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Destination News - Europe.

New York, Geneva (AirGuide - Destination News Europe) Sep 5, 2010

People are putting their health at risk to travel to private clinics for dangerous stem cell treatments Thousands of people are putting their health and life savings at risk to travel to private clinics around the world for unproven and potentially dangerous stem cell treatments, British experts said. A panel of specialists highlighted individual clinics in Germany and China where so-called "stem cell tourists" go for unlicensed treatment, and said there may be up to 700 similar businesses globally offering unproven cell therapies. Despite a lack of scientific evidence that such therapies work, patients whose lives are blighted with conditions like Parkinson's disease or childhood blindness are being lured into spending tens of thousands of dollars with little chance of success. "The patient is in danger of losing their life and health, needlessly travelling long distances away from home, friends and family, not having their condition improved, and potentially losing a large sum of money," said Chris Mason of University College London's (UCL) regenerative medicine bioprocessing unit. Sep 1, 2010

Azamara Club Cruises Azamara Club Cruises will span the Norwegian Coast, diverse Icelandic landscapes, and British Isles on two voyages in summer 2011. Up-market travelers can choose among two sailings, departing from Copenhagen on Aug. 17 or from Dublin on Aug. 29, 2011, aboard Azamara Journey. Travelers also can take advantage of early booking values in 2010 for these two voyages, which offer 2-for-1 cruise fares, included gratuities, 50 percent rates on Azamara Land Discoveries shore excursions, and up to $2,000 savings per couple. Departing from Copenhagen, the 694-guest Azamara Journey will sail on a 12-night Iceland and Norwegian Fjords voyage on Aug. 17, 2011. The ship will feature an overnight stay in Reykjavik, and include calls at Bergen and Geiranger in Norway; Lerwick/Shetland, Scotland; Akureyri, Iceland; and Torshavn in the Faroe Islands before arriving in Dublin on Aug. 29, 2011. The ship also will offer a 10-night voyage departing Dublin Port on Aug. 29, 2011, featuring two days in Bordeaux, France, and Lisbon, Portugal, as well as call at Holyhead, Wales; Cork/Cobh, Ireland; and Bilbao, Gijon and Vigo in Spain. Azamara Club Cruises is a destination-immersive cruise line for up-market travelers who want to not only see the places and cultures they visit, but to live them. AzamaraOs two 694-guest ships, Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest, with a combination of 347 suites and staterooms, offer a European boutique-hotel ambience with top service, fine cuisine and wines from around the world, and wellness and vitality programs. For more information, call 877-999-9553 or visit www.AzamaraClubCruises.com. Sep 1, 2010

Burg, Germany Hot spring draws visitors to Burg, Germany. Roughly an hour south of Berlin, the Spreewald (German for Spree Forest) area has long been a popular destination for domestic travelers. The region features a Unesco biosphere reserve, which assures the forests, canals and wildlife will be preserved. More than a decade ago, a hot spring was discovered in the small community of Burg. The hot spring was made accessible to the public about five years ago and Burg became a certified spa destination. Aug 30, 2010

Compagnie du Ponant Compagnie du Ponant is offering lower fares on select sailings in Asia to celebrate its expedition shipOs inaugural season in the region. From Nov. 8 to May 4 Le Diamant will visit ports in India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, the Philippines, China, South Korea and Japan. Through Sept. 30, the luxury line is offering 25 percent off on 11 voyages. Ponant has published a color brochure that details Le DiamantOs voyages, the ports of call and shore excursions. Among the special offers are: ODiamonds of Siam and Pearls of Malacca,O a nine-night voyage from Phuket to Singapore on Nov. 23 visits five ports in Malaysia, Belawan on Sumatra and Singapore. With the 25 percent discount, the cruise will cost $1,958 per person, double occupancy. The eight-night OChinese New Year in the Land of the Dragon,O departing Shanghai on Jan. 31, navigates the Yangtze River calling at Nanjing and Qingdao before crossing the Yellow Sea and arriving at Inchon in South Korea. The ship returns to China where passengers disembark in Tianjin. A similar eight-night itinerary, OFrom the Great Wall to the Yangtze,O is offered Feb. 8. Both sailings are priced from $1,718 per person. The 12-night OVietnam Splendors and Angkor SecretsO sails from Haiphong to Singapore Feb. 26 and calls at five ports in Vietnam including Hue, Da Nang and Ho Chi Minh City. A similar voyage departs Singapore on Jan. 9. Prices start at $2,456 per person, double occupancy. All sailings will be accompanied by Asia experts and optional pre- and post-cruise packages are offered. For more information, call 888-400-1082 or visit www.ponant.com. Aug 30, 2010

