Travel News: World’s Largest Ice Festival Kicks Off In China

festivals around the world (1)

World’s Largest Ice Festival Kicks Off In China

The world’s largest ice festival has kicked off in Harbin, northeastern China and is expected to attract hundreds of thousands of visitors over the coming month. The 34th Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival began on January 5 and will run until the end of February. Visitor numbers are expected to peak during Chinese New Year celebrations between February 15 and 23. Computer-controlled LEDs illuminate the truly epic works of art that make up this winter fantasy world, replete with historical figures and notable landmarks from around the world, including Beijing’s Temple of Heaven, Moscow’s Red Square, and Bangkok’s Temple of the Emerald Buddha. Approximately 180,000 cubic meters of ice and 150,000 cubic meters of snow were used to build the frosty fortresses and snowy sculptures. Roughly 10,000 workers created the ice world, which sprawls an area measuring 600,000 square meters (or 84 soccer fields) along the banks of the Songhua River. The festival generated an estimated $4.4 billion in tourism revenue for the city thanks to the hundreds of thousands of visitors that attended in 2017, data from the city’s tourism bureau showed. Tourists needn’t worry that the sculptures will melt before they can experience the majesty and awe of the park, as Harbin is one of China’s coldest cities, and regularly experiences temperatures as low as -35°C. The festival began in 1983, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors annually.


 Kenya Airways Readies First Direct Flight To US

In October, Kenya Airways will begin daily service between Nairobi and New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, the carrier’s first nonstop service to the Americas. The FAA granted Kenya a Category 1 safety rating last year, meaning the country’s aviation authority meets international standards.

Starfish Eating Great Barrier Reef Alarm Scientists

A major outbreak of coral-eating crown of thorns starfish has been found munching Australia’s world heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef, scientists said on Friday, prompting the government to begin culling the spiky marine animals. The predator starfish feeds on corals by spreading its stomach over them and using digestive enzymes to liquefy tissue, and the outbreak hits as the reef is still reeling from two consecutive years of major coral bleaching. “Each starfish eats about its body diameter a night, and so over time that mounts up very significantly,” Hugh Sweatman, a senior research scientist at the Australian Institute of Marine Science told Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) radio. A lot of coral will be lost,” he said. That would mean a blow for both the ecosystem and the lucrative tourism industry which it supports.” Obviously, now is the time to see the Great Barrier Reef – before it continues to deteriorate more severely. 

Chilean Cruise Line Australis Launches New Expedition Ship 

Cruise Critic reports Chilean cruise line Australis has launched its second expedition vessel, Ventus Australis. The 210-passenger vessel was christened at a ceremony at the Asenav shipyard in the southern Chilean city of Valdivia, where the ship was built. Ventus Australis will join sister ship Stella Australis, which launched in 2010 offering four, five and seven-night itineraries around the Chilean fjords — the only cruise line to do so. The cruises take in the glaciers, fjords and penguin colonies of Tierra del Fuego at the southern tip of South America and include a visit to Cape Horn, the southernmost tip of the archipelago. The cruises depart either from Punta Arenas, Chile, or Ushuaia, Argentina, and run until April. Ventus Australis has 100 cabins with floor to ceiling windows, a free open bar, three lounges, complimentary guided excursions, nature lectures and a dining room featuring gourmet cuisine that includes local dishes and Chilean and Argentine wines. Itineraries include Zodiac excursions ashore to destinations like Cape Horn, Wulaia Bay and Pia Glacier, as well as a penguin colony at Tucker’s Islets. The itineraries also include the opportunity to sail down Glacier Alley, which houses a number of massive glaciers.

A Robotic Suitcase That Follows You Around The Airport

A China-based company is launching a new suitcase that followers travelers around like a puppy. The 90Fun Puppy 1 is slated to launch in the US at next week’s Consumer Electronics Show. Puppy 1 may not be the first smart suitcase with auto-follow features, but the company says that its following suitcase is the first to use self-balance technology, thanks to a partnership with Segway. Despite having two wheels rather than four, the suitcase will self-balance as it follows you around the airport. The follow feature is set up using an auto-follow chip and a positioning system, 90Fun says. The follow mode is adjusted through a remote control, which also allows travelers to “summon” the suitcase, according to the company. The suitcase offers 20 inches of packing space and, despite the auto-follow, still includes a rolling handle. The brand has had success in China, where 90Fun recently took the top sales in luggage on a popular shopping day with 160,000 suitcases sold in 24 hours.  

Viking Ocean Cruises Announces Name Of Sixth Ship

Viking Ocean Cruises has announced the line’s sixth cruise ship, launching in February 2019, will be named Viking Jupiter. Torstein Hagen, the cruise line’s chairman and founder, announced the ship’s name at Port Los Angeles, where Viking Sun became the first ship in the fleet to visit the US West Coast. Viking Sun is sailing the company’s inaugural world cruise, a 141-day journey that began December 12 in Miami and will conclude May 5 in London. Viking Jupiter takes its name from the king of gods in Roman Mythology. The ship will be virtually identical to its fleetmates, with Scandinavian design, large cabins (each with a balcony), an opulent spa complex and serene public spaces. It will sail popular Viking itineraries in the Mediterranean and Adriatic Seas as well as a new 11-day Baltic Sea route. Viking began as a river cruise-focused company in 1997, eventually launching its innovative fleet of Longships. It debuted its ocean fleet in 2015 with Viking Star. Its next new ship, Viking Orion, will launch this spring. 

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