When and How Will Cruising Return?

  • a small boat in a body of water with a mountain in the background

    2021 cruise bookings are on the rise despite coronavirus chaos
    The cruise line industry has taken a major beating due to covid-19, still analysts say the number of bookings for 2021 cruises have increased since this time last year.

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  • a large ship in the water

    Coronavirus-hit cruise ships able to dock in Florida
    Two Holland America cruise ships with coronavirus patients aboard were finally allowed to dock at a port near Fort Lauderdale, resolving a days-long impasse that drew the attention of President Donald Trump. Jillian Kitchener has more.

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    A 60-second virtual vacation in the Bahamas
    Find out why this stunning archipelago is a diver's paradise.

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RCL Cares Fields 3,000 Travel Advisor Requests in First Week

RCL Cares, a program started to help travel advisors navigate the coronavirus relief bill, has received more than 3,000 requests for assistance in its first week.

The sales reps for four Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. brands – Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Silversea and Azamara – were all trained by professionals in the intricacies of the $2 trillion CARES Act to help steer travel agents in the right direction.

“We decided right away we wanted to assist,” said Vicki Freed, senior vice president of sales and trade support & service for Royal Caribbean International. “Without travel partners, we aren’t in business.”

A special desk is being set up for travel agents who need further assistance.

Carol Cabezas, vice president and COO for Azamara, said the sales reps can be the “friendly, familiar face” for advisors. “Working with the government can be daunting,” she said, with some agents wondering where to even begin.

The executives made the comments in a conference call with trade press on April 6.

When asked what the industry would look like in six months, Freed said there may be some consolidation of brick-and-mortar agencies but that independent agents would likely ride it out. “In time they’ll grow their business back,” she said. “That’s why we want to make sure we have a healthy distribution system.”

Dondra Ritzenthaler, senior vice president of sales and trade support & service at Celebrity Cruises, said the sales team also is still doing calls, although virtually. “Our sales force is still being our sales force,” she said, so that business can ramp up the minute it is able to.

Cabezas added: “Our sales team, and I’m sure all the sales teams across our organization, remain highly engaged with all our travel partners. It’s entirely virtual to try to help them retain business or find a little bit of new business. I have to say, it’s surprising but true, there is still business coming through.”

Travel advisors can reach out to RCL Cares on the Cruising Power agent website.

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United scraps anti consumer refund policy international flights

United has ended a short-lived and unpopular policy that
delayed the disbursement of refunds for canceled international flights until
at least 12 months from the time of purchase. 

United now aligns international refund policy with its domestic
policy implemented in mid-March. Customers throughout the United network whose
travel is disrupted by more than six hours because of cancellations or schedule
changes can now receive a refund. 

As they’ve canceled unprecedented numbers of flights due to
the Covid-19 crisis, airlines in the U.S. have come under scrutiny in the past
month for attempting to work around federal regulations that require them to pay
out refunds. On Friday, the Transportation Department issued an enforcement
notice, telling carriers that they remain obligated to pay out refunds for
flights that they have canceled. 

United previously offered refunds on all travel disrupted by
more than two hours, but the airline has experimented with various stricter
policies since the second week of March in an effort to conserve cash during the Covid-19 crisis.

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You Can Take Virtual Tours of the World's Coolest Museums Right Now

Mona Lisa standing in front of a mirror posing for the camera: Thanks to 21st century technology, social distancing can't stop you from exploring some of the world's most famous galleries with virtual museum tours.

In these anxiety-inducing times, some of us reach for the nearest book, seek an online concert, or just want a brain-teasing puzzle. But for others, there’s nothing a little art can’t fix. And thanks to 21st century technology, social distancing can’t stop you from exploring some of the world’s most famous galleries and museums.

From Paris’s Louvre, to The Vatican, and the MET, there are a variety of museums offering interactive virtual tours. That means you can travel from continent to continent from the comfort of your home, while perusing the finest art and artifacts in your pajamas. Not to mention, they’re also a great activity to entertain your kids.

Below we detail the virtual museum tours that’ll take you away on an instant adventure.