Eiffel Tower ItOs now possible for visitors to program their visit to the Eiffel Tower and avoid queues at the ticket desks thanks to a new online ticketing service. As part of ongoing modernization, the Eiffel Tower has launched a new system of online sales with secure payment, available in French, English and Spanish for individual visitors and groups. This new service is a major advance in the quality of service offered to the 7 million visitors each year. To buy an online ticket, users have to choose a ticket either to visit the second floor or the summit of the tower, the date and time of the visit, and the number of tickets in accordance with the profile of the visitor -- child, disabled person, adult or young person. Then, to finalize the purchase, users have to create an account by saving personal details and paying online by credit card. After the payment has been processed, users can print out entrance tickets or download the bar code of the e-ticket onto a mobile phone, or choose to receive the electronic ticket at their home address. For more information, visit www.tour-eiffel.fr. Sep 1, 2010

Fred Olsen Cruise Lines Fred Olsen Cruise Lines is offering cruises focusing on 60 topics or themes throughout the upcoming season. The OTitanic Mini CruiseO was designed to sail prior to the Titanic Memorial Cruise in April 2012, organized by Miles Morgan Travel. The mini cruise departs Southampton on April 3, 2012, visiting Liverpool, England, and Belfast, Ireland, before returning on April 8. Cruise highlights include a visit to the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast, where the Titanic was built between 1909 and 1911, and an optional shore excursion to visit the home of Thomas Andrew, the TitanicOs designer. The mini cruise is on sale with prices starting at $741 per person, based on double occupancy for an inside cabin; passengers also receive $75 onboard spending per cabin. Maiden calls for Fred Olsen include New Orleans; Galveston; Alborg, Denmark; and Santos, Brazil. The Balmoral will visit these ports during an 89-night cruise around South America, departing Jan. 5, 2012. Black Watch will make a maiden call to Ullapool, Scotland, during the nine-night U.K. cruise that departs Dover on Sept. 25, 2011. For more information, call 800-843-0602 or visit www.bortonoverseas.com/cruises or www.fredolsencruises.com. Aug 30, 2010

Germany As Christmas approaches, Germany will host more than 2,500 Christmas markets in town and city centers between Nov. 21 and Dec. 23. The well-established tradition of European Christmas markets began in Dresden, Germany in 1434. For more information, visit www.germany.travel or www.cometogermany.com. Sep 2, 2010

Manoir de Ban After over 10 years of planning and developments, with more than 200 pages of documents submitted to the municipal authorities describing the architectural, landscaping, environmental, and design parameters of a project with a 50 million Swiss franc investment, the approval for a future museum at Manoir de Ban (Charlie Chaplin's home) has been granted by the Swiss Authority. The project aims in particular to preserve the current state of the domain, which was first introduced to the public by Michael Chaplin, Charlie Chaplin's son and president of the Charlie Chaplin Museum Foundation. "Our family is especially honored to be involved in a project which has developed in a spirit of partnership and with all due respect for our fatherOs work," said Michael Chaplin. "We fully approve of the sensitive yet innovative concept developed by the team of partners led by the Charlie Chaplin Museum Foundation and Chaplin Museum Development SA. We are very excited by the use of multimedia and virtual technologies, which we believe will create a more magical and immediate way for the children of today to discover the interplay of light and dark so characteristic of our father." OThis is a scenitific and authenic Hollywood building and [is] going to be one of the most important museums in Switzerland,O said Yves Durand, (museologist). It is aimed to attract over 300,000 additional visitors per year, of which 60 percent will be international guests to Lake Geneve. The breathtaking view of the gardens, lake, and mountains will remain unchanged, just as it was for the artist and filmmaker during his 25-year stay here. The tree-lined paths circling the park will remain, albeit punctuated with rest areas complete with benches, fountains, and sculptures, in particularly Chaplinian style. From the East Lane, London, where Sir Charles Spencer was born in 1889, to Corsier-sur-Vevey (where he died), the location is just in between Vevey and Montreux. Keeping the burlesque style of ChaplinOs work, the visitor experience is to be decidedly droll and entertaining. Journey through time, from the performerOs modest beginnings in late Victorian London to the glamour of Hollywood and his Swiss home. Aug 31, 2010

