Royal Caribbean announced this afternoon that its Royal Caribbean and Celebrity ships will temporarily suspend port calls in Mexico in light of the swine flu outbreak. Most will substitute other ports or spend time at sea; Mariner of the Seas will offer a fully-revised itinerary.
Carnival suspended port calls slated for today and is looking at plans for the near future.
Airlines with service into Mexico have loosened rules regarding changes. Miami Herald report Nirvi Shah has this update. (Caution: Conditions have been changing quickly, so check your airline's website and phone contact lines for the latest.)
- American Airlines: For flights to Mexico booked prior to April 24 that depart before May 6, passengers can change their dates of travel to Mexico, change the destination of their flight or get a refund in the form of a travel voucher for totally unused airfare to Mexico. To change dates for no charge, travelers must depart and return to the same cities specified by their original tickets and can change the dates just once. If customers want to change their destination, there may be a charge for any difference in fare price. Details online or at 800-433-7300.
- AeroMexico: AeroMexico, which travels to 16 U.S. cities including Miami and Orlando, said travelers that appear to have flulike symptoms will not be allowed to board planes. These passengers will be able to change the date of their ticket, provided changes
are made by May 15 for flights scheduled between April 24 and May 31. 800-237-6639. The airline is not offering refunds.
- Mexicana: International Travelers flying on Mexicana Airlines, which serves 13 American cities,
can reschedule their flight for no charge if they were scheduled to fly between last April 24 and TApril 30 and were headed to Mexico City or catching connecting flights in Mexico City. If no seats are available on the new flight in the class in which tickets were booked, travelers would have to pay the difference in fare. The new tickets would be valid for one year from the date of issue. 877-801-2010.
- Spirit: Change fees for fliers booked to Cancun between April 24 and May 6 will be waived for travelers rebooking in the original class of service on the same routing; travel must be rebooked by May 20 and completed within one year of the date of original ticket issue. Change fees will be waived for travelers who want to change destinations, but the fare may cost more than the one originally booked. 800-772-7117; 800-756-7117 in Spanish.
In my world, yesterday was all about swine flu. You have to feel terrible for the Mexicans: drug violence, swine flu and an earthquake. (I spoke with a friend attending a tourism conference in Acapulco by phone just after the quake hit; what a day for conference attendees!) On the whole, Mexico is a great travel destination, with a little something for every taste and budget.
But you also have to wonder why cruise lines aren't taking a temporary break from Mexican ports, say a couple of weeks, to let the situation settle. Especially since the CDC has advised U.S. citizens to avoid nonessential travel to the country.
Turns out at least one is. Carnival announced that it cancelled its Mexican port calls today, and I'd expect Royal Caribbean to take similar steps. NCL has no Mexican itineraries at this time of year.
What do you think? Share your comments.
Hi. I'm looking for travelers from South Florida who are going to Mexico (or another place potentially affected by swine flu) to find out if they're changing travel plans or even just considering a change. Please contact me directly at jwooldridge@MiamiHerald.com. I'm on a tight deadline, so thanks!
If you've caught any form of media this week, you know that Earth Day is upon us. Technicallly it's tomorrow, though the entire week seems to be prime time for focusing on the needs of a melting globe.
It's a worthy subject -- especially if you live in Florida, front line for bad times if the ice shelves do, indeed, melt.
I saw proof of that thaw two summers ago, when I visited Greenland. Locals and scientists gave endless accounts of the fast-moving thaw of the icefjord at Illulissat. It's a staggering sight, and so grim to think that it could melt if we don't change our energy-guzzling ways.
The ultimate global-change trip, though, is probably Antarctica, where a section of the Wilkins ice shelf the size of Connecticut is said to have collapsed.
It's a long voyage, and not the easiest nor the cheapest. So it's worth considering a trip being offered by Abercrombie & Kent, which specializes in luxury travel and comfort in rugged places.
Dec. 7-20, Dr. James McClintock, a professor of polar and marine biology at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, will lead a 14-day Antarctic trip aboard the Minerva, an expedition ship with comforts. Book by June 30 and get a 25 percent discount, with discounted prices starting at $5,697 per person, double.
---PHOTO: Greenland, 2007; photo by JANE WOOLDRIDGE/ THE MIAMI HERALD.
United Airlines announced yesterday that passengers who don't fit in a single coach may be bumped or required to buy a second seat -- though attendants will first try to find those passengers two seats together on the existing flight. Southwest has had a similar policy for years -- though it will refund the flier the cost of the second seat. Other airlines also claim the right to require large passengers to purchase a second seat -- though most don't enforce it.
The usual furor has ensued. Who gets to decide who fits and who doesn't?
As someone who has been stuck next to a person who clearly didn't fit, I'd say it's not that hard a call. If the passenger can fit in a seat with both arms in the down position, they fit. If they can't fit in the seat without raising the seat arm, they don't.
My own husband is 6'4" and no small fellow. But he does fit in a regular seat with both seat arms down, and without a seat belt extension. Still, you can imagine his ire when he was seated next to woman who not only couldn't fit in the seat with the seat arm down but when seated was so large that her elbow rested on his shoulder -- the shoulder on the other side of his body from her seat.
If you're a large person, you may be screaming about discrimination, and you surely have a point that airline seats are just too darned narrow. (Heck, they're too narrow even for a small child.)
Whether airlines should be considered a public vs. private transportation mode and subject to more federal regulation is a matter for lawyers. But as a regular flier I view it like this: I paid for an entire seat, and I should get it. The whole seat, what little of it there is.
What do you think? Share your thoughts below.
According to the annual Vacation Deprivation survey just released by Expedia, maybe not.
Expedia reports that this year:
- 34 percent of employed Americans said they would leave vacation days on the table this year -- even though Americans get fewer vacation days than employees in the other countries surveyed. Only Japanese workers planned to leave more vacation days untaken this year.
- Only 34 percent of employed adults said they feel better about their job after returning from vacation, compared to 39 percent in 2008.
- The number of adults who plan to take an extended two-week vacation declined from 14 percent in 2008 to 10 percent in 2009.
It's not hard to figure out what's driving this trend. Times are uncertain, and no one is immune. (Just check out layoffs in the media industry.)
But I can't help thinking that as bad as times are, for those of us with jobs, vacations are still really important. For one thing, we're stressed as all get-out. For another, who knows what tomorrow brings? My husband's own health issues this past year and those of several close friends have made it painfully clear that life and health do not last forever, and you need to make the memories while you can.
For me, that means traveling -- even if my trips are only overnighters.
Are you planning to take a vacation this year? Take our poll -- and comment below.