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WhatsApp Criticised, Panasonic’s New Smartphones, and More: 360 Daily



Reliance Jio Prime membership deadline is close, but the company may reportedly extend the window for signing up as, it is allegedly struggling to meet its own targets for Jio Prime subscribers. According to the report, instead of March 31, users may get until April 30 to sign up for the Jio Prime plans. The report adds that so far 22-27 million Reliance Jio users have joined the Jio Prime plan, which is said to be 50 percent lower than the company’s expectations. This is roughly a quarter of the 100 million users the company had last announced. However, a final decision on the matter is apparently yet to be made.

WhatsApp accused of giving terrorists ‘a secret place to hide’
WhatsApp is facing heat from the UK government for not cooperating with the authorities over the London attack investigation, and handing over encrypted messages sent by the attacker Adrian Ajao. Due to the end-to-end encryption of WhatsApp messages, only the sender and recipient can see them; even the company cannot decrypt them. Home Secretary Amber Rudd called this “completely unacceptable,” and that Internet companies give terrorists a “secret place to hide.” She also said, “You can have a system whereby they can build it so we can have access to it [encrypted WhatsApp messages] when it is absolutely necessary,” thus seeking a backdoor to the WhatsApp encryption.

BSNL giving 1GB free data to non-Internet users
BSNL is giving 1GB of free data to users who have not used mobile Internet on its network. The state-owned telecom operator said this is an effort to promote the Digital India drive and a means to increase prepaid mobile Internet users. The free 1GB data, with validity of 28 days, will be available to users across India, and will be automatically credited to its subscribers who have never used Internet services. This comes just 10 days after the company launched the Rs. 339 prepaid pack that provides 2GB of 3G data per day to buyers.

Aadhaar-based eKYC a must for all mobile users
Aadhaar-based eKYC has been made mandatory for all new and existing mobile users in India, and the one billion-plus users with mobile connections will have to re-verify their identity via an eKYC process. Telecom operators which are members of the Cellular Operator’s Association of India (COAI) will meet this week to discuss the modalities of the process. All operators will have to inform existing subscribers – through advertisements in print and electronic media, their respective websites, and SMSs – about the Supreme Court order for Aadhaar-based eKYC process. The operators will have one year to complete the re-verification process.

Google Play gets ‘Free App of the Week’ section
The Google Play marketplace has received a new ‘Free App of the Week’ section, which will highlight the weekly offer on popular apps. The new section can be spotted on the Apps page in the Android marketplace, and can be seen on the mobile as well as desktop. It is currently not visible in India, but we can expect the feature to be rolled out soon. Card Wars: Adventure Time, priced at $2.99, is available to download for free for the next five days, as per the listing.

Panasonic Eluga Ray Max, Eluga Ray X with Arbo virtual assistant launched
Panasonic has launched the Eluga Ray Max and Eluga Ray X smartphones with its new Arbo virtual assistant, which utilises machine learning to evolve with the user’s usage patterns. Both Panasonic smartphones are exclusive to Flipkart, compatible with Jio’s 4G VoLTE network, run Android 6.0 Marshmallow OS, fingerprint sensor, and have dual-SIM functionality. Priced at Rs. 8,999, the new Panasonic Eluga Ray X has a 5.5-inch HD screen, 1.3GHz quad-core MediaTek MTK6737 chipset, 3GB of RAM, fingerprint sensor, 13-megapixel rear camera with dual-LED flash, 5-megapixel front camera, 4000mAh battery, and 32GB internal storage with up to 64GB microSD card support.

On the other hand, the Panasonic Eluga Ray Max has a 5.2-inch full-HD screen, 1.4GHz octa-core Snapdragon 430 processor, 4GB of RAM, up to 128GB microSD card expansion support, 3000mAh battery with Quick Charge 3.0 fast-charging, 16-megapixel rear camera with dual-LED flash, and 8-megapixel selfie snapper with front flash. The Eluga Ray Max variant with 32GB internal storage is priced at Rs. 11,499, whereas the 64GB model costs Rs. 12,499.