Oktoberfest The worldOs largest beer festival, the Oktoberfest in Munich, celebrates this month its 200th anniversary and Ludus Tours is offering a last-minute deal. The package includes three nights at a three- to four-star hotel, a full-day excursion to the Neuschwanstein Castle, beer tent reservations at Oktoberfest, private airport transfers, a Bavarian dinner and a bike tour of Munich. Dates in the end of September are still available and prices start at $1,150 per person (excluding airfare). For more information, visit www.oktoberfesttours.com. Sep 2, 2010

Oktoberfest Each year, Cheapflights.com, the online leader in finding and publishing travel deals, toasts the world famous beer festival, known as Oktoberfest. This Bavarian festival, which originated in Munich to commemorate the wedding of Crown Prince Ludwig (later King Ludwig I) and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen, is celebrating its 200th anniversary this year. In honor of this milestone, Cheapflights.com is highlighting the city of Munich with its list of Top 10 Things to do in Munich during Oktoberfest. And booking a trip to Munich or other destinations is now more affordable as Cheapflights is running a special promotion on Facebook (www.facebook.com/cheapflights) offering $50 off on flights booked through Vayama. On average, more than 6 million people travel to Munich for the festivities each year. If you happen to be one of them going to this year's Oktoberfest in Munich, which runs from September 18 to October 4, check out Cheapflights.com's Top 10 things to do in Munich and raise a glass of ale, lager, stout or blonde to toast the celebrations! Check out the biggest tents. At the Oktoberfest festivities at the Wiesn (the main area), check out the big hitters that are well known and highly anticipated each year. Lwenbru can't be missed -- enormous in size and known for its gigantic lion, it takes intensity for beer consumption to a higher level. On the other hand, Winzerer Fhndl is known for its whimsical atmosphere and tipsy sing-alongs. ake public transportation. Parking at the tents is nearly impossible, and all experts on the subject recommend taking public transportation to the main event. Cheapflights offers an overview of the train, bus and streetcar options with details in the online tips guide. Check out Mike's Bike Tours. Munich is arguably one of the most bike-friendly cities in the world. With more than 15 years of experience as a mainstay tour company in both Munich and Amsterdam, Mike's Bike Tours provides four-hour tours through the city that are safe (they run on small adjacent roads), not strenuous (plenty of stopping and talking) and fun. Special Oktoberfest Tours run in September and October, and after the first two hours, the group stops at a beer garden to try out local fare. Explore Marienplatz. The city's center is a twelfth-century wonder and is known as the heart of Munich. A hub for sightseeing, shopping and dining, Marienplatz is a perfect starting point for getting a taste of the city. See Rathous, the city hall with a gigantic iconic faade, and plenty of other 19th century Gothic architecture. Warm up your credit card at the surrounding designer stores, or simply people-watch at a nearby caf. Shop around Viktualienmarkt. After spending time in Marienplatz, walk over to Viktualienmarkt, a daily farmers' market featuring a massive variety of fresh and regional food. More than 140 colorful booths with products from local florists, bakeries, and restaurants fill the area with unique flavor. The market is open Monday-Saturday from 8 a.m. - 8 p.m., but most stalls unofficially close around 6 p.m. For details, visit http://news.cheapflights.com/2010/08/top-10-things-to-do-in-munich-during-oktoberfest/ Sep 1, 2010

