Should you book Thanksgiving travel now? Here’s what we found



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Editor’s note: The team at The Points Guy loves to travel, but now is not the time for unnecessary trips. Health officials note that the fastest way to return to normalcy is to stop coming in contact with others. That includes ceasing travel. We are publishing some travel tips because we should all use this time to think about and plan our next adventures. TPG doesn’t advise booking travel until later this year — and even then, be mindful of cancellation policies.

At TPG, we encourage travelers to use points and miles — and flight deals — to plan their dream trips. On a typical day, we would be writing about deals for a getaway to Cancun or for Memorial Day travel to Miami. But these are not normal days.

For the time being, we at TPG have stopped traveling to slow the spread of coronavirus, but we haven’t stopped thinking about future travels and how to plan for those trips. If you’re considering travel later in the year, you may want to start with a long weekend instead of a two-week excursion.  In fact, you may just want to get home to the family you haven’t seen in months. 

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It’s important to note that the COVID-19 pandemic is still evolving in the U.S. and around the world. Many airlines have put flexible change and cancellation policies in place, while hotels have extended reward nights and relaxed their change and cancellation policies. It’s also a good time to use points you’ve stashed for hotels that would cost a fortune if you paid in cash. 

We checked, and all of the remaining holidays in 2020 fall on weekend dates (except Thanksgiving day of course). Prices differ depending on whether you’re traveling to Europe or within the U.S.

Domestic flights in the U.S. are usually sky-high during the holiday season, but flying to Europe around Thanksgiving or even at Christmas can be pretty affordable. And if you plan to use points, many European airlines consider Thanksgiving (and most of November) as off-peak dates, meaning you may be able to score a solid deal.

Related: New to TPG? Read our Beginner’s Guide

What’s a good deal?

Many readers ask TPG what we consider to be a “good” cash deal in economy. Here’s a summary:

  • Transcontinental — under $200 round-trip
  • U.S. to Hawaii — under $250 from the West Coast, under $400-450 from the East Coast
  • U.S. to Mexico/Caribbean — under $250 round-trip
  • U.S. to Europe — under $400 round-trip
  • U.S. to Northern South America – under $400 round-trip
  • U.S. to Southern South America – under $450 round-trip
  • U.S. to Asia – under $500-$550 round-trip
  • U.S. to Australia – under $600 round-trip
  • U.S. to Africa – under $600 round-trip

Of course, a flight to Europe from Fargo, North Dakota, (FAR) typically won’t cost less than $400. On the other hand, it’s not uncommon to see flights to Europe for under $350 from major hubs like New York-JFK or Newark (EWR). 

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How to find a good deal

Set price alerts on routes you’re interested in to monitor the changes and to get an idea of what the average price is. You can do this through Google Flights, which will automatically alert you via email whenever there’s a price change. Its search engine is also good about letting you know whether or not a ticket is a good deal based on data it has collected. 

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Related: 20 popular routes to the Caribbean available for under $100 in late 2020

Should I book a Thanksgiving trip now?

The rule of thumb for booking travel varies from holiday to holiday, but given the massive dips in airfare because of the coronavirus outbreak, we decided to take a look at flight pricing for one of the busiest travel times of the year — Thanksgiving week.

Normally, we advise against booking travel this far in advance but nothing is normal anymore.

In our recent search for fares to Europe from the U.S., we found a few good cash deals from New York City to Europe. For instance, you could get a flight from Newark (EWR) to Paris (ORY) on French Bee for $240 round-trip, nonstop.

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However, we’re also seeing flights from Atlanta (ATL) to Zurich (ZRH) for a whopping $1,200 in economy. It’s not much better from Houston (IAH), with fares to Nice (NCE) hovering around $1,150. When prices are this high, you’re going to want to use points and miles to pay for your flight and hotel stay.

When I’m looking for flights, I start by searching Delta’s SkyMiles flash sale page. Delta typically doesn’t publish these sales, but if you check at least once a week, you can score some sweet deals around the U.S., Europe and the Caribbean.

If you’re looking for a warm-weather vacation, you won’t find better pricing either. Typically, you can snag a low fare from Los Angeles (LAX) to vacation hot spots like Cancun (CUN) for less than $250. During Thanksgiving week, however, these flights will run you more than $1,000 nonstop and a crazy $500 for a non-direct flight. Those high cash prices are the standard across the rest of the country.

Despite an overall drop in flight pricing right now, travel data suggests that you might be better off waiting to book for Thanksgiving. Last year, Expedia found that the cheapest time to buy Thanksgiving tickets was between Oct. 29 and Nov. 13. and that still seems to be accurate, based on our searches.

