In which we present a regular round-up of news from the world of Grown-up Travel
Holidaymakers braced for Jamaica hurricane
British holidaymakers on Jamaica were braced for the arrival of Tropical Storm Sandy which is expected to reach hurricane force when it reaches the Caribbean island later today.
With the island’s Kingston airport closed, British Airways cancelled yesterday’s UK-bound flight from Jamaica and also axed today’s Kingston-bound service from Gatwick.
Virgin Atlantic said its 11.40am flight today from Gatwick to Jamaica’s Montego Bay would now leave at 10.45am tomorrow.
Virgin added that its VS66 flight from Montego Bay to Gatwick, which should have departed at 7.30pm local time today, would now leave Jamaica at 4.45pm tomorrow, arriving at Gatwick on Friday morning.
A BA spokesman said: “We have had to cancel BA2263 today which would have left Gatwick for Kingston at 11.35am.
“Kingston airport is shut.
“We are rebooking affected passengers on other flights.
“We have a flight due to go out to Jamaica tomorrow and we’re hoping that will be able to operate.
“There may be delays depending on the state of Kingston airport.”
With Sandy continuing to strengthen as it approaches the south coast of Jamaica, cruise company Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas liner did not dock at Jamaica and was continuing at sea.
UK tourists on Jamaica, taking advantage of lower package holiday prices away from the peak Christmas-to-Easter period in the Caribbean, were already experiencing heavy rain ahead of Sandy’s approach.
At Casa Tota there’s more to Goa than beaches and sunsets
This restored Portuguese villa in the village of Assagao epitomises the new Goa – a stylish mix of contemporary and colonial, with an Ayurvedic centre and great restaurants nearby.
Casa Tota is a 150-year-old Portuguese villa that’s been lovingly restored and refurbished into a bright, Bollywood-dusted retreat, complete with a central courtyard and an outdoor bar that’s just begging residents to throw a party. The owners rent it out in its entirety, so you’ve got to take all three rooms, each kitted out with four-poster beds and adjoining bathrooms. The villa gets its name from the parrots in the surrounding trees, but it gets its design leanings from slightly further afield: Antonia Graham, of British furniture and design store Graham & Green, owns the property, and G&G’s touch is everywhere.
Ideally situated to sample all of Assagao’s charms, Casa Tota is nicely tucked away so that the crowds headed to the beaches of Anjuna and Vagator miss it. Of course, it doesn’t have the glorious sea-facing vistas of Ashvem and Arambol beaches, but complete quiet and emerald gardens more than compensate.
Housekeeper Shyam is super-friendly and will prepare breakfast as well as help with local directions and transport. This place is about utter relaxation, so don’t go expecting the shacks and bars of places such as Baga or Calangute. But there are still plenty of wonderful restaurants just down the road. The excellent Villa Blanche (villablanche-goa.com, open only in season) serves light, fresh, French bistro-style food. A short drive away is Ciao Bella, where you’ll find Italian all year round. And also within shouting distance is Ayurma, an excellent Ayurvedic centre where I had the best four-handed abhyanga massage of my life, and Purple Valley Yoga Centre (yogagoa.com), Goa’s most popular yoga destination.
World’s longest flights to cease
The world’s longest non-stop commercial flights are to cease next year.
Singapore Airlines announced yesterday that it will stop its non-stop flight between Singapore and Newark – which, at 9,500 miles, is currently the world’s longest unbroken commercial flight – at the end of next year.
The airline will also stop the non-stop route between Singapore and Los Angeles – shorter in terms of distance but with a longer flight time.
Both routes currently use Airbus A340-500s, which will be sold back to Airbus in autumn next year as part of a major new deal. The airline has agreed to order five more Airbus 380s and 20 more A350s to renew its fleet.
The airline is thought to have struggled to make the routes profitable, with rising fuel costs and the current economic climate meaning passengers were unwilling to pay premium prices. Both flights were started in 2004 were run on an all business-class basis.
The flight time from Newark to Singapore stands at 18 hours, while the voyage from Los Angeles is about 1,500 miles shorter but takes 18 hours and 30 minutes, as the aircraft is slowed by trade winds across the Pacific Ocean.
So far this year, plans to cut at least three other non-stop ultra long-haul flights – usually defined as more than 15 hours – have been announced. These include Thai Airways International’s route between Bangkok and Los Angeles, Delta Air Lines’ flight from Detroit to Hong Kong and American Airlines’ service from Chicago to New Delhi.
Once the Singapore Airlines flights are grounded, the longest flight in the world would be the route between Dallas-Fort Worth and Sydney operated by Qantas as the world’s current commercial flight network stands.
Diver Sam Cahir captures his incredibly close encounter with a Mako shark
These terrifying pictures show the moment Australian photographer Sam Cahir was circled by a hungry shark – for two hours.
But Sam refused to panic in the real-life Jaws scenario – instead producing his camera to capture these incredible shots.
Sam had been taking part in a Great White tagging trip when he found himself face-to-face with the deadly predator off the Neptune Islands on the South Australian coast.
The Shortfin Mako shark – which have been known to attack humans – eventually left after eating tuna baits thrown into the water.
“The Mako made some menacing passes. On a number of occasions she almost swallowed the camera whole, allowing me to shoot straight down her maw,” Sam said.
“It was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I feel humbled to have witnessed such a display of natures quirkiness.”
Sam, who was taking part in work carried out by the Fox Shark Research Foundation, which was set up by Andrew Fox, the son of famous shark attack victim Rodney Fox, in notorious shark infested waters.
“When I saw the shark I couldn’t get in the water fast enough to get some pictures,” he said.
“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing up close. This Mako was audacious, bordering manic.