Categories
Travel

Airline mechanic reveals simple reason for delays – they aren’t always fixing the plane

Passengers sometimes find themselves faced with long delays that leave them sitting on the tarmac for hours at a time. Often, this is due to a mechanical issue prior to taking off which requires the help of a mechanic.

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While the lengthy weight is often due to the problem being resolved, it turns out the fix might not be as long as the wait denotes.

An anonymous airline mechanic, with experience working for a number of carriers, revealed in a Reddit forum the truth about what they’re really doing while passengers wait.

The mechanic wrote: “Most of your delay is spent waiting on me to do all the paperwork to clear the aircraft or for me to finish the other seven calls I’m out on to get to your plane.”

Though the problem will be fixed if the plane can not fly safely with the error, it seems sometimes a quick fix is lengthened simply by admin necessities.

“If your flight has a maintenance delay and there is no on station mechanics for that carrier I get called. If it’s a quick fix, I fix it. If not we check to see if it can be deferred to get fixed later,” explains the mechanic.

The mechanic also pointed out that safety is paramount, and though delays or cancelled flights may be a headache for passengers, they are often the only option.

“There is also constant pressure on both me and the pilots to clear or fly aircraft that have some fairly significant problems,” they continue.

“I have airlines try to get me to sell some pretty sketchy stuff to the pilots to get them to fly and avoid a costly delay.

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“I have no problems telling a pilot to call his controllers/dispatchers and tell them to f*** off if I’m not comfortable with whatever concoction of deferral action I was asked to perform.

“Don’t get me wrong, the airlines would never willingly fly an unsafe aircraft. But if there is say an engine vibration that is just right at a hair under the limit they will fly it.

“If the oil is super low but servicing it will cause a delay-service it at the next stop.

“If the pilot encounters something at altitude that I can’t duplicate on the ground-sign it off and see if it happens again.

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“Those are the ones I usually push back on depending what it is.”

While mechanical issues may sound scary, they are often just basic servicing needs for the plane to fly.

Some of the most common mechanical issues include aircraft parking issues, problems with water drainage systems during the winter months, contamination of the air conditioning system, issues with engine fan blades and fuel contamination.

Along with mechanical issues, some of the most common reasons for delay include air traffic control measures, adverse weather, strikes, connecting passengers or bags, security clearance and weight restrictions.

According to the Bureau of Statistics, about 20 percent of all flights are delayed by 15 minutes or more.

If passengers face a delay that is the airline’s fault they may be entitled to compensation under the EC261/2004 Regulation.

Mostly this depends on the length of the delay, the flights predicted journey time and the reason for the delay.

Compensation can range from monetary value to vouchers for food and drinks. 

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Travel

Pound to euro exchange rate: GBP growth cut short as Boris Johnson’s health deteriorates

After suffering a drop yesterday things began to look up for sterling as the day progressed, advancing against the euro. However, the growth of 0.25 percent soon came to an abrupt halt following the news that the Prime Minister’s health was worsening due to coronavirus.

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A Downing Street spokesperson confirmed that Boris Johnson had been moved to intensive care last night after being admitted to hospital for worsening symptoms.

The Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab will now stand-in for the Prime Minister.

A No10 spokesman said: “Since Sunday evening, the Prime Minister has been under the care of doctors at St Thomas’ Hospital, in London, after being admitted with persistence symptoms of coronavirus.

“Over the course of this afternoon, the condition of the Prime Minister has worsened and, on the advice of his medical team, he has been moved to the Intensive Care Unit at the hospital.

“The PM has asked Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who is the First Secretary of State, to deputise for him where necessary.

“The PM is receiving excellent care, and thanks to all NHS staff for their hard work and dedication.”

The news had an instant knock-on effect for the pound, which had previously been gaining ground amid expert comment that the infection rates of the virus appeared to be slowing on a global scale.

The pound is currently trading at a rate of 1.1336 against the euro according to Bloomberg at the time of writing.

