The Check-In: Making summer travel less stressful, the world’s biggest cruise ship, and more

Welcome to The Check-In, our weekend feature focusing on all things travel.

Flight attendants share their tips on making summer travel easier

If anyone knows how to make air travel better, it’s flight attendants, who can tell you what works (getting on a plane early in the day) and what doesn’t (having a tight connection). Three pros — married couple Rich Henderson and Andrew Henderson and Essence Griffin — spoke to CNN Travel and gave the scoop on ways to make flying this summer a (relative) breeze.

Skip advertDelays can always happen. To minimize the risk, travel first thing in the morning. No one likes getting on a plane at 5 a.m., Rich said, but those flights are “way easier than the ones later in the day. There’s just fewer issues, there hasn’t been a chance for things to go wrong.”Try to avoid peak travel times, including Friday evenings and Monday mornings, and connections that are tight — if you have 30 minutes between your first plane landing and your second taking off, you will be frantically running across the airport.When traveling for something that has a set time, like a wedding or cruise sailing, give yourself a buffer of at least a day. “I see often people are trying to make the most of their time by cutting it really close, and that really just adds so much stress to your travel,” Rich said.If possible, avoid checking in a bag and only bring a carry-on. It’s hard to go from point A to point B while lugging a large suitcase, and at airports, “there are a lot of bags lost — it’s just easy for them to misplace your bag,” Griffin said.

Royal Caribbean’s massive Icon of the Seas is set to be the world’s largest cruise ship

It’s full steam ahead for the Icon of the Seas.

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Royal Caribbean’s new cruise ship — set to be the world’s largest — just finished its initial sea trials. The main engines, brake system, and bow and propellers were tested, and a second round of trials is set for later this year. Royal Caribbean said the Icon of the Seas will launch in January 2024, with 7-night cruises out of Miami to the Eastern and Western Caribbean.

Once in operation, the Icon of the Seas will dethrone Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas as the world’s biggest cruise ship, with 20 decks and eight distinct “neighborhoods” featuring food, shopping, activities, and entertainment. Just about anything you can imagine will be on this ship, including a waterpark, theme park and the three-story “Ultimate Family Townhouse,” with a karaoke station and slide. Because of its immense size, the Icon of the Seas will carry a lot of people — 5,610 passengers and 2,350 crew to be exact.

After an 18-hour delay, this traveler had an entire plane to himself

Sometimes, it pays to stick out a long flight delay. Phil Stringer, a realtor from Greensboro, North Carolina, was set to fly out of Oklahoma City to Charlotte on Sunday, but storms forced American Airlines to keep pushing back his flight’s departure. As the hours ticked by, passengers started booking other flights or just canceling, and after 17 hours and 52 minutes, Stringer was the last man standing. His flight was finally ready to take off early Monday, and he was the sole passenger.

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The crew had been at their hotel, getting ready to go to sleep, when they were called to work the flight, Stringer told WSOC-TV. “I felt so badly because I was like, oh my gosh, they literally had to come here for me,” he said. Still, spirits were high, and Stringer shared a TikTok of the experience that went viral. There was one last bump in the road — Stringer’s suitcase got misplaced and it took 45 minutes to find it — but he kept going with the flow, and is now laughing about the journey with the crew. “I exchanged phone numbers with them, we’re still literally texting today and group messaging,” he said.

Italian police ID tourist who carved names into the Colosseum

The Disrespectful Tourist Award goes to the man recorded last week using a key to engrave an inscription on a wall in the Colosseum. He carved “Ivan + Hayley 23” on the ancient structure, Reuters reported, an act that was “offensive to everyone around the world who appreciates the value of archaeology, monuments and history,” Italian Culture Minister Gennaro Sangiuliano said. Police said the vandal is from England, and he left Italy before authorities could question him. If caught, he faces a hefty fine of 15,000 euros ($16,311) and up to five years in jail.

Add this to your calendar

Bon Iver, Patti Smith, Mumford & Sons, Leon Bridges, and Japanese Breakfast are just some of the artists playing during this year’s Beach Road Weekend in Martha’s Vineyard, August 25-27. The lineup is strong and the setting is gorgeous, making this an excellent way to wrap up the summer. You can purchase a 3-day or single pass.

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