Categories
Transport

Etihad suspends flights as Saudi Arabia partially closes borders

Etihad Airways has temporarily suspended all flights between Abu Dhabi and the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The decision comes in response to a directive from the general authority for civil aviation in Saudi Arabia to help prevent the spread of Covid-19.

The Saudi government has temporarily banned citizens and foreigners living in Saudi Arabia from travelling to the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Lebanon, Syria, South Korea, Egypt, Italy and Iraq.

Arrivals from these countries and those who have been there in the last 14 days have been temporarily barred from entering the country.

Saudi Arabia has also stopped flights and ships from these countries.

Etihad operates up to 12 flights per day between Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia.

The national airline of the United Arab Emirates has cancelled a total of seven flights today between Abu Dhabi and the Saudi cities of Riyadh, Jeddah, Dammam and Medina.

Another four flights which were en-route to Saudi Arabia at the time of the directive were permitted to land.

When flights arrived in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam, nationals of Saudi Arabi were permitted to disembark but all other passengers remained on the aircraft which will now return to Abu Dhabi.

The fourth flight operated to Medina to repatriate Umrah passengers. 

In addition to the flight suspensions to and from the UAE, Saudi Arabia has also banned Saudi nationals and Saudi residents from travelling to countries including the UAE and on passengers travelling from or transiting through Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon, Syria, Italy, Egypt and Korea. 

For passengers impacted by the flight cancellations, procedures are in place for fare refunds or for flight changes when services resume.

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Cruises

Cruise Ship Finally Docks, Passengers Allowed to Disembark

A Princess Cruises ship was finally allowed to dock in Florida Sunday night after being held off the coast as coronavirus tests came back negative for two crew members.

According to The Associated Press, the Regal Princess vessel was scheduled to dock Sunday morning in Port Everglades but was forced to sail up and down the East Coast while members of the U.S. Coast Guard delivered coronavirus testing kits.

The two crew members who were being tested had transferred more than two weeks ago from the Grand Princess cruise ship in California, which had nearly two dozen people on board who tested positive for the virus, including 19 crew members.

#BREAKING The Regal Princess is back! Inching closer to land, after forced to stay at sea for hours. Held from docking at @PortEverglades after two crew members were thought to have the #coronavirus. The @CDCgov later confirming their tests were negative @wsvn pic.twitter.com/kXobm6n784

Passengers are now off the #RegalPrincess after they were stuck at sea for hours while two crew members were being tested for the #coronavirus. The @CDCgov later confirming both were negative @wsvn pic.twitter.com/x4p7jULwT0

Princess Cruises officials said the sick crew members showed no signs of coronavirus and were well beyond the advised 14-day virus quarantine period. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gave the ship clearance late Sunday night after the tests came back negative.

Passengers were allowed to begin disembarking about an hour after the ship entered the port, with most travelers thankful they were permitted to leave in a timely fashion. Compensation requested by customers would be handled on a case-by-case basis.

In Florida, the governor’s office confirmed that two people who tested positive for the viral infection died in the state, which were the first deaths on the East Coast. The victims were in their 70s and had traveled overseas.

Cruise line executives met with Vice President Mike Pence and his team Saturday, where they were asked to establish enhanced entry and exit screenings, develop shipboard testing for the virus and institute new quarantine standards set by the CDC.

In addition, the U.S. State Department issued an advisory Sunday night against cruise travel due to an increased risk of coronavirus infections “in a cruise ship environment.”

While fear continues to mount, several travel agency-focused companies have shared statements, tips and advice on how to address the viral infection and its impact on the industry with clients.

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Travel

Revealed: The best places for coffee in New York

It’s time to wake up and smell the coffee! The best places to get your caffeine fix in New York

  • New York has a thriving scene of independent coffee shops and mini-chains 
  • Refuel at Ground Central on Lexington Avenue after a Bloomingdale’s spree
  • Sey Coffee, Brooklyn, is a bright coffee house with a ‘micro-roastery’ in the back

Every week, our Holiday Hero Neil Simpson takes an in-depth look at a brilliant holiday topic, doing all the legwork so you don’t have to. This week, he reveals the best places for coffee (and people-watching) in New York.

Making the most of the city that never sleeps requires plenty of shots of caffeine. As well as the ubiquitous Starbucks (which native New Yorkers leave for teens and tourists), the city has a thriving scene of independent coffee shops and mini-chains to help serve it. 

