World Spree Offers 12-Day Air-Inclusive Middle Kingdom Tour of China Priced from $1,299

August 17, 2016
Hangzhou, China

China © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Bellevue, WA – World Spree is putting the fascinating destination of China within reach with a 12-day Middle Kingdom tour priced from $1,299 that includes round-trip transpacific air fare, all transportation in China, 4-star deluxe hotels, daily American buffet breakfast, two delicious Chinese lunches, optional culinary events, evening shows, guides, sightseeing and entrance fees, baggage handling, taxes and fuel surcharges (prices are per person, double occupancy and are subject to availability).

The tour also offers the flexibility of independent travel: While all the “must-sees” are included, other possibilities are optional.

The journey starts in Beijing, where you’ll see stunning modern architecture and Tiananmen Square, as well as imperial treasures like the legendary Great Wall of China, the Sacred Way of Ming Tombs and the 9,999-room Forbidden City (from which 24 emperors ruled the “Middle Kingdom”).

Optional features include a Peking duck dinner and a visit to Old Beijing’s winding alleys called “hutongs,” where you can enjoy lunch in a family’s courtyard home. In the ancient capital, Xian, you’ll visit China’s greatest archaeological discovery, the 6,000 Terracotta Warriors which guarded the first emperor’s tomb for 2,200 years.  And there’s an optional tour (with dinner) to the intriguing Muslim Quarter and night market.

Then it’s on to Shanghai, China’s most sophisticated and cosmopolitan city. Here there’s time to explore the city and its shops on your own, or take an optional tour (with lunch and dinner) that includes the 16th-century city bazaar; the Bund,

symbol of colonial Shanghai; the futuristic Pudong,  which you’ll view from the top of a skyscraper;  and a performance of the Shanghai Acrobats.

Another day there’s an optional tour by motor coach to Suzhou, a 2,500-year-old city known for its traditional gardens, ancient canals and silk production, and to the charming water town of Tongli with its photogenic canals and bridges, cobbled lanes and Ming-style houses and shops.

On the final day, there’s an optional  excursion (by bullet train) to Hangzhou, arguably China’s most beautiful city, with a cruise on the picturesque West Lake, lunch, and a visit to the famous Dragon Well Tea Plantation for a Chinese Tea Ceremony and tasting.

For more information, log onto www.worldspree.com, click “Destinations” and then “China” on the drop-down menu.  China Spree’s toll-free telephone number is 1-866-652-5656.

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Redesigned Victoria Jenna Sails China’s Yangtze

August 17, 2016

Victoria Cruises-Jenna

NEW YORK – Having upgraded and transformed its entire fleet – including  the complete overhaul of the Victoria Katarina on two separate occasions in 2010 and 2014 – Victoria Cruises (www.VictoriaCruises.com) is celebrating its latest renovated ship, the Victoria Jenna, after its first major renovation since its launch in late 2009. The six-year-old ship benefits from a complete redesign featuring motifs of modern elegance and a brand new appearance intended to bring the vessel up to speed with the rest of Victoria Cruises’ five-star fleet.

Victoria Cruises retained the same New York-based interior design firm used for its other fleet renovations. As an American-managed company adhering to the strictest Western standards, Victoria Cruises goes to exceptional lengths to ensure the safety, comfort and performance of its vessels exceed the expectation of discerning American and European travelers.

Like its sister ships, all staterooms aboard the Victoria Jenna feature a private balcony from which guests can view the mist-shrouded Yangtze River and the optional Luxury Amenities program is also available for travelers seeking the ultimate experience.

VIP perks provided via the Luxury Amenities add-on include personalized “white glove” service, upper deck placement, access to exclusive ship areas, complimentary Wi-Fi Internet access, exclusive happy hour, and enhanced culinary privileges capitalizing on Victoria Cruises’ reputation for gastronomic excellence including a la carte service and wine and beer with dinner.

“Since the launch of the Victoria Jenna in 2009, the vessel has been surpassed by our own innovations as we’ve modernized the rest of our fleet one ship at a time,” said Larry Greenman, manager of public relations and customer service for Victoria Cruises.

“This is a particularly meaningful milestone for us as we’ve restored the six-year-old vessel’s position as the flagship at the forefront of our elegant, five-star fleet. It also signifies the completion of the extensive fleet-wide redesign we began in 2010,” noted Greenman.

The Victoria Jenna rejoined the fleet on April 11 for Victoria Cruises’ popular Three Gorges Highlights program between Chongqing and Yichang which it will continue to sail with twice weekly departures on Mondays and Thursdays.

Starting at $980 per person, based on double occupancy, the Three Gorges Highlights voyage is offered with three- and four-night options (based on river direction), encompassing views of centuries-old temples, pagodas and stone carvings nestled along the river.

A standard shore excursion package is available for $90 per person and includes tours of Shibaozhai’s famous red pagoda and the Three Gorges Dam as well as a scenic journey on a traditional sampan through Goddess Stream, surrounded by beautiful peaks and teeming with local wildlife from monkeys to mountain goats. Excursions may be substituted based on river conditions and other factors.

The Victoria Jenna is featured in tour packages offered by leading U.S. operators combining the charm and mystique of the Yangtze River with segments in historical Beijing, cosmopolitan Shanghai, the ancient Qin Dynasty capital city of Xi’an and other alluring destinations within China.

New York-based Victoria Cruises established new standards of excellence for sailing China’s Yangtze River when its first ship edged out of port in 1994. Victoria Cruises remains the service leader on the Yangtze River with each ship earning the coveted five-star rating from the China National Tourism Administration. Victoria Cruises has earned numerous awards and recognitions over the years including the 2011 TravelAge West WAVE Award Editor’s Pick for Best River Cruise Line as well as Best New River Cruise Ship in 2010 with the launch of the luxurious Victoria Jenna.  In that same year, Travel Weekly also selected the Victoria Jenna as a Silver Award Winner for the Magellan Awards’ River Cruise Ship category.  The cruise line operates a variety of itineraries on the Yangtze ranging from four to nine days.

