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Tour New Zealand like Prince William, Duchess Kate and Prince George

- April 8th, 2014
Britain's Prince William, his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and their son Prince George disembark from their plane after arriving in Wellington April 7, 2014. The Prince and his wife Kate are undertaking a 19-day official visit to New Zealand and Australia with their son George.  REUTERS/Phil Noble

Prince William, his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and their son Prince George disembark from their plane after arriving in Wellington April 7, 2014. The Prince and his wife Kate are undertaking a 19-day official visit to New Zealand and Australia with their son George. REUTERS/Phil Noble

Prince William, his wife Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, and baby son Prince George have arrived in New Zealand for a three week tour of the country and neighbouring Australia. It’s the first time in New Zealand for Duchess Kate and Prince George and is the royal trio’s first official tour as a new family.

During the New Zealand leg of the trip, the royal family will take in three North Island and three South Island regions. Prince William and Duchess Kate will visit a local vineyard for a wine tasting, meet with Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson and take a jet boat ride on the famed Shotover River (see photos of their jet boat ride here), as well as attend more formal ceremonies and functions.

Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, holds her son Prince George after disembarking their plane with her husband Britain's Prince William in Wellington April 7, 2014. The Prince and his wife Kate are undertaking a 19-day official visit to New Zealand and Australia with their son George. REUTERS/Phil Noble

Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, holds her son Prince George after disembarking their plane with her husband Britain’s Prince William in Wellington April 7, 2014. REUTERS/Phil Noble

Britain's Prince William (centre 2nd L-with sunglasses) and his wife Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge (centre 2nd R-in sunglasses), take a ride on the "Shotover Jet" in the New Zealand city of Queenstown on April 13, 2014.  AFP PHOTO / Fiona Goodall

Britain’s Prince William (centre 2nd L-with sunglasses) and his wife Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge (centre 2nd R-in sunglasses), take a ride on the “Shotover Jet” in the New Zealand city of Queenstown on April 13, 2014. AFP PHOTO / Fiona Goodall

Travellers who want to experience the places and activities the Duke and Duchess will over the next nine days can find inspiration for their own travels in a new royal tour-themed itinerary from Tourism New Zealand.

The suggested itinerary starts in the “City of Sails,” Auckland. Here, guests can take a wine trail or forest walk before trying the Explore: America’s Cup Sailing Experience. Prince William and Kate will square off on the Auckland harbour for their own America’s Cup race during their New Zealand tour.

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine Duchess of Cambridge at the Viaduct Basin to sail with Team New Zealand. (WENN.com)

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine Duchess of Cambridge at the Viaduct Basin in Auckland to sail with Team New Zealand. (WENN.com)

From Auckland, head to Hobbiton, a picturesque village of 44 Hobbit hole homes and a top filming location for Peter Jackson and his The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films. After your tour, stop for a mug of sobering thought ale at the Green Dragon Inn.

Experience Maori culture like Prince William and Duchess Kate did upon arriving in New Zealand in Hamilton and Rotorua. Enjoy an afternoon at the geothermal and boiling mud pools and witness first-hand a traditional Maori feast and cultural performance at the Mitai Maori Village.

Prince William (C) and his wife Catherine (L) meet a Maori warrior during a welcoming ceremony at Government House in Wellington on April 7, 2014.  Britain's Prince William, his wife Kate and their son Prince George are on a three-week tour of New Zealand and Australia.    AFP PHOTO / MARTY MELVILLE

Prince William and his wife Catherine meet a Maori warrior during a welcoming ceremony at Government House in Wellington on April 7, 2014. AFP PHOTO / MARTY MELVILLE

Carry on to Wellington where you can unleash your inner foodie at some of New Zealand’s top restaurants on the Zest Food Tour, followed by a visit to the Zealandia eco sanctuary to see some of the country’s most unique birds and animals in the wild.

Britain's Prince William (R) and his wife Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge (C), walk with New Zealand film maker Peter Jackson (L) around the Omaka Aviation Museum in the New Zealand city of Blenheim on April 10, 2014. AFP PHOTO / POOL / TIM CUFF

Britain’s Prince William (R) and his wife Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge (C), walk with New Zealand film maker Peter Jackson (L) around the Omaka Aviation Museum in the New Zealand city of Blenheim on April 10, 2014. AFP PHOTO / POOL / TIM CUFF

Plan to continue your visit to this region by taking the ferry from Wellington across the Marlborough Sounds to Picton, then Blenheim. Here, Prince William and Duchess Kate will be given a tour of Peter Jackson’s private World War I aircraft collection at the Omaka Aviation Heritage centre by the director himself (see photos of their tour with Jackson here).

To discover more of Tourism New Zealand’s suggested stops for a royal-inspired tour of the country, visit newzealand.com.

Set sail with MasterChef on a cruise of the Caribbean

- April 7th, 2014
MasterChef U.S.A. (Courtesy Fox)

MasterChef U.S.A. (Courtesy FOX)

MasterChef Canada is back on television tonight with the six remaining Canadian home chefs ready to uncover their Mystery Boxes and cook to stay alive for a $100,000 prize.

Fans of the cooking competition and the equally-popular U.S. version, which features Michelin-starred chefs Gordon Ramsay and Graham Elliot as judges, will want to beat the pressure test and book tickets now for the first ever MasterChef cruise of the Caribbean.

Elliot and past U.S. winners Christine Ha and Lucas Manfe, plus the very first MasterChef Junior winner Alexander Weiss, will be aboard for the cruise, which will set sail for a week-long voyage from Fort Lauderdale, Florida on Nov. 8, 2014.