The Louvre

.🇫🇷 Mercredi, c’est #HistoireDuLouvre ! Aujourd’hui, intéressons-nous à la majestueuse Cour Puget ⤵️ – 💁🏻♂️ Due à l'architecte Lefuel, cette cour a été construite lors de l’achèvement du Louvre sous le Second Empire (1852-1870). La cour faisait alors partie de l'aile du palais de Napoléon III. Elle a été baptisée en l’honneur du sculpteur Pierre Puget. – 💶 En 1871, le ministère des Finances, qui a perdu ses locaux de la rue du Mont-Thabor (Paris Ier) lors des incendies de la Commune, s’installe dans la cour Puget. Elle est alors couverte par une verrière soutenue par des colonnes en fer et dévolue aux guichets de la Caisse centrale du Trésor public. Glissez vers la gauche pour découvrir une image d’archive ! 👉 – ✨ En 1993, la cour est couverte d’une nouvelle verrière conçue par l’ingénieur Peter Rice pour accueillir les sculptures françaises de plein air du XVIIe au XIXe siècle. – – -🌎 Wednesday it’s #LouvreHistory! Today, let's take a look at the majestic Cour Puget ⤵️ – 💁🏻♂️ Designed by the architect Lefuel, this courtyard was built during the completion of the Louvre during the Second Empire (1852-1870). The court formed part of the wing of Napoleon III's palace at this time. It was named after the sculptor Pierre Puget. – 💶 In 1871, the Ministry of Finance, which had lost its premises in the rue du Mont-Thabor (Paris I) during the fires of the Commune, moved into the Cour Puget. It was then covered by a glass roof supported by iron columns and devoted to the counters of the Treasury Department. Swipe left to discover an archive image! 👉 – ✨ In 1993, the courtyard was covered by a new glass roof designed by the engineer Peter Rice to accommodate French outdoor sculptures from the 17th to 19th centuries. – 📸 ©️ RMN – Grand Palais (Musée du Louvre) / Franck Bohbot / Histoire du Louvre . . .#Louvre #MuséeDuLouvre #LouvreChezVous #MuseumFromHome

A post shared by Musée du Louvre (@museelouvre) on Apr 1, 2020 at 3:06am PDT

The Paris historical monument is the world’s biggest museum (and home to the Mona Lisa) and is currently offering tours of four exhibits: The Advent of the Artist, Egyptian Antiquities, Remains of the Louvre’s Moat, and Galerie d’Apollon.

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The Guggenheim

Today's #FrankLloydWrightFridays image is by @qreativephotos—"I see beauty not in the obvious physical appearance but in its character." #Guggenheim

A post shared by Guggenheim Museum (@guggenheim) on Mar 6, 2020 at 8:46am PST

The museum will hold its interactive family tours on select Sundays despite the fact that this New York institute is currently closed. You can also peruse selections from their 8,000-piece artwork collection.

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The National Gallery

We will be temporarily closed from 19 March to 4 May 2020 as a precautionary measure to help contain the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). The safety and wellbeing of our visitors, colleagues and community is paramount, therefore we have decided to temporarily close the Gallery from 19 March until 4 May 2020, in line with the latest advice from Public Health England. While the Gallery is closed in Trafalgar Square, our collection remains open for everyone to explore on the website and we will continue to share our paintings and their stories through social media and email for you to enjoy regardless of where you are.

A post shared by National Gallery (@nationalgallery) on Mar 17, 2020 at 11:05am PDT

London’s National Gallery has a Google virtual tour of its Renaissance collection, the Sainsbury Wing which contains more than 270 paintings, and look at 18 other fascinating rooms.

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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Washington, D.C’s National Museum of Natural History provides a room-by-room virtual tour of the entire building, including the main rotunda where you’re greeted by a beautiful elephant, the butterfly pavilion, and “Sea Monsters Unearthed.”

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Hirshhorn Museum

Enjoy relaxing nature views, with a side of art, thanks to virtual tours of the grounds’ two sculpture gardens and a close look at the building’s exterior.

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National Portrait Gallery

Although the Gallery is closed we still want to stay connected. There are a number of ways you can enjoy the Gallery whilst at home – from our social media channels, online Collection to most recent blog posts. We’d also like to hear what you would most like to see? Is there an artist or sitter you’d like to learn more about? Or perhaps a favourite work in the Collection you’d like to explore in more detail? Drop us a comment, and tell us all about it…⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ #MuseumFromHome #NationalPortraitGallery #Portraiture

A post shared by National Portrait Gallery (@nationalportraitgallery) on Mar 19, 2020 at 7:14am PDT

In addition to its main hall, London’s National Portrait Gallery includes virtual tours of art from six galleries, including the English kings of the 15th century Tudor period and pieces created during Queen Victoria’s reign from 1837 to 1901.

