Alaska Airlines Tops in Quality

Alaska Airlines was named the top airline in terms of quality in the latest Airline Quality Rating (AQR) report by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

Virgin America, which recently merged with Alaska Airlines and had spent four years in the top spot, slipped to third. Delta came in at a close second. The results were released at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.

A joint research project funded as part of faculty research activities by Dr. Dean Headley at the W. Frank Barton School of Business at Wichita State University and Dr. Brent Bowen at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Prescott, AZ, campus, the most recent AQR also showed that industry performance improved in all four core elements tracked by the study: on-time performance, rate of involuntary denied boardings, rate of mishandled bags and the rate of customer complaints.

Nine of the 12 airlines improved in three categories (on-time, baggage handling and customer complaints), and seven of the 12 airlines improved in all four categories. Airlines that performed better in 2016 were Alaska, American, Delta, ExpressJet, Frontier, SkyWest, Southwest, Spirit and United. Those whose scores declined in 2016 were Hawaiian, JetBlue and Virgin America.

Below is the 2016 numerical ranking of the nation’s leading 12 airlines, according to the Airline Quality Rating, with the 2015 ranking in parentheses:

  1. Alaska (5)
  2. Delta (3)
  3. Virgin America (1)
  4. JetBlue (2)
  5. Hawaiian (4)
  6. Southwest (6)
  7. SkyWest (7)
  8. United (8)
  9. American (10)
  10. ExpressJet (9)
  11. Spirit (13)
  12. Frontier (11)

Road Trip in Germany

Auto Europe has released a list of top self-drive destinations in Germany based on its internal reservations data, with many offering a variety of activities that may appeal to Millennial travelers. Travel Agent has rounded up all the info you need to put together the perfect road trip.

Nuremberg, known for malty red-beer and sandstone cellars, is an ideal setting for history buffs and foodies to check out. It has recently been revived as a new urban center and is situated between Frankfurt and Munich, making it an accessible driving destination.

Along the way, travelers may want to check out the well-known Nuremburg Castle, a historical center and medieval fortification which once represented the power of the Holy Roman Empire. The site is also a stop along a ten-hour tour of the city led by Gray Line Munich, which offers views and explorations of half-timbered buildings, as well as a visit to Hauptmarkt, where Nuremberg’s Christkindlesmarkt (Christmas Market) is held, with train transportation from Munich.

There are also several dining venues including Albrecht Durer Stube, which serves authentic Bavarian meals and seats 65 people in a 450 year old half-timbered house in the heart of the old town. Animal lovers will also want to visit the Nuremburg Zoo to catch a glimpse of monkeys, polar bears and exotic birds. There is also a water exhibit with dolphins and colorful fish.

The city of Stuttgart offers architecture, culture, dining, and art. It’s home to the Cannstatter Volksfest, where travelers can participate in German Oktoberfest celebrations with lighter tourist traffic. After a day of driving, travelers may want to take a detour to Strotmanns Magic Lounge, which hosts live magic shows, light dining and a variety of beers.

Meanwhile, car enthusiasts should head to the Porsche Museum, which has over 80 vehicles in its 60,277 square foot exhibition area.

In the port city of Hamburg, Germany’s second largest city, road trip travelers who enjoy nightlife and entertainment may want to check out the Reeperbahn, also called “Kiez“, which is known as Hamburg’s entertainment district hot spot. The area has the theatre Operettenhaus, numerous table dance bars, nightclubs and student clubs, and every two weeks it also becomes a popular spot for football (soccer) fans because of the well-known FC St. Pauli that plays its home games at Millerntorstadion on the Heiligengeistfeld.

After the party is over, travelers can settle in for the night at the the City Hotel Monopol, situated off Spielbudenplatz and centrally located on the Reeperbahn. Schmidts Tivoli, the St. Pauli-Theater, the TUI Operettenhaus and the well-known police station Davidwache are all within the immediate vicinity of the hotel. Grosse Freiheit and the Fish Market are also just a short walking distance away. The family-run hotel has 82 rooms, all equipped with cable television, telephone and full bathroom. Soundproof windows allow guests to have quality sleep even when the clubs and bars on the Kiez below are still open.