You may, however, be able to find some good award availability now. For instance, you can currently book a round-trip, nonstop ticket from Boston (BOS) to Bermuda (BDA) for just 14,000 SkyMiles. (What Bostonian would complain about trading in November in New England for November on a beach in Bermuda?)

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If it’s relaxation you’re after, we’re seeing round-trip deals from Boston (BOS) to Miami (MIA) for just 24,500 Delta SkyMiles plus $11.50 in taxes. You can transfer Amex points to Delta at a 1:1 ratio, or open one of several Delta Amex cards with sizable welcome bonuses, including: 

  • Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card
  • Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card
  • Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card
  • Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card
  • Delta SkyMiles® Gold Business American Express Card
  • Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card
  • Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card

But you’re likely to get better value if you’re searching for flights to Europe. We’re seeing deals for Thanksgiving dates to Paris (CDG) nonstop from New York-JFK for just 26,000 SkyMiles, plus $85, round-trip.

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If you’re coming from the West Coast, there are also some great deals out of Los Angeles (LAX). We’re seeing flights to Paris from 34,000 miles plus $85 in the main cabin.

If you’re the parent of a college student, you might want to start looking at cheap ways to get them home for the holidays. One of my favorite uses of points is Virgin Atlantic Flying Club for Delta domestic flights.

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You can book domestic Delta economy segments for 12,500 miles or domestic first-class segments for 22,500 miles, booked on Virgin Atlantic’s website.

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You’ll see the same flight in the two screenshots above, one from Delta and the other from Virgin. The Delta flight starts at 11,000 SkyMiles one-way, but if you look closer you’ll see that it’s in basic economy. The flight booked through Virgin starts at 12,500 miles in Main Cabin. There’s also a difference in economy pricing, so if you’re looking for domestic flights on Delta, you may want to start with Virgin Atlantic Flying Club.

What about hotels?

Because of the pandemic, hotels around the world are shut down and the hospitality business is suffering. In past years, Thanksgiving has been a good time to travel internationally. We did a few spot checks to see about prices for this November:

For instance, if you want to spend the week with family in Lima, Peru, you could stay at the Hyatt Centric San Isidro Lima for just 12,000 World of Hyatt points or $153 a night. Don’t forget that you can transfer Ultimate Rewards from your Chase Sapphire Preferred® at a 1:1 ratio, opening up some awesome redemptions. 

Bermuda isn’t known for affordable accommodations. There aren’t any Marriott, Hilton or Hyatt hotels on the island. Instead, you’ll find a mix of luxury resorts, boutique hotels and Airbnb accommodations. If you have a card like the Platinum Card® from American Express (see rates and fees), you can use Amex’s Fine Hotels & Resorts benefit to book the beautiful Rosewood Bermuda and earn 5x Membership Rewards points on the five-star booking. You’ll get daily complimentary breakfast for two, a room upgrade subject to availability, early check-in and late checkout and a $100 property credit. The Rosewood will run you $625 a night, so leveraging your Amex points can lead to some serious savings. 

If you’re not a Platinum cardholder, you should consider using other earning tactics like the Hotels.com rewards program, cash back through Rakuten on select booking sites, or book an Airbnb through Delta to earn SkyMiles on your stay.

Paris has some great redemption options for November 2020. If you’ve accumulated points from a credit card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you may find more value in transferring them to the World of Hyatt program. Through Hyatt, you can book the stunning Park Hyatt Paris for just 30,000 points a night. If you’re a Hyatt Globalist (or know a Globalist member who can book you their guest of honor), you will enjoy complimentary breakfast, be eligible for an upgrade based on availability and enjoy early check-in and late checkout. 

If you’ve got Hilton Honors points burning a hole in your pocket, consider booking Le Belgrand Hotel Paris Champs Elysees for 47,000 points a night. This could be a lucrative redemption option if you have enough points to book four nights because Hilton offers the fifth night free on award stays. This would ultimately bring the nightly rate down to 37,600 points. You can earn Hilton points on stays and with credit card welcome bonuses, or by pairing your Lyft accounand signing up for Hilton’s dining program. 

Bottom line

Despite record low prices for many flights later this year, we’re not seeing the same low pricing for holiday travel yet. Be sure to set up price alerts on Google Flights for routes you’re interested in. Prices fluctuate constantly. However, if you have points and miles to burn, then it’s worth taking the time to look at award availability. Airlines and hotels around the world have some of the most flexible cancellation policies ever right now, so you might want to think ahead to November travel bookings. Just be sure to read the fine print for cancellation policies and know that the coronavirus situation is ever-changing.

