On The Ground: Pack light. I cannot stress this enough.We had picked up a few souvenirs in Cape Town, thinking they were great bargains. They seemed light enough. At the check-in counter for Air Seychelles in Johannesburg, however, my suitcases and I were weighed together on a ramp-like device, and a stern-faced agent told me my suitcase could not go with me. I think it was good cop-bad cop routine, because when I looked perplexed, another agent told me I could pay for the extra weight (if only that worked in life). She scribbled some numbers on a sheet of paper and directed me to a long line of passengers clutching checkbooks and credit cards. I paid 800 rand (roughly $108) to take my cheap souvenirs with me.
Our departure time was 1 p.m., so we decided to grab a light bite to eat. (Would they weigh me again?) We stopped by the gate just to be sure, and noticed a departure time of 2 p.m. was posted. Hmm…. While we were eating, an attendant from Air Seychelles told us the flight was leaving earlier than expected and asked us to proceed to the gate.We did, and stood in line, only to be told that we would be leaving at 2 p.m. (16/20)
On Board: Once we had settled into our assigned seats, the soft lilting Seychellois music relaxed us and we quickly drifted off. The seats were clean and comfortable and I did not feel cramped (I am tall). A few hours into the flight, an attendant came by to ask us if we wanted fish or chicken for dinner. I requested chicken and was told they had none. My companion requested chicken. They found some for him. Don’t ask. I’m glad I had a light meal at the airport. Though I was in no danger of another weigh-in, I couldn’t finish the meal. Blame it on an over-abundance of good sushi in my hometown, but tuna that is frozen and later cooked just doesn’t work for me. I do admire that the airline was serving fish that had been caught in the Seychelles. If only there had been a sushi chef on board. (35/40)
The Experience: The economy section was not full, soI stretched out in some middle seats. Many other passengers did the same — and it was a quiet, uneventful flight. Just the way we all like it. The flight attendants were discreet and all but invisible, except when that crucial blanket was needed. They anticipated the request and delivered it quickly and graciously. (39/40)
Total Score: 90/100
Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group announced plans to take over an existing hotel in Switzerland. The property is undergoing extensive renovations in preparation to open at the end of next year as Mandarin Oriental Palace, Luzern. The property was previously Hotel Palace Luzern, on the shores of Lake Lucerne and in the heart of the city; it originally opened in 1906.
Welcome to Rhodes, a medieval treasure beautifully preserved throughout the centuries. Rhodes is the capital of the Dodecanese, an island ideal not only for those who want to relax, but also for those looking for an action-packed holiday! With its bright green hills, rich green valleys and uninterrupted line of golden beaches, Rhodes is truly a blessed place. “The sun island” has more sunshiny days and milder temperatures throughout the year than any other location in Greece. It is, after all, one of the country’s easternmost places and among the first to welcome summer on its impressive beaches. Add in the excellent facilities for tourism, the island’s special blend of cosmopolitan and traditional, and numerous cultural and archaeological sites, the most important being the Medieval (Old) Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and you’ve got the perfect holiday destination. While on Rhodes, don’t miss a daytrip to nearby Sými. An island of sponge divers and seamen, Sými used to have 30,000 inhabitants before the Second World War and was the richest island in the Dodecanese, despite its small size. Today, Sými attracts many visitors thanks to its beautifully preserved Neo-Classical buildings and the famous Archangel Michael monastery at Panormitis.
As part of Germany’s climate package, a plan to reduce emissions, the country will raise departure taxes at German airports. Taxes will go up as much as 60 percent, and are expected to raise up to €740 million. The funds will then be used to lower VAT on rail fares from 19 percent to 7 percent.
United Airlines’ environmentally friendly efforts lessen the impact on local U.S. communities.
Norwegian Cruise Line took delivery of its newest ship, Norwegian Encore, ahead of its naming ceremony Nov. 21. The 1,100-foot-long ship boasts a guest capacity of nearly 4,000. Since Norwegian Cruise Line took delivery of the shi, Oct. 30, Norwegian Encore sailed from Germany to England before making its way to New York City, then Miami, where the christening ceremony takes place next week.
Experience a big-city hotel stay that doesn’t feel like your typical urban visit at Chicago’s Claridge House, nestled in the sought-after Gold Coast neighborhood. The hotel’s sophisticated décor and serene residential ambience foster the atmosphere of an oasis amid the hustle and bustle of a busy metropolis.