Paris Agoda, AsiaOs global hotel booking site and part of Nasdaq-listed Priceline.com, today announced special hotel rates for travelers headed to France for the Festival d'Automne Paris. Agoda, AsiaOs global hotel booking site and part of Nasdaq-listed Priceline.com, today announced special hotel rates for travelers headed to France for the Festival d'Automne Paris. The Paris Autumn Festival is unique in that it promotes artistic experimentation, with a specific focus on foreign-language, non-western creative works. The season-long program invites fresh material from ground-breaking new artists and performers from around the world, plus commissioned works from established production companies. This 39th edition of the Paris Autumn Festival promises to offer a broad and eclectic range of performances to enrich and educate visitors. This year's program features everything from traditional Indian "baithak" concerts to contemporary reproductions of Hamlet, with tickets priced from U8- U36 (US$10 - US$46). Performances take place in various iconic locations across Paris, including the Centre Pompidou, the Paris Opera, and the Opera Bastille. Highlights from the 2010 program include short plays on contemporary Japanese society by Toshiki Okada, a free interpretation of Bizet's The Tragedy of Carmen by Peter Brook, and several dance recitals by the acclaimed Merce Cunningham Dance Company. To find out more about the festival, or to view the schedule, visit www.festival-automne.com . Sep 1, 2010

Paul Gauguin Cruises The Paul Gauguin recently achieved the highest guest survey ranking in its 14-year sailing history, scoring 98.9 percent in excellence by guests of the Aug. 7 sailing to Tahiti and the Society Islands. The survey marked notable improvements to the entire guest experience aboard the ship, including booking a voyage, experiences onboard and the return trip home. Food quality, service and staff attentiveness also ranked highly on the 67-question survey. Guest surveys are completed at the end of each sailing, with the Gauguin receiving increasingly higher rankings as the year progressed. In other news, Paul Gauguin Cruises has extended its phone hours to accommodate the increase in phone activity and broader travel agent and customer base. The new hours are Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Saturday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Pacific Time. The line also recently implemented a higher land commission of 10 percent for agents booking pre- and post-cruise travel. For more information, call 800-848-6172 or visit www.pgcruises.com. Aug 31, 2010

Rail Europe Rail Europe Inc., the largest distributor of European rail products in North America, unveiled the BritRail Low Season Pass promotion, offering savings on train travel in Great Britain. Beginning Sept. 1, travelers who purchase the BritRail Pass or BritRail England Pass will receive savings of an average of 20 percent on regular pass fares. The BritRail Pass and the BritRail England Pass, which normally start at $289 and $229 per adult, will be available at rates of $235 and $189, respectively. This offer is valid in both first and standard class and will last through Dec. 31. Travel must take place between Nov. 1 and Feb. 28. The BritRail Pass provides unlimited travel on the national rail networks of Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) and includes rail transportation from Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports to London city center. Travelers may choose a consecutive or flexi pass. The BritRail England Pass offers unlimited travel throughout England and allows travelers to choose between a consecutive or flexi pass. For extra savings and added value to travelers planning on visiting England, the BritRail Low Season Pass promotion can be combined with Rail EuropeOs Tour England 15 Percent Off and 100 Percent Relaxed promotion, which offers travelers 15 percent off two popular tours -- OTotal London Experience,O now $116 per adult, and OWindsor, Bath and Stonehenge,O now $98 per adult. Each expertly guided tour provides travelers with transportation aboard a luxury air-conditioned touring coach, a traditional English pub lunch, plus entrance fees to top attractions. The Tour England 15 Percent Off and 100 Percent Relaxed promotion is available for purchase from Aug. 12 through Oct. 28. Travel must take place from Aug. 12 through March 31. For more information, call 888-382-7245 or visit www.agent.raileurope.com. Sep 3, 2010