Recognized as the center of German advertising and fashion, Düsseldorf has nightlife, carnivals, shopping, and trade fairs. From the city travelers can drive to Belgium and the Netherlands as well as other locations along the Rhine River.

For a quick day stop, Carlsplatz Markt has more than 60 stands offering exotic fruit or regional vegetables, fresh fish, as well as meat and poultry from local vendors. Fresh bread and pastry, cheese and unusual items, confectionery and coffee specialties can also be found, as well as a variety of flowers and plants. The market is popular with both locals and travelers.

Road trip travelers looking to get a breath of fresh air should also visit Königsallee (which translates to King’s Avenue), an urban boulevard in Düsseldorf. Königsallee is noted for both the landscaped canal that runs along its center and for the fashion showrooms and luxury retail stores located along its sides. The site also hosts open air fashion shows.

ravelers driving through Berlin have access to a city known for politics, media, culture and science, as well as historic attractions.

After a long day of road-tripping through Europe, travelers can sit down to a meal at Restaurant Bieberbau, located at 15 Durlacher Street, which serves both traditional German and international cuisine in a setting designed by sculptor and master plasterer Richard Bieber. Dishes include three separate fixed menus (including a vegetarian option) with appetizers such as “marinated char” and “wild prawn with seaweed salad” and second courses including “pan fried monkfish with kohlrabi.”

After dinner, travelers looking to stay for the night can check in to the Circus Hotel, located in the center of the city near the boutique shops of Hackescher Markt, the galleries of Scheunenviertel, and the museums of Museum Island. The hotel offers a variety of accommodation options, as well as flatscreen TVs, a Circus-Tablets, organized tours, concerts, history talks and events, bike hire, laundry service and a library.

Also, history buffs will not want to miss a visit to the Belin Wall Memorial. The Berlin Wall Memorial is the central memorial site of German division and is located in the middle of the capital at the historic site on Bernauer Strasse. The memorial contains the last piece of Berlin Wall with the preserved grounds behind it.

In Frankfurt, the largest financial center on the continent, travelers will find a variety of activities and attractions.

For fans of cinema, there is the German Film Museum (Deutsches Filmmuseum), dedicated to the medium of film, its history both past and present and how it influences culture through exhibitions and screenings in its own cinema. Road-trippers on a tight schedule can also stop in to view a movie at the in-house cinema, which shows a spectrum of artistically notable film productions as well as classics.

Travelers looking to enjoy the open air in the city should visit Gerechtigkeitsbrunnen (Fountain of Justice), a cobbled square located in the Romer District. The site once served as the spot for coronations during the time of the Holy Roman Empire, and highlights Johann Hocheisen’s sculpted fountain of the goddess Justitia surrounded by historic structures and outlined by the skyscrapers of the city’s financial district.

The Bavarian capital of Munich is mostly known as the host city to the world’s largest Oktoberfest. Self-driving experiences offer views of the Bavarian Alps, storybook villages and castles.

For a taste of the city’s history, travelers can visit the Residence, an interior decoration museum. For five hundred years the facility in the middle of the old city was the residence and center of power of the Bavarian dukes, electors and kings. The rooms of Duke Maximilian I (Kaisersaal, Steinzimmer and Reiche Kapelle) shows the palace construction art of the 17th century. The ancestral portrait gallery and the Reiche Zimmer represent courtly rococo according to drafts by François Cuvilliés, while the classical apartments in the King’s Building date back to drafts by Leo von Klenzes.

