Continuing violence in Mazatlan focused on cruise passengers and crew has caused Disney Cruise Lines, Holland America and Princess Cruises to drop the city as a port of call on their Mexican Riviera itineraries. See this article from Fox News for more information.
Mazatlan now joins former gem of the Mexican Riviera Acapulco as ports no longer served by Disney or Holland America, although Princess Cruise still ports at Acapulco. Indeed, many cruise lines are cutting back their cruises to the Mexican Riviera due to concerns about the drug violence in Mexico. Several lines have already relocated or are planning to relocate their cruise ships based in California that service the Pacific Coast of Mexico.
ThereArePlaces provides coverage of Mazatlan and Acapulco in our guide to the Mexican Riviera for those intrepid travelers who insist on visiting. However we note, both here and in our articles on these two cities, that we currently do not recommend tourists visit either city due to concerns about public safety.
We noticed a travel article in the New York Times today whose author indicated that travel to some countries in Europe could be a bargain this year because of difficulties related to the global economic downturn. The article targeted (the links here are to our descriptions of the best places to visit in these countries) Greece, Ireland and Portugal while indicating that Spain may be the next economic trouble spot.
Travel during hard economic times is not without its problems. Flight schedules may be limited, public transportation spotty, critical services may be limited and there may be public demonstrations reflecting the tensions between the government austerity measures and the its citizens’ views of the world.
The upside is that costs may be down, tourism venues should be less crowded and you may be able to find bargains of one sort or another almost every place you visit. In other words, if you intend to travel to any of the countries mentioned, this spring could be a great time for a visit at reduced rates. As always, make sure bargain travel is just that – an opportunity that delivers value for a reduced price.
We are preparing for a trip to an exotic location and needed the advice of specialist in travel medicine in terms of the immunizations we might require for the journey. Of course, the first question that comes to mind is. “How do I find an expert in travel medicine and the vaccinations that might be needed for travel in the countries we plan to visit?”
Our research led us to a specialist associated with the International Society of Travel Medicine. He was a great resource and we decided to write an article for the Things Travelers Need to Know section of our ThereAreplaces website to help others out who might be in the same situation. You can find the article here.
Somewhat serendipitously, another contact sent as an article posted on the BBC today that shows why you just might need some authoritative advice from a specialist in travel medicine.
Queensland, home to the Great Barrier Reef and Australia’s state that covers much of the northeast of the country, has experienced torrential rains and flooding based on the unusual La Nina weather pattern parked in the Great Southern Ocean (i.e. the South Pacific). All areas of northern Australia have experienced torrential rains and flooding has now reached tragic levels.
The city of Brisbane has been especially hard hit. See this article at Yahoo News for specific details. Note that Queensland is one of Australia’s leading tourist areas and the current flooding has made touring impossible. If you are headed for the Great Barrier Reef or Northern Queensland you might need to delay your journey. The best sources of information on the Australian flooding will be local, so call the hotel you will be staying at in Queensland to get a local’s perspective on the scope of the problems. In addition, search the Internet for Australia-based news sources.
Tasmania, an Australian island and state, located to the south of the continent has also experienced severe flooding. More information is available here.
Read our website for information on the best places to visit in Australia.
The Centers for Disease Control today issued a news brief regarding an outbreak of Legionnaire’s Disease at the Regency Club Vacation Resort and Wyndham Cozumel Resort & Spa (formerly Reef Club Cozumel).
This warning pertains specifically to the above mentioned hotels, not to Cozumel as a whole. There is no generally elevated risk of Legionnaire’s Disease in Cozumel, the Yucatan Peninsula, or other parts of Mexico.
Following is the text of the news brief:
An outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease is ongoing at the Regency Club Vacation Resort and Wyndham Cozumel Resort & Spa (formerly Reef Club Cozumel) on the island of Cozumel, Mexico. Since May 2008, there have been a total of nine confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ disease among tourists from the United States and the Netherlands who have stayed at this resort. Based on findings from a public health investigation in April 2010, disinfection of the resort’s shared potable water system was recommended. Although measures were taken at the resort to disinfect the water system, in December 2010, CDC was notified of the ninth case associated with the resort, suggesting that there is an ongoing source of exposure.