Here, in the spirit of Central Perk and the episodes of Friends, are The Ones to choose.

As well as the ubiquitous Starbucks, New York has a thriving scene of independent coffee shops and mini-chains to help serve it

The One with the best snacks

Racks of freshly baked cookies lure you into the three branches of Culture Espresso near Macy’s in Mid-town Manhattan. The cafe holds the ‘best chocolate chip cookie in the city’ award from Delish magazine and lets you order them online if you want to be sure they won’t run out before your visit. The cafes themselves are friendly, have big windows, lots of space and jolly takeaway cups.

The One with sunny seating

If you find yourself in Soho on a warm day, look out for the lime-green store front of Ground Support – the company has been roasting its own beans since 2009. There are communal tables inside and a few prime places outside to people-watch in the sun.

The One that moves

Mudtruck (pictured above) is a bright orange mobile coffee van 

Its name might be Mud, but it’s one of the most colourful coffee houses in the city. There’s a whiff of the 1960s in the rainbows that adorn the menus and merchandise. The firm comes in three forms: Mudspot (a cafe in the East Village), Mudpark (a wooden kiosk nearby) and the mobile Mudtruck (a bright orange coffee van that could be anywhere), meaning you’ve got triple the chance of finding its cheerful baristas.

The One with cocktails too

During the day, the family-friendly Abraco cafe (just south of the landmark Strand Bookstore in Gramercy Park) welcomes serious coffee lovers and a happy lunch-time crowd. In the early evening, the coffee bar becomes an aperitivo bar, the baristas become barmen – and jazz lures diners looking for some tapas-style food and puddings such as honey- saffron cake.

The One near expensive shops

Good brews: Ground Central on Lexington Avenue just a few blocks from Bloomingdale’s

If your shopping bags from Fifth Avenue get too heavy, find a sofa at Ground Central on Lexington Avenue just a few blocks from Bloomingdale’s. The Australian owners play vintage rock ’n’ roll ‘to connect yesterday’s music with today’s coffee culture’ and say the cafe is their ‘love letter to New York’.

The One with the spoons

A set of tortoiseshell teaspoons made an Instagram sensation out of the tiny Happy Bones in the Nolita district. The images (alongside cups of carefully crafted coffee) went viral, and while the spoons have temporarily disappeared (borrowed by customers, not stolen, say the owners, who are trying to source replacements), the cafe remains a huge draw.

The One you travel to

Just across the East River in booming Brooklyn, all the buzz is about Sey Coffee, a bright, light coffee house with a ‘micro-roastery’ in the back. The owners are coffee-obsessives (as the detailed descriptions on their website and menu boards suggest) and they share the love on the first Sunday of each month when £20 gets you coffee, a tour of the roastery and a bag of fresh beans to take home.

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Travel

How to spend 48 hours in Palm Springs

The coolest spot in the desert: Live like a Hollywood star in Palm Springs, California’s most stylish hangout

  • For happy hour, head to the new Del Rey lounge bar at the Villa Royale hotel
  • Go shopping for mid-century treats in the Uptown Design District
  • See Leo DiCaprio’s desert love nest and one of Frank Sinatra’s desert escapes

A notorious Rat Pack hangout in the 1950s and 1960s, Palm Springs still draws the glamorous Hollywood set with its sleek, low-rise architecture, broad, palm-lined boulevards and slew of stylish hotels, motels and cocktail bars.

There are no direct flights from the UK, but it’s an easy two-hour drive from Los Angeles International Airport. A lunchtime touchdown in LA means you’ll reach Palm Springs early evening.

Once you’ve parked up the convertible Mustang and checked in to your retro hotel, there’s enough time for a cooling dip in the pool before venturing out for happy hour – a Palm Springs tradition. While not a big city, Palm Springs is pretty spread out, so if you haven’t rented a car it’s worth downloading a ride-sharing app such as Uber or Lyft, or making a note of the local cab number.

A notorious Rat Pack hangout in the 1950s and 1960s, Palm Springs still draws the glamorous Hollywood set

Evening

Kick off the desert fun with a couple of old-school cocktails at the Tonga Hut (tongahut.com), a deliciously kitsch ‘tiki bar’ – exotic drinking place – on North Palm Canyon Drive. 