For more information and a free color brochure or promotional DVD, contact Victoria Cruises at 136-18 39th Avenue, 12th Floor, Flushing, NY 11354; phone (800) 348-8084, (212) 818-1680; fax (212) 818-9889; e-mail contact@victoriacruises.com or visit http://www.victoriacruises.com.

 

 

 

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See What’s Happening, Coordinate Meeting Up in NYC with New App, Voux

August 17, 2016

NEW YORK– Voux (pronounced voo) enables users to create private and public points of interests (“spots”) for events and places that they usually go to with family, friends, or people with similar interests. It offers users key features in one place to manage all aspects of a spot. It does this by combining location-based services and social integration to facilitate the management and coordination of these formal and informal gatherings.

Voux gives its users real-time information on what is currently happening and who is currently at a given point of interest. One simply creates a spot, invites his “peeps”, then Voux manages many of the aspects that happen in between–such as notifying you when your dinner date has arrived, or letting you know ahead of time if a free event is starting to get crowded. Voux automatically checks its users in when they arrive at the spot and checks them out when they leave the spot that they have joined.

Among Voux’s many features, the app allows its users to create public and private spots, schedule one-time events or repeating activities, receive real-time updates on what is happening, set notifications to know when “peeps” arrive to or leave from the spot, send and receive secure spot-based messages anytime and anywhere, share pictures, post current location en route to the spot, and get conveniently guided to the spot with Uber and maps integrations to Apple, Google and Waze.

“This app is the perfect complement to my daily interactions, ” says Co-Founder and CEO, Freddie Roseman.

“For someone who has been playing New York City pickup sports for years, who loves to meet up with friends and family (whether impromptu or for special occasions) and who travels a lot for business and personal reasons, I’ve felt an increasing need to be able to make these regular activities as hassle-free as possible for me and for the people who matter to me. We have all been there where you wonder who is already there at the party, or if people are on their way to a gathering, and Voux is here to solve those questions in a very intuitive way. I want Voux to reflect how we interact with our personal connections with the activities and events we do together.

“For example, there are some interactions that I do with my co-workers, other interactions that I love to do with my family, other interactions that I only do with my buddies, and finally interactions with people with similar interests that I may not personally know. With Voux, I can easily communicate with each group in exactly the venue that makes sense for them.”

RMCG LLC. is a New York LLC founded on March 1st 2015 by Freddie Roseman and Cory McConnell. Voux is the lifestyle app developed for mobile platforms, and is currently available for iPhone on iOS in the App Store for free.

More information can be found at http://www.voux.rocks.

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Travel Insurance Company Promotes Cancel For Any Reason Coverage in Wake of Terrorism Concerns

August 17, 2016

MIAMI – With the events which took place in Paris, Brusssels, Nice, Thailand and other destinations, travelers struggle to balance their vital interest in cultural enrichment and world experiences with common sense precautions to safeguard themselves, their families and their investments.  April Travel Protection, a travel insurance company, is attempting to educate Americans on the ins and outs of travel insurance to help travelers understand what is and what isn’t covered under various policies.

“In many cases, travelers purchase insurance policies with certain expectations only to find out their policy does not afford the protection they initially believed,” said Jason Schreier, CEO of APRIL USA. “Unfortunately, many travel insurance policies are not very clear about the precise circumstances in which coverage is triggered, and policyholders often fail to read or have difficulty comprehending the fine print.”

As an industry standard, travel insurance does not include “fear of traveling” based on terror threats. Terrorism is only covered in cases where an attack impacts travel plans prior to or during travel. Policies must also be purchased before the terrorism event takes place.

“This is an important distinction as it precludes trip cancellation coverage based on state department advisories, including instances where intelligence agencies have credible information on an impending attack,” Schreier explained.

APRIL’s philosophy is to provide easy-to-understand agreements in order to help prospective policyholders choose the right options for their specific needs. And while the company’s forward-thinking policies are among the most comprehensive in the industry, Cancel For Any Reason (CFAR) coverage provides the ultimate peace of mind for travelers concerned about planning travel in an era complicated by terrorism.

CFAR provides the ultimate protection as it places the decision of trip cancellation squarely in policyholders’ hands. One’s reasoning behind the cancellation request-whether it be fear of terrorism, Zika infection or simple buyers’ remorse-is left to their own discretion.

“Most insurance companies charge an arm and a leg for CFAR coverage,” said Schreier. “We make CFAR reasonable and affordable in our VIP plan.”

The typical standard for CFAR coverage options practiced by the majority of travel insurance companies is a 45% or 50% surcharge on top of the total policy cost. For example, a 55-year-old insuring a $10,000 trip would incur an additional charge of $315 to $350 on top of the base policy premium. Comparatively, the cost for CFAR on APRIL’s VIP Plan is only $60-a flat charge that does not increase regardless of the trip cost or the age of the policyholder.

“There are so many ‘unknown’ events that cannot be predicted, and of course, sickness or a broken leg are significantly more likely than a terrorist attack, but shouldn’t we cover it all just in case? This is the reasoning behind CFAR and is why it affords the most comprehensive coverage available,” explains Schreier.

Additionally, all policies sold by APRIL and its partners feature “instant adjudication” at the core of APRIL’s signature ‘Stress Less’ Benefits-a ground-breaking feature which allows policyholders to enjoy their vacation without having to worry about out-of-pocket expenses in an emergency.

The first insurance company to provide this progressive benefit to U.S. policyholders, APRIL offers instant adjudication for a wide range of potential inconveniences that can’t be predicted in advance, including emergency medical coverage up to $250,000 (with no deductible), trip interruption covering up to 150% of your trip’s cost, and evacuation benefits up to $500,000. Cancellations are eligible for reimbursement of 100% of their trip costs for situations including injury, sickness, death, job loss or relocation, supplier default, weather, natural disasters, terrorism, military duty, strikes and more.

APRIL’s takes a pro-active approach that keeps up with travelers’ evolving needs with a multi-lingual team and 24/7 toll-free access from most destinations as well as other convenient support channels from Skype to texting, email and live chat. APRIL claims to be the first company to pioneer these support methods for American travelers.