Recommendations for U.S. Travelers
Legionnaires’ disease is a pneumonia caused by inhaling aerosolized water contaminated with Legionella bacteria. Legionnaires’ disease is not transmitted from person to person. Misty water such as that given off by hot tubs, cooling towers, spray misters, showerheads, and faucets is a common source of Legionella.
Travelers at high risk of infection should consider staying at another resort or should avoid exposures to misty water at the Regency Club Vacation Resort and the Wyndham Cozumel Resort & Spa, especially showering. High risk groups include:
* Current or former smokers
* People aged 50 or older
* People with any of the following chronic health conditions:
o Chronic lung disease, such as COPD or emphysema
o Weakened immune system that might be caused by cancer, organ transplant, certain prescription drugs
o Other chronic conditions, such as chronic kidney disease, asthma, heart disease, or liver disease
o Rarely, people without any risk factors develop Legionnaires’ disease after exposure to Legionella.
Symptoms begin 2–14 days after exposure and include high fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Many people also have diarrhea, headaches, or muscle aches. Legionnaires’ disease can be a severe and fatal illness but most persons will recover with appropriate antibiotic treatment. Travelers who develop these symptoms during their trip or in the 2 weeks following their trip should see a doctor. Travelers seeing a doctor in the United States should be sure to tell the doctor that they have traveled to Cozumel and stayed at the Regency Club Vacation Resort or Wyndham Cozumel Resort & Spa in Mexico. A milder illness caused by the same type of Legionella bacteria is called Pontiac fever. The symptoms of Pontiac fever usually last for 2–5 days and may also include fever, headaches, and muscle aches; however, there is no pneumonia. Symptoms of Pontiac fever go away without treatment.
The Legionella bacteria got its name in 1976 when many people who went to a Philadelphia convention of the American Legion suffered from pneumonia (lung infection). Each year, 8,000 to 18,000 people are hospitalized with Legionnaires’ disease in the United States. People get Legionnaires’ disease when they breathe in a mist or vapor (small droplets of water in the air) that has been contaminated with the bacteria.
For more information about Legionella, visit CDC’s Legionellosis Resource Site.
Yesterday’s news from Acapulco was that twenty-three people were murdered, including fifteen men who were decapitated. Although the killings did not take place in the tourist zone, the bodies were found next to one of the main roads leading into the tourist zone. This article from AFP provides details
Acapulco is no longer the jewel of Mexico’s Pacific Coast, although it has several attractions that continue to lure some tourists (see ThereArePlaces for details). We do not recommend visiting, but if Acapulco is a destination you are determined to see, be sure to stay inside the tourist zone and avoid wandering the city.
Authorities in Rome implemented a new tourism task over the New Year Holiday. If you stay at a four or five star hotel, you will have to pay an extra €3 per person per night, or €2 per person per night for a three star or less hotel. If you choose to camp, it’s an additional €1 per person per night. The worst aspect of this wrongheaded tax is that you must pay it in CASH on departure! The good news is that the tax only has to be paid for the first ten nights of your stay (about 7 nights longer than the average visit) and does not apply to guests younger than 10 years (or to anyone staying at youth hostels). See this article in the Daily Mail for more details
While the new tax is designed, in part, to help the city with maintenance costs related to is large number of visitors, the fees will also be used to promote Rome as a tourist destination – to attract more people that can be taxed for visiting. Has Rome forgotten how much money tourists spend while visiting? Or that we pay entrance fees to explore numerous of the Eternal City’s attractions. Well, they know they have a captive audience, since you can only see Rome when in Rome.
Even though the fee is modest, we suspect that people will be irritated by this gratuitous fee, enraged by the requirement to pay in cash and maybe they will cut their trip short to compensate. Unfortunately, we have a feeling we are just spitting into the wind, as more and more destinations will begin to charge additional travel taxes, just like Rome. Eventually everyone will begin wondering – “Where did all the tourists go?” That’s easy, we stayed home because we could not afford to travel. Why — well, it seems that our own governments raised taxes on income and airline tickets while we were reading about the tax increase for tourists visiting Rome. Happy New Year.