Additional resources for traveling during the coronavirus outbreak:

  • How coronavirus is impacting airline award availability
  • How coronavirus has left the travel industry reeling
  • Airlines scale back inflight offerings due to coronavirus
  • How to ward off coronavirus in your hotel room
  • Guide to traveling during the coronavirus outbreak

Featured image courtesy of Zach Honig /The Points Guy

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Incredible pictures show the world's most fascinating railway journeys

The world’s highest viaduct, a line carved into a rock face and carriages with armchairs: Incredible pictures show the world’s most jaw-dropping railways, from Alaska to Wales via Peru

  • Book Rail Journeys has images of the most unusual and romantic landscapes that can be discovered by train
  • Images show trains on a spiral bridge, climbing lofty peaks and crossing the world’s highest viaduct
  • Author of the book David Ross said: ‘There is always a sense of adventure when going on a rail journey’ 

Railways stretch for more than a million kilometres (620,000 miles) around the world.

And some of the track takes in some pretty jaw-dropping scenery – as these incredible pictures show.

They feature in new book Rail Journeys, by David Ross, which celebrates with 200 photos the most unusual, romantic and remarkable landscapes in the world that can be discovered by train.

Open its pages and you can gaze upon pictures of the world’s highest viaduct, in Argentina, a fascinating spiral bridge in Switzerland, a scenic railway that climbs the highest mountain in England and Wales and spectacular lines in North America that wind their way through the Rockies and Alaskan vistas. 

David wrote: ‘There is always a sense of adventure when going on a rail journey. Whether it is aboard the Orient Express from London to Istanbul, or travelling the Rocky Mountaineer through the Canadian Rockies to the Pacific coast.’

Scroll down to steam through MailOnline Travel’s pick of the images from the tome, which serve as self-isolation eye-candy – and inspiration for post-lockdown adventures.

Alaska Railroad

The Alaska Railroad’s Coastal Classic runs on the north shore of the Turnagain Arm waterway, which connects with the Gulf of Alaska and has the most massive tides in the U.S – sometimes hitting 40ft. The railroad is owned by the State of Alaska and is one of the few non-Amtrak lines to operate regular passenger services, the book says

Cumbres & Toltec Railroad, Colorado/New Mexico

This is a 914mm (3ft) gauge railway linking Antonito, Colorado, and Chama, New Mexico. Originally constructed by the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad in 1881 to serve the mining industry, the book explains, it was reconstituted as a ‘heritage’ railway in 1970, operating its services with vintage steam locomotives like this Baldwin-built 2-8-2 from 1925

Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway, Colorado

Locally known as The Cog, this is the highest railway in North America, the book says, reaching the 4,302m (14,115ft) summit of Pikes Peak. It opened in June 1891 using specially-designed locomotives and a central cogged rack to assist climbing and prevent runaways. Currently undergoing refurbishment, it will reopen in 2021

Mount Washington Cog Railway, New Hampshire

Opened in 1869, this cog railway climbs to the lofty 1,916m (6,288ft) summit of Mount Washington. Nowadays worked by biodiesel locomotives, it retains two veteran steam locos. The world’s first cog railway up a mountain, it is still among the steepest, with a maximum grade of 37.41 per cent

Rocky Mountains, Canada

The ‘Canadian’ runs from Toronto via Jasper to Vancouver and here, stainless steel roofs and awesome mountains make the view from a vista dome car as it climbs a grade in the Rockies. The 4,466km (2,791-mile) journey involves four nights on the train

La Polvorilla Viaduct, Salta Province, Argentina

La Polvorilla Viaduct is the world’s highest. This curving structure stands 20.7m (70ft) high at an altitude of 4,182m (13,720ft) – the highest point on the route of Argentina’s ‘Train to the Clouds’ (Tren a las Nubes). The train carries oxygen cylinders and medical aid for cases of altitude sickness, the book reveals

Abra la Raya, Peru

This incredible picture shows the Puno-Cuzco train pausing at Abra la Raya, the summit of the line at 4,350m (14,271ft), to enable tourists to take photographs of the jaw-dropping Andes vista and perhaps visit the local market. Streams on one side descend to the Amazon and on the other to landlocked Lake Titicaca, according to the book

Aguas Calientes, Urubamba Province, Peru

In Aguas Calientes, the main street is the railway line. This is where the trains bringing visitors to Machu Picchu terminate, though the line goes on beyond the village

The Serra Verde Express, Curitiba, Brazil

Expensive fabrics, plush leather, inlaid wood, wall lights and framed pictures give a classic ‘club-car’ atmosphere to this carriage on the Serra Verde express, the book says – a vivid contrast to the wild nature of the landscape traversed by the train