Ask the bartender if you can take a peek in the Secret Room, a private area hidden behind a false wall and decked out like a 1940s tiki lounge with low-slung bamboo beams, carved tiki poles and vintage barrel lamps giving off a cosy, rouge-y glow.

Try a couple of old-school cocktails at the Tonga Hut, a ‘tiki bar’ on North Palm Canyon Drive (pictured)

After a couple of Mai Tai cocktails (made to Trader Vic’s original 1944 recipe), head over to El Mirasol (elmirasolrestaurants.com), the Castaneda family’s new Mexican restaurant at Los Arboles Hotel, and feast on butter-soft carne asada (chargrilled sliced beef), zingy fresh guacamole and salt-rimmed margaritas on the fairy-lit patio.

DAY ONE

Morning

Jet-lag is on our side when flying west, so make the most of an early rise and join the pastel-swathed locals in their power walk to Koffi (kofficoffee.com), a cool local coffee joint where charming baristas holler out your soya mocha latte order like cabaret queens. It will set you up nicely for brunch at the Holiday House (holidayhouseps.com), a mid-century delight that’s decked out with original artworks by David Hockney, Herb Ritts and Roy Lichtenstein and looks like a Slim Aarons fine-art tableau.

Afternoon

Frank Sinatra’s Twin Palms home is one of the stops on the MidMod Design Tour

Palm Springs has one of the finest collections of mid-century modern architecture in the world. If you’re into property, book a guided tour such as the MidMod Design Tour (midmoddesigntour.com), led by architect and interior designer Lyle Boatman.

The two-hour driving tour explores the city’s affluent neighbourhoods, swings by Elvis Presley’s pink-hued Honeymoon Hideaway, stops outside Leo DiCaprio’s desert love nest and peeks through the gates of Twin Palms, one of Frank Sinatra’s many desert escapes famous for its piano-shaped pool.

Evening

For happy hour, head to the new Del Rey lounge bar at the historic Villa Royale hotel (delreypalmsprings.com). With wood panelling, cosy booths and Art Deco hints, it has a gentleman’s-club vibe.

Try a Shy Ricky with vodka, celery juice and ginger beer for $10 during happy hour (4pm to 6pm, and 10pm until closing time).

Then it’s back to Downtown for dinner at the Purple Palm (purplepalmrestaurant.com) at the Colony Palms, a classic Palm Springs hotel opened by LA mobster Al Wertheimer in 1936. Its stylish poolside restaurant has a distinctly Moroccan vibe, but chef Nick Tall’s food is very much SoCal (Southern Californian) in style, with tuna ceviche ($17) and heirloom beets and burrata ($13).

DAY TWO

Morning

Palm Springs boasts more than 350 days of sunshine a year and can see summer temperatures reach a blistering 110 Fahrenheit. When it gets that hot, make like a local and decamp to the mountains on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway (pstramway.com), a rotating cable car that scales the cliffs of Chino Canyon up to Mount San Jacinto State Park. It takes ten minutes to traverse the two-and-a-half-mile route, which runs from arid desert to alpine terrain. In the cooler months, you may see several inches of snow.

Otherwise, air-con is your friend. Go shopping for mid-century treats in the Uptown Design District or head to the Palm Springs Art Museum (psmuseum.org), a contemporary collection established in 1938 with works by Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth and Antony Gormley.

Lunch

Happy hour: Cocktails at El Jefe, a relaxed tequila bar in the Saguaro Hotel

After all that nature and art, it’s surely time for a prickly pear margarita. Pop on a panama or oversized shades and head over to El Jefe at the pastel-hued Saguaro Hotel (thesaguaro.com). This relaxed tequila bar and taqueria has a vintage-sports-bar vibe and knocks out serious fresh fruit margaritas and delicious fish tacos. Then spend the afternoon lazing by a beautiful palm-lined pool and listening to soft jazz.

Evening

The famous supper club scene has seen a revival in Palm Springs in recent years. For an authentic Rat Pack experience, head to the legendary Purple Room in the Club Trinidad Hotel (purpleroompalmsprings.com) where Sinatra and his pals Sammy Davis Jr and Dean Martin schmoozed in the 1960s.

On Friday and Saturday nights, it hosts a supper club with live entertainment including class acts such as Carole Cook, a comic actress and one-time protegee of Lucille Ball, and The Judy Show!, Michael Holmes’s brilliant parody of Judy Garland.