APRIL Travel Protection is owned by APRIL, an international group with 45 operational companies in more than 40 different countries.  APRIL is listed on Euronext Stock Exchange and has yearly sales of more than $1.1 billion.

The company’s U.S. division is supported by American Modern Insurance Group (an AM Best A+ rated carrier) as its preferred underwriter and is headquartered at 11900 Biscayne Blvd. Suite 600, Miami, FL, 33181.

Visit www.AprilTravelProtection.com to learn more.
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Registration Opens for PhotoPlus Expo Oct 19-22 in NYC – Get Free Passes thru Aug 31

August 17, 2016
photoplus_103114_32e2 (c) Karen Rubin

PhotoPlus Expo gives photographers a chance to try out interesting set pieces © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

NEW YORK— Whether photography is a career, a passion, or simply a way to capture life’s precious moments, you will want to attend the PhotoPlus International Conference + Expo at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York City from October 19-22. PhotoPlus Expo is the largest photographic conference and trade show in North America where manufacturers demonstrate the latest imaging technology and world renowned photographers and filmmakers conduct educational seminars and photo walks under one roof. Free registration to the 3-day Expo and early bird discounts on conference passes are available through August 31 by visiting photoplusexpo.com. Getting to the Javits Center has never been easier with the new #7 subway extending all the way to the Javits Center (34th St. / Hudson Yards).

More than 250 leading manufacturers of imaging hardware, software, and accessories will be on hand to demonstrate the latest technology and techniques in the world of photography and filmmaking. Throughout the Expo, manufacturers will be offering special show discounts on products and services, giveaways and raffles, and conduct free educational presentations with some of the world’s most renowned photographers and filmmakers. During the Expo, attendees can also visit the Photographers Resource Center where they can sell their used equipment, get their cameras professionally cleaned and /or repaired and get advice on how to handle copyright infringement and manage small business financials.

The Expo will feature a special Wedding Pavilion. If you are a wedding or portrait photographer or thinking about expanding your business to include these services you will want to visit the WPPI Wedding Pavilion at PhotoPlus Expo.  Products and services ranging from albums, photofinishing, and accessories will all be on display to help you increase your business, or help get you started.

“Whether you are a professional photographer, enthusiast, or consumer who wants to learn how to take better photos, attending PhotoPlus Expo is an absolute must,” explains Lauren Wendle, vice president & group publisher at PDN. “Nearly every conceivable product, service, and accessory related to imaging will be on display. Live demonstrations, hands-on learning, and educational presentations make PhotoPlus an interactive experience for everyone who attends.” 

Become a VIP at PPE

If you are looking to completely immerse yourself in PhotoPlus Expo, register as a VIP attendee and receive exclusive access, discounts, and opportunities for the entire duration of the event. With a VIP Expo badge, attendees will receive:

  • Three-day admission to PhotoPlus Expo with instant badge pick-up at the VIP Customer Service Desk
  • Admission and priority seating for keynote presentations on Thursday, Friday and Saturday
  • The Official PPE VIP Bag packed with special promotions from a variety of exhibitors. More than 100 bags will include a Golden Ticket that can be redeemed for a special prize valued up to $250, including photo gear, gift cards and more! Prize sponsors include B&H Photo and others.

General Pricing for PhotoPlus Expo 2016

The three-day Expo pass is free to everyone who registers online before August 31. Early bird pricing is now available on all education tracks including À La Carte Seminars, Intensive Classes, Master Classes, and Photo Walks. In addition to getting the discounts, early registration will ensure access to the widest selection of educational programming before they sell out.  Members of PHOTO+ (PhotoServe.com and WPPI) will save 50% on all conference seminar pass options including a Full Conference Pass, One Day Conference Pass, individual seminars as well as Master Class and Photo Walk purchases. Attendees can choose to become PHOTO+ members ($150.00) before or during the registration process to unlock exclusive discounts on conference passes, year-round vendor and product discounts, free subscriptions to PDN and Rangefinder, and discounts on contest entries.

The price of a Full Conference Pass is $249.50 for members ($499 for non-members) through August 31, 2016. The price of a One Day Conference Pass is $149.50 for members ($299 for non-members). Advanced pricing rates begin September 1 and end October 18.

Seminars and Classes

Attendees looking to hone their skills in specific areas of photography in a more formal classroom setting will find more than 100 Master Classes, seminars, and photo walks available throughout the Expo and Conference.  Conducted by many of the world’s most renowned photographers and filmmakers, attendees will learn the latest techniques in lighting, portraits, business, post-production and so much more. To ensure a robust educational experience for all attendees, PhotoPlus offers a variety of seminars and special event packages including a 50% discount for students on all seminars, conference passes, and photo walks to help maximize their limited budgets and take advantage of these unique learning opportunities. View the full seminar schedule with detailed descriptions.

“For the 34th year, The PhotoPlus Conference + Expo will bring together world-class creative pros under one roof for a week of learning and networking to help support and nurture business and creative initiatives for the coming year,” said Jason Groupp, Director of Education and Membership of the PHOTO+ Group. “Our extensive lineup of Master Classes, seminars, photo walks, and portfolio reviews create a comprehensive learning environment that is both energizing and inspiring.”

Progressive Learning at PhotoPlus Expo 

Photo Walks

Wednesday-Friday, October 19-21

8:00-10:00 a.m.

4:00-6:00 p.m.

4:30-6:30 p.m.

This year’s series of photo walks give participants an opportunity to explore New York in small groups led by some of the industry’s foremost photographers and educators. Morning and afternoon sessions are scheduled to accommodate most schedules.

Intensive Classes — NEW

Wednesday, October 19 – 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.

Thursday-Friday, October 20-21 – 1:30-6:30 p.m.

For attendees who really want to concentrate on one specific area of learning and are prepared to dig in for a full day of activities, PhotoPlus has created its Intensive Pre-Conference classes just for you. These classes each focus on a single topic including Photoshop, Lightroom, Lighting, Editing & Sequencing for Print, Wedding, and Final Cut X all instructed by industry leaders. These 5-hour sessions will provide an opportunity to learn more than the basics and come away with extended knowledge you can put to practice immediately.