Nariz del Diablo, Guayaquil & Quito Railway, Ecuador

The ‘Devil’s Nose’ is a double switchback on the Guayaquil & Quito Railway, where the train reverses direction twice in order to gain height on a precipitous slope, the book says. Special runs to negotiate this spectacular feature are made from Alausí station

Ribblehead Viaduct, North Yorkshire

Built to provide a direct connection between the Midlands and Scotland, the railway between Settle and Carlisle crosses some of the wildest parts of England, and is popular for steam excursions. The Ribblehead Viaduct (pictured), completed in 1874, is the longest on the line at 400 metres (1,312ft)

Snowdon Mountain Railway, Wales

Since 1896, trains have trundled up and down Snowdon, the highest mountain in England and Wales (1,085m/3,560ft) on this rack-and-pinion operated railway. Both steam and diesel traction are used. This view shows a train climbing upwards beyond one of the crossing loops on the line

 Rhaetian Railway, Valposchiavo, Switzerland

Winding its way down from St Moritz into Valposchiavo, the Bernina Express from Chur, Switzerland, to Tirano in Italy runs on the highest transalpine railway, reaching an altitude of 2,253m (7,392ft). The spectacular 122km (76-mile) ride on the metre-gauge line takes four hours. Pictured is a train negotiating one of the most fascinating features on the line – the amazing 360ft-long Brusio spiral viaduct in Brusio, Switzerland

Zermatt–Gornergrat Railway, Switzerland

Breathtaking views of the Matterhorn are had from the train on the 33-minute journey between Zermatt and the Gornergrat terminus at 3,089m (10,134ft). This was the world’s first fully electric rack railway, using the Abt cog-wheel system, when it opened in 1898

Diakofto–Kalavrita Odontotos Railway, Greece 

‘Odontotos’ means toothed: a reference to the central rail of this rack and pinion railway, a 750mm (29.5in) gauge line through the Vouraikos Gorge and up to Kalavrita. Three rack sections help the train on the steepest grades. Opened in 1891 and first worked by steam, it is now operated with diesel-electric railcars

Trans-Siberian Luxury Train

A bedroom set up as a day room on the luxury version of the Trans-Siberian, which operates on the line between Moscow and Vladivostok – the longest in the world at 9,289 kilometres (5,771 miles)

Victoria Falls Bridge, Zambia/Zimbabwe

Spanning the Zambesi River just below the Victoria Falls, this bridge has been a spectacular viewpoint since 1905. Built in England and shipped to Africa in parts, the book explains, it was intended to be a vital link in the railway linking Cape Town to Cairo. A vintage train headed by ex-Zimbabwe Railways Garratt locomotive No. 512 stands on the bridge in this picture

Kandy–Badulla Line, Sri Lanka

Classic British-type signal posts and signal cabin at a junction on the Kandy–Badulla Line in Sri Lanka. Passing through lush rainforest country, the route is one of many which claim to be the ‘world’s most scenic railway’

‘Train Street’, Hanoi, Vietnam

Known to visitors as ‘Train Street’, this thoroughfare in Hanoi’s Old Quarter sees a long-distance train squeeze past twice daily. It is the train from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City, running 1,600km (990 miles) on the single metre-gauge track between the two cities

Hue–Danang Line, Vietnam

Between the Annamite Mountains and the sea, a northbound train from Danang to Hue runs above Lang Co Beach on its way towards the Hai Van Pass through the mountains. The journey takes around three hours

All images are taken from the book Rail Journeys by David Ross (ISBN 978-1-78274-919-6) published by Amber Books and available from bookshops and online booksellers (RRP £19.99)

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Airbnb hosts listing properties as self-isolation retreats are ‘incredibly irresponsible’, says government

Some Airbnb hosts are advertising their properties in the UK as “self-isolation retreats” during the coronavirus pandemic, a move that has been branded “incredibly irresponsible and dangerous” by the government.

Countryside listings have been calling themselves “Covid-19 retreats” that are “perfect for isolating with family”, according to research conducted by the BBC.

The latest government regulations state that all non-essential travel within the UK is banned, including staycations and people travelling to second homes.

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The only Airbnb stays that are currently permitted are those of key workers who need to self-isolate, but the BBC’s investigation suggested that many hosts are not vetting potential guests.

“Our advice is clear,” said Tourism Minister Nigel Huddleston of the findings.

”Essential travel does not include holidays, leisure travel and visits to second homes – and people must remain in their primary residence.

“It is incredibly irresponsible, and dangerous for some property owners to be marketing themselves as ‘isolation retreats’.”

