Travel News: France gets a Flying Taxi

 travel news

Futuristic ‘Flying’ Taxi Takes To The River Seine in Paris 

A French company aiming to beat commuter gridlock with futuristic water vehicles has tested its flagship ‘flying’ SeaBubbles taxi cab on the River Seine. Following a wrangle with authorities last year, which saw testing moved to Switzerland, the tech firm finally took to the water in the French capital. The SeaBubbles is part marine-machine and part avian-car, with the bizarre-looking vehicle capable of rising 70 cm above the water. Its doors are like miniature gull wings, while it is propelled by an electric battery system. The vision behind the invention is to open up waterways to eco-transport and reduce pollution caused by the millions of cars on the planet. “When the Bubble reaches 10 km/h, it rises and begins to fly, avoiding seasickness, sudden movements or rolling waves,” the company states. “Once the flight is over, the Bubble slows down, lands on the surface of the water to dock, allowing passengers to get out.” Last week a SeaBubbles taxi finally took another step towards being a functioning feature of the French city.

Special Tropical Weather Outlook For the North Atlantic, Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico 

A broad surface low centered near the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico is producing widespread, but disorganized, shower and thunderstorm activity. Environmental conditions are forecast to become more conducive for development, and a subtropical or tropical depression or storm is likely to form during the weekend over the eastern or central Gulf of Mexico. An Air Force Reserve reconnaissance aircraft is scheduled to investigate the disturbance this afternoon, if necessary. Locally heavy rainfall is forecast across western Cuba and over much of Florida and the northern Gulf Coast into early next week. 

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Airlines Prepare For An Expected Record Number Of Summer Passengers 

LA Times reports airlines are preparing for an expected record number of summer passengers. If you plan to fly on vacation this summer, prepare for unprecedented crowds at the airport. A record 246.1 million passengers are expected to fly during the season, a 3.7% increase over a record set last year, according to Airlines for America, a trade group for the nation’s biggest airlines. The Transportation Security Administration also predicts a record number of air travelers at airport screening lines from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. The TSA expects to screen an average of 2.6 million passengers per day this summer, up from an average of 2 million passengers throughout the year. Both the airlines and the TSA say they are prepared for the surge in air travelers, which the trade association has accurately predicted before. The TSA said it has increased staffing by more than 600 screening officers since the start of the year and expects to add an additional 1,000 officers before the peak of the summer travel season.  

Viking Jupiter Floated Out At Fincantieri

The Viking Jupiter, the sixth ocean cruise ship which Fincantieri is building for Viking, was floated out at Fincantieri’s Ancona shipyard ahead of its 2019 delivery. The coin ceremony was hosted by Godmother Sissel Kyrkjebø, an accomplished Norwegian singer. The ceremony was attended for the shipowner by Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking, while Fincantieri was represented by Giovanni Stecconi, director of the shipyard. It is the sixth ship for Viking, following the Star, Sea, Sky and Sun, which are in service, and the Orion which is launching this year. 

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Iceland’s Top Attraction Finally Has a Luxury Hotel 

Travel and Leisure reports on the long-awaited Retreat at Blue Lagoon Iceland which finally opened its doors. Blue Lagoon is a world famous, manmade geothermal spa just a 30-minute drive from Reykjavik. The Retreat, a 62-suite luxury hotel within the complex, is finally welcoming travelers, and it’s poised to be a game-changer for both the Blue Lagoon and Iceland. The contemporary rooms all offer floor-to-ceiling windows so that travelers can best take in the destination’s sweeping landscapes. The suites on the lower level have private terraces facing the lava fields and surrounding waters. A few even offer direct access to the lagoon itself. The Retreat Spa offers a slew of amenities: a steam room, in-water massages, a cold well, and a full-service restaurant serving sushi, shots of thyme and crowberry, and cold-pressed beetroot juice. Smoothies use skyr, a local yogurt, alongside almond, honey, and chia. Spa guests at the Retreat can participate in a Blue Lagoon Ritual, whereby guests enter a series of interconnected rooms and cover their bodies with healing silica, algae, and minerals. Beyond the lagoon, complimentary yoga classes are also available, as are guided hikes and Northern Lights viewing tours. Though Iceland restaurants are no less impressive, focusing on farm-to-table cuisine and innovative technique just like the rest of Northern Europe. Moss Restaurant at the Retreat highlights the area’s natural bounty: scallops from the west, reindeer sourced from the east, and fresh lobster and cod from the south. Built on an 800-year-old lava flow on the Reykjanes Peninsula, the Blue Lagoon complex also has another 35-room hotel, Silica Hotel, in addition to the Retreat and public bathing area. The facilities were recently expanded and renovated to accommodate all the added visitors, which now number over one million. 