Railwire Saathi Wi-Fi kiosks to bring e-services to remote railway stations
Indian Railways has set up Wi-Fi kiosks, named Railwire Saathi, at approximately 500 stations to provide online services, including various government-run schemes, in far flung areas. The Wi-Fi kiosks will allow people to use services such as e-commerce, online banking, e-ticketing for train and bus services, and access to open school/ university and insurance schemes, among others. Other services expected with the Railwire Saathi initiative include automated form filling, and mobile and DTH recharges; the scheme is likely to launch by May.

Datawind MoreGMax 3G6 smartphone with free Internet for 1 year launched
Datawind has launched the MoreGMax 3G6 phablet in India at Rs. 5,999; the company is providing free Internet access for one year with the handset. The new Datawind MoreGMax 3G6 has a 6-inch screen, 1.3GHz quad-core processor, 1GB of RAM, 8GB internal storage, up to 32GB microSD card support, 8-megapixel rear camera, and 2-megapixel front camera. The phablet does not support 4G networks, and its battery capacity and Android version are not yet known. As for the free Internet access, it will be available only via the default UbiSurfer browser, and does not include audio/ video streaming or local downloads.


Jio 120GB ‘Free’ Data Offer, Nokia 6 Global Launch Plans, More: 360 Daily



Reliance Jio Prime members can get up to 120GB data for free under the ongoing Jio Buy One Get One Free offer, instead of the 5GB that was previously thought. If you do a recharge of Rs. 3,636, you will get 60GB of data with validity of 336 days (effectively 11 months or 12 recharge cycles). With this recharge option, Reliance Jio is giving customers 5GB of data every 28 days on top of the 28GB they will get as Jio Prime members. Similarly, a Rs. 5,988 recharge will give you 10GB free 4G data per 28 days (above the 56GB you will get anyway) for 12 recharge cycles – or 120GB ‘free’ data in total. Check out other details of these Jio Prime plans.

Here’s over to the other major tech news of the day:

Nokia 3, Nokia 5, Nokia 6 to launch in 120 countries simultaneously at ‘affordable price’
HMD Global has reportedly said that it plans to launch the new Nokia 3, Nokia 5 and Nokia 6 Android phones at the same time in almost 120 countries. About the simultaneously global release plan, the company said, “This is ambitious because HMD is de facto a start-up, though it has support from Nokia and Foxconn.” On Twitter, the official Nokia Mobile account tweeted that it is eyeing a Q2 release for the Android phones “at affordable price.”

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 specifications, design leaked
Galaxy S8 launch is just a week away, but Samsung Galaxy Note 8 specifications and design schematics have surfaced online to steal its thunder. According to the leak, the specifications of the Galaxy Note 8 include 6.4-inch Super AMOLED 4K screen, Snapdragon 835 processor (a yet-to-be-announced Exynos 9 Series chipset will power the international variant), 6GB of RAM, up to 256GB storage options, USB Type-C port, S Pen stylus, and no Home button.

iPhone 8 may be available in limited quantities at launch
iPhone 8, which may be released carrying the moniker iPhone Edition, will reportedly be released in limited quantities at the time of its launch. The often-rumoured scarcity in manufacturing sufficient units of OLED panels may be the reason behind this. The report adds that Apple fans will have to wait till the end of Q4 for full-scale availability of iPhone 8.

Uber said to be rethinking car lease plan in India
Uber India is said to be analysing its car leasing strategy as drivers have returned dozens of leased cars soon after the ride-sharing company cut incentives. The company reportedly planned to buy 15,000 cars to lease to drivers, but put the scheme on hold after leasing just a third of the figure. Uber has not commented on queries regarding the suspension of the lease programme, but the report says this move was announced at an open staff meeting in December. By leasing cars to drivers, Uber can lock them to its platform.

