Ferries go green and cruises boom but is all this travel pushing up inflation?
Chalkmarks: Ferry sailing past Formentera, Balearic islands

Good morning. This is what happened in the world of travel this week: Friday 23rd June 2023

EVERYONE’S talking about inflation this week. Did you see that one of the reasons why it’s not budging from 8.7 per cent is because so many of us are taking holidays. The front pages were awash with the shocking news on Wednesday. In response, on Thursday, the Bank of England put up interest rates to 5 per cent. First of all: Omg! Second of all: Omg? Third of all: Wot? We thought everyone spending money was good news…but it’s bad news? It turns out when demand is too high it pushes prices up. That’s why flights now cost an arm and a leg, and as Chalkmarks wrote last time a week’s holiday easily costs up to £1,000, whether at home or away. And for that, you don’t get much. And so, we’d like to apologise for the trips we’ve taken this year. Does that mean we shouldn’t travel? We’ll answer that one when we’re back from Italy friends. It’s time to enjoy life. What’s the Italian for see you next week? Until then let’s jingle and mingle among the travel headlines. Ciao ciao!

Team travel!

Ferried away: On Tuesday Saga announced that the cruise-ship industry was earning it huge profits in the post-Covid boom. It said eight in 10 spots on its ocean cruises for the over-50s were booked up this summer, with each ship bringing in around £40 million before tax. Chief executive Euan Sutherland confirmed in the Independent: “Year-end underlying profit is expected to be well ahead of the prior year.” The image of passengers trapped on cruise ships at the start of the pandemic is a long-forgotten memory. Chalkmarks wrote about it in 2021.

Stock up on sauv blanc: The prize for the best new ship this week goes to P&O Ferries which launched the world’s largest hybrid and double-ended ferry on Monday. Sailing from Dover to Calais, the handsome Pioneer cost the firm £111 million and is part of their efforts at reducing carbon emissions by around 40 per cent. Here it is in all its glory. A second ship will join it on the high seas in November. With a sailing costing from £39, Chalkmarks recommends a day-trip to France to up on some soo-VIN-yohn blanc. We love Champagne too but we don’t love the price so bring instead back a case of the lovely Cremant if you can. Read all about it

Watergate: Summer’s officially here and so is the sewage. Sunseekers have been warned to stay out of water if they’re heading to Blackpool beach this weekend. A ‘no-swim’ message has gone out across Lancashire after sewage was leaked into the sea following a storm more than a week ago. The wastewater has affected much of the coastline. The BBC has more.

Life on the high seas: Bionic bartenders that shake and stir 120 cocktails an hour, a skydiving windtunnel and a surfing simulator are all found aboard the Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas. This sea creature was built to seduce the IT crowd. Luddites be warned. There are virtual windows in the cabins that beam live views from the horizon, a virtual 75-piece Philharmonic orchestra and moving robo-screens in the entertainment theatre. But, there is plenty of razzmatazz to satisfy those less tech-savvy including a spa, eight swimming pools and 18 restaurants. We went on board when this $1 billion ocean liner launched in Southampton.

A ship of firsts: Celebrity Cruises took centre stage last year when it launched its biggest and most luxurious cruise ship, Beyond, in the UK. The liner sailed out of Southampton with horns blaring and ceremonial jets blasting water as crowds waved from the dockside. Beyond marked the company’s cruising comeback since the pandemic, and signalled the start of the cruising season in Europe. This was first-class travel on a boat. Expect Michelin-starred food, West End-style entertainment, plenty of cocktail bars, and of course sea views. This could be the best ship in the world. We were on board for a sneak preview.

Have you seen our pictures: Our fantastic travel photos, which capture some of our favourite destinations around the world, are now available for sale on Alamy. Woohoo!

