Destination News - North America.

 
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New York (AirGuide - Destination News North America) Jan 23, 2011

Alaska Alaska is a popular cruise destination this year, CLIA says. The Cruise Line Industry Association said that the top cruise destinations for 2011 are Alaska, the Caribbean and Europe. "We are very bullish about 2011," said Bob Sharak of CLIA. "The cruise industry has been extremely resilient, particularly during the latest economic downturn." More consumers are forecast to take cruises this year, spurred by new ships and destinations, Sharak said. Jan 20, 2011

Amtrak States continue to mull passenger-rail projects. A number of passenger-rail projects are under consideration across the country, but some look likely to suffer from funding shortfalls. Republicans are seeking to slash funds for a project linking Iowa City, Iowa, and Chicago, and state officials say a proposed St. Louis-Kansas City connection might also prove tough to fund. Oklahoma lawmakers, however, look likely to approve $26 million in funding for a Tulsa-Oklahoma City line to be operated by Amtrak. Jan 17, 2011

Amtrak Ridership on Amtrak's Milwaukee-to-Chicago Hiawatha line has doubled in the past eight years, hitting a record 792,848 in 2010. And a new study rates the Hiawatha route as one of the nation's most promising prospects for an upgrade to high-speed rail. Gov. Scott Walker has said little about his plans for the Hiawatha. But the Milwaukee-area business community strongly supports the route. Just days before the federal government yanked nearly all of the $810 million allocated for a Milwaukee-to-Madison line, the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce offered Walker a plan to shift most of the cash to the Hiawatha and other existing rail service. MMAC President Tim Sheehy believes his group's plan could lay the foundation for the future of high-speed rail in Wisconsin. He hopes the state will use the MMAC outline in another bid for federal high-speed rail money. Jan 17, 2011

Avis Budget CEO says Avis Budget will de-emphasize no-show fees. Ronald Nelson, chairman and CEO at Avis Budget Group, said the company will focus on prepayment and other strategies rather than aggressively pushing no-show fees on car rentals. Last year, industry analysts predicted a shift toward fees that penalize travelers for canceling their bookings. Avis Budget tested such fees, but it does not plan to impose them throughout the company. "We've slowed it down, because there hasn't been industry acceptance of it yet," Nelson said. Jan 21, 2011

BNSF BNSF works with Texas officials to close grade crossings. Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway is working with Texas transport officials to reduce the number of highway-rail grade crossings in the Waco area. In a bid to help Texas overcome its reputation as the state with the greatest number of grade-crossing accidents, BNSF is offering to pay part of the cost of closing and redesigning a number of highway-rail crossings. Jan 17, 2011

Crystal Cruises Crystal Cruises has slashed fares on its March 31, 10-day Mexican Riviera cruise sailing roundtrip from Los Angeles. The per-person, tiered rates are 30 to 45 percent less than previous fares -- USD1,995 for Deluxe Outside Staterooms with large windows, USD2,995 for Verandah Staterooms, and USD5,995 and USD7,995 for butler-serviced Penthouses and Penthouse Suites, respectively. In addition, passengers receive USD500 in All Inclusive-As You Wish shipboard spending credits. The cruise, which takes place aboard the Crystal Symphony, visits San Diego, La Paz and Loreto, Cabo San Lucas, Mazatln and Puerto Vallarta. The cruise has a OMind, Body and SpiritO theme and includes speakers and instructors in world affairs, medicine, tai chi, yoga, dance and golf. For more information, call 800-446-6620 or visit www.crystalcruises.com. Jan 19, 2011

Cuba White House eases travel restrictions for Cuba. Late last week, officials in the Obama administration said they are lifting some travel restrictions for Cuba, but the trade embargo against the communist government will remain. The changes allow for travel to Cuba by cultural, religious and academic groups. Also, charter flights from more U.S. airports will be allowed. Jan 17, 2011

Denver Denver has announced the Mile High SnowFest -- six days of all things snow -- Jan. 25 to 30. The event is in conjunction with the SIA Snow Show, the world's largest snow sports trade show, which takes place Jan. 27 to 29. SnowFest will feature more than 40 events, deals and activities, including the high-flying acrobatics of Denver Big Air (Jan. 25 to 26), a concert by Big Boi (one half of Outkast) at the Ogden Theatre (Jan. 28), the 12th annual Riders Poll awards, followed by a concert by Rebelution (Jan. 28), the Art of Winter on Larimer Square, an outdoor gallery of ski and snowboard artists (through Feb. 13), free ice skating at Skyline Park (through Jan. 30), and deals at Downtown Denver restaurants and bars (Jan. 24 to 30). The Mile High SnowFest is organized by Visit Denver, Colorado Ski Country USA, the Downtown Denver Partnership and the City of Denver. It is sponsored by the Denver Post's Snow Report. For more information, call 800-233-6837 or visit www.denver.org/milehighsnowfest. Jan 18, 2011

Dollar Thrifty Car-rental firms ban smoking. Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group has followed in the footsteps of some of its rivals by announcing that it will no longer allow smoking in many of its rental cars. The ban applies to cars at corporate-owned locations and participating franchises. "We're confident this new policy will not only be widely-accepted by customers, but greatly appreciated as well," said Scott Thompson, president and chief executive at Dollar Thrifty. Jan 21, 2011

Ecoventura Ecoventura is offering a sliding scale of discounts on its eco-friendly small expedition vessels in the Galapagos Islands. Multiple departures from late August through mid December are available with up to 15 percent off if booked 180 days before departure. The early-booking discounts are reduced as passage is booked closer -- 10 percent if booked 179 to 90 days out and 5 percent from 89 days out. The 2011 cruise dates eligible for the Early Bird Booking Discount are Aug. 28 to Sept. 4, Sept. 4 to 11, Sept. 11 to 18, Sept. 18 to 25, Sept. 25 to Oct. 2, Oct. 2 to 9, Oct. 9 to 16, Oct. 16 to 23, Oct. 23 to 30, Oct. 30 to Nov. 6, Nov. 6 to 13, Nov. 13 to 20, Nov. 27 to Dec. 4, Dec. 4 to 11 and Dec. 11 to 18. Also new for...

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