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Best cities, best bathrooms, best islands and more on these best lists

Lonely Planet's expert travelers chose Washington, D.C., as the top travel city for 2015 and Conde Nast Traveler readers still adore Charleston, S.C., which was voted top U.S. city this year for the fourth year in a row.

But there's more in these two publications that go beyond the best city-best country-best-hotel fare.

For example, Lonely Planet looks at the "Most Gay-Friendly Places on the Planet," which gives a shout out to "progressive, inclusive and accepting destinations that open their arms to the LGBTQ traveler." One California destination makes it into the top 10.

1. Copenhagen
2. New Zealand
3. Toronto
4. Palm Springs
5. Sitges, Spain
6. Berlin
7. Skiathos and Mykonos in Greece
8. New York City
9. Reykjavik, Iceland
10. Montevideo, Uruguay

Meanwhile, Lonely Planet has "The Royal Wee," a list of the best bathrooms in the world. No. 1 is the Park Hyatt Tokyo in Japan, featured in the film "Lost in Translation," which comes with this description: "Expect robotic toilets covered in...

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Yosemite wants to increase entrance and campground fees

Yosemite National Park is floating the idea of raising its entrance fee from $20 a car to $30, and charging $1 to $4 more for family campground sites, a park statement released Monday says.

Other large national parks, including Yellowstone and Grand Canyon, are seeking entrance fee increases to $30 as well.

Yosemite says it hasn't raised fees since 1997 and would use the $10 increase per vehicle that enters the park to pay for maintenance and more visitor services.

It also proposes a $15 charge for individuals without vehicles and $25 for motorcyclists; each currently pays $10. The price of an annual park pass would increase from $40 to $60.

The fee increase may be implemented as soon as early 2015, the statement says.

"The additional revenue from the fee increase will be used to enhance visitor services, including repair and maintenance of park facilities, restoration and rehabilitation of visitor service buildings, additional park programs and transportation services, and increase...

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Honolulu Art Deco exhibit shows off six never-displayed island pieces

Think of Art Deco and you may conjure up the pink flamingos of Florida’s South Beach, but the colorful, sometimes gaudy style also made its way to Hawaii as a new display in Honolulu shows.

Works featuring familiar scenes such as native women dancing in unison and men emerging from outrigger canoes are spotlighted in the Art Deco Hawaii exhibit at the Honolulu Museum of Art.

Front and center in the exhibit: six murals that feature island culture and are being shown for the first time in Hawaii.

The works were commissioned in 1940 for the Matson shipping line, which ferried passengers between California and Hawaii. Eugene Savage created these vivid oil paintings.

But with the onset of World War II, the works were warehoused. They didn’t reappear until 1948, when the art graced menu covers aboard the luxury liners.

The exhibit, which runs through Jan. 11, also includes paintings and sculpture by artists such as Don Blanding, Marguerite Blasingame, Isamu Noguchi, Lawrence Pelton and Lloyd...

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Ebola scare: Cruise passengers received $200 credit, excursion refunds

Carnival Magic passengers who returned to Galveston, Texas, on Sunday know firsthand what it's like to have travel plans go awry and out of their control. Their Caribbean cruise last week was interrupted after Mexican officials refused to allow a port stop at Cozumel because of an Ebola scare.

Carnival gave passengers a $200 ship credit and 50% off a future cruise for the inconvenience. The cruise line said in a statement Friday: "We greatly regret that this situation, which was completely beyond our control, precluded the ship from making its scheduled visit to Cozumel and the resulting disappointment it has caused our guests."

In addition to the ship credit, Carnival refunded money spent on shore excursions that passengers would have taken in Cozumel. A swimming with sea turtles adventure, for example, costs $109 for adults and $79 for children.

Given the events that played out, would travel insurance have helped?

Megan Singh from Squaremouth, a website that compares travel insurance...

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Nevada: Hard Rock Hotel & Casino to open at Lake Tahoe in January

The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Lake Tahoe is set to open in January. It took $60 million to renovate the former site of the Horizon Resort Casino in Stateline, Nev. The redo brings 539 rooms -- and yes, an Elvis Suite! — new restaurants and bars, live concerts areas inside and out, and a casino with slot machines and table games.

Though no official opening date was announced, reservations are being accepted on the hotel's website starting Jan. 9. (I found rooms available for that night starting at $149 plus tax.) Packages include Rock

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Cruising overseas? Don't forget to factor in the visa fees

Question: We signed up on Oceania for a cruise to India and the east coast of Africa. We subsequently got a bill for $716 per person for visa fees for four countries — India (where we will spend five days), Kenya (10 hours), Tanzania (nine hours) and Mozambique (eight hours). We were told that all the visas were necessary and that we would not be allowed onboard without them, even if we chose not to go ashore at those countries. I do not mind paying a reasonable amount for a service, but these charges seem exorbitant. It feels as though the cruise line did little for our $1,432. Is it possible that this is common practice in the cruise industry?

R. Huber



Answer: Huber has stumbled on one of those unanticipated costs that, as travelers, we sometimes forget to calculate, and that's visa charges.

A visa is the official OK for you to enter a country. Some countries don't require them for U.S. citizens; others do. Obtaining a visa can be complicated by whether there is an issuing...

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