Cruise and Air News: A Historic Ocean Liner Will Sail Again


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A new Riverside Marine ferry ship, which will travel between Vancouver and Victoria.

A SECOND LIFE FOR A VINTAGE OCEAN LINER

Crystal Cruises has announced it plans to convert a historic ocean liner with a Cold War past into a cruise ship. The SS United States, which could go 10,000 miles before refueling, broke the trans-Atlantic speed record on its maiden voyage in 1952, and was considered the nation’s most luxurious liner, masked its secret mission to convert into a naval troop ship carrying 15,000 soldiers if needed (it wasn’t). Decommissioned in 1969, it has been docked in Philadelphia since 1996 awaiting an investor willing to undertake its renewal. The cruise line, which will conduct a feasibility study by year end that covers the ship’s conversion, hopes to relaunch the ship as the United States by Crystal Cruises, an 800-passenger vessel with modern amenities including a spa and entertainment venues. The company aims to preserve some of the ship’s original features including the promenade and the Navajo Lounge. It has not yet determined where the ship will travel, but is considering trans-Atlantic sailings from New York City as well as other itineraries.

EUROPEAN RAIL PASS BONUS

Eurail Group, which sells European train passes, has introduced a sale on its Eurail Pass that includes up to five complimentary travel days on some passes purchased through April 30. The free days come with the purchase of a Eurail Global pass, which can be used in 28 European countries. A Eurail Global pass for five days of travel over a one-month period starts at $342 for travelers under 25, and $524 for their elders, and includes an additional free day during the sale. The monthlong Eurail Global pass, priced at $689 and $1,056, respectively, includes five free days. Travelers opting for more limited passes that cover one to four countries will also get one free day. Travelers can book the passes up to 11 months before departure, newly increased from six months pre-trip.

DUELING FERRIES FROM VANCOUVER TO LAUNCH

Two companies have announced their intention to launch passenger ferry services between Vancouver and Victoria in British Columbia next summer. The Seattle-based ferry company Clipper was recently acquired by the German company FRS, which plans to expand on its existing service from Seattle to Victoria and Seattle to San Juan Island to include a new hub in Vancouver for service to Victoria. It expects to launch this summer.

The Australian company Riverside Marine intends to operate two catamaran ferries carrying up to 300 passengers each with two sailings daily between the cities beginning in July. A one-way ticket is expected to cost about 80 Canadian dollars and take about 3.5 hours docking at downtown harbors. Aimed at transporting tourists, the ships will offer Wi-Fi, food, drinks and guides offering wildlife, geography and history interpretation.

SAILING TOWARD GREEN TARGETS

Royal Caribbean Cruises has teamed up with the World Wildlife Fund on a five-year partnership to support ocean conservation. The cruise line has committed to reducing its carbon emissions by 35 percent, and to ensure that 90 percent of its wild-caught seafood and 75 percent of its farmed seafood are sustainably sourced, all by 2020. The line, which operates the largest ships in the industry, has pledged $5 million to the nonprofit and said it will educate its passengers on ocean conservation issues.

NEW WEB SERIES FOR POINTS POINTERS

The entrepreneur Brian Kelly, who goes by the name the Points Guy and is an expert in maximizing points earned through frequent flier programs and credit cards, has launched a new YouTube channel featuring trips he’s taken by cashing in miles. The debut episode details how Mr. Kelly cashed in 90,000 Delta Sky Miles plus $5.60 out of pocket to get a flight from New York to Ghana in the forward cabin, a ticket valued at nearly $5,000. The first season promises 10 episodes in Africa, covering his points and miles strategies used for luxury hotels and resorts as well as flights.

DIRECTIONS VIA APP FOR WALKERS, NOT DRIVERS

The new free app called Walc aims to make walking directions more intuitive. The service starts by asking users if they can see a local landmark — say, a Starbucks — and then provides walking directions from there using area businesses, buildings and parks as way points. If none exists, it defaults to using street names. The hands-free mode allows you to listen to audible directions while the phone remains in your pocket. Currently, Walc covers the United States, with plans to expand globally.

NEW PERKS FOR PRESTIGE FLIERS

In the fight for premium passengers, airlines are pouring on the extras in business and first classes.

Passengers may not make their flight decisions based on meals served in the air, but forward-class fliers on Japanese airline ANA will get a gourmet surprise on flights between New York and Tokyo beginning next month. The airline has partnered with Conrad Hotels & Resorts to enlist chefs from the Conrad Tokyo and the Conrad New York to create new menus in business and first classes and in ANA lounges at Haneda and Narita airports in Japan. The partnership celebrates the airline’s 25th anniversary operating the route and runs from March 7 to Nov. 30. ANA is a member of the Star Alliance, which includes United Airlines.

American Airlines plans to upgrade its amenity kits doled out for free in first and business classes beginning in March. Each will come in a Cole Haan bag, and include a variety of products and toiletries from American companies including 3Lab Skincare, C.O. Bigelow Apothecaries and Clark’s Botanicals. Forward-cabin fliers will also have the option of changing into newly designed cotton pajamas for the duration of international and transcontinental flights that they can keep.

Delta Air Lines has also upgraded its PJs for fliers in its forward Delta One cabin on flights between Los Angeles and Sydney and Los Angeles and Shanghai. Beginning in March, Delta will add light gray cotton loungewear to the amenities it offers in the cabin, including lie-flat seats each with aisle access, premium bedding and Tumi amenity kits.



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