Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Holland America Line return to Australia/New Zealand for 2013-14 Cruise Season

Holland America Line’s cruise ships, ms Oosterdam and ms Volendam, will be back in Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific islands in 2013 – 2014 cruise season. 1,848 passenger Vista-class ms Oosterdam and 1,432 passenger R-Class cruise ship ms Volendam will visit more than 50 ports of call and allow their guests to experience the region's incredible wildlife on land and in the sea such as Australia's legendary Outback and the Great Barrier Reef.

Between October 2013 and March 2014, Holland America Lines offer departures ranging from 10- to 14-days round trips from Sydney to Sydney, Sydney to Auckland.

Here are some cruise tours offered by these ships.

Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific Voyages
14-days Australia and New Zealand cruises will be from Auckland to Sydney and from Sydney to Auckland on 27 October 2013, 10 November 2013, 2 February 2014 and 16 February 2014. Ms Oosterdam will perform these cruises and visit ports such as Melbourne (Australia), Hobart (Tasmania), Dunedin (Akaroa), Wellington (New Zealand), Napier (NZ),  Gisborne (NZ) and Christchurch (NZ). The cruise fares on these Australia and New Zealand cruises begin at $1,599 per person, double occupancy.

Ms Oosterdam will also sail for three 14-day New Zealand Discovery cruises round trip from Sydney on 8 December 2013, 19 January 2014 and 16 March 2014. The cruise ship will call Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin, Akaroa, Gisborne, Milford Sound, Napier, Tauranga and the Bay of Islands. The cruise fares on these New Zealand Discovery Voyages begin at $1,499 per person, double occupancy.

Other cruises on offer include a 14-day Pacific Treasures cruises round trip from Sydney featuring more exotic and lesser-known tropical ports at the South Pacific islands of Vanuatu, New Caledonia and Fiji. Cruise fares begin at $1,499 per person, double occupancy.

According to the executive vice president, marketing, sales and guests programs for Holland America Line, Richard Meadows, the popularity of the Australia region cruises has grown tremendously over the past few years thanks to the beauty, diversity and friendly citizens of the region. The region is now top must-do for many cruise travelers. "Our array of itineraries includes popular ports, stunning island visits, extended stays, overnight calls and enticing pre- and post-cruise options to make the trip 'Down Under' a memorable experience" he adds.

Holland America Line's cruise ship ms Oosterdam departing Sydney.
Holland America Line's cruise ship ms Oosterdam departing Sydney.
Longer Holland America Line Itineraries in Australia region
Ms Volendam will cruise for a 34-day Australia Circumnavigation (a counterclockwise trip around the continent) round trip from Sydney on 20 October 2013 and will feature more tham 20 ports as well as scenic cruising in the remote Ribbon Reef and Far North Regions. Brisbane, Hamilton Island, Townsville, Cairns, Darwin, Exmouth, Freemantle (Perth overnight), Esperance, Port Lincoln, Adelaide (overnight), Kangaroo Island, Melbourne and Burnie, Australia; Hobart, Tasmania; Komodo Island, Indonesia, and a beautiful sunrise call at Lizard Island and sunset call at Booby Island off the coast of Australia. The ship will also visit the Great Barrier Reef. Cruise fares begin at $4,999 per person, double occupancy.

Ms Volendam will also cruise from Melbourne to Singapore on a 19-day Great Barrier Reef Voyage departing on 20 November 2013. The cruise ship will spend 2 days cruising around The Great Barrier Reef with stops at Sydney, Burnie, Hamilton Island, Cairns and Darwin, Australia; Komodo Island, Bali and Semarang, Indonesia before arriving in Singapore. The cruise fares begin at $2,299 per person, double occupancy.

Trans-Pacific Crossing Itineraries
The beginning and the end of the 2013-2014 cruise season will also offer one-of-a-kind itineraries. You can have an opportunity to cruise from North America to the Pacific region while the cruise ships are travelling to Australia for the start of the season. Ms Volendam’s 21 or 24 day South Pacific Crossing will depart from Los Angeles California or Vancouver for Sydney on 25 September and 28 September 2013. ms Oosterdam's 24- or 27-day South Pacific Crossing will depart from Los Angeles or Seattle for Sydney on 29 September and 2 October 2013 and includes an overnight call at Honolulu, Hawaii. At the end of the season ms Oosterdam will return to North America on a 28- or 29-day South Pacific Crossing from Sydney to Seattle or Vancouver April 13, 2014. These cruises provide an excellent opportunity to visit the South Pacific and Hawaii, as well as enjoy more relaxing days at sea. Cruise fares for the trans-Pacific sailings begin at $1,899 per person, double occupancy.

Collectors' Voyages
Ranging from 28 to 58 days, Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific Collectors' Voyages on Oosterdam and Volendam are perfect for avid explorers who seek a more extensive cruise experience. The voyages combine back-to-back itineraries and represent the best per-day value for guests. Holland America Line sails a total of 17 Collectors' Voyages, affording the most in-depth exploration of this diverse region with extended itineraries visiting multiple destinations and more days at sea. Cruise fares for the Collectors' Voyages begin at $2,799 per person, double occupancy.

Extended Stays and Pre- and Post-Cruise Tours
Guests are able to maximize their cruise experience at select calls throughout these voyages that feature a late departure or overnight visit allowing for evening shore excursions or longer independent explorations. Extended-stay ports include Hobart, Tasmania; Noumea, New Caledonia; Honolulu and Lahaina, Hawaii, and Suva, Fiji. Cruisers looking to make the most out of their time in Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific can add a three- or five-night pre- or post-cruise land tour to the Great Barrier Reef, Ayers Rock/Uluru National Park or The Blue Mountains National Park, home to the famous "Three Sisters" rock formation.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Around the World in 113 Days by cruise ship ms Amsterdam

Holland America Line’s cruise ship ms Amsterdam will depart from Fort Lauderdale, Florida on 4 January 2014 for an epic cruise around the world in a hundred thirteen days! It will cruise to five continents, cross the equator for four times, visit 38 ports in total on the 2014 Grand World Voyage by her operator Holland America Line. And do not worry if you do not have time to spend a third of 2014 cruising. For those who does not have that much time, Holland America Line offers eight segments ranging from 20 to 86 days available from the departure ports along the route.