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Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk Michael Brown, Currency Expert at Caxton FX said: “Sterling advanced against the euro on Monday, adding around 0.25 percent, as risk appetite broadly improved amid tentative signs that coronavirus infection rates may be slowing around the world.

“The pound’s gains were, however, pared after news of PM Johnson’s move to intensive care broke late last night.

“Today, investors will continue to pay close attention to the PM’s health, and to the progress of the coronavirus pandemic around the world.”

Along with causing chaos in the medical world, the virus has forced the closure of borders and put a stop of travel on a worldwide scale.

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Over the weekend the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office changed its travel warning from a 30-day period to an indefinite period.

The FCO is now advising people to avoid “all but essential travel” until further notice, a devastating decision for the travel industry, and one that may concern holidaymakers.

For those who have already purchased their travel money, it may be best to hold onto it for future travel.

Many bureau de changes have closed their doors amid the pandemic, making it hard to find the best rates.

The Post Office warned that the ability to purchase Travel Money online from the Post Office website and the use of its branch pre-order service are now suspended.

“Both services will remain suspended whilst strict self-isolation measures remain in place,” said the Post Office in a statement.

However, travel money cards will remain active, customers can transfer the money back to Pound Sterling and continue to use the card during the pandemic.

For those who do not have a travel money card, it may be best to hold onto any foreign currency for now.

Ian Strafford-Taylor, CEO of Equals (formerly known as FairFX), said: “If they can, holidaymakers might want to keep hold of their currency until their next trip and use it then.”

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Travel

Hand luggage: How to avoid cabin baggage fees – your phone could be the key

Airlines across the world are now enforcing stringent hand luggage policies for passengers. Often this results in travellers unexpectedly being lumped with fees for oversized and overweight bags, some of which have to be checked in at the last minute.

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Of course, the one way to make sure you don’t end up out of pocket is to plan in advance.

Frustratingly, across the board airlines have varying policies, meaning what might be given the green light with one airline, could have costly consequences with another.

Take easyJet, for example, who boasts an unlimited weight allowance and a baggage dimension guide of size 56x45x25cm, including handles and wheels.

In contrast, Irish-carrier Ryanair state customers without priority tickets are only allowed to take either a personal item or a small bag measuring 25 x 40 x 20cm. These items must weigh no more than 10kg.

Nicky Kelvin Director of Content for The Points Guy UK recommending planning ahead.

He says: “Planning ahead, organising what bags you’ll need and purchasing whatever carry-on bags (and hold baggage) you need during booking can help you avoid unwanted additional charges later.

“If you’re planning on getting a new carry-on, we recommend taking your airline’s carry-on measurements along with you so ensure it meets the requirements. That way, you won’t have to pay extra in the long run.”

This can be more difficult if you are making a connection flight with a different airline.

The key here is to be sure of the measurements for the most stringent of the airlines, and ensure your luggage fits the requirements.

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So, how exactly can you measure your luggage?

You can go old school, manually weighing and measuring your bags at home before getting to the airport.

When it comes to measuring your case, be sure to measure the total linear inches of your bag.

As luggage comes in a variety of shapes and sizes, most airlines just give a linear inch guide. Measure the length, height and depth of your bag, being sure to include handles and wheels.

Household scales can be used to weigh smaller bags, meanwhile, there are luggage scales widely available for larger items. These scales simply clip to the handle of your bag and when lifted determine its weight.

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Luckily, in the age of modern technology, you may not even have to pick up a tape measure in order to be sure your bag fits the requirements.

Mobile phone apps such as InTheAir use your phone camera and specialist augmented reality technology to check your bag dimensions are correct for any given airline.

Users can simply select their airline and then use the app to measure up their bag.

“Save the awkward tape measure moments by using augmented reality technology to check bag dimensions relating to the flight you are travelling on, utilising the phone camera,” boasts an InTheAir spokesperson.

Additionally, both easyJet and Ryanair offer their own apps complete with handy bag sizing tools.

