Kwin Mosby

Kwin is Managing Producer of TravelChannel.com. His multimedia career has included working as a TV news reporter/producer and publications editor. What inspires Kwin to travel? It’s relaxing beach locations, vibrant urban epicenters and awe-inspiring outdoor destinations like Glacier and Joshua Tree National Parks, Barcelona, Miami, Paris, New York City and Brazil. Kwin’s travel mantra is simple: talk to the locals to fully experience the true flavor and culture of any new destination.

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After 68 years, locals in Hiroshima, Japan, lit lanterns to remember the lives lost during the 1945 bombing of the city. Aside from this reflective, solemn event, this week had its share of fun events, including the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta in England, the Medellin Flower Festival in Colombia, and the Stiletto Run in Spain. Take a look at the other events and destinations that we highlighted in this week in photos.

Check out more travel buzz on our radar this week:

US Evacuation and Travel Alerts: The Chicago Tribune reported that the US has ordered the evacuation of non-essential staff from its consulate in Lahore, Pakistan, warning US citizens not to travel to the country. Last Friday, the US issued a worldwide travel alert for US citizens traveling abroad due to an unspecified al Qaeda threat. Nearly 20 embassies in North Africa and the Middle East have closed until Aug. 31.

JetBlue Reveals New First Class Seats: Known for shuttling vacationers from Northeast cities to the warmth of Florida and the Caribbean, JetBlue will take strides to attract business travelers. Sources at Jaunted report that starting next year, the airline will offer 16 lie-flat seats on flights between New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. It’s the first time the carrier will have a second class of service.

Running of the Bulls in the US: Yep, you read that right. Promoters Brad Scudder and Rob Dickens have arranged bull runs in 10 cities around the US for people who can’t afford to take the trip to Pamplona, Spain. Already 20,000 Americans have put down $35 for an adrenaline rush that comes with running in front of a group of angry bulls that can reach speeds of 35 mph. According to Yahoo Travel, the first US bull run is scheduled to kick off on Aug. 24 at a drag-racing strip south of Richmond, VA.

“Love Boat” Sails to Final Destination: Turkey will be the new home to the iconic MS Pacific also known as “The Love Boat.” According to Gadling, the 42-year-old ship was purchased for 2.5 million euro by a Turkish ship recycling company, where it will be stripped for metal and parts.

Breaking Bad Fuels Albuquerque Tourism Boom: Even after the popular TV show has ended, fans may still be able to pick up bags of “Breaking Bad Candy” — blue-tinged crystals made of rock candy — at the Candy Lady shop in Albuquerque, NM. Not only has the show helped to create new revenue streams for local businesses, but according to Skift, the long-term tourism growth will be dependent on the city’s support in attracting future film projects.


Photography by Jason Leppert

Love cruises and Dancing With the Stars? Now you can combine the 2 into one great cruise experience.

Holland America Line has partnered with Dancing with the Stars, the popular TV show that has made ratings magic with its signature pairing of professional dancers and celebrities, to create Dancing with the Stars: At Sea. The result is a set of theme cruises featuring select dancers and stars onboard and a fleet-wide dancing competition.

The aim is to promote cross-generational appeal among cruise-goers.

“Of course with anything we do, we hope to attract new guests, whether new to cruising or new to Holland America,” says Erik Elvejord, director of public relations at the cruise line. “Our primary considerations in selecting new partners are finding those that meet the desires and tastes of our guests and that can be delivered successfully onboard.”

So far that vision is paying off. Multigenerational fans — grandparents and grandchildren alike — have packed the house for the dance classes, fashion shows, photo-ops, signings and performances.

Photography by Jason Leppert

“I think what they love so much about it is that they get to be a part of it,” says Carson Kressley, one of the show’s stars. Another contestant and Olympian, Shawn Johnson, adds, “It’s very intimate. We walk around the cruise all week and get to share breakfast, lunch and dinner with all these people.”

If all this sounds like a cruise experience you’d love to have, you now have a chance to hop aboard – and dance away the nights — for free: Holland America is sponsoring a chance to win a free cruise trip on all sailings departing through November 2013.