Roma Cruise Terminal Has Unveiled Its New Cruise Terminal: Terminal Amerigo Vespucci 

Cruise Industry News reports The new terminal covers 11,000 square meters and is one of the largest in Europe and marks an important milestone for the company jointly owned by Costa, MSC and Royal Caribbean Cruises, according to a statement. The terminal was build at a cost of 20 million Euros, and is able to handle the latest large ships. The building includes passenger and luggage control facilities at the ground floor. A crew room, also situated in the building’s atrium, will facilitate the ships’ crew reception process. Proceeding from the atrium to the first floor, passengers will be welcomed in a check-in area with 60 counters that can be doubled to 120 if necessary. Close to 90 monitors in the check-in area will keep passengers updated on their check-in status as well as itinerary.

Disney Appeals To Luxury Set With Pricey Behind-the-Scenes Tours

Bloomberg reports a new, three-night offering (from $2,129 per person) by group travel outfitter Adventures by Disney, is the latest way to open up the gates of the Happiest Place on Earth. (The company typically takes families to such global locations as Italy or Japan, rather than to the parks themselves.) It debuted with a slew of long-standing VIP opportunities, skip-the-line access, personal tour guides, as well as never-seen-before amenities. Most notable among them: unprecedented access to “backstage” locations, such as Walt Disney’s apartment and Walt Disney Imagineering.

How to Get a Sneak Peek at Disney’s Future Park Attractions

Being granted entry to Walt Disney Imagineering, the studios in which all the rides and experiences for the company’s global theme parks are created, has typically been the Disney equivalent of earning top-level clearance at the Pentagon. Even Imagineers need special “camera” passes to take photographs with their phones in certain areas of the building that Adventures by Disney is opening up to its groups. On a recent trip, the highlight was a conversation with artists working on the forthcoming Frozen-themed land that will open by 2023 at Hong Kong Disneyland. and possibly in Paris after that. No design details or attractions have been publicly announced for that project, but travelers were able to see scale models that hinted at a bobsled-style roller coaster, a traditional Nordic village, Elsa’s ice palace, and a Frozen-themed confectionery. Even members of Disney’s trusted inner circle are unlikely to see these designs for years. For real Disney die-hards, the Imagineering tour also offers a fun, retrospective look at how far the company’s attractions have come. On display are pieces that most people have never had a chance to see, such as the molds that were used to create the audio-animatronic pirates in the Pirates of the Caribbean ride or the original statuettes from Snow White’s Grotto. They’re vestiges of a time when ride designers were more sculptors than robotics wizards. A dedicated team will escort you into secret locations, including Walt Disney’s private, Victorian-themed apartment hidden above the Main Street Fire Station. (Among the curiosities on display are the separate pull-out couches on which Walt and his wife Lillian sometimes slept.) A real-life ride on Radiator Springs Racers includes a lesson on the complex systems that magically move the Cars-themed ride’s anthropomorphized automobiles through the attraction-and glimpses of the “Hidden Mickeys” underneath their hoods. 

United Airlines Unveils Exclusive Private Suite Experience In Los Angeles

United is going private at Los Angeles International Airport. That’s private as in The Private Suite, with which United announced a new relationship. The partnership will offer certain of the Chicago-based airline’s customers access to a newly-built private terminal at LAX. United passengers who purchase access to the terminal will have private and personalized check-in and baggage handling, as well as private screening by the Transportation Security Administration and the US Customs and Border Protection officers. United customers using the Private Suite terminal will be driven across the airfield at LAX in BMW 7-Series sedans directly to or from their waiting aircraft. Before being driven directly to or from their waiting aircraft, passengers with Private Suite access flying to or from select destinations on United, including New York/Newark, London, Melbourne, Sydney and Shanghai, will be able to relax in a United-branded lounge in the facility that includes individual suites and restrooms and a full bar and food service. Access to The Private Suite will be included in certain business-class fares. 

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