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Travel and Cruise Showcase 2023 scam?

By Cruise till you drop , June 6, 2023 in Ask a Cruise Question

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10,000+ Club

Not the same outfit but I won either a free Tesla or a cruise the other day.    😃   I decided not to call the provided 1-800 number to claim my prize.    😃 😃

Haha

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Cool Cruiser

Thanks Cruise til you Drop and Nurse for posting. The OP and info (finally) provided by someone who actually went through the presentation was most helpful. Thx again. 

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Stem to Stern

On 7/28/2023 at 3:27 PM, the nurse said: We were given a certificate for a 5 day Carnival cruise, or options for other vacation offers. This needs to be filled out and sent to Customer Choice Rewards, in Tarpon Springs, FL, along with a self addressed stamped envelope.   I'll keep you posted with the outcome!

I am looking forward to learning the outcome of your experiment.  Please come back and update us when you hear back from them.

RocketMan275

After googling Travle and Cruise Showcase, this is the same scam that I encountered 10  years ago.  For only $9999, they will act as your travel agent.  Really?  

Seriously, visit the BBB and see what others have to say .

the nurse

On 8/21/2023 at 5:29 PM, Stem to Stern said: I am looking forward to learning the outcome of your experiment.  Please come back and update us when you hear back from them.

Well, I did receive my cruise certificate in the mail.  They are requesting a $99 refundable deposit (check or money order only).  This needs to be mailed to Vacation Advisor, in New Smyrna Beach, FL, who will send me (another) voucher in 3-4 weeks.  Then, I send in my request for 2 separate dates with $99 per person reservation fee.  It must be postmarked 60 days in advance of the dates I choose.  If those dates are not available, then the process starts all over again!!!

We've decided to pass on this!!!  I was really hoping this would be worth the effort involved.  I checked  with the BBB and found out that Vacation Advisor is a storefront "travel agency" with no telephone number to call.

I guess the offer was really too good to be true  🙂

Thanks

no-name-at-all

On 8/29/2023 at 12:12 PM, the nurse said: Well, I did receive my cruise certificate in the mail.  They are requesting a $99 refundable deposit (check or money order only).  This needs to be mailed to Vacation Advisor, in New Smyrna Beach, FL, who will send me (another) voucher in 3-4 weeks.  Then, I send in my request for 2 separate dates with $99 per person reservation fee.  It must be postmarked 60 days in advance of the dates I choose.  If those dates are not available, then the process starts all over again!!! We've decided to pass on this!!!  I was really hoping this would be worth the effort involved.  I checked  with the BBB and found out that Vacation Advisor is a storefront "travel agency" with no telephone number to call. I guess the offer was really too good to be true  🙂  

Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing about your experience with this 2023 Travel and Cruise Showcase.  We just received the same flyer here in CT and thought --like you-- that we would give it a try.  In the past, we went to so many Timeshare talks to get the freebies--Disney tickets, free hotel stays etc.--which were real.  We were always very good --unlike some of our friends--at saying NO at the end of each presentation. We actually take World Cruises on HAL each winter since we retired (except during COVID 😪 ) instead of buying a vacation home.  At one Timeshare talk we actually convinced the agent that our cruising idea was something he wanted to do when he retired!  🙂

In any event, we thought, like you, that we would give it a try and definitely say NO to any promotion.  I am so grateful that you kept posting about your experiences.  The nerve of them to make you go through so many hoops to get the reservation.  Sending them $99 a person twice is utterly insane.  Might as well kiss that money goodbye.  

Oh, well.  We love cruising so much that we hoped the offer would be for real.  THANK YOU for doing all the leg work for us and saving us the hassle.  So glad you didn't get suckered in like the other people you saw at the event. There should be a way to have the police stop scammy events like this to prevent people from making dumb decisions with their money. 

Hmmm.....I think I will call the town police department to alert them of the event and give them the pertinent information from BBB and the scam websites.  Worth a try.

  • 2 weeks later...

msweezie

We got that same postcard we are going tomorrow night. I will let you know the outcome. We did something similar with a timeshare presentation maybe 4 years ago, and we were given a four-day cruise, and it did work out, all we had to pay was port charges. I will let you know how this one works out

On 8/12/2023 at 11:57 AM, Cruise till you drop said: Just got another one.  They are persistent 
25 minutes ago, msweezie said: We got that same postcard we are going tomorrow night. I will let you know the outcome. We did something similar with a timeshare presentation maybe 4 years ago, and we were given a four-day cruise, and it did work out, all we had to pay was port charges. I will let you know how this one works out

You might want to check Post #30 by The Nurse before you go.  They did attend and reported back.  All those $99 each "refundable" deposits and $99 each "refundable" reservation fees seems like a lot of money to give for a "free" cruise to a company no one has verified is legitimate . 

We opted to cancel our reservation after reading that post. If you do go, let us know if you have the same experience or not.

Good luck in whatever you decide!

20,000+ Club

lenquixote66

Twenty years ago I was at an Advertising Trade Show.There was a guy there offering free cruises to anyone agreeing to try a product that he perfected ,no cost .I walked away as did many other people.The President of the company I worked for accepted the offer and it was a truly free cruise .His only cost was traveling from his residence in NJ to Fla.

On 9/20/2023 at 8:38 AM, msweezie said: We got that same postcard we are going tomorrow night. I will let you know the outcome. We did something similar with a timeshare presentation maybe 4 years ago, and we were given a four-day cruise, and it did work out, all we had to pay was port charges. I will let you know how this one works out

We are going on the 27th

On 8/29/2023 at 11:12 AM, the nurse said: Well, I did receive my cruise certificate in the mail.  They are requesting a $99 refundable deposit (check or money order only).  This needs to be mailed to Vacation Advisor, in New Smyrna Beach, FL, who will send me (another) voucher in 3-4 weeks.  Then, I send in my request for 2 separate dates with $99 per person reservation fee.  It must be postmarked 60 days in advance of the dates I choose.  If those dates are not available, then the process starts all over again!!! We've decided to pass on this!!!  I was really hoping this would be worth the effort involved.  I checked  with the BBB and found out that Vacation Advisor is a storefront "travel agency" with no telephone number to call. I guess the offer was really too good to be true  🙂  

Thanks for the info - we are going on September 27 to see what happens. I’m retired so I have so free time 😊

  • 1 month later...

MississippiMom

I got the postcard in the mail today for the Travel & Cruise Showcase 2023 in our area.  No address on the postcard and we definitely have more than one Courtyard by Marriott.   

I knew that I would NOT be getting anything free, but I would have attended if it was a legitimate  travel event with representatives from the different cruiselines.

travelgma

Thanks to all who have posted about this experience.  We have also received the exact same postcard.

We are avid cruisers who also own a timeshare and are familiar with high pressure tactics like this. 

However, my husband did call and agreed to go.  I am so glad that I checked here.  I knew that it was too good to be true.  Thanks for all of the information.

I also received a similar postcard with the telephone number of:

800-245-8993

I encourage anyone who receives such a mailing to just google the telephone number and lots of interesting information is available - including audio recordings of individuals who called the number.

It seems that this telephone number is used for all types of travel related scams, what doesn't work one day, may work the next!

Any solicitation without clearly indentifiable company information, i.e. name of business, physical location (not a PO Box) and requiring one to call to get the information all point directly to a scam.

And for those people who do chose to attend the presentation - your personal information just became gold and will be sold over and over again because you have demonstrated at least a willingness to participate - buyer beware!

jayally1968

jayally1968

I got a postcard today for the 2024 Cruise and travel showcase and they are using my previous name so it's from a mailing list. I live close to Long Beach, CA and a free cruise sounds fun and I am so frugal and such a bargain hunter I would never agree to sign up for a timeshare and have no need for a personal travel agency because I like to do my own travel bookings and pay with credit card miles.   How did it work out for those that attended the 2023 "showcase" and did anyone actually go on a trip?

I'm fine with wasting 90 mins but not if they make you jump through too many hoops.  If I am one of the first 50 callers I will also receive $100 dining savings card...I've had something like this before and you have to spend a certain amount at the resturaunt in order to get a discount so that is definately not worth it. 

I was feeling kind of left out.  But lo and behold, I received one of the showcase letters in the mail a few days ago.  It went directly to the recycle bin.  

Got a postcard a couple of days ago and decided to Google the name of the show and the phone number and it led me to this thread. Card looks similar to the one posted earlier in the thread. First 50 callers get the $100 dining card. Being held at the Courtyard by Marriot in Houston but doesn't say which one. Only one of them is close to me. There are at least a half dozen of them in and around the city. Says I'll get my choice of 4, 5, or 7 day cruise on Carnival, Royal, or NCL (apparently it's my choice). I have enough experience with vendors in the cruise ports to easily say "No" for a mere 90 minutes, but reading about the hoops I might have to jump through to actually get the cruise makes this a no-go for me. 

Don’t understand why anyone would think they need to pay someone to arrange cruises or trips for them. Legit travel agents earn their commissions from the travel providers themselves. Those costs are included in the pricing of those trips ( as commissionable amounts). The idea of paying a travel club thousands $ up front and then monthly fees is ridiculous. But they only need to hook one person to sign up to make that presentation worthwhile. Even the free trip stuff for attending makes them money for anyone sending in those $99 deposits and additional $99 per person reservation fees for a “possible” future date trip. Notice that they make you pay ONLY by check or money order. This is because if you charge it to your credit card and don’t receive what you purchased in a timely manner, you can get the CC company to reverse the charges. Anyone could probably book these offered 3-5 day cruises for a few hundred dollars per person directly from the cruise line or even a legit travel agent, depending on the destination, time of year and type of accommodation. Don’t waste your time on these. Go directly to a legit travel agent if you don’t feel you can do it yourself. I just did a quick search on Caribbean 3-5 night cruises and found prices as low as $149pp ( which is the kind of cruises they would be offering you for “free”.).   

