TSA tightens rule about powders taken on planes
Under the new policy effective June 30, travelers carrying more powder than 12 ounces (about what would fit into a soda or beer can) will undergo additional screening. Cosmetics, ground coffee, spices, sugar and flour are among substances cited. Fliers will be asked to remove the packages from carry-ons, much like we currently have to do with liquids. Along with cracking down domestically, the TSA is asking foreign airports with non-stop U.S. flights to implement similar security measures beginning June 30. The move is in response to an attempted plot to blow up a passenger plane in Australia last July, said a TSA official, though powders have long been a concern as a way to smuggle improvised explosives, fentanyl, and pepper spray.
- Powder or powder-like substances in total with a volume of more than 350 ml for carrying in hand luggage are no longer permitted
- Substances below 350 ml may also be prohibited if the substance is not undoubtedly classified as safe
- Recommendation: All clients traveling to the USA (even Americans) should either refrain completely from taking powders or powder-like substances or stow them in checked baggage
Massive cruise industry growth
Between now and 2027, the global cruise industry will add at least 104 new cruise ships, as a record number of orders propels capacity growth globally. According to 2018-2019 Cruise Industry News Annual Report, the industry is targeting 40 million passengers and net earnings in the $9 billion range by 2027. This year, the industry is expected to carry around 27 million passengers, up from just under 17 million 2008.
European Lines focusing on the USA
50 years after modern cruising’s foundation, European lines are coming back to America. Hapag-Lloyd Cruises. Ponant. Hurtigruten. All these lines are hoping to expand their modest base of business in the U.S. and Canada by bulking up their sales and marketing efforts in the North American market. Typical is the Norwegian company Hurtigruten, a brand that was active in North America for a number of years under the name Norwegian Coastal Voyages. Well known at home in Europe, Hurtigruten remains obscure to Americans who might be familiar with names such as Carnival, Royal Caribbean International, Norwegian Cruise Line and Princess. Against behemoth ships from those brands, Hurtigruten sails the 317-passenger Fram and the 970-passenger Midnatsol, pitching them from a marketing and reservations office in Seattle with only 50 people, even following a recent expansion. Another name from Europe with new ships and a need to fill them is Ponant. Founded in 1988 by a French ship captain, it operates expedition ships with a luxury component, such as the 180-passenger Le Laperouse, the first of six ships in its class, which launches this month with a cruise in Iceland. “What I have said about this brand is that from an American perspective, it is the best-kept secret in America, and that is about to change in a big way,” said Edie Rodriguez, Ponant’s Americas brand chairman and corporate special adviser.
Lifeguard Drone soon to be in use near Cancun
The Seadust Cancun Family Resort has become the first property in the Cancun area to announce the addition of a lifeguard drone to ensure the safety of guests staying at the property. The drone will lend aid to lifeguards already working the resort’s beaches, by supporting safety equipment and providing emergency floatation devices. The NORAS Performance-designed U SAFE drone is a lightweight float that is remote controlled and can easily maneuver through the water to bring aid to struggling swimmers. It has a top speed of around 18 miles per hour. The drone is expected to arrive at the resort in August and can be controlled from three miles away, making it ideal for deployment from the shoreline. Once the new U SAFE drone arrives at Seadust, human lifeguards will begin training in how to utilize and optimize the technology in the field.
E-visa now possible in advance for Egypt travel
Egypt has launched a new website for e-visa applications for residents of 46 countries, which it claims will speed up the arrivals process. A single entry tourist visa from visit2egypt.gov.eg costs $26 and a multiple entry visa costs $60. Payment must be made by credit or debit card. The electronic visas are valid for a maximum of three months. The e-visa is an alternative to the visa-on-arrival system, which means passengers have to visit a kiosk at the airport, where they pay $25 to get their passport stamped before proceeding to immigration. Travelers are advised to make an e-visa application at least seven days before departure. Entry requirements on arrival include a passport valid for at least eight months, a printout of the e-visa and a travel itinerary, including accommodation details.
