This ship’s not for virgins

After promising a “shiptease” of its upcoming vessels, Virgin Voyages finally stripped down last week, and this one is not for the kids. When the new ships launch in 2020, they will be for travelers ages 18 and up, making them the first truly adults-only cruise ships in the world. Virgin Group founder Richard Branson and Tom McAlpin, president and CEO of Virgin Voyages, were lowered from a crane to deliver the news during the keel-laying ceremony in Genoa, Italy. McAlpin said the line wanted to design something that was for “rejuvenation, reflection and transformation,” but “without having to worry about the unpredictability of kids, whether they are your kids or someone else’s.” The first renderings of the ships show a sleek, yacht-like exterior style, made to look like the vessels are “gliding” in the water, McAlpin said.

Miami Herald

Down Under deals

Travelers from the United States seem to have an increasing interest in Australia. Through 2018, Intrepid Travel is offering a 14-day Australia’s East Coast Encompassed, Sydney to Cairns group tour. The itinerary includes stays in Sydney, Byron Bay and the Great Barrier Reef, a boat trip around the Whitsundays Islands and a day trip to Fraser Island. Prices start at $3,890 per person, including upscale accommodations, transfers, all tours and 19 meals. Book by calling 1-800-970-7299. Also, has several hundred Australia packages for travel from November through March and inclusive of airfare and hotels, for $1,683 per person. One example is a trip from Dec. 1-6, which includes a round-trip flight from Los Angeles to Sydney Airport on China Eastern Airlines and a stay at Three Storey Terrace, an upscale apartment near the Sydney Opera House.

New York Times

Eat this in Mexico City

Street food goes far beyond the taco in Mexico City. On most corners, you can find a señora grilling up anything from huaraches (sandal-shaped masa boats topped with beans, meat, lettuce and cheese) to tlacoyos (thick, blue-corn tortillas in the shape of a football stuffed with requesón cheese or beans) in the shade of a tarp. We always come back to the trusty taco al pastor, especially the one served at the original El Huequito (, a taco stand that dates to 1959. With a name that means “hole in the wall” in English, El Huequito lets you fill up on tacos al pastor, made from delectable bits of marinated pork sheared off a trompo rotisserie and crisped up in pork fat with diced onions on the flat-top grill — a whole plateful for about five bucks. Topped with cilantro, a spritz of lime and a splash of house-made salsa, it’s glorious.

Washington Post

Travel section honored

Travel editor Kerri Westenberg won the bronze award for Lowell Thomas Travel Journalist of the Year from the Society of American Travel Writers Foundation. The Los Angeles Times’ Christopher Reynolds took the gold, and freelancer Mark Sundeen won silver. “Kerri Westenberg’s travel accounts are anything but predictable, and that is their strength,” raved the judges. “She uncovers rich material and presents it with precision and clarity. No self-indulgence here; this is superb reporting, great judgment and elegant writing.” Additionally, the Star Tribune won the honorable mention for best newspaper travel coverage. Top winners in that category were the New York Times, the Washington Post and the San Francisco Chronicle. Yay, us!

Simon Peter Groebner