Benefit Travel Partnership would like the govt to ‘encourage men and women to journey responsibly’
The long term of client security for holidaymakers, and the Atol scheme in particular, has been thrown into extra question right after the authorities resolved to repatriate all Thomas Cook passengers no matter of regardless of whether they had been guarded by Atol (accurately as they did with the Monarch collapse two a long time before).
Abta is contacting for the new federal government to “consult business on how ideal to shield buyers in the party of airline insolvency” as part of actions to “build self esteem in travel” for individuals.
“A long-awaited answer is demanded to guarantee there is clarity for shoppers”
Luke Petherbridge, Abta’s head of community affairs, says: “One of our asks is to guide a consultation on a detailed regime of client defense in the function of even more airline insolvencies.
“A prolonged-awaited option is necessary to make certain there is clarity for shoppers, and truthful and equivalent remedy for all organizations who make flight seats obtainable.”
Ken McLeod, outgoing president of the Scottish Passenger Agents’ Affiliation (SPAA), agrees: “We should have total purchaser safety on a significantly broader scale to incorporate all forms of transportation overseas, with a lot easier policies.”
Aito chairman Derek Moore goes further more and states the answer to conundrum is for the new authorities to introduce a demand on all flights departing the Uk.
Monarch Airways collapsed in 2017
Making certain the British isles outbound marketplace remains competitive is a different important tenet of Abta’s manifesto, which has been sent to all candidates standing on Thursday.
Abta is generating 3 calls for on the incoming governing administration to increase competitiveness: minimize air passenger responsibility to provide it “in line” with European competition spend in the UK’s rail community to improve obtain to the country’s airports and ports and think about “targeted measures” to assistance SMEs (smaller and medium-sized enterprises) and regenerate significant streets through enterprise costs reforms and other initiatives.
On Abta’s latter level, Andy Stark, running director of the World-wide Vacation Team, suggests: “One of our crucial election needs is to take a additional proactive solution to cutting down company costs. Many of our member agents have the ambition to construct their firms on our higher streets but superior corporation tax and business fees considerably inhibit their skill to convert this into a reality.”
Climate change must also be “at the prime of the agenda”, with Abta urging the new governing administration to “work in partnership with the journey sector to assistance endeavours to lead to local weather alter goals”.
The Gain Vacation Partnership has identified as for the authorities to “encourage men and women to travel responsibly centered on fact and not on tabloid headlines”.
“Travel should not be singled out and vilified even though other sectors are considerably greater contributors to local climate improve but are traveling less than the radar,” included an Advantage spokesperson.
The BTA, in the meantime, is contacting for legislation to modernise the UK’s airspace which will increase ability and lessen delays, and really should be coupled with “research and growth of greener transport technologies”.
All these challenges and requires really should give the new authorities a good deal to ponder from Friday early morning. And the business will have to function challenging to assure it gets its concept in excess of and isn’t drowned out by other passions in the coming months.
As the longest UK rail strike this century enters its second week, some passengers are switching from train to plane in an effort to reach meetings in London.
Members of the RMT union walked out on 2 December in a long-running dispute over the role of guards.
They plan to continue the stoppage until the end of the year – apart from general election day, 12 December, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
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South Western Railway says it is running slightly more than half its normal timetable – but on some less busy routes, trains are being replaced by buses.
For four stations on the West of England line – Pinhoe, Cranbrook, Whimple and Feniton – the earliest possible arrival at London Waterloo using the emergency timetable is just before 1pm.
The trip involves a bus to Honiton and two trains from there via Salisbury.
Normally there are two early-morning trains on the line, which start from Exeter and reach London Waterloo at 8.46am and 9.21am respectively.
While GWR runs trains from Exeter St David’s to London Paddington, the journey involves backtracking to the Devon city and facing high peak fares.
With Exeter airport convenient for affected towns and villages, some rail commuters are switching to the Flybe flights to London City airport in the east of the capital.
