Categories
Cruises

Xcaret Park and Hotel Xcaret Mexico to Reopen on June 15

Grupo Xcaret plans to reopen Xcaret Park and Hotel Xcaret Mexico on June 15 in the first phase of its reopening, while implementing over 1,300 specific health and safety measures.

Developed in accordance with national and international organizations, 360 Xafety is Grupo Xcaret’s manual on how they will proceed with the phased reopening of the properties to ensure the well-being of employees, guests, visitors and suppliers who frequent the properties.

“People are at the center of Grupo Xcaret’s business model, and safeguarding their safety is one of the main pillars that support our enhanced safety reopening protocols. We are aware of the challenges that the tourism industry faces in regaining travelers trust and believe that the first step is being completely transparent about the measures we are taking to protect them,” said Miguel Quintana, CEO of Grupo Xcaret, in a statement. “To this end, our open-access protocols will be available on our website, not only for potential visitors but for other tourism providers that can use them as guidelines in creating or adapting their own,” he added.

Grupo Xcaret serves as a member of the Board of Affiliates of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and on a specialized task force compiled by the Global Association for the Attractions Industry (IAAPA) who’s purpose is to help build reopening guidelines.

And because safety and sustainability are of such importance to the group, all cleaning and disinfecting products are not only biodegradable, but they also meet the criteria set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Some protocols guests will notice upon their return to the properties are:

—Occupancy will be limited to 50 percent capacity at Xcaret Park, Hotel Xcaret Mexico and transportation services.

—Noninvasive temperatures checks.

—Use of face masks encouraged for all resort guests and visitors.

—Sanitization of high contact surfaces.

—Cleaning of guest rooms twice a day.

—Transforming all self-service buffet stations into assisted food places.

The next phase of Grupo Xcaret’s reopening is expected to be July 1 with the reintroduction of its other parks and tours. The organization is closely following government regulations and recommendations.

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Travel

53 best and worst travel firms for cancellation refunds revealed

Revealed: The 53 best and worst travel firms for coronavirus cancellation refunds – with Ryanair near the bottom and Hays Travel, Airbnb and Jet2 at the top

  • A poll asked 27,000 people to rate firms on their handling of coronavirus issues
  • Big names that did well in the survey included Jet2 Holidays and Booking.com
  • The findings will be reported to the Competition and Markets Authority
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

The coronavirus pandemic has been devastating for the travel industry, with millions of holidays and travel bookings either unavailable or cancelled.

Yet how firms treat their customers as a result of the pandemic various enormously, according to a major new investigative survey. It asked 27,000 travel customers to rate firms according to how they’ve dealt with problems arising from coronavirus and filtered them into a 53-place ranking.

Travel Counsellors came top, followed by Hays Travel and Airbnb, with travel agent Travel Trolley at the very bottom, followed by TravelUp (52nd) and Teletext Holidays (51st) – and Ryanair in 47th place.

Travel Counsellors has been rated as the best firm in the UK for dealing with coronavirus-related travel issues

Travel Trolley was rated as the worst firm for dealing with coronavirus-related issues

Hays Travel came second in the poll, which was carried out by MoneySavingExpert.com