Hosts found to be breaking the rules face fines of up to £960.

Listings that advertised themselves as self-isolation hideouts included a houseboat, cottage and castle.

“We want hosts and guests to follow the rules and we have no tolerance for listings that ignore health or travel advisories,” said an Airbnb spokesperson.

“The government has set out clear guidance on the limited conditions under which necessary travel is permitted and we have taken a number of steps to support these measures.

”Hosts in the UK are also opening their homes to NHS and other healthcare providers as part of a global initiative that has seen more than 100,000 places to stay made available so far.“

In response to the BBC’s research, Airbnb has now disabled its ‘instant book’ function to stop non-key workers from booking properties.

The home sharing site recently announced it is offering NHS workers free accommodation during the coronavirus outbreak.

Hosts on the home rental website have agreed to waive fees associated with stays at their properties to support medical staff on the frontline of the pandemic, with roughly 1,500 places already on offer.

The initiative is a local expansion of Airbnb’s global plans to help house 100,000 healthcare professionals, relief workers, and first responders working with Covid-19 patients.

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Google Maps: Street View captures the most bizarre scene in Russia – what is it?

Google Maps Street View is used regularly by people who wish to take a glimpse of the world from the comfort of their armchairs. Users can look at various landmarks such as Buckingham Palace, the pyramids and the Eiffel Tower all from their own homes. The tool is great for people who don’t like to travel abroad or those who are not able to visit some of the world’s most impressive wonders of the world.

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However, sometimes the huge camera spots some rather bizarre sights.

Street View is also used by eagle-eyed users to spot hilarious scenes which could potentially catapult the snaps to fame.

These users often share the images they find, which can range from being hilarious to rude, in the hopes that they will go viral.

Even bizarre objects found on the tool can become famous such as the man who was spotted with a giant spatula.

Sometimes, even animals are spotted doing strange things such as driving cars.

Google’s massive camera lens captures both the weird and the wonderful.

And this scene is definitely a case of the more weird scenes on Street View.

The scene unfolds in Norilsk in Russia on a street next to a shop.

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The image seems fairly regular on a first glance.

That’s until you realise what some of the pedestrians on the road are wearing.

The main scene shows two people – it is unclear whether they are male or female – wearing different coloured hazmat suits.

One person is wearing a green one while the other person is wearing one in red.

The person in red appears to be carrying a bucket.

To the left of the scene, as the camera pans round, there is a person wearing a yellow hazmat suit walking past the suit.

And if you zoom in behind the person in red, there is a person in a dark blue hazmat suit directed towards a taxi in the road.

It is unclear why the persons are wearing the outfits or what they are doing with the bucket.

The bizarre scene was spotted by a Reddit user who posted it on the site with the caption, “These four random blue, red, green and yellow guys following the camera in Norilsk. Staring at walls and down bins.”

Users on the site commented on the post in disbelief.

One user said: “Although all dressed in identical uniforms, each bears its own primary colour – red, yellow, blue and green.”

However, others argued that they were not in fact primary colours.

Another person said in surprise: “Wait, there is a street view in Norilsk?? I know what I am going to do tomorrow!”

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Criminal investigation launched after 600 cruise passengers test positive for coronavirus

A criminal investigation into the docking of a cruise ship is being launched by police in Australia after 600 passengers who disembarked later tested positive for coronavirus.

Carnival’s Ruby Princess cruise liner docked in Sydney on 19 March with 2,700 holidaymakers and 1,400 crew onboard.

Some 200 crew members also displayed symptoms of Covid-19.

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The police probe will look at whether national biosecurity laws were broken in allowing passengers to disembark from the ship, when so many were showing symptoms of the virus.

“The only way I can get to the bottom of whether our national biosecurity laws and our state laws were broken is through a criminal investigation,” said New South Wales police commissioner Mick Fuller at a press conference.

He added that ships are permitted to dock only if the captain can assure the authorities that those onboard are not carrying a contagious disease.

The actions of the port authority, ambulance service, police, NSW Health and Carnival Australia, the cruise company that own the Ruby Princess, will all come under scrutiny as part of the investigation.

So far, 11 passengers from the Ruby Princess have died, accounting for more than a third of all coronavirus-related deaths in Australia at the time of writing.

Passengers weren’t tested onboard, but were found to have Covid-19 after having already disembarked in Australia.

Carnival Australia is fully cooperating with the investigation, according to police.

It follows the stories of a number of cruise ships that struggled to find places to dock amid the coronavirus pandemic.

One such vessel, the Zaandam, was finally allowed to dock in Florida last week after being stuck at sea for three weeks.