TRAVEL FACTS 

Tracey Davies was a guest of Palm Springs Bureau of Tourism (visitpalmsprings.com). She flew with Virgin Atlantic (virginatlantic.com), which has return flights to LA from £351. Double rooms at Los Arboles Hotel (losarboleshotel.com) start at $129. Architecture tours (midmoddesigntour.com) cost $100.

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Travel

Coronavirus: British Airways, easyJet & Ryanair cancel Italy flights – country on lockdown

Coronavirus in Italy has claimed the lives of 366 people as the number of cases jumps to 7,375. To contain the spread of the deadly virus, fourteen provinces and up to 16 million people to Lombardy now need special permission to travel. The new quarantine rules are in place until 3 April.

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easyJet, British Airways and Ryanair are among airlines cancelling flights to Italy. This is what you need to know.

easyJet

easyJet is cancelling “a number of flights” to northern Italy, namely Milan Malpensa, Milan Linate, Venice and Verona airports.

An airline spokeswoman told Express.co.uk: “Following a decree issued by the Italian authorities implementing further restrictions for anyone living in Lombardy and 14 other central and northern provinces in Italy, easyJet in common with a number of other airlines is reviewing its flying programme to Milan Malpensa, Milan Linate, Venice and Verona airports for the period from now until 3 April 2020.  

“In the short-term we will be cancelling a number of flights to and from these destinations on Monday 9 March.

“We will be advising all affected passengers of the cancellations by email and SMS.

“Customers on flights scheduled to operate to and from these airports will be given the option of a full refund or to change their flight.  

“We expect to continue to reduce the number of flights in and out of Milan Malpensa, Milan Linate, Venice and Verona airports in the period up to 3 April and will provide a further update on our schedule in due course.

“Whilst these circumstances are outside of our control, we apologise to all affected customers for any inconvenience caused.”

British Airways

BA has cancelled 36 flights today to and from northern Italy.

“Following the change to the UK Government travel advice for Northern Italy, we are reviewing our schedule, and have contacted all customers who are due to travel today,” a British Airways spokeswoman said.

“We are also offering customers booked to fly before April 2, the option to change their booking up to another date up to the end of May, or to fly via Zurich or Geneva instead.”

READ MORE

  • Coronavirus UK: Will Britain face lockdown as coronavirus spreads?

Ryanair

Ryanair has axed a quarter of its flights to Italy.

The airline’s website states: “Ryanair has been forced to cancel up to 25 percent of all Italian short-haul flights for a three week period from the 17th March to 8th April, in response to the COVID-19 virus.”

Ryanair added: “If your flight has been cancelled you have been notified by email and SMS and given the option to request a refund, rebook or re-route your journey and avail of reasonable care, as applicable. Otherwise, your flight is operating as normal.”

Express.co.uk has contacted Ryanair for further comment.

Alitalia

Italy’s national carrier Alitalia announced it would suspend all operations from Milan Malpensa Airport from today.

Milan Linate Airport will only serve domestic routes. International flights will continue to and from Rome.

Alitalia explained on its website: “Travellers with tickets for any destination in Italy, who have purchased Alitalia tickets on international markets within March 5, 2020, with travel dates between February 23 and April 3, 2020, are entitled to change the travel date without penalty with a new date of departure no later than June 30, 2020; and change the destination of their travel (rerouting) without penalty, keeping the same date of the original trip.”

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Transport

UAE airlines waive rebooking charges in light of coronavirus crisis

New waiver policies introduced by Emirates, Etihad, Indigo and Air Arabia

Emirates airline has cancelled the large majority of flights to China, while all flights to Saudi Arabia have been cancelled and scheduling to other destinations has also been impacted by the worldwide spread of coronavirus.

UAE airlines have announced various waiver policies allowing customers to change travel dates with no extra charge, in light of the continuing coronavirus crisis.

Carriers in the region have cancelled the large majority of flights to China, while all flights to Iran and Saudi Arabia have been cancelled and scheduling to other destinations has also been impacted by the worldwide spread of coronavirus.

The new waiver policy for Emirates only applies to booked tickets issued on or from March 8 until March 31.

Customers can change their booking to any date for travel within an 11-month date range in the same booking class without change penalties. It covers all destinations across the Emirates network.

