Qatar and Virgin join forces, while Christ the Protector beats Christ the Redeemer in a statue face-off
It’s a real annoyance for some cruise passengers when companies offer last-minute sales. It means that someone who booked way in advance may have paid a lot more than someone who signed up just days before departure. I’ve witnessed it cause quite a bit of rub over a dinner table aboard. But Ponant is offering up to 30 per cent off brochure prices for the Kimberley cruise on Le Soleal from Darwin to Broome on May 28, 2022, and vice versa on June 7, 2022. Bookings must be made by May 20, 2022. The cost, inclusive of the 30 per cent bonus, is from $9310 per person twin share. Travel agents or 1300 737 178.
OPEN FOR BUSINESS
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced last Wednesday that the country will fully reopen its international borders from 11.59pm on July 31. Cruise ships will also be welcomed.
Thailand is aiming for up to 15 million foreign tourist arrivals this year, government spokesperson Wangboonkongchana says. They are expected to spend between $26 billion and $49b. On-arrival COVID-19 tests were dropped on May 1.
Spain’s tourist arrivals jumped eight-fold in March, as four million people arrived. The data from the National Institute of Statistics shows numbers edging towards pre-COVID levels.
Face masks will no longer have to be worn on flights and in airports in EU countries from next Monday, May 16, under a new policy announced by the EU Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). The shift is in line with changing COVID policies on public transport across Europe.
QATAR & VIRGIN
Virgin Australia and Qatar Airways are joining forces. They have announced a partnership agreement that will expand both airlines’ networks, lounges and loyalty programs.
It enables Qatar Airways passengers to travel easily to 35 destinations on the Virgin Australia domestic network on a single booking.
Virgin Australia passengers will be able to access Qatar Airways’ global route network of more than 140 destinations, via the airline’s hub in Doha.
Probably of more interest to us is that the partnership will also include reciprocal loyalty benefits allowing Qatar Airways Privilege Club members to earn and redeem Avios when flying on Virgin Australia, with similar benefits for Velocity members when travelling with Qatar.
BIGGER & BETTER
Emirates has unveiled its premium economy offering, which will be introduced on flights to and from Australia, starting with its Sydney routes from June 1.
The new cabin class has bigger seats, more legroom and a high level of service.
The president of Emirates airline, Sir Tim Clark, says: “Customers trading up from economy will be getting excellent value. Since we first introduced our premium economy seats in January 2021, the positive response and demand has been tremendous.” There are currently only six A380s with premium economy but in November, a retrofit program to install it on 67 A380s and 53 Boeing 777s will begin.
Sir Tim says: “At the end of the program, Emirates will have 126 aircraft fitted out with premium economy cabins. Our intention is to offer this experience to many more markets across our network.”
Dubai has ranked top globally, with 82 per cent hotel occupancy in the first quarter of 2022. There were 3.97 million overnight visitors.
FILLING IT IN
I’ve mentioned the DPD many times, but because it’s still catching readers out, I’ll mention it again. Under Federal Government requirements, all travellers arriving by air into Australia have to complete the Digital Passenger Declaration. Download the DPD app or fill it out at dpd.homeaffairs.gov.au. The email from a reader which has prompted this mention, adds: “I have a phone but can barely use it. I am computer illiterate. There are many like me who wish to travel. It is very onerous to say the least.”
He signs off: “Please read this as it took a lot of effort and about three quarters of an hour to type it.”
TRAIN OF THOUGHT
In the UK, polling for the HS1 high speed train project has revealed that 86 per cent of people surveyed would be more likely to travel by train to holiday in Europe than by plane, if more routes were available. It is seen as evidence of travellers trying to reduce emissions. The Great Rail Journeys Guide in this edition is clearly well-timed.
CAREER HIGH POINT
A Nepali Sherpa has summited Mt Everest for a record 26Kami scaled the 8848.86m mountain last on May 7 along the traditional south-east ridge route, leading 10 other Sherpa climbers.
Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer statue has been “toppled”. Locals in the small town of Encantado, in southern Brazil, have built a taller Christ to attract tourists. Their Christ the Protector stands 43m tall, compared to Rio’s at 38m.