Sailing on Holland America Line’s Grand World Voyage is a cruise experience unlike any other.  Let’s look at this epic route: ms Amsterdam, cruise line's pacific flagship with the capacity of 1,380 guests, will depart from Fort Lauderdale of Florida and cruise from Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean wia a daylight transit of Panama Canal. The ship will have 2 full overnights at Peru’s Callao which will allow her guests to take a land tour to Lost City of the Incas, Machu Picchu.

After cruising to Easter Island, Pitcairn Island before an overnight call at French Polynesia’s Papeete, ms Amsterdam will visit six more ports in the South Pacific before heading Down Under to Australia.

In 2014 Grand World Voyage ms Amsterdam will have an overnight visit to Sydney before sailing up to east coast of Australia. Australia will be followed by 2 calls at Papua New Guinea, Cebu and Manila, Philippines and then the cruise ship will sail all the way to Hong Kong, China.

ms Amsterdam’s next port of call is Singapore after Hong Kong. From Singapore, guests will be able to join an overland tour Cambodia and Angkor Wat, one of the most important archaeological sites in Southeast Asia. After Singapore next port in South East Asia will be Phuket (Thailand), from where the ship will sail to Colombo (Sri Lanka).  Seychelles will follow where an overnight call at this paradise will allow guests to relax on the beaches.

From Seychelles, the cruise ship will sail to Port Louis, Mauritus, and La Possession, Reunion  as the first 2 ports of grand tours African exploration before spending time at two South African ports. Durban, the largest city in South Africa and Cape Town will be next. On the west coast of Africa Walvis Bay (Namibia) , the remote island of Jamestown (Saint Helena) Georgetown (Ascension Island), Banjul (Gambia) and finally Dakar (Senegal) will be visited.

Holland America Line’s cruise ship ms Amsterdam's 2014 Grand World Voyage map
Holland America Line’s cruise ship ms Amsterdam's 2014 Grand World Voyage map
Final leg of the 2014 Grand World Voyage will be Caribbean where guests will have three days on the tropical islands of Barbados, Dominica and St. Maarten before concluding the journey at Fort Lauderdale.

“When it comes to a dream vacation, our Grand World Voyage is as special as you can get due to its length, number of ports and exotic destinations, and our 2014 voyage is no exception,” said Richard Meadows, executive vice president, marketing, sales and guest programs for Holland America Line. “Every year we like to change the Grand World Voyage itinerary so each journey is one of a kind and features calls that offer some of the most sought-after sights and experiences in the world.” Following Amsterdam’s departure from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., the ship will take a westerly course from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean via a daylight transit of the Panama Canal. Two full overnights at Callao, Peru, enable guests to take an overland tour to Machu Picchu, also known as the Lost City of the Incas and one of the most breath-taking sites in the world.

ms Amsterdam cruise ship
So how much does a great journey like this costs? It is not as expensive as you may think. 113 day full 2014 Grand World Voyage rates starts from $19,999 (176 USD per day indeed). There are also 20 to 86 days segments with different prices:
37-day segment sailing Fort Lauderdale to Sydney departing Jan. 4 2014 costs $6,499
57-day segment sailing Fort Lauderdale to Hong Kong departing Jan. 4 2014 costs $10,699,
86-day segment sailing Fort Lauderdale to Cape Town departing Jan. 4 2014 costs $15,999
20-day segment sailing Sydney to Hong Kong departing Feb. 11 2014 costs $3,899,
49-day segment sailing Sydney to Cape Town departing Feb. 11 2014 costs $9,999,
29-day segment sailing Hong Kong to Cape Town departing March 3 2014 costs $5,999,
56-day segment sailing Hong Kong to Fort Lauderdale departing March 3 2014 costs $10,499
27-day segment sailing Cape Town to Fort Lauderdale departing April 1 2014 costs $4,799.

Reservations are now open for Amsterdam’s 2014 Grand World Voyage, and early-booking bonus amenities for full Grand World Voyage guests who book by May 31, 2013, include prepaid hotel service charges, shipboard credit, luggage delivery service and a complimentary shore excursion or event for select stateroom categories.

Guests booking a segment of the Grand World Voyage by May 31, 2013, in select categories of staterooms and suites receive a shipboard credit that varies depending on category.

Jetstar Promotion 2013: Weekend Holidays on Sale

Budget airline Jetstar regularly offers flight promotions from Singapore to many destinations. And sometimes, they offer better: A holiday package which packs flight and hotel stay together. If you are planning a relaxing weekend holiday take a look at these packages. Jetstar offers flight + hotel packages to Hong Kong, Phuket, Bali and other destinations starting from $260 per person only. The promotion will end by 6 May 2013 and either end earlier if sold out or may be extended.

Here are some great getaway packages from Singapore offered by Jetstar:
  • The Bayview Beach Resort Penang Malaysia - 2 Nights standard room stay + return economy starter fare from $238 per person
  • Holiday Inn Penang Malaysia - 3 nights in a Ferringhi Tower Hillview Room + return economy starter fare from $286 per person
  • Ibis Phuket Patong Phuket Thailand - 2 nights in a Standard Room + return economy class Starter airfare from $260 per person.
  • Best Western Allamanda Laguna, Phuket Thailand - 2 nights in a Junior Suite + return economy class Starter airfare from $344 per person.
  • The Aquamarine Resort & Villa Phuket Thailand - 3 nights in a Deluxe Room + return economy class Starter airfare from $448 per person.
  • Holiday Inn Golden Mile Hong Kong - 2 nights in a Run of House Room + return economy class Starter airfare from $609 per person.
  • Bali Dynasty Resort Bali Indonesia - 3 nights in a Deluxe Room + return economy class Starter airfare from $572 per person.
  • Novotel Bali Nusa Dua Bali Indonesia - 2 nights in a Deluxe Room return economy class Starter airfare from $377 per person.

