Unlocking the World

Travel marvels: Flying yachts and whale-shaped planes

Maureen O'Hare, CNNPublished 29th January 2022
Airbus' Beluga XL takes off from Toulouse Blagnac airport on April 30, 2020. - The aircraft entered service on January 09, 2020, after receiving its type certification on 13 November 2019. (Photo by REMY GABALDA / AFP) (Photo by REMY GABALDA/AFP via Getty Images)
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(CNN) — A "flying car" is cleared for takeoff, and plans have been revealed for a flying yacht.
Airbus is chartering its much-loved Beluga XL plane, and a robot vacuum cleaner escaped from a UK hotel.
Here's the latest news from CNN Travel.

Cases rise but curbs relax

With new Covid cases hitting a global record and 15 more places added to the CDC's highest-risk travel category, you might think travel rules would be tightening up again.
But that's not the case in Europe, where despite "very high" risk designations, the European Union is advising its countries' governments to allow vaccinated citizens test-free travel around the region starting February 1. The United Kingdom is also relaxing restrictions for jabbed travelers on February 11.
Is the pandemic's end in sight? Maybe. In the meantime, here's how to think about planning travel right now.

Life in Asia

In Thailand, CNN's Richard Quest revisits the classic Bangkok millions know and love.
After battening down the hatches for Omicron, Bangkok will be reopening to tourists in February; here's what it's like to visit the Thai capital now. And in Bhutan, an ancient trail is set to reopen this spring for the first time in 60 years.
Hong Kong's Covid quarantine measures have been famously strict throughout the pandemic. This first-person account goes inside a 21-day stay at a government camp.
Hong Kong's zero-tolerance Covid rules are affecting animals, too. The city's animal owners are resorting to private jets when they need to relocate their pets.

Flying yachts, cars and whales

The MY Galactica yacht passed under bridges with just inches of clearance on its maiden voyage through the rivers and canals of the southern Netherlands.
A flying car has been cleared for takeoff in Slovakia, but you need a pilot's license to drive it. And a new Italian superyacht concept has the ability to sail high in the air as well as ride the waves.
The superyacht's helium-filled blimps could have been useful earlier this month when a huge 262-foot (80-meter) boat squeezed under a Dutch bridge with just a few inches of clearance.
Meanwhile, normally sea-bound beasts are likely to become a more common sight in the sky, as Airbus is set to charter its much-loved Beluga XL "whale plane."

Mayhem, misadventure and moolah

A female tourist was thrown out of Venice for posing topless on a war memorial, while in England a robot vacuum cleaner was reported to have escaped from a budget hotel and was still at large the next day.
A cruise ship had an arrest warrant waiting in Miami. So it took passengers to the Bahamas instead.
A German passenger who was traveling to Thailand with more than €33,000 in cash lost his money en route but was reunited with his stash by police on his return through Dubai International Airport, reports UAE's The National.

Sky and sea

"Flights to nowhere" were a mini aviation trend in 2020 and 2021, as airlines dealt with pandemic restrictions on the ground by offering round-trip sightseeing adventures in the sky. We look at what's next for this quirky trend.
Martyn Griffiths of industry body Cruise Lines International Association told CNN Travel in June 2021 that cruise ships were "one of the safest vacation environments available today."
But as the highly transmissible Omicron spreads around the world and more reports come through of cruises canceled or turned around in the middle of voyages, the short-term future of smooth sailing is looking uncertain.

'Travel was always priority number one'

Elizabeth and Kris Sokolowski and their son Braden.
courtesy Kris Sokolowski
Kris Sokolowski, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2021, tells CNN Travel why exploring the world with his loved ones is his focus.

In case you missed it

There's an Italian village where they don't speak Italian.
The official language is a medieval dialect.
Many-sided Mexico: What it's like to visit Tulum and Guadalajara during Covid.
And more Mexico experiences in CNN's "Parts Unknown" podcast from Anthony Bourdain's 2014 trip.
This couple met in the icy wilds of Antarctica.