Master Classes

Thursday-Friday, October 20-21

8:00-10:00 a.m.

4:30-6:30 p.m.

All Master Classes at PhotoPlus are limited to 50 students and offer comprehensive, hands-on instruction. Instructors include Susan Stripling, Lindsay Adler, Scott Kelby, John Harrington, Me Ra Koh, Joe McNally, Brooke Shaden, Eli Reed, and many more.

À La Carte Seminars

Thursday-Saturday, October 20-22 – Seminars conducted throughout the day

Regardless of the topic or specific technique you want to learn more about, you will find it in the comprehensive listing of seminars conducted this year at PhotoPlus Expo. Whether its studio or natural lighting, poses for portraits, or how to incorporate video into existing client services, these along with more than 100 other sessions will be on the schedule throughout the conference.

The full seminar schedule including À La Carte Seminars, Intensive Classes, Master Classes, and Photo Walks is available online and can be viewed by date, track, speaker, or sponsor.

Portfolio Reviews

The Official Portfolio Review at PhotoPlus Expo, presented by the Palm Springs Photo Festival, is the most productive and cost-efficient way to have your work viewed by 175 of the most respected picture editors, art directors, and art buyers in the world. Honest and constructive feedback on your existing portfolio is a necessary part of the process of reaching the next level of excellence. During PhotoPlus, attendees will have an opportunity to sit face-to-face with industry pros responsible for hiring and commissioning photographers and filmmakers throughout the year.

Drone+ Seminar

Saturday, October 22 – 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Drones are more than just the latest craze.  They are a new source of revenue for your business where the sky is the limit.  Drone+ at PhotoPlus has gathered all the industry experts and resources in one location to answer questions about features, functions, and general use of drones and how to navigate through FAA regulations to legally operate a drone.  Seminars and panel discussions addressing all aspects of drone use will be conducted throughout the day including a panel featuring former FAA counsel Loretta Alkalay, NTSB Examiner John Goglia, DJI’s VP of Policy Brendan Schulman, and others to discuss the current state of drone regulation and what to expect in the future.

Join award-winning photographer George Steinmetz when he shares his amazing aerial films and explains how drones have helped this 25-year veteran best known for his exploration of the unknown, charter new territories never before possible.

For more information and frequent updates, visit photoplusexpo.com, like us on Facebook, or follow @PhotoPlusExpo on Twitter.

Website:              http://www.photoplusexpo.com

Facebook:           http://www.facebook.com/photoplusexpo

Twitter:                http://www.twitter.com/photoplusexpo

 

 

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PhotoPlus Expo Announces First Annual ‘Your New York Minute’ Photo Contest Featuring NYC

August 17, 2016
PhotoPlus Expo gives photographers a chance to try out interesting set pieces © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

PhotoPlus Expo gives photographers a chance to try out interesting set pieces © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

NEW YORK— PhotoPlus Expo, one of the largest photography conferences and expos in North America, has announced its first annual PhotoPlus Expo photo contest, “Your New York Minute.”  Whether you’re a native New Yorker, or just a New Yorker at heart, you are eligible to enter the contest. All entries must have been taken in any of the city’s five boroughs Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island and the other city islands including Roosevelt, Randalls, Liberty and more to qualify for a chance to win thousands of dollars in prizes and gear from official camera sponsor, Nikon.

“Your New York Minute” photo contest is open to both professional and amateur photographers. Each entrant can submit work in any and/or each of the six categories: Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island and the other city islands including Roosevelt, Randalls, Liberty and more. Photos should be entered in the appropriate category based on where the photograph was taken. Two entrants will be awarded Grand Prize and will receive either a Nikon D500 or Nikon D7200 kit as part of their total prize package. All winning images will be on display during the PhotoPlus Expo at the Jacob Javits Center from October 20-22, 2016 which welcomes more than 25,000 visitors from around the world each year.

“We wanted to celebrate PhotoPlus Expo’s home city, and thought there was no better way to do that than with a contest that highlights each amazing part of it,” explains Lauren Wendle, vice president & group publisher of PDN, which hosts the annual PhotoPlus Expo. “Hundreds of great New York moments are captured with cameras and mobile devices each day.  The contest is an opportunity for visitors and residents alike to share those special moments with us.”

Deadline for entries is September 5th, 2016.

Contest Rules and Deadline

The call for submission is now open for the “Your New York Minute” photo contest. There will be a fee of $20 per professional entry and $15 per amateur entry for each photo entered into the contest, but contestants may enter as often as they would like.  PHOTO+ members will receive a 30% discount for each photo entered and a portion of all fees will be donated to City Harvest food bank in New York City. There are no time restrictions as to when a photo was taken in New York, its outer boroughs, or Staten Island and the other city islands including Roosevelt, Randalls, Liberty and more.

Contest Categories and Prizes

The “Your New York Minute” photo contest will consist of two Divisions: Professional and Amateur. Each Division will consist of six (6) categories: Bronx, Brooklyn Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island and the other city islands including Roosevelt, Randalls, Liberty and more.
First-Place winners in each category will qualify to become the Grand-Prize winner.  At the judge’s discretion, honorable mentions may be selected in some or all categories, and will not qualify for prizes but will be included in a special exhibition at PhotoPlus Expo at the Jacob Javits Center.