ParrotLoverInParadise

ParrotLoverInParadise

I got an 'invitation' today from "Hawaii Travel & Adventure Show". Upon closer inspection the fine print says they are not affiliated with any of the cruise ships listed. The fine print also says you get a free 8 days 7 nights cruise with for 2 adults in a spacious stateroom, all meals, snacks, and on-board activities and entertainment for 2 adults. This suspicious offer also states that it is "not a timeshare or a real estate solicitation"

IMG_0537.jpeg

On 8/10/2023 at 5:20 PM, the nurse said: We mailed our certificate to Customer Choice Rewards, in Tarpon Springs, FL, along with a self addressed stamped envelope about 10 days ago.  No voucher yet.  🙂

To the nurse: did you ever get your cruise or airline tickets? I have the same offer for the 2024 show now. Thank you!

20 minutes ago, Shellaigh said: To the nurse: did you ever get your cruise or airline tickets? I have the same offer for the 2024 show now. Thank you!

No!  Check out my post #30.  

  • 3 weeks later...
On 7/28/2023 at 3:27 PM, the nurse said:   I'll keep you posted with the outcome!  I don't have high expectations for this working out, but I felt like it would be a good experiment.  Being retired, we have the time and we found out where the free bicycle rental place is in Punta Gorda!  This was a nice diversion from dealing with Hurricane Ian repairs at our home.     a couple months later, have you gotten any response or anything?
  • 4 weeks later...

Pushkin

On 1/23/2024 at 6:07 PM, the nurse said: No!  Check out my post #30.  

Just wondering if you were refunded the two $99 deposits?

7 minutes ago, Pushkin said: Just wondering if you were refunded the two $99 deposits?

We didn't send a deposit. We elected not to continue with this!

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cruise travel showcase

Should Be Cruising

Travel & Adventure Show 2023: A Must for Cruise and Travel Fans

By: Author Carrie Ann Karstunen

Posted on Published: March 10, 2022  - Last updated: September 16, 2022

Travel & Adventure Show 2023: A Must for Cruise and Travel Fans

The Travel & Adventure Show is coming to nine US cities in 2023. Find out why this fun two-day travel exhibition is a must for anyone who loves traveling.

Last spring, I enjoyed visiting the Travel & Adventure Show in Boston , and as a travel fanatic it was the perfect way to spend a weekend, even though I wasn’t far from home!

But don’t worry that you missed the boat with the last exhibition. The Travel & Adventure Show is once again visiting nine US cities in the spring of 2023.

At this two-day gathering, travel fans can meet with dozens of friendly people from around the world who represent travel brands, and there’s always a variety of exhibitors. You’ll see booths for cruise lines, independent tour operators, tourism boards, luxury resorts, airlines—there’s something for every kind of traveler.

What is the Travel & Adventure Show?

For seventeen years the Travel & Adventure Show has hosted annual travel exhibitions in major US cities. They’ve done over a hundred of these events so far, with a total of over 2.1 million visitors!

Each show offers over 100 travel-focused exhibitor booths, featuring both domestic and international destinations.

cruise travel showcase

Stroll through the exhibition halls and pick up literature from travel companies you’re interested in, snag some free logo goodies, and enter drawings to win prizes.

cruise travel showcase

Plus, you can sit in on any of their dozens of free live seminars and travel talks, held on three stages throughout the event.

Where is the Travel & Adventure Show stopping in 2023?

  • Chicago: January 14-15, 2023 – Donald E. Stephens Convention Center
  • Boston : January 21-22, 2023 – Hynes Convention Center
  • New York : January 28-29, 2023 – Javits Center
  • Washington D.C.  February 4-5, 2023 – Washington Convention Center
  • Los Angeles  February 18-19, 2023 – Los Angeles Convention Center
  • Denver  February 25-26, 2023 – Colorado Convention Center
  • S.F. Bay Area  March 4-5, 2023 – Santa Clara Convention Center
  • Atlanta  March 25-26, 2023 – Cobb Galleria Centre
  • Dallas  April 1-2, 2023 – Dallas Market Hall

Why this exhibition is a mecca for cruisers

Cruisers will love the Travel & Adventure Show for the opportunity to “talk cruising” with reps from your favorite companies, especially to find out all about their newest ships and itineraries!

cruise travel showcase

You might even find some cruise lines you haven’t yet considered yet—it’s not just the major mass-market lines at this show!

Reps from expedition cruise operators, luxury cruise lines, and even small regional cruise outfits are on hand at this show to answer all your questions, even if you’re just dreaming about taking a cruise!

Cruise lines represented at the 2022 Boston show:

  • AMA Waterways
  • Atlas Ocean Voyages
  • Celestyal Cruises
  • CroisiEurope Cruises
  • Holland America Line
  • Hurtigruten
  • Katarina Line
  • Norwegian Cruise Line
  • Poseidon Expeditions
  • Princess Cruises
  • Regent Seven Seas Cruises
  • Royal Caribbean
  • Viking Cruises
  • Windstar Cruises

cruise travel showcase

Take a moment and check out each of the cruise travel booths—you’re sure to find inspiration for your next cruise adventure (and you might walk away with some free swag, too!)

Speakers at the Travel & Adventure Show

One of my favorite parts of the show was attending the inspirational travel seminars. For my 2022 visit, there were over thirty of them on three stages, so be sure to plan out which ones you want to see! And yes, all the seminars are included in the price of your ticket.

My last Boston show had several featured speakers, including Andrew McCarthy (yes, the Pretty in Pink and St. Elmo’s Fire actor!), beloved travel show host Samantha Brown , and Pauline Frommer —the author, TV host, and Editorial Director of Frommer’s Guidebooks.

cruise travel showcase

On the main stage, known as the Travel Theater, the featured speakers entertained and inspired us with stories of their travels throughout the world.

At the end of each seminar there’s a brief Q&A session, followed by a meet and greet so you can interact (and maybe snap a photo) with the speakers.

Pro tip: If you want to meet one of your fave speakers without standing in a long line, get up during the Q&A session at the very end of the seminar and head over to the Meet & Greet stand. You’ll still be able to hear the end of the session, but you’ll be at the front of the line!

Featured speakers vary by city, and (of course) the list of speakers is subject to change. Check out my chart below with all of last year’s featured speakers for each city.

When the 2023 Travel & Adventure Show speakers are finalized, I’ll update this post. So bookmark it if you’re thinking about attending!

Featured speakers at the 2022 Travel & Adventure Shows

In addition to the Travel Theater , the exhibition also features two other stages hosting interesting travel talks on various topics:

Destination Theater:  A variety of destination experts will inspire you to travel, sharing in-depth information about how to experience their favorite places like a local.

Savvy Traveler Theater:  Here you’ll find travel pros sharing their best travel tips—like how to pack for your vacation, budget travel hacks, and how to stay safe when you travel.

cruise travel showcase

Buying tickets for the Travel & Adventure Show

Although it seems like the price of just about everything has skyrocketed over the past year, I’m thrilled to report that Travel & Adventure Show tickets cost the same as last year!

Tickets are still $16 for one day and $24 for both days (online or at the door). Kids age 16 and under get in free with an adult.

To purchase tickets online, visit the Travel & Adventure Show website and click on “buy tickets” for your preferred city.

Travel & Adventure Show FAQ

What cities will the Travel & Adventure Show visit in 2023?

The Travel & Adventure Show will visit nine US cities in 2023: Chicago, Boston, New York, Washington DC, Los Angeles, Denver, San Francisco, Atlanta, and Dallas.

How much are tickets for the 2023 Travel & Adventure Show?

Tickets for the Travel & Adventure Show are $16 for one day and $24 for both days. Children 16 and under are free when accompanied by an adult.

I’d like to thank the Travel & Adventure Show for providing Should Be Cruising with two passes to the 2022 Boston show. I wasn’t provided any additional compensation, and as always my opinions are entirely my own.

Have you been to the Travel & Adventure Show? Or are you planning on going in 2023? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

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John Buzzelli

Thursday 25th of May 2023

My wife and I attended your presentation in Rocky Mount, NC on April 3rd because we were told we would receive a voucher for a cruise just by attending. Also the first 50 attendees would receive a $100 dinner voucher. We responded to the mail immediately upon receiving it, we went to the presentation, and received nothing so far. This is smelling like a scam.

Saturday 27th of May 2023

Hi John, I'm an independent travel blogger who attended the Travel & Adventure show in Boston as a member of the media. I have no affiliation with the company. The real Travel & Adventure Show takes place annually in large cities across the US. As far as I know it's never been held in the small city of Rocky Mount, NC. You may have been scammed/lied to by another company with a similar name.

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Affordable Island-Hopping in Croatia? What Could Go Wrong?

A 30-percent-off Black Friday sale on a cruise aboard a yacht meant off-season sailing and being prepared for the unexpected.

A view from a hill of a red-roofed town surrounding a harbor. In the foreground, the ruins of an ancient fortification wall follow the downward slope of a steep hill. And in the distance, beyond the harbor with its numerous small boats, is a string of small green islands.

By Elaine Glusac

Elaine Glusac is the Frugal Traveler columnist, focusing on budget-friendly tips and journeys.

As Croatians tell the story , the Greek hero Odysseus was shipwrecked and held captive on the Croatian island of Mljet. Visiting in May, I and six other sailors embraced the myth when the motor on our 54-foot yacht failed.

“Remember, Odysseus spent seven years on Mljet,” said Ivan Ljubovic, our captain. “We can do two nights.”

In the scheme of things, the clogged fuel filter that impeded our progress on a seven-night, island-hopping cruise from Split to Dubrovnik on a yacht — which the passengers helped sail — was minor. Though an engine, even on a sailboat, is vital for docking and sticking to schedules on becalmed days, most of my shipmates agreed that getting waylaid in a village with Roman ruins on a turquoise bay was an acceptable fate.