For a more lively experience in the city at night there is P1, a well-known nightclub in Prinzregentenstraße which was started as a club of U.S. army officers and is now the number one nightclub in Munich. After a night of partying and dancing, tired travelers may want to book a stay at the Hotel Laimer Hof, a quaint boutique hotel run by husband and wife Alexandra and Sebastian Rösch. The recently updated guestrooms offer quiet space within the bustling city, with amenities including minibars, television with free english SKY Movie and Sport channels and complimentary Wi-Fi. Also, located nearby the hotel is Nymphenburg Palace, another popular attraction for travelers

A Cruise thorough the Panama Canal

 

(recently posted in the Travel Agent daily news)

We recently took a Caribbean cruise on the Crystal Harmony which took us through the Panama Canal, visiting Curacao, St, Lucia, Tortola, and disembarking in New Orleans. This is my favorite route for that part of the world. This is also one of the most popular cruise destinations, and more than 150,000 passengers transit the canal each year. Panama is situated 600 miles above the equator so it is hot and humid. The canal is considered one of the world’s greatest engineering feats of all time. Ships save 7,872 miles by not having to go around Cape Horn.

Vicomte Ferdinand de Lesseps was the mastermind behind building the Suez Canal and thought building the Panama Canal would be easier. The history of the canal is worth reading. Building the 50 mile short cut took a lot of lives. The French started the project attempting to dig a sea level canal in 1882, and 25,000 died from smallpox, cholera, malaria, and yellow fever before the company went bankrupt in 1889.

When the Americans took over the project it was decided that the best plan was for three locks to be built, and ships would be raised and lowered 85 feet in a series of steps. The locks were the largest structures of their kind ever attempted. Each lock is 1,000 feet long and 110 feet wide.

The canal was completed in 1914, and over 1,500 ships a year use it. More than 1,500 electric motors are used in the operation of the locks. No pumps are used; instead, the force of gravity flowing from one level to another moves the water. It is fascinating to be sitting in the dining room looking at the rain forest and before you have finished your meal, you are facing a brick wall. Our ship paid $142,000 for the nine hour transit.

Those who have never visited the canal tend to picture it as a great ditch. Only Gaillard Cut, not the locks, might fit that description. A better analogy would be the world’s largest water elevator, lifting ships 85 feet above sea level at one end and lowering them back down to the sea at the other.

Of the close to 100 cruises I have been on, I have never seen passengers so interested or camera happy as when they go through the canal watching the parade of vessels. If the dirt and rock removed from the canal during its construction were made into a wall, it would be eight feet high and would circle the Earth at the equator four times.

The lock chambers are comparable to the height of a six story building. It takes 52 million gallons of water to transit a ship through the locks. This is fresh water from rainfall that is harnessed by locks and dams to transit the ships before it flows out to sea. Gatun Lake, the largest water reservoir for the canal, contains 1.5 trillion gallons of water.

The cruise was wonderful — great food, outstanding entertainment, interesting ports of call, and it deserves the title of the No. 1 cruise line in the world. The canal is a must see. Have a few extra days in New Orleans at the end of the trip. Great destination if you have never been there.

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Airlines are Getting Better in Annual Survey

 

DALLAS (AP) — Airlines are getting better at sticking to their schedules and are losing fewer bags. Their customers seem to be complaining less often.

Those are the findings of an annual report on U.S. airlines’ quality released Monday by researchers at Wichita State University and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

Many passengers may have trouble believing those conclusions, however.

In just the last few days Delta Air Lines suffered a multi-day meltdown — canceling more than 3,000 flights after a one-day storm in Atlanta. And on Monday, United Airlines was in the spotlight after a video showed security agents dragging a man off a plane; he had refused to give up his seat on a flight that United overbooked.

“People don’t look at the numbers,” admitted Dean Headley, a marketing professor at Wichita State and co-author of Monday’s report. “They just know what happened to them, or they hear what happened to other people.”

The researchers used information compiled by the U.S. Department of Transportation to rate the airlines for on-time performance, baggage handling, bumping passengers off oversold flights, and complaints filed with the government.

They judged Alaska Airlines to be the best U.S. carrier, followed closely by Delta. Frontier Airlines ranked last, followed by another discount carrier, Spirit Airlines.

The report’s general observations:

— ON TIME PERFORMANCE: The percentage of flights that arrived on time or close to it rose to 81.4 percent in 2016 from 79.9 percent in 2015. Of 12 leading U.S. carriers, only American, JetBlue and Virgin America got worse.

