Travel News of the Week – Panama Canal Readies for Cruise Season

First UK Plastic Banknotes Enter Circulation In England And Wales
A new polymer five pound note featuring Sir Winston Churchill has just entered circulation in England and Wales. Scotland has had a limited number of its own plastic five pound notes in circulation since March 2015, with mass issuance planned for next month.

RCI Goes Back To Traditional Dining
Royal Caribbean International has made the decided to end Dynamic Dining, which was launched with Quantum of the Seas two years ago. Starting with the Nov. 27 sailing of Anthem of the Seas, the main dining room will operate under the My Time Dining system. Ovation of the Seas will make the change on Nov. 23. Dynamic Dining was conceived as a way of breaking up the main dining room into smaller venues. The Quantum-class ships were built with a quartet of 480-seat rooms that had different menus and themes. Diners could make reservations, and rotate among them. When more tradition-bound guests complained, an option was added for a fixed early or late seating called Dynamic Dining Classic. After Nov. 27, the same menu will be available in all four restaurants: Chic, American Icon, Grande and Silk. As on other ships that have My Time Dining, guests can choose their own dining times and table mates. Alternatively, they can choose the traditional early or late seating at a fixed table.

Ponant Honours French Explorers With Their Names On Its Four Newbuilds
Paying tribute to some of the most famous explorers in French history, Ponant has revealed the names of its four 184-passenger newbuilds ordered with Fincantieri. The company has used the names of four of France’s famous explorers. The four Explorer-class sister ships, Le Lapérouse, Le Champlain, Le Bougainville and Le Kerguelen are set to join the fleet between 2018 and 2019. The cruise operator flies the French flag on its five ship fleet. Among new features, the 131 meter long ships all Ice-Class certified, will boast a retractable marina concept. First ship to be launched is Le Lapérouse in June 2018, followed by Le Champlain in September. Sales will open for the first ship in November 2016 for Iceland sailings and in April 2017 for the Seychelles and Japan itineraries. Le Champlain sales open in April 2017 for the Amazon and Orinoco. The four ships are being built by VARD, the Norwegian subsidiary of the Fincantieri group and will join the Marseille-based company’s Le Ponant and four yachts Le Boréal, L’Austral, Le Soléal and Le Lyrial bringing the fleet to nine vessels by end 2019. The current cruise orderbook stands at 68 ships accounting for 201,160 lower berths and a total cost of around $48.3 billion with deliveries through to 2024.

Bali’s Tourism Is At Risk Of Being Wiped Out By Islamic Law Banning Alcohol
The popular Indonesian resort of Bali may face a draconian alcohol ban that could carry a jail sentence of up to ten years for enjoying cold beers on the beach. A proposed bill to outlaw the production, sale, consumption and possession of alcohol has been tabled in the parliament, 700 miles away in the capital, Jakarta. If passed, it would decimate the tourism sector across the country, industry chiefs have warned. A ban would be felt particularly harshly in Bali, one of Indonesia’s 34 provinces, and a popular holiday destination for four million foreign tourists a year, including over 100,000 Brits. The island’s economy is dependent on these tourists, many of them young backpackers, flocking to the multiple bars and clubs to drink and party in the lively tourist towns of Kuta and Seminyak. Australians, the largest group of holidaymakers, have already expressed disbelief that the local delicacy, Bintang beer, may soon be outlawed. Several have warned that if the new law is enforced they will simply travel elsewhere. The country of 260 million is the world’s most populous Muslim nation but it is also home to several strong religious minorities. The island of Bali is predominantly Hindu. The secular government of President Joko Widodo is coming under increasing pressure from influential Muslim political parties to impose a strict morality code across the entire country.

Panama Canal Readies for Cruise Season
The Coral Princess is the first cruise ship slated to transit the Panama Canal on a voyage from Los Angeles to the US East Coast on October 4, 2016, officially kicking off the canal’s 2016-2017 cruise season, which according to the Panama Canal Authority will see more than 230 cruise ships pass through the Panama Canal. After completing more than 160 successful transits through the new locks, the Panama Canal is now accepting booking requests for Neopanamax passenger vessels for transit dates beginning April 1, 2017. To date, 11 reservations have been made for passenger vessels to transit the Expanded Canal starting October 2017, for the 2017-2018 season.

Slovenia Is Introducing A Multilateral Passenger Transport Ticket
On 1 September, Slovenia introduced a system of integrated public passenger transport (IPPT), which will enable users to use different types of public transport without having to buy separate tickets. A multilateral passenger transport ticket thus provides a modern, efficient, and user-friendly public transport system in Slovenia. A multilateral passenger transport ticket will unify the use of different means of transport, and integrate the use of regular rail and inter-urban bus transport in Slovenia and urban transport in the two largest Slovenian cities in a single system. In practice, this means that in Slovenia, a passenger can choose the mode of public transport, which he shall use on particular route with a single card. In practice, a multilateral passenger transport ticket will be used on buses and trains in inter-urban and urban transport, from 1 September 2016. The first phase will introduce a single subsidised ticket for pupils, students, and adult learners.

Global Passenger Numbers Up 6.4% In 2015
World airport passenger traffic increased by 6.4% in 2015, the strongest growth rate since 2010, ACI said in its annual report. Airports Council International, the trade association for airports worldwide, released its 2015 World Airport Traffic Report which showed an increase in passenger numbers to 7.2 billion for the year.

Hanseatic Completes Northeast Passage
Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ Hanseatic has completed its second transit of the Northeast Passage, sailing 4,577 nautical miles between Murmansk, Russia, and Cape Dezhnev. The voyage began in Tromsø, Norway, and ended at Nome, Alaska, Sept. 10, for a total of 5,542 nautical miles. The ship sailed Aug. 16 for its first port, Murmansk, where the Northeast Passage transit officially started. After cruising through the Barents Sea/Arctic Ocean, Hanseatic anchored at Novaya Zemlya and Franz Josef Land, before continuing through the Kara Sea to Severnaya Zemlya. Other stops at anchor took place off Siberia, Wrangel Island and Chukchi Island. The Northeast Passage officially ended at 6 a.m. Sept. 7, when the ship rounded Cape Dezhnev. The cruise was fully booked. The crew organized 20 landings and tours using the 14 on-board Zodiacs. During spectacular wildlife observations, passengers saw walruses and polar bears. On one island, 16 polar bears were spotted at the same time, including some mothers with cubs. In total, 86 polar bears were counted from the bridge during the expedition. In 2014, Hanseatic became the first non-Russian cruise ship to navigate this legendary sea route.

New Hurtigruten Ships Will be First Hybrid Cruise Ships
The pair of new 20,000-ton, 600-passenger Hurtigruten ships to be delivered in 2018 and 2019 will be the first cruise ships in the world to utilize hybrid power using a battery system. A statement from the company said the hybrid technology will allow for sailing up to 30 minutes on battery-powered propulsion. “The technology, in combination with the construction of the hull and effective use of electricity onboard, will reduce the fuel consumption and CO2-emissions from the ships by 20,” said a statement. The hybrid solution was developed by Rolls Royce. In addition, Bellona, a non-profit organization working to meet and fight climate challenges, has been involved with the project. The hybrid ships will be built in two phases. The first ship will be equipped with an auxiliary electric engine, which will reduce the CO2 emissions by 20 percent.

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