I had been resigned to what were, in my mind, worse inconveniences when I had signed up for the trip last November. Then, the tour operator G Adventures had put several trips on sale over the Black Friday weekend. Its best deals were in the off-season, which meant potentially chilly weather and closed restaurants and attractions. But leaving in late April for seven nights of island hopping at roughly $1,300 — after a 30 percent discount — was too tempting to pass up.

My cousin Kim agreed and we made plans to pack rain gear and meet in Split to test the budget waters.

‘Everything between is an adventure’

Little about the itinerary was published pre-departure and none of it was firm.

“Split and Dubrovnik are fixed,” said the captain, who would pilot the ship solo and double as our guide, on our first day. “Everything between is an adventure.”

It started with the Sauturnes, a handsome Kufner yacht with four snug guest cabins, four economical bathrooms where the retractable faucet doubled as a shower spigot, and a spacious galley. Our “crew,” a mix of Australians and Americans ranging from 18 to 75 — all of whom had also jumped on the promotional pricing — spent most of the time atop the boat, where foam mattresses invited sunbathing and a cockpit awning provided shade.

The weather, which turned out to be sunny and comfortably cool, was not our greatest concern. The G Adventures website had mentioned well-known islands, including beachy Brac and Vis , which played a convincing Greek idyll in the movie “Mamma Mia 2.” But since many places would be closed in the shoulder season, we would proceed, according to the captain, based on the dictates of the weather and conditions on shore.

Meals were not included, which meant finding open restaurants was critical. For shipboard breakfasts and lunches, we each chipped in 50 euros (about $54) for communal groceries, which we shopped for at local markets. At night, we would dine at restaurants; G Adventures advised budgeting $250 to $325 for the week, which was accurate, though we often splurged on Croatian wine (a carafe of house red averaged $15).

Small ports

After the frenzy of grocery shopping and moving into the bunk-bedded cabin Kim and I shared, we experienced the Zen of sailing as the ship set off on a sunny morning for 43-mile-long Hvar , the longest and purportedly sunniest island in Croatia.

Neighboring islands drifted past as the wind patterned the sea in shifting ripples and ruffles. A flock of shearwaters soared by at eye level.

Within a few hours, the ridgelines of steep Hvar appeared, revealing terraced lavender fields and olive orchards. Motoring down a long, narrow inlet, we arrived in Stari Grad , a village of stone homes with terra cotta roof tiles, as travelers had since 384 B.C., when Greek sailors from the island of Paros settled here.

Our mooring provided a front-row view of fishing boats and cafes animating the waterfront. Stari Grad’s attractions, including the Greek ruins of Faros and a 17th-century Venetian cathedral, had yet to open for the season, but we relished exploring the old quarter’s narrow lanes and deserted plazas.

From the waterfront, an aerobic 20-minute hike up a steep hill crowned by a giant white cross offered views over Stari Grad and the plains beyond, a UNESCO World Heritage Site of fourth-century agricultural fields, with stone walls circumscribing grapevines and olive orchards.

That evening, we visited them to reach Konoba Kokot , a farm restaurant that specializes in “peka,” a kind of barbecue in which meat cooks under an iron lid piled with hot coals. The family that runs it opened in the preseason, welcoming us with bracing shots of rakija, a local herbal liquor. At a long table under an arbor, we gorged on homemade goat cheese, wild boar pate and, from the hearth, roast lamb, veal and octopus with limitless jugs of red and white wine for 35 euros a person.

Starry nights

Small ships are unmatched at getting into small ports, but a yacht trip is also a little like camping, starting most mornings with D.I.Y. instant coffee. Marinas offered free bathhouses with showers.

Cool temperatures apparently deterred the celebrity-filled mega yachts, which are known to anchor in the town of Hvar on the south shore of Hvar island. Our captain declared it the “Mykonos of Croatia” as we motored by the port bustling with visitors carrying shopping bags and cones of gelato.

With clear weather in the forecast, we moored in an undeveloped cove east of town. The mooring belonged to the owners of Moli Onte restaurant, who ferried us to land on a motorized dingy, allowing us enough time before dinner to visit the fortress above Hvar and have an Ozujsko beer on St. Stephens Square, the largest in the region of Dalmatia.

Back on board, with no artificial light to wash out the night sky, we hit the upper deck for stargazing. As my shipmates peeled off to bed, I grabbed a blanket and beanie and bedded down under the stars for the evolving show, periodically waking to catch the drama of the moon rising, reflected in the still water.

Little Dubrovnik

Fingers of gray rock reached down to meet sloping vineyards along Hvar’s south coast as we departed for its neighbor, Korcula. On our longest day of sailing, five hours, I welcomed the chance to play first mate, manning the lines on the jib sail.

To break up the trip, Captain Ljubovic navigated to a quiet cove off the Peljesac Peninsula where the Caribbean-blue waters, cloudless sky and sandy bottom convinced us to jump in despite numbing sea temperatures.

Fifteenth-century walls ring the historic center of Korcula, earning it the nickname “Little Dubrovnik.” Past the stone gates carved with a winged lion representing the empire of Venice, which controlled much of the Adriatic after the 13th century, narrow alleys led to ornate churches and mansions. There was no better history trip than getting lost in the web of pedestrian lanes. Or so we told ourselves as we passed the purported home of Marco Polo, still closed preseason.

Along the seafront walls, restaurants served pizza and seafood under lights strung in the pines and we caught sunset from a former turret, now converted into Massimo Cocktail Bar , which requires patrons to climb a ladder to the rooftop, a caution against second rounds.

The most romantic port of the trip was also the rowdiest, at least in the marina, which was hosting a Polish sailing regatta. When I headed for the showers at 6 a.m. the next morning, I found a group still cheerfully dancing atop a yacht littered in empty booze bottles and crushed potato chips.

Marooned on Mljet

We left Korcula on strong 20-knot “jugo” or south winds and Captain Ljubovic unleashed the sails, saying “You paid for a sailing vacation, not a motorboat.”

As we tacked back and forth toward Mljet , the boat heeled at a queasy angle and we took face shots of ocean spray.

On Mljet, where the western end of the island is home to Mljet National Park , we rented bikes (10 euros) to ride a lung-busting route over the park’s mountain spine. On the other side, we cycled around a pair of inland lakes and took a boat trip to a 12th-century monastery built on an island in one of them (park admission, 15 euros).

Docked in the still sleepy town of Polace, we heard tales of high season, when up to 100 yachts anchor in the bay and members of the band U2 were once seen biking in the park. After a brief shower, the town glimmered at sunset and the restaurant Stella Maris welcomed us with grilled sea bass (25 euros) and prawns (20 euros).

“I’m so glad I chose this time, because I don’t do crowds,” said my shipmate Nova Hey, 46, of Sydney, who was traveling with her 18-year-old daughter.

In the morning, I had the trail to the peak of Montokuc to myself. The roughly three-mile round-trip hike reached one of the highest points on the island, a rocky knob with stunning panoramas shared by a family of feral goats.

Not long thereafter, the Sauternes’ engine refused to turn over, stranding us in a national park on a remote island with no mechanics.

Teeming Dubrovnik

The next morning, Captain Ljubovic jimmied a fix but it didn’t last long and the engine died again, this time just opposite a cave on Mljet that we joked had to be the refuge of Odysseus.

After a morning of light sailing, a mechanic from the mainland arrived by speedboat and within an hour we were motoring toward the Franjo Tudman Bridge that spans the inlet to the Dubrovnik marina where hot showers awaited.

“Dubrovnik is the most expensive city in Croatia,” said Captain Ljubovic as we spent the last of our pooled money, 70 euros, hiring a taxi van to get us to and from the walled heart of the ancient city about 15 minutes away.

With two large cruise ships in port, Dubrovnik was teeming with visitors and the price to climb the stone walls that encircle the city was a sticker-shocking 35 euros. (In the ensuing two days Kim and I would spend post-cruise in the city, we bought the more comprehensive Dubrovnik Pass for 35 euros that included admission to the walls as well as several museums and public bus transportation.)

On our final evening, we measured the lack of crowds versus closed museums; perfect hiking weather versus swim-inviting water; ample dock space versus more restaurant choices — and felt we’d come out ahead sailing in the bargain season.

Follow New York Times Travel on Instagram and sign up for our weekly Travel Dispatch newsletter to get expert tips on traveling smarter and inspiration for your next vacation. Dreaming up a future getaway or just armchair traveling? Check out our 52 Places to Go in 2024 .

Open Up Your World

Considering a trip, or just some armchair traveling here are some ideas..

52 Places:  Why do we travel? For food, culture, adventure, natural beauty? Our 2024 list has all those elements, and more .

Ljubljana, Slovenia:  Stroll along the river, explore a contemporary art scene and admire panoramic views in this scenic Central European capital .

Cities With Great Beaches:  Already been to Miami, Honolulu and Sydney? These five other coastal destinations  are vibrant on land and on the water.

Southern France:  The Canal du Midi traverses the Occitanie region and gives cyclists of all skill levels  access to parts of France that are rich in lore .

Port Antonio, Jamaica:  The D.J. and music producer Diplo recommends spots in a city he loves  on Jamaica’s northeast coast. A dance party makes the cut.

New Mexico:  Visiting the vast and remote Gila Wilderness, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary, is both inspiring and demanding .

New travel deals for Amazon Prime members on cruises, rental cars, flights and more

These savings on travel come in time for any last-minute summer vacations.

Amazon Prime Day is fast approaching, and beyond viral beauty products or hot new kitchenware, the e-commerce giant is introducing savings on travel just in time for any last-minute summer vacations.

Amazon partnered with various travel companies, including Southwest Airlines, Viator, Turo, Carnival, and others, to give Prime members early access to price cuts on travel packages, car rentals, and cruises.

PHOTO: In this undated stock photo, two friends dive into the sea from a cliff.

In a similar move last summer fellow retail competitor Walmart partnered with Expedia to give Walmart+ members the ability to earn Walmart Cash by booking vacations.

"These travel deals are sort of an extra that they can offer their members," RetailMeNot editor Kristin McGrath told ABC News. "There are plenty of ways you can save and get discounts. These membership programs can just make it a little bit easier."