President Trump overruled the state’s governor, Ron DeSantis, who initially denied permission for Zaandam to end her long voyage at her home port of Fort Lauderdale.

The Holland America Line vessel, with 229 British passengers on board, left Punta Arenas on the southern tip of Chile on 12 March. She had not been able to disembark passengers at any port since then, despite repeated attempts.

Four passengers died from Covid-19 onboard in that time, while others became critically ill.

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Here's something to look forward to… bag a bargain deal on a cruise

Here’s something to look forward to… bag a bargain deal on a cruise holiday for later this year or next

  • The Best Of The West Indies Winter Escape takes in Antigua, St Lucia and more 
  • You can discover both Spain and Portugal on a no-fly cruise offered by P&O 
  • Crystal Symphony is setting sail from Mombasa to Cape Town next March 

Cruise ships may have dropped anchor for now, but there are plenty of enticing bargains to be snapped up for holidays later this year and next.

You can save on winter heating bills at home and dine out every night for just £61pp a day when you spend seven weeks on a no-fly cruise to the Caribbean.

The Best Of The West Indies Winter Escape takes place aboard the Amy Johnson, the new flagship of the Cruise & Maritime fleet (cruiseandmaritime.com).

Island paradise: Explore the lush landscape of St Lucia during a seven-week Caribbean cruise next year

The ship leaves Tilbury on November 10, 2021, and there will be lots of relaxing days at sea before you call at nine islands in the Caribbean, including Antigua, St Lucia, Grenada and Barbados, plus two in the Azores on the return journey.

Fares for the 36-night break start at £2,194pp because the second person sharing your cabin sails free.

Another great value no-fly cruise is offered on sparkling new Iona, the latest ship built for British holidaymakers by P&O (pocruises.com).

The Spain and Portugal cruise, sailing round-trip from Southampton on March 6 next year, will take you on a leisurely two-week voyage to Vigo, Gibraltar, Alicante, Barcelona and Lisbon, all for £999pp. Invite a third or even a fourth person to share your cabin and they’ll pay just £199 each.

Solo travellers often get a raw deal in terms of prices because of single supplements. But to celebrate the launch of the new riverboat MS Arena, Arena Travel (arenatravel.com) has scrapped the charges in Europe this year.

On its Journey Along The Danube To The Rhine this autumn, all fares cost from £1,495pp – a saving of £748 for solo travellers. Highlights of the 13-day cruise, heading from Budapest to Cologne on October 16, include an overnight stay in Vienna and scenic cruising in the Wachau Valley. Fares include flights and transfers.

Farther afield, what could be more exciting than an exotic adventure to look forward to? On the varied African Allure trip, sailing from Mombasa to Cape Town, you’ll stop at the cultural melting pot Zanzibar, the Comoros Islands and the wildlife-rich Richards Bay in South Africa.

On an African Allure sailing with Crystal Cruises, you will visit Zanzibar, the Comoros Islands, pictured, and Richards Bay in South Africa 

Book now for discounted fares from £3,853pp (saving £1,680pp), and be ready to bask in all-inclusive luxury for 14 nights when Crystal Symphony sets sail on March 8, 2021. 

You will also have the reassurance of the new Crystal Confidence cancellation policy – cancel up to a week before your holiday and you’ll receive 100 per cent credit towards a future cruise (crystalcruises.co.uk).

Extras on holiday can add up, but far less so on a 14-night Baltic Heritage cruise from Southampton on May 15, 2021, that includes a Princess Plus package usually costing £70pp a day.

Grand Princess (princess.com) stays overnight in St Petersburg, calls at Stockholm, Tallinn, Helsinki and Copenhagen, and you’ll enjoy cocktails, cappuccinos and unlimited wi-fi. Fares, which start at £1,989pp, include gratuities, too. 

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From 271 to 13: American suspends most NYC flights amid coronavirus crisis; demand 'evaporating'


American Airlines is suspending most of its flights to the New York metropolitan area on Tuesday as travel demand evaporates to the U.S. epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak.

EDDF Picture: N279AY American Airlines Airbus A330-243   (Photo by Patrick Becker/ullstein bild via Getty Images)

American will operate just 13 daily flights to LaGuardia, JFK and Newark airports through May 6, compared with 271 a year ago.

“As coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in New York City and the surrounding region continue to increase, along with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for travel to the area, the demand for flights to the New York area is rapidly evaporating,” David Seymour, American’s senior vice president of operations, said in a statement late Sunday.

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American said it will only operate these flights in April:

LaGuardia; Two daily flights to its Charlotte, North Carolina, and Dallas hubs. One daily flight to Boston, Chicago, Miami and Washington, D.C.