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National Museum of Asian Art

We’re wishing all of our friends marking #Nowruz, the Persian New Year today, renewal, joy, and prosperity in the coming months. ✨ . To celebrate, families set the #HaftSin, a specially prepared holiday table, to make wishes for the coming year. Items on the table refer to new life and rebirth, based around the number seven. The custom has evolved over the centuries and has regional variations, but at least seven basic items, each beginning with the letter s (“sin” in Persian, pronounced “seen”), are traditionally placed on the haft sin table. Many of them also refer to the seven Zoroastrian immortals that guarded the sky, waters, earth, fire, plants, animals, and humans in ancient Iran. . 🔍How many of the 7 symbolic items can you spot in these two photos? 👀 (Consider the 7th a freebie, because it’s not easily visible in the pictures! 😁) . 1) “Seeb” (apples) for fertility and beauty. 🍏🍎 2) “Sonbol” (hyacinth) for fragrance. 💐 3) “Serkeh” (wine vinegar) for immortality and eternity. 🍷4) “Senjid” (wild olives) for fertility and love. 💕 5) “Sabza” (wheat, barley, or lentil sprouts growing in a dish) for rebirth. 🌾 6) “Samanu” (wheat sprout pudding) for sweetness and fertility. 🍬 7) “Sekkeh” (coins) for wealth. 👛 . What else might you find on the table to symbolize good luck? 🧐 There could be a mirror to reflect the light of wisdom and creation. 🕯 Candles to symbolize holy fire, and an orange floating in a bowl of water to represent the earth floating in space. 🌌🍊To ward off evil spirits, add a brazier to burn wild rue, a sacred herb. 🌹 Rosewater will purify and sweeten the new year. 🥚 Decorated eggs will also bring fertility. 📖 A book of poetry by the 14th-century writer Hafiz or a copy of the Qur’an, to signify prayers or knowledge is often found on a haft sin table, too. 📚 . #NowruzMubarak to all of our friends celebrating this day. . 📸: @c_dug

A post shared by National Museum of Asian Art (@freersackler) on Mar 20, 2020 at 5:52pm PDT

In addition to 13 online exhibits and 36,750 items in their collection available to view online, there are indoor and outdoor virtual tours of the Freer and Sackler Galleries, which make up the National Museum of Asian Art.

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National Air and Space Museum

The most-visited museum in the country currently has 49 online exhibits, 1,971 items to view in its online collection, and virtual tours of the first and second floors, and its companion facility, the Udvar-Hazy Center’s first and second floor at the Washington Dulles International Airport.

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RELATED: You won’t believe this nature photos aren’t photoshopped

a sunset over a body of water: When you're stuck at a desk all day, it's easy to forget how breathtaking the world really is. Let these photos remind you of the stunning beauty that happens outside of your cubicle.

Metropolitan Museum of Art

A sketch fit for the gods 🏛️ ✨ ⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ This week's #MetSketch by @bellabells.f transports us back into our galleries in the best possible way. We can almost hear the steady trickling of the marble fountain in our Roman Sculpture Court. 😌 Have a #MetSketch of your own? Tag us! ✍️⁣⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣⁣ Image description: A colorful sketch in pencil crayon of The Met's Roman Sculpture Court. #TheMet #MetAnywhere

A post shared by The Metropolitan Museum of Art (@metmuseum) on Mar 15, 2020 at 12:41pm PDT

Located in NYC, and the biggest museum in the United States, The Metropolitan Museum of Art provides six quick videos that give 360° views of key parts of the grounds, including the great hall.

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Musée d’Orsay

Displaying art from 1848 to 1914, the Parisian museum offers a free virtual walking tour and a 278-piece online collection.

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The Vatican Museum

Comprised of art collected by the Papacy and the Roman Catholic Church over centuries, you can treat yourself to seven free online 360° tours, which include the famed Sistine Chapel and the Pio Clementino Museum.

