It’s been a momentous start of the year around the world—from the natural disasters in New Zealand, Australia and Japan, to the socio-political upheavals in the Middle East and North Africa. But if nothing else, it illustrates the incredible resiliency of the travel industry. In Egypt and Tunisia, travel has already resumed even before the nascent democratic governments have had the opportunity to assert themselves. The specter of revolution and change can’t trump the allure of people’s desire to visit the past and revel in the draw of antiquity or enjoy the sweet taste of the different cultures in those countries. Travelers are already eager to flock to Australia before the ground dried from the flooding and New Zealand tourism officials are already inviting travel journalists to its shores to show the world it’s ready to start receiving visitors again, following the earthquake in Christchurch (see our feature on Australia and New Zealand, Heading Down Under, on page 62).
It’s also interesting to note the changes in travel interest. It wasn’t too long ago, the traveling public saw cruising as the epitome of leisure travel—endless buffets, drinks by the pool, whiling away the days with a good book sprawled lazily on deck chairs. Not anymore. The explosive popularity of small ship expedition cruising has put adventure back into sailing the world, from hiking and kayaking in the Alaskan coves and visiting near-stone age cultures in Papua New Guinea and the Spice Island in Indonesia, to Zodiac trips in the frozen waters of Antarctica. As Serena Bratton of Orion Expedition Cruises puts it, “…I think the days of people jumping aboard ships and sitting around drinking their gin and tonics and reading their book—it’s gone. Particularly for people who are very well traveled and are looking for more meaningful and unique experiences, and I think that’s where small ship and certainly expedition cruising has really taken off.” (See our Savoring Adventure on Small Ship Cruises feature on page 18.) Even the more traditional big ship cruising companies have abandoned the “leisure” concept and have been forced to innovate with all kinds of onboard pursuits to keep their passengers active and happy—from wall climbing and surfing machines to ziplining and bowling alleys. It’s a whole new world of active travel making the concept of leisure travel almost an oxymoron. And that’s a good thing.
our new online look In just a few short weeks, you’re going to be seeing a brand-new recommend.com. We’ve seen the new look and we’re already putting together material for its launch and believe us when we tell you you’re going to love it. There’s going to be ongoing blogs, photo essays, videos and all kinds of material you’ll be able to share with your clients to help you sell travel. And, we’re happy to report, many of you are already participating with us in our online efforts with more than 900 followers on Twitter(twitter.com/Recommendmag), and hopefully a lot more to come, and still another 1,500 fans on Facebook (facebook.com/recommendmag), many of whom are actively participating on our Wall. And hopefully, with our new look and expanded content on recommend.com, we hope to inspire even more of you to join us in our efforts to grow our social network.
correction In the March issue, the photo on page 76 was inadvertently miscaptioned. That photo is of Tamarind Village in Thailand (not Parrot Cay in Turks & Caicos).
next month Get ready to tee up for our May issue because we’re bringing you some handicap-busting golf vacation choices from around the world—the “top 10” golf resorts in North America and the hard-driving golf vacation product in Barbados, Bermuda and the Dominican Republic, not to mention the oh so classic golf getaways in Europe. You’re also going to get the opportunity to get spiritual in India and get an early look at Uniworld’s newest river cruise ship. In the meantime, have a great read.