Airtel, Vodafone, Idea, and others add 2.27 million subscribers in February
Airtel, Vodafone, Idea, and other Jio rivals added a total of 2.27 million customers in February, said the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI). The statement included data from all operators except telecom upstart Reliance Jio. Bharti Airtel led the industry with 1.25 million new customers, followed by Idea Cellular (1.21 million), Vodafone (0.79 million) and Aircel (10,000 new customers). Telenor, whose 4G unit has been acquired by Airtel, lost 0.99 million users in the period.

Amazon reportedly agrees to acquire Dubai’s Souq.com
Amazon has reportedly agreed in principle to acquire Souq.com, one of the top online shopping destinations in the Middle East. Terms of the deal are not yet known; Souq.com has raised $425 million and was valued at $1 billion in its last funding round. This acquisition will help Amazon cement its foothold in the fast-growing e-commerce market of the Middle East, one of the top markets worldwide in terms of mobile phone penetration. Neither company has confirmed the deal yet.

Gionee A1 with 16-megapixel selfie camera, 4010mAh battery to cost Rs. 19,999
Gionee has finally revealed the India price of its A1 smartphone, which was unveiled in the country earlier this week. The smartphone, featuring a 16-megapixel front camera and 4010mAh battery, will cost Rs. 19,999 in the market. Gionee A1 will be available for pre-orders starting March 31 with two-year warranty from offline retail stores, and will later go on sale on Amazon India; there is no word yet on when the shipments will commence.

The highlight of Gionee A1 is its 16-megapixel fixed-focus front camera with f/2.0 aperture, 5P lens, 1/3.06-inch sensor, and selfie flash. It has a 5.5-inch full-HD screen, MediaTek Helio P10 processor, 4GB of RAM, Android 7.0 Nougat software, 64GB internal storage, up to 256GB storage, and 13-megapixel rear camera.

Prepaid mobile services in J&K, Northeast extended for a year
Prepaid mobile services in Jammu & Kashmir and the Northeast states have been extended by a year, and will continue at least till April next year. The telecom ministry has said that the current restrictions on roaming on prepaid numbers in J&K will continue, meaning that local prepaid numbers will not work in the rest of the country and vice versa. There are no such roaming restrictions on prepaid numbers from the northeast.


Oppo F3 Plus India Launch, Redmi 4A Record Sale, More: 360 Daily



Oppo has launched the F3 Plus selfie smartphone with 4000mAh battery in India at Rs. 30,990. The Oppo smartphone has a 16-megapixel primary selfie camera with 1/3.1-inch sensor with an f/2.0 aperture, and 8-megapixel secondary selfie shooter for wide-angle selfies. Other selfie-centric features of the Android 6.0 Marshmallow smartphone include Beautify 4.0 app, Selfie Panorama, Screen Flash, and Palm Shutter.

Key specifications of Oppo F3 Plus (Review) include 6-inch full-HD screen, 1.95GHz octa-core Snapdragon 652 653 processor, 4GB of RAM, 64GB internal storage, up to 256GB microSD expansion, 16-megapixel rear camera with dual-LED flash, VOOC Flash Charge fast charging support, and fingerprint sensor.

With that covered, here’s a look at what else made news today in the world of technology:

Xiaomi Redmi 4A goes on sale in India, sets ‘record’
Xiaomi Redmi 4A, launched earlier this week, has finally gone on sale on Amazon India and Mi.com at Rs. 5,999 in Dark Grey and Gold colours; the Rose Gold model will go on sale on April 6. Xiaomi said 250,000 Redmi 4A units were sold within 4 minutes across the two sales channels, claiming that this is a new record for fastest smartphone sale on launch day. Amazon India also said that during the period of the sale, it saw site-wide orders spike to a record 1,500 per second, and 5 million hits per minute.

Xiaomi Redmi 4A Review

iPhone 7 red to start at Rs. 70,000, iPhone SE 128GB priced at Rs. 37,200
Gadgets 360 can confirm the new iPhone 7 red variant, to launch in India in April, will be priced at Rs. 70,000 for the 128GB variant, same as that of its counterparts in other colour options. Similarly, the iPhone 7 256GB, iPhone 7 Plus 128GB and 256GB will cost Rs. 80,000, Rs. 82,000, and Rs. 92,000, respectively. The new iPhone SE 128GB has been priced at Rs. 37,200, while the 32GB was already confirmed to cost Rs. 27,200.

