Cruise Lines And Vegas: Once Foes, Now Friends

In the past, cruise lines would recoil at being compared to a floating ’70s Las Vegas, even with their ships complemented with neon lights and production shows that featured plumed fan dancers. That belly-up-to-the-buffet stereotype was a bad rap that cruise lines tried to shake for decades.

But that was before both the world of Vegas and the world of cruise vacations survived the worst economic period since the Great Depression, grew up and figured out that they could help each other. Formerly seen as foes, competing for the same polyester-clad vacationer, the two popular travel options are now working together.

Royal Caribbean International and MGM Resorts International have announced an unprecedented strategic relationship that will allow members of both companies loyalty programs to share benefits. Beginning in January 2013, members of Royal Caribbean’s Crown & Anchor Society and MGM’s M life will receive top-shelf offers and benefits, growing as they prove loyalty by giving either company more business.”Whether on land or at sea, Crown & Anchor Society and M life members will enjoy unprecedented recognition for their dedication to our brands,” said Lisa Bauer, executive vice president of Global Sales and Marketing for Royal Caribbean International in a Miami Herald report. “We are delighted to be an M life preferred partner and welcome M life members aboard to experience our world-renowned Gold Anchor Service, innovative cruise ships, unexpected onboard amenities, and unforgettable itineraries to exciting destinations.”

MGM’s M life members will receive offers with a range of benefits when sailing with Royal Caribbean. As members advance to the next M life Tier Level, their cruise offers and benefits will grow. International and domestic cruises will be awarded during special MGM Resorts’ promotions and slot tournaments.

Royal Caribbean’s Crown & Anchor Society members will receive M life offers and benefits including pre-sale access to tickets for A-list concerts and championship boxing matches, priority reservations, priority hotel check-in, room upgrades, VIP services and more, based on their Royal Caribbean loyalty level.

[Photo Credit: Flickr user disneybrent]

New airport terminals, once delayed, prep for opening this year

New airport terminals can add time-saving features to existing facilities, bringing the latest in technology and security. If and when they open. Local and worldwide economic conditions caused projects to be delayed or shelved for a while. Now, several new facilities are preparing to open and new projects are being approved, signaling a brighter future to come.

The long anticipated and twice delayed inauguration of a new terminal at the Daniel Oduber International Airport (LIR) in Liberia, capital of the northwest province of Guanacaste, is happening this week.

“Costa Rica will be in a very advantageous situation, since we will have the best secondary airport in all of Central America, and perhaps one of the best in Latin America,” Transport Minister Francisco Jiménez told Ticotimes. “This will be a very important part of the development of the northern Pacific region.”

The airport will have the capacity to provide service to 1,500 passengers during peak hours and boasts security upgrades, temporary holding rooms for detained passengers, and dormitories for people in the process of being deported. Said to be the answer to notorious Liberia airport lines that sometimes stretch outside of the terminal, the new facility will be a welcome addition.

Coming up in Las Vegas this June, McCarran International Airport (LAS) opens new $2.4 billion Terminal 3, primarily to serve international and domestic long-haul flights. The new terminal will have 14 gates, a baggage handling system and parking garage and will feature an underground shuttle to the D gates and two floors of security checkpoints. When the new terminal opens, Terminal 2, an eight-gate charter on the airport’s north side, will be torn down.

Miami International Airport‘s (MIA) North Terminal Development Program is quickly nearing completion in 2012. Only three gates remain to be opened in the 50-gate “super concourse,” which is used by American Airlines as its hub for Latin America and the Caribbean to serve more than 20 million passengers annually and provide more than 300 daily flights.

Noted as one of the top ten airports for shopping in the world by, the “terminals feel more like shopping malls than airports” reports the Miami Herald.

Indeed, to make airports work in today’s economy, they are becoming much more than just a place where planes take off and land. In addition to destination-like features, community leaders are pushing airport construction and expansion as a way land on sound economic ground.

“We need a healthy economy to thrive as a community. And transportation infrastructure is absolutely a part of this,” said Supervisor Shirlee Zane, chairwoman, when the Sonoma County California Board of Supervisors unanimously endorsed an $84 million project to expand Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport (STS) to enable more daily commercial flights this week.

“In this economy, this is as close to an economic home run as we’re going to get,” said Jonathan Coe, of the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce.

In Vermont, construction on a new terminal building at Vermont’s Newport State Airport (UUU) could begin as early as this summer. That would be a big step in a $12.8 million expansion project that officials say is designed to boost the area’s economy.

“This 9-year project has put a focus on utilizing our existing airports to mark Vermont not only a destination for vacationers, but also a viable economic force in the Northeast region,” said Guy Rouelle, aviation director for the Vermont Transportation Agency in BusinessWeek.

Utilizing existing airports, remodeling and upgrading facilities to address security concerns and improve the process for passengers has been a long time coming. Signs like these indicate overdue projects will be getting back on track and point to a bright future for American aviation.

But new airports are not popular everywhere as we see in this video.

Flickr photo by gTarded

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Black Friday travel on sale from hotels to cruises

Between Black Friday and Cyber Monday travel companies are going all out with some outstanding bargains on everything from airfare to cruise vacations. It’s a time when sellers of travel hope they can get us to buy big, once, and take care of the whole family with a single purchase.

One big travel gift for the whole family is a great choice for people who don’t like to shop very much and like to travel or know people they need a gift for who do. Travel gifts don’t have to be big either, a travel gift card is a good choice for backpackers, road warriors and everyone in-between. Still, Black Friday deals are up first so lets take a look at some of the best available, Friday only.

