Monday, January 17News That Matters

Tag: Travel and Vacations

The Eerie, Lunar Nothingness of Namibia’s Skeleton Coast

The Eerie, Lunar Nothingness of Namibia’s Skeleton Coast

Technology
We had been driving for four hours and had yet to see another soul. No people. No cars. Just eerie, lunar nothingness stretching south to the horizon. To the left, desert; to the right, ocean. A packed salt road sewed a tight seam between the two. Under an overcast sky, the three surfaces faded into a single indistinguishable gray-brown smear.We were traveling along Namibia’s Skeleton Coast, a region often referred to as the end of the Earth.Given the view through the dusty windshield, the title felt apt. The untamed Skeleton Coast begins at Namibia’s northern border with Angola and continues 300 miles south to the former German colonial town of Swakopmund, where strudel-filled bakeries and beer gardens still line the streets — and where, a century ago, thousands of Africans from two ethni...
Can a Gay Cruise Keep 5,500 People Safe Amid Covid?

Can a Gay Cruise Keep 5,500 People Safe Amid Covid?

Travel
Out of the 2,700 rooms sold, Mr. Campbell said only 35 have been canceled since Jan. 1.For guests who cannot travel because of government restrictions or lockdowns, Atlantis is showing more flexibility and issuing credits for future cruises, Mr. Campbell said. Because of the fast-changing circumstances of the pandemic, he said, the company is approaching cancellation requests on a case-by-case basis and trying to accommodate as many people as possible.“We are here to take care of people and we are doing our best,” he said. “But if someone comes to us and just says they want their money back, because they don’t feel comfortable going on the cruise, then we recommend that they take out ‘cancel for any reason’ travel insurance.”Updated Jan. 15, 2022, 11:10 a.m. ETSince restarting operati...

The World Has Changed, So Has ‘52 Places’

Travel
This year, the second in a row, the Times Travel desk faced the challenge of creating one of our signature pieces of journalism, the annual “52 Places” list, in a world turned upside down.A year ago, with global travel at all but a standstill, we turned to readers to ask about the places that had sustained them in the darkest days of lockdown. That list included locations as varied as fantastical colored-rock formations in India and a humble brickwork church in South London. They were faraway destinations held dear in memory, or nearby spots that had offered solace, and they served as a reminder that the world was still out there, waiting.Now, with the pandemic hitting its third calendar year, global travel is more possible, but it remains difficult and fraught with uncertainty. The popula...
Royal Caribbean Cancels Three Upcoming Cruises

Royal Caribbean Cancels Three Upcoming Cruises

Travel
Royal Caribbean International announced on Friday that it was suspending some of its upcoming cruises because of concerns over the fast-spreading Omicron variant.The company, one of the world’s biggest cruise operators, said that it was taking the step “out of an abundance of caution.” This is the second time this week that Royal Caribbean has called off voyages.“We regret having to cancel our guests’ long-awaited vacations and appreciate their loyalty and understanding,” the company said in a statement on its website. “Our top priority is always the well-being of our guests, our crew and the communities we visit.”Royal Caribbean said it had called off planned trips on three ships — Serenade of the Seas, Symphony of the Seas and Jewel of the Seas — and pushed back the return to cruising of...
Cruise Ships Are Still Sailing as Cases Rise and Criticism Mounts

Cruise Ships Are Still Sailing as Cases Rise and Criticism Mounts

Travel
On the fourth day of a seven-day Mexican Riviera cruise, Jesse Suphan and other passengers onboard the Carnival Cruise Line’s Panorama were denied entry at the port of Puerto Vallarta, because of the number of onboard coronavirus cases. That was the first Mr. Suphan heard about the virus spreading on the ship.“The captain announced that five people had tested positive for Covid and were quarantining,” Mr. Suphan, a 39-year-old revenue cycle manager, recalled in a telephone interview. “But, then, talking to the crew, they told me there were between 100 and 150 crew members who also tested positive, but the captain didn’t mention that.”Two days later, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told Americans to avoid travel on cruise ships, regardless of their vaccination status. The adv...
The ‘Best Spring Skiing Anywhere’? Try Crete