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Van Gogh Museum

More than 35 self-portraits that all look different! Different in terms of painting style and use of colour, but also different in terms of how Vincent van Gogh portrayed himself: in an artist’s smock, wearing a suit, with a pipe, palette or painter’s easel. They show different types of person: a bohemian, a painter, or a chic gentleman. 🤔 Due to a lack of money and models, Vincent often had to make do with his own reflection. But this meant he could create a number of versions of himself! Which version of Van Gogh do you like best? 🌻 Vincent van Gogh, Self-Portrait (1887) #whoisvangogh #museumathome #vincentvangogh #vangoghmuseum #amsterdam #vangogh #art

A post shared by Van Gogh Museum (@vangoghmuseum) on Apr 1, 2020 at 8:25am PDT

Virtually travel to Amsterdam and view the celebrated Dutch painter’s largest collection of works with the help of Google Arts and Culture.

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Amsterdam’s arts and history museum allows access to 14 multimedia tours if you download their app, available in the Apple Store and Google Play.

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The J. Paul Getty Museum

The Los Angeles art museum has two online exhibits—Heaven, Hell, and Dying Well and Eat, Drink, and Be Merry—in addition to more than 15,000 pieces in an online collection and a virtual look at the grounds.

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Georgia O’Keeffe Museum

Iconic photographer Tony Vaccaro is responsible for some of the most breathtaking and rare color images of Georgia O'Keeffe, including this showstopper! About this photo he said, " What a lady she was, wonderful full of grace. She was just showing me her painting and she wanted to pose but while she was holding the art CLICK I got the photo." -Tony Vaccaro Mr. Vaccaro's images and his first hand descriptions of what it was like to befriend the artist are instrumental to how we understand and appreciate Georgia O'Keeffe today. His work has contributed greatly to research and scholarship, as well as helping introduce O'Keeffe to a new generation. He is a living legend and a wonderful person! We at the O'Keeffe Museum are so deeply appreciative of the work he has done and continues to do in uplifting the legacy of one of the most iconic artists of all time. Do you have a question for Mr. Vaccaro about his experience? Leave us comment and we will gather them together to share with him! 💙 Image: Tony Vaccaro. Georgia O'Keeffe, New Mexico. 1960. Color Photograph. © Tony Vaccaro. #okeeffee #1960 #tonyvaccaro #tonyvaccarostudio #photography #colorphotography #iconicphotography #GeorgiaOKeeffe #okeeffe #portraitoftheartist #famousportraits #classicphotography #livinglegend #AskanArtist #artidtquotes #documentaryphotography #greatartists #artistfriends #okeeffeinspired #NewMexicoPhoto See more of Mr. Vaccaro's work on his beautiful Instagram feed, @tonyvaccarophotographer, and his website

A post shared by Georgia O'Keeffe Museum (@okeeffemuseum) on Mar 19, 2020 at 2:00pm PDT

Dedicated to the life and legacy of the renowned “Mother of American modernism,” the New Mexico facility offers six online exhibits.

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Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum

Spain’s premiere art gallery offers “immersive virtual tours” for those with access to smart phones and virtual reality glasses, in addition to tours of their extensive permanent collection and 10 temporary exhibitions of past and present.

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NASA offers a variety of interactive virtual tours through both their site and app, from a look at their flying observatory to the Hubble Space Telescope.

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High Museum of Art

“She’s just a projection of her creator, in a way. I’m interested in exploring that, but also kind of imbuing it with some agency by making her the protagonist in the work – the person who acts.”⠀ In her recent work, Latvian artist Ella Kruglyanskaya has taken on the challenge of portraying the bodily and sexual independence of womanhood without contributing to stereotypes and exploitative misrepresentations of women. “Painter, Discontented” (2018) by Kruglyanskaya is now on view in the new exhibition Pioneers, Influencers, and Rising Voices: Women in the Collection. #womenshistorymonth #5womenartists

A post shared by High Museum of Art (@highmuseumofart) on Mar 10, 2020 at 6:00am PDT

View the Atlanta museum’s four online exhibitions, including the enlightening Photos from the Civil Rights Movement and How Iris van Herpen Transformed Fashion.

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Museum of Fine Arts

The Boston gallery has 17 virtual collections, with an extensive look at 20th and 21st century designer fashion, photography, and works by African American artists.

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WATCH: This app will turn your phone into an interactive museum you can play with for hours (provided by Travel + Leisure)

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Hilton, American Express Donate One Million Rooms to Medical Professionals

Hilton has teamed up with American Express to donate up to one million hotel room nights across the United States to medical professionals leading the fight against coronavirus on the front lines.

Starting next week on April 13, the hotel giant will make rooms available without charge to doctors, nurses, EMTs, paramedics and other frontline medical staff who need a place to sleep, recharge or isolate from their families through the end of May.