THE BEST AND WORST TRAVEL FIRMS FOR CORONAVIRUS CANCELLATION REFUNDS 

1 Travel Counsellors 

2 Hays Travel 

3 Airbnb 

4 Jet2 Holidays 

5 Jet2 

6 British Airways Holidays 

7 Center Parcs 

8 Disney Holidays 

9 Trailfinders 

10 Haven 

11 Saga 

12 Hotels.com 

13 Booking.com 

14 Easyjet Holidays 

15 British Airways 

16 HomeAway 

17 American Airlines 

18 Ebookers 

19 Onthebeach 

20 Qatar Airways

21 Travel Republic 

22 Easyjet 

23 Expedia 

24 P&O Cruises 

25 Eurotunnel 

26 Aer Lingus 

27 Norwegian 

28 Riviera 

29 Eurostar 

30 Wizz Air 

31 Emirates 

32 Lufthansa 

33 Brittany Ferries 

34 Virgin Atlantic 

35 Cottages.com 

36 First Choice 

37 Tui 

38 Vueling 

39 Hoseasons 

40 Love Holidays 

41 Virgin Holidays 

42 Air France 

43 Secret Escapes 

44 STA Travel 

45 Sykes Cottages 

46 KLM 

47 Ryanair 

48 Opodo 

49 Lastminute.com 

50 Holiday Extras 

51 Teletext Holidays 

52 TravelUp 

53 Travel Trolley  

207  +91

1,017  +70 

924  +56 

1,621  +54 

1,593  +47 

289  +45 

202  +42 

147  +37 

233  +32 

212  +30 

151  +26

441  +21 

1,178  +18 

163  +10 

1,809  +8 

199  +8 

123  +1 

108  -11 

283  -18 

112  -21 

266  -27 

2,425  -28 

811  -28 

603  -30 

106  -35 

193  -38 

196  -42 

142  -45 

239  -46 

158  -48 

450  -48 

142  -49 

253  -50 

627  -51 

244  -54 

223  -60 

3,252  -60 

119  -61 

451  -68 

677  -70 

775  -73 

149  -76 

299  -76 

150  -77 

610  -79

596  -82 

2,563  -82 

283  -86 

550  -87 

291  -92

251  -94 

593  -95 

338  -95 

The table ranks firms by net score (number of ‘great’ votes minus the number of ‘poor’ votes – with ‘OK’ votes disregarded) and lists the number of responses for each. Only firms with more than 100 responses have been included.

Source: Moneysavingexpert.com 

Other big names that did well in the poll, which was carried out by MoneySavingExpert.com (MSE), were Jet2 Holidays (4th), Booking.com (13th) and BA Holidays (6th).

MSE said it will now be reporting these findings to the Government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy as well as the Competition and Markets Authority and the Civil Aviation Authority.

Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert.com, said: ‘This is a tough time for the travel industry. It’s one of the sectors worst hit by coronavirus, but it’s a tough time for the public too, many of whom are also in dire straits. And they’ve been strident in telling us that they’ll remember how firms dealt with them during this time – good and bad.

‘People aren’t just judging on whether firms failed to give a refund – though that plays a big part. Many poor ratings are also about difficulties in getting in touch, being given the runaround, and terrible management of expectations – such as Ryanair sending vouchers to those who’d specifically requested cash refunds.

‘People shouldn’t be annoyed with firms offering to move bookings or offering vouchers as refunds. Indeed I’d encourage those who don’t need the cash to take them, especially from firms with solid financials, as it’ll help keep the industry going and keep people in work.

Ryanair came 47th in the poll. Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert.com, said: ‘This is a tough time for the travel industry. It’s one of the sectors worst hit by coronavirus, but it’s a tough time for the public too’

‘Yet when people are entitled to monetary refunds, to make them sit on phones on hold for hours, often getting cut off to get it, when vouchers are available at the click of a button leaves people feeling rightly riled.

‘Sadly, out of the 53 companies rated, only 17 were net positive. Yet that means they should get even louder plaudits for trying to do it right.

‘They’re struggling, but are protecting customers too, and the likelihood is when this is all over, they’ll come out stronger and with more brand loyalty because of it.’

MailOnline Travel asked Ryanair, TravelUp and Travel Trolley for a comment but did not receive a response.

Airbnb came third in the poll, which produced a ranking of firms each used by at least 100 respondents

FOUR QUICK TIPS TO GET YOUR MONEY BACK 

The exact process to follow if your booking is cancelled and you want to get your money back will vary depending on the type of booking you have (flight, hotel, package holiday and so on).

Before asking for a cash refund, consider if you need one. At the moment, many firms are really struggling. This means it’s safer to demand a refund rather than settle for a voucher, in case the firm collapses before you can use it. But it’s also worth considering whether you’re in a position to show forbearance.

Having said that, if you’re sure that you do in your money back, here are a few brief tips to follow: 

1. Speak to the firm first and use its refund system. Always start this way. Give it a chance, use its systems.

2. If that fails, warn it you’ll take it further. If you can speak to the firm and it isn’t helping, warn it you’ll speak to your card firm. This costs firms and it’s cheaper if they do it themselves, so give them the chance.

3. If the firm won’t give you money back, ask your card provider. Speak to your card provider and ask it to do a chargeback – where it asks the firm’s bank for the money.

4. If this doesn’t work, your final action would be to take the legal route, perhaps through a county court.

Source: MoneySavingExpert.com.

Wayne Perks, Managing Director of Teletext Holidays, said in response to the survey result: ‘Despite having to put the most of our UK team on furlough, and having halved the size of our operation in India, the remaining staff have been working non-stop with suppliers to cancel holidays and negotiate the waiving of any cancellation fees from them, as well as answering any communication we receive.