The new iPad with 9.7-inch screen with 128GB will cost Rs. 36,900 and Rs. 47,900 for the Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi+Cellular models, respectively; prices of the 32GB iPad variants had been announced as Rs. 28,900 and Rs. 39,900 for the Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi+Cellular models earlier. Smart covers for the new iPad have been priced at Rs. 3,500.

Airtel to buy Tikona’s 4G business for Rs. 1,600 crores
Airtel has said it is acquiring Tikona Digital Network’s 4G business in a Rs. 1,600 crores (roughly Rs. 244.20 million) deal. The deal includes Airtel getting Tikona’s Broadband Wireless Access spectrum and 350 sites in five telecom circles. The telecom operator also plans to roll out 4G services with Tikona’s 20MHz spectrum band in the 2300MHz band in Gujarat, UP (East), UP (West), Rajasthan, and Himachal Pradesh circles.

OnePlus 3T Midnight Black limited edition model unveiled
Late on Wednesday, OnePlus unveiled the limited edition OnePlus 3T Midnight Black model, featuring a black coloured body. Other than the new paint job and limited units, there is not much different between the new and standard model of OnePlus 3T. Available only in 128GB storage option, the smartphone will be available starting Friday, but will arrive in the Indian market on March 31. OnePlus 3T Midnight Black in India has been priced at Rs. 34,999, and will be available to purchase from Amazon, OnePlusStore.in, and OnePlus Experience Store in Bengaluru.

iPhone 6s, iPhone 7 ranked as world’s best-selling smartphones
iPhone 6s, iPhone 7,and iPhone 7 Plus emerged took the top three spots in financial services firm IHS Markit’s ranking of highest-selling smartphones of 2016; iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus were rated as the best-selling handsets of Q4 2016. In yet another sign of Apple’s domination of the industry, the fourth spot in list of best-selling phones worldwide was taken by iPhone 6s Plus. Samsung smartphones took five positions in the list, while one was for Oppo A53.

Super Mario Run finally available for Android users
Four months after launching it for iPhone users, Nintendo has released Super Mario Run for Android. The game comes with free trial for all three modes – World Tour, Toad Rally, and Kingdom Builder; this is followed by a one-time fee of Rs. 800/ $9.99 to unlock everything else. The game is being launched gradually, and asks users to pre-register in regions where it is yet to be made available. Super Mario Run for iOS also received an update, adding more playable characters and new content in the free tier.

Super Mario Run Review

Most of Apple’s tax incentive demands not met, says minister
Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has informed the Rajya Sabha that most of Apple’s tax incentive demands to set up manufacturing plant in India have not been accepted. Apple India has asked the government for duty exemption on manufacturing and repair units, components, capital equipment and consumables for smartphone manufacturing and service/ repair for 15 years. Separately, the company reportedly had detailed deliberations with Finance Ministry regarding duty concessions; the meeting is said to have been attended by key Apple India executives.

Micromax Spark Vdeo, Zen Admire Swadesh 4G VoLTE smartphones go official in India
Micromax and Zen Mobile have each launched 4G VoLTE-compatible smartphones in the Indian market, both priced under Rs. 5,000. The new Micromax Spark Vdeo, priced at Rs. 4,499, has a 4.5-inch 480×854-pixel screen, Android 6.0 Marshmallow OS, 1.1GHz quad-core Qualcomm processor, 1GB of RAM, 8GB inbuilt storage, 32GB microSD card support. The new smartphone also has 5-megapixel rear camera, 2-megapixel front camera and 1800mAh battery, and supports 12 regional languages.

Zen Admire Swadesh, on the other hand, supports 22 regional languages and costs Rs. 4,990; it comes with six months of screen replacement warranty as launch offer. The smartphone features a 5-inch HD (720×1280 pixels) display, 1.3GHz quad-core processor, 1GB of RAM, 8GB storage on board, and supports microSD cards of up to 32GB capacities. Other key Admire Swadesh features include 2000mAh battery, 5-megapixel rear camera, 2-megapixel front camera, and provision for running two WhatsApp accounts at the same time.


