August 11, 2010

Is air travel becoming more vexing? You tell us

Unless you've been in the woods of Vermont without cell service or Internet (as I just was), you've heard the story about the jetblue attendant-turned-folk hero who lost his cool after two passengers argued over overhead bin space.

What do you think? Have airline rules regarding fees for baggage and other "extras'' become so maddening that something like this was bound to happen? Have fliers simply become ruder? What about airline personnel, are they to blame? Or is it the airline companies who are struggling to meet demands of passengers who don't want to pay the fares needed to cover airline costs? Would it be better to have higher fares that include checked baggage and meals?

We want to hear your opinions, and your recent experiences regarding airline travel. Some comments may be used in print. (We'd love to be able to contact you for quotation in our story as well; if you're willing to chat and you live in South Florida, please e-mail Hannah Sampson at hsampson@MiamiHerald.com.)

Posted by Jane Wooldridge at 12:23 PM
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January 17, 2010

What's the best state fair?

I don't post to this blog very often anymore -- my life now revolves around business -- but I still love travel. And I'm writing a travel book for National Geographic's 100 Most Enriching Vacations series.

You can help by pointing me in the right direction.

Today's question: What's the best state fair? If you have a favorite (or just a beloved one), post a comment here to tell me about it and why you love it. It could end up in the book!


Posted by Jane Wooldridge at 06:36 PM
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November 21, 2009

Scenes from Oasis of the Seas

Centpark

 

Promscene 

Promcar

 Screen

Posted by Jane Wooldridge at 06:49 PM
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Garden in the middle

Ask anyone what they most love about the ship, and you’re likely to hear “Central Park.’’

 

This is a serene garden open to the skies in the middle of ship, flanked by a few upmarket shops (including the first Coach at sea) and eateries (the specialty restaurant 150 features a mouth-watering tasting menu that looks well worth the $35 upcharge.)

 

A pergola twined with bougainvillea lines one side, “living’’ walks of plants line cabin balconies in the mid-section. Skylights protrude into the garden, allowing light to spill on the promenade below. The Riding Tides levitating bar slides between the two levels.

 

Above all, it’s just a soothing – and beautiful – place to hang out. We'll post pix...when we've got more time. So much to see!

Posted by Jane Wooldridge at 03:14 PM
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Good but not perfect

Most of the 3,200 agents and press on board this two-day preview sailing are raving about the ship…and with good reason. But not everything is perfect.

Some of the technology features – such as booking show reservations via your TV – aren’t working, which meant a long stand in line for the free tickets. We might have been able to sneak into the show without reservations – the ship is only half full – but on a regular reservations are a must.

Another glitch: The Fish Shack restaurant has proven so popular that the wait is nearly two hours long. This probably won’t be a problem on regular sailings, when guests will pay an extra charge to eat there ($7.95 at lunch, $9.95 at dinner.). Today it’s free. Still, you can see a problem in the making, because no reservations are accepted.

Also not happening: The Aqua show, involving high-dives and drama (a la the Cirque du Soleil “O’’ show in Vegas.) The show isn’t quite ready, we’re told, but should be before the paying passengers come on board. That’s pretty much the case with all these glitches: They should be fixed before paying guests get here. Hope so.

Posted by Jane Wooldridge at 03:08 PM
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Oasis: Is it loud?

This is the view from my cabin, which overlooks the ship’s interior above the outdoor Carousselviw boardwalk. That means I’m looking out at the sun, the carrousel, a diner and toward the Aqua theater.

 

The obvious question: How loud is it? I’m surprised to find that at night, with the balcony door sealed shut and the heavy curtain liner pulled tight, I don’t hear a thing. Don’t know if that’s the case for cabins on lower decks that are closer to the action…I’ll try to find out.

Posted by Jane Wooldridge at 02:59 PM
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Live from Oasis of the Seas

Janeinair Strapped into harness and helmut, feet dangling from a pulley six stories above deck, I slide across the only zipline at sea.

 “Yow!’’

 It isn’t the long glide hundreds of feet above the Costa Rica jungle that most zipliners crave, but it’s more thrilling than the short span looks from the sidelines.

A lot about the Oasis of Seas, the world’s much-vaunted and largest cruise ship, strikes me that way: Better than I expect. I’m one of several dozen cruise writers aboard the ship.

Ship is a loose term: We can even feel the ship move, not when it leaves the harbor and not here at sea.

And this is, truly, more resort than sailing experience. Carrousel. Ziplines. A “central park’’ and a “boardwalk.’’ An elevated-bar that levitates so slowly between the promenade (home to shops, bars and a few eateries) and Central Park that you won’t even notice the motion while you’re sipping your martini.

As Gene Sloan, cruise writer for USA Today has put it, this is the first cruise ship that truly compares to the best of the Vegas hotels or Atlantis in the Bahamas.

That might not please diehard cruisers who are really seeking a seagoing experience that feels, well, like you’re at sea. But as Pembroke Pines travel agent Al Dobles said, “My wife and I have been to all the islands. So the ship really is the destination.’’

Posted by Jane Wooldridge at 02:39 PM
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July 10, 2009

Travels with Jane takes a vacation

If you've followed this blog, you know I haven't been posting lately. The reason: I've changed jobs.

For the past decade, I've been travel editor at the Miami Herald. As of a couple of weeks ago, I'm the Executive Business Editor.

So what do business and travel have in common, you might ask? Well, travel IS a business, you know. By some measures, it is the world's largest industry. And two of South Florida's biggest industries are tourism and cruising.

And though it's rarely been obvious to most readers, a good bit of what I've done, even as travel editor, is develop new products. Magazines, websites, newspaper sections, video and even consumer shows have been part of my arsenal as I've sought to share useful, evocative stories with readers on every platform. 

But there's more to the switch than that. Every now and then, you need to stretch your horizons. That's what traveling has always been about for me, as I've wandered from Mali to Mongolia, Cameroon to Cameron, N.C. For me, for now, this is the right stretch.

Does this mean I'll stop traveling? Of course not. Just now my husband is (I'm not kidding) at a factory program actually BUILDING his own small airplane. By the end of the month it will be airborne.

I'm determined I'm still going to be traveling far beyond its 800-mile range. With any luck, the next big trip will be Ethiopia. And sure, I'll write about it -- that's in my blood.

Meanwhile, this blog will go into semi-retirement. Every now and then, as the spirit moves, I'll post thoughts or photos, or even something more. Sign up for the rss feed, and you can come along.

Posted by Jane Wooldridge at 05:00 PM
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June 05, 2009

Traveling on

You may have caught the news that I'm changing jobs, moving from Travel to become Business Editor here at the Miami Herald.

Will I miss travel? You bet! But I'll still be traveling in my personal life, and likely writing about that, as well.

This is just a quick update; for now, I've got a foot in each department, so I'm swamped. I'll be posting occasionally over the next few weeks with more details.

A new travel editor will be named soon. For now, the best e-mails are travpress@MiamiHerald.com for travel press releases, and travel@MiamiHerald.com for freelance matters. If you're a reader with a question, please post it here and I -- or someone else -- will be back in touch!


Posted by Jane Wooldridge at 09:39 AM
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May 26, 2009

Burgundy: Eat here now

I'm in Burgundy on a French Country Waterways barge cruise. What a spectacular trip! Last night we dined at three-star Lameloise - spectacular foie gras, frogs legs and pigeon. Worth the calories.

Posted by Jane Wooldridge at 04:18 AM
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