Domestic low-cost carriers expanding to international
From Insider Travel Report: Used to be low-cost airlines in the U.S. were strictly domestic affairs, offering low fares and more point to point service between U.S. cities. But these days it’s an entirely new low-cost fare market and these carriers are pushing the boundaries of their flight schedules well beyond our shores. JetBlue has become a new power in the Caribbean and Mexico, as has Southwest Airlines. Alaska Airlines features more Mexico service and even Spirit Airlines has gotten into the act, expanding its international service options earlier this month. Now JetBlue, the first airline to operate commercial service between the U.S. and Cuba in more than five decades, says it’s expanding again and diversifying its flying schedule in Havana with new service from Boston and more flights from Fort Lauderdale. New England and South Florida nonstop service, combined with JetBlue’s existing nonstop service from New York and Orlando. Meanwhile, on the same day JetBlue announced more service to Havana, Spirit Airlines said it will continue its international expansion, but this time from Houston. Beginning Sept. 6th, Spirit will start service from Houston’s IAH to San Salvador, El Salvador with year-round service running three times weekly to Monseñor Óscar Arnulfo Romero International Airport (SAL). The next day, on Sept. 7, Spirit will begin nonstop flights between Houston and Guatemala City, Guatemala with year-round service eventually running four times weekly to La Aurora International Airport (GUA). The new routes will complement Spirit’s existing international service between Houston and Cancun and San Jose del Cabo, Mexico, as well as San Pedro Sula, Honduras. The announcement comes just a couple of weeks after Spirit announced it was launching nearly a dozen routes from Orlando to Latin America and the Caribbean.
Seaweed invasion in parts of the Caribbean and Mexico currently
Massive rafts of Sargassum-a brown seaweed that lives in the open ocean-first washed up on beaches across the Caribbean in 2011, trapping sea turtles and filling the air with the stench of rotting eggs. Now it’s back and the Caribbean is bracing for what could be the mother of all seaweed invasions, with satellite observations warning of record-setting Sargassum blooms and seaweed already swamping beaches. The seaweed covers the beaches in huge, stinking blankets that sometimes measure up to ten feet in depth. The Barbados government declared a national emergency on 7 June. There’s another huge mass impacting Puerto Rico and Dominica, and appearing on the Riviera Maya. The seaweed is deadly to marine life such as sea turtles and dolphins – and to tourism, including risks to human health. While the hydrogen sulphide gas released when the seaweed decays occurs naturally in the human body, it is dangerous in large amounts, causing headaches, dizziness, nausea, and even asthma. It can also cause “rapid and extensive damage to concrete and metals,” writes the US Environmental Protection Agency. The Caribbean is struggling to cope as yearly bouts of Sargassum become “the new normal,” noting that the blooms visible in satellite imagery dwarf those of previous years.
NASA Space Center Houston now a Certified Autism Center
Space Center Houston is now a Certified Autism Center, the first space center in the world so certified. The designation, given by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES), is awarded to organizations who have completed a professional training and review process with the goal to better serve individuals with autism and other sensory needs. The certification process involves rigorous training for staff, inspections and improvements that enable Space Center Houston to better welcome and accommodate guests with autism spectrum disorder and other sensory and cognitive challenges. Earning the Certified Autism Center designation also includes a commitment to maintain that training and provide the best guest experience possible.
Belize looks to be the next Caribbean luxury destination
Belize’s 450 atolls off the country’s coast form the archipelago providing a paradise setting similar to those found in the South Pacific. And while Belize is not devoid of luxury hotels – such as the Coppola family’s private island retreat, Turtle Inn – it’s about to welcome quite a few more, as hoteliers eye the untapped and pristine landscape for upcoming high-end properties as the country becomes one of the fastest growing tourist areas in the region. Natural wonders, including the second largest barrier reef in the world and the Great Blue Hole, a giant submarine sinkhole off the coast, makes it an unrivaled destination for recreational scuba divers and snorkelers. Regarding accommodations, the Curio Collection by Hilton just opened the Mahogany Bay Resort & Beach Club. On Ambergris Caye, Belize’s largest island, the boutique hotel features 205 cottage and villa-style rooms nestled amongst groves of coconut palms across a 60-acre waterfront site. Dream Hotel Group will open Unscripted Belize later this year, the first of the company’s two Belize openings, with 24 beachfront cabanas steps of the Caribbean Sea. The boutique property will feature an open-air concept that also features an outdoor restaurant and a bar area, along with an expansive pool, plus two private boats for snorkeling and scuba diving.
Cancun is still #1 summer destination, according to ARC
Despite security concerns, Cancun maintained its position as the number one summer hot spot for US travelers, according to Airlines Reporting Corp. Tracking the number of tickets purchased to the top ten most booked destinations, Cancun came in first, as it did in 2017. Other destinations on the domestic list: Orlando, New York City, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Honolulu, Miami, Seattle, Boston, Fort Lauderdale and San Francisco.