Travel Unpacked: New airline lands in the UAE and nine-month World Cruise to skip Red Sea

The National rounds up the most interesting tourism news you might have missed

Royal Caribbean's Serenade of the Seas set sail in December and will now adjust its itinerary around the Middle East and Asia. AP
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There is news on land, in the air and at sea this week, as a new airline lands in the UAE, cruise passengers are asked to choose their own itinerary and a six-night safari that allows guests to track birds of prey is unveiled.

Flydubai has also announced the launch of four new destinations, while Jumeirah Group unveils its Exclusive Collection of suites and villas around the world.

Here's a round-up of recent travel and tourism news – in case you missed it.

Passengers to choose adjusted itinerary on nine-month World Cruise

Royal Caribbean's Serenade of the Seas, which set sail in December, will adjust its itinerary due to tensions in the Middle East.

Three sections of the original 274-night route will be impacted, including the 18-night Ultimate Jordan, Egypt and Israel segment, as well as journeys that would pass through Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey, Greece and Italy.

The changes, however, are being voted on by the passengers, as the cruise liner gives its guests the choice on what ports they call upon.

A meeting was held in the ship's Tropical Theatre this weekend as the situation was explained to passengers and two alternative sailing routes were presented. Both will leave from Dubai.

The first, called Immersive Africa, features 11 countries from the continent – including Madagascar, Namibia, Ghana and South Africa – and 20 port visits from May 9 to June 20.

The second is an Africa and Greece itinerary that moves around the continent with only three ports of call, including a visit to the Seychelles, Cape Town and the Canary Islands. It also includes an overnight stay in Alexandria in Egypt and exploration of the Greek Islands.

All travellers are getting 25 or 50 per cent prorated refund for the adjusted sections based on their cruise fare, and they can choose to cancel and receive a full refund for these segments.

Fly Jinnah marks inaugural international flight at Sharjah airport

Pakistan's low-cost carrier Fly Jinnah operated its inaugural international flight on Saturday, landing in Sharjah, where a welcoming ceremony was held on its arrival. The move comes after a year of domestic operations.

The aircraft, which flew in from Islamabad, was greeted with a traditional water cannon salute.

The airline has a fleet of five Airbus A320s and currently connects Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar and Quetta, alongside the UAE, its first international destination.

Each aircraft has a free in-flight streaming service called SkyTime, which allows passengers to stream entertainment directly to their devices, as well as a SkyCafe onboard menu with snacks at affordable prices.

Jumeirah launches Exclusive Collection of suites and villas

UAE-born hospitality brand Jumeirah Group has unveiled its Exclusive Collection of suites and villas across locations in Europe and Asia.

This includes properties in the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Bali, Italy, China, the UK, the Maldives and Spain.

In Dubai, a collection of newly renovated summerhouses and private villas have opened at Jumeirah Dar Al Masyaf, which is located in Madinat Jumeirah. Each summerhouse has eight to 10 bedrooms, a one-bedroom suite, majlis and courtyard.

The seven villas come with a pool and private access via a dedicated abra station.

All accommodation has a butler, free refreshments and snacks served daily at sundown.

Flydubai ramps up operations in Europe with four new destinations

Low-cost UAE carrier flydubai has announced it will launch four new services across Europe, including its first entry into the Baltic region.

From August 2, the carrier will operate direct flights to EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg in Basel, with economy fares starting from Dh1,500 ($408).

This is followed by flights to Riga, Latvia, on October 11, as well as Tallinn in Estonia and Vilnius in Lithuania from October 12. Prices for these flights in economy start from Dh1,920, Dh2,100 and Dh2,180, respectively.

“We have created a diverse network of 126 destinations, 60 per cent of which previously had very limited or no connections to Dubai,” said flydubai chief executive Ghaith Al Ghaith.

Emirates will also codeshare on these routes.

Six-night Kenyan safari lets guests track birds of prey

Cottar's Safaris is introducing a six-night safari in the Masai Mara that allows guests to learn about raptors. The expert-led experience, which runs from May 24 to 30, supports conservation efforts through Kenya Bird of Prey Trust.

Guests will gain rare insight into the world of raptors, from the martial eagle and owls to vultures, tracking the birds of prey and monitoring their nests. They will also learn more about the work of KBOPT's Mara Raptor Project, which aims to preserve critical habitats.

The safari allows guests to adopt a raptor in need, plus a $1,000 contribution per guest is built into the package to support the organisation.

The experience costs $8,286 per person, based on two adults sharing on a full-board basis in a luxury tent at Cottar's 1920s Camp.

Another half-day immersive raptor package for $780 per group is also being introduced year-round.

Airline weighs passengers with luggage to ensure safe take-off

Finland's flagship airline has started weighing passengers in a bid to ensure the airline does not exceed maximum weight for a safe take-off.

Finnair has assured its guests weigh-ins are “voluntary and anonymous”, however, and collected data will not be linked to any personal information.

The passengers are weighed with their carry-on luggage and the customer service agent is the only person able to see the total measurement.

These weigh-ins started at Helsinki Airport earlier this month after authorities required the airline to update its average weight measurements, which need to be refreshed every five years.

Updated: February 20, 2024, 8:25 AM