Again, both apps do all the work for you, simply using the camera on your phone.

According to easyJet the app is easy to use and allows for last-minute flexibility.

The easyJet website states: “Simply open the app and click on your trip itinerary to find the bag sizing tool. You can then use your mobile phone camera to size your cabin bag.

“If it fits inside the maximum cabin bag dimensions you’re good to go! If it doesn’t fit, don’t worry! You can always add hold luggage quickly and easily through the app.”

What’s more, the airline apps also allow you to check-in, make additional purchases such as food or seat selections, and keep you up to date with flight delays and arrivals.

The only downside of these apps is that they will only work for the associated airline.

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Travel

Hand luggage: Always do this with your toiletries to beat cabin baggage liquids rule

Hand luggage for flights comes with all sort of rules that can make packing a bit of a headache. There’s are many things you cannot pack and airlines can be strict with size and weight. One thing all carriers agree on is the liquid limit for carry on baggage.

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Plane passengers are only allowed to take on 100ml of a liquid.

These then need to fit into a small, clear plastic bag for when your hand luggage goes through airport security.

For those who are only taking cabin baggage, sticking to the liquids allowance can be difficult.

Many travellers choose to buy their go-to toiletries in travel size.

However, experts have suggested this is, in fact, a mistake.

American car rental agency company Alamo have shared their packing tips.

They explained that a savvier option is to decant the toiletries you already have into small bottles.

“One hundred millilitres (3 ounces) may be too much product for beauty items such as face wash, moisturiser and cleanser,” explained Alamo.

“All you might need is a pea-size amount.

“Instead of buying travel-size toiletries, use smaller 10ml, 25ml or 50ml containers and decant the exact amount of product you’ll need for your trip.

“This is particularly useful for makeup products such as foundation or concealer.

“You definitely won’t need full sizes for the average vacation.”

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Another top tip is to eschew liquid toiletries altogether and opt for solid equivalents.

Shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, soap and makeup can all come in solid versions.

This way you can take as much as you like without having to adhere to the liquids rules.

Alternatively, opt for wipes or powders where you can.

It’s also worth remembering that your hotel may well offer a number of key toiletries.

Jet-setters can check online or even phone up the hotel to find out what is provided.

Flights introduced the hand luggage liquid allowance restrictions back in 2006. It came after British police foiled a terror plot which saw terrorists smuggling explosives.

The incident was the largest terror plot ever discovered in Britain. The terrorists had improvised explosive devices which they had disguised in soft drink bottles.

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Categories
Travel

Royal travel secrets: Queen’s ‘flirty’ behaviour with shipmen on her first voyage revealed

The Queen is no stranger to world travel, having flown an estimated 42 times around the entire world during her reign. However, it was her first-ever overseas voyages in 1947 that perhaps revealed some of her most unexpected behaviour.

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Channel 4 documentary, The Royal House of Windsor, reveals archived footage of her first overseas journey to South Africa with her father King George VI, the Queen Mother and her sister, Princess Margaret.

As part of a PR move, the Windsors decided to allow the media to cover the voyage in great detail, welcoming onboard BBC Radio as well as a newsreel cameraman.

Thanks to this, footage emerged of the Queen and her sister in a way Britain has never seen them before, exploring their freedom as young women.

“This was the first trip abroad that the princesses had ever made.

“They’d been terribly cosseted, carefully brought up, and now they were getting a taste of freedom,” explains Historian Dr Piers Brendon.

One of the most unexpected, sweet moments shows the 20-year-old Queen playing and almost flirting with some of the young sailors on board.

The documentary states that the two princesses were the only young women on board the ship of around 1,700 young men for around three weeks.

The black and white footage shows the Queen, dressed in a summer dress and sandals, playing what appears to be a game of tag where she dodges some of the shipmen and runs between them.

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A BBC spokesperson describes the scene, saying: “The princesses, for example, are here seen enjoying deck games in company with a number of the ship men. And when I say enjoying a mean just that. Well, you can see for yourselves.”