To enter the contest, go to https://contest.photoplusexpo.com/

Your New York Minute Photo Contest Prizes

Grand Prize Package (Pro Division) — $5,300 value

  • Nikon D500 16-80mm VR Lens Kit
  • Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000
  • G-Technology rugged G-Drive with Thunderbolt
  • Full Conference Pass to PhotoPlus Expo (full access to seminars, classes, and Expo)
  • Whitewall.com Photo Under Acrylic Print
  • Tether Tools Tether Table Aero
  • Additional prizes will be included in this prize package

Grand Prize Package (Amateur Division) — $3,200 value

  • Nikon D7200 18-140mm VR Lens Kit
  • Canon PIXMA PRO-10
  • LaCie rugged Thunderbolt with rugged key
  • Full Conference Pass to PhotoPlus Expo (full access to seminars, classes, and Expo)
  • Whitewall.com Photo Under Acrylic Print
  • Tether Tools Tether Table Aero
  • Additional prizes will be included in this prize package

Ten First Place Packages — $500 Value

  • Think Tank photo bag
  • Hahnemuhle photo paper
  • Western Digital My Passport portable hard drive
  • Spinlight 360 modular flash system
  • Whitewall.com Photo Under Acrylic Print
  • Full Conference Pass to PhotoPlus Expo (full access to seminars, classes, and Expo)

Contest Exhibit

All winning images and honorable mentions will be placed on exhibit during the PhotoPlus Conference + Expo at the Jacob Javits Center from October 20-22, 2016. The exhibit will be seen by more than 25,000 photographers and consumers expected to visit the photo expo this year. All winners will be permitted to keep their mounted winning image at the conclusion of the photo expo.

Everyone is a Winner – Photo Mosaic

All photos entered into the “Your New York Minute” photo contest will also be used to create a beautiful mosaic of the Manhattan skyline. In addition, everyone entering the contest will receive a high-resolution image file of the mosaic for posting to social media or to print for display at home or at work.

For more information and frequent updates, visit the PPE website, become a fan on Facebook, or follow PPE on Twitter.

Website:              http://www.photoplusexpo.com

Facebook:           http://www.facebook.com/photoplusexpo

Twitter:                http://www.twitter.com/photoplusexpo

Designed for professionals in the photographic and imaging industries, as well as enthusiasts, PhotoPlus Expo showcases the latest advances in photography, digital imaging and filmmaking. Held annually at the Javits Convention Center, attendees have the opportunity to explore an inspiring array of photography and imaging products and services — all from the industry’s leading manufacturers. The show also offers seminars and intimate Photo Walks and Master Classes taught by world-renowned experts that focus on cutting-edge innovations and techniques.

 

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Two Websites Help Plan Dude Ranch Vacations In North America and Abroad

June 30, 2016
Two vacation-planning websites that answer questions – on line -- as fast as you can ask them help take the guesswork out of where to go and what to do.

Two vacation-planning websites that answer questions – on line — as fast as you can ask them help take the guesswork out of where to go and what to do.

SONOMA, CA — Two vacation-planning websites www.top50ranches.com and www.ranchweb.com  answer questions on line about dude ranch vacations as fast as you can ask them and take the guesswork out of where to go and what to do.

The dude ranch vacations is truly one of America’s most iconic homegrown experiences. Born in the late 1800’s shortly after the Battle of the Little Big Horn, dude ranches gained widespread popularity in the 1920’s with the establishment of the National Dude Ranchers’ Association in 1926.

Today they are more popular than ever offering, among many other positives, a haven from urban, industrial and technical worlds; down-home cooking with a gotta-be-fresh flair; the joy of bonding with a mount suited to a guest’s temperament and riding ability; and always the beauty of the natural world.

“Ranch life remains one of the last authentic traditions in a landscape of technology where everything is instantaneous and ‘virtual’ in reality. A dude ranch vacation is a down to earth thing that helps us all reconnect with the natural rhythm of the earth,” explains Gene Kilgore, the world’s leading authority on ranch vacations.

Kilgore brings over three decades of passion for ranch vacations via his advisory involvement in and endorsement of these two web sites. He has visited and personally vetted most all of the properties represented, while also serving as goodwill ambassador to the ranches, bringing his knowledge of the needs of ever-more-discerning travelers to the ranchers and advising on how a business might tweak their accommodations, food, overall hospitality and activity offerings. He also helps guide businesses into the realm of hosting corporate and other groups, and whether or not their facilities and activities lend to being family-friendly.

But for the prospective ranch visitor; solo, in a group or with family, the knowledge and experience incorporated in these two online resources should not be overlooked.

Founded in 2011, www.top50ranches.com focuses on where to locate and then what to expect when it comes to the world’s top dude, guest, working and luxury ranch vacations in the United States and Canada as well as Argentina, Mexico and New Zealand.  Here in the US guests may opt to horseback ride through the stunning Tetons and relish after-ride massages; or in Colorado they can mix up horses with fly fishing for trout, trap shoot, swim and send the kiddies to a children’s program. They can assist with cattle drives and branding activities; and they can opt to just be pampered in world-class scenery. Some operations are large, offering accommodation and activities for up to 225 guests; others are small, providing hospitality to just six guests at a time. The website explains when the ranches are hosting guests, miles to the nearest airport, and the style of pampering or not that people can expect.

The site outlines special ranch offers, events and opportunities as well. For example Wyoming’s Bitterroot Ranch features a world-class riding program geared to advanced and intermediate riders exclusively and Colorado’s High Lonesome Ranch caters to an older crowd offering adult-only weeks during the summer.  South of the border, Rancho Los Baños offers a Mexican Corrida in November so that guests can experience a genuine Mexican roundup with vaqueros (cowboys), horses, cattle, lots of drives and cattle work. This all takes place on 30,000 acres in the foothills of the Sierra Madres, the Mexican Rockies, in Sonora, Mexico, just 55 miles south of the southeast Arizona town of Douglas.

This site also makes available Top50’s Concierge Service, a no-fee advice option on line or by phone for valued Top50 Travelers who seek a little extra help while choosing the right ranch for their party.

www.ranchweb.com which was founded in 1995 and regularly updated, offers an array of dude ranches in the US, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and Canada. Arranged alphabetically by destination, these ranches also organize themselves along the lines of the number of guests accommodated at one time, the activities, and if they are family friendly. A multitude of activities range from horseback riding and instruction (novice to advanced,) fishing (expert fly fishing guides on site), hiking, swimming, archery, shooting, rodeos, games, cattle drives, mountain biking … and the list goes on.  Several dude ranches offer specialty themes, such as photography, art, birding, cooking, wine tasting, and father-son and mother-daughter bonding adventures. Potential guests of businesses listed on this site may also contact a Ranchweb Concierge Service for additional assistance in sorting through the myriad of options including always-changing travel options now being listed into 2017.

