Stena Line has revealed plans to revamp its Stena Caledonia conventional ferry

Stena Line, the leading ferry company, has announced it is to spend £1.8 million on revamping its Stena Caledonia conventional ferry. Work on the major makeover began on the 27th January at the Cammell Laird yard in Birkenhead and is due to be completed by February 12th.

The Stena Line ship, which operates on the Stranraer-Belfast route, is to be given new features including a luxury Stena Plus lounge, a Barista coffee house/bar, a Curious George themed play area for kids and a new guest services desk.

Another major new feature set to be included on the ship is free Wi-Fi. Access to the wireless broadband is free of charge to passengers using their own laptop or PDA (personal digital assistant). The technology is supplied by satellite broadband to ensure uninterrupted coverage throughout the crossing. When passengers board they can simply ask for a Wi-Fi access card at guest services and then they can go online to work or play.

As part of the revamp, the restaurant on the vessel is to be refurbished and rebranded as Food City, while the décor and seating will be upgraded and extra seating will be added to the ship’s cinema. The onboard shop will be spruced up as well and there will be improved disabled/lift access from the car deck.

The accommodation upgrade on the Caledonia is to be carried out by County Down based company MJM.

Paul Grant, Route Manager for the Stranraer-Belfast ferry, said the £1.8m project showed the company’s ongoing commitment to the route.

Mr Grant said: “The refurbished Caledonia will be an excellent alternative to our HSS fastcraft on the route. The Caledonia can travel between Scotland and Northern Ireland in under three hours and its new and improved facilities onboard will mean passengers can enjoy a relaxed journey in modern surroundings.”

Refits of two other Stena Line ships have also been completed at Cammell Laird this year. The Stena Leader had a £900,000 refit, while £1 million was spent on the Stena Pioneer. New accommodation for crew was added on the vessels, which both operate on the Fleetwood-Larne route.

The HSS Stena Voyager fastcraft meanwhile, which operates on the Stranraer-Belfast route had a £1.05 million refit at the Harland & Wolff yard in Belfast. Another Stena Line vessel, the HSS Explorer, was put into dry dock at Harland & Wolff in preparation for its annual refit, which will cost £1.1 million and is set for completion on February 10th. The ship operates between Holyhead and Dun Laoghaire.

The Belfast yard was also used back in November when the Stena Europe, which serves the Fishguard-Rosslare ferry route, was given a £750,000 overhaul.

About Stena Line:
Stena Line is the market leader on the Irish Sea, offering the biggest ferry fleet and the widest choice of routes between Ireland and Britain, including Belfast to Stranraer, Larne to Fleetwood, Dun Laoghaire and Dublin Port to Holyhead and Rosslare to Fishguard. The company carries over three million passengers on its Irish Sea routes each year, more than its rival operators combined.

Via EPR Network

Car hire from £7* a day over half term with price comparison site Carrentals.co.uk

With the tough economic climate forcing many families to cut costs on their half term holidays, car hire comparator Carrentals.co.uk is advising parents to compare the prices on all elements of their holiday properly before they book.

Gareth Robinson, managing director of Carrentals.co.uk, says: “Money is tight this year, but many people still want to take a break over the half term. We’re already seeing strong demand for car hire across the most popular destinations, with customers comparing the best deals for their individual requirements – be this for a people carrier, 4×4 or an economy car that gives better fuel usage.

“No matter where people are going, or what type of holiday they are going on, we would recommend comparing all aspects of the holiday – from the cost of baby seats in rental cars to check-in luggage charges on airlines – to help make half term more affordable.”

The award winning comparison site currently has car hire prices from just £7* a day in Malaga over the February half term, and with up to 50 car rental companies compared on the site visitors can quickly choose the best deal.

Gareth added: “Travellers are having to tighten their belts wherever possible this year, so do your research and book early for extras such as car hire or airport parking to make sure you get the best deal available.”

Prices for one week’s car rental over the half term week currently start from £12* per day at Tenerife Airport North; from £13* per day at Athens Airport; and from £7* per day at Malaga Airport. For those staying within the UK prices start from £14* a day in cities such as London, York and Edinburgh.

Carrentals.co.uk compares car hire deals from companies including Holiday Autos, Budget, Alamo, Europcar, EasyCar and Thrifty, in over 9,000 locations around the World. To compare the best half term car hire deals visit www.carrentals.co.uk.

*Prices are based on seven-day rental from 14 February 2009 and are subject to change.

About Carrentals.co.uk
Carrentals.co.uk was launched in February 2003 and grew to become one of the UK’s leading online car hire companies by 2006.