Travelocity has savings of up to 50% off with offers that might include third night free and 40-50% off at hotels in Hawaii, Chicago, and other cities. They even have a special Black Friday Booking site.

Yuupon is offering hourly, travel deals where shoppers get sale items that can include up to 90% off airline, gas and restaurant gift cards and Vegas shows and Florida tours are also included. Yuupon also has a special Black Friday website set up.

Hotels from Red Roof Inn to Intercontinental have special offers too. Follow Intercontinental Hotel Group on Twitter for special deals announced on Friday. Orbitz lets Friday buyer save up to 50% for stays at popular hotels in Orlando, Las Vegas, San Diego, New York, Miami and Hawaii. The company also promises similar savings at international locations, including Paris; Puerto Vallarta and Cancun, Mexico;and London.

“Discounts are likely to slip away faster than the parking spaces at the mall,” Orbitz told CNN.

To get the deals, visit The Orbitz Cybersale web site. The site goes live 12:01 a.m. Friday and closes 11:59 p.m. Monday.

Princess Cruises’ first-ever After Thanksgiving Alaska Sale has travelers dreaming of savings on visiting the splendor of Alaska’s wilderness.

Running from November 25-29, the sale offers passengers up to $1,000 in savings and up to a $50 onboard credit on one of the cruise line‘s popular cruisetour vacations, which combine a Gulf of Alaska cruise with rail travel to Denali and stays at Princess’ exclusive wilderness lodges. For those who opt to see Alaska by sea only, the sale provides a free balcony upgrade and up to $100 onboard credit.

Norwegian Cruise Line will offer reduced deposits (50% off) and up to $250 in onboard credit per stateroom. The sale begins on Wednesday, Nov. 23 and runs until Nov. 29. All sailings are included in this sale with the exception of 1 & 2 day sailings and those on the Norwegian Breakaway.

Costa Cruises, Europe‘s largest cruise line, is planning a Black Friday sale that will feature its lowest rates of the season on select Mediterranean and Caribbean sailings. Cruise-only fares for 11-night eastern Mediterranean departures will start at $599 per person based on double occupancy while seven- to 11-night western Mediterranean cruises will begin at $399.

“For the third consecutive year Costa is offering Black Friday fares because they have proven to be very popular with consumers,” said Maurice Zarmati, president and CEO of Costa Cruises North America. “At these exclusive rates travelers can book one of our Italian-style cruise vacations at an incredible value.”

Costa Concordia seven-night and Costa Serena 11-night Mediterranean sailings feature a $100 per person on-board credit for balcony cabins plus huge savings on Caribbean 10-night cruises. Cruise-only fares for 11-night eastern Mediterranean departures start at $599, and seven- to 11-night western Med cruises begin at just $399. The 10-night Caribbean cruises begin at just $699.

Royal Caribbean also has a special offer, extending their usual “Tuesday Only” sale to begin on Friday and run through the weekend. See your travel professional for details and pricing on this sales event too.

11 things to do on 11-11-11

Tomorrow is a unique day on the calendar and one that should not go by without some sort of memorable event. For those who do not have anything planned on the palindromic date, consider our list of 11 things to do on 11-11-11.

  1. Propose– Getting close to asking the big question? This is the perfect day to ask. Decades from now you will thank us for suggesting this.
  2. Your first_____. Anything not yet tried that might turn into something you like to do later works. Skydiving, Surfing, Sushi come to mind.
  3. Private Tour of Manhattan by helicopter– This romantic excursion could very well be the backdrop for a romantic proposal soaring over the Big Apple.
  4. Niagara Falls Day Trip from New York– It’s a tour you can take where travelers explore the falls on both the US and Canadian sides including a ride on the historic ferry “Maid of the Mist.”
  1. Play the lottery/Be brave – Number freaks are all over this date. Buying a ticket at 11:11AM on 11-11-11 has got to be the best luck. In a bar at 11:11PM? The pick-up line options are endless. You too could be lucky.
  2. Quit Smoking– Obvious choice. Just had to throw that in. Better yet: travel someplace cool to do it.
  3. Fly to Vegas- No matter where you are, there always seems to be a flight available to Las Vegas. Maybe just fly there for dinner and come back. Maybe get married or re-married while there. MSNBC reports that over 3500 couples have applied to be married in Vegas on 11-11-11.
  4. Grand Canyon All American Helicopter Tour– Take off from Las Vegas Airport on an helicopter flight to the Grand Canyon. It’s a 45-minute helicopter flight each way, land deep in the canyon for a champagne picnic, and fly low over the Las Vegas neon Strip on your return.
  5. Take a hike– 11-11-11 is a great day to begin a new hobby or passion or dig up an old one you’ve not done in a while. OneDayOnEarth has plans similar to their hike on 10-10-10, so does RandomGroupOfHikers.
  6. Think about a veteran– 11-11-11 is also Veterans Day. Take a minute to think about someone you might know or know of who served in the military. Better yet, travel to where they are and thank them for their service.
  7. Meditate– Join others from around the world. “When the forces of Eleven become fully activated on earth, they have the power to change history in the making.” says, hosting a world-wide meditation on 11-11-11.

Flickr photo by Cryo Mariena

Fourteen things you didn’t know about Las Vegas

The creative minds at Renters Insurance have created a fantastic infographic for us – with 14 things you (probably) didn’t know about Las Vegas.

For example, did you know that you can rent a hotel room in Las Vegas that comes with its own basketball court? Or a bowling alley? Or that the Bellagio uses 1,650 cameras to keep an eye on its guests (and track cheaters)?

Check out these 14 fascinating facts, and amaze your friends next time the topic of Las Vegas comes up at the dinner table.


[SOURCE: Renters Insurance]