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Polar Nights

Luxury cruise line Ponant has launched three brand-new itineraries so travelers can discover the dramatic landscapes of Lapland and the polar region, as well as the Christmas traditions of Scandinavia aboard its vessel Le Commandant Charcot.

Sleigh rides, ice fishing, kayaking and keeping watch for the Northern Lights are among the activities on offer.

Ponant will take guests above the Arctic Circle to explore Norway’s Lofoten islands on horseback while encountering local communities including the Sami and Norwegian reindeer herders.

Its Scandinavian Christmas voyages will take in local craft stalls as well as the snow-sprinkled landscapes of the Gulf of Bothnia in Swedish and Finnish Lapland.

“Ponant is excited to unveil seven meticulously curated voyages that showcase our commitment to exceptional journeys,” said Chris Hall, CEO Asia Pacific.

“With the introduction of three innovative polar night itineraries and four captivating Scandinavian Christmas departures aboard Le Commandant Charcot, Ponant’s dedication to delivering unparalleled experiences is guaranteed to be nothing short of spectacular.”

Italian Inspiration

Rolls-Royce has unveiled a one-of-a-kind bespoke motor car, inspired by the breathtaking vineyards of the Cinque Terre region in Italy. The Phantom features a grapes motif embroidered on its rear doors and inlaid on picnic tables as a homage to the wine culture of the area.

Hand-painted gallery artwork depicts the vibrant hues and distinctive cliffside architecture of the five fishing villages.

A unique Starlight Headliner features an intricately embroidered map of Italy with five softly glowing stars carefully positioned to represent each village.

Online Excess

The appetite for premium shopping shows no signs of abating, with digital channels becoming an increasingly popular way to shop. In fact, new research from Luxe Digital revealed that traffic to luxury brands’ websites grew, on average, by 31 percent in 2023.

Meanwhile, Dior overtook Gucci as the world’s most popular luxury brand online, with Swarovski climbing into the top 15 for the first time in this year’s rankings.

Here are the top 15 luxury brands online:

1. Dior

2. Gucci

3. Chanel

4. Louis Vuitton

5. Hermès

6. Rolex

7. Prada

8. Tiffany & Co.

9. Versace

10. Burberry

11. Balenciaga

12. Swarovski

13. Saint Laurent

14. Omega

15. Armani

Hello Heritage

UNESCO’s World Heritage List has expanded in 2023, with 42 sites from around the world added to the line-up.

Announced at the 45th session of the World Heritage Committee in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, the newly confirmed sites largely fall under the category of cultural heritage.

These include the Old Town of Kuldiga in Latvia and the prehistoric sites of Talayotic Menorca, Spain.

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s heritage is in peril, with numerous sites added to the list of World Heritage In Danger such as the historic centers of Odesa and Lviv, as well as the Saint Sophia Cathedral and its monastic buildings in Kyiv.

Only nine of the new additions were natural heritage sites. These included the volcanoes and forests of Mount Pelée and the Pitons of Northern Martinique in France, along with the evaporitic karst and caves of the Northern Apennines in Italy, the Bale Mountains National Park in Ethiopia and the Forest Massif of Odzala-Kokoua in the Republic of Congo.

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