In an interview for the documentary Historian Sarah Gristwood comments: “You see the princesses playing around with the young officers in a way we almost never actually see. Elizabeth, she’s almost playing like a child.”

Indeed, the Queen herself seemed to be enjoying being in the presence of the men.

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In a letter written to her nanny on February 15, 1947, she wrote: “There are one or two real smashers and I bet you’d have a wonderful time if you were here.”

Along with fun and games, though, the journey would be a huge point of learning for the Queen.

The tour would launch the young Elizabeth onto the world stage as the next in line for the throne.

During the journey, the king took full advantage of this time to instruct his daughter.

Sir Malcolm Ross, Former member of the royal household: “She learnt so much from her father.

“On that long voyage to South Africa, there was an awful lot of sitting beside her father being instructed in the art of kingship or queenship.”

Since then, throughout her 67 years serving the Monarch has been on an impressive 42 expeditions that saw her circle the globe.

The figure was calculated by royal historian Kate Williams who says it was the introduction of air travel that “revolutionised Queen Elizabeth’s role.”

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Categories
Travel

Finland reveal their secret to being the happiest country in the world – top tips

Finland was shown to be the happiest country in the world in the latest Happiness Report by the UN. The Finnish capital Helsinki was also named as the happiest city of them all. So why is it that Finland has become such a happy nation? What is their secret?

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According to the Finnish tourist board Visit Finland, the answer to what makes them happy is nature.

However, with Britons’ movements severely restricted at the moment due to the coronavirus pandemic – how can one achieve the happiness of the Finns while at home?

Visit Finland have shared simple tips on how to find your calm at home – the Finnish way.

1. Start your day with a cold shower

(instead of a dip in a lake or the sea)

The Finns love winter swimming as much as they love the sauna. The secret of plunging into icy water lies in the feeling that surges through your body once you get out of the water – as soon as you’re back on dry land your circulation kicks in and your body starts to warm up and makes you feel happy.

Your body is producing the mood-balancing hormone serotonin with dopamine, and stress starts to melt away.

The easiest way to do this at home is to take an ice-cold shower for a couple of minutes in the morning for a refreshing way to start your day. You can alternate cold and warm showers to get a “sauna” feeling, and your blood circulating even better.

2. Make sense of the world by reading

(instead of visiting a library)

Books are close to the Finns’ hearts. There are many libraries in Finland with Helsinki’s Oodi being the newest library to open in 2019 and was awarded the best public library in the world the same year.

In 2016 the United Nations named Finland the world’s most literate nation, and Finns are among the world’s most enthusiastic users of public libraries. They are 5.5 million people, and they borrow close to 68 million books a year.

Moomins are probably the most known and adored Finnish literary icon. The white, hippo-like Moomins are Finnish characters created by the much‐loved Swedish‐speaking Finn, writer and artist Tove Jansson in the 1940s.

Today the Moomins are part of the Finnish identity, inspiring generations over and over from children to adults. Moomin books can be found in every bookshop and library in Finland.

3. Experience a relaxing forest path on your sofa

(instead of walk-in an actual forest)

There is something magical about the forest and the Finnish soul has always been linked with it.

Finns feel good in the forest. The forest roots them and help them remember who they are and where they come from. In the forest Finns don’t feel alone or even lost – the forest provides protection and peace.

It has been scientifically proven that only 15 minutes in the forest calms your pulse and your body starts to rest; what a wonderfully simple cure for stress!

So, close your eyes, stretch yourself on the sofa, and have an imaginary sound trip to the Finnish forest.

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4. Bake a Cinnamon bun

(instead of visiting a Finnish café serving them)

Korvapuusti translates into “slapped ears” in English but they are essentially cinnamon buns baked Finnish style with a dash of cardamom.