Robin Barker, an exhibitions director from Whimple, found it “cheaper and easier” to fly from Exeter airport than to take the GWR train.
He found an air fare for £87, which undercut the rail trip of £140.
“There’s a total lack of any thought in the emergency timetable,” he said.
The Waterloo line is also used by travellers from Exeter who can pay £80 for a peak-time single rather than £133 on GWR, for a journey that takes around one hour longer.
But the only train that runs through from Exeter to London Waterloo leaves at 5.10am – and runs without stopping through the four Devon stations.
Test bookings by The Independent found that, for bookings made at 8pm the night before, the 7am flight on Monday from Exeter (arriving at 8.10am) was selling at £209.
For Tuesday, the fare is £103.
The standard one-way fare for all trains arriving before 11.39am is £133.
Booking for Tuesday, the lowest peak fare was an advance ticket at £125 – £22 more than the plane.
The RMT union insists the strike is solely “in defence of passenger safety and accessibility,” and that members are striking in pursuit of an assurance that “the guard will have an integral and guaranteed role in the despatch process”.
The general secretary, Mick Cash, said: “Cutting the guard out of the despatch process reduces the second person on the train to little more than a passenger in the longer term which would give the company the option of axing them altogether at some point down the line.”
South Western Railway says: “We have promised that we will keep a guard on every train and that our guards will have a safety critical role. Both things the RMT has been asking for, so these strikes are unnecessary.
“We will do everything possible to get you where you need to go but ask that you leave more time for your journey and check before you travel for the latest information.”
A volcano on a non-public island in New Zealand has erupted, killing at least five individuals.
New Zealand Whakatane eruption (Credit: New Zealand Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences)
Our thoughts are with the individuals associated
There had been about 50 individuals on or in the vicinity of Whakaari (White Island) when it erupted at 2.11pm area time, New Zealand police have confirmed.
Citing New Zealand police sources, the BBC experiences 5 people today as owning been killed.
Though some of individuals concerned have been transported to shore, several are even now unaccounted for and police are performing with the country’s Nationwide Crisis Management Company to coordinate a search and rescue procedure.
Law enforcement said both equally New Zealanders and vacationers were being among those believed to have been caught up in the eruption.
A number of the wounded have been transported to Whakatane Healthcare facility and Middlemore Medical center.
There are several tour operators which offer White Island as a desired destination, which include White Island Excursions Constrained, which has shut down its web site and replaced it with a concept: “We are at this time going through an emergency.
“For additional information you should contact us specifically.”
On Sunday (8 December), GeoNet warned White Island, which is at present covered in ash, “may possibly be moving into a period where eruptive exercise is much more probable than ordinary”.
Travel to, from and within France will be hit by at least four more days of chaos as a result of the national strike that began last week.
The stoppage in protest against planned pension reforms has already led to the cancellation of hundreds of flights and thousands of trains – including 80 Eurostar services between London and France, Belgium and the Netherlands. More than 50,000 passengers had to change their travel plans.
Eurostar is warning that its services over the next four days, from 9 to 12 December, will be heavily disrupted, affecting around 30,000 more passengers.
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On Monday and Tuesday, at least 14 trains between London and Paris have been cancelled, with some services to Brussels, Rotterdam and Amsterdam also axed.
At present eight London-Paris trains have been cancelled on Wednesday, and a further five on Thursday.
Passengers whose trains are cancelled can exchange or refund their tickets within 60 days.
A strike by air-traffic controllers led to hundreds of flights being cancelled.
British Airways has cancelled four French flights – round-trips from Heathrow to Paris and Toulouse – but it is not clear whether these are connected with the strikes.
The shutdown is still affecting rail and road transport in France.
The Foreign Office is warning of “cancellations and severe delays to train, Metro, bus and tram services”.
The latest FCO travel advice says: “International rail services such as those to the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and Germany may also be affected.
“Industrial action at ports may cause delays and cancellations to some cross-Channel ferry services.”
