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California Coast RV Road Trip

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Going to Orlando and its Parks

It’s time to make a journey and the destination this time is called Orlando, a space full of fun that attracts millions of people during the whole year due to it’s famous parks, places like Disney World, Universal Studio or the Cabo Discovery will keep you busy all day long. Start by looking for a More »

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Enjoy fall foliage by boat

5 hrs.

Courtesy New York Water Taxi

New York Water Taxi in NYC is one of a handful of enterprising boat companies that now offer traffic-free foliage tours by water.

Driving around looking at the gorgeous amber, orange and sunset-colored leaves of deciduous trees is a familiar fall road trip, but a handful of enterprising boat companies now offer traffic-free foliage tours by water.

For three upcoming Sundays (Oct. 21 and 28, and Nov. 4), New York Water Taxi offers guided day trips leaving from Manhattan at 12:30 p.m., and gliding 60 miles up the Hudson River to West Point. Introduced two years ago, the five-hour round-trip takes passengers past historic sights such as Grant’s Tomb, and Sleepy Hollow, where Washington Irving is now buried; and offers views of brightly hued trees like red maple, yellow birch and flowering dogwood. The $65 ticket price includes lunch (sandwiches, salads and desserts from Fresco by Scotto); a cash bar sells cocktails costing up to $10. The route is so popular that the company also does a VIP tour lasting a full weekend, with a night in West Point, rooftop cocktails at a lounge overlooking the Hudson Valley, and a tour of America’s oldest winery, Brotherhood, which still uses cellars dug in 1839.
Tickets are $499 for one person, or $750 for two.

More fall foliage cruises:

DC Cruises, Oct. 20-Nov. 24 (weekends only)
One-hour cruises on double-decker boats take passengers through the capital’s waterways, passing sights like the Jefferson Memorial, flanked by brilliant trees. Passengers can sip free hot cider from Ziegler’s, made from regionally-sourced apples. A Thanksgiving day cruise swaps cider for pumpkin-spiced tea and other festive snacks.
Tickets: $24 for adults, $12 for children.

Atlantic Seal Cruises, Oct. 6-27
Three-hour excursions on a 28-person cruiser navigate around the small islands of Maine’s Casco Bay. As the company name suggests, harbor seals congregate on rock ledges and play in the bay as the boats pass. Other wildlife native to the area includes osprey, herons and the occasional whale.
Tickets: $35 for adults, $25 for children 5-12, $20 for children 1-5.

Mississippi River Cruises, Sept. 27-Nov. 17
The Celebration Belle, a classic 800-passenger paddlewheel boat, departs from both Moline, Ill., and Dubuque, Iowa, on four-hour Mississippi cruises. A lunch buffet with dishes like baked cranberry-glazed chicken and turtle cheesecake—all prepared fresh on board—is included, as is live music from the Celebration River Cruises band.
Tickets: $60 for adults, $45 for children.

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Disney announces weekly park surprises for 2013

Richard Drew / AP

People with mouse ear caps and balloons gather near a three-story castle mad of ice in New York’s Times Square. On Wednesday, Disney announced a new program for 2013, “Limited Time Magic,” in which guests will encounter surprise weekly themes at Disney parks in Florida and California.

Social media will be a big component of a new program announced by Disney Wednesday in which the company’s parks in California and Florida will feature weekly surprise themes and events.

The “Limited Time Magic” program announced Wednesday will include impromptu concerts, dance parties, colored lighting, character meet-and-greets, new menu and merchandise items and other events at Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., and Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., near Orlando.

Disney will use Twitter, blogs, websites and other online activity to let park visitors know what’s happening. Guests might also be asked to vote on which characters they’d like to see or be sent on scavenger hunts with hints to figure out what’s new or different.

“It’s a fun, lighthearted, new way to get people engaged,” Leslie Ferraro, executive vice president of global marketing and sales for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, said at a news conference in Manhattan announcing the program.

Disney erected a 25-foot-tall castle made of ice in Times Square to symbolize the fleeting nature of the weekly surprises, and water ran down the turrets as the ice melted Wednesday morning. Blase New Yorkers hurried past without giving it a second glance but some fans and tourists donned mouse ears and took pictures.

Each “Limited Time Magic” theme will last a week. Plans include celebrations of July Fourth, “Pirate Week,” 3-D chalk art, “Long Lost Friends Week” featuring lesser-known Disney characters. A Valentine’s Day celebration will feature pink and red lighting on Disney castles and romantic candlelit dinners in park restaurants.

Other Disney park news this year includes the June opening of Cars Land at California Adventure at Disneyland, and the continuing expansion of Fantasyland at Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. The Fantasyland project, which is the largest expansion in the park’s 41-year history, began in March with the first of two Dumbo rides taking flight and is expected to be completed in 2014.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Baggage handler gets life in prison for smuggling drugs

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A former American Airlines baggage handler has been given life in prison for his role in a drug-smuggling ring operating through John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Victor Bourne received the sentence Tuesday in federal court in Brooklyn. Bourne was found guilty last year of charges he used his behind-the-scenes access at New York City’s busiest airport to orchestrate the smuggling of more than 330 pounds of cocaine from 2000 and 2009.