Here’s how it works: Across the Holland America’s 15 ships, participating passengers will accumulate points with the single-highest scorer per ship winning passage on the Champions Cruise in January 2014. Onboard, a final dance-off will commence to see who will be rewarded a special version of the Mirror Ball Trophy as seen on the show. Only 2 theme cruises remain for now, but the partnership is expected to renew. So make sure you jump into the competition!

- Jason Leppert

Jason Leppert is a San Diego-based writer, photographer and videographer who publishes his own cruise travel website,PopularCruising.com.

Courtesy of Getty Images

Travelers visiting Washington, DC, will notice something different about the city’s skyline. Although it’s closed for repairs, the Washington Monument is now lighting up the night sky. The National Park Service has installed 488 lamps on the scaffold surrounding the monument.

The rehabilitation is part of a welcome change. On Aug. 23, 2011, a 5.8-magnitude earthquake shook the 555-foot-tall monument, cracking and chipping stones near the top and shaking the mortar loose. The lights are expected to stay on until the popular tourist attraction reopens in spring 2014.

The Big Apple more your style? If you’re heading to NYC, there’s exciting news for tourists who want to check out Lady Liberty. Yep, after being hit by Superstorm Sandy last fall, the Statue of Liberty has once again opened to the public after a special ribbon-cutting ceremony on July 4th.

You may recall that the National Park Service closed Liberty Island following Hurricane Sandy; however, the Statue of Liberty’s crown reopened after a year of renovations. Last October’s storm flooded and damaged New York Harbor docks and Liberty Island’s walkways, buildings and electrical systems, but the 126-year-old iron statue made it through the storm unscathed.

Looking for more sightseeing recommendations for these cities? Check out our list of Washington DC Attractions and Top 10 Attractions in NYC.

Most seasoned travelers have probably heard of (and dreamt about) the amazing train ride through the Tijuca Rainforest to see the 125-foot Christ the Redeemer statue high atop Corcovado Mountain. And who hasn’t heard the gossip about the Brazilians’ buff beach bodies and the droves of scantily-clad women who sunbathe on the world-famous Ipanema and Copacabana beaches.

Well now, you can get your chance to see Rio de Janeiro – free of charge! Enter to win a trip for 2 to the Marvelous City and see why it’s such a hot vacation destination. We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that tourists are flocking to the tropical city not only for its beaches, but also because it will host both the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics.

See Rio for yourself! Explore this Brazilian city and its secret treasures like Leblon, Rio’s most affluent neighborhood with a beautiful beach that’s known for being much quieter than Ipanema or Copacabana. See Rio from above and go hang-gliding off Sugarloaf Mountain, or just lay low and spend the day on Paqueta Island, where it’s not uncommon to see a horse-drawn carriage.

There’s something for everyone in this Brazilian city, so take the first step and enter to win a free trip — your next adventure awaits you in Rio de Janeiro!

Photography by Getty Images

Before you book your next flight, here’s a word of warning: You may not want to fly on Spirit Airlines. The carrier received the lowest overall scores of any company that Consumer Reports has ever rated.

Today, Consumer Reports released its results from a readers’ survey that ranks the best and worst airlines.

So why didn’t Spirit Airlines make the cut? Industry analysts say that although the no-frills airline charges less than other carriers, customers still take a hit in their pockets by paying other additional fees, including $10 to $19 to book a flight, $3 for a soda or M&Ms, and $35 to $100 per carry-on bag. Readers also claimed that the airline has some of the “tightest” seating space in the industry.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Virgin America topped the list for the first time, receiving some of the highest customer satisfaction scores that any airline has received in years.  According to the survey, flyers said they like the comfy, leather seat cushions in the airline’s economy class. Readers also gave the airline’s in-flight entertainment high marks.

Other carriers that fared well included Alaska Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines for check-in and cabin staff. American, United and US Airways received the lowest ratings possible for cabin cleanliness, seating comfort and onboard entertainment.

The Consumer Reports National Research Center surveyed more than 16,000 readers — who flew a combined 31,732 domestic flights — in February. Readers were asked to rate their satisfaction with the airlines’ check-in ease, cabin-crew service, cabin cleanliness, seating comfort, baggage handling and in-flight entertainment.