Amazon Prime travel deals and discounts for Prime Day

PHOTO: A Southwest commercial airliner takes off from Las Vegas International Airport, Feb. 8, 2024, in Las Vegas.

Save 10% on Viator travel experiences Save up to 30% off Avis car rentals and earn 10% back Up to 15% Sixt car rentals Book a Carnival Cruise for to 40% off Southwest Airlines get 50% off Rapids Rewards points

PHOTO: In this June 20, 2019 file photo, the headquarters of Turo is seen in San Francisco.

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Walmart+ travel deals.

The company offers discounts on fuel and travel, plus up to 20% back in Walmart Cash for booking through their portal during Walmart+ week.

PHOTO: The Carnival Radiance cruise ship is seen at Avalon harbor, May 19, 2023, in Avalon, Calif.

Costco travel discounts and deals

The warehouse retailer's travel arm offers everyday savings on top-quality, brand-name vacations, hotels, cruises, and rental cars, exclusively for Costco members.

Teresita Nino has used Costco to book vacation packages and told ABC News how she saved on international deals.

"My last trip that we booked was to Saint Lucia and we ended up booking the airfare and the hotel -- I ended up saving about $700," Nino said of her experience using Costco. "Nine out of ten times is Costco Travel is always giving me a better deal overall than other travel companies."

Access to Costco's travel deals require a paid membership as an extra perk for customers.

"The travel savings are the cherry on top -- but it's not necessarily the most lucrative benefit," McGrath said. "In these membership programs, you have to take the value of membership as a whole rather than just joining to save on travel."

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Disney's biggest cruise ship will carry 9,000 people on cruises in Asia

Kristy Tolley

Would you travel around the world to sail on Disney Cruise Line 's biggest ship yet?

On Wednesday, Disney Cruise Line announced new details about Disney Adventure , which will become the line's biggest vessel when it debuts in Singapore in 2025. At 208,000 tons, Disney Adventure will be about 44% larger than the line's current biggest cruise ship, Disney Wish .

For cruise news, reviews and tips, sign up for TPG's cruise newsletter .

Disney Adventure will also look a little different from the Disney ships you know and love. The vessel was originally ordered for Asia-based Dream Cruises, which collapsed in early 2022. Disney bought it from liquidators for the brand and plans to debut it in 2025.

As a result, the line must work with a preexisting ship layout, a whole new ballgame for Disney. The company has historically controlled the design and construction process of its resorts, both on land and sea, from ideation to completion. The 208,000-ton ship was originally designed to accommodate a whopping 9,000 passengers, plus thousands of crew members. However, Disney plans to reconfigure it to hold 6,700 guests and 2,500 crew members. Still, that could mean more than 9,000 people on board when the ship sails at full capacity.

Cruisers on Disney Adventure will be sharing the ship with far more people than on the line's previous vessels. The five ships in Disney's fleet range from 83,969 tons to 144,000 tons and hold a maximum of about 4,000 passengers. (Disney's oldest and smallest ship, Disney Magic , can accommodate, at most, 2,500 guests.) Another way to put it into perspective — the world's current largest ship, Royal Caribbean's 250,800-ton Icon of the Seas , holds 7,600 passengers.

Related: The ultimate guide to Disney Cruise Line ships and itineraries

Despite the differences in size and layout, Disney Adventure will still immerse passengers in the brand's signature style of lively, magical spaces.

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The ship will feature new themed areas that showcase Disney's core pillars of storytelling — imagination, discovery, fantasy and adventure.

An open-air performance venue will feature a lush garden and elements reminiscent of an enchanted valley. Dubbed Disney Imagination Garden, the space will draw on the adventures of Disney characters like Mowgli and Moana.

Shopping and dining opportunities within the ship's Disney Discovery Reef area will feature popular aquatic and nautical characters from movies like "The Little Mermaid," "Finding Nemo" and "Lilo & Stitch."

San Fransokyo Street, a family entertainment area and street market, will offer interactive games and activities, shops and cinemas themed around the world of "Big Hero 6."

The ship's pool area, Wayfinder Bay, will feature an open-air poolside retreat with panoramic sea views amid Pacific Islands-themed environs.

Town Square will be the hub for lounges, cafes, restaurants, shops and entertainment venues. Here, passengers can immerse themselves in the world of Disney princesses, such as Cinderella, Snow White and Rapunzel.

Marvel Landing will host new immersive attractions that celebrate the Marvel superheroes. Passengers can also enjoy watery fun in Toy Story Place, a whimsical interactive space featuring water play areas and themed food venues.

Additionally, guests can expect Disney-level service, engaging dining options and top-notch entertainment, all hallmarks of the brand.

Disney also shared that the ship's exterior will reflect the fleet's iconic Mickey Mouse-inspired colors, complete with the line's signature red funnels.

North Americans will have to travel far to set sail on Disney Adventure. Disney's new ship will sail three- and four-night cruises departing from Singapore's Marina Bay Cruise Centre for at least the next five years in partnership with the Singapore Tourism Board. The line has yet to reveal specific details of the itineraries. Short cruises out of Singapore will likely draw an international crowd, with many passengers hailing from Asia.

When Disney Adventure begins service, it will be the seventh ship in the Disney fleet. The line currently operates five ships; a sixth, Disney Treasure , is due to debut in December.

Planning a cruise? Start with these stories:

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  • The ultimate guide to what to pack for a cruise
  • A quick guide to the most popular cruise lines
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  • Top ways cruisers waste money
  • The ultimate guide to choosing a cruise ship cabin

Talk To Us About Cruising

Only on a cruise can you fall asleep in one city and wake up in a new destination! See the world, unwind, dance all night, make new friends, bond with your family or find a secluded spot to read a book on the ship. Cruising is more popular than ever and there are hundreds of ocean and river cruise choices for all types of personalities, budgets and interests. One of the top reasons why people cruise is that included in your stateroom fee are fabulous cuisine and dining venues, shipboard activities, professional entertainment and more!

For assistance selecting the perfect cruise for you, contact us today. You can also follow me on our Travel Valet app where you can receive offers, chat and more.

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MSC World America will create an eye-catching silhouette against the Miami skyline when she enters service in April 2025. The ship's blend of American comfort and European design will provide...

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Fire breaks out on Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas, cruise ship loses power

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A fire broke out on Royal Caribbean International’s Icon of the Seas cruise ship on Tuesday.

The ship also experienced a brief loss of power, according to Nathaniel Derrenbacher, a spokesperson for the line’s parent company, Royal Caribbean Group . The ship was docked in Costa Maya, Mexico, at the time.

There were no injuries and the small fire – which was isolated to a crew area – was quickly extinguished. The ship’s backup power was activated immediately, and the main power systems were restored.

Derrenbacher did not have additional information on where the fire occurred or how long the power outage lasted.

The vessel’s itinerary was not impacted. Icon, the biggest cruise ship in the world , is currently sailing a week-long Western Caribbean cruise that departed from Miami, Florida on Saturday, according to CruiseMapper . The ship is scheduled to visit Cozumel on Wednesday.

The news comes after a fire occurred in the exhaust funnel of Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Freedom ship in March, the second such fire on the vessel in less than two years.

Nathan Diller is a consumer travel reporter for USA TODAY based in Nashville. You can reach him at [email protected].

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Travel and Cruise Showcase 2023 | Your Ultimate Guide

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Welcome aboard fellow travelers and sea adventurers! As we set sail into this comprehensive guide, let’s immerse ourselves in the wonders that the Travel and Cruise Showcase 2023 has to offer. Whether you’re a seasoned cruiser or new to the nautical lifestyle, this guide is your compass to navigating the high seas of vacationing!

Table of Contents

Introduction to Travel and Cruise Showcase 2023

The Travel and Cruise Showcase 2023 is more than an event; it’s a horizon broadening journey. This year promises an ocean of new experiences, from revolutionary ships to uncharted destinations. As you turn the pages of this guide, envision the expansive blue as your next great canvas for adventure.

The Grand Unveiling: What’s New in Cruising for 2023

Innovation doesn’t anchor for long in the cruising world, and the Travel and Cruise Showcase 2023 is set to reveal the latest ship designs, tech advancements, and onboard experiences. Discover vessels equipped with IMAX theaters, robotic bartenders, and virtual balconies.

Mapping Your Journey: Top Destinations to Watch

  • The Caribbean : Always a classic, with new excursions.
  • The Mediterranean : Rich in history, warmer in welcome.
  • The Arctic : For the polar pioneers.

This year’s Showcase spotlights must-see locales that are trending in the cruising circuit.

Sailing in Style: The Latest Trends in Cruise Amenities

From personal concierges to onboard submarine tours, cruises in 2023 are redefining luxury. Lavish spa services and infinity pools with stunning ocean views await to pamper you.

Bon Voyage: Choosing the Right Cruise for You

Not all cruises are created equal. Whether you’re looking for family-friendly fun, a romantic getaway, or a solo retreat, the Travel and Cruise Showcase 2023 has options for every type of traveler.

Ports of Call: A Sneak Peek into Cultural Gems

Exploring the ports is like unwrapping cultural presents. The Showcase will highlight excursions that cater to every interest, be it food and wine tours in Italy or historical treks through the ruins of ancient civilizations.

Onboard Delights: Culinary Experiences at Sea

The culinary scene at sea is as diverse as it is delicious. With celebrity chefs at the helm of many cruise kitchens, passengers can expect a voyage as pleasing to the palate as it is to the soul.

Navigating the Deals: Tips for Savvy Booking

Booking a cruise can feel like navigating through foggy waters. This year’s Showcase provides a lighthouse of advice, including:

  • The best time to book for stellar savings.
  • How to snag upgrades.
  • Ways to score onboard credit.

The Suite Life: A Look Inside Luxury Accommodations

Imagine waking up to a new horizon each morning from the comfort of your suite. The Travel and Cruise Showcase 2023 introduces you to the pinnacle of personal quarters on the high seas.

