Ryanair changes mind about service to U.S.

Low-cost carrier Ryanair reversed a decision to pursue transatlantic service. "In light of recent press coverage, the Board of Ryanair Holdings Plc wishes to clarify that it has not considered or approved any transatlantic project," the company said in a statement March 19. Earlier last week, the Dublin-based carrier said it had started discussions to acquire long-haul aircraft for the purpose of debuting service to the U.S. in the next five years.

Music Walk to debut on HAL's Koningsdam
Holland America Line (HAL) said it will create a cluster of performance venues called Music Walk on its Koningsdam ship due in 2016. Music Walk will include a BB King's Blues Club currently found on six HAL ships as well as two new concepts: Billboard Onboard and Lincoln Center Stage. Billboard Onboard will feature dueling pianists or a guitarist and a DJ, while Lincoln Center Stage is a collaboration with the New York performing arts center that will showcase an ensemble performing chamber music.

First Baccarat Hotel opens in Manhattan
The Baccarat Hotel & Residences New York has opened in midtown Manhattan, the first hotel named for the French crystal maker. The property features a 125-foot-wide crystal curtain at its entrance as well as 114 guestrooms and 60 luxury residences.

Philippine Air revives N.Y.-Manila service
Philippine Airlines plans to expand operations in North America, as the carrier this week restarted service to New York after a nearly two-decade absence. The Philippines flag carrier has begun operating flights four times per week between Kennedy Airport and Manila.

Ama adding Backroads tours to river cruises
AmaWaterways and tour operator Backroads have partnered to create river cruise itineraries that include Backroads' biking, walking and hiking excursions. The alliance begins this year on 20 Danube River sailings. In 2016, AmaWaterways and Backroads will introduce a number of new tours along the Rhine, Rhone, Seine, Douro, Garonne and Mekong rivers.

Egypt mandates visa for individual travel
Individual tourists traveling to Egypt must now obtain a visa prior to their arrival and can no longer do so upon arrival at an Egyptian airport. The policy change does not apply to group tours, for which tourist visas can still be obtained upon arrival. The Egyptian Tourist Authority said the change was made by Egypt's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Egyptian Embassy in Washington estimates that most applications will be processed within 10 business days. Visas must be secured from an Egyptian consulate office; there are consulate offices in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston.

Windstar taps Perrin for godmother role
Windstar Cruises named travel writer and entrepreneur Wendy Perrin godmother of the Star Breeze, a yacht currently sailing for Seabourn Cruises as the Seabourn Spirit that will be relaunched on May 6. Perrin is perhaps best known for her "Wendy's List" of recommended travel agents, which she wrote during her time as consumer news editor at Conde Nast Traveler. She is also the founder of WendyPerrin.com, a website that includes her "Wow List" of top agents, and writes for TripAdvisor as its travel advocate.

Friends & Colleagues
Sheri Pasternak has joined Travel Impressions as senior director of field sales, responsible for managing the tour operator's outside sales team. Pasternak has been associated for the past 16 years with the Royal Caribbean family of cruise brands, most recently as director of sales with Celebrity Cruises. A 25-year travel industry veteran, she started out as a corporate travel agent, ascending to leadership roles at two consortia, GEM and Cruiselink. • • • Cruise industry pioneer Maurice Zarmati has been named a consultant for Fusion, a company that optimizes digital retailer websites to improve customer experiences and sales performance. Zarmati made his mark on the cruise industry during 43 years with Carnival. He was a member of the team that created Carnival Cruise Lines, rose to vice president of sales in 1987 and eventually to president and CEO of Costa Cruises North America. He retired in November 2011. Zarmati was also inducted into the CLIA Hall of Fame in 2012. • • • Pan Pacific Hotels Group named Michael Ong vice president of growth and development. Ong previously served as senior director, development, Asia/Pacific with Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group. He also spent close to a decade with Fairmont Raffles Hotels International, where he progressed through the ranks to become vice president, development. Pan Pacific also appointed Maria Kormentza as director, learning and talent development. She joins the company after a 14-year career in learning and development at Singapore Airlines. • • • Jason Bossenberry was named director of sales at the Four Seasons Hotel Mexico City. Previously he served as associate sales manager at the property. Prior to that, Bossenberry was group sales manager of Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts in Canada. • • • Apple Leisure Group appointed Dominique Berthelot as director of development, Cancun. Berthelot was director of the Paris office of the Mexico Tourism Board for three years. Prior to that, she spent 22 years as regional director of Mexico for Leading Hotels of the World.

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