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See Live Rocket Blast This Summer, Before Anti-Gravity Takes Over

anti-gravityVisitors to Florida's Kennedy Space Center have been lining up to see Space Shuttle Atlantis in a new $200 million exhibit that opened in June. But while traveling over 26 million miles, Atlantis' glory days are over and the circa-1976 space ship will never fly again. Still, live launch viewing opportunities are available and this summer is host to one of the most exciting.

On Friday, July 19, NASA will launch a 191-foot Atlas V rocket, allowing visitors to view the launch from the Apollo/Saturn V Center, the closest possible public viewing area. That Atlas 5 rocket is launching the second Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) satellite for the U.S. Navy, part of a new system that is providing improved ground communications for U.S. forces on the move.

A limited number of tickets for the Apollo/Saturn V Center launch, also viewable from a special area at the Visitors Complex with live commentary during the event, are available for an additional $20 plus tax on top of normal admission.

Blasting off from Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, the launch window is tight. To maximize the success of the mission, launch must occur between 8:51 and 9:35 a.m. ET.

Cruise Ship Back In Baltimore After Fire, Repairs Continue

cruise ship
Chris Owen
When cruise ships come to town, civic leaders rejoice. The floating resorts bring with them jobs and tourism dollars that might be otherwise elusive. In May, Baltimore, Maryland, welcomed Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas to town with gusto, as the state's governor named May 13 Royal Caribbean Cruise Day. But the hoopla of that new cruise ship in town was short lived when just days later, the ship caught fire and was pulled out of service for repairs. Still, cruise lines are worth courting for cities and those cities are worth standing behind for cruise lines.

Returning to Baltimore this week, there was no brass band or gubernatorial declaration and the reason for the fire is still under investigation. Affecting three aft decks of the ship, some areas are still not ready for passengers, reports Travel Weekly. But local businesses and media are still excited to see the ship return, sailing from the Port of Baltimore on seven-night sailings to Bermuda and the Bahamas.

Underwater Concert A Summertime Favorite

Underwater concertThis time of year, festivals and events scattered around the United States are often the highlight of summer, drawing visitors from near and far. As part of a road trip, a weekend outing or just a break from summer monotony, outdoor summer concerts take advantage of the nice weather, bringing our favorite artists or bands to enjoy. Those sincere in their desire to escape the heat go to Big Pine Keys in Florida where their version is held underwater.

The Lower Keys Underwater Music Festival in Big Pine Keys, Florida, is in its 29th year, inviting water-lovers for an underwater concert. This year the theme is a Salute to the Rolling Stone Crabs.

Royal Baby's Arrival To Be Celebrated At Heathrow

Royal Baby Arrival
Heathrow Airport
London's Heathrow airport has plans for a very special "arrival" of the royal baby. The first 1,000 arriving passengers in each terminal after the royal birth, whenever that may be, will be informed of the future heir's birth with complimentary bespoke t-shirts and British gift boxes including Twinings Tea and Walkers shortbread biscuits.

Departing passengers will also receive the gift boxes in the departures lounges as a farewell, giving them a piece of Britain to take home. Heathrow representatives, collectively speaking over 40 languages, will be on hand to make everyone feel right at home.

While the royal baby will surely trump other comings and goings at Heathrow, the first British Airways A380 was also a recent celebrated arrival. See the video below.

Seamless Travel Plan In The Works For EU

Rochester Scouser/Flickr
Traveling in, around or through the European Union's 28 nations is not like traveling around the 50 United States. Different countries have different rules, systems and procedures in place.

But what if it was?

And The Snobbiest City In America Is ...

Curtis Fry/Flickr
According to the readers of Travel + Leisure magazine, San Francisco came out on top in their list of the Snobbiest Cities In America during a recent poll. Based on the magazine's America's Favorite City survey, readers ranked 35 major U.S. metropolitan areas on their snobbishness. Not without positive accolades, the results also highlighted good reasons to visit each of the cities ranked.

"Any snobbiness didn't stop San Francisco from being acknowledged for its welcoming attitude: the city also ranked first in the survey for being gay-friendly," says Travel + Leisure in the details of San Francisco's allure for travelers.

In second place came New York City followed by Boston, Minneapolis-St. Paul and tied for fifth place were Santa Fe and Seattle.

Croatia Joins EU, Keeps Pretty Money

Karl Baron/Flickr
Travel to Croatia is increasing, up nearly 20 percent over last year just counting visitors from North America. Showcased by the popular HBO series "Game of Thrones," Croatia has seen a surge in tourism, one that they hope to continue by joining the European Union.

Last year, visitors from the United States and Canada reached 237,826, up 17.8 percent over 2011. Recovering from a multi-year recession, Croatia believes being part of the EU will give tourism an additional boost but will be a member on their own terms.

Croatia, the home of Dalmatian dogs, will not be a member of the Schengen area that allows members easy access in and out of the country. Instead they will continue checking passports of all entering or exiting the country.

Jamaica Bans Smoking Tobacco, Marijuana Is Another Matter

Project Zaldivar26/Flickr
Banning smoking in public places is not all that uncommon as popular destinations worldwide look to promote a healthy environment for visitors to enjoy. But to some in the Bob Marley-induced culture of Jamaica, tobacco smoke is not the issue.

The new law of the land goes into effect on July 15, when visitors will no longer "have to involuntarily inhale tobacco smoke, with its over 40 carcinogens," said Jamaica's minister of health Fenton Ferguson in a Jamaica Observer article. Jamaicans get that, responding with support for the move to ban cigarette smoking.

On another smoke-related front, Jamaica's Ganja Law Reform Coalition (GLRC) argues that marijuana is a plant with various uses, including environmental and recreational. They propose for marijuana to be taxed and regulated, something not on the agenda of minister Ferguson.

Smartphone Technology Getting Closer To What Travelers Want

Smartphone Technoloy
Chris Owen
As smartphone technology continues to advance, travelers are being offered more connectivity choices. Making calls, sending text, voice or video messages and surfing the Internet is becoming commonplace almost anywhere on the planet. Now, pricing is coming in line too as service providers realize what it is we want when traveling.

"Our mission is for all travelers to have the freedom to use their mobile devices the same way as at home when traveling abroad, without having to worry about chokingly high mobile bills," says Joacim Boivie, CEO and Founder, HolidayPhone, a leading solutions provider of roaming free mobile Internet, voice and text services for international travelers in a Breaking Travel News report.

Like Boingo, the worldwide connectivity company with over 700,000 Wi-Fi hot spots in over 100 countries, HolidayPhone also enables connection. Unlike Boingo, which automatically communicates then connects with local hot spots on your behalf, enabling connection using only an installed app, the HolidayPhone method is a twist on the SIM card pay-as-you-go trick that has travelers buying cards for each country they visit.

Solar Airplane Completes Cross-Country Flight

solar airplane
Solar Impulse |Merz|
If you have been following along on the journey of Solar Impulse, the solar airplane that was set to fly across the United States, we have good news: the journey is over after a successful flight from Washington to New York on Saturday.

The two-month, ground-breaking flight started in California and took 14,000 viewers along for the ride in streaming video. The "Clean Generation" initiative flight of Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg successfully landed at New York John F. Kennedy International Airport at 11:09 p.m. EDT. Flying across the United States, Solar Impulse was powered only by energy that came from 12,000 solar cells installed on its wings and horizontal stabilizer.

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