Flipkart Sale, Android O Features, Samsung Pay in India, More: 360 Daily



The Flipkart Electronics Sale started today, with discounts on popular smartphones, tablets, smartwatches, and other gadgets. The e-commerce startup is providing discounts and exchange offers on the likes of iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, Google Pixel and Pixel XL, Moto Z, Lenovo Phab 2 Pro, Samsung Galaxy A9 Pro, and many others. In the Flipkart sale, you can also get deals on iPads, Lenovo Yoga 3, Apple Watch, Moto 360, Google Chromecast. SBI credit card holders also get instant discount of 10 percent (minimum purchase of Rs. 5,999, maximum discount Rs. 1,500) in the Flipkart Electronics Sale.

Here’s what else made news in the world of technology:

Android O features revealed as Google releases Developer Preview 1
Google has released the Android O Developer Preview 1 ahead of its official unveiling at the Google I/O 2017 developer conference. The Android O features revealed with the developer preview include a focus on battery optimisations via tighter control on background limits for apps, revamped notifications with Notification Channels framework, adaptive icons, and support for autofill apps. Other Android O features you can look forward to are picture-in-picture mode, new connectivity options, high-resolution audio support, better keyboard navigation, improved WebView, faster Android Runtime, among others.

How to Download Android O

Samsung Pay launched in India, comes with UPI integration
Samsung Pay mobile payments platform, which allows users to make payments at retail outlets via compatible Samsung phones, has been launched in India. Partner banks for the payments solution include Axis Bank, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, SBI, Standard Chartered, and American Express; support for Citibank is on the cards. Samsung Pay is also compatible with UPI platform, and can be integrated with Paytm wallets. Smartphones compatible with Samsung Pay include Samsung Galaxy Note5, Samsung Galaxy S7, Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+, Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016), and Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016).

Oppo F3 Plus to launch in India tomorrow
Oppo will launch its latest ‘Selfie Expert’ in New Delhi on Thursday. Oppo says that the Oppo F3 Plus will be its first smartphone to sport a dual selfie camera setup. It is set to pack a 16-megapixel main camera on the front. The Oppo F3 Plus will be launched in four other markets alongside, namely, Indonesia, Myanmar, the Philippines, and Vietnam.

Snapdeal says not in talks with Flipkart, Paytm for sale
Snapdeal denied a media report that says the e-commerce company is in talks with rivals Flipkart and Paytm to be acquired. A Snapdeal spokesperson said that the “information is incorrect and without basis.” The report says the acquisition talks with Paytm are at a more advanced stage than with Flipkart. Snapdeal, on the other hand, says it is focussed only on becoming profitable, an effort for which the company recently laid off 500-600 people and its founders took 100 percent paycuts.

Google Search App gets ‘tappable shortcuts’ for interest-based searches
Google has redesigned its Search app to include a new app launcher that allows users to find interest-based topics with one tap. There are several shortcut icons for topics like entertainment, sports, weather, food and drink, and many more in the redesigned Search app. Utility ‘tappable shortcuts’ on the app launcher include translate, nearby attractions, flights, hotels, internet speed test, currency converter. The feature is limited to US users only for now, and there’s no word on global release yet.

Lava Z10, Z25 4G VoLTE smartphones launched in India
Lava has launched two Android 6.0 Marshmallow-based 4G VoLTE smartphones in the Indian market – Z10 and Z25, priced at Rs. 11,500 and Rs. 18,000, respectively. The new Lava Z10 has a 5-inch HD screen, octa-core processor, 2GB of RAM, 16GB internal storage, support for microSD cards of up to 128GB capacities, 8-megapixel rear camera, 5-megapixel selfie camera, and 2620mAh battery.

On the other hand, Lava Z25 features bigger 5.5-inch display with HD (720×1280 pixel) resolution, octa-core processor with 4GB RAM, 32GB built-in storage, microSD card support up to 128GB, 13-megapixel rear camera, 8-megapixel front camera, 3020mAh battery, and fingerprint sensor. Both smartphones feature multilingual keyboards with support for 11 regional languages, Smart Gestures, and OTG.