Adnan Kazim, chief commercial officer, Emirates airline, said: “We want our customers to feel fully supported, comfortable and confident when making travel plans, while offering them the best fares, without incurring change fees should they decide to delay or adjust dates. The situation remains dynamic and we will continue to look at ways to provide flexibility, convenience and peace of mind for our customers.”

Emirates Skywards Platinum, Gold and Silver members can maintain their current status by fulfilling 80 percent of their tier travel requirements between March 31 and June 30, 2020. In addition, Skywards members booked to travel between March 1 and June 30, 2020, will be able to benefit from an additional 20 percent bonus Tier Miles.

Current refund and rebooking conditions for tickets issued before March 5 still apply. Customers impacted due to cancellations of flights impacted by the Covid-19 virus are advised to check emirates.com for rebooking or rerouting options.

Customers who wish to change their travel arrangements can visit their travel agent or contact the Emirates call centre at +971 600 555555.

Etihad ticket changes

Etihad has also announced the tickets issued in the UAE on or before March 5, 2020, to destinations where the advice is not to travel, can be rebooked for departures up to April 15, without any extra charges.

A statement said: “Only one change is permitted, and further changes will attract standard fees. Re-routing or rebooking can only proceed if there are no travel restrictions in intended destinations.”

The notice on the airline’s website also said that teachers employed in the UAE, who cancel flights, will be entitled to a fare refund without incurring additional charges, as long as they produce a letter of employment from their school or education institution.

Passengers of Air Arabia, which has restrictions on flights to and from Iran, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, are being offered free cancellation.

Meanwhile, Indian outfit, IndiGo airlines, has announced that it won’t be charging any fees to reschedule domestic and international flights boked from March 12-31.

There are currently 45 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UAE and 6,078 throughout the wider Middle East region.

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Holiday

ATM 2020: Coronavirus sees event delayed to June

Reed Travel Exhibitions has postponed Arabian Travel Market as the world continues to battle an outbreak of Covid-19.

The event, which had been scheduled to take place next month, will now be hosted From June 28th-July 1st at the Dubai World Trade Centre in the United Arab Emirates.

“Due to the escalation of the epidemic around the world, after consultation with all our stakeholders, the venue management, supporting associations, and in alignment with the advice from the United Arab Emirates public health authorities regarding travel to and from impacted countries, we have taken the decision to postpone our event,” explained a statement.

Arabian Travel Market is considered by industry professionals to be a barometer for the Middle East and North Africa tourism sector.

The event welcomed almost 40,000 people to its 2019 event, with representation from 150 countries.

“While the United Arab Emirates is following the strictest medical and hygiene protocols in line with international standards, we have made this decision in the best interest of the industry to enable us to organise an event which provides effective participation and experience for all,” explained the organisers in a statement.

“The announcement has been made at the earliest opportunity to give as much notice as possible to all stakeholders enabling them to make the necessary arrangements to reschedule their plans.”

“Moving forward, we are continuing to liaise directly with all relevant United Arab Emirates and Dubai authorities on a regular basis, whilst monitoring and complying with the World Health Organisation guidance, and rest assured we will keep you informed of any new developments as we receive them.”

Arabian Travel Market becomes the latest in a series of high-profile cancellations and postponements in the wake of the new coronavirus.

ITB Berlin, ITB China and ITB Asia have all been hit by the outbreak, while IHIF, due to take place in Berlin earlier this month, has also been postponed.

More Information

Arabian Travel Market has put together a frequently asked questions page for delegates seeking further information.

Attendees can register for the new dates here.

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Travel

Explorer Mark Wood shares incredible photos from extreme expeditions

Staring into the abyss – then clambering over it: Firefighter-turned-explorer shares incredible photos from his extreme expeditions to the Poles and Everest

  • Mark Wood, from Coventry, shares photos in his new books Solo Explorer and Rock & Ice
  • One particularly hairy shot shows one of his fellow explorers precariously stepping over a gaping chasm 
  • Another image shows his face frosted with ice while battling minus 50 degrees Celsius in the Arctic 

As workplace views go, these take some beating. 

Army officer and firefighter-turned-explorer Mark Wood has shared a collection of incredible images from his extreme expeditions. 

The 53-year-old from Coventry has made navigating some of the world’s most remote areas his full-time job and the icy regions are his favourite spots. 

