Thousands of holidays ruined after technical fault leaves cruise ship stuck in Barcelona

It’s every traveller’s nightmare: you’ve painstakingly researched and booked your trip, forked out thousands of pounds and are counting down the days until you set sail – only to find at the last minute that your holiday has been cancelled. 

That’s the scenario facing nearly 2,400 cruise passengers due to depart Rome tonight for a sailing around the Med on board Norwegian Pearl after a mechanical fault left the ship behind schedule.

The 10-day voyage was sold out, with passengers expecting to visit ports such as Santorini, Mykonos, Athens and Naples

Owing to the late cancellation of this cruise – customers were given just three days’ notice – many passengers had already arrived in Italy, meaning they’ll now be forced to pay for hotels or new flights.

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Ferrari Land to roar into Spain this summer

Vrrrroooooom! A new Ferrari Land theme park is opening in Europe

Start your engines. Luxury car firm, Ferrari, will open its first European theme park on 7 April 2017 next door to the PortAventura resort near Tarragona, Spain.

The new 1000million-euro (£83million) adventure park - a smaller version of the original Abu Dhabi Ferrari World theme park which opened its gates in 2010 - will be home to five rides based on the sports car brand including, star attraction, the Vertical Accelerator.

Clocking in as the tallest roller coaster in Europe, the Vertical Accelerator will launch riders up a towering spike reaching 368 feet at 112 mph in just five seconds - ensuring passengers experience the same sensations felt by Formula 1 drivers.

The park will also pay homage to the legendary red and yellow car brand’s Italian heritage: expect to see replicas of Rome's Colosseum, La Scala opera house in Milan, Piazza San Marco in Venice and the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence - alongside a number of Italian themed restaurants - all designed to transport visitors to Italy.

Other attractions include Ferrari Land Gallery (an interactive exhibit that takes you through the history of the legendary Italian car maker), a racetrack, free fall tower and F1 simulators, plus a pit stop.

It is hoped that the park, approximately an hour’s drive south of Barcelona, will attract around one million visitors in its first year.

Tickets for Ferrari Land are on sale now, with a price of €60 for adults and €52 for children. For more information, visit




Where the experts holiday: Luis Rubén Cuevas, director of Travel Times


Luis Rubén Cuevas,  director of Mexican travel magazine – Travel Times – talks travel

What do you like to do on holiday?
Tourism is an important part of my life. When I’m not travelling for work, I like to go to unknown places in the company of my family. I have a big family with different preferences so, as a result, we chose different destinations to vacation all the time.

Where did you last go?
Recently we went to Xalapa, Veracruz’s state capital, which is the birthplace of my Father. I have many happy memories of childhood holidays in Veracruz. You’ll find good food, brilliant beaches, ecotourism and much, much more in Veracruz.


Do you know where you’re going this year?
In November I’ll spend the Day of the Dead in the Mayan area of Campeche and Yucatán. There are many traditions and folklore: the Day of the Dead is one of the most important celebrations of Mexican culture. For us it is a celebration to remember our family members and friends who are sadly no longer with us. Each region of the country, has a different way of celebrating this special day. I want to discover the Mayan traditions.

Of all the places you’ve been to, what was your favourite and why?
Tough question – I have many favourites! I love Tulum on the Riviera Maya: you can see both the beautiful Caribbean Sea and the Mayan pyramids. Ensenda in the north of Mexico, is another highlight thanks to its vineyards and fine dining scene. Outside of Mexico, I have a soft spot for Scotland – especially Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands. I also spent time in southern Italy and loved  Salerno and the Amalfi Coast – an area full of natural beauty and outstanding Roman architecture.On the city front, Toronto and San Francisco stand out for their cosmopolitan flavour.

San Francisco's celebrated Golden Gate Bridge

Which destination do you wish to travel to, but haven’t yet been?
I want to see the Northern Lights: I need to see this natural spectacle with my own eyes. It is a dream I have had since  childhood.

