A seven-night cruise from Shanghai on Royal Caribbean's massive Voyager of the Seas (below right) to Kobe and Nagasaki, Japan, Jeju Island in South Korea, and back to Shanghai is on offer from a reasonable HK$8,600 per person, twin share, at TLX Travel (better-known until recently as Travelex). While quite attractive at first glance, this price is for an interior cabin, so you'll probably want to upgrade to a promenade cabin (HK$10,100), ocean view cabin (HK$11,100) or balcony cabin (HK$12,600). On top of that there's about HK$3,500 to pay in port service fees, fuel surcharges, prepaid gratuities and other miscellaneous charges, but these prices include round-trip flights to Shanghai with Cathay Pacific, one night's pre-cruise accommodation at the Intercontinental Puxi, and seven nights' full-board accommodation with entertainment and extensive leisure facilities. Voyager of the Seas is one of the world's largest cruise ships and can carry more than 3,100 passengers, so don't expect an exclusive cruising experience. For more details, visit www.tlxtravel.com.
An Intercontinental resort has just opened near Da Nang on the central Vietnamese coast with predictable claims about 'redefining the luxury resort experience', but if the handful of reviews already posted at Tripadvisor are to be believed, it's certainly an exceptional property. The Intercontinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort (top right) is located on the Son Tra Peninsula, known to United States troops as Monkey Mountain during the Vietnam war, when it was home to a major radar and communications facility. Today the area is a national park, known for its scenic beauty and fine beaches, and the resort promises panoramic sea views from all 197 rooms, suites and villas - the smallest of which is a fairly spacious 70 square metres. The signature restaurant is La Maison 1888, which has Michelin-starred chef Michel Roux's name attached to it. Opening rates start at US$220 a night, with breakfast, Wi-fi access and free shuttle buses to the airport and historic town of Hoi An. Direct flights to Da Nang from Hong Kong are no longer operating, so the easiest way there is via Hanoi with Vietnam Airlines.
Along with the Bates Motel featured in Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, the Overlook Hotel, which was the setting for Stanley Kubrick's The Shining, is one of the more memorably unpleasant tourist facilities in movie history. But while the Bates Motel was only a movie set (it still stands as an attraction at Universal Studios in Los Angeles), the hotel that was used for the opening exterior shots of the snow-bound Overlook - Timberline Lodge - is this year celebrating its 75th anniversary. Most of The Shining was actually filmed in Britain with recreated interiors and a mock-up of the hotel's forbidding exterior, but the Timberline's management still requested that Kubrick change the number of Room 217 to a non-existent 237, so tourists wouldn't be too scared to sleep in the former. Located about 100 kilometres east of Portland, Oregon, at Mount Hood, the Timberline is offering some rooms for US$75 to mark the anniversary. This high-altitude National Historic Landmark offers skiing and snowboarding year-round, as well as guided hiking and climbing. For more details, visit www.timberlinelodge.com. Just remember to avoid Room 217.
Delta Airlines will be scrapping its two-year-old service between Hong Kong and Detroit, Michigan, at the end of next month, meaning Hong Kong will have non-stop connections with only four cities in the United States: New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago. And while Delta will still be flying from here to Tokyo (where connections to Detroit can be made), there will only be one US carrier - United Airlines - flying non-stop between Hong Kong and the US. Delta will begin offering an in-flight internet service on its long-haul fleet next year and one advantage it already has over United is that it serves free alcohol on international flights, something expected as standard in this part of the world. United's drinks prices are not available on its website, which only notes that you can find a drinks list at the back of its inflight magazine, and warns that, 'Only alcoholic beverages served by a flight attendant may be consumed on board.' In other words, don't even think about cracking open that duty-free bottle. It's not too surprising that United is cagey about its on-board booze costs, as you'll be paying a hefty US$6 for a beer and US$7 for a glass of wine, the kind of prices you would expect of a five-star hotel minibar. Fortunately, Cathay Pacific still operates free-flowing flights to all four of the above-mentioned cities.
Deal of the week
A two-night package to Suzhou, Jiangsu province, on offer from Tiglion Travel includes round-trip flights to Shanghai on China Eastern Airlines, round-trip high-speed-train tickets between Shanghai and Suzhou and accommodation at the Modena Jinjihu Suzhou from HK$2,490 per person, twin share. The Modena gets very good online reviews, but if you prefer a familiar name, there's the Marriott from HK$2,990 and the Shangri-La Hotel (below left) from HK$3,290. For more details and reservations, visit www. tiglion.com or call 2511 7189 and quote package ID 2303.