JFK: One daily flight to Dallas, Charlotte and Miami.

Newark: One daily flight to Dallas and Charlotte. 

The announcement comes a day after United slashed flights to the metro area. Spirit Airlines, JetBlue and other carriers had already suspended service since New York is a coronavirus hotspot.


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    The cruise line industry has taken a major beating due to covid-19, still analysts say the number of bookings for 2021 cruises have increased since this time last year.

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    Veuer

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    Coronavirus-hit cruise ships able to dock in Florida
    Two Holland America cruise ships with coronavirus patients aboard were finally allowed to dock at a port near Fort Lauderdale, resolving a days-long impasse that drew the attention of President Donald Trump. Jillian Kitchener has more.

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    Reuters – US Video Online

  • a group of people swimming in a body of water

    A 60-second virtual vacation in the Bahamas
    Find out why this stunning archipelago is a diver's paradise.

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Dealing with stress during coronavirus: The world’s first online retreat

If the idea of a wellness retreat feels about a million miles away right now, New Zealander Janine Hall might have the answer.

Hall, who owns two award-winning women’s resorts in Bali, has created what she believes to be the world’s first online retreat. Although her real-life retreats Escape Haven and The Palm Tree House have closed their doors for now, Hall has put together Escape @ Home – for anyone to experience five days of Bali magic, from home, and for free.

While a real-life visit to a Bali wellness retreat might include a morning yoga session, a healthy lunch and maybe a vigorous afternoon surfing lesson, a day in the virtual retreat is guided by similar philosophies of wellness. Participants can start each day with a refreshing morning ritual, perhaps followed by a workout, a nutritious lunch and a mindfulness practice. In response to current anxieties, Escape @ Home has a focus on mental clarity and resilience, and coping strategies for stress and worry.

Coursework will be delivered each morning by email, and will include readings, recipes, yoga flows, worksheets and workout videos.

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Holidays: Top five city destinations off the beaten track hand-picked by travel experts

Holidays often take British tourists to the well-worn path. Travellers are generally keen to tick off bucket list destinations and to visit the gems cities are most known for. And while there’s nothing wrong with this approach, holidaymakers shouldn’t forget that heading off the beaten track can throw up some incredible highlights.

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This month Lonely Planet publishes its new book Secret City, an insider’s guide to the world’s coolest neighbourhoods.

The team has shared with Express.co.co.uk five of the best under-the-radar destinations to add to your travel list for after coronavirus.

Woodstock – Cape Town, South Africa

“One of the hippest neighbourhoods in the city, Woodstock is home to microbreweries, craft distilleries, coffee roasteries and art studios,” explains Secret City.

“At heart, it’s still an industrial district – after dark you’d be wise to summon a ride-share service to get from A to B.

“Thanks to its slow gentrification, there are plenty of newly opened attractions and hidden sights to seek out, some even sitting on the main roads.”

Head to Altona Fisheries for famous foot-long sandwich the Gatsby, visit the enduringly popular and ever-busy Neighbourgoods Market on a Saturday and drink beer with a view of Devil’s Peak at the Drifter Brewing Company.

Vesterbro – Copenhagen, Denmark

Lonely Planet writes: “What was once the meat-packing district is now one of the city’s favourite evening hangouts.

“Vesterbro long had the questionable accolade of being Copenhagen’s seediest neighbourhood, with residents crammed into 19th-century tenement blocks, and plenty of unsavoury transactions on the streets.

“A clean-up in the 1990s kick-started its transformation into the hipster ’hood of today, albeit still with rough edges.”

Hang out at Kalvebod Wave on the waterfront, try out the excellent but casual restaurants at War Pigs Brewpub and go for a dip in one of the several harbour baths – Havnebadet Fisketorvet is the most popular.

Euljiro – Seoul, South Korea

“Discover noodle dishes and craft brews in this trendy, industrial-chic neighbourhood,” enthuses the book.

“Minutes from Seoul’s touristy Myeongdong neighbourhood, Euljiro is an industrial quarter filled with printing presses and hardware shops.

“Men in their 50s reigned supreme here five years ago, but recent gentrification has brought in hidden bars and cafes as well as millennial-aged hipsters.”

Eat signature dishes naengmyun, buckwheat noodles in ice broth, and bulgogi, marinated, pan-grilled beef at famous old restaurant Wooraeoak, snap top Instagram photos at Hotel Soosunhwa and peak into Seoul’s history (and shop) at the Sewoon Shopping Centre.

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Karlín – Prague, Czech Republic

“This neighbourhood east of the Old Town was forced to completely reinvent itself after the damage caused by the 2012 floods, which left it in ruins,” details Secret City.