Here’s a quick look at the airlines and their overall score, based on a 0 to 100 scale:

1.   Virgin America, 89
2.   Southwest Airlines, 85
3.   JetBlue Airways, 85
4.   Hawaiian Airlines, 82
5.   Alaska Airlines, 81
6.   Frontier Airlines, 78
7.   Delta Air Lines, 71
8.   US Airways, 66
9.   American Airlines, 66
10. United Airlines, 63
11. Spirit Airlines, 50

Courtesy of Grace Hotels

As the weather starts to warm up, we thought we’d do a quick round up of the best pools around the world to take a dip in. Yes, it might be an expensive journey to swim a few laps in a pool located in Santorini or the Maldives, but we’re all about inspiring people to travel.

Take a few minutes to imagine yourself and someone special on a Spring Fling at the Ubud Hanging Gardens’ pool in Bali, surrounded by a lush rainforest, or image yourself hugging the edge of InterContinental Hotel’s infinity pool overlooking Hong Kong’s harbor. Get your feet wet and submerge yourself into our collection of perfect pools.

Courtesy of Don Williamson Photography

Spring has sprung and flowers are in bloom. And it’s the perfect time to visit one of Travel Channel’s favorite botanical gardens. Spend a day strolling through the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Coral Gables, FL — an 83-acre garden that’s home to rare tropical flora and almost 3,000 butterflies. Dispel the notion that Arizona has a lifeless and colorless landscape; visit the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix to see a unique collection of cacti and colorful wildflowers.

If tiptoeing through the tulips isn’t your thing, we suggest a trip to the beach for a little rest and relaxation. Pack up the car and go on a fun trip to some of our recommended beach destinations, including Myrtle Beach, Delray Beach and South Padre Island. There’s something for everyone. And we’d be remiss if we didn’t include West Coast beaches. Let our online travel guide Marianela Pereyra take you on a tour of some her favorite California beaches. So smell the flowers, soak up the sun and make the most of your spring with these picks!

Photo by Getty Images

The Hollywood buzz has started for the new movie 42, a look into the life of American baseball player Jackie Robinson — the first African American to play in Major League Baseball. And in just a few days, April 15 will mark the 64th anniversary of Jackie’s first MLB game at Ebbets Field as a Brooklyn Dodger, breaking the color barrier.

Jackie Robinson was born in Cairo, GA, but he lived most of his childhood in Pasadena, CA, at 121 Pepper Street. At an early age, Jackie was a competitive athlete, achieving 4-letterman status in football, basketball, baseball and track at John Muir Technical High School and later, at UCLA, where he won the NCAA broad jump title at 25′ 6 1/2 “.

In 1941, Jackie moved to Honolulu, where he played football for the semi-professional Honolulu Bears. Shortly after, he was drafted into the US Army during World War II. Jackie was stationed at Fort Riley, KS, and then Fort Hood, TX. He became a second lieutenant, but his military career took a sharp turn when he was court-martialed in connection to his objections to incidents involving racial discrimination.

Photography by Ronny Jaques/Library and Archives Canada

After a dishonorable discharge from the military, Jackie dived back into the sports, accepting a position as athletic director and basketball coach at Samuel Huston College in Austin, TX, and playing one season in the Negro Baseball League for the Kansas City Monarchs in 1945. It was this same year that Branch Rickey, club president and general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, scouted the Negro leagues for a possible addition to the Dodgers. Branch chose Jackie and soon after, in 1946, the young player was signed to play for the all-white Montreal Royals of the Class AAA International League, a farm team for the Brooklyn Dodgers.

The very next year  Jackie was suited up as a Dodger, becoming the first African-American player since the league’s inception in 1875 to break Major League Baseball’s color barrier. African-American fans flocked to see the Dodgers play, finding, for the first time, a chance to root for more than just Negro league teams.

Although he struggled with racial discrimination throughout his career (he routinely faced racial slurs shouted from the stands), Jackie would be named the National League Rookie of the Year (1947) and National League’s Most Valuable Player of the Year (1949). He would also win the 1949 batting title, with a .342 average — a great percentage for any pro baseball player.

During the mid-1950s, Jackie’s batting average was on the decline, but oddly enough, it was one of the “highs” in his career. In 1955, the Brooklyn Dodgers beat the New York Yankees to clinch the 1955 World Series championship. In all, Jackie had a career batting average of .311 with the Dodgers, and in 1962, he was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY, becoming the first African-American player to achieve such distinction.

