Welcome to The Check-In, our weekend feature focused on all things travel.
It’s time to get a Real ID (for real)
As of May 3, 2023, US travelers traveling domestically will no longer be able to present their standard driver’s license when boarding an aircraft. Instead, they will be required to provide genuine ID or another form of identification approved by the Transportation Authority Administration.
It’s been a long time coming. In response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Congress passed the Real ID Act in 2005. The law establishes minimum security standards for driver’s licenses and identification cards; a special seal on the license or identity card indicates that the person has gone through the screening and approval process.
Actual ID cards were due to come into effect in 2008 but have been continually delayed. If you don’t have proper ID, a passport or enhanced driver’s license is an acceptable alternative.
National Geographic names Trinidad and Tobago, Botswana and Slovenia as must-see destinations in 2023
While some people know exactly where they want to go on vacation, with everything planned until the dinner aperitif on the fourth evening, others need inspiration. National geographic is here to help, releasing its annual list of “the most breathtaking places and experiences” for 2023.
Their suggestions include: Botswana, to see the incredible wildlife; Slovenia, to delineate new cycle routes that stop at vineyards, cheese makers and farms; Longmen Grottoes in Henan Province, China, to admire ancient art (including nearly 110,000 Buddhist stone statues); and Trinidad and Tobago, to help save sea turtles.
More and more people are using part (or all!) of their vacation to give back, and in Trinidad and Tobago, tourists are volunteering to protect vulnerable sea turtles during nesting season. Their duties include marking and counting nesting mothers, monitoring and moving nests, and protecting turtles from predators. “Their hard work has brought leatherback turtle meat and egg poaching to near zero,” National geographic Remarks. There are still plenty of beaches that don’t have lifeguards, but technology can help: vacationers can report sea turtle sightings via the TURT app.
So you want to… see the world from the sea
You can cover a lot of ground (er, water?) when you go on a cruise, especially one that lasts a few weeks. For those who like the idea of not having to travel long distances, take multiple flights, or constantly change hotel rooms, taking a world cruise might be the best way to explore.
Azamara has just announced its 2025 World Cruise, which will begin in San Diego, California and end in Southampton, England. Between the two, the ship (the Azamara forward) will call at 37 countries, with destinations including Sydney, Bangkok, Tahiti, Lisbon and Barcelona. The cruise will span 155 nights and kick off with a gala in San Diego. Azamara President Carol Cabezas said Travel + Leisure that 60% of the ports on this sailing are different from the 2024 round the world, and the itinerary has been “carefully curated to give even the most traveled guests a new perspective of the world”.
Who should book this? Someone who has the ability to be away from home for 155 nights, who doesn’t get seasick and enjoys the salty air. Also consider the price: the journey is expensive (the the cheapest option is Club Interior, at $39,999 per person, based on double occupancy). That includes perks like 13 cultural events, $4,000 onboard credit, weekly laundry service, a premium beverage package for two, and unlimited WiFi for one device, but it’s still a big change.
What is the Azamara forward As? The ship is new, having been christened on May 2 in Monte Carlo. It can accommodate up to 684 passengers, and there is a spa, fitness center and specialty restaurants, including the Prime C restaurant with steak and seafood dishes and the Aqualina restaurant, offering an Italian menu. The Atlas Bar, which serves craft cocktails, is found only on the Azamara Forward. There is no age limit for sailing the ship, but Azamara discourages families from boarding with children 18 and under.
Ready to go? Here’s what you need to know: Reservations will be open to the public on November 10 on the Azamara website. The 2024 World Cruise is sold out and has a waiting list, so it may happen again in 2025.
Plan accordingly: Upcoming events and openings to add to your calendar
Calling all cinephiles who love the cold: the 2023 Sundance Film Festival is just a few months away. From January 19-29, 2023, Sundance isn’t just about screening new films and documentaries — attendees can also participate in conversations with the directors and listen to panel discussions. Volunteers are one of the main reasons the festival can run, so if you have the time, consider signing up.
It’s not exactly swimming time in much of the United States, leaving many dreaming of swimming. One pool to start thinking about is at the Ritz-Carlton Paradise Valley in Scottsdale, Arizona. The hotel is slated to open in fall 2023, featuring a 400-foot pool, making it one of the longest pools in North America. Now it is how you do a splash.
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