The expert behind each website and one of the first lifetime members of the Dude Ranchers’ Association, Gene Kilgore is the best-selling author of nine editions of “Ranch Vacations: The Leading Guide to Guest, Resort, Fly Fishing, and Winter Ranches.”  The 197-page 2016 edition outlines over 100 ranch possibilities for those looking for a romantic getaway, multi-generational and family vacation or for many other occasions. This book, which makes an excellent travel planner and guide, can be obtained online at Amazon.com at: https://www.amazon.com/Ranch-Vacations-Leading-Fishing-Working/dp/0692031804/ref=dp_ob_title_bk

Follow RanchWeb and Top50 Ranches on Social Media:
RanchWeb Facebook:        https://www.facebook.com/ranchweb
RanchWeb Twitter:             https://twitter.com/ranchweb
RanchWeb Instagram:        https://www.instagram.com/ranchweb/
Top50 Facebook:                https://www.facebook.com/DudeRanchVacations/
Top 50 Twitter:                    https://twitter.com/top50ranches
Top50 Pinterest:                  https://www.pinterest.com/RanchVacations/

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38th Annual Museum Mile Festival, ‘Biggest Block Party in the World’ on New York City’s 5th Avenue, June 14

June 3, 2016
NYC-MuseumMile_061014_010e2(c) Karen Rubin

Dancing in front of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum during the Museum Mile Festival, New York City © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The 38th annual Museum Mile Festival, the biggest block party in the cultural capital of the world takes place on Tuesday, June 14, 6 pm-9 pm, rain or shine on a mile-long stretch of Fifth Avenue, from 82 Street to 104 Street. The festival kicks off at 5:45 pm on the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

It is a fantastically festive event, with street performers – clowns, magicians, bands – plus art on the street activities..Best of all, all eight museums are open at no charge, many offering entertainment and special activities inside.

Begun as an initiative to spur the development of new museum audiences and to increase support for the arts during the fiscal crisis of the 1970s, Museum Mile was formed as a consortium by the museums that share the Fifth Avenue address. It has become one of the most popular happenings in a city known for spectacular events – some 40,000 turn out. Expect long lines and to get in about 3 or 4 museums during the course of the night.

Participating museums include:

El Museo del Barrio, 1230 Fifth Avenue (at 104th Street), New York, NY 10029, (212) 831-7272 (http://www.elmuseo.org/Figure and Form: Recent Acquisition so the Permanent Collection (on view through Dec. 4). Also Antonio Lopez: Future Funk FashionJoiri Minaya: RedecodeSarah Zapata: Siempre X.

Museum of the City of New York, 1220 Fifth Avenue (at 104th Street), New York, NY 10029 (212) 534-1672, http://www.mcny.org/ New York’s Yiddish Theater: From the Bowery to Broadway, through Aug. 14. Roz Chast: Cartoon Memoirs  Cartoons from the “New Yorker (through Oct. 9). Also: Chris “Daze” Ellis: The City Is My MuseScenes from the South Bronx, 1976-82Picturing Prestige: New York Portraits, 1700 – 1860Activist New YorkGilded New York; and Timescapes (not to be missed)

The Jewish Museum, 1109 Fifth Avenue, (between 92nd & 93rd Streets), New York, NY 10128, (212) 423-3200, www.thejewishmuseum.orgIsaac Mizrahi: An Unruly History is the first museum exhibition to focus on the influential American fashion designer, artist, and entrepreneur; on view through Aug. 7; Roberto Burle Marx: Brazilian Modernist, through Sept. 18. Also: Using Walls, Floors, and Ceilings: Beatriz Milhazes; Masterpieces & Curiosities: The Fictional PortraitThe Television Project: Some of My Best FriendsCulture and Continuity: The Jewish Journey; for children, Archaeology Zone: Discovering Treasures from Playgrounds to Palaces

Cooper Hewitt, National Design Museum,   2 East 91st Street (off Fifth Avenue) New York, NY 10128, 212-849-8400, www.cooperhewitt.org (Beauty celebrates design as a creative endeavor that engages the mind, body, and senses, on view through Aug. 21; Passion for the Exotic: Louis Comfort Tiffany and Lockwood De Forest, through Oct. 10. Also: Cooper Hewitt Design TriennialThom Browne SelectsPixar: The Design of StoryEnergizing the Everyday: Gifts from the George R. Kravis II Collection.

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1071 Fifth Avenue (at 88th Street) New York, NY 10128 (212) 423-3500, https://www.guggenheim.org/ Moholy-Nagy: Future Present on view through Sept. 7. Also: But a Storm is Blowing from Paradise: Contemporary Art of the Middle East and North Africa;

Neue Galerie New York, 1048 Fifth Avenue (at 86th Street), New York, NY 10028 (212) 628-6200, www.neuegalerie.orgMunch and Expressionism closes June 13. invites attendees of the 2016 Museum Mile Festival to visit the second floor gallery where Gustav Klimt’s iconic portrait Adele Bloch-Bauer I (1907) hangs on permanent display (the subject of the movie, “Woman in Gold,” starring Helen Mirren. This work is joined by a selection of landscape and portrait paintings by Klimt, and a display of Austrian decorative arts from the early twentieth century.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Avenue (at 82nd Street), New York, NY 10028 (212) 535-7710 www.metmuseum.orgTurner’s Whaling Pictures is on through August 7) ; Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology is on through Aug. 14. Also: The Roof Garden Commission: Cornelia Parker, Transitional Object (PsychoBarn), weather permitting; and P.S. Art 2016: Celebrating the Creative Spirit of NYC Kids.

Entertainment includes Justin Weber Yo Yo (83rd St); Cabaret performer, Kim David Smith (84th Street); Magic Brian (87 St); Daisy Doodle’s Parties, Magic, Face painting & Balloons! (88 St); Alsarah and the Nubatones (89th St); Miss 360 (90th St); Imagination Playground in the garden, and on the sidewalk, a design activity in conjunction with the exhibition Pixar: The Design of Story (91 St)’; Mariachi Band (92 St); a Sammie & Tudie’s Imagination Playhouse (93 St).; It’s Showtime NYC, music by DJ Mickey Perez spinning Afro Latin disco (104th St).