The only disruption appears to have been on DFDS due to high winds on the Newhaven-Dieppe crossing and a technical failure that hit some overnight ferries between Dover and Calais.
The Foreign Office also warns: “Industrial action by hauliers on some major roads may also cause delays or blockages.”
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Spanish hotel’s £11.9 million Xmas tree is the world’s most high priced
We’re on the clock. It is close to 18 sleeps until Christmas. Most likely you and your crew have it all sorted and your living area is kitted out in the regular festive wares. Or potentially you’re continue to in the tree acquisition levels and you are fiercely debating irrespective of whether this year’s tree will be freshly-minimize pine or a trusty faux. Either way, 1 tree you can consider out of the equation is the 1 with a multi-million pound price tag. A resort in Spain has just decked the halls with boughs of diamonds and donned their bougiest attire with an £11.9 million Christmas tree… [read more]
Tokyo will be shorter an estimated 14,000 hotel rooms each individual day of the 2020 Olympics
An estimated 10 million site visitors are predicted to descend on Tokyo following summer time for the 2020 Olympics. But the Japanese funds could not have area for them all. The city is facing a lodge room shortage of an approximated 14,000 rooms every day of the Olympics, according to the Nikkei Asian Critique, leaving the metropolis scrambling to obtain alternatives to residence millions of tourists… [read more]
Coral dredging: ‘It’s going to result in irreversible damage’
Campaigners in the Cayman Islands say they are fighting a “David and Goliath” fight from the world’s greatest cruise traces that want to redevelop the country’s port to accommodate huge ships. “I worry that it is going to lead to some irreversible injury that we can’t ever modify, get again or resolve in the future,” claims Michelle Lockwood, a single of those people opposed to the coral dredging that will be wanted to enlarge the port… [read more]
Why cruise traces hold reducing their ships in half
A couple months back, John Delaney, president of Seattle-based Windstar Cruises, stood on a scaffold at a historic shipyard in Palermo, Italy, and took a blowtorch to the Star Breeze, a 30-calendar year-previous, 212-passenger motor yacht. With sparks traveling, and shipyard workers and invited attendees cheering him on, Delaney made the final vertical minimize to chop Star Breeze in half. But he was barely destroying the modest ship—he was executing just the opposite… [read more]
These are the most generally stolen things from luxurious resorts
It’s a frequent tale — we slip a pen into our pocket or grab some more soaps for the road when leaving a hotel. Smaller items, specifically cleanliness solutions, seem to be harmless and replaceable. But would you be so daring as to consider a Tv set, a sauna bench or a grand piano? Wellness Heaven, a luxury and spa resort guide, surveyed 1,157 4- and 5-star inns positioned principally in Europe to figure out the products that have been regularly stolen… [read more]
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Why the change – and what will it mean for passengers?
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It was the 20th century when Virgin Trains was first launched. What were the railways like at the time?
In the mid-1990s, the railways were fully nationalised but appeared to be in long-term decline, caused by the growth of car ownership and lack of investment in train travel.
While the East Coast main line between London King’s Cross, Yorkshire, Newcastle and Edinburgh had been electrified and provided with new trains, the West Coast route had some of the oldest rolling stock on the railways.
On a very good day you could get from Birmingham to London in 90 minutes and from Manchester in two-and-a-half hours, but the service was infrequent and unreliable. Longer-distance trains, from North Wales or Glasgow, seemed to take all day.
Then the whole lot were privatised?
Yes. Despite widespread public hostility to rail privatisation, John Major’s government pressed ahead with selling off the nation’s railway infrastructure, rolling stock and the rights to run trains.
Most of the franchises were awarded to existing surface transport companies. But a music and airline entrepreneur, Richard Branson was initially awarded two franchises, both starting in 1997: Virgin Trains CrossCountry as well as West Coast.
What happened to CrossCountry?
This franchise, connecting the South Coast with the Midlands, northern England and Scotland, was the Cinderella of the railways, with a lousy timetable and terrible trains.
