Travel Briefs

Many of the Vatican Museums can be toured virtually, including Raphael’s Rooms, the Profane Museum, the Lapidary Gallery and the Sistine Chapel. Visit and select a virtual tour.


Two Russian icebreakers, the Akademik Ioffe and Akademic Sergey Vavilov, will no longer be available for passenger cruises. The two ships were being operated by One Ocean Expeditions for polar cruises with the permission of the government of Russia. However, in May 2019, Russia seized the ships without prior notice (Aug. ’19, pg. 4). In January 2020, One Ocean declared bankruptcy.

At press time, both ships were dry-docked in Russia, being upgraded for a return to strictly...


The entire South Pacific island of Niue was named an International Dark Sky Sanctuary, an area protected because of its exceptional views of the night sky, by the International Dark-Sky Association (Tucson, AZ; 520/293-3198, on March 7.

The first whole country or territory to be given that designation, it is described by the IDA as a “dark sky nation.”

Niue, with a diameter of just over 100 miles, has a population of about 1,600 people. It is a self...


The 2020 Summer Olympics, scheduled to start in Tokyo, Japan, on Aug. 24, now will be held July 23-Aug. 8, 2021, due to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic. At press time, there were no changes to the events being held, and purchased tickets were still valid for the 2021 dates.

Marriott International announced on March 31 that the company had detected a breach in its customer information databases, affecting all hotel chains owned by the company. The breach exposed the names, contact details and loyalty account information of up to 5.2 million people. Account passwords and credit card numbers were not exposed.

Marriott notified all customers confirmed to have had information exposed by the breach. It also set up a website to assist customers who know or...


At 1,200 kilometers (746 miles), the Baltic Coastal Hiking trail follows the Baltic coast from southernmost Latvia to Tallinn, Estonia. A detailed map, with suggested section itineraries and sights, can be found at At the recommended pace, the full route can be completed in 60 days.

In Nancy, France, after years of restoration to match its original state, the Villa Majorelle (36-38, rue du Sergent Blandan; phone +33 03 83 85 30 01, [in French only]) opened to the public as a historic monument on Feb. 19. Built in 1901-02, the Art Nouveau home was designed by architect Henri Sauvage for furniture designer Louis Marjorelle.

Restoration included removing exterior elements added after the original construction and, inside, adding...


Located in the House at the Black Madonna (Ovocný trh 19, Prague, Czechia), so-called because of the Baroque, gilded statue of the Madonna embedded in the corner of the building (constructed 1911-1912), the Cubism section of the Museum of Decorative Arts (phone +420 778 543 902, contains examples of Cubist-design textiles, furniture, jewelry, printing and more over two floors. A third floor holds temporary exhibits.

In Prague’s Old Town, the museum is open...