Alexander Weiss of MasterChef Junior and Lucas Manfe and Christine Ha of MasterChef. (Courtesy FOX)

Alexander Weiss of MasterChef Junior and Lucas Manfe and Christine Ha of MasterChef. (Courtesy FOX)

Sailing on the luxury Holland America MS Westerdam ship, guests have the chance to attend cooking demonstrations on deck, take part in contests and meet their favourite MasterChef winners. Plenty of dining engagements are also on the itinerary, as is the chance to disembark and explore one of the ship’s many Caribbean ports of call, from Turks and Caicos to Puerto Rico to the Bahamas.

“The MasterChef Cruise gives fans an incredibly unique opportunity to have an immersive experience with one of the best chefs in the world, Graham Elliot, and some of the most talented and beloved winners of the MasterChef franchise, Christine, Luca and Alexander, while travelling through one of the most beautiful parts of the world,” said Vivi Zigler, president of MasterChef’s production company, Shine America.

The ship returns to port in Fort Lauderdale on Nov. 15, 2014. For more information or to book your ticket on the MasterChef cruise, visit masterchefcruise.com.

Airport to city: How much travellers can expect to pay for a taxi

- March 25th, 2014
(Fotolia)

(Fotolia)

Even if you’re visiting a city where your legs or public transit are all you need to get around, that taxi ride from the airport to the hotel is often an inevitable cost to budget for and the first experience many travellers have in their destination. And though some airports are closer to the city centre than others, the price of the final fare on the metre can still be a shocking start to any trip.

It’s always best to know before you go and thanks to a new infographic from the editors at Cheapflights.ca, it’s easy to see what a taxi ride from the airport to the downtown core of major cities may cost you.

Prices per kilometre vary by city (New York isn’t the most expensive in North America! Cabs cost $2/km in New York City compared to $2.60/km in Vancouver and $2.90/km in Cancun) and the cab culture in each city is different as well (did you know it’s best to negotiate a fare with the driver first in Cancun and that it’s cheaper to take a taxi than rent a car in Alaska?)

Click on the image below to see the full chart from Cheapflights.ca, complete with info on taxi rates and helpful tips for taking a cab in North America, Europe, Asia and beyond.

taxifares

I also like the handy Canadian-created TaxiMe app for cab fare estimates on the go anywhere in Canada or the U.S.

TaxiMe app. (iTunes)

TaxiMe app. (iTunes)

The app costs 99 cents and is only available for iPhone, but fare calculations can also be made on the TaxiMe website. I’ve embedded their tool below so you can give it a try now!

From To

 

Spring brings bountiful flowers to Las Vegas’ Bellagio casino resort

- March 14th, 2014
The North Garden boasts an explosion of color as five aluminum watering cans stream into a pond below as 14-foot-tall multicolored tulips and 22-foot-tall yellow daffodils bloom nearby. (Courtesy Bellagio’s Conservatory & Botanical Gardens)

The North Garden boasts an explosion of color as five aluminum watering cans stream into a pond below as 14-foot-tall multicolored tulips and 22-foot-tall yellow daffodils bloom nearby. (Courtesy Bellagio’s Conservatory & Botanical Gardens)

The Bellagio casino resort’s Conservatory & Botanical Gardens in Las Vegas has come alive in a burst of colour for spring, with 8,200 flowers and floral creations on display now through May 11.

Walk along pathways above koi fish ponds, see fresh blooms like tulips, daffodils and lilies in the many gardens, and stand among 800 free-flying butterflies in the East Garden’s greenhouse.The Conservatory & Botanical gardens are always a lovely 20 degrees Celsius and the springtime theme is enhanced by oversized showerheads that sprinkle raindrops onto the greenery below.

Tourists are also invited to stop by in the evening for nightly concerts on a wooden stage under a nearly 14-metre tall cherry blossom tree.

The spring display is free to visit and open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. See bellagio.com for more information.

Guests will be entranced by the sight of more than 800 live butterflies fluttering inside the 36-foot-long greenhouse located in the East Garden. (Courtesy Bellagio’s Conservatory & Botanical Gardens)

Guests will be entranced by the sight of more than 800 live butterflies fluttering inside the 36-foot-long greenhouse located in the East Garden. (Courtesy Bellagio’s Conservatory & Botanical Gardens)

Flowers in the South Garden peer up at a 22-foot-tall neon green gardening shovel and oversized hand-painted flower pots. (Courtesy Bellagio’s Conservatory & Botanical Gardens)

Flowers in the South Garden peer up at a 22-foot-tall neon green gardening shovel and oversized hand-painted flower pots. (Courtesy Bellagio’s Conservatory & Botanical Gardens)

Fewer Canadians will travel this March Break: BMO Insurance study

- March 4th, 2014
(Fotolia)

(Fotolia)

Fewer Canadian families will travel this March Break thanks to the declining value of the loonie, according to a new survey from BMO Insurance.

Nearly half of the 1,002 Canadians surveyed by BMO — 42% — said they would be skipping a March Break trip outside the country thanks to the loonie’s current exchange rate versus the American dollar and Euro. Of the survey respondents who said they still planned to travel, 61% said they would stay within Canada.

“Canadians should make sure that their holiday is as stress free as possible,” said BMO Insurance vice-president Julie Barker-Merz in a press release. “We can’t control things like a declining dollar or bad weather, so it’s important to get a handle on what travel worries you can control.”

The BMO Insurance survey also found that 44% of Canadians are worried about needing medical attention when on vacation, 55% are concerned about encountering poor weather on holiday and 47% feared losing something of value when travelling.

For more data from this survey, see the regional breakdown below:

Region

% that are less likely to travel due to the declining value of the Canadian dollar

% of travellers that are planning to travel inside Canada

% that are worried about requiring medical attention  

National

42

61

44

Atlantic

44

75

49

Quebec

35

64

44

Ontario

43

54

50

Prairies

48

59

30

Alberta

44

60

42

B.C.

49

65

37