Xiaomi Mi MIX 2 said to have dual rear cameras, fingerprint sensor in front
A new Xiaomi Mi MIX 2 concept video has surfaced online, claiming that the smartphone will feature design similar to that of its predecessor Mi MIX’s but with dual camera setup on the back. In the video, the upcoming Xiaomi smartphone has the same black ceramic body as the one we saw on last year’s model, and has the fingerprint sensor on the back, going against reports that claim the fingerprint sensor will be moved to the front with Mi MIX 2. Previous reports have said that the next model will have dual curved screens on the sides and AMOLED display.

Disclosure: Paytm’s parent company One97 is an investor in Gadgets 360.


Russia and China hold first joint patrol in the western Pacific, Russian defense ministry says



The patrols involved a total of 10 warships, five from each nation, and lasted a week, from Sunday, October 17 to Saturday, October 23, covering 1,700 nautical miles, according to the Ministry.

The objective of the joint patrol was to “demonstrate the state flags of Russia and China, maintain peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region and also protect facilities of both countries’ maritime economic activity,” the statement read.

“During the patrol, the group of warships passed through the Tsugaru Strait for the first time,” the statement added.

The Tsugaru strait is body of water between the Japanese islands of Honshu and Hokkaido in the northern part of the country, connecting the Sea of Japan with the Pacific Ocean.

In addition to the patrol, the two navies practiced joint tactical maneuvers and did a series of military drills, the statement added.

The two countries have an ongoing military partnership and have conducted a series of joint military drills, the most high profile of which was “Vostok 2018,” which involved a simulated battle in which a Russian-Chinese coalition fought a fictional enemy.
In August, Russia and China joined forces once again to use a joint command and control system, with Russian troops integrated into Chinese formations, according to a statement by China’s defense ministry at the time.
Russia’s leader Vladimir Putin has an ally in Chinese President Xi Jinping, with Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian telling a news briefing in June that the two countries were “united like a mountain” with an “unbreakable” friendship.


Turkey’s president has ordered 10 ambassadors to be declared ‘persona non grata’ for backing jailed activist



“I gave the necessary instructions to our minister of foreign affairs,” Erdogan said in a speech Saturday. “I told him what to do. I said that you will deal with these 10 ambassadors being declared persona non grata as soon as possible.”

The Turkish president added the ambassadors should leave the country if they do not understand Turkey.

If the country’s Foreign Ministry takes the order, it can move forward with the process without further approval. This step could pave the way for their expulsions.

The move comes a few days after Turkey summoned the ambassadors of the U.S., Germany, France, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, Finland, New Zealand, Norway, and Sweden over their joint statement calling for Kavala’s release on the fourth year of his detention.

“The continuing delays in his trial, including by merging different cases and creating new ones after a previous acquittal, cast a shadow over respect for democracy, the rule of law and transparency in the Turkish judiciary system,” the joint statement said. “Noting the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights on the matter, we call for Turkey to secure his urgent release.”

The Turkish Foreign Ministry called the joint statement is “irresponsible” and said it rejected what it called attempts to influence the court system.

Kavala has been in detention without a conviction since 2017. He was acquitted on charges last year related to the 2013 Gezi Park protests. The verdict was overturned, and new charges were brought against him for his alleged involvement in the 2016 attempted coup.

“Who are you? What is it? Leave Kavala. Do you leave the bandits, murderers, terrorists in your own country?” Erdogan said to journalists on Thursday.

“Why do 10 ambassadors make this statement? Those who defend this [George] Soros leftover are trying to get him released. I told our Minister of Foreign Affairs that we cannot afford to host them in our country. Is it your place to teach such a lesson to Turkey?”

The expulsion of ambassadors is a “sign of the authoritarian drift” of the Turkish government, European Parliament president David Sassoli tweeted Saturday.

“We will not be intimidated,” he said. “Freedom for Osman Kavala.”

