Travel News: Tanzania Plans Cable Car for Mount Kilimanjaro

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Princess Cruises to Raise Automatic Daily Gratuities

Cruise Critic reports Princess Cruises has raised the gratuities automatically charged to passengers’ onboard accounts. The daily, per-person rates will increase by $1 and affect all cruises departing on or after May 21, 2019. Passengers staying in standard cabins (interior, ocean-view and balcony) will be charged $14.50 (up from $13.50); mini-suites will increase to $15.50 (up from $14.50); and suites will go up to $16.50 (from $15.50). Booked cruisers who have prepaid their gratuities before May 14 will not be affected by the changes.

Concerts At Sea Is Celebrating Its 27th Year Onboard The Regal Princess

January 19, 2020 sailing to the Eastern Caribbean. Artists include The Lettermen, The Yardbirds, Paul Revere’s Raiders, Ron Dante’ of the Archies, The Flamingos, The Grass Roots, and Peter Rivera original lead singer and drummer for Rare Earth. Also onboard is Tom Garret current lead singer of the Classics IV, Jackson Haney formerly with the Original Comets. Along with great entertainment will be Concerts At Sea house band JR & The Stingrays. Entertainment cost is $600.00 per person and allows passengers to access all onboard events, 50’s and 60’s sock hop, autograph session, Q & A with the artists, live trivia games, dance lessons, dance hosts, All request dance parties, hosted cocktail party, jam night and lots of fun. More details at www.concertsatsea.com

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Russia’s Saint Petersburg Introduces ‘Tourist Tax’

Travelwirenews reports Russian President Vladimir Putin approved the introduction of a tourist tax on foreign visitors in St. Petersburg, Russia. The head of state made a statement at a meeting with the acting mayor of St. Petersburg, Alexander Beglov. According to the Acting Head of St. Petersburg, the tax on foreign visitors will be 100 rubles per tourist per day. The hotels will collect it for each day of their stay. It is expected that the money, received from foreigners who wish to visit St. Petersburg, will be used for the reconstruction and repair of the historical center of the city, as well as the development of tourist infrastructure. Thus, Beglov emphasized, in the center of present-day St. Petersburg alone there are about fifteen hundred buildings with historical heritage. Several hundred of them are residential buildings with a complex facade configuration, the Acting Mayor of the city noted. All of them require repair, he said. Repair, Beglov stressed, requires about 17 billion rubles. The tourist tax, the acting mayor of St. Petersburg said, is a great way to collect some of this money. Thus, Beglov summed up, thanks to the collection from the foreign tourists, the city budget of the Northern capital will be replenished by a whole billion rubles.

Travelers To Turkey With E-visas Need To Bring Hard Copy

Travel&Leisure reports travelers to Turkey with an e-visa are advised to bring a hard copy with them or risk being denied entry. According to a number of reports in the UK media, some travelers without such copies, but with an e-visa, have been turned away at the airport due to troubles with the country’s e-visa system. The official website of Turkey’s e-visa system advises all travelers, including those from the United States, traveling with an e-visa to keep a copy of it with them. “Passport control officers at ports of entry can verify your e-visa on their system,” says a statement on the Turkish government’s website. “However, you are advised to keep your e-visa with you either as a soft copy (table PC, smartphone, etc.) or as a hard copy in case of any failure on their system.” According to the State Department, travelers from the United States need a visa to travel to Turkey for tourism or commercial travel of up to 90 days within a 180 day period, as well as a passport valid for six months beyond their entry date and enough space for both entry and exit stamps. U.S. citizens traveling on cruise ships, however, can enter the country without a visa for up to 72 hours with permission from port authorities. Travelers can apply for an e-visa at www.evisa.gov.tr/en.

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Hawaii’s Waikiki Beach Sinking Amid Rising Tides 

Travelmole reports lawmakers fear Hawaii’s famed Waikiki Beach could soon disappear and want to spend tax dollars to protect Honolulu’s prized tourism asset. Rising sea levels caused by climate change will start to swamp the beach and cause frequent flooding in the city within the next 20 years, they fear. A bill has been introduced for a shoreline protection plan costing an initial $4 million by state Rep. Chris Lee. It would focus on Honolulu but could be used as a blueprint for other coastal areas across the state. “The latest data on sea level rise is quite scary and it’s accelerating faster than we ever thought possible,” Lee said. Forecasting models show extensive flooding and coastal erosion to occur over the next few years. A report published two years ago says up to 20,000 people on all of Hawaii’s islands could be impacted by chronic flooding, while ports and low lying airports are vulnerable to rising water levels. “The loss of coastal property and infrastructure, increased cost for storm damage and insurance, and loss of life are inevitable if nothing is done, which will add a significant burden to local taxpayers,” Lee added. The report was updated last year which said original findings on flood inundation were underestimated and it could be much worse than previously thought. The bill was passed in the Hawaii Legislature and subject to some tweaks, awaits signing off by Gov. David Ige. Lawmakers fear Hawaii’s famed Waikiki Beach could soon disappear and want to spend tax dollars to protect Honolulu’s prized tourism asset. 