Stratford, England The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) plans to reopen the Royal Shakespeare and Swan Theatres on time and on budget in November, following a four-year redevelopment as part of the [pounds sterling]112.8 million ($175 million) transformation project designed to bring actors and audiences closer together. The company will reopen its doors to the Royal Shakespeare and Swan Theatres on Nov. 24, inviting people in to rediscover and explore the building, which will have a new 1,000-seat thrust stage auditorium, 118-foot-high Tower, new exhibition spaces, new places to eat and drink including Rooftop Restaurant and Riverside Caf and terrace, restored 1930s features and improved public areas including the new Weston Square. Visitors will be able to take part in a series of preview events and activities which will help test the spaces, while throughout the opening period OMatilda, A MusicalO plays at The Courtyard Theatre. In February, the current RSC ensemble will perform the first productions on the new Royal Shakespeare Theatre stage when they return from LondonOs Roundhouse to revive OKing LearO and ORomeo and Juliet,O directed by RSC Associate Directors David Farr and Rupert Goold. The company will also perform Artistic Director Michael BoydOs production of OAntony and CleopatraO in the Swan Theatre and both Young PeopleOs Shakespeare productions of OHamletO and OThe Comedy of Errors,O before going back to London to premiere three new plays at Hampstead Theatre which run from April to June. The RSC will celebrate its 50th birthday and formally reopen the theaters with new companies and a new season next April. The reopening will unfold over a four-month period, and visitors will be able to explore the building from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. most days. The new Rooftop Restaurant with views of the River Avon, Stratford and the Warwickshire countryside will also be open during the evening, offering in-house catering for the first time. Visitors can book theater tours or take the lift to the viewing platform at the top of the new Tower from where they can see key Shakespeare landmarks, including where he was born, where he went to school, where he lived and where he is buried. On the way down, visitors can view contemporary art exhibitions housed in the Tower walls. The opening program of events includes tours, exhibitions and activities designed to encourage people to explore the transformed building. For more information, visit www.rsc.org.uk. Aug 31, 2010

Windstar Cruises Windstar Cruises has announced two-for-one fares on select fall European voyages plus up to $750 per person in bonus savings for new bookings made through Sept. 5. The select seven-day itineraries aboard the Wind Surf are the Oct. 17 Venice roundtrip, which is priced from $1,299 per person, double, using the two-for-one promotion; the Oct. 31 Rome-to-Barcelona sailing, from $1,249; and the Nov. 7 Barcelona-to-Lisbon cruise, from $1,175. The select seven-day itineraries aboard the Wind Star are the Oct. 23 Rome roundtrip, from $1,249 per person, double, using the two-for-one promotion; the Oct. 30 Rome-to-Barcelona sailing, from $1,249; and the Nov. 6 Barcelona-to-Lisbon cruise, from $1,199. The select seven-day itineraries aboard the Wind Spirit are the Oct. 30 Rome roundtrip, from $1,249 per person, double, using the two-for-one promotion; and the Nov. 6 Rome-to-Barcelona sailing, from $1,199. WindstarOs two-for-one Europe fares are not combinable with any other promotions, programs or shipboard credit offers. The offer is valid on new bookings only. For more information, call 1-800-258-7245 or visit www.windstarcruises.com. Aug 31, 2010

Yachts of Seabourn The Yachts of Seabourn has announced seven new optional Seabourn Journeys to guests aboard the Seabourn Sojourn during its 111-day maiden world cruise in 2011. The multi-day packages will include hotel accommodations, transportation, some meals and guided tours. The tours are OSpectacular Queenstown and Mt. Cook National ParkO (Jan. 25 to 28) at $2,900 per person, double; OBarossa Vintages and AustraliaOs Red CenterO (Feb. 10 to 14) at 6,500; OChengduOs Giant Panda DiscoveryO (Feb. 25 to March 1) at $3,500; OThe Khmer Temples of AngkorO (March 5 to 7) at $1,650; OChiang Rai and the Hill Tribes of ThailandO (March 9 to 12) at $3,500; OMonumental Love: The Taj MahalO (March 19 to 22) at $5,000; and OLuxor and the Valley of the KingsO (April 4 to 5) at $499. The world cruise departs Los Angeles on Jan. 5, 2011, and visits 49 ports via the South Pacific, New Zealand, around Western Australia, Indonesia and Southeast Asia, India, Arabia and the Mediterranean. Fares for the full cruise start at $49,995 per person, double. Segments from 16 to 69 days are available from $4,499 per person. For more information, call 800-929-9391 or visit www.seabourn.com. Sep 1, 2010

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Date:Sep 6, 2010
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