Shore Excursions: Maximizing Your Land Adventures

The showcase isn’t just about life on the ship. Get insights on how to pick shore excursions that are safe, exciting, and memorable.

Family Fun: Cruising with Kids and Teens

Cruises offer an array of activities designed to keep younger sailors happy and engaged. From waterslides to educational programs, every family member will find their slice of paradise.

Solace at Sea: Wellness and Spa Offerings

For many, cruising is a chance to rejuvenate. Discover the zen of oceanic spa treatments and fitness classes that align body, mind, and spirit to the rhythm of the waves.

Entertainment Waves: Cruise Shows and Performances

Every night is a performance at the Travel and Cruise Showcase 2023, where Broadway-caliber shows, live music, and magical evenings under the stars are the norms.

Oceanic Adventures: Unmissable Water Activities

Diving, snorkeling, paddleboarding – the list of aquatic adventures goes on. The Showcase will help you dip your toes into the exhilarating world of water sports.

Eco-Friendly Voyaging: Sustainable Cruising Initiatives

Learn about the green wave in cruising, where sustainable practices and conservation efforts are becoming as common as lifeboats.

Tech on Deck: Innovations in Cruise Travel

Wi-Fi that rivals land, apps that streamline your experience, and virtual queues are just the tip of the iceberg in this year’s tech showcase.

Cruise and Connect: Networking at Sea

Cruises are becoming hubs for professional networking. Learn how you can mix business with pleasure against a backdrop of endless blue.

Packing Provisions: Essentials for Your Sea Sojourn

Packing for a cruise is an art. The Showcase will provide checklists and tips to ensure you have everything you need without going overboard.

Smooth Sailing: Navigating Health and Safety on Cruises

Health and safety are paramount. This guide offers insights into the latest protocols ensuring a worry-free holiday.

Ports and Protocols: Visas and Vaccinations Explained

Journey through the legal landscapes of international travel with advice on visas, vaccinations, and other entry requirements.

The Captivating Crew: Meet the People Behind Your Journey

The heart of your cruise experience often beats within the crew. The Showcase will introduce you to the captains, chefs, and entertainers who make your trip unforgettable.

Budget Buoyancy: Managing Costs Without Sinking Fun

Cruising on a budget doesn’t mean skimping on experiences. Learn how to navigate the waters of finance without compromising on the fun.

Singles at Sea: Opportunities for Solo Travelers

Solo cruising is making waves, and the Showcase highlights how to make the most of your solo adventure with mixers, events, and no single supplements.

Celebrations on the Waves: Event Cruising Highlights

From themed voyages to onboard celebrations, cruises can be the perfect place to celebrate life’s milestones.

Lifelong Learning: Educational Opportunities on Board

Cruises can be floating universities with lectures, workshops, and educational tours.

Nautical Know-How: Expert Tips from Seasoned Cruisers

Gain pearls of wisdom from veteran voyagers on everything from packing to dining to making the most of every port.

Final Anchor: Preparing for Disembarkation

As all good things must come to an end, learn the ropes of smooth disembarkation – from settling your account to catching your flight home.

Conclusion: Reflecting on a Sea of Possibilities

As we dock at the conclusion of the Travel and Cruise Showcase 2023 we hope your heart is brimming with excitement and your mind swirling with possibilities for your next great adventure on the high seas.

FAQ’s

When is the best time to book a cruise to get the best deal .

Typically, booking well in advance or last-minute can offer the best deals, but the Travel and Cruise Showcase 2023 advises checking during wave season, between January and March, for special promotions.

What are the must-pack items for a cruise?

Essential items include your travel documents, appropriate clothing for your destinations, any necessary medications, and don't forget your camera!

Can I stay connected while at sea?

Yes, most modern cruises offer Wi-Fi packages, but check with the Travel and Cruise Showcase 2023 for specifics on connectivity options.

Are cruises suitable for families with children?

Absolutely! The Travel and Cruise Showcase 2023 highlights many family-friendly cruises with activities and programs for kids and teens.

How do I choose the right cruise for me?

Consider what you want from your experience—relaxation, adventure, culture, or romance. The Travel and Cruise Showcase 2023 can help match you with a cruise that fits your personal travel style.

Your opinion is golden - rate us now!

Your opinion is priceless for us! Help us to improve and serve you better by sharing your thoughts. Rate us now and be a part of our journey to excellence!

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World's Largest Cruise Ship Catches Fire

The world's largest cruise ship caught fire while docked in Costa Maya, Mexico.

Flames hit the Icon of the Seas on Tuesday afternoon, but Royal Caribbean told Cruise Law News that they were "quickly extinguished."

At one point, "power failed throughout the ship, impacting elevators, air conditioning, service stations, and cabins," according to Cruise Radio .

There were no reported injuries.

Read more: Compare the Best Rewards Credit Cards for Travel

Footage posted on social media shows fire fighters walking down some stairs on the ship while an announcement can be heard over the ship's speakers.

"Attention crew, attention crew, instruction number 23, report to your emergency stations," was repeated, 7News Miami reported.

A passenger told the station: "It was the same thing over and over again, which was a little scary. They were saying a bunch of different numbers to the crew."

Read more: How to Choose a Travel Credit Card

Others spoke about when the power went out, with one person saying they saw black smoke before the electricity returned within about an hour and a half.

Icon of the Seas is 1,197 feet long, with 20 decks and is able to host a staggering 7,600 passengers.

It is the newest vessel in Royal Caribbean's fleet, snagging titles from previous Royal Caribbean stars like Wonder of the Seas .

Icon of the Seas boasts 40 restaurants, bars and lounges and has its own on-board water park—which all cost about $2 billion to build.

Tickets range from an average of $1,946 to $2,318 per person, depending on how many days the cruise is for and what time of the year it sets off.

The ship only undertook its maiden voyage at the beginning of this year, after entering service on January 27.

Icon of the Seas is currently on a seven-day round-trip, which departed from Miami on June 22 before stopping in Honduras two days later, according to Cruise Mapper.

It arrived in Costa Maya on Tuesday and was scheduled to dock in Cozumel, also in Mexico, on Wednesday. The ship is set to return to Miami on June 29.

A statement from Royal Caribbean, quoted by 7NewsMiami, said: "The ship experienced a small fire (isolated to the crew area) and experienced a brief loss of power while docked at Costa Maya, Mexico; back-up power kicked in immediately and teams restored the main systems; all necessary safety procedures were taken and the team were able to quickly extinguish the fire; safety of our passengers and crew are always our top priority; thankfully there were no injuries."

Newsweek has contacted the cruise liner, via its press office's email address, for any further comment.

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Stock image of the Icon of the Seas cruise ship is docked after arriving in Ponce, Puerto Rico, on January 2. The ship caught fire while docked in Mexico.

Voyage Vista: A Travel and Cruise Showcase Extravaganza

Published by awais on 21 december 2023 21 december 2023.

Excited about the upcoming Travel and Cruise Showcase 2023? Well, with numerous events happening every year, it’s crucial to make sure the one you’re eyeing is genuine and a valuable investment.

In this blog, we’ll dive into the authenticity of the Travel and Cruise Showcase. We’ll explore what makes this event special, its key features, and provide a thorough breakdown of its schedule. Additionally, we’ll highlight potential warning signs and share tips on how to spot them before committing your time and money.

While there are definite advantages to participating in such showcases, it’s essential to be aware of some downsides before finalizing your decision. By the end of this post, you’ll gain a clear insight into whether attending the Travel and Cruise Showcase is a worthwhile experience or not.

Unveiling the Insights of Travel & Cruise Showcase 2023

Explore the much-awaited travel and cruise showcase of 2023, where you can uncover the newest trends and offerings in the travel and cruise industry.

This event unites leading travel suppliers and experts , creating a special chance for travel enthusiasts to connect with others who share their passion.

Discover the ways Travel & Cruise Showcase can enhance your experiences and join in on the excitement. Don’t pass up the opportunity to delve into possibilities and find inspiration.

Unlocking the Essence of Travel & Cruise Showcase 2023

Embark on an extraordinary travel adventure at the Travel & Cruise Showcase. Uncover top-notch travel choices and catch a glimpse of the newest industry offerings. This showcase unites travel enthusiasts, suppliers, and experts, becoming your ultimate travel companion.

Event Spotlight: Key Highlights You Can’t Miss

Uncover exclusive travel deals and discounts at the Travel & Cruise Showcase. Gain insights from industry experts in informative sessions and workshops.

Connect with travel suppliers, cruise lines, and travel agency representatives while exploring a variety of travel options, cruise packages, and vacation destinations. This travel showcase caters to all preferences.

Explore the latest trends and offerings in the travel and cruise industry at the Stella Hotel’s ballroom in Tarpon Springs, FL. Save the date for the Travel 2023 coming up in October.

Prepare to be captivated by breathtaking locations and exciting experiences featured at this event. Don’t miss the chance to receive a certificate of attendance. Stay tuned for the June mailer or check your email for more details.

Unveiling the Authenticity of the Occasion

In the realm of Travel & Showcase 2023 , the event organizers boast unquestionable credibility. Their solid industry reputation is backed by countless positive customer reviews and feedback.

Travel enthusiasts place their trust in this showcase due to its transparent nature and unwavering commitment to customer satisfaction. The organizers, being highly qualified and experienced, guarantee a successful and dependable event.

Thanks to their expertise and meticulous approach, the Travel is undoubtedly a legitimate event that you can eagerly anticipate with confidence.

Organizers’ Standing in the Industry

Meet the seasoned team orchestrating Travel & Cruise Showcase. Uncover their history of successful travel events and dedication to delivering top-notch travel experiences.

Rely on their renowned reputation for providing exceptional customer service. Delve into the background and expertise of the event management team, assuring you’re in capable hands throughout the showcase.

Event History and Reviews

People who attended past Travel & Cruise Showcase events have happily shared their positive experiences, emphasizing how the event always goes above and beyond expectations.