The photographs, which feature in Wood’s new books Solo Explorer and Rock & Ice, show the adventurer in a range of locations from the top of Mount Everest to the North and South Poles.

One particularly hairy shot shows one of Wood’s fellow explorers precariously stepping over a gaping crevasse and using his ski poles to steady his balance. Another shows Wood’s face frosted with ice while battling minus 50 degrees Celsius in the Arctic.

He told MailOnline Travel that he’s ‘always close to tears’ on his daredevil travels as they take him on an emotional journey. He most looks forward to seeing the ‘colour green’ on his return to England after spending so much time in the blindingly white snow. Scroll down to see some of Woods most epic moments… 

An image of one of Wood’s fellow explorers during a geographic North Pole expedition in 2016. The man is seen precariously stepping over a gaping crevasse, using his ski poles to steady his balance. The team for that trip was made up of qualified explorers, specialising in long-range, cold-weather expeditions

Wood said of his 2016 geographic North Pole expedition: ‘We wanted this expedition to capture the unique beauty and global significance of this remote region before it changes dramatically’. This man’s eyebrows appear to be frozen as a result of the extreme conditions 


Wood takes a break while climbing the Mount Everest area in 2019 (left) and during a 2013 expedition to the same region, proudly holding the British flag (right)

Large ice boulders shimmer in different shades of blue, as Wood determinedly ventures towards the North Pole in 2016 

A husky pup nibbles on the remains of a polar bear’s arm. Wood took the macabre shot during his 2004 expedition to the North Magnetic Pole 

A stunning view from the slopes of Mount Everest during Wood’s 2013 expedition. Over the past few years, the explorer has set up educational programmes with the help of Skype linking schools en route to the world’s highest mountain with schools around the globe. Wood says one of his goals is to ‘inspire others to understand their planet and to encourage people to keep on exploring’

Extreme weather conditions meant that Wood didn’t manage to summit Everest in 2013. Above, a shot showing some of the kit required for such a feat including crampons, gaiters and thick down jackets 

To learn about Wood’s next expedition navigating an uncharted crossing of the remaining sea ice in the Arctic Ocean visit expeditionsolo100.com.

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Travel

Coronavirus: FCO issues major warning for Italy as travel ban issued – how safe is Italy?

Coronavirus cases in Italy have seen a marked jump, as a total of 7,375 people are reported to have the virus. There have been 366 deaths from the virus in total. Italy introduced radical measures at the weekend in an attempt to contain coronavirus.

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Fourteen provinces and up to 16 million people to Lombardy need special permission to travel under new quarantine rules which are in place until 3 April.

The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has now updated its travel advice to Britons.

The FCO said: “The FCO now advise against all but essential travel to the following areas in northern Italy, due to an ongoing outbreak of coronavirus (Covid-19) and various control and isolation measures imposed by the Italian authorities on 8 March.

“[These include] Lombardy region (which includes the cities of Milan, Bergamo, Como) and the provinces of Modena, Parma, Piacenza, Reggio Emilia and Rimini (all in Emilia Romagna); Pesaro e Urbino (in Marche); Alessandria, Asti, Novara, Verbano-Cusio-Ossola and Vercelli (all in Piemonte); Padova. Treviso and Venice (in Veneto).

“British nationals remain able to depart Italy without restriction. Residents of other parts of Italy are permitted to leave the isolation areas to return home.

“Otherwise entry into and exit from these areas is forbidden without official permission on the grounds of strict necessity; the authorities have confirmed to us that this will be granted for reasons such as medical need or work requirements.

“Travellers should check flight details with airlines. Additional restrictions include the closure of museums, cultural institutions and the suspension of all public gatherings, social events including pubs, nightclubs and games halls. Religious ceremonies and funerals are suspended.

“Ski facilities in the affected mountain areas are closed. Restaurants and bars remain open from 06.00 to 18.00.”

The FCO added: “Across the whole of Italy, museums and cultural institutions are closed and all sporting fixtures must be played behind closed doors.

“Childcare facilities, schools and universities are closed until 15 March. Public and social gatherings should be avoided with cinemas, pubs and clubs closed. Restaurants and bars remain open with reduced seating.”

Flights have also been affected by the travel bans.

Italy’s national carrier Alitalia announced it would suspend all operations from Milan Malpensa Airport from today and Milan Linate Airport would only serve domestic routes. International flights would continue to and from Rome.