In your own country, what would you recommend tourists see that isn’t in the travel guides? When the Spanish arrived in what we know today as Mexico, they  built beautiful churches and monasteries but many do not appear at all in the tourist guides. They are hidden treasures and worth seeking out.

How do you plan your trips?
I rely a lot on recommendations from friends and suggestions from people I follow on social media sites. That said I also refer to websites, magazines, TV programmes and specialised guides.


How often do you go away?
I usually travel for work twice a month and take vacations three times a year.

Who do you travel with?
It depends on what I want to do. I have family and friends for every occasion: some to relax with, some to party with, some to seek out adventure with and other with whom I like to visit museums and galleries with. It is important to choose your travel companions carefully, to ensure a successful holiday.


Where do you see tourism in your country, in 10 years?
In Mexico we have a reputation for being very hospitable, it’s true. We are now preparing better and offering more organised travel services to exploit the beauty of our attractions. Tourism will be one of the engines of our economy.

Top tips for first time expats

It’s that wet, miserable time of year when thoughts turn to paradise - and plans for 2014. Thinking about a fresh start - perhaps somewhere sunny? Former expat, Kaye Holland, has some advice to help you realise those overseas ambitions

Every year, thousands of people quit their jobs, pack their bags and move abroad after becoming disillusioned with UK life. I should know: eight years ago I was one of them. The start of 2006 saw me suffering from a severe case of the January blues. Cold, tired and broke, I began to dream about living in a place where the sky wasn’t permanently the colour of porridge and subsequently made my way to the Middle East – with its promise of year round sunshine. Stepping on the plane I believed that, after a fun filled year in the sun, I’d be back in London. Little did I know then, that five years would pass - via stints in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, the Cayman Islands and Beijing - before I would ‘properly’ return home. For me, moving abroad was a life enhancing experience but before you uproot, here are a few things you need to know...

Do your research
Find out all you can about the country you intend to relocate to. For example it’s well known that it’s a punishable offence to drink, or to be under the influence of alcohol, in public in the UAE. However not everyone knows that the UAE and its Khaleeji brothers - take a bow Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and Saudi Arabia – deem homosexual acts unlawful. (It’s illegal to be gay in 78 countries - the aforementioned included -  with lesbianism banned in 49). Meanwhile even seemingly innocuous films such as the Adam Sandler vehicle I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry were banned by censors while I was living in the UAE. My message? It’s not great - something a couple of my former Time Out Dubai colleagues can attest to - for gays living in the Middle East. Do your homework before you travel.

Visit first
If you can afford to do so, visit the destination you have decided on first to get a feel for it before you jack everything in the UK. I took a step in the dark in relocating solo first to the UAE and then to the Cayman Islands -  having never previously stepped foot in either country. I was a little more familiar with my third posting - Beijing - having backpacked around China in my early twenties, but far from clued up. Time and funds permitting, my advice would be to do a test run before committing to moving to check that the location is a good fit for you - and your family. During my time as an expat I met many people who realised soon after landing that the UAE (too blingy), Cayman (too quiet) and China (too alien) wasn’t for them after all and consequently caught the earliest flight back to Blighty. A costly mistake to make...

The grass isn’t always greener
The days of lucrative expat contracts are - sadly - long gone. Once upon a time companies offered annual return flights home, all expenses paid accommodation and often covered expats’ shipping costs and childrens' school fees. Not so in the noughties - or at least for anyone wanting to work abroad in the media. I had to find and finance my flight to both Cayman and China, and likewise was on my own when it came to accommodation. Salaries too aren’t all that impressive. A deputy editor in Dubai and Cayman can earn around £2,400 tax free in 2014 which is substantially more than a similar position pays in the UK but not wonderful when you consider that, save for petrol, everyday goods are more expensive: 90 per cent of food in the UAE and Cayman is imported, meaning that even a jar of marmite can be pricey. In China I was on just under £1,000 a month, as an editor. I was able to get by on this in Beijing but had to forgo flying home (one return economy flight to London can cost upwards of £900) for family and friends’ weddings. So why go? For the chance of living and working - especially when job opportunities are thin on the ground in the UK - in another country, the challenge of trying to comprehend it, better weather and the opportunity to mix with people from all over the planet. In my mind, that's something you can't put a price on.