Jetstar promotion named "Weekend holidays on sale" offer 3D2N flight plus hotel from
$260 per person.
For details and terms & conditions visit promotions web site Weekend Holidays on Sale.

Penang Hotel deals by Agoda for George Town Festival 2013

A month-long George Town Festival (GTF) is one of the most colorful art festivals celebrated in Malaysia. The festival has started to commemorate George Town's inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage listing on 7 July, 2008 and is celebrated since 2009. Festival offers well-balanced local cultural performances and events with international performances in art, music, theatre, dance, opera and films and transforms George Town into an exiting and unique place for art lovers for a month-long time.

Gerorge Town Festival 2013 will be held between 7 June - 7 July 2013. Here are some highlights from this years events:

Sutra - 17 monks from the original Shaolin Temple in China will perform in a new dance work choreographed by Flemish/Moroccan choreographer. Inspired by the skill, strength and spirituality of Buddhist Shaolin monks the performances will also include a beautiful brand new score for piano, percussion and strings by Polish composer Szymon Brzóska which is played live.

I MUSICI - The renowned Italian chamber music group I Musici presents classical excerpts from some of Italy’s famous composers through several eras, as well as a contemplative interpretation of Antonio Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.I Musici is the oldest chamber group in Italy, and based on reviews, their performance
here in Penang promises to be an emotional and majestic aural experience. This live performance will be truly memorable as even the ensemble’s recorded CDs have been awarded prizes by specialised juries^ their production of Four Seasons by Vivaldi sold more than 25 million copies!

ART@WHITEAWAYS - Top contemporary art collector, gallerist and curator Valentine Willie presents works by Ahmad Zakii Anwar, Jalaini Abu Hassan, Chong Siew Ying, Kow Leong Kiang, Rebecca
Wilkinson and Chan Kok Hooi from Malaysia, and Agus Baqul Purnomo from Indonesia.

Agoda.com offers special Penang Hotel deals during the George Town Festival 2013 on a special festival webpage will enjoy 5% off of the already low prices. So if you are planning to visit George Town, GTF 2013 is the best time to visit Penang and if you want some great hotel discounts check Agoda's web page here at www.agoda.com/gtf2013.

Penang Hotel deals

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Qatar Airways Promotion 2013: Flight deals from Singapore

Qatar Airways is one of the best airlines flying from and to Singapore. Like other full service airlines they regularly offer flight deals from Singapore to many destinations on economy and business class. You can follow these deals here at  Qatar Airways Singapore page or subscribe to their news letters for promotional flights.

From now till 15th May 2013 for the travel period between 20th - 31st May 2013 they offer promotional tickets to Europe from Singapore. You can check them here at our Cheap flights to Europe from Singapore with Qatar Airways latest offers article.

From now till 15th May 2013, you can book return business class seats on flights between 20th May - 10th December 2013 to selected destinations with highly attractive prices:

Flight from Singapore to Bali on Business Class starting from SGD 615,
Flight from Singapore to Barcelona on Business Class starting from SGD 4120,
Flight from Singapore to Buenos Aires on Business Class starting from SGD 7450,
Flight from Singapore to Copenhagen on Business Class starting from SGD 2870,
Flight from Singapore to Dubai on Business Class starting from SGD 2310,
Flight from Singapore to Frankfurt on Business Class starting from SGD 3980,
Flight from Singapore to Istanbul on Business Class starting from SGD 3810,
Flight from Singapore to London on Business Class starting from SGD 4495,
Flight from Singapore to New York (JFK)  on Business Class starting from SGD 5380,
Flight from Singapore to Paris on Business Class starting from SGD 4205,
Flight from Singapore to Rome on Business Class starting from SGD 3880,
Flight from Singapore to Sao Paulo on Business Class starting from SGD 6755,
Fligh from Singaporet to Zurich on Business Class starting from SGD 4285.

Check Qatar Airways Singapore page for these promotions.

Also from now till 15th May 2013, you can book return economy class seats on flights between 20th May - 10th December 2013 from Singapore to North/South America with our latest offers:

Flight from Singapore to Buenos Aireson Economy Class starting from SGD 1955,
Flight from Singapore to Chicago (ORD) on Economy Class starting from SGD 1755,
Flight from Singapore to Houston (IAH) on Economy Class starting from SGD 1595,
Flight from Singapore to New York (JFK) on Economy Class starting from SGD 1600,
Flight from Singapore to Sao Paulo (GRU) on Economy Class starting from SGD 1930,
Flight from Singapore to Washington (IAD) on Economy Class starting from SGD 1695.

Qatar Airways promotions for flights from Singapore
World's 5-star airline, Qatar Airways offers attractive deals for flights to Europe from Singapore.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Cheap flights to Europe from Singapore with Qatar Airways latest offers

Finding reasonably and relatively cheap flights to Europe from Singapore is difficult but not impossible. Other than the famous flight booking sites, the web pages of airlines also offer very good offers on the route. One of the airlines, Qatar based Qatar Airways offers very good flight deals from Singapore to many destinations and it is worthwhile to check their Qatar Airways Singapore page and subscribe to their news letters for promotional flights.