There will also be an array of outdoor family activities for Museum Mile Festival attendees: The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum will offer chalk drawing. Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum entertainment will include Imagination Playground in the museum’s garden, and a sidewalk design activity in conjunction with the exhibition Pixar: The Design of Story.  Visitors to the Jewish Museum can create an abstract fabric design using stamps and drawing techniques inspired by imagery in the exhibition Roberto Burle Marx: Brazilian Modernist and the looks on view in Isaac Mizrahi: An Unruly History. El Museo del Barrio will offer art-making for the entire family.

See museummilefestival.org for more information, and http://museummilefestival.org/index.php/map-schedule/ for map and schedule.

For more travel features, visit:

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Jones Beach State Park Gets $36 Million in Improvements to Enhance Visitor Experience – Just in Time for Holiday Spectaculars

May 26, 2016
US Navy Blue Angels

The US Navy Blue Angels return to the Memorial Day Weekend Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach State Park. New York State is making $36 million in improvements to the park, one of the world’s best beaches, to enhance the visitor experience © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Jones Beach State Park, one of the finest beaches in the entire world, is set for $36 million in improvements, and the first of the improvements will be on view during the Memorial Day Weekend  Bethpage Air Show as well as Fourth of July Fireworks Spectacular.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the improvements, including new Taste NY vendors, to enhance the visitor experience at Jones Beach State Park. In addition to the improvement projects, the Governor also announced a new prototype mobile app to assist visitors with parking as well as the return of the annual Memorial Day weekend Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach, Fourth of July Fireworks Spectacular and the I LOVE NY Tourism Pod. The improvements and events are part of Governor Cuomo’s $65 million commitment to restore the park’s historic grandeur, attract new visitors and create new recreational facilities.

Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach
Kicking off every Memorial Day Weekend, the Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach attracts thousands of visitors to Long Island beaches to celebrate the beginning of summer, and shine a light on military families as well as honoring those who serve our country. This year’s show features the United States Navy Blue Angels, the F-35 Lightening II fighter, the Golden Knights U.S. Army parachute team, the Royal Canadian Air Force Snowbirds, and many other world-class military and civilian performers.
The Show takes place Saturday, May 28 and Sunday May 29 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day. For more information, visit  here.

Fourth of July Fireworks Spectacular 
The July 4 Fireworks Spectacular, a Long Island patriotic tradition, will return to Jones Beach State Park this summer for the second year in a row. The 30-minute fireworks display, sponsored by Astoria Bank and performed by Garden State Fireworks, will begin at 9:30 p.m.

The Astoria Bank July 4 Fireworks Spectacular has traditionally drawn an average of more than 100,000 spectators in prior years, and is included in the regular price of park admission.

This year’s program, with lead sponsorship by Astoria Bank, is supported by the Natural Heritage Trust, Foundation for Long Island State Parks Inc., Captree Boatman’s Association, Newsday, Connoisseur Media Long Island and J & B Restaurant Partners.

Prototype Jones Beach Parking Mobile App
New York State has developed a prototype for a parking app that will make it easier for people to find parking at Jones Beach. Visitors can go here on their smartphone and find parking availability for each lot updated in real-time. Additionally, the New York State Department of Transportation is working to display those parking updates on electronic signs on the Southern State Parkway and other highways leading to Jones Beach. Parking availability will also be available on Twitter at @JonesBchUpdates.

Field 6 Concession Building
Last year, State Parks completed a $2.3 million renovation of the deteriorated bathroom and dining areas of the Field 6 Concession Building, which serves one of the most popular beach areas in the park. The improvements to 1948 structure allow for booths and tables to be placed in the concession area during the off-season, creating a diner-like experience for many patrons who visit year-round.

Taste NY Café and Taste NY Bar
The Café in the West Bathhouse will be one of the busiest Taste NY locations in the state, with more than 6 million people visiting Jones Beach each year. It will feature products from more than 30 different food and beverage producers located in nearly every region of New York, including Long Island. For a complete list of producers click here.

The Taste NY Café will give visitors the opportunity to enjoy everything from local seafood and hot sandwiches to bakery items and craft beverages. For visitors on the move, it will also offer grab-and-go options such as salads, chips, drinks, and more. The Taste NY Café is the latest addition to a growing number of Taste NY locations across the state. Taste NY products are featured at more than two dozen rest areas and travel plazas along the New York State Thruway, as well as at stores, cafés, and concession stands. Additional locations are expected to open later this year.

Additionally, Taste NY has partnered with State Parks and the premier live entertainment company, Live Nation, to promote the state’s growing craft beverage industry at Nikon at Jones Beach Theater which is operated by Live Nation. The partnership features the launch of a new Taste NY Bar, which will offer a rotation of New York wine, beer, spirits and cider selections to the approximately 350,000 annual visitors of the outdoor amphitheater. The Taste NY Bar will be operational for more than two dozen events this season. It will also offer New York snacks and food. For a list of participating producers click here.

Taste NY is an initiative launched by Governor Cuomo in 2013 to promote New York’s food and beverage industries. It is overseen by the Department of Agriculture and Markets and has created opportunities for local producers to showcase their goods at large public events, such as the Great New York State Fair. The program has also opened stores at Thruway rest stops along the state’s highways and in transportation hubs, enabling travelers to buy New York State’s homegrown and homemade products. Approximately 1,100 local companies have participated in these opportunities, further linking their products and the state’s growing food and beverage market to consumers from across the globe. For more information about Taste NY, visit www.taste.ny.gov. Connect with Taste NY through FacebookTwitter,Instagram and Pinterest.

