Category Archives: Antarctica

Travel News: Massive Cruise Industry Growth

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TSA tightens rule about powders taken on planes

Under the new policy effective June 30, travelers carrying more powder than 12 ounces (about what would fit into a soda or beer can) will undergo additional screening. Cosmetics, ground coffee, spices, sugar and flour are among substances cited. Fliers will be asked to remove the packages from carry-ons, much like we currently have to do with liquids. Along with cracking down domestically, the TSA is asking foreign airports with non-stop U.S. flights to implement similar security measures beginning June 30. The move is in response to an attempted plot to blow up a passenger plane in Australia last July, said a TSA official, though powders have long been a concern as a way to smuggle improvised explosives, fentanyl, and pepper spray.

  • Powder or powder-like substances in total with a volume of more than 350 ml for carrying in hand luggage are no longer permitted
  • Substances below 350 ml may also be prohibited if the substance is not undoubtedly classified as safe
  • Recommendation:   All clients traveling to the USA (even Americans) should either refrain completely from taking powders or powder-like substances or stow them in checked baggage

Massive cruise industry growth

Between now and 2027, the global cruise industry will add at least 104 new cruise ships, as a record number of orders propels capacity growth globally. According to 2018-2019 Cruise Industry News Annual Report, the industry is targeting 40 million passengers and net earnings in the $9 billion range by 2027. This year, the industry is expected to carry around 27 million passengers, up from just under 17 million 2008.

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European Lines focusing on the USA

50 years after modern cruising’s foundation, European lines are coming back to America. Hapag-Lloyd Cruises. Ponant. Hurtigruten. All these lines are hoping to expand their modest base of business in the U.S. and Canada by bulking up their sales and marketing efforts in the North American market. Typical is the Norwegian company Hurtigruten, a brand that was active in North America for a number of years under the name Norwegian Coastal Voyages. Well known at home in Europe, Hurtigruten remains obscure to Americans who might be familiar with names such as Carnival, Royal Caribbean International, Norwegian Cruise Line and Princess. Against behemoth ships from those brands, Hurtigruten sails the 317-passenger Fram and the 970-passenger Midnatsol, pitching them from a marketing and reservations office in Seattle with only 50 people, even following a recent expansion. Another name from Europe with new ships and a need to fill them is Ponant. Founded in 1988 by a French ship captain, it operates expedition ships with a luxury component, such as the 180-passenger Le Laperouse, the first of six ships in its class, which launches this month with a cruise in Iceland. “What I have said about this brand is that from an American perspective, it is the best-kept secret in America, and that is about to change in a big way,” said Edie Rodriguez, Ponant’s Americas brand chairman and corporate special adviser.

Lifeguard Drone soon to be in use near Cancun

The Seadust Cancun Family Resort has become the first property in the Cancun area to announce the addition of a lifeguard drone to ensure the safety of guests staying at the property. The drone will lend aid to lifeguards already working the resort’s beaches, by supporting safety equipment and providing emergency floatation devices. The NORAS Performance-designed U SAFE drone is a lightweight float that is remote controlled and can easily maneuver through the water to bring aid to struggling swimmers. It has a top speed of around 18 miles per hour. The drone is expected to arrive at the resort in August and can be controlled from three miles away, making it ideal for deployment from the shoreline. Once the new U SAFE drone arrives at Seadust, human lifeguards will begin training in how to utilize and optimize the technology in the field.

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E-visa now possible in advance for Egypt travel

Egypt has launched a new website for e-visa applications for residents of 46 countries, which it claims will speed up the arrivals process. A single entry tourist visa from visit2egypt.gov.eg costs $26 and a multiple entry visa costs $60. Payment must be made by credit or debit card. The electronic visas are valid for a maximum of three months. The e-visa is an alternative to the visa-on-arrival system, which means passengers have to visit a kiosk at the airport, where they pay $25 to get their passport stamped before proceeding to immigration. Travelers are advised to make an e-visa application at least seven days before departure. Entry requirements on arrival include a passport valid for at least eight months, a printout of the e-visa and a travel itinerary, including accommodation details.