‘We had to switch our phone lines off because the Indian government enforced a very strict lockdown in the cities where both our sales centres are located and we were unable to get staff into these offices. I can now advise that the restrictions are being eased and our sales centres are once again able to take calls, albeit at a reduced rate whilst social distancing is maintained. ‘

He added: ‘When we book holidays for our customers, we immediately pay for the flights, and therefore do not retain any of this money within our business. In addition, Teletext Holidays often pays hotels in advance in order to get customers the best room rates.

‘Teletext Holidays, therefore, acts as an agent and we are experiencing long delays in receiving monies back from airlines, with some telling us that we will not receive customers money until “the virus has passed”.

‘We have put in place a two-stage refund process, offering customers Atol protected refund credit notes which they can use up to December 31, 2020, for holidays travelling up to December 31, 2021. If they do not decide to take this option, we are offering full refunds from July 31, 2020.’ 

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Categories
Destinations

Nizuc Resort and Spa Cancun Mexico to reopen June 11

After closing in mid-April, Nizuc Resort & Spa in Cancun announced it would reopen June 11 with a number of new safety protocols.

The 274-room property will conduct temperature screenings for guests and other visitors, and employees will undergo daily temperature checks, according to a statement from the resort.

Other safety procedures will include sanitizing guest baggage upon arrival, heightened cleaning and disinfecting procedures throughout the property and limiting elevators to two people at a time. Nizuc said it would also offer contactless suite service, and digital menus will be available on the resort’s app.

“The safety of our guests and our employees are of the utmost importance to us, and we are confident we can offer a safe environment for both as we reopen the resort next month,” said Jaime Jaramillo, the resort’s managing director.

Nizuc, a AAA Five Diamond property managed by Brisas Group, is located on 29 acres about a 15-minute drive from Cancun Airport.

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Travel

Villas of Distinction and Signature Partner to Honor Healthcare Heroes

WHY IT RATES: Anyone can nominate a healthcare hero to win a stay in Los Cabos, Costa Rica, Utah or Florida. —Janeen Christoff, TravelPulse Senior Writer

Through the spread of COVID-19, we have seen our nation’s healthcare workers put their lives on the line for the welfare of the general population.

Signature Travel Network is proud to partner with Villas of Distinction to honor our heroic healthcare providers in the way we know best. When we are all past today’s isolation orders, we would like to send four (4) winners on a well-deserved villa vacation in Los Cabos, Costa Rica, Utah or Florida.

Signature’s President Alex Sharpe said, “Our travel advisors have always enjoyed working with Villas of Distinction to provide their clients an unforgettable, personalized vacation at their elegant collection of villas. I am thrilled that through our joint program to honor our healthcare heroes we can give back to those who have given so much to our country by offering them a well-deserved vacation.”

“For more than 30 years, Villas of Distinction has partnered with the best travel advisors in the business, transforming the traditional approach to villa travel into something truly personal,” said Villas of Distinction’s VP and General Manager, Willie Fernandez. “I am happy that through this partnership with Signature we will now be able to honor our deserving healthcare heroes in the same personal way.”

Anyone may nominate a healthcare provider who is a resident of the U.S. online at www.honorahealthcarehero.com. Nominations will be accepted May 7, 2020, through July 31, 2020. Travel will be planned and curated by a Signature Travel Network advisor and will be valid through December 15, 2021 (with blackout dates).

Contest winners will be chosen based on a nominating essay describing the healthcare hero’s display of compassion, their support of colleagues and personal sacrifices as they served their community in battling the COVID crisis. Selected winners will be announced the week of August 17, 2020.

Each of the award winners will enjoy a five-night villa stay and four (4) economy-class airline tickets:

—Grand Prize: four-bedroom Villa 371, Los Cabos, Mexico

—Second Prize: eight-bedroom Villa Estrella, Guanacaste Coast, Costa Rica

—Third Prize: four-bedroom Silver Star Penthouse with Spa, Park City, Utah

—Fourth Prize: seven-bedroom Cypress at Reunion Resort, Orlando, Florida

SOURCE: Signature Travel Network press release.