— LOST BAGS: The rate of bags being lost, stolen or delayed fell 17 percent.

— BUMPING PASSENGERS: Your chances of getting bumped by the airline dropped 18 percent, which doesn’t include people who voluntarily gave up their seat for money or a travel voucher.

— FEWER COMPLAINTS: The rate of complaints filed with the government dropped about one-fifth, with complaints rising only for Hawaiian and Virgin America.

The official complaint rates don’t include the larger number of complaints that passengers file directly with the airline. The airlines are not required to report those figures.

The Wichita State and Embry-Riddle researchers have been issuing their report for more than 25 years, making it useful for comparing airlines. But some observers of the airline industry dismiss their number-crunching approach, and there are many other surveys that purport to rank the airlines.

The Transportation Department counts a flight as being on time even if it arrives up to 14 minutes late. “Airlines are happy with that (grace period) because it makes them look better and misleads the passenger,” said aviation consultant Michael Baiada. He said airlines can do better, and besides, travelers pay to be on time — not 14 minutes late.

More broadly, a statistical analysis of government data “really doesn’t take into consideration how the customer is treated,” said Bryan Saltzburg, an executive with travel site TripAdvisor LLC. “How comfortable are they on the plane? How helpful is the staff? What’s the value for what the customer paid?”

TripAdvisor released its own airline rankings Monday, which it said were based on analysis of “hundreds of thousands” of reviews posted by users. It placed JetBlue and Alaska Airlines among the top 10 in the world, and it rated Delta ahead of American and United among the largest U.S. carriers.

Other outfits including J.D. Power and Skytrax also put out ratings. Airlines boast when they win. Recently, American Airlines started putting stickers on all 968 of its planes to note that a trade publication, Air Transport World, named it airline of the year.

When Is the Best Time to Buy Airline Ticket

CheapAir.com has released the findings of its Annual Airfare Study, which crunched 921 million airfares from 2.9 million trips to find the best and worst times to buy an airline ticket. For the second consecutive year, the study found that 54 days out is, on average, when travelers can get the best deals on domestic flights. However, the best timing depends on when and where passengers fly.

CheapAir.com found that the lowest fare for a given flight changes an average of 71 times between the time it’s announced and the day the plane takes off. In other words, the price of a flight changes on average every 4.5 days, and each change averages $33 up or down.

“The most important rule is fairly obvious: don’t wait until the last minute, as that rarely works out,” said Jeff Klee, CEO of CheapAir.com. “But beyond that, you also want to be careful not to buy too early. I always suggest that travelers check fares early and often and get familiar with the market. Then, when you see a good deal pop up, grab it, because it likely won’t last very long.”

The Airfare Study identifies five booking windows in which travelers buy flights which CheapAir has labeled:

  • First Dibs” approximately 6 – 11 months in advance, when flights first open for sale and fares tend to be on the high side.
  • Peace of Mind” 3½ – 6 months in advance, when fares are at a modest premium but options abound.
  • Prime Booking Window” 3 weeks – 3½ months in advance, when airfares are the cheapest, on average. This is typically the best time to buy airline tickets.
  • Push Your Luck” 2 – 3 weeks in advance, fares can vary dramatically but are often rising significantly, particularly as flights fill to popular destinations.
  • Hail Mary” 0 – 2 weeks in advance, this is when airfares are highest, on average $150 more than booking in CheapAir.com’s “Prime Booking Window.”

How to survive a Long Flight in Coach

 

(this article was recently published in the Washington Post)

Let me start by saying one thing: If I can do this, you can, too.

When I lived in China and traveled home three times a year, making a 14-hour trek from Beijing to Dulles, people would say, “Oh, I could never do that kind of trip.”

They’re wrong. If I — a fidgety person who needs a body-space buffer most of the time — can do it, you can do it. And the payoff is that if you can survive a long-haul flight, whether it’s from Los Angeles to Sydney or Hong Kong to New York, you have just expanded your world.