Finns love coffee (they are heavy drinkers of coffee, almost 10 kg per person per year) and korvapuusti so much that there is actually a special word for it, “pullakahvit”, which literally means “bun coffee”, either it is home-made, enjoyed at a café, or at work with your workmates – at the moment Finns are doing with virtual “pullakahvi” pauses.

For Finnish people, it’s the highlight of the day, and they definitely don’t count the calories. Cinnamon buns are perfect comfort food as well, and baked at home they bring a cosy smell to the kitchen reminiscent childhood days when they ate them with a glass of milk.

5. Transport your thoughts through online

(instead of visiting a museum)

Finland’s contemporary art scene embraces everything from experimental artist-run initiatives and commercial galleries to flagship art institutions. There are more than 55 art museums, and numerous art galleries packed into our cities.

Finland is a country of extremes and contrasts and along with the Finns’ close relationship with nature are the main sources of inspiration for Finnish Art.

The Finns use art to calm the mind and transport their thoughts to stress-free comforting places. Why not take a virtual trip from your own sofa to the Finnish museums to understand how art is a tool for happiness.

In March 2020, Amos Rex won the prestigious LCD (Leading Culture Destination) Award for New Cultural Destination of the Year – Europe. Have a virtual tour of the new museum to see the new Generation 2020 exhibition in their Instagram Stories.

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Holiday

Les Saisies: Is the French holiday destination skiing’s best kept secret?

There is no shortage of options when it comes to picking a resort for a skiing holiday. However, few places are sure to match the level of charm and an abundance of breathtaking views in Les Saisies.

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Roughly a two hour drive from Geneva airport, skiers will find the rolling hills of Les Saisies.

The resort is located in the Savoie region and is 19 miles from the town of Albertville.

If it sounds familiar, you probably know the slopes as the host of the biathlon and cross-country skiing events from the 1992 Winter Olympics.

As well as its exciting history, the area has kept its original aesthetic and looks exactly like you would hope a classic ski lodge to.

What to do

Les Saisies prides itself on having something to keep everyone entertained, from young children to non-skiers.

Skiing

Unsurprisingly, skiing and snowboarding are huge attractions for those at the resort.

There are lots of instructors ready to help out skiers, whether complete beginners or seasoned pros.

We were paired up with instructor, Thomas Brossard, who helped build confidence and gave a great guided tour of all of the best slopes at the resort.

Sport 2000 Les Volatiles snowmobile

Holidaymakers can take to the slopes after they are closed for incredible views of the sunset.

Drivers are quickly shown how to navigate the vehicle before spending an hour touring the snowy mountains.

If you don’t feel up for stepping behind the wheel yourself, the experience allows visitors to take a backseat and enjoy the views while being driven around.

Mountain Twister

Before 6.30pm, guests of all ages can take a ride on the Mountain Twister.

It is a short roller coaster through the snow which allows thrill seekers to choose how fast they go with individual controls in each carriage.

Snowga

If the beautiful scenery wasn’t enough to help you feel relaxed, visitors can take part in Snowga, or yoga in the snow.

With the guidance of talented instructor, Hélène Durand, guests strap on their snow boots and headed towards a quiet spot on the mountains.

The class is suitable for beginners and is done with unforgettable views of the famous nearby Mont Blanc.

Where to stay

MMV residence Les Chalets des Cimes spa

The residence offers authentic apartments with panoramic views of the ski slopes.

Our room was a mini apartment with two rooms, a fireplace and balcony.

Those who lodge there can also enjoy a relaxing spa session with the facilities including a sauna, steam room and jacuzzi.

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Where to eat

Trying out the activities on offer is sure to build up an appetite and holidaymakers can get their après ski fill in a number of restaurants.

From gourmet to family run, there are plenty of options when it comes to refuelling.

Le 1650

Doubling up as a bowling alley, the restaurant offered plenty of options for a quick bite including burgers, salads and meat dishes.

Les Arcades

This restaurant offers a family feel and we were greeted by the chef who enthusiastically educated us on some of the best local cheeses to get stuck in to.