The Austrian Foreign Ministry says it “deeply regrets” Turkey’s announcement to declare then 10 ambassadors “persona non grata.”

In a tweet Saturday, the ministry called for a “fair and timely resolution” of Osman Kavala’s case and for the implementation of the European Convention on Human Rights’ judgments.


Royal Caribbean announces nine-month world cruise



(CNN) — It would’ve been unthinkable 12 months ago as the cruise industry reeled from the effects of Covid, but one operator is now offering an epic new voyage that will last nine months and take travelers to more than 150 destinations.

Royal Caribbean Cruise Line’s Serenade of the Seas is set to commence sailing in December 2023 from Miami, sailing for 274 nights before returning to Florida in September 2024.

In a statement, Royal Caribbean International president Michael Bayley said the trip — dubbed “The Ultimate World Cruise” — is designed to help travel-starved cruisers “make up for lost time.”

Voyaging the globe

Serenade of the Seas has been a stalwart of the RCCL fleet since 2003. The 965 feet long ship has 13 decks and can accommodate up to 2,476 guests, according to Royal Caribbean’s website.

Upon leaving Miami on the world cruise in late 2023, the vessel is set to travel around the Caribbean, before scheduled stop offs in Central and South America, including trips to the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro and Argentina’s Iguazu Falls.

Also on the globe-spanning itinerary are landmarks including the Great Wall of China, the Taj Mahal and the Pyramids of Giza.

Travelers can book the full nine-month experience, or schedule a specific chunk of the trip and just join for the Americas and Antarctica, for example.

Royal Caribbean told CNN Travel the price range for the full excursion is between $66,000 to $112,000 per person, plus taxes and fees.

World cruises were a staple of the cruise scene pre-pandemic, but usually topped out at 150 days or so.

Viking Cruises scheduled a 245-day trip from August 2019 to May 2020 on board Viking Sun, but this voyage was cut short when Covid-19 shut down the cruise industry in Spring 2020.

Cruising has since recommenced in many markets, with cruise companies keen to prove a vacation at sea is a safe and viable holiday option.

It’s still over two years until the Serenade of the Seas is set to embark on its globe-spanning trip, but travelers can reserve their cabins now.

Top photo courtesy Jean-Francois Monier/AFP/Getty Images


Man arrested in connection with 2017 Manchester Arena bombing



A 24-year-old, from the Fallowfield area of Manchester, was arrested “shortly after arriving back in the UK” and remains in custody for questioning, according to a Friday statement from the Greater Manchester Police.

The statement did not specify from where he was traveling.

On May 22, 2017, Salman Abedi detonated a bomb which killed 22 concertgoers and injured hundreds more — many of them children and young people — as they left Manchester Arena after an Ariana Grande concert.

The explosion took place shortly after Grande had finished her closing set. Fans were beginning to leave the arena when a bomb detonated inside the arena’s foyer.

In March 2020, Abedi’s younger brother Hashem Abedi was convicted of 22 counts of murder, one count of attempted murder and a charge of conspiracy to cause an explosion for helping his older brother construct the bombing device.

The two brothers grew up in Manchester with parents who had fled Libya under the late Moammar Gadhafi. Their father, Ramadan, returned to Libya in 2011 after rebels overthrew the government. His wife joined him in early 2017.

The brothers traveled to Libya together in April 2017 to see family. However, after three weeks, Salman returned to the UK and within days, launched his attack on the Manchester Arena.

In 2018, a UK Parliamentary report found British security services missed opportunities to prevent the attack.

Simon Barraclough, the senior investigating officer for the investigation, said in a police press release Friday, authorities remain “firmly committed to establishing the truth surrounding the circumstances of the terror attack at the Manchester Arena – whether that is by supporting the ongoing public inquiry or by continuing to pursue leads with regards to the criminal investigation.”

“Over four years have passed since the atrocity took place but we are unwavering in our dedication to follow each line of enquiry available so that we can provide all those affected by the events at the arena with the answers they rightly deserve,” Barraclough said.