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Cruise: Royal Caribbean and Norwegian cruises extend suspension of voyages amid covid-19

Most people have put their holiday plans on hold due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis. Cruise voyages have been suspended and flights have been cancelled, leading to an influx of refunds. But while cruise customers were hoping for their future voyage plans to remain intact, their holiday dreams may have just been dashed.

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Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruises both announced today that they will be extending their voyage suspensions.

Norwegian Cruises said the extension now includes voyages embarking between April 12 and May 10 2020 for its three cruise brands.

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The move is to help contribute to the global efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19.

The extension includes voyages for Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.

Frank Del Rio, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd said that covid-19 is still having a “significant impact on communities” across the globe.

He said: “With COVID-19 continuing to have a significant impact on communities throughout the world, we are extending our temporary suspension of cruise voyages across our three brands through May 10.

While we understand this disruption may inconvenience our loyal guests and valued travel partners, we are committed first and foremost to protecting the safety, security and well-being of our guests, crew, and the communities we visit.

“We appreciate their continued understanding as we navigate through these unprecedented times and do our part to help global efforts to contain this pandemic.”

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Guests who are currently booked on voyages with embarkation dates between March 13 and May 10 2020 on Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises or Regent Seven Seas Cruises have been asked to contact their travel agent or the cruise line for more information.

Royal Caribbean said that the move was to provide “peace of mind in guest travel planning”.

They said they are now extending its ‘Cruise with Confidence’ cancellation policy to September 1 2020.

The updated policy will allow customers to plan flexibly and cancel their voyages up to 48 hours prior to sailing for any reason.

However, guests will not receive a cash refund but credit instead which is usable on any future sailing of choice in 2020 or 2021.

Company chairman and CEO Richard Fain said: “Guests are reacting positively to our Cruise with Confidence policy.

“Because it enables them to make informed decisions and to better manage complicated travel plans during this unprecedented time of uncertainty.”

“We want our guests to feel they can safely keep their existing cruise bookings or schedule new sailings.

“Because this policy gives them more freedom and flexibility.”

The extension applies to both new and existing cruise bookings.

The policy applies to all cruises with sailing dates on or before September 1, 2020, and applies to the company’s global brands.

Royal Caribbean Cruises is a renowned global cruise company that controls and operates four brands: Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Azamara and Silversea Cruises.

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Travel

easyJet grounds entire fleet of aircraft over coronavirus after 650 rescue flights

The airline announced this morning in a shock move that amid the coronavirus pandemic, they will ground their fleet of aircraft. easyJet said in a statement: “As a result of the unprecedented travel restrictions imposed by governments in response to the coronavirus pandemic and the implementation of national lockdowns across many European countries, easyJet has, today, fully grounded its entire fleet of aircraft.

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“Over recent days easyJet has been helping to repatriate customers, having operated more than 650 rescue flights to date, returning home more than 45,000 customers.

“The last of these rescue flights were operated on Sunday March 29.

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“We will continue to work with Government bodies to operate additional rescue flights as requested.

“At this stage there can be no certainty of the date for restarting commercial flights.

“We will continuously evaluate the situation based on regulations and demand, and will update the market when we have a view.”

The airline said they have repatriated 45,000 Britons from around the world due to the coronavirus.

easyJet brought the last flight in yesterday and have done 650 rescue flights, according to Sky News.

If the Government wants them as a charter flight to bring more Britons home, they will reportedly be available.

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But the commercial sector of their business has closed for good now.

The company has worked with Unite the union to agree to two-month furlough arrangements for cabin crew.

This means that crew will be paid 80 percent of their average pay through the Government job retention scheme.

More to follow…

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Travel

Meghan Markle: Inside $75k-a-night New York hotel room where Duchess had her baby shower

Located in the prestigious Upper East Side of Manhattan, The Mark Hotel is a stunning, star-studded location that has seen its fair share of celebrities. But the best room in the entire place is not a room at all but a stunning 12,000-square-foot penthouse with views of New York’s skyline. Priced at a mouthwatering $75,000 (£63,000) per night, the suite is not only New York’s most expensive hotel room but it has hosted the likes of ex-Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour, actress Katie Holmes and The Duchess of Sussex herself. Meghan’s extravagant baby shower was planned by no other than tennis champion Serena Williams and included a night in the top notch suite.