The $36 million in improvements also include:

Restoration of the West Bathhouse
The West Bathhouse, built in 1931, underwent a $16 million project to restore interior space and reestablish the open, airy connection between the pool and boardwalk that was part of the original design. The work included reopening the central bays in the West Bathhouse South Building in order to reconnect the water-to-water view and circulation from the pools to the beach. Concession spaces, including a new Taste NY Café, which will serve fresh, New York-made food and beverages, were reoriented to their historic north-south axis to allow easier access through the building and enliven the central core. New kitchens were installed to provide a wider array of menu options at the unique concession areas. It will be operated by the newly selected concessionaire, Centerplate.

The renovations to the West Bathhouse also include the addition of a new retail space and the historic vaulted ceiling that had been covered over by drop ceiling tiles was exposed. The interior improvements build on work completed last year to preserve and improve the Art Deco exterior of the bathhouse, including installing windows to match its original appearance, replacing the pool deck, and repairing the pool filtration system.

The final phase of the West Bathhouse project will be to restore and reactivate the stately second-floor Marine Dining Room and adjoining outdoor terraces to their original 1930s character, providing rentable space for catered weddings, reunions, proms and other events. The Marine Dining Room is expected to open for events by early spring 2017.

Improvements to the East and Central Malls 
Construction will begin this year on a $14 million new green, climate resilient Jones Beach Marketplace on the East Mall. The market will offer fresh prepared foods, featuring Taste NY products and will be operated by Centerplate. The market building will also house a commissary for the preparation of food for the majority of Jones Beach food concessions, new bathrooms, and offices and retail for the new East Mall Adventure Course.

The 15,837 square foot building will be elevated over 2 feet above the base flood elevation which is required by FEMA to prevent the marketplace from being damaged in future storms. Major utilities will be located inside the elevated building or up on the roof and the building itself will be located further back from the original structure so that it is kept outside of the Coastal Erosion Hazard Area. Access to the building will be from elevated terraced boardwalks starting at the height of the existing boardwalk to the floor elevation of the new building.

The design of the new terraces will include hurricane straps to help the structure survive future storm surges. The windows and doors on the exterior will be constructed using impact resistant glass. The new marketplace building will restore the Beaux Arts symmetrical plan of the Central Mall, the gateway to Jones Beach. Since 2004, the East Mall site has remained vacant when building was demolished due to structural failure. Construction is expected to be complete for the 2018 season.

View renderings of the completed market building here and here.

Other improvements taking place this year include:

  • The $2.7 million reconstruction of the East Mall Games Area will provide patrons with shaded picnic areas, new games including bocce ball and shuffle board courts, table tennis, and plantings. This area is to open to patrons in the fall 2016. View rendering here.

    · The East Mall Adventure Course, is a $1.5 million facility that will be constructed by park concessionaire Wildplay, and will include a series of ropes courses, a 40’ zip line, pathways, and small play areas in a naturalized landscape. It is anticipated to be open by summer 2017.

    · The Central Mall will undergo a $1.5 million restoration including paving, new plantings, replacement of historic signage and lighting, and reconstruction of the original fountain. It is anticipated to be completed by summer 2017.

Additional efforts to improve the visitor experience at Jones Beach State Park include:

I LOVE NY Tourism Pod
The I Love NY Pod will once again be appearing at events throughout New York State offering a one-of-a-kind experience to learn more about New York State’s 11 vacation regions. This highly interactive mobile Pod includes a green screen where your picture can be imposed on visuals from around the state, pop quizzes about the state’s world-renowned destinations, and itineraries that can be personalized and e-mailed to you right from the Pod. I Love NY ambassadors are also available to help answer questions and find great places visit.

The I LOVE NY Tourism Pod will appear at the following locations:

For more information on New York’s 11 vacation regions, visit www.iloveny.com.

“Today we are seeing the historic grandeur of Jones Beach as it was meant to be,” Governor Cuomo said. “The rebirth of Jones Beach is helping to grow our tourism industry while bringing jobs to Long Island communities, and I encourage everyone to visit one of most beautiful and celebrated seasides in New York State.”

World famous Jones Beach State Park, home of 6.5 miles of beautiful white-sand beach on the Atlantic Ocean, is made up of more than 2,400-acres of maritime environment on the south shore of Long Island and attracts more than 6 million visitors each year.

The park improvements and events reflect Governor Cuomo’s commitment to revitalizing the state park system and expanding access to outdoor recreation. The Governor’s NY Parks 2020 program is a multi-year commitment to leverage $900 million in private and public funding for State Parks from 2011 to 2020. The Governor’s 2016-17 Executive Budget allocates $90 million toward this initiative. In addition, this year the Governor announced the Connect Kids to Parks program, which provides free day-use park entry to fourth-grade students and their families, and creates a new transportation grant program to help students from underserved schools visit state parks and historic sites.

For more travel features, visit:

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WalletHub Study: 2016 Best & Worst Airlines

May 21, 2016
AZ-Flagstaff_100315_04e2(c) Karen Rubin

Flying American Airlines into Flagstaff, Arizona © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

WalletHub has just announced its list of 2016’s Best & Worst Airlines in order to help consumers prepare for the busy summer travel season.

“Everyone can compare airlines based on price, but it’s much more difficult to weigh your options when it comes to other aspects of the air travel experience. WalletHub’s report therefore focuses on quantifying those aspects – delays, baggage issues, pet care, passenger comfort and more – in order to help travelers make more-informed decisions.”
Among the highlights:

  • Best & Worst Overall: Virgin America (soon to be part of Alaska Airlines) and JetBlue top the list of 2016’s best airlines, while United, American and ExpressJet are the worst.
  • Most & Least Reliable: Delta is the best airline for avoiding cancelations, delays and mishandled luggage, while ExpressJet and Envoy Air are the worst.
  • Most & Least Comfortable: JetBlue offers the most comfortable in-flight experience, while Spirit and Frontier are the least comfortable.

For the full list of 2016’s Best & Worst Airlines, visit:
http://www.wallethub.com/edu/best-airlines/20916/

For CardHub’s report on 2016’s Best & Worst Frequent Flyer Programs, visit:
http://www.cardhub.com/edu/best-frequent-flyer-program/

For more travel features, visit:

www.examiner.com/eclectic-travel-in-national/karen-rubin

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