Les Chalet des Marmottes

With outdoor seating the soak in the sun and sights, the restaurant offers everything from a light lunch to a filling meal.

La Table des Armaillis

Perhaps a more luxurious option, the modern restaurant is a great option for getting glammed up or for celebrating a special occasion.

There is also a special cheese menu that includes fondue and raclette.

When visiting Les Saisies, families are sure to find something for everyone to do on the mountains, whether they have skied before or not.

With so many different options available, it is easy to see why skiers would choose the resort for their holiday.

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Categories
Cruises

Cruise crew secrets: Staff reveal the truth about worker cabins on board

Cruise ship crew travel the work taking in a new country almost daily as part of their job. However, while life onboard a cruise ship might seem like a luxurious life, it seems the staff experience is quite different from that of the guests onboard.

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This is particularly true when it comes to the crew quarters.

While guests can expect luxury private staterooms with king-size beds, private bathrooms and even balconies, its a different life for the crew.

Cruise workers flocked to share their experience of life on board in a Reddit forum.

While the perks of working on a cruise means a break from paying rent or having to find somewhere to live, there are some sacrifices that must be made.

A ship’s entertainer shared an insight into their bedroom posting a photograph to Reddit.

In the image, a small single bed can be seen lining the wall, with a bedside table, extension cord and telephone to its right. There is also a narrow space for storage.

The Reddit user said: “This was a brand new ship, and I was an entertainer, so I got a fancy single room. Most were doubles. Lots of crew cabins on other ships do not look this fancy.”

It seems bedrooms on cruises are particularly tight, with space being a premium, even on some of the largest ships out there.

Occupants report features including a bed, desk, closest or storage space, shelves, and bathroom access.

“They’re definitely not spacious,” said one crew worker.

“But you get used to it, and it can actually be a little comforting, it’s actually one of my favourite places to read.”

Sometimes cabins are shared by up to four members of staff, using bunk beds to make the most of the space.

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In his book The Truth About Cruise Ships, former officer Jay Herring wrote: “Cabin size dwindled quickly down the ranks and most crew cabins were 1/2 to 1/3 the size of passenger cabins.

“The smallest crew cabins had so little space that roommates couldn’t pass each other at the same time. One person had to climb into bed so the other person could get by.”

Mr Herring went on to paint a picture of the cramped conditions he found himself in on his first trip.

“My new bathroom was smaller than I ever thought possible.

“I could sit on the pot, wash my hands in the sink and have my feet in the shower all at the same time.

“When on the toilet, I couldn’t lean forward to rest my arms on my thighs because the sink was in the way.

“I had to angle myself away from the sink and sit off-center to lean forward and get comfy.”

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Workers may also have to share a bathroom with another room or use a communal bathroom with others staying on the same floor as them.

However, a representative for the Cruise Lines International Association pointed out some of the additional perks crew can benefit from. Speaking to Business Insider they explained: “While space constraints are always something cruise lines have to keep in mind both from a crew and guest perspective, crew members almost always have access to other sections of the ship that are just for them, such as gyms, pools, dining areas, and lounges.”

Plus, there seems to be one sure way that crew can upgrade their living quarters, and even get their own private bedroom.

For the most part, it seems length of service, experience, and ranking is the key to a better room.

One cruise worker posting to Reddit recalls: “On my ship, you had to be an officer, a department manager or an entertainer such as a soloist, showband singer, or cast performer.

“I worked in entertainment as well as a technician and I shared a room with a host but he was dating a singer so they were always in her cabin and I was pretty much alone which made bringing dates home very easy.”

Another adds: “It varies from country to country, but the process is either sailing for years as an unlicensed crew member and earning enough time to gain the knowledge needed and the minimum sea time required to sit for your license test, or you graduate from a maritime academy with a license.

“By sail for years, I mean it has to be in the same department.

“You would have to sail as an unlicensed member of the deck or engine department.