“In a way, the restorations helped to establish an alternative side of Prague – rough around the edges but much more hip.

“It’s impossible to find the same vibe in the occasionally artificial-feeling city centre; head instead to Karlín, which is liveliest at lunch hours and on weekends.”

Savour a coffee at hipster joint Můj Šálek Kávy, sample authentic wines of the former Habsburg Empire at Veltlin and check out Kasárna Karlín – an exceptional space converted from former army barracks. It’s host to concerts, a summer cinema, exhibitions and workshops.

Campo de Ourique – Lisbon, Portugal

“At the end of the line of iconic tram 28, Campo de Ourique doesn’t feature on most tourist itineraries,” explains the book.

“The wide streets of modernist-style pastel-coloured buildings aren’t full of landmarks, but they’re brimming with local shops and family-owned restaurants.

“This is the Lisbon you’ll gloat about to friends and family, never fully unveiling all the spots you found on your wanders.”

Explore Casa Fernando Pessoa, the home where poet Fernando Pessoa lived his final years – a treasure trove of the modernist’s life, tuck into typical hearty and affordable daily specials at Imperial de Campo de Ourique and experience lively neighbourhood market Mercado de Campo de Ourique.

Reproduced with permission from Lonely Planet © 2020

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Holidays: How to explore wonders of the world from home with these seven virtual tours

Holidays are often the light at the end of the tunnel for many Britons. What’s more, heading to the wonders of the world is often on the bucket list of many people. However, with coronavirus crushing any hopes of travel in the coming week, foreign jet-setting is not an option any time soon.

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Thankfully, virtual escapism is still available to any Britons hoping to sate their wanderlust.

The travel-hungry can voyage to the new seven wonders of the world during the coronavirus lockdown thanks to virtual tours.

UK-based price comparison service Uswitch have brought together seven free virtual tours, allowing you to experience the allure of these wonders, right from your armchair.

From Jordan’s Rose City of Petra, to the white marble Taj Mahal in India there are more ways to visit these ancient architectural gems than you might think.

1. Great Wall of China, near Beijing, China

Every year, over 10 million people visit the Great Wall, China’s longest wall and biggest ancient construction.

Its winding path covers over 21,000km and the wall is thought to be 2,300 years old.

This Virtual Tour provided by The China Guide allows you to ‘walk’ along the wall with just a click of your mouse.

2. Petra, Jordan

With Google’s Street View Treks, you can get up close and personal with Jordan’s Rose City, Petra.

Leave your passport at home and grab your headphones to be immersed into this stunning city steeped in history and impressive architecture.

Petra is over four times the size of Manhattan, but with Google Street View Treks, you can explore caves, temples and tombs spread out for over a hundred square miles with just a click of your mouse. 

3. The Colosseum in Rome, Italy

Roughly 6.4 million people visited Rome’s Colosseum last year, making it one of the most-visited tourist attractions in the world – and it is easy to see why.

This majestic amphitheatre measures over 189m long and 50m high and could seat over 50,000 to watch sporting events and games.

Skip the crowds and take a virtual tour on YouTube – this hour-long walking tour of the Colosseum is filmed in pin-sharp 4K, immersing you into the action. 

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4. Chichen Itza, Yucatán, Mexico

Attracting more than 900,000 visitors each year, Chichén Itzá continues to be a historical wonder popular with tourists. Situated just two hours from tourist hot-spot Cancun, it’s a popular cultural excursion for many visiting Mexico. 

Experience a 360 view of the stepped pyramids in this virtual tour.

5. Machu Picchu, Cuzco Region, Peru

Set high amongst the Andes mountains in Peru, it’s an adventure just getting to Machu Picchu. Built in the 15th century, this ancient Inca site draws tourists from all over the world to visit.

This virtual tour comes complete with a voiceover, educating and entertaining as you take in the spectacular scenery of Machu Picchu. 

6. Taj Mahal, Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India

This ornate marble mausoleum is widely considered to be one of the most beautiful buildings in the world. The building was designed to be completely symmetrical and in the event of a disaster such as an earthquake everything would fall away from the tomb inside.

Go behind the scenes of India’s Crown Jewel with this virtual tour from Google. 

7. Christ the Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

This colossal statue of Christ the Redeemer is the largest art deco statue in the world, standing at an impressive 98 feet tall overlooking Rio de Janeiro in Brazil and has been classed as a ‘World Wonder’ since 2007.

To reach the statue on foot, you’ll scale around 200 steps, but you don’t need to with this virtual tour of the statue. This 360 view includes a guided tour with some interesting facts about the origins and construction. 

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