If you are planning to fly to Europe from Singapore, Qatar Airways have a promotion which will be valid gor booking from now till 15th May 2013 for the travel period between 20th - 31st May 2013. Below are these attractive deals for flights to Europe from Singapore:

Flights to Barcelona from Singapore all in-fares Economy starting from SGD 1049,

Flights to Copenhagen from Singapore all in-fares Economy starting from SGD 1129,

Flights to Frankfurt from Singapore all in-fares Economy starting from SGD 1065,

Flights to London from Singapore all in-fares Economy starting from SGD 1075,

Flights to Madrid from Singapore all in-fares Economy starting from SGD 1059,

Flights to Milan from Singapore all in-fares Economy starting from SGD 1055,

Flights to Paris from Singapore all in-fares Economy starting from SGD 1049,

Flights to Rome from Singapore all in-fares Economy starting from SGD 1059 and

Flights to Zurich from Singapore all in-fares Economy starting from SGD 999.

promotional flights from Singapore to Europe
World's 5-star airline, Qatar Airways offers attractive deals for flights to Europe from Singapore.
Note that Qatar Airways flies to Doha first and then you change to a flight to one of the destinations at the airport. All-in-fares above are return economy tickets including all taxes, fees and surcharges. They are subject to change due to currency fluctuations.

Star Cruises wins Best Cruise award in Travel + Leisure India & South Asia’s “India’s Best Awards”

Star Cruises, dominant cruise operator in Asia-Pacific market, is named “Best Cruise” in Travel + Leisure India & South Asia’s “India’s Best Awards” for two years consecutively. This latest recognition as the best cruise line follows the recent awards that Star Cruises has earned in the tourist industry. The cruise operator has earned TTG Travel Awards “Travel Hall of Fame” Inductee for the fifth year, “Best Cruise Line” at Youth.Travel 2012-2013 – Readers’ Most Trusted Brands Awards in China and “Favourite Cruise Company” at Outlook Traveller Awards 2012 in India.

In a press release Mr Michael Goh, Senior Vice President, Sales, Star Cruises that they are honoured to be awarded the ‘Best Cruise’ award at Travel + Leisure India & South Asia - India’s Best Awards for two years in a row,“This latest accolade has a special meaning for us. It is a testament to Star Cruises’ leading position in the hearts and minds of holidaymakers as well as travel agents in India, a position that we have
established in the past twenty years.  “In the coming months, our guests would have even more to expect.
In May, we will hold ‘Bollywood Festival’ onboard SuperStar Virgo, which will highlight Indian F&B as well as songs & dance. We are also putting together special theme cruises across our fleet, including cruises filled with acrobatic shows & dance parties; cruises with cartoon characters that are adored by both kids and grown-ups; and cruises that celebrate special and fun occasions such as Mother’s Day, Oktoberfest and Halloween.”

Cruise ship SuperStar Virgo - Star Cruises
SuperStar Virgo is the largest ship operated by Star Cruises.

Star Cruises is credited as the cruise operator who has almost single handedly developed the cruise industry in the Asia-Pacific Region. The operator is the third largest cruise line behind Carnival Carnival Corporation and Royal Caribbean Cruises and dominates the Asia-Pacific market. Its current fleet includes SuperStar Virgo, SuperStar Aquarius, SuperStar Libra, SuperStar Gemini and Star Pisces.

4D3N Cruise deal by Star Cruise ( Penang / Krabi / Phuket Cruise Onboard SuperStar Libra )

Sometimes you would like to getaway from Singapore for a nice short holiday and visit several destinations at a time. On the other hand travelling around these destinations can be a tiring experience while you need a well deserved rest. In this case a cruise tour holiday can be a very good option where you can just rest in your room or enjoy the facilities and activities in your cruise ship while this "floating resort" sails to different destinations.

A cruise tour covering several destinations and nights on the other hand can be expensive. But luckily there are frequent cruise holiday deals from one of those group buying sites to come to your rescue. These deals comes with deep discounts and makes an appealing holiday a great catch.

This 4D3N cruise deal from Star Cruise for example comes with an incredible 66% discount. Departing from Penang on May 5 2013, you will sail to Thailand's popular holiday destinations Krabi and Phuket on board SuperStar Libra. And you are given 2 cheap cruise package options to choose from:
  • Option 1: You can choose Inside Stateroom and Oceanview Stateroom with window cabins which costs only $299 per person instead of the usual price of $880
  • Option 2: You can choose Deluxe Oceanview Stateroom (BA & BB) which costs only $329 per person instead of $940.

Cruise deal by Star Cruise ( Penang / Krabi / Phuket Cruise Onboard SuperStar Libra )
4D3N Cruise deal by Star Cruise ( Penang / Krabi / Phuket Cruise Onboard SuperStar Libra )
Star Cruise's SuperStar Libra is a 740 cabins cruise ship with the capacity of 1,480 passengers. SuperStar Libra is offering a diverse choice of cruising option and destinations which provide a fascinating blend of history, culture, adventure and scenery, ranging from the idyllic beaches of Phuket and Krabi, to the temples and pagodas of historical Penang. Until end 2013, she will operate 1 Night Cruises to High seas and 3 Night Cruises to Phuket and Krabi departing from Penang. Please note that this deal is only for May 3 2013 departure and can be only enjoyed by deals.com.sg members who are Singaporeans, Singapore Permanent Residents, Singapore Work Pass and Employment Pass holders.

With this cruise from Penang, you will depart from Penang, the "food paradise" of Malaysia with rich multicultural history which is full of Malay, Chinese, Indian and European influences. On Monday morning you will arrive to Krabi and stay there until evening. Next day is full tropical beauty Phuket Island.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

H7N9 bird flu is in Taiwan

Yesterday Taiwan has reported the first case of the deadly H7N9 outside of mainland China. A 53-year-old man who has recently returned from eastern Chinese city of Suzhou to Taiwan showed symptoms had been hospitalized on April 16. He is in a critical condition.

