Blogs > Millennial Traveler

New and traditional ways of exploring the globe, and your own backyard.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Balloon Crash in Luxor, Egypt

One of my first memories of Luxor was arriving very early on the overnight train from Cairo, climbing to the roof of the hostel, and seeing the hot air balloons carry tourists all around the desert sky.

I imagined the view was beautiful and that ancient ruins from up above must be quite a sight to see.

But, this balloon crash on Feb. 26 that killed 19 tourists with a 1,000 foot drop is horrible.

Something that is meant to be so beautiful becomes completely ugly. My thoughts go out to these fellow travelers and their families.

Here's a link to some photos of what happened as well.

Carnival Cruise Death and Disaster

The reputation of Carnival Cruise is, to put it mildly, not doing so well these days.

I happened to arrive back in the U.S. from a cruise myself - with Norwegian, thank God - the same day that the folks were towed back from the Carnival Triumph.

And, now, there has been a death on the Carnival Miracle which does 7-day cruises to the Bahamas out of NYC.

In an initial statement from the company, they emphasized that no one served alcohol to Seth Younes, an 18-year-old senior at Saratoga Springs High School. This, of course, leads one to believe that alcohol very well may have been to blame in the untimely death on Feb. 26.

A Saratogian newspaper employee just told me today that the initial autopsy was inconclusive for the cause of death and a toxicology report will take a few weeks.

From Emily Donohue: "Well from talking to an attorney who has dealt with cruise ship safety and other cases similar to this, it seems like alcohol is pretty easy for underage people to come by on cruise ships. The companies have strict written policies against serving underage people, but enforcement is a different thing entirely. That said, the ME's office and the FBI didn't give any indication either way. The only person that mentioned alcohol officially was the cruise ship spokesperson who swears he wasn't served... so take that for what it's worth. We've heard nothing about him having any underlying health issues either. It's such a sad story, I hope we get an official cause of death soon and his friends and family aren't stuck in the limbo of 'inconclusive autopsy' for too long."

My thoughts are that he more than likely did purchase drinks on the ship (which can be easily investigated). He was 18, which is the legal age to drink in many countries. Due to Carnival catering to other nations, they likely allow drinking for those 18 and over - or at least that was the policy on the Norwegian Gem (which also goes out of NYC to the Caribbean). On my recent cruise, there were people from all over the world and there were signs at the bars which stated that, once in international water, the bartenders would be allowed to serve just wine and beer to those 18 and older. But I have no idea what Carnival's actual alcohol policy is.

Also, as an observation from my recent trip, people got plastered. Some to a fun level but others to an obnoxious point. The cruise ship may leave too much leeway on this to make sure that their passengers have a good time.

In any case, stricter regulations will no doubt be put into place for all cruise ships because of this tragedy (#RIPSeth) and because of the #Triumph.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Trivia at the Waterford Museum

I love trivia. A lot.

So I thought I'd share this info about a great deal for a great cause:

Who: The Waterford Historical Museum and Cultural Center

What: Trivia Night Presented by the Waterford Museum
Where: Waterford Knights of Columbus, 76 Grace Street, Waterford NY
When: Friday, March 1st at 6:30pm
Admission: $25 a person, and includes a buffet dinner, dessert and a chance to win one of many prizes

The Waterford Historical Museum and Cultural Center is hosting a Trivia Night on Friday, March 1st at 6:30pm at the Knights of Columbus in Waterford. Cost of admission is $25 a person, and includes a buffet dinner, dessert and a chance to win one of many prizes. Attendees may sign up in groups of 8 or purchase tickets individually. All proceeds benefit the Waterford Historical Museum and Cultural Center. To purchase tickets, or for more information, please call the Museum at 518-238-0809 or email
The Waterford Historical Museum and Cultural Center is located in the 1830 Hugh White Homestead on Museum Lane in the Town of Waterford. The Museum offers various programs and exhibits year round. For more information about the Museum and its programs please contact the Museum at 238-0809 or check our website .

Monday, February 18, 2013

Getting Closer to the Equator

As I continue to suffer through my post-cruise blues - as my co-worker aptly names the condition - I figured I'd pretend I was at St. Maarten again, at 18-degrees latitude in the Caribbean.

Then I started wondering if that was the furthest south I had ever been. So I Googled Abu Simbel, Egypt to find out since before this trip that was the closest to the equator I had been, not far from the Sudan border.
But Phillipsburg, St. Maarten now holds that title. And I definitely wouldn't mind going back, swimming in the warm/clear water and sailing on the Mirabella catamaran again.

Heathrow Airport Capacity Numbers Increased

With the 2012 Olympics in London, I guess it's no surprise that Heathrow Airport saw a spike in airline passengers.
Though, interestingly enough, passenger numbers fell 400,000 during the actual Olympics since Brits stayed at home so the number of inward-bound travelers dipped, according to BBC which also reported today that the airport, the UK's busiest, is operating at close to capacity, with 471,341 flights during 2012, just below the legal limit of 480,000 a year.
(from the BBC article)

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Devil's in the Detail: The Norwegian Cruise $12 per day Service Charge

I understand that the crew members on these cruise ships do not make much money and probably get very little actual time off (though that free time is on an awesome floating resort and/or tropical island), but...should a service fee really be charged for everyone over the age of 3?
I agree a service charge should be assessed. Sure. The NCL employees work hard making other people happy while they're on vacation.
But is a 3 year old, 4 year old, 5 year old, 6 year old,etc really going to remember or appreciate that service, or even recognize that a service was done? Probably not.
I don't have kids so I don't know what the cruise staff does that goes above and beyond to earn that $12 per day, as per the cruise agreement. But I have a hard time believing it's as much work as making a 21 year old, 30 year old, 40 year old, 50 year old or 60 year old, etc just as happy.
Like I said, I could be wrong. I don't know first hand.

I might take note of this on the upcoming cruise because I am definitely curious.
Tips should definitely be given - in the recent Applebee's debacle I'm on the waitress' side - but I think the cruise corporation should re-look at their age to start charging the $12/ day or have a lesser amount for those under the age of 10.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Nat Geo's Literary Cities

As a former English major, this caught my eye: National Geographic's Top Picks for Literary Cities.

I have to admit, my time spent in London and Edinburgh were some of the most influential and inspiring in my life.

There's something about walking down an old, narrow street and seeing a plaque that states Charles Dickens once lived in that very row house (which, actually, isn't that uncommon in London since the guy bounced all around the city - I think they call him a modern day realtor's true friend because of that since his name has probably helped with a good share of property sales).

And you have to be slightly in awe when you hear about J.K.Rowling not having enough money for heat so she spent most of her time at a cafe writing in Edinburgh. Voila - Harry Potter.

The museum in Dublin dedicated to writers is definitely something to see, as are the landmarks the writers discussed in their works.

And, according to the list, I should apparently make my way over to the west coast in the US at some point which is on my to-do list, I just have another reason to go be inspired.