This is not really intended for those who travel business or first class, those lucky ones who can pretend they’re curling up in the comfort of their living rooms, where the only downside is a little boredom and the wrong kind of chardonnay on the menu. No, this is for the humble masses, those who figure a cheaper flight is worth the reward of waking up in a place where breakfast might be spicy Asian rice noodles or where the smells might be an Australian eucalyptus tree.

You just need to keep a few tips in mind:

1. Choose your seat wisely. Most of the time, an aisle seat is best, even if you think you might want to sleep. Sleep on planes is overrated. Even in comfortable seats, you won’t be sleeping as much as you want. An aisle seat gives you the luxury of being able to pop up to stretch your legs. Of course, if this is an overnight and you want to be fresh when you land, a window seat and a good pillow might be better — if you promise yourself you’ll still move around. Deep vein thrombosis is real.

2. If you do end up with a window or the dreaded middle seat, remember this: You have the right to move. This means you must be brave enough to ask the person in the aisle seat to get up whenever you want, even if he is asleep. I learned this once the hard way when a guy in the aisle seat announced that he hadn’t slept in two days, popped an Ambien, and then became an unyielding wall between me and freedom.

3. This might be controversial, but I’m a seat-back proponent. Those folks who say you should never put your seat back at all have not traveled for 14 hours in coach. It doesn’t have to go all the way back, but no one should have to sit up straight for that long.

4. Food is overrated. Even if the meals surprise you with their quality — in which case you’ve been hitting the chardonnay a little too hard — don’t indulge in every last crumb of that brownie or roll. Your digestive system will thank you.

5. Do eat something, though. There is nothing worse than the feeling of having passed up the middle-of-the-flight meal only to realize you’re ravenous and you have another three hours before any kind of sustenance will be offered. A snack with protein (think nuts, not that pork knuckle you bought before you got on the plane in Munich) is a good backup plan.

6. Stay hydrated. Take every cup of water that is offered and don’t be shy about asking for more or walking to the service area. On many flights, trays of water are set up so passengers can help themselves.

7. Remember the accessories. I have tried the sling that wraps around your tray table and offers foot and leg support. The one I tried bunched one foot on top of the other — fail. Other people put some kind of book or solid item under their feet so the pressure is off their lower spine. A good neck pillow and eye mask are also helpful if you think you’ll sleep. A lightweight jacket, sweater or scarf is a godsend on over-chilled international flights.

8. Make sure your devices are charged. Some older-generation iPads, Kindles, phones and laptops don’t hold 14 hours of juice, and if you don’t have a battery pack and your seat doesn’t have a charger, you’re out of luck. Bring a paperback or magazine as backup, so you don’t end up browsing Sky Mall or staring at the seat like Elaine’s boyfriend Puddy in that one “Seinfeld” episode.

9. Be disciplined about entertainment. It’s best to start with reading when your brain is fresh and the dry air hasn’t made your eyeballs feel like cotton. When you can no longer read, go for a movie. Choose wisely: “Boyhood,” at 2 hours and 46 minutes, once ate up a good chunk of a flight. Next, move to music or podcasts. I recommend Krista Tippett’s “On Being.” If I’m going to have a voice in my ears when I drift off, let it be Krista’s. When you wake up from your catnap, you can start the process over again.

10. If the thought of wearing shoes for that long bothers you, bring a pair of soft socks or slippers to protect your feet from the bathroom floor.

11. Women, don’t wear a lot of makeup. You’ll feel gross after 10 hours. Pack some makeup removal wipes for the end of the trip to freshen up.

12. Remember that alcohol is rarely worth it. Airline wine is generally unimpressive, and if you choose red you’ll have purple teeth and lips for longer than you like. And the beer is generally bad. Besides, it’s really too cold to be drinking beer.

13. Try very hard not to look at the little screen that tells you how much time remains in the flight. When you feel as though you’ve been traveling forever, it’s no fun to glance at the indicator and learn that — nope — you still have nine hours left.

14. Finally, this might feel like Stockholm syndrome, but I have found that being nice to the flight attendants pays off, even when they seem to be scolding passengers and rushing by you so fast there’s a breeze. You never know when one might slip you an extra Dixie cup of ice cream or look the other way when you grab an entire empty row for a good long rest.