RCI New Build Could Be The Largest Cruise Ship In The World

Cruise Radio reports Royal Caribbean International this week began construction on their fifth Oasis-class ship, the big question was whether the newest addition to their fleet will, upon completion, claim the World’s Biggest title currently held by sister ship Symphony Of The Seas. The steel cutting which represents the first step in a cruise ship’s construction took place at the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France. As for when the new ship will make her debut, it’s expected that the as-yet-unnamed vessel will begin sailing in 2021. Although specific details regarding the new ship are scant, each of the previous ships in the class has been built slightly larger than the one which preceded it, allowing Royal Caribbean to make sure the new arrivals are able to claim the “World’s Largest” title. This is, of course, a great way to generate additional publicity for the new ships. While the ship’s size and name are still unknown, Royal Caribbean says that it “will combine the iconic seven-neighborhood concept that her sister ships feature with a bold and unexpected lineup of thrilling experiences, imaginative dining, unparalleled entertainment and the latest technology.” As of now, Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas is the largest ship in the world, coming in at 228,081 gross tons and carrying 6,680 passengers at maximum capacity. Sister ship Harmony of the Seas comes in second place at 226,693 gross tons. Look at those numbers carefully, and you’ll see just how slim the margin between them is. (Interestingly, the slightly-smaller ship carries slightly more passengers, 6,687 at maximum capacity. These two are followed by two other Royal Caribbean vessels, Allure of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas. The first non-Royal ship to make the list is MSC’s Meraviglia, which comes in at 171,598 gross tons and 5,714 passengers, followed by the Norwegian Bliss at 168,028 gross tons and 4,004 passengers.

Tanzania Plans Cable Car For Mount Kilimanjaro

Reuters reports Tanzania wants to boost tourist numbers by putting a cable car on Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s tallest mountain, and is in talks about the project with a Chinese and a Western company. Around 50,000 tourists climb Kilimanjaro annually. A cable car could increase tourist numbers by 50% by providing access to the mountain for those unable to climb it, Constantine Kanyasu, the deputy minister for tourism, said. The country is conducting feasibility studies on possible routes at the moment, Kanyasu told Reuters. “We are still doing a feasibility study to see if this project works,” he said. “There are two companies one from China and another from a Western country that have shown interest.” “This won’t be the first time in the world, cable cars are there in Sweden, Italy, the Himalayas,” he said. Kanyasu said the government was looking at business plans, potential investors and profits. The length of the route has not been finalised, with various options under consideration depending on cost and engineering issues, the minister said. An environmental impact assessment would also be carried out, he said. Porter and guide groups who take tourists up the mountain oppose the project because they fear cable cars will reduce the number of climbers. Loishiye Mollel, head of Tanzania Porters’ Organization, said visitors normally spend a week climbing the mountain. “One visitor from the U.S. can have a maximum of 15 people behind him, of which 13 are porters, a cook and a guide. All these jobs will be affected by a cable car,” he said. “We are of the view that the mountain should be left as it is.” There are about 20,000 porters working between Mount Kilimanjaro and Meru, another mountain nearby, he said.

Qantas Makes World’s First Zero Waste Flight

A Qantas commercial plane has made the world’s first zero waste flight. While lower carbon emissions are still a pipe dream for the industry, one Australian airline has now flown the world’s first waste-free flight, with none of a journey’s usual 34 kg of waste produced. Staff aboard the Qantas flight QF739, which took passengers from Sydney to Adelaide on May 8, served meals in containers made from biodegradable sugar cane packaging, cutlery made from starch, and paper cups. These were turned into compost and used in gardens and farms around the country, said Andrew David, CEO of Qantas’ domestic arm. The airline also eschewed paper passes and bag tags for digital equivalents. Qantas’s Green Team cabin crew distributed meals in containers made from sugar cane with cutlery made from crop starch, both of which are compostable and were supplied by Qantas partner BioPak. The team also distributed meals with recyclable cutlery and in compostable containers. The flight was entirely carbon offset, a scheme that will see Qantas fund carbon-preventing activities that equal the flight’s emissions.

Six More Princess Cruise Ships To Receive OceanMedallion Technology In 2020

Cruise Critic reports six more Princess Cruises ships will be outfitted with OceanMedallion in 2020. The technology incorporates several systems that enable cruisers to create a more personalized vacation, including keyless cabin entry, on-demand food and drink delivery service, onboard navigation and family-tracking. “Our guests who have experienced MedallionClass on Caribbean Princess, Regal Princess and Royal Princess have enthusiastically embraced the OceanMedallion,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president. “We are thrilled with the response and working to extend Princess MedallionClass to more guests around the world.” The ships receiving OceanMedallion in 2020 are: Ruby Princess (January 27), Grand Princess (March 29), Enchanted Princess (June 15), Emerald Princess (August 16), Coral Princess (October 16) and Island Princess (December 20). Crown Princess is already scheduled to become part of the MedallionClass in July 2019, and Sky Princess, the line’s newest ship, will debut as part of the MedallionClass in October 2019.

Watch our blog page for our agent Lindsay’s report on her Princess Cruise in April and using the Ocean Medallion Technology!