Here is a part from the press release by Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC):
In the late afternoon of April 24, 2013, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) confirmed the first imported case of H7N9 avian influenza in a 53-year-old male Taiwanese citizen who worked in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, China prior to illness onset.  He developed his illness three days after returning to Taiwan.  Infection with avian influenza A (H7N9) was confirmed on April 24, 2013.  The patient is currently in a severe condition and being treated in a negative-pressure isolation room. 
Minister of Health, Dr. Wen-Ta Chiu, and Commander of CECC, Dr. Feng-Yee Chang, have full knowledge of the situation and have instructed implementation of subsequent prevention and control measures.  In addition, CECC has reported the case to the World Health Organization through the IHR Focal Point.  Furthermore, according to the Cross-strait Cooperation Agreement on Medicine and Public Health Affairs, CECC has also reported the case to the contact point in China.
CECC indicated that the case is a hepatitis B carrier with history of hypertension.  Due to the fact that he worked in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province before his illness, he had been traveling back and forth regularly between Suzhou and Taiwan for a long time.  During March 28 and April 9, 2013, the patient traveled to Suzhou.  On April 9, he returned to Taiwan from Shanghai.  According to the case, he had not been exposed to birds and poultry during his stay in Suzhou and had not consumed undercooked poultry or eggs.  On April 12, he developed fever, sweating, and fatigue, but no respiratory or gastrointestinal symptoms.  On April 16, he sought medical attention at a clinic when he developed high fever and was transferred to a hospital by the physician. He was then hospitalized in a single-patient room for further treatment. On April 16, he was administered Tamiflu.  On April 18, his chest x-ray showed interstitial infiltrate in the right lower lung.  On the night of April 19, his conditions worsened.  On April 20, he was transferred to a medical center for further treatment. He was then intubated due to respiratory failure and placed in the negative-pressure isolation room in the intensive care unit. During his stay in the hospitals, two throat swab specimens were collected and both tested negative for avian influenza A (H7N9) virus by real-time RT-PCR.  On April 22, the medical center collected a sputum specimen from the patient and the specimen was tested positive for influenza A.  In the morning of April 24, avian influenza A (H7N9) virus was detected in the sputum specimen using real-time RT-PCR.  In the later afternoon of April 24, the National Influenza Center in Taiwan confirmed the identification and completed the genome sequencing of the virus. 

As of today there are 108 confirmed cases of H7N9 in China and 22 people, mostly elderly, died from the virus. The infection path of the virus us still mystery. Many patients hospitalized due to the virus had no direct contact with poultry. Last week a boy was found to be infected with the virus and showed no symptoms. This suggests that many people may be already infected without knowing it. Taiwanese patient also said that he had not been in contact with poultry or eaten under-cooked birds or eggs while staying in Suzhou.

Meanwhile, an international team of experts investigating the cases in China has said that "H7N9 is an unusually dangerous virus for humans":

From what is known so far, H7N9 "is more easily transmissible from poultry to humans than H5N1," the avian influenza virus that has circulated in poultry in Asia for more than a decade, occasionally causing human fatalities. The team also reported that the available evidence points to live bird markets as being the most likely pathway for the virus from poultry to humans. Positive samples have been retrieved from poultry and from contaminated surfaces at the markets. Nancy Cox, a flu expert at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, cautioned that while it is still early, "we can now understand that the likely source of infection is poultry—that the virus originates from poultry."

The virus kills 20 per cent of known infections.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Video of young couple performing oral sex in Taiwan MRT stirred online outcry

Video of a young woman apparently performing oral sex to a young man in Kaohsiung MRT (subway) train caused a public outcry in internet. The incident happened on Saturday night in an MRT train full of passengers. A girl has covered her head with a blue jacket and lied her head below towards the thighs of the man while man was apparently reading a book. A tourist from Hong Kong took a video of the indecent act and posted the 1 minute 48 seconds video to her Facebook. The video soon went viral in countries like South Korea, Thailand, Taiwan and Malaysia and was watched by more than 2 million people in 6 hours. The Chinese-language Apple Daily newspaper later put the story on its front page and drew public concern over the alleged inappropriate behavior on the public transportation system.

The police later identified the couple: a male college student and a female senior high school student. The high school student admitted performing oral sex on the train. According to the male college student, the decision was made “out of fantasy and on the spur of the moment.”:
The girl, a senior in a Kaohsiung vocational school, told the police in Kaohsiung during questioning that she was simply giving in to the man's demands. She said that she did not know such an act performed in public is against the law. The 18-year-old said she met the man over the Internet and they arranged a date for April 20. 
During their MRT ride, the man asked her to perform oral sex on him, she told police. The male suspect, a university student, also turned himself in to the Kaohsiung police, but claimed that he did not force the woman to do anything against her will.
Source : Couple sent to prosecutors after cover blown on MRT

Monday, April 22, 2013

SingTel, StarHub and M1 Samsung Galaxy S4 contract price plans for Singapore

UPDATE : This article is old and for Samsung Galaxy S4. For new Samsung Galaxy S5, visit SingTel, StarHub and M1 Samsung Galaxy S5 contract price plans for Singapore post.

Singapore's 3 telcos; SingTel, StarHub and M1 has announced their Samsung Galaxy S4 contract price plans for Singapore simultaneously, 5 days before the highly anticipated smartphone's availability here. The price plans are all similar to each other but if you have not decided which operator to use yet or you are pinching the pennies, below tables can help you to decide.

Samsung Galaxy S4 release date in Singapore is 27 April 2013 (this Saturday). Samsung has announced that the Galaxy S4 with LTE price will be S$998 without contract. Customers who pre-registered for the Samsung Galaxy S4 online with the three local mobile operators (M1, SingTel and StarHub) will be entitled to a limited edition accessory pack comprising a car charger, desktop dock and HDTV adapter, while stocks last. Registration for Samsung Galaxy S4 began on 17 April.