Photo by Getty Images

After his baseball career, Jackie starred as himself in The Jackie Robinson Story, continued as a civil rights activist, and took a new career as a successful businessman and sports commentator. In addition to these career achievements and changes, he remained a devoted husband to his wife Rachel and a hands-on father to his 3 children.

In 1972, Jackie Robinson died of a heart attack in Stamford, CT, but his legacy lives on through the Jackie Robinson Foundation and at popular attractions, including the Jackie Robinson Field in Pasadena’s Brookside Park, the Jackie Robinson Stadium at UCLA and the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, located at the main entrance to the New York Mets Citi Field.

Photo by Getty Images

In 1997, 9-foot busts were erected across from Pasadena City Hall to commemorate Jackie and his older brother Matthew “Mack” Robinson, who set the world record for broad jump and won a silver medal at the 1936 Olympic Summer Games.  And today, every few years, MLB players remember Jackie Robinson in special ceremonies and by wearing his jersey number 42, which was retired from Major League Baseball on April 15, 1997.

Plans are underway to open a Jackie Robinson Museum and Learning Center at One Hudson Square in Manhattan in 2015.

Photography by Reuters

Australian mining entrepreneur Clive Palmer has unveiled blueprints to build the Titanic II. The new ship, expected to set sail in 2016, will recreate the original ship’s design and decor, but it will be modified to adhere to current safety rules and shipbuilding practices (thank goodness!).

Pretty much everyone knows that the original Titanic, a British cruise liner, sank in the Northern Atlantic Ocean after colliding with an iceberg on April 15, 1912. Some 1,500 people died on the super cruise ship’s maiden voyage from Southhampton, UK, to New York City.

Although the contract to build the Titanic II has not been signed yet, Palmer claims the ship will be the “safest cruise ship in the world.” He says the lifeboats will have enough space for every person on board, and that the cruise liner will also include escape staircases and modern technology to avoid icebergs. Construction is scheduled to start later this year in China, according to Reuters.

Another fun fact we learned about the new cruise liner is that passengers will have the opportunity to relive the past by dressing in 1912-style clothing, provided by the cruise. And with the right ticket, passengers can go a step further and visit the first-class dining and smoking rooms similar to the original luxury liner.

According to NBC News, there are already 40,000 applications to take the first trip on the Titanic replica and 12 people are willing to pay $1 million for a first-class trip. Regular ticket prices for a voyage on the Titanic II will be announced at a later date.

In the meantime, Travel Channel has a few cruise vacation ideas to help you plan your next trip on the high seas. Our cruise experts offer advice and tips on the best cruises to see Hawaii, as well as the top Disney cruises, can’t-miss adventure cruises, cruises for GLBT travelers and best restaurants at sea. And we’d be remiss if we didn’t prepare you for your next cruise with a few cruise safety tips and 7 ways to improve your cruise. Set sail and let your cruisin’ adventure begin!

Photography by Getty Images

In an $11 billion deal that would create the world’s largest airline, American Airlines and US Airways have agreed to merge. The new airline will take the American Airlines name to help keep the company afloat after it filed for bankruptcy more than a year ago. The mega-merger deal is scheduled to close in the third quarter of 2013 and make its debut at an airport near you — well, sometime soon.

So what does this pending merger mean for travelers? For one, less competition in the airline industry could mean price hikes for customers. The new American Airlines — with 900 planes, 95,000 employees and 3,200 daily flights — will have the scale, breadth and capabilities to compete more effectively, according to US Airways CEO Doug Parker. The new American, along with United, Delta and Southwest, would control over 70% of the US market. So frequent fliers are warned to expect a rise in ticket prices.

Travelers flying American or US Airways won’t notice immediate changes. Industry officials say that it’s likely the airlines will operate separately for the first year and that existing tickets will be honored. However, it’ll be months before the frequent-flyer programs are combined and years before the 2 airlines are fully integrated.

For corporate business travelers, there may be a few perks. US Airways and American officials expect the combined network of flights and routes to lure corporate travelers away from competitors.

The new airline will keep all hubs for both airlines, but no word yet on a location for the operations center, reservations, flight training, and maintenance and crew bases.

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