Travel news this week: Shipwrecks and a crowdfunded island

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Keen to make up for lost time? CNN Travel is here with our weekly roundup of news and inspiration.

Shipwreck discoveries

It’s been a good month for shipwreck hunters.

Polar explorer Ernest Shackleton’s ship HMS Endurance was discovered more than 3,000 meters (9,843 feet) deep in Antarctica’s Southern Ocean, more than a century after it sank in 1915.

Meanwhile, the 130-year-old wreckage of the ship Atlanta has finally been discovered at the bottom of Michigan’s Lake Superior, a shipwreck historical society recently announced. The 172-foot (52-meter) schooner barge was carrying a load of coal when it sunk during a storm in May 1891.

Rule changes and reopenings

One of the latest countries to lift all Covid-related travel restrictions is Ireland (just in time for St. Patrick’s Day on March 17).
After being closed for two years, Malaysia will reopen its borders to international visitors on April 1, and fully vaccinated travelers won’t have to quarantine. And on March 27, India will resume regular international commercial flights for the first time since the pandemic began.
US domestic travelers no longer have to take a Covid test or show proof of vaccination to enter Puerto Rico, and Hawaii is dropping those same measures for domestic travelers starting March 26. Hawaii will also lift its mask mandate — the last US state to do so.
The Maldives and Belize have dropped Covid testing for fully vaccinated arrivals, and inside Belize, curfews have ended and masks no longer need to be worn outdoors.
As for spots with high Covid case numbers, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has moved some former Covid success stories to its highest-risk category for travel.

War in Ukraine

Airbnb hosts in Ukraine have been inundated with bookings from guests around the world — and they have no plans to check in.

It’s all part of a social media campaign to send money to besieged Ukrainians as their country fights against the Russian invasion.

Elsewhere in hospitality, hotel chains Hilton, Marriott and Hyatt are some of the major businesses pulling back from Russia.
Flight sanctions continue to have a big impact. Thailand, a popular vacation destination amongst Russians, found itself dealing with thousands of stranded Russian tourists. And an ideally located little airport that stepped up during the Cold War and Covid could be called upon once again.

Small island, big ambitions

A group of investors crowdfunded $250,000 to buy their own Caribbean island.

Coffee Caye is a 1.2-acre, uninhabited island off the coast of Belize, and the group wants to use it to start their own country named Islandia.
While it might be the first crowdfunded island, it’s not the first micronation. Many self-proclaimed kings, presidents and emperors have declared themselves rulers of their own private empires over the years. Here are some of them.

Love and money

Italy’s capital region of Lazio — home to gorgeous hilltop towns and Rome, the Eternal City — has earmarked $11 million of Covid recovery funds to go to couples planning weddings or civil unions in the region this year.

The grants offered are up to roughly $2,200 per couple (€2,000). While it won’t cover your dream destination wedding by any means, the money could certainly cover some outfits and flowers.
For your honeymoon, may we suggest Ischia — the island in the Gulf of Naples made famous by Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels. Or perhaps Sicily, which Anthony Bourdain visited for his “Parts Unknown” series in 2013.

In case you missed it

Cable cars are coming to Paris.

A new spherical hotel room in Sweden’s Lapland lets you sleep surrounded by birds.

They said women weren’t strong enough to work in Chinese restaurant kitchens.

Get set, travel

They don’t call them red-eyes for nothing. If you have trouble dropping off to sleep on an overnight flight, our partners at CNN Underscored, a product reviews and recommendations guide owned by CNN, have put together this roundup of products to help ease your slumber. And during Sleep Week, March 13 through 19, check out other great gadgets for a good night’s rest in the CNN Underscored newsletter.