Fly or cruise to the North Pole

Chicago Tribune
North Pole trip is yours for $25,000

Not many mere mortals ever have the chance to stand at the North Pole. Sure, there have been explorers and adventurers over the years who have walked, skied, dog-sledded or used a variety of means to get there. But not the less athletic folks. Now the only thing keeping you from going is the deepness of your pockets. Quark Expeditions can get you there by air or by nuclear icebreaker. Either option will set you back somewhere between $25,000 and $30,000. Oh, and that's double occupancy, by the way. The plus side of flying to the pole is that you get to spend a night at Barneo ice camp, a research station that's a half-hour helicopter flight from the pole. Total duration for the trip is four nights. The trip aboard the nuclear icebreaker 50 Years of Victory runs two weeks, but just one day is at 90 degrees north latitude. The rest of the time is spent getting there and back. Info: tinyurl.com/k59wlm9

Trends in cruising

For fans of cruises it's always helpful to keep track of how the winds are blowing in the world of cruise lines. Bigger and bigger ships have been the trend in recent years, but it's also good to know the good and the bad. CruiseCritic.com naturally keeps a close watch on what's happening and has compiled a list of 15 trends it sees for the coming year. Cover charges for specialty restaurants have been around for a while, but now there are more restaurant surcharges cropping up, which cruise lines defend as offering more choices. For instance, the Chops Grille on Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas offers dry-aged steaks, but they'll set you back an additional $18-$19. One promising trend is the increasing availability on some lines of solo cabins, which may free singles from having to pay a single supplement. Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, P&O Cruises and Fred. Olsen Cruises are among lines that have that option on some of their ships. Read the whole trends report at tinyurl.com/mom2s3h.

Bird's-eye view in Myanmar

Getting a view of any destination from high above generally is a real plus, and Backyard Travel is offering that chance with its 14-day Myanmar in Depth tour. Book it by March 31 and they'll throw in a free hot-air balloon flight over Inle Lake, located in the central portion of the country, formerly known as Burma. The 60-minute flight typically costs $420 per person. Cost of the Myanmar in Depth package is from $2,789 per person double occupancy and depends on date. In addition to Inle Lake, highlights of the tour include Yangon, Mandalay, an elephant camp and many small rural communities. Info: tinyurl.com/nymm5ev

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