Travel News

Mexico News

The true tale of Mexico City’s most delectable street food

Tacos al pastor—thin slices of pork shaved from a giant tower of layered meat rotating on a spit beside an open grill, piled onto one or two soft tortillas and topped with onions, chopped cilantro, a spear or chunks of pineapple, and a dollop of salsa—are to Mexico City what chili is to Cincinnati. Residents insist that the tacos al pastor you get elsewhere in the country are never as good as the ones served in the capital city.

What’s interesting about the local pride felt by Chilangos and Defeños (as Mexico City residents are known) is that the tacos they celebrate are a relatively recent import—relative, that is, to Mexico’s long history. Tacos al pastor are believed to have evolved from culinary traditions that came to Mexico along with the wave of Lebanese immigration that began in the late 19th century and continued into the 1930s.

The enormous cone of spiced and marinated meat (known as a trompo, or child’s spinning top, which it resembles) is the pork version of lamb shawarma. Hence the designation al pastor, which, roughly translated, means “shepherd’s style.”

The explanation for the pineapple, however, remains unknown.

Chilangos can be opinionated about where to find the best tacos al pastor: some champion that little taquería in their neighborhood; others single out the latest new spot. Two of Mexico City’s most beloved venues are El Tizoncito and El Califa, both originating in the fashionable Condesa district.  

Whenever you come across a cone of pork crowned with a chunk of pineapple slow cooking near a doorw ay or a window and the meat’s edges are caramelized and crispy from the dripping fat, the tacos are probably excellent.

Cruise News

Scenic Group suspends operations

The Scenic Group temporarily suspended all River Cruise, Ocean Cruise, and Land Tour operations up to August 31, 2020, and Scenic Eclipse operations up to September 30, 2020. Scenic determined that they would be unable to operate scheduled trips as planned and suspended Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours and Emerald Cruises.

To support their clients’ future travel plans, they will provide a Future Travel Credit due to cancellations.


Three cruise lines extend cancellation policy 

Royal Caribbean Cruises is extending and enhancing their “Cruise with Confidence” cancellation policy through April 2022 on their three cruise lines, Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, and Azamara.

For new and existing bookings created by August 1, 2020, guests have the flexibility to cancel their cruise up to 48 hours prior to sailing and receive a full credit of the cruise fare for a future cruise through April 2022. Royal Caribbean has also enhanced “Cruise with Confidence” with new rebooking options.

Oceania Cruises finances US$2.2 billion

On May 5, Oceania Cruises marked an important milestone. Their parent company raised an additional US$2.2 billion of liquidity, which means that it now has a total liquidity of US$3.5 billion, putting it in the best position of any of the public cruise operators to weather the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Together with their sister-brands Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania remains in a robust financial position even if cruises are suspended for an extended period.

Carnival sells 8 percent stake to Saudis

Carnival Corp. stealthily filed its first-quarter earnings on April 10, giving insight into a company on its knees as it faces an unprecedented crisis and disclosing a long list of risk factors to its business going forward.

The world’s largest cruise company—which has found itself at the epicenter of the COVID-19 crisis with incidents across its fleet—paused sailings on March 13 after both the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control advised against cruising.

The company’s share price has been down 80 percent since the beginning of the year. On April 6, shares jumped 25 percent when Saudi Arabia’s public investment fund took an 8.2 percent stake in the company.

“We have never previously experienced a complete cessation of our cruising operations, and as a consequence, our ability to be predictive regarding the impact of such a cessation on our brands and future prospects is uncertain,” the filing read.

According to the filing, the company is scheduled to take delivery of 16 new vessels through 2025, with four due this year that are now likely delayed. The company, which was left out of the U.S. government’s CARES Act, is seeking to raise US$6 billion cash, after already maxing out a US$3 billion credit facility.

It estimates that it needs US$1 billion in cash per month to continue operations.

The filing also named the company’s ongoing probation obligations stemming from convictions for environmental crimes, the result of a plea agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice. Then there is the mammoth price tag of bringing cruises to a safe conclusion; repatriating guests to their homes all over the world; assisting crew who were unable to return home with finding food and housing; sanitizing ships; and enacting new hygiene measures onboard. New health and hygiene requirements imposed by regulators “may be costly and take a significant amount of time to implement across our global fleet cruise operations.”

Words of the wise and well-traveled

“If travel were so inspiring and informative a business…then the wisest men in the world would be deckhands on tramp steamers, Pullman porters, and Mormon missionaries.”— Sinclair Lewis

Deal of the Week

Seeing Japan’s cherry blossoms by bullet train

With Japan’s Cherry Blossom festivals canceled this year, many travelers vying for this dream trip start planning up to a year in advance during what’s usually the busiest time of year for the country’s tourism. The fast and affordable bullet trains, which were recently updated to accommodate the now-postponed Tokyo Olympics, are the best way to get around the mainland. 14-day classic route tour from US$6,445, departs March 24, 2021.

Judy Newell, an international travel consultant since 1971, heads Perfect Journeys and specializes in unique travel experiences to destinations around the world. She custom designs journeys that are tailored to suit your interests, physical abilities, and budget. Please contact Judy for further information on Travel News topics and around-the-world travel. Cell phone 415 111 8765; Vonage 949-300-3682; email


Sources: Afar, Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours, Emerald Cruises, Cruise Fever, Oceania Cruises, Yahoo Finance, Journey to the East