The ‘Best Spring Skiing Anywhere’? Try Crete

Travel
“Here, now,” our local guide, Nikos Kalatzakis, said on cue, “we have found the Holy Spirit.”It looked heavenly, but we hadn’t yet fully tested the snow, at least not for skiing down. The springlike conditions had felt promising on the way up, but it was mid-afternoon by now and the sun had been on the snow for hours. Surely, I thought, it would be un-skiable mush.Then came a Cretan revelation: The snow was perfect “corn,” and it would pretty much remain that way every day, all day, for the entirety of our stay.A skier’s delight, “corn snow” is usually a fleeting phenomenon, happening for a few hours on warm spring days when the sun melts the top few inches on frozen slopes, creating a thin blanket of kernel-size crystals. Almost always, after a certain time of day, the snow melts to a poi...

Celebrating the ‘Great Night of Shiva’ in Kathmandu

Travel
It was the night before a new moon, and a rotating palette of color, reflecting off the buildings, floated like a halo in the mist. Silhouettes of cows dotted my periphery, accompanied by the gentle rustle of their grazing on the riverbank.As I approached the center of the complex, the crowds pressed closer together, filling every inch of the paths and ghats, a term for stairways in the Indian subcontinent, lining the sacred Bagmati River. Those who weren’t huddled under umbrellas or shielded by plastic bags seemed content enough to stick it out in the rain.I had visited this Hindu temple before — Pashupatinath, on the outskirts of Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal — but only in the broad daylight, and never among so many people.The scents of burning wood, marijuana and incense filled the ai...

JetBlue, Alaska Airlines and Others Cancel More Flights

Travel
Airlines have been preparing for the holiday season for months, reviewing plans and readying reserves of workers. But that wasn’t enough to mitigate the effects of the fast-spreading Omicron coronavirus and of heavy snow and strong winds in the West.The impact continued to be felt on Thursday, with more than 1,100 cancellations of flights to, from or within the United States by midday, according to the air travel data site FlightAware. By Thursday morning, the site was also showing more than 500 cancellations for Friday.The continued disruption comes as the country is averaging more than 260,000 new coronavirus cases a day, greater than the peak levels from last winter. Infection rates are especially high in parts of the Northeast and Midwest. Caseloads have continued to increase rapidly a...
Apps for Travelers Dreaming of Their Next Trip

Apps for Travelers Dreaming of Their Next Trip

Technology
While travel is fraught amid the rise of the Omicron variant, people are still dreaming of their next getaway. There are even new apps to make trips easier to plan and enjoy. A number of them were introduced (and some old favorites were updated) back when travel was at a standstill. Wondering which to try? Here is a selection with thoughtful solutions — how to turn award points into a hotel suite, join a ranger for a national park hike, hear the history of the place you’re driving through, see the latest Covid-19 travel protocols — to help you tap and swipe your way to what will hopefully be a new year of adventures.National Park ServiceFrom Acadia to Zion, at long last there’s a single official park service app for America’s more than 400 national parks. Created by National Park Service s...
More Than 750 U.S. Flights Canceled on Wednesday

More Than 750 U.S. Flights Canceled on Wednesday

Business
Airlines canceled more than 900 flights in and out of U.S. airports on Wednesday, a sign of continuing stress for the industry and travelers ahead of the New Year’s holiday weekend.The problems began to mount the day before Christmas as carriers contended with staffing shortages driven by the fast-spreading Omicron variant of the coronavirus, as well as foul winter weather. Cancellations peaked on Sunday, when more than 1,500 flights to, from or within the United States — more than 6 percent of scheduled flights — were scrubbed, according to FlightAware.On Tuesday, airlines canceled nearly 1,300 flights, led by United Airlines, which grounded about 6 percent of its trips, and Delta Air Lines, which canceled 4 percent of its schedule.The cancellations come during one of the busiest times fo...