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Carnival Nixes Social-Impact Cruises in Caribbean | Frommer's FreeImages / Richard Hewitt

Trump Threatens Cuba Reversal, Japan Plans Hot-Tub Roller Coaster, and More: Today's Travel Briefing

A roundup of travel news from all over

Good morning, everybody! Here's the latest from the world's airlines, cruise ships, and theme parks.

* TRUMP STILL THREATENING TO REVERSE OBAMA'S CUBA POLICY (CNBC)

President-elect Donald Trump continues to threaten that he'll undo President Barack Obama's 2014 deal to normalize relations between the United States and Cuba.

Following the November 25 death of Fidel Castro, Trump tweeted on Monday, "If Cuba is unwilling to make a better deal for the Cuban people, the Cuban-American people and the U.S. as a whole, I will terminate deal."

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Trump used similar rhetoric on the campaign trail. As our own Arthur Frommer has pointed out, a reversal of Obama's policy would almost certainly curtail Americans' ability to travel to Cuba.

As it happens, Trump renewed his threat on the very day that American Airlines and JetBlue became the first commercial carriers to operate flights between the U.S. and Havana in more than 50 years.

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In other Cuba-related news . . .

* CARNIVAL NIXES SOCIAL-IMPACT CRUISES IN CARIBBEAN (Travel Weekly)

Carnival Corporation has announced that the company is pulling the plug on Fathom cruises, a one-ship line introduced just last year.

The point of the brand was to offer "social-impact cruises," incorporating sightseeing as well as volunteer projects and cultural exchange, with routes to the Dominican Republic and Cuba.

Carnival was hoping to capitalize on the (possibly overhyped?) voluntourism trend, while also meeting the "people-to-people" travel rules that require Americans visiting Cuba to engage in activities that fit into one of 12 categories promoting cultural exchange, education, or charitable assistance.  

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As a matter of fact, Fathom became the first cruise line regularly traveling between the U.S. and Cuba in more than 50 years. 

Demand for the line's Dominican sailings, however, was low, which might have contributed to Carnival's decision to scrap it. 

The company has requested approval from Cuba to cruise to the island with other brands, and says the "Fathom experience" will live on as a slate of socially conscious shoreside excursions.

* JAPANESE CITY PLANS SPA-THEMED AMUSEMENT PARK WITH HOT-TUB ROLLER COASTER (The Telegraph)

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If you've ever taken a relaxing soak in a hot spring and said, "Gosh, this is nice, but I wish there were some way to throw in the heart-racing thrills of a roller coaster ride," we'd think you were being completely ridiculous. There's a time for everything, we'd tell you, and the time for speeding along a track with sharp turns and sudden drops is not while you're sitting in a pool of steaming water. What's wrong with you? we would continue. Somebody's going to get hurt.

But hey, what do we know? 

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The Japanese resort city of Beppu—located amid the famous hot springs of Kyushu island—has announced plans to build the world's first spa-themed amusement park.

To get an idea of what that might be like, you can watch a 100% insane promotional video released last week. Filled with visitors of all ages wearing only towels, the clip shows smiling parkgoers riding a carousel, Ferris wheel, cable cars, and a roller coaster—all while sitting in built-in tubs bubbling with spring water.


Beppu's mayor, Yasuhiro Nagano, also appears, promising that the city will build the park if the video reaches one million views.

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When it reached 1.8 million views four days after it was posted (it's gotten more than 2 million on YouTube as of this writing), the mayor's office released a statement thanking the public for its support and confirming that the plans will move forward. 

No completion date has been announced, and it's unclear whether the finished product will look at all like what's shown in the video.

Our Travel Briefing appears regularly on the Frommers.com home page. Catch up on past installments by clicking here. For more updates, as well as vacation photos and travel tips, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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