To coordinate the massive effort, Hilton is teaming with 10 associations that represent more than one million healthcare workers to provide access to the program, including the American Hospital Association, American Nurses Association and more.

“During this crisis, we have seen so many examples of medical professionals working in the most challenging circumstances, sacrificing their own needs for the greater good,” Hilton CEO Christopher J. Nassetta said in a statement. “They truly are heroes. We are honored to extend our Hilton hospitality to them during this difficult time.”

American College of Emergency Physicians president William Jaquis, MD, FACEP, said the room donation would be welcomed relief for the thousands of medical staff enduring long hours under challenging circumstances.

A variety of Hilton brands are participating, including Hampton by Hilton, Hilton Garden Inn, DoubleTree by Hilton and others. Nassetta said hotel owners around the country have been “eager to support their communities and be part of the solution.”

Earlier this month, the Las Vegas Sands also lent a helping hand by donating two million medical masks and 20,000 protective suits to healthcare professionals, first responders and nonprofit organizations in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

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United Airlines Reveals Key Changes for MileagePlus Members

United Airlines is extending members’ current MileagePlus Premier status through January 2022, among other loyalty program changes in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The airline announced Monday that, at a minimum, all MileagePlus Premier members will retain the status they earned for 2020 through January 2022. What’s more, for the 2021 status year, United is reducing thresholds for premier qualification by 50 percent for each status level.

United is also increasing the maximum number of premier qualifying points that United Explorer and United Club credit cardholders can earn through card spend toward status in 2021. Starting May 1 through December 2020, the airline will offer a promotion that doubles the maximum points for United Explorer credit cardmembers and quadruples the maximum points for United Club cardmembers.

The carrier is giving premier members more opportunities to put their upgrade benefits to use by offering a six-month extension for all PlusPoints set to expire on or before January 31, 2021, and expanding the availability of Skip Waitlist—an upgrade option for Premier 1K members—to more international long-haul flights.

Meanwhile, customers who purchased annual membership and subscription benefits directly from United such as United Club memberships purchased directly from United and purchased subscriptions for Economy Plus, United Wi-Fi and checked bags will have their expiration extended by six months.

In addition, the airline is extending electronic travel certificates and waiving redeposit fees for members who booked travel using their award miles. Moving forward, the certificates will be valid for two years from the time of booking. Finally, United is waiving all redeposit fees for members with flights booked through May 31 and will waive fees for all members who cancel their flights at least 30 days in advance through 2020.

“From the onset of this crisis, we committed to doing what is right and fair for all of our members,” United’s Vice President of Loyalty, Luc Bondar, said in a statement. “Over the years, our members have placed their trust and loyalty in United, and through the various initiatives we’re laying out today, we are reiterating our mutual commitment and loyalty to them. When they are ready to travel with us again, we will be there for them. And in these unprecedented times where it seems like every day brings new challenges, it’s an honor to share positive news that will—I hope—put a smile on the faces of our loyal customers.”

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Cabin crew share their favourite Aussie food finds

Sadly, many airline staff around the country have found themselves grounded in the wake of coronavirus.

Hopefully it won’t be long before we see them in the sky again.

In the meantime, a number of Virgin Australia cabin crew – who are arguably some of the most well travelled people in the country – kindly shared with us the best meals they’ve discovered on their interstate overnighters.

See below for a little foodie inspiration. It might come in handy when we’re allowed out to explore our backyard again.

Bridgitte Nelson

I’m a bit of a sucker for Tasmania. On overnights in any other city I generally opt for cheap eats such as market/street food … but whenever I’m in Hobart I absolutely can’t pass up the chance to treat myself with a steak at Rockwall Bar and Grill. Now I don’t want to talk it up too much but this is the BEST steak I’ve ever had in my many years of travelling around the world…..right here in our back yard – who’d have thought?!

Kaitlin Jones

All I can say is the best burger I’ve ever had has to be the famous ‘Ballina Burger’ at The Beach Grill and Salt Bar in Ballina Airport. Ask any crew member – we wouldn’t turn this down.

Edwina Ingham

The Mindil Markets in Darwin – the atmosphere is electric as locals and tourists wander the packed stalls and sample from the surprisingly large array of cuisines on offer. Personally, nothing beats a delicious authentic laksa while watching the sunset over Mindil Beach with your crew.