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Categories
Travel

Sun, sand and social distancing: Spain seeks tourism revival


With social distancing on the sand, restaurants restructured to restrict crowding and temperature-taking at the door in hotels, Spain is looking for creative ways to lure back tourists in the post-pandemic era.

a room filled with furniture and a large window: Spain is looking for creative ways to lure back tourists in the post-pandemic era

As the world’s second-most visited country, Spain usually moves into high gear in the run-up to Easter, but this year, all bets were off with the coronavirus epidemic dealing a devastating blow to the tourism industry which is now seeking ways to salvage the summer. 

“We want to be at the forefront of those destinations offering reassurance to our clients by being the safest and the most hygienic,” said Daniel Barbero, the local official in charge of tourism in Almunecar, a seaside town some 80 kilometres (50 miles) east of Malaga in southern Spain. 

a dining room table in front of a building: Restaurants may have to cut dining capacity by half

Although Spain is the second-most popular tourist destination in the world, it has been badly hit by the epidemic with the number of deaths in the country standing at more than 24,000.

But with the epidemic in Spain peaking earlier this month, the government has laid out plans for a staged transition out of the lockdown, with the gradual opening of bars, hotels and restaurants to begin on May 11. 

And the stakes are high in a country where the tourism sector accounts for 12 percent of gross domestic product and 13 percent of employment, but which looks set to lose up to 60 percent of its annual income as a result of the lockdown, the Exceltur tourism association has warned. 

a person sitting in a room: Some hotels will test guests for COVID-19 on arrival

Incensed by the vagueness of the government’s plans to roll back the restrictions, industry professionals have made a string of proposals aimed at drawing back the tourists. 

And Almuñecar is hoping to pilot some of these proposals, with its highly-popular diving clubs working on detailed plans to avoid infections being passed on through breathing equipment that is rented out to divers. 

The town is also hoping to avoid crowding on its beaches with patrols by local police and civil protection officers, Barbero says. 

– Paella for one – 

On Spain’s eastern coast, the town of Gandia is looking to recruit extra lifeguards to ensure sunbathers remain at least two metres away from each other on the beach. 

And it is mulling separate hours when children can go to the beach in order to avoid too much cross-over with older and more vulnerable people. 

“We’re not thinking about putting up barriers… (because) you can’t fence off an open space like a beach. We will keep people informed, and try ensure a sense of personal responsibility,” explains Vicent Mascarell, the town’s tourism councillor. 

They will also instal hand gel dispensers at beach access points, he says. 

Bars and restaurants are also looking to the future although for now, the country’s main hostelry association has advised against the installation of perspex partitions as too costly. 

“We’re going to have to reduce capacity by half. A restaurant with 15 or 20 tables won’t be able to have more than eight or 10 with a metre or 1.5 metres (three to five foot) between them,” says Jose Manuel Navarro, president of the town’s hostelry association. 

To limit the financial impact, the town hall will facilitate the expansion of pavement terraces to allow bars to set out more tables. 

Making menus available online will reduce the need to pass around physical menus. 

And in a country where sharing food like paella or tapas is very popular, “we will see more individual portions,” says Mascarell. 

“It has to be done because we’re facing a new reality,” he said. 

– Ultra-violet light –

Hygiene measures will also be stepped up in hotels, in particular in Madrid, the worst-hit region, which is working on a “COVID-free hotel” quality seal.

For visitors arriving at the RoomMate Hotels chain, they will step onto bleach-infused carpeting to ensure their shoes and suitcase wheels are clean and then have their temperature taken before being handed given a mask, gloves and sanitising gel. 

And at the VP hotel in Plaza de Espana in the city centre, guests will undergo a quick COVID-19 test before entering. 

“If the client tests positive, we will put them in a closed room before informing the health authorities,” the group’s director Javier Perez told AFP. 

If the guests are negative, they will be able to go up to the rooftop bar and restaurant which has panoramic views over the city with a 50-euro surcharge to cover the cost of the test carried out by a private clinic. 

The aim is to reassure the hotel’s many guests who tend to be in their 60s and 70s. 

“We already have 600 lunch and dinner bookings. The first week we reopen, we’ll be completely booked,” says Perez, who says the hotel has invested 120,000 euros in ultra-violet light devices to ensure total disinfection. 

“But we don’t know if people are coming just to be tested or to eat!”

The big question, however, is when the borders will be opened to international visitors. For the moment, nothing has been decided at a European level, a government official told AFP. 

emi-hmw/mg/spm


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Destinations

Australia and New Zealand Consider Their Own ‘Travel Bubble’

The Prime Ministers of Australia and New Zealand are currently discussing reopening tourism between the two countries with what is being referred to as a “trans-Tasman bubble.”