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So, what does $75,000-a-night get you on the corner of Madison Avenue?

The Mark Hotel calls the suite an “oasis in the sky” which has its own private lift that takes guests up to the 16th floor to access the famous penthouse suite.

The lift leads to the foyer which has for doors leading to different parts of the 12,000-square-foot penthouse.

Just before entering the lounge area, there is a seating room with a grand piano which leads to one of the most incredible aspects of the suite.

The lounge is an airy room with a plethora of windows, a billiard table, multiple seating areas and a 26-foot-tall cathedral ceiling.

The penthouse suite also includes a library which has a cozy seating area that is perfect for taking some timeout away from the busy city.

Opposite the bookshelves is one of the suite’s four fireplaces which were designed to make the space feel more homely than hotel-like.

The owner of The Mark Hotel Izak Senbahar told Fortune: “Our guests live truly global lives and also truly understand and expect rarified luxury and real comfort so we wanted to create a majestic space within the hotel that is the pinnacle of luxury in terms of design and amenities but also feels more like a majestic residence than a hotel suite.”

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Through the library, there is a a formal dining room that seats up to 24 people at a time.

Each room and most the furniture in the luxury penthouse was designed by French interior designer Jacques Grange who also designed the dining table.

The kitchen in the suite is surprisingly quite basic but there’s a reason for that.

Guests who stay in the penthouse also have access to in-room dining which includes caviar and can either book a private mixologist for $3,000 (£2526) to $5,000 (£4211) or book a 10-course dining experience with Michelin-star chef Jean-Georges for upwards of $10,000 (£8423).

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Up the stairs, is a beautiful conservatory which offers an exclusive view of the New York City skyline.

The room has sofas, armchairs, a fireplace, a wet bar and access to a 2,500 square-foot terrace with views that overlook Central Park and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

During the winter months, guests can also enjoy the ice rink which is installed especially for guests.

The whole suite has a muted, neutral colour scheme and consists of five bedrooms which can house 15 guests.

The master bedroom has a floating fire place, an office area and a huge king size bed.

But one of the most amazing aspects of the suite is the master bathroom which has a large, walk-in shower on the left as you walk in, two sinks, a bidet and a deep soaking bath tub that has a window so you can look out onto New York while you relax.

The Mark also sells a bathrobe for $3,400 (£2863) if you want to dry off and relax in complete luxury.

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Travel

Can you guess the city from these vintage photos? Fewer than 5% get full marks

As the deadly sweeps the globe, many have been left with a lot more time on their hands. While some people take up new hobbies such as knitting or learning a new language, others have decided to give quizzes a go. And this quiz is likely to give even the biggest quiz master a run for their money.

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The tricky quiz has left 95 percent of Britons baffled.

Luxury tour provider Scenic Cruises put together the quiz in a bid to challenge readers to guess the iconic European city based on vintage photographs.

The images are sourced from public domain archives such as the British Library and Wellcome Collection.

Given how much Europe has changed over the centuries, the quiz has proven to be quite the challenge.

Over 1,000 Britons have so far taken a crack at the quiz but fewer than five percent have managed to get full marks.

The quiz includes handy hints for those who may know a bit about European architecture or gastronomy.

Some of the hints include “the most iconic skyline in the world” and the “gastronomical capital of the world”.

Each photo is in black and white and depicts either an iconic building or street scene.

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But be warned – the further you make it through the quiz, the harder it gets.

The first question should be easy for anyone who has a little bit of travel knowledge.

But the last question depicts only the most basic black and white street scene that, unless you know your European cities, looks like it could be anywhere.

Some of the cities in the quiz include Paris, Vienna, St Petersburg, Avignon, Madrid, Lisbon, Monte Carlo and Berlin.

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Berlin is known for having a rough time in the 20th century.

World War Two took an enormous toll on the city and its people.

The civilian population had borne the brunt of the bombings during this era.

At least 125,000 Berliners had lost their lives with a further one million women and children evacuated, only 2.4million people were left in the city in May 1945.

Germany was later divided into two states – east and west Germany – and was divided by a wall.

In November 1989, the Berlin Wall collapsed as East German spokesman Günter Schabowski announced that East Germans would be free to travel into West Germany.

Berlin is now the most populated city in the European Union with a population of 3.7million people.

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