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Ocean Opulence: The World’s Most Extravagant Cruise Ships

There are cruises, and then there are luxury cruises. The difference between the two is clear the moment you step on board.

The unparalleled experience provided by these luxury cruise lines has long enticed passengers into sparing no expense to set sail in style.

From sparkling infinity pools and hovering glass walkways to multi-sensory underwater lounges, these ships have it all.

Take a look at our list of the world’s most luxurious cruise ships and see just how extravagant they can be.

 

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Guides

Top Transport and Travel News in the Year of COVID-19

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The year of COVID-19 has brought so many changes in our lives. The coronavirus has altered so many areas of our routines including traveling within our borders and abroad.

This, perhaps, should be the year we can all forget. With the multitude of disruptions, challenges, and restrictions, this unforgivable year of COVID-19 is, thankfully, about to end. We’re on to the next one.

Among the many areas that were heavily affected during this year of COVID-19 is the transport and travel sector. Below then is a rundown of the highlights.

Worldwide traveling came to an abrupt standstill

During the start of this year of COVID-19, travel to and from Wuhan, China—the origin of the coronavirus—was halted. Eventually, countries closed their borders to all other countries especially those that had numerous cases of the disease. To control widespread transmission, lockdowns and quarantine protocols were initiated, as well.

Airlines suddenly had to stop their daily trip schedules. Maritime travel followed suit as cruise ships slowly became teeming grounds of infection. Experts posit that the travel industry will take years before it gains back the losses it incurred during this year of COVID-19.

Micro-transport began to emerge

Due to the necessity of controlling the spread of the virus, regular public transportation had to be stopped. People had to make do with other travel alternatives. Those who had private vehicles got to rely on them while others who had scooters and bicycles were forced to rely on these implements.

People who did not have their own vehicles had to walk on foot as not many were open to sharing their private rides to strangers. This abrupt change in commuting trends heavily resulted in heavier road traffic and the government must find a way to ease this problem.

The increase in border checks

Because of the increased need to halt the spread of the coronavirus, another trend that emerged during this year of COVID-19 is the increase in border checks. Be it domestic or abroad travel, borders were tightened and various requirements emerged. Several areas within the country required COVID-19 testing for visitors and some kind of quarantine protocols. Many countries adopted the same safety protocols especially in their maritime ports and airports.

Better equipped communities.

Around the world, people experienced the lack and insufficiency of supplies. Disinfectants, medications, and food implements became increasingly unavailable as people flocked to the stores, draining them of the much-needed supplies. Panic-buying became a worldwide phenomenon. Thus, governments had to encourage and limit the number of products allowed per individual so that more people can benefit from the stocks available. There is a need for communities to become more self-reliant in terms of produce so that during such instances of emergency, residents are assured of food security, among others.

Increase in cashless transactions

During this year of COVID-19, people became even more dependent on the internet for purchases. Due to the need to follow social distancing mandates, people were forced to rely on the internet, prioritizing cashless transactions or online purchasing. Businesses had to limit their opening hours, as well, as many employees were instructed to do work-from-home (WFH) arrangements. In effect, WFH arrangements and internet purchases are both due also to the lack of ready public transportation.

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Destinations

Tracking COVID-19 Restrictions by Country Using an Interactive Tool

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Skyscanner develops an interactive tool that provides travelers with information regarding the different travel restrictions per country.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about a multitude of travel restrictions all around the world to contain the transmission of the deadly virus. Americans are now peppered with so many travel-abroad regulations due to the rapid—and seemingly unending—increase in cases. If you plan to make a trip abroad, it can be difficult to obtain relevant and up-to-date information on the specific travel requirements for either your state of origin or your intended destination. This is because these requirements are regularly updated and modified depending on the COVID-19 situation at the moment.

More and more countries, however, are providing detailed travel restrictions and monitoring tools. Skyscanner’s interactive COVID-19 travel map is, by far, one of the most sophisticated ones. The tool is in its beta version and can be perused via Skyscanner’s website. The map can be used to check the different travel restrictions of the different countries represented. Countries are color-coded, displaying those with low, moderate, and heavy travel restrictions which are in green, yellow, and red, respectively. Countries that do not have data, however, are colored gray. A user’s specific country of origin is colored gray, as well, during a search.