Freshly shucked oysters and an excellent sunset at the Mindil Markets.Source:Supplied

Tara Perkin

I absolutely love Western Australia, there’s a little brekky spot the crew loved going to called Sixteen Ounces in Victoria Park. I can highly recommend the smashed avo.

Tess Norris

Tess Norris is looking forward to getting back in the air again.Source:Supplied

It’s hard to name one place but I’ll go with my most recent because that was delicious and had amazing sunset views over the Indian Ocean. The restaurant is called The Shorehouse in Perth and I ordered the blue swimmer crab and prawn linguine, tomato, saffron, garlic, chilli, pangrattato along with a cheeky cocktail (Frosty Fruit granita – perfect on a summers day). Big thumbs up!

Tash Styles

The sausage rolls from the Rottnest Island Bakery are AMAZING, the best I’ve had!

Behold, the home of an incredible sausage roll.Source:Getty Images

My new favourite in Hobart for a coffee is the Auslan Cafe, a 15 minute picturesque walk from the city, where all the staff are super friendly, and also deaf – it’s great coffee, and you learn how to place your order in sign language!

Kara Le

I love Happy Boy in Brisbane. The prawn and pork wontons in chilli broth are incredible and they have a thoughtfully curated wine list to complement the dishes.

Ray Pastoors

There’s a place in Darwin called Alfonsino’s that a few of us crew love. They make the best pizza from a golden wood fire pizza oven. At times, they also do pasta and the three cheese gnocchi definitely shouldn’t be missed.

* See more: Positive that may come from COVID-19

* See more: How to stop frequent flyer points expiring

* See more: What this map says about you

* See more: Traveller’s 3 rules to survive lockdown

* See more: I’ve driven Australia and this is my top 10

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Airline Travel Hits a 10-Year Low

Saying that demand for air travel is declining at a rate quicker than airlines are even trimming capacity, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) says traveling by plane has hit a 10-year low.

As the spread of the coronavirus continues to play havoc with everyday life, airlines are feeling the brunt and trimming flight schedules nearly every day. In fact, with the apex of the virus approaching for New York City, United just announced it is dramatically cutting back service in and out of NYC-area airports.

According to the TSA, airport security checkpoints screened fewer than 125,000 people nationwide on Thursday, April 2. That’s less than 5 percent of the 2.4 million people, including both passengers and crew members, who passed through TSA checkpoints on the same day last year.

Overall, the TSA reported that passenger counts are down about 92 percent – and “passenger traffic is falling much faster than they [airlines] can cut capacity.” In March, TSA screened just under half of the passengers it did in March 2019.

Airlines must continue to keep a minimum of flights and move cargo, as per government provisions of the bailout that was part of the stimulus package.

CNN reported that as a result of the drop in demand, about 20 percent of the US commercial aviation fleet – some 1,200 planes – are parked and have not been used in the last seven days, according to data from Airlines for America. Some airlines have decided to retire older aircraft ahead of schedule.

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Bored in lockdown? Try learning how to tango online

All of Argentina’s 44 million inhabitants currently appear to be offering online tango classes. OK, that’s an exaggeration, but it’s fair to say that porteños (residents of Buenos Aires) are jumping into the world of virtual tango with both high-heeled feet.

Available classes range from Dance Tango TV, with starter courses from $19 a month, to’s lesson packs, with a two-hour class from just $1.69.

Google “free tango classes” or, in Spanish, “clases de tango online gratis” and you’ll find several YouTube tutors. Welcome Argentina has very watchable sessions in Spanish.

My partner, Kate, and I took a refresher lesson. Jonatan and Julia speak pretty good English and their opening 10-minute class concentrated on posture. I hope they add more classes this week. James and Joanna are apparently in England, but who cares? They are very good on the first few key moves. Sebastián and Mariana are the real thing, and can show the more confident a few tricks.

Most online classes are delivered by couples, though a few dancers do work alone, if you want to indulge the fantasy of a long-distance tango partner. Songs typically last three minutes – though one dancer titled her book Twelve Minutes of Love to reflect the fact that tangueros generally do tandas (turns) of four songs – so expect three minutes of giggling as your lower limbs get tied in knots and your high kick hits the telly.

Once you have a few basic moves and feel a sense of tango rhythm, tune in to La 2 x 4 , a 24-hour online tango radio station funded by Buenos Aires city hall. When I tuned in they were playing crooner numbers driven by pounding button accordion.