Domestic low-cost carriers expanding to international

From Insider Travel Report: Used to be low-cost airlines in the U.S. were strictly domestic affairs, offering low fares and more point to point service between U.S. cities. But these days it’s an entirely new low-cost fare market and these carriers are pushing the boundaries of their flight schedules well beyond our shores. JetBlue has become a new power in the Caribbean and Mexico, as has Southwest Airlines. Alaska Airlines features more Mexico service and even Spirit Airlines has gotten into the act, expanding its international service options earlier this month. Now JetBlue, the first airline to operate commercial service between the U.S. and Cuba in more than five decades, says it’s expanding again and diversifying its flying schedule in Havana with new service from Boston and more flights from Fort Lauderdale. New England and South Florida nonstop service, combined with JetBlue’s existing nonstop service from New York and Orlando. Meanwhile, on the same day JetBlue announced more service to Havana, Spirit Airlines said it will continue its international expansion, but this time from Houston. Beginning Sept. 6th, Spirit will start service from Houston’s IAH to San Salvador, El Salvador with year-round service running three times weekly to Monseñor Óscar Arnulfo Romero International Airport (SAL). The next day, on Sept. 7, Spirit will begin nonstop flights between Houston and Guatemala City, Guatemala with year-round service eventually running four times weekly to La Aurora International Airport (GUA). The new routes will complement Spirit’s existing international service between Houston and Cancun and San Jose del Cabo, Mexico, as well as San Pedro Sula, Honduras. The announcement comes just a couple of weeks after Spirit announced it was launching nearly a dozen routes from Orlando to Latin America and the Caribbean.

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Seaweed invasion in parts of the Caribbean and Mexico currently

Massive rafts of Sargassum-a brown seaweed that lives in the open ocean-first washed up on beaches across the Caribbean in 2011, trapping sea turtles and filling the air with the stench of rotting eggs. Now it’s back and the Caribbean is bracing for what could be the mother of all seaweed invasions, with satellite observations warning of record-setting Sargassum blooms and seaweed already swamping beaches. The seaweed covers the beaches in huge, stinking blankets that sometimes measure up to ten feet in depth. The Barbados government declared a national emergency on 7 June. There’s another huge mass impacting Puerto Rico and Dominica, and appearing on the Riviera Maya. The seaweed is deadly to marine life such as sea turtles and dolphins – and to tourism, including risks to human health. While the hydrogen sulphide gas released when the seaweed decays occurs naturally in the human body, it is dangerous in large amounts, causing headaches, dizziness, nausea, and even asthma. It can also cause “rapid and extensive damage to concrete and metals,” writes the US Environmental Protection Agency. The Caribbean is struggling to cope as yearly bouts of Sargassum become “the new normal,” noting that the blooms visible in satellite imagery dwarf those of previous years. 

NASA Space Center Houston now a Certified Autism Center

Space Center Houston is now a Certified Autism Center, the first space center in the world so certified. The designation, given by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES), is awarded to organizations who have completed a professional training and review process with the goal to better serve individuals with autism and other sensory needs. The certification process involves rigorous training for staff, inspections and improvements that enable Space Center Houston to better welcome and accommodate guests with autism spectrum disorder and other sensory and cognitive challenges. Earning the Certified Autism Center designation also includes a commitment to maintain that training and provide the best guest experience possible.

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Belize looks to be the next Caribbean luxury destination

Belize’s 450 atolls off the country’s coast form the archipelago providing a paradise setting similar to those found in the South Pacific. And while Belize is not devoid of luxury hotels – such as the Coppola family’s private island retreat, Turtle Inn – it’s about to welcome quite a few more, as hoteliers eye the untapped and pristine landscape for upcoming high-end properties as the country becomes one of the fastest growing tourist areas in the region. Natural wonders, including the second largest barrier reef in the world and the Great Blue Hole, a giant submarine sinkhole off the coast, makes it an unrivaled destination for recreational scuba divers and snorkelers. Regarding accommodations, the Curio Collection by Hilton just opened the Mahogany Bay Resort & Beach Club. On Ambergris Caye, Belize’s largest island, the boutique hotel features 205 cottage and villa-style rooms nestled amongst groves of coconut palms across a 60-acre waterfront site. Dream Hotel Group will open Unscripted Belize later this year, the first of the company’s two Belize openings, with 24 beachfront cabanas steps of the Caribbean Sea. The boutique property will feature an open-air concept that also features an outdoor restaurant and a bar area, along with an expansive pool, plus two private boats for snorkeling and scuba diving.

Cancun is still #1 summer destination, according to ARC

Despite security concerns, Cancun maintained its position as the number one summer hot spot for US travelers, according to Airlines Reporting Corp. Tracking the number of tickets purchased to the top ten most booked destinations, Cancun came in first, as it did in 2017. Other destinations on the domestic list: Orlando, New York City, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Honolulu, Miami, Seattle, Boston, Fort Lauderdale and San Francisco. 