Royal Caribbean Updates Its Dress Code

Royal Caribbean has updated its dress code again to remove shorts from its list of casual attire.

According to the cruise line’s blog, last week the line had added shorts to its suggested dress code for cruise ship guests dining in the main dining room on casual nights.

Today, the latest version of the suggested dress code on the cruise line’s website drops shorts from the list of casual attire, instead listing “Jeans, polos, sundresses and blouses.” Instead, shorts are only “welcomed for breakfast and lunch.”

Other dress code items to note from the line: guests are advised to only wear swimsuits on the pool deck. There are also “smart casual” suggestions – collared shirts, dresses, skirts and blouses or pantsuits – as well as formal nights on certain sailings, which require suits and ties, tuxedos, cocktail dresses or evening gowns.

The change is notable because proper attire – or lack thereof – has been a hot topic when it comes to travel lately. Just last week United Airlines sparked controversy on social media when it denied boarding to two young girls, who were traveling on a non-revenue ticket, because the two girls were wearing leggings.

The incident, which wound up going by the name of “leggingsgate,” drew some discussion from travel agents on our Facebook page. Travel agents who weighed in mostly sided with the airline, pointing out that, as passengers traveling on a non-revenue ticket – a ticket type which offers free or heavily discounted airfare to airline staff and their families – they would have been notified of the dress code requirement.

One reader was against leggings entirely. In response to our Facebook poll, “Should airlines allow leggings as pants on planes,” they simply answered, “No!!!”

Must Pay to have TSA PreCheck

Thirteen percent of frequent travelers expect to lose or have lost their complimentary TSA PreCheck status, according to surveys conducted by GO Group, LLC, an international transportation provider and GO Airport Express, a Chicago-based ground transportation provider.

The Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) announced that as of February 2017, it was significantly reducing access to expedited screening for non-enrolled travelers, GO Group said.

Of the 446 survey respondents who responded to the surveys, 83 percent said the change will not affect them because they already pay for TSA PreCheck. Forty percent said the new rules did not apply to them because they were not frequent flyers and 28 percent were unsure if they would be affected.

Of those who responded they were losing their free PreCheck, 23 percent said they would pay the fee because it was worth the price to go through security faster without having to remove clothing items and electronic devices from luggage. Twenty-seven percent noted they would not pay for the privilege, deeming it too expensive. Forty-two percent had not made a decision yet at the time these surveys were conducted.

“TSA PreCheck offers a valuable and convenient service for those who spend a lot of time in airports, but some frequent travelers are willing to give it up because it is still cost-prohibitive,” said John McCarthy, president, GO Group, LLC, in a written release. “But based on these results, more are likely to be willing to pay the fee to avoid the long lines, especially if, as predicted, air travel will increase this spring and summer.”

Source: GO Group

Spend Your Tax Refund on Travel

(This article was recently published in the New York Times)

Don’t save your tax refund check — spend it on travel. That is the message some tour operators, cruise lines and hotels want to get across this year, and with Tax Day approaching on April 18, they’re offering tax-themed trips and stays. Most are priced below $3,000, the amount of the average tax refund in 2017, as of early March, according to the Internal Revenue Service.

The South African Tourism office in the United States has created a tax-related travel initiative of nine trips to entice aspiring travelers to visit the country. All cost about $3,000 or less and include accommodations and some meals and activities; most include airfare. Each trip is from a different tour operator — SmarTours, for example, has a six-night package that includes a stay in Cape Town and a safari in Kruger National Park. From $1,799 a person.

And Travel Discounters has a six-night itinerary that includes stays in Johannesburg and the Karongwe Game Reserve, where guests go on daily game drives. From $2,199 a person.

Bangu Masisi, the president of South African Tourism in North America, said the tax season was an ideal opportunity to show that a trip to South Africa is within reach. “Most people think that a vacation to South Africa is out of their budget, but these trips prove that it’s more affordable than they may imagine,” she said.