Your living room may not have the atmosphere of an Argentine milonga, but uncork a decent malbec, dim the lights, put on something by Julio de Caro or Juan Carlos Cobián and you’ll be transported far away from the world of Covid-19 for three minutes.

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A local’s guide to virtual Venice


Tiziano Scarpa’s Venice is a Fish captures beautifully the elusive, poetic mood of our enigmatic city. Neither guide nor history book, it is perfect to read before a visit, because turning the last page, you already feel you have a relationship with the city. Then it is just a question on arrival of forgetting about the usual sightseeing and getting lost in the labyrinth of narrow alleyways. I read it when it first came out, discovering many unknown things about my home town.

Venice suffered apocalyptic flooding on 12 November 2019. The scenes are perfectly mirrored in the photography book Era Mare, a local initiative by photographer Matteo de Mayda and two graphic designers– all the profits are used to help the city survive. Rather than the usual pictures of a submerged Piazza San Marco, the book is an artistic documentary of the suffering of not just historic buildings, but the daily lives of local people during what we now term acqua grande.


I was recently taking pictures of Venice emptied of people during the lockdown, and found myself in one of its most beautiful spots, the Campiello dei Miracoli. Well, we all need a miracle right now, but what came to mind was a scene from my favourite film set in Venice, Pane e Tulipani (Bread and Tulips), featuring stars Bruno Ganz and Licia Maglietta outside a florist – which of course never existed. I think many Venetians would cite this as their favourite film, because it does not try to glamorise the city as Death in Venice does.

Living here, we have to contend with filmmakers regularly taking over the city, but I have a soft spot for James Bond. Venice has been used as a backdrop for several 007 adventures. The scenes of Roger Moore zooming around our canals in a motorised gondola in Moonrakerstill make me laugh today.


Few people associate Venice with football, but the Venezia FC stadium is just by the Biennale Gardens, and our team is one of the few things that belong to Venetians and not tourists. To get a feel, listen to Minuto per Minuto (, Italy’s cult radio soccer programme, commenting on a day of games at the end of last season that saved Venezia FC from relegation. If the Italian gets too complex, fast forward to the last 10 minutes when we scored three goals to survive!

My mamma is a great cook, and the podcast evokes one of the most traditional Venetian dishes, risotto di go – goby fish risotto, which was much loved by Anthony Bourdain – as recounted by the owner of one of the city’s most famous restaurants, Al Colombo di Venezia.

Virtual museum tours

Three museums along the Grand Canal that rarely draw the usual crowds are Ca’Pesaro, for contemporary art, Palazzo Mocenigo, for textiles and fashion, and the Museum of Natural History. A virtual tour combining all 3 will certainly make you want to come back and visit the real thing once life returns to normal. Kids will be entranced by the dinosaurs, romantics will adore the period costumes in Mocenigo, and modern art lovers will be surprised at Ca’Pesaro’s collection.

Several of the major islands on the Venice lagoon – Torcello, Murano, Burano – have their own specialist museums. Normal years see many tourists heading to Murano to visit its famous glass-blowing furnaces, so the Museo del Vetro there is usually busy. But the virtual tour offers a chance to discover one of the world’s most important collections of glass, from Roman times to contemporary designers. There is an ongoing campaign by Murano’s master glassblowers to protect their heritage against fakes that are often made in China, and even a virtual tour opens your eyes to the incredible craftsmanship that makes the island’s glass unique.


Avant-garde works by Claudio Ambrosini may not be for everyone, but he is one of Italy’s most respected living composers and has won many awards, including the Golden Lion of the Venice Musica Biennale. His works – try 3 Studi En Plein Air: No 1 Notturno – have been performed in some of the world’s major concert halls.

Ambrosini’s work has also been staged at our Fenice Opera House, and its website is also worth a visit to enjoy a full performance of Verdi’s Don Carlos, while right now there is a moving video of a quartet performing Debussy’s Clair de Lune as a homage to healthcare workers, each musician quarantined in their own apartment.

A very different sound is Pitura Freska, every Venetian’s favourite band. Playing a mix of ska, reggae and rock, singing in our dialect about the city’s problems, they are as much a part of Venetian culture as Vivaldi. The band split up long ago, but their music lives on. When I am travelling, their album Na Bruta Banda transports me straight back to Venice.
Giacomo Cosua is a Venetian photographer and founder of the online Posi+Tive Magazine

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