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It’s Time to Plan Your 2023-24 Journeys
With most of this year already in your rearview mirror, it’s time to be making leisure travel plans for the year ahead and possibly well beyond. It’s certainly not too early to be looking 12 to 18 months in advance for the best 2024 cruise and land itineraries, especially with the more exotic destinations already offering only limited availability. The planning timetable clearly lengthened as the return to international travel shifted into high gear during 2022.
I expect the worldwide travel industry – airlines, cruise lines, hotels, tour operators, car rental agencies and resorts – to surpass pre-COVID operating levels in 2023. Yet, staffing will continue to be an issue for most travel providers. For example, the current world-wide shortage of airline pilots led to record cancellations this year and fewer flights to many destinations. Meanwhile, depleted car rental fleets have made finding a car with an automatic transmission for rent in Europe both difficult and more expensive than you might expect.
Early planning, incorporating flexible reservations without change penalties, will help avoid many of the obstacles international travelers are likely to face the next couple of years. Furthermore, the current strength of the U.S. dollar versus other currencies makes many destinations, particularly those in Europe, cost less for American travelers – especially for those traveling during the shoulder season or off-season.
NEW SHIPS ON THE HORIZON
At least 13 new ocean-going cruise ships ranging from small to large vessels will debut in 2023 with next-in-class ships anticipated from Oceania, Norwegian, Celebrity, Seabourn and Regent Seven Seas, among others. I am particularly excited about Oceania Vista, an all-balcony ship designed to carry 1,200 guests, double occupancy, and featuring the line’s first cabins designed for solo travelers.
In the luxury category, Silversea will christen Silver Nova in August featuring hybrid technology allowing the vessel to operate emissions free. Nova’s 13 all-balcony suite categories range in size from 357 to 1,323 square feet, while the ship will offer eight dining venues and a space-to-guest ratio and crew-to-guest ratio of 1-to-1.3.
At the other end of the cruise spectrum, Royal Caribbean just deployed Wonder of the Seas, its fifth Oasis class ship providing new dining options and onboard activities for everyone. In short, the ship offers a “floating resort at sea” vacation. The Wonder is a particularly good option for multi-generational families or a group of friends cruising together. RCCL believes its Oasis class ships compete favorably with land-based, all-inclusive resorts without confining their guests to a single destination – and I totally agree, especially when the itinerary includes at least one Perfect Day at CocoCay!
MEET OUR NEW TRAVEL PARTNER
Cruise & Travel Experts is a member of the Signature Travel Network, which now offers a truly out-of-this-world travel experience. Space Perspective became a preferred travel partner last month and will offer six-hour flights to the edge of our atmosphere, 20 miles above the Earth, beginning in 2025.
Spaceship Neptune incorporates a SpaceBalloonTM designed to lift the Neptune space capsule and eight adventure-seeking explorers to the edge of outer space without having to endure a multi-G-force, greenhouse gas emitting, ride on a rocket. Spaceship Neptune’s Capsule remains secured to the SpaceBalloon the entire flight from liftoff to splashdown, creating a seamlessly safe and gentle flight.
Space Perspective already has about 1,000 reservations, so if you wish to travel off the beaten path where only a few people have gone previously, you should make your flight reservation as soon as possible. The journey requires no pre-trip training for launches from the Kennedy Space Center, but you may need deep pockets. The current fare for the flight is $125,000 per seat (subject to change) and, for a cool one-million dollars, four couples could reserve a private flight together.
EXCITING TRAVEL IDEAS ONLINE
While I typically avoid promoting specific travel deals in this newsletter, should you be at a loss for where to travel next, please visit the Travel Inspirations page on my website. Two dozen or more travel ideas, ranging from European river cruises to tours of SE Asia or South America with added travel benefits, are highlighted there each month. Here’s a link to that page: Special Offers – Vacations by Cruise & Travel Experts.
Mary and I will be celebrating the holidays at home this year, which means I will be available most days from December 15thth through New Year’s Day to answer your travel questions or start planning a future travel experience for you and yours. It’s also an appropriate time for me to acknowledge your ongoing support during the past 15 years, contributing largely to my travel practice’s gratifying success. Thank you for your trust and confidence in my travel advice and for your friendship.
Enjoy the special season ahead with family and friends, and may you experience only joy and happiness in 2023. Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukah!
Yours in Travel,
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