Prosecutors accused the 37-year-old native of Barbados of helping recruit and organize a crew of corrupt airport employees.

Authorities say Bourne made millions of dollars in drug proceeds he laundered through business ventures in Brooklyn and Barbados.

The sentencing capped a federal investigation that has resulted in the convictions of 20 people, 19 of them airlines employees.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

8 hrs.

The former captain of the Costa Concordia luxury cruise ship Francesco Schettino.

Experts: Costa Concordia equipment may not have been working before crash

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Plane from Miami quarantined in New Orleans after passenger becomes ill

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Plane from Miami quarantined after passenger becomes ill

3 hrs.

A plane that originated in Miami had to be quarantined when it arrived in New Orleans after a female passenger fell ill on board Monday, airline officials said.

This story originally appeared on NBCMiami.com.

A medical emergency was reported on American Airlines Flight 1003, which left Miami International Airport at 4:31 p.m. and landed at Armstrong International Airport at 5:27 p.m., officials said.

The plane was held in quarantine as the woman was checked out by local emergency medical responders and transported to an area hospital, officials said.

Medics determined the woman wasn’t contagious and the rest of the 146 passengers and six crew members were allowed to deplane.

The plane was cleaned and arrived back in Miami at 10:48 p.m.

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Experts: Costa Concordia equipment malfunctioned before crash

2 hrs.

Video: Francesco Schettino, the captain of the capsized Costa Concordia, faced the survivors and families of victims at a court hearing where audio from the ship’s black box was released. NBC’s Michelle Kosinksi reports.

Gregorio Borgia / AP

The case of the former captain of the Costa Concordia luxury cruise ship Francesco Schettino, 51, is of such interest that a theater had to be turned into a courtroom to accommodate those who had a legitimate claim to attend the closed-door hearing.

GROSSETO/GIGLIO, Italy – An Italian court heard on Tuesday that equipment aboard the Costa Concordia luxury liner may not have been functioning when she ran aground and capsized, killing 32 people.

The list of issues compiled by a panel of court-appointed experts included a wide range of alleged malfunctions, from lights that did not work during the disaster to the possibility that radar equipment had been turned off or broken.

The hearing is closed to the public because the huge media interest could not be accommodated.

The 114,500-ton luxury cruise ship capsized on Jan. 13 after approaching the Tuscan island of Giglio to perform a maneuver close to the shore known as a salute. It struck a rock which tore a gash in its hull.

Previous story: Packed court as Costa captain hears evidence

Also on Tuesday, Francesco Schettino, the captain blamed for the disaster admitted he made mistakes but accused the cruise liner company of mishandling the response. He said last week he was suing Costa Cruises, a unit of Carnival Corp., for unfair dismissal following the accident.

His lawyer Francesco Pepe said the hearing would show his client was not solely responsible for the disaster.

“Schettino’s responsibility needs to be established and it needs to be established that others may have contributed as well,” he said after the conclusion of the hearing’s first day.

Meanwhile in Giglio, where the stricken liner still lays on her side awaiting salvage, news has emerged that thieves broke into the Costa Concordia earlier this year, stealing furniture, paintings and luxury goods from a gift shop. Sources at Costa Crociere say the thieves had used entry holes and guide ropes made by search and rescue teams to get into the ship.

Video: An Italian court will decide if Francesco Schettino, the captain of the capsized Costa Concordia cruise ship, should face a full trial next year for the deaths of 32 people. NBC’s Claudio Lavanga reports.

I saved your lives’
Schettino slipped into court by a back door on Tuesday, wearing dark glasses and offering just a brief wave to waiting journalists. According to Italian TV network Tg1, he spoke to two German Costa passengers inside court, saying, “I saved your lives and those of many other passengers.”

This week’s hearings will help the judge decide if Schettino should stand trial. He is accused of manslaughter, causing the shipwreck and abandoning ship while passengers and crew were still aboard. He denies the accusations and has not been charged.

Video: Six months after the Costa Concordia disaster, some of the survivors are fighting the settlements being offered to them and sounding the alarm that throughout the cruise industry, passengers have fewer rights than many may realize. Rock Center’s Harry Smith reports.

Previous story: Costa Concordia cruise ship captain says sacking unfair

A key question is how much of the blame Schettino should shoulder himself and how much responsibility lies with his crew and employer, Costa Crociere, a division of the Miami-based Carnival Corp. Costa Crociere has denied negligence and has distanced itself from Schettino, firing him in July.

In all, nine people face the prospect of criminal trial, which would be unlikely to begin before next year.

The company’s lawyer defended the ship’s other crew.

“I believe that everything that came out yesterday — and the conclusions drawn by the court appointed experts — acknowledge that everything that could have been done by the Costa Concordia crew, was done,” Marco de Luca, a lawyer for Costa Crociere, told NBC News, outside the courtroom. 

“The one fact that has been completely underestimated is that more than four thousand people were disembarked in a short period of time — some two hours — and this was done exclusively by Costa personnel.”

Praxilla Trabattoni and Claudio Lavanga of NBC News, Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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