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British Airways has cancelled 36 flights today to and from northern Italy, mainly to Milan and Venice.

A BA spokeswoman told Express.co.uk: “Following the change to the UK Government travel advice for Northern Italy, we are reviewing our schedule, and have contacted all customers who are due to travel today.

“We are also offering customers booked to fly before April 2, the option to change their booking up to another date up to the end of May, or to fly via Zurich or Geneva instead.”

easyJet is also expected to reduce flights to northern Italy.

The budget airline has said it would review its flying programme to the airports in the area, Milan Malpensa, Milan Linate, Venice and Verona until 3 April, with cancellations expected, reported Reuters.

“We will provide a further update on our schedule in due course,” easyJet said in an emailed statement on Monday.

easyJet has said their fares and fees are non-refundable. Their website currently states: “We are currently experiencing extremely high call volumes and appreciate the inconvenience it causes. To reduce waiting times please contact us within 48 hours of your departure date.

“As airports are open our generic terms and conditions remain the same which means that our fares and fees are non-refundable. If you cancel, miss, or do not take your flight, unfortunately, we will be unable to provide you with a refund.”

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Cruises

Maui’s Ritz Carlton Is a Secluded Luxury Getaway

Most of Maui’s resorts are clustered on what locals call the south side (generally around Wailea) and the west side (on the northern lobe of the island), running from Lahaina, the historic whaling village, up north to popular Kaanapali Beach. But for those looking for some more secluded luxury time on the Valley Isle, head north another 10 minutes from Kaanapali and you’ll discover the 22,000-acre Kapalua resort, anchored by The Ritz-Carlton Kapalua.

The Ritz-Carlton occupies 54 acres and is surrounded by 36 holes of championship golf. Originally opened in 1992, the resort underwent a $30 million transformation in 2018, which included guest rooms, suites and residences, as well as improving the lobby and pool areas. Additionally, the resort opened the Kai Café and reimagined the Banyan Tree, ‘Olu Café and Ulana Terrace restaurants. The Alaloa Lounge also received a whole new menu concept.

The dining centerpiece of the resort, in our opinion, is Banyan Tree, located between the pool and the beach. While a poolside restaurant sometimes brings to mind images of average cuisine that hangs on its locale more than its chef, this couldn’t be further from the truth at Banyan Tree. The new chef, Bella Toland, has done magic with the menu, from steak to seafood. The cuisine here is definitely Hawaiian, but with Mediterranean twists. Everything on the menu was delightful, but the pacific rim platter, the mahi-mahi and the chocolate bowl dessert shouldn’t be passed up.

Rooms here are fresh and have an island vibe, with travertine bathrooms, a separate shower and tub and double vanities. We had a spacious lanai with a view of the Pacific Ocean as well as the extensive pool area.

The Ritz-Carlton Spa, Kapalua focuses on Hawaiian massage treatments, along with a variety of facial and body services. The spa’s design includes treatment rooms with private outdoor shower gardens, couples hale (cabanas), relaxation lounges with volcanic stone grotto areas, steam rooms, saunas and whirlpools, a coed relaxation area and authentic Hawaiian design elements throughout the spa. We enjoyed a very relaxing couples’ massage and spent plenty of time in the saunas and whirlpools before and after.

Golfers will be happy to hear that the resort’s Plantation Golf Course—ranked the number one course in Maui—just reopened in December after a nine-month, multi-million-dollar enhancement. The course hosts the annual PGA Tour’s Sentry Tournament of Champions each January. A “golf in paradise” program offers accommodations for two, daily buffet breakfast for two and two rounds of golf per day starting at $999.

The Ritz-Carlton has a multitude of activities including tennis, hula lessons, a self-guided cultural tour, whale watching, sunrise yoga, snorkeling, bocce ball, golf, a mixology class, a fantastic fitness center and more, but it was the resort’s Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ambassadors of the Environment Eco-Adventures program that caught our interest.

We chose the coastal hike, and our biologist tour guide, Kara, was a delight, not to mention well-versed in everything from the shorebirds to the native plants to the whales offshore and the island itself. She pointed out the many invasive plants and talked about how or why they were originally brought to the island. We saw plenty of whales offshore and got plenty of fantastic pictures of the flora, fauna and the stunning coastline.

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