Study says U.S. still tops for in-flight WiFi
U.S. airlines continue to lead the world in in-flight WiFi coverage, according to a report authored by Routehappy, which ranks flight amenities worldwide. Sixty airlines worldwide now offer WiFi, up from 52 a year ago. Passengers now have at least some chance of being connected on 36% of available seat miles flown across the globe. In the U.S. though, travelers have a much better chance than that. U.S. airlines offer at least spotty service on 78% of their available seat miles, Routehappy said; by comparison, non-U.S.-based carriers offer at least a chance of WiFi on just 24% of available seat miles. Airlines that added WiFi service in 2015 were Aer Lingus, Aeroflot, Etihad, Garuda, Iberia, Japan Airlines, Norwegian, SAS and Scoot.
Kenya lowers price on wildlife park fees
Kenya revealed plans to reduce fees for wildlife fees, one of several initiatives to increase tourism to the East African nation. The government has reduced the Kenya Wildlife Service park entry fee to $60, down from $90, and the value-added tax on national park fees will be removed entirely. Also, effective Feb. 1, children under age 16 will no longer have to pay the $50 fee for a tourist visa upon arrival.
Oceania to roll out custom mattresses
Oceania Cruises is the latest line to have its own custom mattresses. The Ultra Tranquility bed will debut in April on Oceania's Sirena and will be rolled out to the rest of the fleet as ships go through dry docks. Oceania said the Italian-made mattresses feature a spring structure with 3,000 coil springs, four times as many as the average American mattress.
Norwegian delays private island debut
Norwegian Cruise Line has delayed the opening of its Harvest Caye private island in Belize just weeks before the $50 million project was to debut. The line said the island is now expected to open in November; previously, it had given Feb. 16 as the day the first ship would call. Norwegian didn't give a specific reason for the delay. Ships scheduled to stop at Harvest Caye will visit Belize City instead.
New eateries, bars on Carnival Inspiration
The Carnival Inspiration, which sails short cruises year-round from Long Beach, Calif., is getting new dining and bar spaces during a renovation expected to be completed by Feb. 5. The ship will have the complimentary, poolside Guy's Burger Joint and BlueIguana Cantina, a Mexican eatery, as well as the BlueIguana Tequila Bar, RedFrog Rum Bar, Alchemy Bar and candy shop Cherry On Top. The additions are part of the Carnival Fun Ship 2.0 refurbishment program.
Travelport, Frontier ink distribution deal
Travelport has signed a new distribution agreement with Frontier Airlines, enabling the airline to continue to distribute its fares via Travelport's Travel Commerce Platform. The previous agreement expired on Dec. 31.
Elvis hotel in Memphis accepting bookings
The Guest House at Graceland, a 450-room hotel in Memphis that Elvis Presley's estate is opening next to his former home, is taking reservations for stays starting Oct. 27. The hotel will have two restaurants and a 464-seat theater for live events. Many of the suites' design elements will be overseen by Presley's widow, Priscilla Presley.
Friends & Colleagues
Carnival Corp. has appointed Roger Chen chairman of its China operations. A native of China, Chen's experience includes several senior positions where he led strategic efforts in China for major multinational corporations, including General Electric, Microsoft, Volvo Group and Alcatel. Most recently, he was China president for Volvo Group, representing the company's interests across all business groups in the country. Carnival also named Cherry Wang to the new position of vice president of U.K. Carnival Cruises, the representative office for Princess Cruises and Cunard Line in China. Wang began her affiliation with the company in 2005 as general manager of the Princess Cruises and Cunard Line international sales agent group in China and was named country director in 2013. • • • The French cruise line Ponant has named Navin Sawhney CEO for the Americas. He had previously been COO. Sawhney has worked in the past for Cunard, Royal Viking, Sea Goddess, Holland America Line and Tauck. • • • Jumeirah Group CEO Gerald Lawless will step down next month to run hospitality and tourism operations for Jumeirah parent Dubai Holding. Lawless will be succeeded by Stefan Leser, who will join Jumeirah from Switzerland-based travel business Kuoni. Lawless joined Jumeirah in 1997 after 23 years as an executive with Forte Hotels. • • • Horizon Air named Ali Donway as managing director and chief pilot. The regional carrier has also appointed Dave Burris managing director of station operations. Donway assumes her post on a permanent basis after several months as interim managing director and chief pilot. She will oversee Horizon's 650 pilots, flight operations and pilot staffing. She has flown for Horizon for more than 15 years. Most recently, Burris was Horizon's regional director of station operations for Seattle, Alaska and Canada. He has worked for Air Group, parent of Horizon and Alaska Airlines, for 25 years.