Travel enthusiasts have found great value in attending the showcase, gaining valuable insights and making meaningful connections.

Customer testimonials and reviews continue to confirm the showcase’s reputation for providing outstanding travel experiences. It’s no surprise that attendees eagerly anticipate the showcase year after year.

In-Depth Examination of Travel & Cruise Showcase 2023

Explore a detailed list of travel suppliers taking part, discover a packed schedule of workshops and presentations, and check out a variety of travel options, cruise packages, and destinations.

Take a closer look at the showcase’s activities, entertainment, and highlights, and find a travel and cruise showcase designed for all preferences.

Participating Travel Suppliers

Uncover a remarkable lineup of leading travel suppliers presenting their offerings at the Travel & Cruise Showcase.

Delve into a variety of travel options designed for different preferences, including cruise lines, travel agencies, and tour operators. Connect with these suppliers and industry experts to gather valuable insights and recommendations for your upcoming travel adventure.

Immerse yourself in the array of travel experiences available, empowering you to plan and customize your dream journey.

The Schedule of the Travel & Cruise Showcase

Organize your attendance with a comprehensive travel and cruise showcase itinerary detailing workshops, presentations, and interactive sessions.

Check out the roster of featured speakers, including industry experts and travel influencers. Get a sneak peek at the entertainment, activities, and special events lined up for attendees.

The showcase itinerary is crafted to accommodate various travel interests and preferences, offering you a broad array of options to choose from.

Addressing Scam Concerns

At the Travel & Cruise Showcase 2023, ensuring customer safety and security takes precedence. Stringent measures are in place to prevent scams and fraudulent activities. Attendees can rely on the event’s robust customer protection policies, offering a shield against potential scams.

Moreover, the organizers proactively handle any scam concerns raised by participants, guaranteeing a secure and trustworthy environment. With a reputable track record and a dedicated focus on customer satisfaction and security, the showcase stands out as a reliable choice for travelers.

Spotting Warning Signs in Events

When you go to events like the Travel, it’s crucial to stay alert and spot any possible red flags. Keep an eye out for dubious or unverified claims made by the event organizers.

Conduct some research to see if there’s a record of customer complaints or scam accusations against the event. Also, be mindful of promises of unrealistic rewards or benefits made by the event.

Exercise caution regarding any hidden fees, charges, or requirements tied to participation. By staying aware of these red flags, you can ensure a secure and enjoyable experience at the event.

Significance of Pre-Event Research

Ahead of participating in events such as the Cruise Showcase 2023, it’s vital to do comprehensive research. Spend time reviewing the event’s schedule, speakers, and exhibitors to make sure it matches your interests. Keep an eye out for any conflicting information or discrepancies in the event details.

See if the event has a website, a social media presence, or online reviews. Gather insights from past attendees or industry professionals. In the end, make sure the event aligns with your goals, values, and expectations.

The Potential Advantages of Participating in the Event

Participating in the travel and cruise showcase brings many potential benefits. It opens doors for valuable networking with industry professionals, helping attendees build connections and broaden their horizons. Furthermore, the showcase might offer opportunities to win thrilling rewards like trips and travel experiences.

Additionally, guests can acquire valuable insights and knowledge while staying informed about the latest trends in the travel and cruise industry. It serves as a platform for engaging with travel agency representatives, cruise critics, and experts, and exploring new travel destinations, packages, and offers.

Connecting Opportunities at the Travel & Cruise Showcase

Forge meaningful connections with travel agency professionals, cruise critics, and fellow travel enthusiasts at the Showcase. Engage in conversations, swap ideas, and establish relationships with industry experts. Moreover, discover potential collaborations, partnerships, or career opportunities within the travel and cruise sector. Share your travel experiences, recommendations, and tips with fellow attendees. Additionally, absorb valuable lessons from the success stories, challenges, and achievements of others in the industry.

Opportunities for Winning Trips and Experiences

Anticipate thrilling chances to win inclusive travel packages, cruise vouchers, or airfare discounts at the Travel 2023.

Take part in contests, raffles, or lucky draws for the opportunity to secure exciting travel rewards. Also, engage in travel showcase activities, demonstrations, or live performances, immersing yourself in a world of immersive experiences.

Explore interactive exhibits to discover new travel destinations, itineraries, and cruise experiences. Furthermore, gain access to exclusive travel deals, discounts, or customer choice rewards that elevate your overall travel experience.

The Downsides of Participating in the Event

Before deciding to attend the travel and cruise showcase, it’s crucial to think about different factors. Firstly, consider the costs linked to travel, accommodation, and other expenses.

Moreover, assess the time commitment needed, especially if the event spans multiple days. Be cautious of possible sales pitches, timeshare offers, or pressure to make immediate purchases.

Evaluate the value of the information, presentations, or workshops provided at the event. Finally, decide if the showcase aligns with your travel preferences, interests, or future travel plans.

Things to Think About Before Committing Time and Money

Before investing your time and money in the, it’s important to consider various factors. Start by calculating the costs associated with attending, including travel expenses, accommodation, and registration fees.

Think about the potential return on investment, such as networking opportunities, knowledge gained, and travel rewards received. Explore alternative travel events and conferences to compare your options.

Seek recommendations from trusted travel professionals and examine the showcase’s agenda, speaker lineup, and exhibitor profiles for relevance and value.

Is attending the Travel & Cruise Showcase 2023 worthwhile?

Evaluate the possible benefits and drawbacks of the travel and cruise showcase, taking into account your travel goals, interests, and budget. Look into past showcase events to understand their reputation and track record.

Read reviews from people who attended in the past to make a well-informed decision about attending. In the end, balance the rewards against the investment.

Conclusion 

In conclusion, considering all aspects, the Travel & Cruise Showcase stands out as a promising opportunity for travel enthusiasts. With its potential for networking, exciting rewards, and valuable insights, attending the showcase can be a rewarding experience. Remember to weigh the benefits against any associated costs and ensure that it aligns with your travel preferences and goals. Whether seeking inspiration for your next adventure or connecting with industry experts, the Travel & Cruise Showcase offers a platform for exploration and discovery.

The Travel & Cruise Showcase is an event that brings together travel enthusiasts, industry professionals, and experts to explore the latest trends and offerings in the travel and cruise industry.

By attending the Travel & Cruise Showcase, you can connect with travel suppliers, cruise lines, and experts, gaining valuable insights and discovering exciting travel options. It’s an excellent opportunity for networking and exploring potential travel deals.

Yes, the Travel & Cruise Showcase often features opportunities to win exciting rewards, such as all-inclusive travel packages, cruise vouchers, and airfare discounts. Participate in contests and activities for a chance to enjoy these fantastic travel experiences.

To ensure the legitimacy of the, you can research the event’s history, read reviews from past attendees, and check for any red flags. The showcase prioritizes customer safety, and organizers actively address concerns to provide a secure and trustworthy environment.

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The Russian Odyssey

An extended 'South to North' view of Russia from Astrakhan to St. Petersburg through Moscow.

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Explore Moscow, St. Petersburg and Russia’s Golden Ring in greater depth. Stay at gorgeous Four Seasons hotels. Enjoy special access to iconic cultural sites.

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Treat yourself to an unforgettable experience cruising the Volga river from Moscow to Astrakhan. The tour includes 2 nights in Moscow.

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A Volga river cruise is more than a geographical voyage; it’s also a journey through Russia’s rich and captivating history. No other experience takes you so completely to another place and time. The Volga is Europe’s longest and largest river; it meanders through the stories of Ivan the Terrible and his rise to power, the two historic ‘Greats’ Peter and Catherine, and then on into today. It’s a unique opportunity to see modern Russia in the context of its intriguing history, ably assisted by friendly and professional academics and tour guides. A Volga Dream Russian river tour promises to leave you with an unforgettable afterglow of fond memories.

St. Petersburg. Petehof

Moscow to St. Petersburg River Cruise

Moscow and St. Petersburg are Russia’s best-known cities, but the towns of Russia’s historic Golden Ring are delightful too. The luxurious Volga Dream offers a unique opportunity to visit these Russian gems by sailing gently along the Volga River on an unforgettable cruising experience. In small, exclusive groups you’ll enjoy preferential access to some of Russia’s most significant cultural sites.

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Moscow to Astrakhan River Cruise

Your River Cruise on the luxurious MS Volga Dream takes you from Moscow along Russia’s grand Volga River to the legend that is Volgograd (formerly Stalingrad) and Astrakhan on the Caspian Sea. Along the way, you’ll discover the treasures of Yaroslavl, the oldest city on the Volga, medieval Nizhniy Novgorod and beautiful Kazan, the ancient Tatar capital. We plan our tour carefully to combine the very best of Moscow with a world-class Volga River cruise.

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We love hearing from guests about their time in Russia and one comment often hear is how surprised people are by the Russian capital. We can’t say for certain what people expected but we do know that it’s always far removed from what they imagined! It’s been called a modern metropolis, a cosmopolitan city, an historic gem, an architectural treasure and a cultural powerhouse, among other descriptions. Majestic Moscow has always surprised our guests and left them with lasting and fond memories.

Russia’s famous Golden Ring is an archipelago of historic towns surrounding Moscow. Uglich is one of the oldest and was founded under Igor, the last Varangian prince. It once resisted the Mongol invasion and its ancient walls saw the grisly murder of young Dmitri, son of Ivan the Terrible. The impressive Church of St. Dmitri on the Blood, with its classic onion domes and blood red walls, is a fine example of classic Russian architecture. The tour ends with an enchanting choral concert.

This, the oldest city on the Volga River, and now a UNESCO World Heritage site, boasts a wealth of ancient orthodox treasures. The impressive Transfiguration of the Savior, adorned with murals depicting St. John’s apocalyptic visions can be seen in the Spassky Monastery. The Church of St. Elijah the Prophet is decorated with an awe-inspiring selection of rich frescoes. For a real taste of pre-revolutionary Russia, visitors are entertained by a costumed reception at the Governor’s House.