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, both countries have halted leisure travel, limiting travel to only “critical” trips, which means residents can only travel for essential, urgent, or medical reasons.

However, as of last week, Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern are considering using a sort of “travel bubble” as the first step into resuming travel.

“If there is any country in the world with whom we can reconnect with first, undoubtedly that’s New Zealand Morrison told the Sydney Morning Herald.

The idea came about after Ardern has previously used the concept of a “bubble” to help New Zealand residents picture who they should be limiting their interactions with.

According to Fox News, Australia Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton told Sky News on Sunday that while “an arrangement with New Zealand” is in the works, it is “very hard to see” if Australia will resume tourism with the US or the UK any time soon.

Additionally, there is no confirmed time frame for easing travel restrictions to make this “trans-Tasman bubble.” Australia’s chief medical officer Brendan Murphy believes it will take at least three or four months for international travel to recommence.

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Categories
Cruises

J-Lo and A-Rod Donate Meals to South Florida Hotel Workers

Superstar celebrities, Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez, are giving back to South Florida communities, helping to alleviate some of the difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

They’re donating a total of 20,000 delicious, chef-developed frozen meals from Tiller & Hatch Supply Co.—their own line of direct-delivered, convenient, high-quality food offerings.

The donated meals will be distributed during the next week following among hospitality and restaurant workers living throughout South Florida who have found themselves laid off or furloughed as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

The Newport Beachside Hotel & Resort, which has offered to securely store all of those pre-prepared meals in its freezers, took delivery today.

The distribution of free meals begins tomorrow, Saturday, April 18, 2020, and continues throughout the week. At least 8,000 will be given away on the first day to employees of the Newport Beachside Hotel & Resort, as well as the adjacent Beach Bar restaurant on the Newport Pier.

Other hotels scheduled to receive meal donations include The Shelborne South Beach, DoubleTree by Hilton Ocean Point Resort, The Mayfair at Coconut Grove and The Mondrian South Beach.

Aiding in next week’s effort will be sixteen-year-old humanitarian entrepreneur, Henry Hurowitz, who is the founder of FoodEASE—a local, volunteer-based organization whose mission is to feed the hungry while simultaneously curtailing food waste by transporting fresh, perfectly good food that daily goes unused by hotels and restaurants to community organizations that serve the needy.

Prior to the pandemic, Hurowitz spent much of his free time “rescuing” food from South Florida hotels and delivering it to nearby homeless shelters. Now, it’s the hotels’ workforce that could use a helping hand.

The project is part of a larger distribution effort by Food Rescue US, an organization dedicated to reducing food waste and battling hunger throughout the United States.

Using its award-winning, proprietary, mobile technology, the company engages volunteers to directly transfer excess food from hotels, restaurants, grocers and other sources to social services that feed those without enough to eat. Food Rescue US will be distributing an additional 12,000 meals throughout the South Florida region next week.

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Travel

On a slow boat to Norfolk and watching the world chug by at 6mph

On a slow boat to Norfolk: Taking the helm of a 40ft craft and discovering the absolute delight of watching the world chug by at 6mph

  • Norfolk Broads, a huge inland waterway, is Britain’s largest protected wetland
  • It is awash with enchanting scenery – fen, carr woodlands and marshes 
  • In Horning, there are cute waterside homes where owners watch the world go by

When you’re cruising on a boat at a stately six miles per hour, the last thing you’re fearful of is being caught speeding. Yet 6mph is the fastest speed you’re permitted to go on the Norfolk Broads, Britain’s largest protected wetland and third-largest inland waterway.

But why on earth would you wish to go any faster? This tranquil quarter of East Anglia is awash with enchanting scenery such as fen, carr woodland and grazing marshes, the biggest blue skies and a wealth of wildlife.

Perhaps the most daunting part for first-timers on the Broads are the boats themselves.

Taking life easy: A Serenade class boat that was used by Ben during his trip to the Norfolk Broads 

At the Wroxham marina of hire boat company Barnes Brinkcraft, the one I tried was not small at nearly 40ft long. Yet it is surprising how easy these vessels are to use. Apart from steering, there’s a gear lever to move forwards or backwards, and bow-thrusters for fine manoeuvring in more demanding situations, such as mooring. Mooring stern-on (like reversing a car) can be especially taxing.