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Viking Expands In Egypt With New Riverboat

Seatrade reports Viking Cruises will expand its Egypt program in 2020 with a new vessel, Viking Osiris, and two new pre-cruise extensions in London, both focused on Egyptology. The 82-passenger Viking Osiris is being built by Viking Cruises and will join its Viking Ra on the Nile. Viking Osiris is under construction and will double the company’s owned capacity in Egypt when it debuts in September next year. Viking claims to be the only Western company to build, own and operate boats on the Nile.

Two new five-day extensions to the ‘Pharaohs & Pyramids’ itinerary will provide Viking’s ‘Privileged Access’ to archives and exhibits in London and Oxford that are not normally accessible to the public. Viking cited strong interest in Egypt, and noted the second vessel will enter service just one year after the fully renovated Viking Ra, the company’s first owned and operated Nile riverboat. Hosting 82 passengers in 41 staterooms, Viking Osiris will have the clean, elegant Scandinavian design for which Viking is known. It offers the line’s trademark Aquavit Terrace for indoor/outdoor dining and lounging, a pool, restaurant and lounge with bar. Accommodations include 232-square-foot standard staterooms, 239-square-foot veranda staterooms, 409-square-foot veranda suites and a pair of 525-square-foot explorer suites.

Viking is also curating two new programs that retrace the steps of famed Egyptologist Howard Carter and his benefactor, the 5th Earl of Carnarvon. Participants in the five-day ‘British Collections of Ancient Egypt’ extension will meet their Viking tour director, an expert Egyptologist, in London for privileged access to two museums. First, a private, early morning visit to the Egyptian Collection at the British Museum before it opens to the general public, then a visit to the home and personal museum of world-renowned architect Sir John Soane. There, the tour will be illuminated by candlelight, a reenactment of how Soane entertained guests and showcased his collection of Egyptian antiquities, including a 3,000-year-old sarcophagus. Participants will also visit London’s Petrie Museum, which houses more than 80,000 artifacts from ancient Egypt and Sudan. In Oxford, the itinerary features the Ashmolean Museum, one of the oldest in the world, and home to a varied collection of Egyptian mummies and art, and go behind the scenes at Oxford University’s Griffith Institute, where they will get a privileged access visit to Carter’s archives, which detail the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb. Participants also have the opportunity to visit Highclere Castle, the country seat of the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon, to view the earl’s collection of Egyptian artifacts. Through April 2020, travelers can opt for the new five-day ‘King Tut & the UK’s Egyptian Collections’ extension, which also includes an opportunity to visit ‘Tutankhamun: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh,’ a special exhibition at London’s Saatchi Gallery that is presented by Viking.

BY THE WAY: VIKING CRUISES SALE FOR MAY

This month, WIT and Viking Cruises are hosting an Explorers’ Sale on select itineraries! Call our travel agency to reserve your spot by May 31, 2019, and receive:

  • 2-for-1 Deposit
  • Cruise Savings up to $2,000 per couple
  • Shipboard Credit of $400 per couple
  • Up to FREE Roundtrip International Air

Select itineraries include:  Rhine Getaway (Amsterdam to Basel or reverse), Danube Waltz (Budapest to Passau or reverse), Grand European Tour (Budapest to Amsterdam or reverse), Lyon to Avignon (or reserve). FYI most of 2019 is sold out, however sailings in 2020 are applicable.

Windstar Cruises To Send Two Ships To Australia And NZ

Cruise Industry News reports Windstar Cruises plans to send two of its ships to Australia next year, according to Steve Simao, the line’s vice president of sales. As a once-off special cruise departing February 2020, the four-masted, 148-passenger Wind Spirit will visit the region on its way from Tahiti to Singapore for dry dock upgrades, calling at ports in Indonesia, the South Pacific and northern Australia. Star Breeze then arrives in November 2020, offering departures from Cairns, Melbourne, Auckland and Christchurch. Further details will be released soon. Star Breeze will be fresh from a major overhaul which will see the engine replaced, the ship lengthened and 50 suites added to accommodate a new total of 312 passengers. The transformed ship is set to sail from Panama to Alaska, followed by Asia, before cruising from Bali to Cairns to start the local season. Australia is Windstar’s number-one international market, Simao revealed, and surprisingly for such a small country, New Zealand is second.

Antarctica Tour Operators Vote In Mandatory Measures To Protect Whales

Seatrade reports the Happywhale tracking initiative reported many more sightings of humpback whales during the recent Antarctica season than the previous one. Members of the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators unanimously voted in mandatory measures to prevent whale strikes in cetacean-rich Antarctic waters. At its annual meeting, which has wrapped up in Cape Town, South Africa, IAATO members approved new measures for operators to commit to either a 10-knot speed cap within a specific geo-fenced time area on the Antarctic Peninsula or, for member operators who have a whale strike mitigation training program, an extra watchman on the bridge to monitor and record sightings within the geofenced time area.

During the 2018/19 Antarctic travel season, Happywhale, an initiative which tracks individual whales throughout the world’s oceans, recorded more than 900 humpback whale sightings in Antarctica, 333 as known individuals, compared to just 700 sightings during the same period last year.

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