Close to the shores of White Lake once were the ‘tsar’s fishing grounds’. It lies in a place so serene that ancient monks chose to build no fewer than three holy sites here, including the Ferapontov Monastery. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, its chapels boast magnificent frescoes by Dionysius, one of Russia’s most renowned icon painters. The Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery was a refuge for many nobles during tumultuous times and later a fortress that successfully repelled invading armies.

The Karelia region is a vast and naturally beautiful wilderness that spreads all the way from St. Petersburg to the Arctic Circle. The glorious island village of Kizhi consists almost entirely of the traditionally styled wooden buildings of ‘Old Russia’. Among them is the famous Transfiguration Church built in 1714. Remarkably, and in testament to the craftsmen of the time, not a single nail was used in its construction! Kizhi is one of the favorite stops on the river cruise to St. Petersburg.

A typical rural hamlet brought to life by warm and welcoming villagers. Volga Dream guests are invited into local homes to enjoy classic Russian fare, tea with jam and ‘pirozhki’ (pies). Enthusiastic hosts share Russian traditions and the appeal of village life while proudly showing off their scrupulously kept homes and kitchen gardens. The tour continues with a brief bus ride to see a unique World War II memorial and then, for a real glimpse of Russian life, a visit to a local primary school.

Nizhny Novgorod

This was once a wealthy city thanks to its proximity to rich eastern trading routes. During the Soviet era, the city was closed to outsiders because of its military importance. It’s also where many political prisoners were sent to live out their days in exile. The 16th-century Kremlin ramparts offer spectacular views and the city is known for its elaborately decorated churches. For Volga Dream cruise guests, the highlight of the day is an evening folk concert performed by local children.

Sailing along the Volga river, the riverbank gradually ceases to be dominated by Orthodox churches. Instead, beautiful mosques appear as the river crosses into Tatarstan where the first stop is scenic Kazan, the region’s capital. Inside the white walls of the citadel, the famous Kul Sharif mosque and the old Cathedral of Peter and Paul stand side-by-side symbolizing the two faiths’ long and peaceful coexistence in the region. A concert of traditional Tatar music ends the Volga Dream tour in Kazan.

Passing the Zhigulevskie Mountains offers wonderful views from the sundeck before touring the city. One of the key attractions is the fascinating Space Museum, which offers a revealing glimpse of how the Soviet Union pursued its ambitious journey to the cosmos. The town is also noted for its beautiful esplanade, perfect for a relaxed stroll beside the Volga river. This in turn leads to the Samara State Art Museum. Founded in 1897, it is home to a collection of more than 16,000 works of art.

This city is best known for its close associations with cosmonaut, Yuri Gagarin. The Russian hero who achieved worldwide fame as the first man in space lived and studied here. Saratov used to be home to a large German community, a heritage that can still be seen in the local architecture. The Volga Dream tour visits the Radishchev State Art Museum, the first picture gallery in Russia outside Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Originally called Tsaritsyn, the city was renamed Stalingrad from 1925 to 1961 in honor of the USSR’s leader. During World War II, the city’s residents put up a heroic defense, repelling an advancing Nazi invasion. The battle for Stalingrad has gone down in history as a pivotal moment in the bloody conflict on the eastern front. The most ferocious and deadly fighting took place on Mamayev Hill, where an imposing memorial now stands close to the excellent Battle of Stalingrad Panorama Museum.

Saint Petersburg

If Moscow surprises, then St Petersburg delights. Peter the Great founded the city to showcase Russia’s newfound enlightenment. He wanted to show the modern world a cultured and advanced society. In short, he built the city to impress and in that he succeeded splendidly! The striking buildings were designed by some of the finest architects Europe had to offer and even now, the ‘Venice of the North’ never fails to enchant with its spectacular buildings and impressive canal network. It is a city of true grandeur.

Cocktails with the Captain

Commanding any ship is a complex role that calls for a long list of skills. Captains know their vessels inside out as well as well as the routes they sail and when things don’t go to plan, they have to make instant decisions. Above all though, the most important part of the job, underpinning everything they do, is to keep the ship and everyone aboard safe. The Captain’s cocktail party is a great and a wonderful opportunity for passengers and crew to get acquainted as the gets underway.

Matryoshka doll painting

There is nothing more typically Russian than a Matryoshka. It embodies the fact that there’s always something deeper to be found in every aspect of Russian life. Learning the traditional designs and techniques used to decorate these iconic dolls offers a pleasant diversion and some cathartic creativity!

Superb Service & Dining

Our restaurant serves the highest standard of international cuisine, freshly made by our Cordon Bleu Chef. Choose either a sumptuous buffet or set menu for lunch while dinner is always four or five courses with full service. High praise for the exquisite quality of meals is yet another constantly recurring feature in feedback from our guests.

Meet the Professor

From the Mongol hordes to Soviet times, Russia’s history is, like all of Europe’s, a complex web of political intrigue, war and peace, trade and treaties, as well as heroes and villains. Academics devote whole lifetimes to studying Russia’s long past and one of them presents a series of lectures shedding light on everything from Gorbachev to Chekhov, Khrushchev to Ivan the Terrible and of course, contemporary Russia. Our Professor is on board throughout the river cruise for informal conversation.

Beginner’s Russian

The Russian language can be rather beautiful and poetic and we know that many seasoned travelers enjoy trying their hand at different languages. Our onboard teachers provide an introduction to the riches of Russian, so guests can try out a few useful words and phrases on real Russians during the exciting river tours from Moscow to St. Petersburg or from Moscow to Volgograd!

Russian tea tasting

The drink we tend to associate with Russia is vodka, but tea, in fact, is the much more universal beverage of choice throughout the country. Guests will get acquainted with the Russian tea etiquette, a fundamental component of the country's social culture, and enjoy the traditional tea ceremony while cruising from St. Petersburg to Moscow or taking a Grand Volga river tour.

Russian Dinner & Vodka Tasting

All our dining is international but for Russian Dining night, the Chef includes a selection of traditional Russian dishes: Chicken Kiev, Kulebyaka and no Russian table is complete without Borsch. To add to the ‘Taste of Russia’ optional Russian dress, or at least a touch of Russian style, is provided along with enthusiastic help from our staff!

Russian Cooking Class

A plate of pelmeni might not look like much to the untrained eye, but it forms the heart of Russian cuisine and culture. Basically, it's a type of dumpling: small portions of meat and onion wrapped in a thin sheet of unleavened dough and boiled, a little like ravioli. Guests can join a Russian cooking class onboard the MS Volga Dream to learn how to cook this delicious Russian dish.

Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov Piano Recital

Some of the greatest classical music ever written comes from Russia. It’s hard to imagine a more fitting stage for a virtuoso solo recital by our resident concert pianist than the mighty Volga or a better backdrop than the heart of Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov’s own serene homeland.

Russian River Cruise Aboard Volga Dream

Moscow to St. Petersburg

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MS Volga Dream is Russia’s only family-owned river cruise ship. She can accommodate up to 100 guests, far fewer than most other cruise ships on the river making for a uniquely friendly and intimate atmosphere aboard.

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We at Volga Dream are completely convinced that, our guests should stay in great 5-star hotels in Moscow and St. Petersburg within comfortable walking distance of all the major attractions, theaters and restaurants, rather than having to waste time in traffic.

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The MS Volga Dream is the most intimate and elegant 5-star cruise vessel in Russia. She boasts 56 cabins, all river facing, ranging from comfortable Standard Cabins to spacious Junior Suites and the luxurious forward facing Owner's Suite.

Yaroslavl. Local Church

Russian Cultural Experience

Explore Russia's past with the help of professional tour guides. Our on-board program includes fascinating talks on Russian history and politics, Russian language lessons, a festival of Russian cuisine (including vodka tasting!), and much more.

MS Volga Dream cuisine

Gourmet Dining

Our on board restaurant serves international cuisine to the highest standard, all freshly made by our Cordon Bleu Chef. For Russian Dining night, he prepares a selection of traditional Russian dishes: Chicken Kiev, Kulebyaka and Borsch.

MS Volga Dream bartenders

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All our service crew members are native Russians who are fluent in English and handpicked by the Owner. Proudly, the Volga Dream is famous for her hard working and very hospitable personnel who take care of every aspect of your life aboard.

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Escape the hassle and bustle and add a satisfyingly informative element to your trip and bring together a colorful mosaic of people, history, traditions,  religion, music and art. These are the many strands that time has woven into what is known today as Russia.

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Ukraine-Russia war latest: US warns North Korea against sending troops to Ukraine - as NATO appoints new chief

NATO has appointed a new secretary general - while the US has warned North Korea against sending troops to fight in Ukraine. Meanwhile, Evan Gershkovich has been seen before the start of his behind-closed-doors trial in Russia.

Wednesday 26 June 2024 20:05, UK

  • David Cameron discusses Trump and Ukraine in hoax call recording released by Russian pranksters
  • NATO appoints new chief
  • US warns North Korea against sending troops to Ukraine
  • US journalist seen ahead of trial in Russia
  • Your questions answered : Has Western media been honest about Ukrainian military failures?
  • Big picture : What you need to know this week
  • Listen to the Daily above and tap here to follow wherever you get your podcasts

Ask a question or make a comment

That brings an end to our live updates on the conflict in Ukraine for this evening.

We'll bring you any major updates overnight. In the meantime, you can scroll through the blog below to catch up on the day's developments.

Vladimir Putin today held a phone call with the interim president of Iran, Mohammad Mokhber, the Kremlin has said.

The Russian president and Mokhber discussed "mutually beneficial bilateral cooperation in all key areas", including energy and "large-scale infrastructure projects".

Russian energy giant Gazprom announced earlier today the signing of a memorandum with the National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC) to supply Russian pipeline gas to Iran.

As many football fans will be aware, the Ukrainian men's national team have been playing against Belgium in a crucial match in the European Championship in Germany.