With a 5-inch screen equipped with a 1080p Super AMOLED panel, 13-megapixel camera and many software features like S Voice Drive, translation, smart scroll and group play Samsung Galaxy S4 is one of the best Android phones ever and is expected to be a bigger hit that its highly successful predecessor Samsung Galaxy S3.

SingTel Samsung Galaxy S4 Contract Price Plans start from the cheapest Flexi Lite which would eventually cost you $1,536 up to Flexi Premium which comes with a total price tag of  $4,920. With Flexi Premium, Samsung Galaxy S4 phone comes free. StarHub Samsung Galaxy S4 Contract Price Plans start from cheapest SmartSurf Lite and goes up to SmartSurf Elite. All 3 telcos price plans are below.

SingTel Samsung Galaxy S4 Contract Price Plan
Galaxy S4 Price Monthly subscription cost Data bundle Total Cost for 2 years contract
Flexi Lite $578 $39.9 2 GB $1,536
Flexi Value $328 $59.9 3 GB $1,766
Flexi Plus $168 $99.9 4 GB $2,566
Flexi Premium $0 $205.0 12 GB $4,920

StarHub Samsung Galaxy S4 Contract Price Plan
Galaxy S4 Price Monthly subscription cost Data bundle Total Cost for 2 years contract
SmartSurf Lite $599 $38.0 2 GB $1,511
SmartSurf Value $349 $58.0 4 GB $1,741
SmartSurf Premium $199 $98.0 6 GB $2,551
SmartSurf Elite $29 $205.0 12 GB $4,949

M1 Samsung Galaxy S4 Contract Price Plan
Galaxy S4 Price Monthly subscription cost Data bundle Total Cost for 2 years contract
ValueSurf+ $578 $39.0 2 GB $1,514
LifeSurf+ $328 $59.0 3 GB $1,744
ExtremeSurf+ $168 $98.0 5 GB $2,520
MaxSurf+ $0 $198.0 12 GB $4,752

Evian's new Baby&me video

Have you watched Evian's new baby themed video named Baby&me. I have watched yesterday and since then I cannot keep myself but watching it again and again. This is the second video of Evian Natural Spring Water's highly successful Roller Babies video which was released in 2009. In 2011, Evian has released another baby hit named Baby Inside. Baby&me is launched in 14 countries simultaneously and in my opinion is the best of these 3 videos.

In the video people discover their "inner baby" in the mirrors and through interacting with the inner baby, they engage in an energetic dance. The dance music is equally catching, a remix of 90′s dance hit “Here comes the Hotstepper” by Yuksek. “The babies embody ‘Live Young’, the evian mantra, and remind us that we are all youthful in our own, unique way. Babies are also the ultimate symbol of natural purity, exactly what evian water is.  This is why we are so excited to continue this iconic campaign in a fresh and entertaining way,” said Jerome Goure, Vice President of Marketing for Danone.

Evian will also release a very interesting app in Mid-way related to Baby&Me concept. The app, available in Android, iPhones and Facebook, will make you able to meet your "inner baby". The application will use advanced facial recognition software and allow you to taje your own photo and your friends and upload it to the app so that it can be "babified"!

The video is uploaded on April 19th and is watched 16 million+ times.

Baby & Me - New Evian movie

Angsana Bintan

Singapore may be a tropical island but thanks to its heavy urbanization it lacks beaches and resorts buried in lush forest settings. For many in the city state, Malaysian and Indonesian islands near Singapore are the way to go to have a relaxed getaways from the urban jungle. Of these islands, Indonesia's Bintan and Batam Islands are the most popular thanks to their proximity to Singapore. Bintan Island of Indonesia for example is just 45 minutes away from Singapore by ferries departing from Singapore's Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal.

Bintan Island is mostly known for its family friendly, luxury and expensive resorts housed in the northern coast of the island facing Singapore. This region, known as Bintan Resorts or Lagoi, is separated from the rest of the island by a tick forest and check points and is quite different than the "rest" of Bintan. There are several high-end hotels and resorts here such as The Nirwana Gardens Bintan Resort, Club Med Ria Bintan, Bintan Lagoon Resort and Bintan Lodge.

Nested on the white sands of Tanjong Said Bay, Angsana Bintan is one of the two high-end hotels in Bintan's Lagoi area operated by The Banyan Tree Group. The 4.5-Star luxurious hotel shares the same private beach with its all-villa sister, Banyan Tree Bintan. Angsana Bintan offers 106 rooms and suites, a majority of which offer a balcony view overlooking the South China Sea and offers a great place for a weekend getaway from the busy city life of Singapore.

Where is Bintan Island?
Location of Bintan Island. As you can see from the map, it is quite near Singapore.
Angsana Bintan is on the shaded international resorts region of the
island known as Lagoi. - Source : WikiTravel Bintan Island
Angsana Bintan is a hidden paradise. You will not be able to believe that you were in Singapore just an hour ago and you have arrived to this white sandy beach and clear turquoise ocean with a simple ferry ride. The hotel is directly by the beach and ocean and if you choose to stay in a room viewing the ocean, in a few short hours you will directly get "lost" in the paradise. It is an ideal location for relaxed, lazy and laid back tropical island holiday and best appreciated during one of those long holiday weekends in Singapore.

The facilities are not as luxurious as 5-star hotels but for the location and the holiday experience, the prices are in the reasonable range. The cheapest of the rooms offered, Superior Rooms, are priced from USD 210 per night and comes with 2 beds. Deluxe Queen Bed and Twin Bed rooms are from USD 260 per night. Not bad if you think that you do not need to pay for an airline ticket to arrive to this paradise. The hotel also offers 3 types of suites : One Bedroom Suite (From USD 340 per night),  Two Bedroom Suite (From USD 420 per night) and Angsana Suite (From USD 530 per night).

The hotel regularly offers romance and honeymoon packages.