The travel company STA Travel has two “TaxPerience” trips; both are available throughout 2017 and include flights, internal transfers, accommodations, tours and some meals and activities.

The eight-day “Northern Hilltribes and Villages” package includes stays in Bangkok and Chiang Mai, but the heart of the trip is exploring more rural northern Thailand — there, travelers visit villages to learn about the local culture and cuisine and also go on guided wildlife-watching treks through the countryside. From $1,295 a person.

The second trip is a nine-day “Cambodia Experience,” in which travelers visit not only Angkor Wat and Siem Reap in Cambodia but also Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam and Bangkok in Thailand. From $1,641 a person.

Cruise fans can consider the two “Tax Refund” journeys from Variety Cruises, both available throughout 2017: a 12-day cruise of the Greek Islands, including stops in Santorini and Mykonos (from $2,695 a person), or an eight-day cruise around Iceland, with stops in the cities of Siglufjordur and Reykjavik (from $2,950 a person).

Hotels, too, are using tax season as a peg to attract guests. In Zanzibar, the Baraza Resort & Spa has a six-night “Under Taxing Rejuvenating Yoga Holiday” package; included are accommodations in a two-bedroom villa with a plunge pool, all meals, 10 one-hour yoga classes and airport transfers. From $1,995 a person. Available throughout 2017. Book by emailing info@thezanzibarcollection.com.

And in St. Lucia, the Capella Marigot Bay Resort and Marina has the “Taxes at Bay” package, including four nights’ accommodations, all meals and alcoholic beverages, a couples massage, a sunset cruise, a zip line rain forest excursion and all taxes and service charges. From $3,800 for two people. Available throughout 2017.

In the United States, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants has several properties offering tax-related packages. Kimpton Hotel Allegro, in Chicago, is offering “Tax-Cation,” which includes accommodations without the city’s 17.4 percent accommodation tax (the hotel covers the fee), a $25 daily food and beverage credit and a welcome amenity of prosecco and chocolate gold coins. From $114 a night. Valid through May 31.

For indulgence-seekers, the Kimpton Hotel Palomar, in Philadelphia, offers “Relax After You Tax,” which includes accommodations in the presidential suite, an in-room couples massage and a bottle of sparkling wine. At $1,040 a night. Available through May 31.

Norwegian Cruise Line offers more trips to Cuba

Norwegian Cruise Line is ramping up its Cuba sailings for 2018, offering 33 new roundtrip voyages from Miami.

Sailings will take place on the Norwegian Sky, which will begin its 2018 Cuba cruise season in March with four-day roundtrip cruises to the destination, 32 of which will include an overnight stay in Havana.

The new cruises will begin on March 26, 2018, and are in addition to the previously announced 30 Cuba calls that the cruise line will offer through this December. Those cruises start in June 2017 and also include overnight Havana stays, as well as a call on Great Stirrup Cay, Norwegian’s private island in the Bahamas.

On 2017 and 2018 itineraries Norwegian guests in Havana can enjoy visits to historical sites like Old Havana, a UNESCO World Heritage Site; explorations of the city’s art and music scene; and visits with locals through people-to-people exchanges.

Norwegian said it will offer 15 half- and full-day OFAC-compliant shore excursions, offering guests the opportunity to have a farm to table dining experience, explore the flora and fauna of Soroa, see Havana in an American classic car and more.

2018 itineraries will also call at Great Stirrup Cay.

Guests onboard the Norwegian Sky can enjoy included dining, entertainment and unlimited beer, wine and premium spirits through an updated policy Norwegian rolled out in 2015. Guests three to 20 years of age can enjoy unlimited sodas and juice. All-inclusive prices onboard Norwegian Sky do not include taxes, gratuities or specialty restaurant charges.

Norwegian Cruise Line was approved for travel to Cuba late last year along with the two other brands, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, under the umbrella of its parent company, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings. Cuba cruises are also available on Oceania Marina, as well as Seven Seas Mariner.

Bookings for Norwegian Sky’s four-day cruises to Cuba for 2018 open April 20.