Soldiers in the Donetsk region have been taking a break from the conflict there to watch the match in Stuttgart - where Belgium supporters rose to applaud as the Ukrainian national anthem was played before kick off.

Ukraine must win the game or hope there is a winner in the match being played simultaneously between Romania and Slovakia (or a win for Slovakia if Ukraine lose) if they are to qualify for the knock-out stages of the tournament.

The United Nations Security Council has condemned a deadly attack that targeted churches and synagogues in Dagestan.

Twenty people were killed, most of them police officers, during the attack on Sunday.

Five gunmen were also killed, while at least 46 people were taken to hospital with injuries in the predominantly Muslim region.

The statement from the UN Security Council said: "The members of the Security Council condemned in the strongest terms the heinous and cowardly terrorist."

Russian pranksters have released footage of David Cameron being tricked into thinking he was speaking to a former Ukrainian president.

The Foreign Office (FCDO) announced at the start of June that a "number of text messages were exchanged followed by a brief video call" between Lord Cameron and someone who claimed to be Petro Poroshenko.

In the casual video call published by website Guido Fawkes, Lord Cameron discusses Labour, Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine with someone purporting to be Petro Poroshenko.

Mr Poroshenko was Ukrainian president between 2014 and 2019, and has remained a prominent figure in the country since leaving office.

Earlier this month, the UK Government made the hoax call public knowledge to stave off any attempts to manipulate video footage of the former prime minister from the communications.

Asked by the imposter if he believes anything will change after the general election, Lord Cameron says Labour has been "as enthusiastic" in their support for Ukraine as the Conservatives.

He said: "I don't think you'll see change. Obviously if they win it will be a new government, there will be some getting up to speed on some issues, but I think fundamentally they've supported everything we've done.

"I think the Labour Party, if they win, will continue that approach."

Asked about his engagement with former US president and current presidential candidate Mr Trump, Lord Cameron says the Republican would want to "back the winning side" in Ukraine but his attitude is "hard to predict".

He says: "I had dinner with (Trump) and my aim was to convince him not to block money for Ukraine, because obviously the speaker, Mike Johnson, wanted two things: he wanted to vote the money for Ukraine but he also wanted to keep his job, and I thought it was important to try to make sure that Trump backed him sufficiently to do that, which is what happened in the end."

He adds: "I think ultimately (Trump) will calculate at the time what's right for him.

"I think the key thing is if we can make sure that Ukraine is on the front foot and Putin is on the back foot by November, then he will want to support the winning side, as it were, and that's what we've got to ensure.

"It's hard to predict exactly what his attitude will be but that's the most important thing."

Elsewhere in the video, the imposter can be heard saying that not sending Ukraine an invitation to Nato is a "bad signal".

In response, Lord Cameron says: "There's not going to be an invitation because America won't support one.

"So what I've said to the president, (Volodymyr) Zelenskyy, is: let's try and get the best language we can about Nato support for Ukraine. But don't, let's not, we mustn't have an argument between Nato and Ukraine before the summit."

Later in the video, Lord Cameron discloses a conversation he had with Kazakhstan's foreign secretary Murat Nurtleu during a visit to the country earlier this year.

Lord Cameron says: "Kazakhstan are convinced that Putin wants a slice of the north of Kazakhstan.

"(Nurtleu) said Ukrainians are dying for Kazakhstan, they are putting their lives at risk to hold back  Russia  and that benefits us."

At the end of the call, the imposter says: "Thank you, my friend. It was nice to see you again, and I remember our first meeting with Lord Hague and Bernard and Lily Vie."

The FCDO said it had released details of the exchange publicly over dears it could be "manipulated".

The call was carried out by Russian pranksters who use the aliases "Vovan and Lexus" and appears to have lasted around 15 minutes.

The duo are well-known in Russia and have claimed to have duped a string of politicians and celebrities in the past including Sir Elton John, US statesman John McCain, Prince Harry and JK Rowling.

The Foreign Office said today that the call looked like a Russian information operation designed to distract attention from Moscow's war in Ukraine.

A spokesperson for Britain's Foreign Office said in a statement: "We made public the fact that this call happened weeks ago, to do the right thing and make sure others were warned of the risk at the earliest opportunity. 

"The Foreign Secretary understood this was a private call with a Ukrainian politician.

"This is clearly Russian, and is standard practice for information operations. Disinformation is a tactic straight from the Kremlin playbook to try to distract from their illegal activities in Ukraine and the human rights abuses being committed there."

It did not answer a question about the video's authenticity, which Sky News has not independently verified.

The US is reportedly moving towards lifting a ban on American military contractors deploying to Ukraine, according to a group of US officials familiar with the matter.

The US is said to be looking for ways to speed up the maintenance and repairs of Ukraine's weapons systems.

The equipment that has sustained significant damage in combat currently has to be transported out of the country to Poland, Romania, or other NATO countries for repairs, which takes time.

US troops are also available to help with maintenance and logistics, though this is only from afar via video chat or secure phone.

One advanced system that officials say will likely require regular maintenance is the F-16 fighter jet, which Ukraine is set to receive later this year.

The policy is still being drafted by US officials and has not yet received final sign-off from President Joe Biden, officials said.

"We have not made any decisions and any discussion of this is premature," one administration official told CNN.

"The president is absolutely firm that he will not be sending US troops to Ukraine."

The White House has been determined since the war began in 2022 to limit both the danger to Americans and the perception that the US military is engaged in combat there.

The US state department has also warned Americans against travelling to Ukraine since 2022.

European Union countries are looking to set up a new sanctions regime to counter hybrid attacks, draft European Council conclusions showed today.

EU leaders will meet tomorrow and Friday to discuss critical issues including the war in Ukraine, the Middle East, security and defence and recent political events in Georgia.

Discussing a new framework to target hybrid attacks that have been rising over the last year is also on the agenda.

"The European Council strongly condemns all types of hybrid activities... including intimidation, sabotage, foreign information manipulation and interference, disinformation, malicious cyber activities and the instrumentalisation of migrants by third countries," the draft conclusions stated.

"In response to Russia's destabilising actions abroad, the European Council reiterates its call for work to be taken forward in the Council to establish a new sanctions regime."

NATO said in May it was "deeply concerned" about recent hybrid attacks that affected several EU countries, notably those on its eastern flank, and blamed Russia.

Moscow regularly denies Western accusations that it is involved in hybrid attacks.

What are hybrid attacks?

NATO define hybrid attacks as threats that combine military and non-military as well as covert and overt means, including "disinformation, cyber attacks, economic pressure, deployment of irregular armed groups and use of regular forces".

These kinds of attacks are below the threshold of open armed aggression but are intended to manipulate the targeted government and society indirectly.

They aim to cause public panic, soften the targeted country's authorities, and force decisions desired by the aggressor.

They can be conducted by agents of secret services or special forces, non-state mercenaries, private military contractors or recruited local criminals. 

China is not neutral when it comes to the Russia-Ukraine war and has sided with Vladimir Putin, according to the US ambassador to Beijing.

Nicholas Burns said that despite its claims of neutrality, China was providing a range of technologies to Moscow while maintaining strong trade ties with Russia throughout the conflict.

Speaking in the Chinese financial hub of Shanghai, he said Russia's invasion, now in its third year, had become an "existential crisis" in Europe.

"We think it's a major mistake to allow Chinese companies, by the thousands, to be sending so many components, technology components, microprocessors (and) nitrocellulose to Russia to reinforce and strengthen the defence industrial base of the Russian Federation for this brutal war," Mr Burns said.

China "is not neutral, but has effectively sided with Russia in this war", the ambassador added.

Beijing has refused to refer to Russia's invasion as such, and has blamed NATO for provoking Mr Putin. Prior to the invasion in February 2022, China and Russia signed an agreement vowing a limitless friendship.

EU sanctions

Meanwhile, China has called on the European Union to "unconditionally" stop sanctioning Chinese firms.

The EU's 14th package of sanctions on Russia included several companies located in Hong Kong, as well as two global satellite giants.

The firms are now subject to drastic restrictions over sales of "dual-use goods and technology" that could be used for the "enhancement of Russia's defence and security sector".

Beijing hit back on Tuesday, saying it opposed "unilateral sanctions with no basis in international law" and had lodged "stern representations" with the EU.

"The development of normal exchanges and cooperation between Chinese and Russian businesses does not target any third party," foreign ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said at a regular press briefing in Beijing.

By Ivor Bennett, Moscow correspondent

In general, the official line from the Kremlin on this case is that it's a matter for the court and it therefore can't comment.

That was the answer last week when Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, was asked why the trial would be held behind closed doors.

Russia insists its courts are independent, and that justice must be left to run its course.

Today, the line evolved slightly. Mr Peskov said the case was "not so resonant" in Russia.

That's not how it felt at the courthouse in downtown Yekaterinburg.

There were dozens of camera crews and photographers there, including a local outlet called Scream TV, which appeared more interested in us, as foreign media, than the case itself. 

The US accuses Russia of stockpiling Americans, like Evan Gershkovich, to use as human bargaining chips.

If that's the case, it feels like the Kremlin is trying to maximise its leverage, because Mr Peskov also said today that there was currently no sign of a possible exchange.

Moscow is working on a "big treaty" with Iran, Russia's foreign ministry spokesman Maria Zakharova has said.

Ms Zakharova's comment appeared to be a reference to a comprehensive bilateral cooperation agreement that is being negotiated between Tehran and Moscow.

Earlier this year, it was reported that Iran had supplied Russia with ballistic missiles.

Reuters news agency reported that the Iranian regime had supplied around 400 missiles to Russia for the first time since Vladimir Putin launched his full-scale invasion.

The munitions included many short-range ballistic missiles, with the ability to strike targets at a range of between 186 and 435 miles.

And in January, Russia's foreign ministry said that a new interstate treaty reflecting the "unprecedented upswing" in Russia-Iran ties was in the final stages of being agreed.

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