The Serenade class boat we chose was almost new and spotless. What is lost in character is gained in practicality. The boat cost £150,000 to build, and it seems remarkable that the company lets complete novices loose on them. ‘We maintain and repair them ourselves, and they go so slowly that accidents are very rare,’ explains the company’s Sara Thwaites.

Our boat contained a bedroom with a double bed in the bow, another bedroom with two singles in the stern, and a generous lounge and kitchen area with the possibility of converting the seating into two further beds. The two bathrooms were ingenious, cramming a shower, loo and basin into a space not much bigger than a double wardrobe. There was hot and cold water, heating, a fridge, hob, microwave, TV and wi-fi.

Before exploring the 124 miles of navigable waterways – the result of 12th Century peat extraction – we were given instructions about manoeuvring the boat, filling up with diesel and water, and using the mud weight for anchoring.

Most Broads newbies no doubt consider it marvellous to be able to cruise the peaceful waterways within an hour, without having to endure a long boating course.

The ruins of St Benet’s Abbey, which are located along the River Bure in the Norfolk Broads 

On the lookout: The Broads teems with wildlife, including kingfishers

If you head along the River Bure to the village of Horning, you’ll pass rows of cute little timber waterside homes, often with their owners watching the world go by from their tiny, neat gardens.

Swathes of unspoilt countryside follow, a feast of reedbeds, forest and fields. Wind away the electric roof and windows, and the Broads open up even more.

Horning has three pubs and is also near the fantastic Bewilderwood theme park (handy for children who want to get off the boat for a few hours).

However, moorings are in high demand here and so are those near other pubs and villages.

At peak season, you definitely need to think about mooring up in the early afternoon at popular places, or book ahead when possible, otherwise it will be like trying to find a supermarket parking space in the run-up to Christmas.

As well as the Broads Authority’s free moorings, there are those typically attracting a £5 or £10 nightly charge, and you can stop along the banks in many places, although you’ll often be next to reed beds or deep mud and away from dry land.

Tiny Salhouse Island, near Hoveton Great Broad Nature Trail, where you can learn about the local habitat and wildlife, is a good spot to moor up.

It’s glorious to sit on deck in almost complete silence with a glass of wine as the sun goes down and is replaced by a smattering of twinkling stars. Indeed, whenever you turn off the engine, it is lovely to hear no more than birdsong or laughter from a passing boat.

The Broads has 124 miles of navigable waterways – the result of 12th Century peat extraction

The Broads teem with wildlife: residents include otters, water shrews and harvest mice, kingfishers, moorhens, grebes, geese, coots, cormorants, terns, marsh harriers, herons, seagulls, dragonflies and Britain’s largest butterfly, the swallowtail.

If you’re lucky you may even hear a bittern, but you are unlikely to see one as they are rare. You may even encounter pirates invading the boat: I found three mallards parading the deck on our boat in search of bread or some other treasure.

For a city-dweller, it was a real treat to examine a duck in such detail, just three inches away on the other side of the window: the gleaming, colourful feathers, inquisitive eyes and bright orange webbed feet.

In the distance, three swans flew past in a formation the Red Arrows would envy.

Along the River Bure you’ll also stumble across the pretty ruins of St Benet’s Abbey, and one of the Broads’ numerous attractive windmills. An atmospheric place, with no roads or other settlements, it’s an ideal spot for a walk.

Cycling is another popular option, with the flat terrain mercifully unchallenging. Broadland Cycle Hire (norfolkbroadscycling.co.uk), near Horning, charges £13 for half a day for an adult bike, and has several suggested routes. The Broads By Bike (thebroadsbybike.org.uk) has even more options.

The Broads’ narrowest river, the Ant, is worth a detour and offers one of the prettiest waterways. You’ll breeze past charming villages such as Ludham, with its pub, tea rooms and shop, then peaceful Irstead, with its thatched medieval church.

All along the Broads, signs indicate the maximum permitted speeds, which vary from 3mph to 6mph

Don’t miss the traditional marshman’s house, Toad Hall Cottage at How Hill, and get a fascinating glimpse into life here a century ago. There are also nature trails and landscaped water gardens.

All along the Broads, signs indicate the maximum permitted speeds, which vary from 3mph to 6mph. As tempting as it is to have a glass of wine with a picnic lunch, even at 3mph you need to have your wits about you. 