“You can’t sail as an entertainer and work your way up to being an engineering officer.”

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Categories
Travel

Stunning pictures of some of the world’s most beautiful gardens – will you visit one day?

As a global lockdown continues to be in force, the concept of holidays may seem like a distant dream for many. Furthermore, with the UK government asking the nation to stay at home, you may be in need of a little bit of virtual wanderlust to quench your thirst for adventure.

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Luckily, although we are all social distancing right now, the beautiful world is still out there ready for travel plans in the future, so what better time to source some inspiration?

Here is a round-up of some of the most unusual and beautiful public gardens and outdoor spaces in varying locations across the globe.

Botanical Garden of Caguas, Puerto Rico

Botanical Gardens are a common feature of Puerto Rico, and are known for their fusion of nature and art.

The gardens not only boast a stunning array of flora and fauna, but they also house a number of archeological artificers that used to belong to the ancient Taino people.

The gardens provide an escape from metropolitan life, as well as a look into the history of the area.

Composed of Taino, African and Spanish routes, the gardens are also home to the remains of the Sugarcane factory Ingenio Azucar San Jose which has been taken over by nature, as well as the remains of the centenary Barracon.

Located just 30 minutes from San Juan, the 60 acres of gardens offer sweeping views and are also home to a huge waterlily pond offering a spot of tranquility.

Visitors can expect to see an assortment of flowers, including heliconias, bromeliads, orchids, and gingers, as well as palm and fruit trees many of which were in danger of extinction before being planted in the park.

Volksgarten, Vienna

Situated in the heart of Vienna, Volksgarten is a peaceful escape in the heart of one of the city’s busiest districts.

Overlooked by the Hofburg Palace, the park is home to vast expanses of greenery, floral arrangements, and lush, green foliage.

The area was built originally for fortifications in the 1500s, but the area was converted into gardens after the fortifications were destroyed by Napoleon’s French troops.

A nod to its history, between the gardens are a selection of monuments, as well as a small-scale replica of the Temple of Hephaestus in Athens at the park’s centre.

The Volksgarten houses two fountains – the Triton and Nymph Fountains. Meanwhile, one of the park’s most famous draws is its beautiful rose garden, with more than 3,000 rose bushes of approximately 400 different cultivars of roses.

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Garden of Gethsemane, Jerusalem

These famous Gardens, rooted deeply in biblical text, are located at the foot of the Mount of Olives and are home to some of the oldest olive trees in the world.

A study conducted by the National Research Council of Italy in 2012 used carbon dating and discovered some of the trees had been there from as early as 1092, 1166 and 1198 AD.

Now one of the most important pilgrimages in Jerusalem, the garden is also home to an array of lush trees and flourishing flower beds.

Travellers can also enjoy beautiful 360-degree views of the surrounding area should they take a stroll up the Mount of Olives which overlooks the gardens.

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Leo Mol Sculpture Gardens, Manitoba

In Canada’s Manitoba sits the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden in Assiniboine Park, Winnipeg.

The nature-filled area is also home to a stunning array of artistic beauty, crafted by artist Dr Mol.

Many of the sculptures nestled throughout the garden are grafted from bonze and were gifted to the local community.

At its heart is a Lilly pond, ideal for some quiet reflection amongst the culture.

The garden is also home to the Leo Mol Gallery and the Leo Mol School House Studio, which are offering budding sculptors an insight into how bronze sculpture is created.

Royal Botanical Gardens, Kandy, Sri Lanka

In Kandy’s suburb of Peradeniya is the huge Royal Botanical Gardens which dates back to 1372.

Though these gardens were once solely to be enjoyed by an ancient Kandyan queen, they now welcome visitors to marvel at more than 4,000 species of plants and spices.

The exotic area is made up of more than 60 hectares of designed lawns, pavilions, and plant houses. The area of natural beautiful welcomes around two million visitors annually and is renowned for its collection of orchids featuring medicinal plants and palm trees.