Angsana Bintan sits on the beautiful white sands of Tanjong Said Bay and stands out with
its wonderful beach.

Jetstar promotion 2013: Great Getaway Sale

From now until 26 April 2013 unless sold out prior, low cost carrier Jetstar has a promotional offer for those who are planning their next getaway. With JetStar's "Great Getaway Sale" promotion you can book some great cheap flights from Singapore to many regional exciting destinations such as Kuala Lumpur, Medan, Bali, Penang, Phuket and Siem Reap as well as long haul flights to Asian destinations such as Osaka, Taipei and Beijing! Cheap flight ticket prices start from;

S$28 for flights to Kuala Lumpur from Singapore,
S$48 for flights to Medan from Singapore,
S$49 for flights to Penang from Singapore,
S$58 for flights to Phnom Penh from Singapore,
S$58 for flights to Ho Chi Minh City from Singapore,
S$58 for flights to Surabaya from Singapore,
S$78 for flights to Phuket from Singapore,
S$79 for flights to Bali from Singapore,
S$88 for flights to Siem Reap from Singapore,
S$88 for flights to Yangon from Singapore,
S$98 for flights to Haikou from Singapore,
S$108 for flights to Guangzhou from Singapore,
S$108 for flights to Manila from Singapore,
S$128 for flights to Hong Kong from Singapore,
S$158 for flights to Beijing from Singapore,
S$158 for flights to Taipei from Singapore,
S$178 for flights to Hangzhou from Singapore,
S$178 for flights to Shantou / Jieyang from Singapore,
S$188 for flights to Osaka from Singapore.

All the fares listed above are one way Economy Starter and comes with carry on baggage only. If you want some more frills there are also one way business class offers within this promotion which comes with 30 kg of checked baggage allowance:

S$498 for flights to Beijing from Singapore and
S$588 for flights to Osaka from Singapore.

Before heading to JetStar booking page for the promotion note the dates during when fares are  available on all flights and days.

From Singapore to Kuala Lumpur: 30 Apr - 7 Aug 2013, 20 Aug - 14 Nov 2013, 6 Jan - 22 Jan 2014
From Singapore to Medan: 3 Sep - 14 Nov 2013, 6 Jan - 22 Jan 2014
From Singapore to Penang: 26 Jun - 1 Aug 2013, 3 Sep - 20 Nov 2013
From Singapore to Phnom Penh: 7 May - 7 Aug, 20 Aug - 12 Dec 2013, 6 Jan - 22 Jan 2014
From Singapore to Surabaya: 3 Sep - 12 Dec 2013, 6 Jan - 22 Jan 2014
From Singapore to Phuket: 3 Sep - 14 Nov 2013, 6 Jan - 22 Jan 2014
From Singapore to Bali: 3 Sep - 4 Dec 2013
From Singapore to Siem Reap: 7 May - 7 Aug 2013, 20 Aug - 12 Dec 2013, 6 Jan - 22 Jan 2014
From Singapore to Yangon: 7 May - 7 Aug 2013, 20 Aug - 12 Dec 2013, 6 Jan - 22 Jan 2014
From Singapore to Osaka: 30 Apr - 27 Jun 2013, 20 Aug - 12 Dec 2013, 6 Jan - 22 Jan 2014

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Banyan Tree Bintan

Bintan Island can be divided into 2 areas: The northern coast of Bintan called Bintan resorts and the rest. The rest is a typical Indonesian border island with fishing villages, electronic factories and local resorts. These two areas are separated from each other with a thick forest and check-points and are worlds apart in terms of infrastructure, security and utilities available.

Entire northern coast of Bintan Island is generally referred as Bintan Resorts (also known as Lagoi) and is full of expensive and luxury resorts catering mostly to tourists from nearby Singapore (45 minutes from Singapore by ferry). For most tourists, Bintan Island is a serene getaway from busy and crowded Singapore where they can simply enjoy lazy hours at the beach, spa, pool; play golf and pass time with water sports.

There are several high-end hotels in Bintan Island’s resort area such as The Nirwana Gardens Bintan Resort, Club Med Ria Bintan, Bintan Lagoon Resort and Bintan Lodge. The Banyan Tree Group operates two high-end hotels in Bintan Resorts area which share the same private beach: Villa only Banyan Tree Bintan and Angsana Bintan offering queen rooms, 1- and 2-bed suites.

Banyan Tree Bintan is located on a hill overlooking the South China Sea and the private beach. This is an all-villa resort and if you can afford it, it offers an unforgettable getaway. Reaching the resort is quite easy from Singapore: A high-speed catamaran will take 45 minutes to arrive from Singapore Tanah Merah ferry terminal to Bintan.

Banyan Tree Bintan resort is built in a lush rainforest with 50 to 100 years old trees nestled along the shore. The villas in the resort are built on stilts and inspired by the traditional fishing villages on Bintan Island. They offer tree-top experience just right next to nature. The resort offers Pool Villa - Seaview (From USD 390 per night), Pool Villa - Seafront (From USD 425 per night), Pool Villa - On-the-rocks (from USD 460 per night), One Bedroom Banyan Pool Villa (from USD 680  per night), Two Bedroom Banyan Pool Villa (from USD 765 per night) and Spa Pool Villa (from USD 1,130 per night).

Banyan Tree Bintan
Banyan Tree Bintan view from the sea.
Banyan Tree Bintan Deluxe Villa Exterior
Banyan Tree Bintan Deluxe Villa Exterior
Banyan Tree Bintan - Bayfront Pool Villa - Living Area
Banyan Tree Bintan - Bayfront Pool Villa - Living Area
Dinner on the Rocks at Banyan Tree Bintan is a candlelit dinner set on dramatic rock
with a personal chef and waiter.
The resort is designed to be secluded. As we have written above, do not expect to experience local culture or visit rest of Bintan Island since the resort area is not designed in that way. If you are looking for a laid back, serene and lazy holiday in a tropical paradise which is not very far away, this resort is for you.