Not concentrating for a few seconds could mean you are heading for an oncoming vessel. As fines for speeding on the Broads can reach £1,000, it’s important to keep to the limits. They are there to stop erosion of the banks, protect those on board moored boats, and to prevent disturbing nesting birds at water level.

The Ant opens up to a large expanse of water, Barton Broad, where you can head for the White Horse at Neatishead, a delightful traditional village pub which brews its own beer and uses local suppliers. The pork and apple burger hits the spot after a morning at the helm but there are plenty of wraps with veggie crisps and slaw on offer too. And Neatishead Public Staithe is a good place to settle for the night.

You don’t need to be particularly fit to enjoy a boating break, although the layouts and different levels on most boats make them tricky for anyone less mobile to navigate.

If you are unsure whether you’d like a boating break for a whole week, try out a relaxing weekend visit instead and follow a short itinerary (and there’s no need to leave your dog at home – they’re allowed on board).

The secret to a wonderful holiday here is not to try to do too much or attempt to travel the length and breadth of the Broads.

Keep your daily voyages modest and this can be one of the most relaxing places on Earth.

TRAVEL FACTS 

Ben West was a guest of Barnes Brinkcraft. Serenade class boats, sleeping six, cost from £719 in low season to £1,436 in high season, plus £40 fuel and damage waiver for three nights. 

For more information, visit barnesbrinkcraft.co.uk, visitnorfolk.co.uk, broads-authority.gov.uk and norfolkbroads.com.

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Cruises

Zaandam and Rotterdam disembarkation begins in Fort Lauderdale

Holland America Line’s Zaandam and Rotterdam arrived at Fort
Lauderdale’s Port Everglades on Thursday, with the disembarkation of healthy
passengers expected to be completed by Friday evening. 

There are 808 passengers and 583 crew on the Rotterdam and
442 passengers and 603 crew on the Zaandam, both which had been waiting
offshore Thursday while Broward County and the port approved the ships’ arrival
plan. 

The cruise line said that upon docking, nearly 1,200 guests
on the two ships who are “fit for travel,” as per the U.S. Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, will be health-screened and cleared
for entry before transferring straight from the ship to flights for onward
travel home, the majority on charters. Port Everglades said charter flights
have been arranged to Toronto, Atlanta, San Francisco, Paris and London. 

Local Florida residents will return home immediately via
private car. Guests have not left the ship since March 14 and have
self-isolated in their staterooms since March 22, Holland America said.  

Port Everglades said that the screening will include taking
passengers’ temperatures and that they will then be instructed to wear a facemask
until arrival at their final destination and to immediately go into 14 days of
self-isolation. All passenger luggage will be sprayed with disinfectant before
being offloaded and again in the terminal. 

Holland America said less than ten people onboard need
immediate critical care shoreside and have been accepted for treatment by local
health facilities. The approximately 45 guests with mild illness will continue
to isolate onboard until they have recovered, and their disembarkation is to be
determined as per CDC guidelines for being fit to travel. Holland America said
they will be cared for onboard by the ships’ medical staff.

The line said that 97 guests (83 on Zaandam, 14 on Rotterdam)
and 136 crew on Zaandam have presented with influenza-like symptoms. 

No crew from either ship will disembark in Fort Lauderdale.

“These travelers could have been any one of us or our
families, unexpectedly caught in the middle of this unprecedented closure of
global borders that happened in a matter of days and without warning,” said Holland
America Line president Orlando Ashford in a statement. “We are so happy to be
able to get our guests home and assist those few who need additional medical
services. The Covid-19 situation is one of the most urgent tests of our shared
humanity, and we must do everything we can to ensure we continue to act in ways
consistent with our common human dignity.”

Ashford earlier this week issued a plea for “compassion” for
the passengers on the two ships when Broward County did not immediately approve
its arrival. 

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Cruises

Nevada hotels and casinos ordered to close coronavirus

Nevada hotel casinos are required to close
following a mandate from Gov. Steve Sisolak, who said Tuesday that all
nonessential businesses in the state must shut down for 30 days as part of an
effort to mitigate spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus.

All gaming operations in the state were told to shutter by
midnight, with other nonessential venues required to shutter by mid-day
Wednesday. Hotels, restaurants and bars were included in the list of businesses
subject to closure.

Businesses permitted to remain open in Nevada include
pharmacies, grocery stores, drug and convenience stores, banks and financial
institutions, hardware stores and gas stations.

MGM Resorts and Wynn Resorts suspended Las Vegas operations
on Tuesday.

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