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You know that old idiom, “everything happens in threes?” Well, it absolutely applies in the case of WiFi on cruise ships this season. At-sea connectivity is a notoriously sore spot in the cruise industry, since the standard satellite systems bring embarrassingly low bandwidth at a shamefully high cost. In most cases, we’re talking $0.75 per minute. For real.
Several years ago it was normal to be charged ~$300 just to keep up some minimal internet access for emailing and some social media-ing on a 7-day cruise, and as of 2014 not much had changed...other than the passengers’ desire for more time online at a better price.
Then along came Royal Caribbean’s “smartship” Quantum of the Seas and its lower cost, lower orbit, higher bandwidth satellite technology, includinggaspunlimited plans.
Compared to previous episodes, Brazil was predictable, and stereotypical. Instead of stepping off the beaten path, Karl got waxed and shopped for a Speedo before being forced to spend time at gay and nude beaches. No surprises there.
Despite frigid temperatures (it plummeted to -4F on Saturday), locals didn’t seem to mind the weather, instead numbing the cold with the potent Port and brandy-infused Caribou liquor
If you're Brazilian, or, a Cariocaphile (a Rio lover) then you've already started the countdown for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Back in October, we were down in the "Marvelous City" and right smack in the middle of Copacabana Beach with the rest of Rio for the world announcement. Don't worry, our writer Shira Levine cased the joint to check things out for those of you considering getting your Olympic Games on in, uhhh six and half years. Questions or suggestions? Let us know.
In Rio you can samba anywhere. (The clubs, the beach, your mom's house.) Here are a few places we shook it Carioca style. (Save the classy fist-pumping Jersey Shore-style samba for stateside Mardi Gras celebrations.)
Off-season (as in not during the February month of Carnival)is a much tamer and less expensive way to to channel your inner Carmen Miranda. While it might take two nights of sweaty samba dancing for non-Cariocas to catch onto the double time quick steps, once you nail it you'll be shaking your moneymaker as if Jesus Christ the Redeemer himself was en route from Corcovado Mountain for the second coming. (Our first observation of the samba was that it looked like someone desperately needing to use the bathroom.)
The most popular time to visit Brazil is for Carnival, the annual debauch-fest preceding Lent, which starts February 6. (The parties rage from February 2 to 5.) But do you really want to compete with all those crowds for a view of a few feathers and spangles? If you're looking for a last-minute getaway, travel around the crowds and consider a smaller city instead of Brazil's big two.
A trip to Salvador da Bahia, in the northeastern part of the country, will expose you to the glories of Brazilian culture in a more laid-back setting. With a package deal, you could learn the samba and Brazilian cooking or kick ass with capoeira classes and still have time to visit the beach. That way, you'll be ready to perform in next year's Carnival parade.
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With Mardi Gras/Carnival here, it's the perfect time to figure out what parties to hit this time next year. On Forbes' list of the World's 12 Biggest Parties, the biggies are all represented, but one that was new to us was the Carnival in Binche, 40 miles from Brussels. Not so much with the naked flesh at this medieval celebration, but there are "roving Mam'selles" --men in drag -- and thousands of oranges being hurled through the air. Throw in the possibility of lots of good, good beer, and you've got yourself a party, cher.
Image from the book Le Carnaval de Binche
· Carnaval de Binche [Official site]
During Carnival, which starts on the 25th, Brazil's government plans to give away 25 million condoms. Perhaps that should be "a whopping 25 million condoms." (Or maybe not -- there are about 140 million adults in Brazil, and that's not even counting all the randy tourists.)
· 25 MILLION condoms? Who's watching Carnival? [Reuters]
· 'Dress Yourself' Campaign [ABC News]