Air and Cruise News: Croatia by Small Ship; Cuba Flights


Many airlines provide meals in their front cabins designed by celebrity chefs. But a charter flight this Thursday from Los Angeles to the Pebble Beach Food & Wine festival will carry several, including Michael Voltaggio and Neal Fraser, along with guests attending the March 31 to April 3 event. The 30-passenger flight will include small bites designed by the chefs along with rare wines served during the roughly hourlong trip. Tickets cost $5,000 and include a four-day pass to the event with access to private parties.

Extending chef exposure, the luxury travel company Belmond has announced a train trip from Singapore to Bangkok on the Eastern & Oriental Express with the Australian chef and restaurateur Luke Mangan next fall. The three-day trip, departing Oct. 28, will include a chef-led tour of a food market in Singapore followed by meals onboard prepared by Mr. Mangan and a cookbook signing reception with him. The train carries 82 passengers, and prices start from $2,820.


The airfare prediction app and website Hopper is forecasting that flights to Cuba, currently averaging $717 from the United States if traveling through a foreign country like Mexico or Canada, a practice that is illegal, will drop almost 50 percent, to an average of $364, once commercial American carriers are allowed to operate. Major U.S. carriers filed permits to operate commercial flights to Cuba earlier this month, though it is unknown when they will be approved or begin. Current regulations require a visa for travel under 12 eligible circumstances, including family visits and people-to-people travel, and travelers must book through a charter flight service, considered more expensive than flights competing in the open market. Hopper looked at airfares to destinations around Cuba, including the Bahamas, Cayman Islands and Cancún, Mexico, from airports in the United
States and direct flights to Cuba from Canadian cities to make itsanalysis, including projecting that nonstop service from Miami will cost $275 round trip. Hopper says flight searches between airports in the United States and Cuba have jumped 500 percent in the last year.


The culturally focused Peter Sommer Travels, run by the archaeologist and eponymous BBC documentarian, has added a new small-ship itinerary in Croatia this fall. Guided by a university professor who specializes in art, architecture and history, the eight-day trip aboard a 12-passenger wooden gullet departs Sept. 17 from Split and travels down the Adriatic coast. The itinerary explores a Roman palace, ancient Greek colony, the region’s tallest mountain and the islands of Hvar and Korcula en route to the ancient walled city of Dubrovnik. Rates start around $3,900 a person, double occupancy.


Catalina Express, the ferry company that operates from three Southern California ports to Catalina Island, 22 miles offshore, is offering free passage on riders’ birthdays this summer. The company operates eight ships, each carrying 150 to 450 passengers, with fares starting at $72 round trip, departing from Dana Point, Long Beach or San Pedro. To get the freebie, travelers must commence travel on their birthday and return within 30 days. This is the fifth year the company has offered the birthday special; more than 350,000 people have ridden free on their birthday since the program started in 2011.


JetBlue has launched its premium Mint service, featuring lie-flat seating, from Boston’s Logan International Airport to San Francisco daily, eventually expanding to three trips daily. Additionally, seasonal Mint service between Boston and Barbados took off this weekend and will operate through April 30. In October, the carrier will add Mint flights between Boston and Los Angeles.


Crystal Cruises has announced its schedules for 2017 and 2018 cruises that will include its first-ever trips to New Guinea and Doha, Qatar, both with the 922-passenger Crystal Symphony. It will repeat a 32-day Northwest Passage, launching this summer and sailing from Alaska to New York, in 2017 aboard the 1,070-guest Crystal Serenity. Other itineraries will be organized around special events, including Midsummer Eve in Stockholm and the Military Tattoo in Edinburgh. The expanding line includes oceangoing ships, small yacht cruises and, beginning this summer, river boats.


United Airlines and Air China have signed an agreement to expand their existing partnership. The new deal includes expanding connecting flights in the United States and China from San Francisco and Beijing and offering reciprocal benefits to frequent fliers. United currently flies to Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdu from San Francisco and will add Xian on May 8 and Hangzhou on July 13, pending government approval. United also flies nonstop to China from Chicago, Los Angeles, Newark and Washington. Both carriers are members of the Star Alliance.

[SOURCE :-nytimes]