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Filed under Antarctica, Cruises, Europe

Happy 2018 All!

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January 10, 2018 · 7:47 am

Client Trip Report: Why Antarctica continues to be the most Awe-Inspiring Destination

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Willamette Intl Travel booked an amazing trip for our long-time clients Doug and Diane. They sailed on an unforgettable voyage to Antarctica last December. So in the interest of sharing it with our readers, we’ve made up a presentation that we think you’ll love—chock-full of firsthand feedback, quotes, tips, and gorgeous photos. We hope you enjoy it!

Take Me on a Virtual Voyage to Antarctica!

 

Thinking about a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Antarctica?

Let us advise you!

We’ve sent dozens of clients to explore the lonely continent. Nothing prepares you for the sheer beauty of its nature. Call us for a consultation now: 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com.

I had no idea that ice, mountains, icebergs, clouds, flat water, sky, and sun could work together to make such beautiful scenes.  I was in awe the whole trip.

–Doug D.

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Filed under Antarctica, Argentina, Cruises, G Adventures, South America

Infographic: 6 Destinations to Spot the Southern Cross in 2017

We at Willamette Intl Travel love tried and true destinations like these! Interested in one (or more) of the places below? Give us a ring! 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com.

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Filed under Antarctica, Australia, Brazil, Europe, Hawaii, New Zealand, South Africa, South Africa

Hurtigruten Voyage to Antarctica!

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Hop onboard with Hurtigruten this winter for a once-in-a-lifetime voyage to Antarctica!

The small-ship cruise line is having an incredible 5-Day SALE up to 35% off standard prices. For 5 days only from July 28 to August 1, Antarctica Voyages departing between Nov 2014 and Feb 2015 are on SALE.

Book Exclusively with your Willamette Intl Travel Agent!

Because the ship is an intimate experience, availability is VERY limited and are sold on a first-come, first-serve basis. As a Hurtigruten partner, our agents have access to pre-booking you on the cruise before it is available to the general public. Contact us at 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com.

Choose from one of three itineraries:

13-Day The Land of the Penguins, departures on Nov 19, Jan 4, Jan 16

15-Day Polar Circle Expedition, departures on Jan 28, Feb 11

17-Day Christmas Expedition, departures on Dec 19

Check out the Video: http://vimeo.com/56082361

Inside cabins start at $7,187 per person for a 13-day itinerary. Outside cabins start at $8,177 per person for a 13-day itinerary. Based on double occupancy, restrictions apply, call for further details.

Hurtigruten offers only a few fantastic sailings a year on their beautiful medium-sized ships. Their focus is on expedition travel, combining luxury and adventure. Sail in the wake of historical explorers in the cutting-edge technology of MS Fram. Explore dramatic landscapes, stunning icebergs, and spot the millions of penguins, thousands of seals, and pods of whales that inhabit the waters and shores during the austral summer.

Plus! Extensions with Argentina are possible. Call us to discuss your options on an Antarctica cruise before July 28!

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Filed under Antarctica, Hurtigruten, Our Travel Agents, Travel by Ship

Cruise to Antarctica

Antarctica is a land like no other. Covering almost one-tenth of the Earth’s surface, it’s one bucket-list destination never to be missed. Nowhere else on Earth has what Antarctica can offer—the largest concentration of marine wildlife in the world, dramatic scenery, massive icebergs and glaciers. Since you are venturing where few ever do (30,000 tourists per year), you will want to make sure your experience is well-planned and well-suited to your travel preferences. Our agents are careful in ensuring that we match client with company, taking close looks at crew expertise, ship features, expedition activity, and overall quality of experience.

photo by John Lester, Creative Commons

It’s important to be familiar with the ships and routes. Antarctica ships tend to fall in three main categories: small expedition ships with ice-hardened hulls, medium-sized ships and large cruise ships. Smaller ships carry inflatable landing craft (zodiacs) so passengers can venture off the ship and onto land. Itineraries typically sail from Ushuaia across the Drake Passage, and a sailing often includes the South Shetland Islands, South Georgia, around Cape Horn, and the Falklands (though recently some cruise lines have pulled from the Falklands due to territorial disputes). Here are some companies who offer expedition travel to Antarctica, used and approved by our agents:

LINDBLAD

Lars-Eric Lindblad founded Lindblad Expeditions in the late 1950’s, combining his passion for uncharted travel and eco-tourism. The company is dedicated to finding creative ways to explore areas already mapped. Trained naturalists onboard strive to connect their guests with amazing and incredible places through adventure and education. Their partnership with like-minded National Geographic experts on the top of their field allows them to lead the most experienced Ice Team on the National Geographic Explorer. Your ship will be escorted by a team of veteran Naturalists, who will take you on hikes through the icy wild, kayaking in coves and around ice floes, and zodiac cruising among icebergs. Travelers choose Lindblad because of the on-ship innovative technology, all-inclusive rates, up close and personal experiences, informal atmosphere, hand-crafted itineraries and ecologically minded experts. Their partnership with like-minded National Geographic experts in the peak of their field certainly doesn’t hurt!

photo by 23am.com, Creative Commons

HURTIGRUTEN

Hurtigruten offers a step up in exploration travel, combining luxury and expedition. Sail in the wake of historical explorers in the technologically advanced ship MS Fram, and spot the millions of penguins, thousands of seals, and pods of whales that inhabit the waters and shores during the austral summer. The ship’s expedition team will give a series of lectures as you cross the Drake Passage. Each voyage is unique, and the final choice of landings will be made in the course of the sailing. Included with each booking are the cabin, full board meals, flights between Ushuaia and Buenos Aires, and the excursion to Ushuaia National Park.

photo by tonyforster2, Creative Commons

G ADVENTURES

G Adventures has a number of itineraries that delve into the heart of Antarctica’s wilderness and history. They have expeditions from 11-days to intensive 23-days, all of which include: meals, zodiac excursions with expert expedition teams, educational programs, transfers, expert guides and accommodation on board the MS Expedition. Venture out to Shackleton’s final resting place, and sail through the penguin rookeries and seal colonies of Antarctica. Some itineraries even include South Georgia and the Falkland Islands in the sailing, and you can even add on Buenos Aires or Iguassu Falls bookends to your itinerary. G Adventures also supplies waterproof boots for all passengers, and a special Canada Goose expedition jacket for each guest in a Category 5 suite!

Photo by winky in the uk, Creative Commons

GENERAL TOURS

General Tours offers a 15-day itinerary for small, intimate groups venturing deep through Antarctica. The ship’s unique open bridge policy allows passengers to join the ship’s officers on the bridge and learn about navigation, whale watching, enjoying a front-row-seat view of icebergs and snow-capped mountains. Trace the 1901-1903 route of the Swedish Antarctic Expedition, visit Hope Bay and Snow Hill Island, and sail across the peninsula’s remote eastern coast into the remote Weddell Sea. Enrich your sail with insightful lectures on the on board Ship Naturalist. This itinerary includes nights in Buenos Aires and Tierra del Fuego.

photo by Liam Quinn, Creative Commons

SILVERSEA

The medium-sized Silver Explorer was especially designed by Silversea Cruises to navigate the waters of remote destinations. A strengthened hull with an ice-class notation for passenger vessels allows the ship to push through ice floes with ease. An expert Expedition Team will accompany passengers via zodiac ships on to the dramatic continent of Antarctica. Itineraries run from 10 to 22 days, and explore Antarctica as well as the Falkland Islands, South Georgia, South Shetlands, and Tristan da Cunha.

QUARK

Quark Expeditions is based in Seattle. Since 1991 Quark has specialized in polar expeditions, and their ships are specially designed ice-strengthened vessels made for high latitude cruising. They are unique in that they have the largest and most diverse fleet of passenger ships, and deliver more departures and itineraries than any other company. They have itineraries that run from 8 days to as long as a month! Explore the Antarctic Peninsula, visit research stations on Adelaide Island, hike up glaciers and visit penguin rookeries; or see the incredible wildlife of South Georgia, often referred to as “the Galapagos of the South.” Learn about the continent’s unique geology, history and wildlife from an expert team.

It’s never too early to book a sail to Antarctica. Ships and space are limited. Call us now to find out more about a particular sailing or vendor that has one on offer. WIT Agent Christina has traveled to Antarctica and can give you a firsthand account. Call us at 503.224.0180 or email info@wittravel.com.

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Filed under Antarctica, Cruises, G Adventures, General Tours, Hurtigruten, Lindblad Expeditions, Quark, Silversea, Travel by Ship