In 2007 the company re-launched its site to create the first major online price comparator in the travel industry. Using the latest technology the Carrentals.co.uk site now searches up to 50 different car hire websites, providing an impartial comparison of the best prices available in over 9,000 locations.

Websites searched include Budget, Thrifty, Sixt, Holiday Autos, Opodo, EBookers, Carrentals.co.uk and EasyCar, with the Carrentals.co.uk site quickly comparing prices and allowing customers to refine their search by car type.

The Carrentals.co.uk site also features over 6,000 links to useful tourist information sites, plus over 2,700 pages of travel information in a mini-guide format.

In 2008 Carrentals.co.uk was voted Best Car Hire Website in the Travolution Awards. To book or for further information visit www.carrentals.co.uk

Via EPR Network

Arrangeyourvacation.Com Is Holding A Contest On Their Website With A Prize Of US500

How does winning $500 in a contest sound to you? ArrangeYourVacation, a leading vacation rental portal has announced an exciting contest with simple rules to follow that could fetch you an easy $500. In the two weeks since the contest’s announcement countless numbers of enthusiastic people have participated, with more and more joining each day.

ArrangeYourVacation.com has been offering information on vacation rentals for years and is an upcoming vacation rental website. The popularity of this site on the Internet has been growing enormously over the last 6 months; a place in Google’s Top 10 Search Engine rankings for certain searches is perfect testimony to this fact.

So, how exactly do you win that $500?

Follow the contest link (http://arrangeyourvacation.com/JoinCompetition.aspx) and you’ll find clear and well explained rules to the contest. But don’t sweat, participating in this contest is a snap. Just write a post about ArrangeYourVacation.com on your blog; register your review with the site and join the numerous other participants who have joined the contest. Don’t feel pressured to actually promote ArrangeYourVacation.com, your blog post can just be an informative article about the travel site itself.

The contest will run until 28th February, 2009. The winner will be chosen by a lucky draw and declared on the 15th March, 2009. It is important that all participants have a PayPal email address so they can receive the money should they win the contest. Be sure to review the official rules before entering.

There couldn’t be an easier way to win $500 – just join the contest and write a blog post for a leading travel site – it really is that simple!

Here’s the link to the original Arrange Your Vacation Contest blog post: http://arrangeyourvacation.com/travel-blog/index.php/archives/180-500-cash-vacation-rentals-giveaway

Via EPR Network

Toursbylocals.Com Helps Travelers Get A Better Travel Experience While Directly Benefiting The People Who Provide Those Travel Experiences

Since its launch in November of 2008, ToursByLocals has been kept busy talking to local people interested in using theToursByLocals system to offer their services as private guides. According to Greg Scott,

Content Manager for ToursbyLocals, “In the past 2 months, we’ve received 97 applications and successfully processed 50 of them, with each guide posting an average of 2 tours”. Continues Scott, “Our vetting process means that each guide must pass an interview and reference check before being added to the system. We have a number of professional tour guides using the system, but we’re particularly pleased to see an increasing number of locals who are using the system to offer ‘their’ experience in the place they live”.

As you might expect, ToursByLocals offers an eclectic selection of tours. As well as sightseeing tours, guides are encouraged to offer tours that reflect their interests and passions. Says Scott, “We suggest each guide offer a tour that they might do if a friend was visiting for the first time. But we also encourage them to offer something out of the ordinary. The tours each guide lists on their profile are just suggestions and travelers can always contact the guide if they have a special request”

Some of the current offerings that fall into the ‘unusual’ category include a young Brazilian man from Belo Horizonte who will take you to the local stadium where you will experience the madness of 106,000 people at a Brazilian soccer match. Or an Icelandic guide who will take you to the best place to see the Northern Lights. Another tour features a young Russian woman from Rybinsk who will take you on a tour of her traditional Russian village.

New guides and tours are being added on a daily basis.

For more information, visit http://www.ToursByLocals.com. The tours mentioned above can be accessed as follows:

Brazilian Soccer Game –http://www.ToursByLocals.com/belohorizontefootballgame
Northern Lights in Iceland –http://www.ToursByLocals.com/NorthernLights
Russian Village Tour –http://www.ToursByLocals.com/RussianVillageTour

About ToursByLocals
Launched in November, 2008, ToursByLocals.com helps travelers get a better travel experience while directly benefiting the people who provide those travel experiences. Our traveler customers want to do unique things, experience the reality of a place and its culture through the eyes of a local person. They have a sense of adventure, are socially conscious and want to see their travel spending directly benefit the people who live in the communities they visit.

Our tours guides want to earn income by providing the experiences travelers are seeking. They are entrepreneurial, passionate people who are proud of the place they live. We serve those already in the travel industry as well as people who may not have been able to participate before.