For those who are looking for a more reasonably priced experience, you can also try Banyan Tree Bintan’s sister on the same private beach : Angsana Bintan. Superior rooms start from From USD210 per night.

AirAsia promotion 2013: Amazing Thailand Grand Sale 2013

Low cost carrier AirAsia is now offering promotional cheap flight tickets from Singapore to Bangkok, Phuket, Chiang Mai, Hat Yai and Koh Samui (via ferry services) in Thailand in association with the Amazing Thailand Grand Sale 2013.

During Amazing Thailand Grand Sale, you can expect discounts of 10-80%, and many other privileges at participating shopping malls, department stores, spa and massages, golf courses, jewelry shops, etc.  The Amazing Thailand Grand Sale 2013 will be between 15 June 2013 - 15 August 2013.

Available for booking from April 22 to May 5 2013 for travel period between July 1st to October 31st 2013, AirAsia is offering:

Flights from Singapore to Bangkok all-in-fare from S$60.
Flights from Singapore to Phuket all-in-fare from S$60.
Flights from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, Hat Yai and Koh Samui (via ferry services) all-in-fare from S$29.

AirAsia operates daily flights to Phuket and 5 times a day flights to Bangkok from Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 1. The promotion is for all flights for the travelling period stated above.

Amazing Thailand Grand Sale 2013
AirAsia promotion 2013: Amazing Thailand Grand Sale 2013

Cheap flights to Bali from Darwin by AirAsia

Malaysian low-cost carrier AirAsia will begin budget flights to Bali from Darwin on 1 July 2013. The flights between Indonesia's favorite tourist destination Bali and Australia's favorite holiday playground Darwin will be four times a week. These flights are actually relaunch. AirAsia flights to Darwin from Bali were cancelled in 2012 after 14 months of their launch. Back then it was started as four times a week route and reduced to one time a week before it was cancelled.

From April 22 to 28, AirAsia is offering special promotional fares on the route to celebrate the relaunch. One way flights to Bali are on offer from A$129 one way and from Bali back to Darwin is priced from A$99.

Bali is a popular holiday destination for Australians, especially for Territorians thanks to its easy access from Darwin. Two hours and 35 minutes AirAsia flights from Darwin to Bali will depart on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday at 19:30 and will arrive at 20:40. Return flights from Bali to Darwin will depart at 14:50 local time and will arrive to Darwin at 18:55. The Bali - Darwin route will be served by Airbus A320 aircraft.

According to Bernard Francis, AirAsia Indonesia Director of Commercial, "the airline had regrettably cancelled the route last year to concentrate on its high-demand and high-yield routes to help maintain operational efficiencies. However, AirAsia Indonesia had grown considerably and achieved record profits which had allowed it to resume the Darwin to Bali service.

“We acknowledge the inconvenience caused by our withdrawal from this market a year ago,” Mr Francis said. “However, we have worked hard to resume the service and we are committed to working with our industry partners to make it a success. Arrival and departure times on the previous service were often inconvenient and a frequent complaint from guests. We have now improved our schedule and made getting to and from Bali even easier.”

Cheap flights to Bali from Darwin by AirAsia
AirAsia will offer flights from Darwin to Bali.
AirAsia Indonesia is also serving a highly successful route from Perth to Bali and it will increase the frequency of the route from 3 times a week to 4 times a week. The airline is also introducing a 3 times weekly service from Bali ti Malaysia's Kota Kinabalu which will provide greater connectivity to and from Australia.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Royal Caribbean cruise promotion 2013: Mariner Of the Seas

Just 2 months later Royal Caribbean International's Mariner Of The Seas will debut as the largest cruise ship in Asia. Through out 2013 summer cruise season, this voyager class cruise ship will sail in Asia servicing cruises out of Singapore and Shanghai, China.

Mariner of the Seas is one of five Voyager-class cruise ships. Mariner of the Seas and Navigator of the Seas are the second generation of Voyager-class vessels. Both have several features their first generation sisters (Voyager of the Seas, Explorer of the Seas and Adventure of the Seas ) lack such as glass balconies, an extended rear buffer and an Asian fusion buffet called "Jade". She has received "Royal Advantage" upgrades April 2012.

Royal Caribbean International is a Norwegian and American cruise line brand based in Miami, Florida. The cruise line owns 21 ships and controls a 17% share of the world cruise market. Since 1991 all ships under the Royal Caribbean International brand have names ending in "of the Seas". SCelebrity Cruises, Azamara Cruises, Pullmantur Cruises and CDF Croisières de France are all sister brands of Royal Caribbean International.

Cruise ship Mariner of the Seas
Mariner Of The Seas seen here in Caribbean will be deployed in Asia in summer 2013.
Like all cruise debuts, Mariner Of the Seas will come to South East Asia with special promotions. Below are some selected promotions for cruises departing from Singapore on Mariner Of the Seas by Royal Caribbean International for summer 2013.

Best Of Malaysia on Mariner of The Seas (3 Nights)
The cruise is departing from Singapore on June 1, November 15, 22 and 29, December 6, 13 and 20. The cruise calls Port Klang (Kuala Lumpur). From $424 instead  of usual price of $610.

Isles of South East Asia Cruise on Mariner of The Seas (4 Nights)
The cruise is departing from Singapore on Jun 4, Nov 18+, 25+, Dec 2, Dec 9 and Dec 16 2013. The cruise calls Port Klang (Kuala Lumpur) and Phuket. From $441 instead  of usual price of $667.

Spices of Asia Cruise on Mariner of The Seas (5 Nights)
The cruise is departing from Singapore on Nov 10, Dec 23 and Dec 28 2013. The cruise calls Kuala Lumpur (Port Klang), Penang and Phuket. From $542 instead  of usual price of $763.