You can click through the different destinations. You can also scroll through the list of suggested destinations provided. By doing so, you can find out about the travel restrictions per country and even check the latest updates in terms of current COVID-19 cases, the rate of transmission, the difference in case numbers as compared to the previous week, and so on. You are also offered the option to sign up for email notifications as regards succeeding COVID-19 updates regarding a particular country.

The said Skyscanner tool was introduced in November. It makes use of data obtained from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) for the updates on travel restrictions plus COVID-19 case rates from the John Hopkins University.

The tool is an initiative that resulted from Skyscanner’s American survey as regards attitudes toward the different travel restrictions imposed which prevented easy trips locally and internationally. Out of the 1,000 respondents, about 51% mentioned that they did not have adequate confidence on the knowledge they had about the travel restrictions of the places they wanted to visit. Despite this fact, many Americans have been found to be browsing through international airfare.

“People want to travel and we know there is pent-up demand from the searches we are seeing for flights and for more information; but confidence has been hit by the lack of consistency between countries worldwide regarding measures and restrictions,” shares U.S. travel expert for Skyscanner, Mark Crossey. “Consumers just don’t understand the complex rules and are crying out for transparent, detailed information,” Crossey adds.

Crossey points out, however, that there are only a few countries that offer quarantine-free visits. At the moment, merely 13 countries are indicated as green. 212 countries are colored orange or even red. He asserts that the Skyscanner tool is only a piece of the solution. Countries all over the world must have a standard set of travel restrictions including testing protocols and quarantine procedures before travelling can become easier.   

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The Different Types of White Wine Explained

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Have you tried to select a good white wine for a special meal, or as a gift, but get overwhelmed by the endless white wine options at your local winery? 

So many different bottles, with different labels and categories, can be frustrating. While you might not want to become a wine connoisseur, you wish you had a little knowledge of the types of white wine and its flavors.

The guide below will introduce you to the basic types of white wine and how to pair them with food. Knowing your white wine options and how they affect your palate will help you make the perfect selection later.

Chardonnay/Chablis

Chardonnay might be considered the “go-to” white wine for casual gatherings, rather than for a large meal. But, Chardonnay is actually a very full-bodied wine, and best paired with creamy, heavier food. 

There is a distinction between Chardonnay and Chablis. Chablis is a region in France where wine is made from the Chardonnay grape. Chablis is not usually cured in oak barrels, as is a lot of Chardonnay, so it has a much lighter taste and is often paired with light appetizers like raw oysters. 

Pinot Grigio/Gris

Pinot Grigio has really taken Chardonnay’s place as the “go-to” wine these days, due to it’s consistently dry, light, and slightly fruity flavor.

Lighter in color than Chardonnay, a Pinot Grigio can be paired with pasta and heavy salads, as well as most seafood. A Pinot Grigio stands well all by itself as well.

Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon white wines are on the dry side, with a tart taste. Certain varieties, particularly those from New Zealand, have a more fruity taste. Many describe the taste as having a slight hint of grapefruit or sour apple flavor.

This is a great stand-alone wine, but pairs well with cheese, and fresh seafood.

Moscato

Moscato is a sparkling white wine that is often thought of as a “dessert” wine, due to its sweet flavor. But these days, Moscato is becoming a popular dinner wine, as it pairs well with spicy foods, and even with a refreshing summer salad. And, of course, you can pair it with your favorite dessert.  

Moscato is lower in alcohol content as well, making it a good starter choice for someone new to drinking white wine.

Reisling

Riesling is also a popular dessert wine, as it is quite sweet, though not as sweet as Moscato.

Again, pairing it with spicy Asian or Indian dishes is a great idea, or with fruity desserts.  

Gewurztraminer

From a region in Germany, Gewurztraminer is a great dry/sweet combination wine and is slightly fruity. This white wine is less popular in the United States, usually because the other wines listed here are more familiar. 

If you are unsure whether to go to a dry wine or sweet one, try a bottle of Gewurztraminer and pair it with cinnamon-laden desserts, creamy bisque soups, or curry dishes.

Choosing from the Types of White Wine 

With so many types of white wine, how do you choose? 

First, decide if the wine will be paired with food, and if so, what kind of food, and work from there.

If the wine is a gift for someone else, find out if they prefer a dry or sweet white wine. If the wine is for you, choose one from each of the types of white wine, and have a tasting party!

Do you love to travel, and dream of exploring the world?  Stick with this site for content that will help you expand your horizons.

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