We provide these services through ToursByLocals.com. The website offers a convenient way for tour guides to promote their travel services and availability and for travelers to search for suitable tours and find out how other travelers rated them. We handle the marketing of the tours, booking process, customer service, payment processing and forwarding of money onto the tour guide.

Via EPR Network

 

Hotels.Com Has Reported That Sharp Price Falls In Scottish Cities Have Fuelled A 4% Price Drop For UK Hotels

The Hotels.com Hotels Price Index (HPI) has revealed that the prices paid for hotel rooms in the UK have fallen for the first time in four years. Prices dropped 4% in the third quarter of 2008 to £97 per room per night, compared to £101 being paid during the same period a year earlier.

Prices fell across many of the major UK cities in the third quarter of 2008 as hoteliers – particularly those in Scotland – looked to ensure that occupancy levels were maximised.

Leading the falls in Scotland was Inverness, where prices fell 15% to an average of £94. Inverness was closely followed by Aberdeen, where prices fell by 11% to £96 on average. In England, Birmingham was the city most affected by price falls, experiencing a 13% drop in prices from £75 to £66 per room per night.

However, a notable exception to the national picture was in the UK’s most expensive city, Bath. Prices here were up by some 13% in the third quarter of 2008 compared to the same time in 2007, to an average of £142 per night.

London hotels also saw prices fall by 3% year on year to average £116 per room per night in quarter three of 2008. Despite the price drop, hotels in London are still the second most expensive in the UK.

The HPI from Hotels.com also revealed that Edinburgh was the third most expensive city for hotels in the UK at £106 per room per night, despite experiencing a 5% drop in prices.

David Roche, President of Hotels.com Worldwide, commented, “Price falls across the UK means that there are currently great deals to be had, as more affordable accommodation is on offer. In cities such as Inverness, Aberdeen and Birmingham, steep falls in the prices being paid for hotel rooms reflects the need for hoteliers to keep occupancy levels at a maximum and consequently luxury accommodation is now more affordable.

“On the other hand, Bath’s combination of high visitor levels and luxury hotels means that it retains its place as the most expensive city in the UK by a considerable margin.

“Demand for rooms in the capital has kept London as the UK’s second most expensive city even though prices are down 3% on this time last year. All this is good news for travellers in and to the UK.”

About Hotels.com
Hotels.com is the world’s most visited hotels bookings site* and the global hotels specialist. Operating in all major markets with dedicated staff, Hotels.com offers 80,000 quality hotels worldwide, including New York hotels and Paris hotels. If a customer can find the same deal for less on a prepaid hotel, Hotels.com will match it. Hotels.com also has one of the largest hotel contracting teams in the industry negotiating the best rates for its users, plus user-contributed reviews of its properties.

Via EPR Network

Hotels.Com Has Revealed That The Average Price For Hotel Rooms Across The World Fell Over The Summer

Hotels.com has reported global hotel prices fell 3% in 2008, the first-year on-year fall in prices measured since the Hotel Price Index was started in January 2004

The average price paid by travellers for a room during the period July-September 2008 fell by 3% globally when compared to the same period in 2007.

However, the weakness of the pound over the course of the 3rd quarter of 2008 meant that UK travellers have yet to feel the effect of the global fall in hotel costs. In fact, a combination of slight real price rises in Europe (which bucked the global trend) and the stronger Euro meant that, for UK travellers, average prices in some European destinations have risen by as much as 30%.

The report from Hotels.com also stated that the 3% drop in prices globally was driven by falls in room prices in across North America, including New York hotels and Las Vegas hotels (where prices fell by 5%), Latin America (where prices were down 1%) and the Caribbean (prices down 4%). Prices in Asia, meanwhile, were flat.

David Roche, President of Hotels.com Worldwide, commented: “Hotels in the Americas in particular have been feeling the effects of the wider global downturn for the past six to nine months and we have seen extensive price cutting already. US hoteliers may have to cut prices further to maintain occupancy in the month to come.”

He continued, “In Europe, by contrast, hoteliers have had to cut less, with a reasonably strong summer performance – the traditional European travel peak – helping them to maintain their rates.”

“However, European prices are now starting to come down and there are likely to be an increasing number of good deals to be found across the continent’s major travel destinations over the course of 2000,” David Roche concluded.

About Hotels.com Hotels.com is the world’s most visited hotels bookings site* and the global hotels specialist. Operating in all major markets with dedicated staff, Hotels.com offers 80,000 quality hotels worldwide, including Orlando hotels and Miami hotels. If a customer can find the same deal for less on a prepaid hotel, Hotels.com will match it. Hotels.com also has one of the largest hotel contracting teams in the industry negotiating the best rates for its users, plus user-contributed reviews of its properties.

Via EPR Network