Be bank savvy
Before you up sticks, pay off any outstanding debts - credit cards, loans and the like - as you’ll need a letter of reference from your UK bank in order to be able to open an account abroad (and thus be paid). Furthermore make sure you have some savings. In the UAE and China, I had to pay six months accommodation up front. In Cayman this wasn’t the case but l still to cover the first month’s rent and deposit, electricity and water bills plus car hire and other extras such as setting up a local phone contract, all before the first pay cheque arrived. Additionally anyone emigrating also needs to be prepared to pay for health care. We Brits may whinge about the NHS but at least it is free - unlike the system in say America which leaves millions of people unable to afford basic healthcare. Check what healthcare services are available and how much you will need to pay. Lastly you’ll need money for socialising - especially in your first month. It’s important to integrate yourself with both locals and expats alike from the get go, so as to avoid suffering from loneliness. If you’re relocating en famille, you have an advantage in this area as you’ll meet others without even trying through the school run and so on. If you’re going solo, as I did, you’ll need to make more of an effort. Try Internations which connects expats in more than 390 cities, across all countries of the world. I went to several Internations events on arrival in Beijing and met like minded people, many - hello Em, Geraldine, Amanda , Anna and Fernando! - of whom have become firm friends for life. In Cayman, I joined the local amateur dramatics group and in Dubai I signed up for a PADI diving course. My passion for deep sea diving didn’t last but happily the friendships I forged on the course, did.

Learn the lingo
I’d recommend learning the local language. It’s not always necessary - particularly in the UAE where English is the lingua franca -  but will help integrate you into the community. In China, mastering at least some Mandarin is a must if you want to be able to eat and explore with ease. Don’t worry about pronunciation if - like me - you’re not a natural linguist. Too many of us panic about pronunciation and fear that we will look like a fool. But, in my experience, most locals will be impressed that you’re making the effort to learn their language - always remember that you are a guest in someone else’s country -and forgive you for any pronunciation mishaps. The most important thing is just to get the basics down pat.

Be adaptable
It was while living in Beijing that I discovered the benefits of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) which, in my mind, is one of China’s biggest gifts to the world -  right up there with the noodle. Throughout my 20s, I struggled with severe IBS and ‘coped’ by popping painkillers to alleviate my symptoms. Unable to afford the crazy prices that western hospitals were charging for medication in Beijing, I decided to see a TCM doctor. Ihad my tongue and pulse points checked and was advised to avoid over processed western food, and follow an oriental diet. For while Chinese food has a bad reputation in the UK, conjuring up images of deep fried, fatty dishes such as sweet and sour pork and prawn crackers, real Chinese cuisine is super healthy: the majority of the meal is made up of stir fried vegetables and washed down with green tea.  One week after my first TCM session, my swelling had subsided and happily I haven’t had any stomach problems since. All of which has helped me realise that the most effective cure for complaints isn’t always to be found on the shelves of the pharmacy, but within ourselves. I now actively seek out TCM, as opposed to pumping myself full of pricey pills and chemicals. On another note, prior to arriving in Beijing I’d never been to a karaoke bar but in China, karaoke - aka KTV - quickly became a way of life and a wonderful way to relax and unwind after work with colleagues. When in Rome... Be flexible and make the most of your expat experience.

Prepare yourself for going home
Returning home can - in many cases - be tougher than moving abroad in the first place. As an expat I expected to feel like an alien overseas, but I didn’t expect to feel like one in my home country. While away, I looked back at life in Britain through rose tinted glasses and romanticised how wonderful it would be to return to the comforts of home. However after the initial honeymoon period, the creature comforts –  clothes that fit, familiar food, faces and surroundings – quickly became monotonous. Don’t expect repatriation to be a breeze and give time, time. It took me at least 12 months to truly readjust to life in London and even now, two years down the line, I still have days when I dream of living abroad again. Be prepared for 'reverse culture shock'.