However, perhaps its most famous tree is the Cannonball Tree planted by King George V and Queen Mary in 1901.

Flamingo Gardens, Greater Fort Lauderdale

The Flamingo Gardens in Florida’s Fort Lauderdale are the ideal escape for animal lovers.

This 60-acre wildlife sanctuary offers a home for rare, threatened and engaged native animals an tropical plants.

The park was established in 1927 and is one of the oldest botanical gardens in South Florida. Encompassing more than 3,000 species of rare and exotic, tropical, subtropical and native plants and trees the gardens offer plenty of fauna to keep horticulture enthusiasts occupied. Meanwhile, the sanctuary is to the largest collection of Florida native wildlife including alligators, bobcats, eagles, otters, panthers, peacock, and of course, flamingos.

The gardens also have specialised environments for butterflies and hummingbirds.

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Travel

Britons trapped in Spain offered lifeline – hotel closures relaxed to save holidaymakers

British holidaymakers currently in Spain amid a stringent coronavirus lockdown have been offered a lifeline by the Spanish government. With many airlines cancelling flights and offering only limited “rescue” operations for their customers, many tourists were left fearing the worst.

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However, in a bid to protect the tourists who remain in the country, the Spanish government has relaxed its rules on its hotel closure order due to come into effect tomorrow, March 26.

The Spanish Government had ordered the closure of all hotels and tourist accommodation as part of the bid to stem the spread of the virus.

However, today a new order has been made which will allow specifically named hotels in all parts of Spain, including the Canaries and the Balearics, to take in tourists, as well as essential workers who are needed to keep the country afloat.

These include health workers, members of the security forces, employees of other services considered essential or people who must travel for reasons of urgency to care for minors, dependents or the sick.

The specified accommodation includes apartment complexes, bungalows, hostels and hotels.

There are 370 in all, ranging from Madrid to Tenerife, Cataluna to Valencia and Ibiza to Murcia.

These new rules will stay in place until the end of the state emergency and subsequent lockdown.

It is not yet known how long this will last, as confirmed cases of the virus in Spain continue to rise.

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The number of known cases in the country has surpassed 47,600.

Furthermore, it has not been explained how tourists will pay for this accommodation, which could be a concern for those who are trapped because they can not afford to pay for a new flight ticket to return to the UK.

A full list of the hotels participating in the new rules is available on the Spanish government website, which breaks them down by region.

British Ambassador Hugh Elliott said: “This is a very difficult time for British nationals who find themselves currently unable to get back to the UK and we welcome this announcement by the Spanish authorities that some hotels and short-stay accommodation will remain open during the state of emergency.

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“Such accommodation is mainly aimed at workers, but there will be options available for British travellers who have not been able to return to the UK yet.

“Meanwhile, we are in close contact with airlines to ensure those of you who wish to return home are able to do so in the coming days.

“More generally, if you live in the UK and are currently travelling in Spain, you should be making plans to return to the UK while there are still commercial routes available.

Britons are advised to stay up to date with the most recent Foreign and Commonwealth updates, and the government has set up a Facebook page titled “BritsInSpain”.

At the time of writing the FCO is advising Britons currently in Spain to “follow the advice of local authorities.”

It continues: “Anybody planning to travel to Spain should consult their airline or tour operator.

“Following further border restrictions, only British nationals who can prove they are resident in Spain or fall under other limited categories will be allowed to enter Spain.

“British travellers will continue to be allowed to leave Spain.

“British travellers who are currently in Spain and who wish to return to the UK are advised to make travel plans to do so as soon as possible.

“For those returning to the UK by road via France, please ensure you check the travel advice for France.”

Meanwhile, it is imploring Britons globally to return home. The latest emergency update says: “If you live in the UK and are currently travelling abroad, you are strongly advised to return now, where and while there are still commercial routes available. “Many airlines are suspending flights and many airports are closing, preventing flights from leaving.”

Additional reporting by Rita Sobot

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