For the first time ever, the terms “CrossCountry” and “new rolling stock” were used in the same sentence, and a proper “clock-face” timetable was established. But while services were dramatically improved, some of the plans for new links proved overambitious; they foundered because the infrastructure simply wasn’t up to scratch.
Initially it was the same old trains with a splash of red paint. The very first launch locomotive was called “Mission Impossible”, and early on it seemed the most appropriate name.
Virgin Trains delivered the promised new tilting train, the Pendolino. It is designed to travel at 140mph, but this has never happened due to the botched upgrade of the West Coast main line – which left the speed restricted to 125mph.
The service today, though, offers faster and more comfortable trains every 20 minutes from Manchester and Birmingham, and attracts three times more passengers as it did at the beginning of the franchise.
So why did Virgin Trains lose the franchise?
The franchise periodically comes up for renewal. Virgin had to resort to legal action in 2012 to retain the West Coast franchise after it was awarded by the Department for Transport to FirstGroup.
Sir Richard Branson’s company showed that the DfT’s analysis was flawed, and retained the franchise. But FirstGroup have finally got their hands on the West Coast.
Virgin had bid to continue to run trains on the line with its partner Stagecoach and – ahead of High Speed 2 (HS2) – SNCF.
But the consortium refused to take what it saw as open-ended responsibility for part of the massive pensions deficit across the rail industry. Virgin Trains was happy to pay contributions for its current workforce, but to do more was a risk too far in these uncertain times.
The Department for Transport said the incumbent had “submitted non-compliant bids … and, in doing so, they are responsible for their own disqualification.”
Virgin said: “We’re extremely disappointed by this news.” Sir Richard Branson tweeted: “A huge thank you to all our wonderful people at VirginTrains – it’s down to all of your incredible work every day that Virgin Trains has been the UK’s longest running and top-rated rail franchise.”
And David Horne, managing director of the East Coast train operator, LNER, wrote: “I had the privilege of being part of the Virgin Trains team back in 2003-4.
“You overcame every setback, achieved the Red Revolution and screwed average. What a journey!”
Who or what is the new company?
A brand called “Avanti,” which is is Italian for “Forward” or “Let’s go!”. The name was chosen by the new franchise holder, a consortium involving FirstGroup, the long-established transport conglomerate based in Aberdeen, and the Italian state railway operator, Trenitalia, based in Rome.
The trains remain the same, but they have already been stripped of Virgin branding and will be repainted green and white, with the Avanti logo – an orange triangle, symbolising (says the company) “the three geographic points of the 400-mile long West Coast main line”. Which is odd, because the network has dozens of geographic points in the West Midlands, northwest England, North Wales and and southern Scotland, with much more than 400 miles of line.
What will passengers notice with Avanti?
The company says: “We’re on a mission to take the services you know and love and make them even better. That means increased comfort, better facilities and more capacity.” But in the short term, as the early French train fan Jean-Baptiste Carr said, “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose”—“the more things change, the more they stay the same.”
As passengers on the 8.05am departures (from both Manchester and Wolverhampton) on 8 December found, they are paying the same fares for trains run to the same timetable by the same staff.
But there must be some changes further down the track?
The existing Pendolino trains will be refurbished with new seats and – Avanti promises – more reliable Wi-Fi. Voyager trains, the noisy diesels, will be replaced by 2022, and Avanti says there will be 263 more train services every week, including doubling the frequency between Liverpool and London, and running direct trains for the first time this century from Llandudno and Walsall to the capital.
The contract lasts until 2031, and Avanti was originally intended to cover the first five years of HS2 as well, but the high speed link will not now be ready by 2026 – and could be scrapped altogether.
I have an Advance ticket which I bought from Virgin Trains. Will it be valid on the new operator?
Yes. Indeed, you could buy tickets up to midnight on Saturday with Virgin Trains and they will continue to be accepted for another 24 weeks – or until the expiry date shown on the ticket.