Rock ’n’ rain: What will the weather be like at the UK’s biggest music festival Glastonbury? Wet! On day one, on Wednesday, true to form it started raining heavily. It didn’t though dampen the spirits on the thousands who filed in, pitching their tents. Tickets to the five-day camping extravaganza all sold out after about an hour one Sunday morning in November. Elton John headlines for the first time and the last time on the Pyramid Stage on Sunday 25th June. Expect surprises and back-to-back hits. Wish we were there.

Naked and Afraid: Few things divide opinion like a nudist beach. And over on the Isle of Wight it’s made some very hot under the collar. Visitors have been complaining that nudists are spoiling their family holidays by stripping off and lying on the beaches. They say the council and police do nothing to stop them. One tourist said a coach-load turned up at Sandown, one of the island’s most popular beaches, and “hijacked” the place. Councillor Karl Love agreed signage in some parts could be better but added “…there is real money to be made out of ‘clothing optional’ tourism. Perhaps it’s just what Sandown needs to help strip back to basics, rebuild its beauty and get maximum exposure!” The Isle of Wight News has the latest.

Open for business: The National Portrait Gallery reopened yesterday having been closed for three years for a £41.3 million refurb. Expect a new visitor entrance, a learning centre, and updated art collections filled with women and “other people or people who’ve been missing or overlooked”. The gallery’s Dr Alison Smith, said: “We wanted to just readdress the balance of what we show, to make it more inclusive and representative of Britain today. So before we closed, there were more portraits of men than women. We’ve looked at that and now 48% of the works on display are female sitters. We’ve actually made it more of representative of Britain in terms of ethnicity, social class, disability, this kind of thing.” Along with Sir Paul McCartney, Princess Kate opened the doors on Tuesday. The BBC covered story. 

Museum makeover: Some of the most glamorous gowns worn by A-list, award-winning Grammy singers will turn heads at the V&A this summer. It might not be fashion week but its fashion season with pricey outfits on display that were once worn by Rihanna, Marilyn Monroe, Tina Tuner, P!nk, Sir Elton John, Cher, Dame Shirley Bassey, Dolly Parton, Barbra Streisand, Billie Eilish and Lil Nas X. Not forgetting Whitney Houston’s white floor-length evening gown she wore at the 1994 Grammys. More than 60 looks will be on show at the Diva exhibition starting tomorrow and running through to 7th April 2024. The Guardian has the story.

Thank you: It’s not easy to be there when things go wrong but Atol has been doing just that for 50 years. As it celebrated its anniversary this week it reflected on the 242,000 people it had repatriated since 1973. Atol, which stands for Air Travel Organiser’s Licence, is a financial protection scheme that looks out for travellers on package holidays. If a tour operator goes bust, such as Thomas Cook in 2019, they come to the rescue, arranging for passengers to be flown home and helping to get their money back. In 2000 Atol settled more than 1.7 million claims. Paul Smith, at Atol, said: “It’s been an incredible 50 years for the Atol scheme, and while the travel sector has changed since 1973, Atol has remained a vital companion financially protecting millions of consumers, providing much-needed support when their holiday company ceased to trade.” The Evening Standard has more. 

This time last year: The summer of ’22: Why this could mark the end of cheap air travel We were in the middle of the worst rail strike for 30 years … In the air, it was the beginning of the end of cheap airline travel … Don’t book British Airways flights was the advice after check-in and ground staff at Heathrow voted to strike in a dispute over their 10 per cent pay cut during the pandemic … Heathrow requested that airlines flying out of terminal 2 and 3 reduce their capacity by 10 per cent to help resolve the issues … walkouts also caused disruption at airports in Amsterdam, Rome, Frankfurt, and Brussels … Plus, Ryanair staff in Spain, Italy, France, Portugal and Belgium walked out … The next strike came from easyJet where cabin crew in Spain called three 72-hour walkouts … What did Boris Johnson say about all this? Not much … The-then UK PM was in Rwanda updating Twitter on his trip to Kigali over on … Elsewhere, the Polish tourist board launched the hashtag #PolandVibes to help boost travel to the country impacted by the war in Ukraine.

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