Travel Punta del Este

Q. I'm keen to visit Punta del Este and/or Montevideo in Uruguay, ideally as a package holiday. But I can't find any operators that do it. And even if I could, would booking individual flights and accommodation be a better strategy? It seems amazing that BA still don't fly direct! Russ Williams, London

Britons to carry on cruising in record-size style

New monster of a ship will have 1,812 cabins, 17 decks, 12 restaurants, three pools, a cinema, gym and theatre

Ask the Traveller: volcanic-ash cloud

I just heard someone on the radio say that, if I booked a package holiday, I would be looked after whatever happened with the volcanic-ash cloud from Iceland. From what I heard about last year's event, I'm not sure he's right. Is he?

The Monkees, Royal Albert Hall, London

The second, semi-ironic burst of Monkeemania, caused by the reformation of the "Prefab Four" in 1986, is itself a nostalgic memory now. These days, Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork get back together every few years on some pretext or other – the band's 45th anniversary this time. (Mike Nesmith, the richest, most talented ex-Monkee, appeared in 1996 and then left them to it.) All the contradictions in their strange career play out precisely tonight.

Simon Calder: Feelgood factor is as fleeting as a cloud of confetti

The man who pays his way

Big tour operators to gain amid chaos

The travel chaos caused by the recent political revolutions in North Africa will boost big package holiday operators against their independent rivals the long run, according to an industry expert.

David Usborne: The genie of change is already out of the bottle

Gay visitors to Havana no longer need to lurk at a certain street corner in hopes of a whisper in the ear about the location of that night's clandestine party. For the last few months there has been an officially tolerated gay club in the historic district close to the National Theatre. Who'd have thought?

Market Report: Thomas Cook plunges on 'zero growth' warning

Raised fears over the state of the package-holiday industry prompted Thomas Cook to plummet towards the bottom of the mid-tier index yesterday, at one point reaching its lowest level since 2008.

Simon Calder: Travel peak season, pay peak prices

The man who pays his way

Simon Calder: A high price for low-risk holidays

The man who pays his way

Letter from the editor: Eating out - the new theatre

One or two readers have pointed out, politely of course, that our feature yesterday on Heston Blumenthal’s new restaurant was a little rich for their taste.

Government to widen Atol protection

Six million holidaymakers who book their trips through low-cost websites will be protected if their tour operators go bust.

A new spin on Shakespeare

Propeller, theatre's celebrated all-male ensemble, has a reputation for witty, adventurous takes on the Bard. Alice Jones visits rehearsals for its latest double bill
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Independent Travel
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Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
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Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
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Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
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Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

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Ed Balls interview

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He's behind you, dude!

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From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

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Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
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Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
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Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

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Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

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Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all