Category Archives: Central America

Travel News: Airport Beehives, N. Korea’s Clocks & the Royal Wedding

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First Batch Of Honey Harvested From Dublin Airport Beehives

The honey, branded Nect-Air, has been put on the menu in the airport’s executive lounges. Four hives housing up to a quarter of a million Irish dark native honey bees are located beside the airport campus. They were installed with the help and advice of the Fingal North Dublin Beekeepers’ Association and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. The hives are tended to by aircraft engineer Colm Fogarty who has 15 years’ experience in beekeeping. “Honey bees are one of the most important species within our eco-system, they are crucial for the survival of most of our animal and plant population,” Mr Fogarty said. “They are the hardest working insects pollinating hundreds of thousands of flowers and they are incredibly industrious making honey. Nect-Air is result of 250,000 Irish dark native honey bees living and working in the airport apiary feeding on nearby wild plants such as clover, blackberry, bramble and hawthorn,” he added. This particular blend of flora gives Nect-Air its pleasantly mild, gently sweet flavour, along with its rich texture, warming amber hue, delicate aroma and slightly nutty undertone,” according to Mr Fogarty. Dublin Airport Managing Director Vincent Harrison said the bees are thriving in excellent environmental conditions on the airport’s land. Following the successful trial, which produced the first crop of Nect-Air, Dublin Airport now plans to install additional bee hives at other locations on campus and increase honey production.

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Airbus And Boeing Set To Lose Billions Over Ditching Of Iran Deal

Airbus and Boeing could be about to lose $39 billion in aircraft sales after President Trump pulled the US out of the Iran nuclear agreement and threatened to reimpose economic sanctions. The sanctions, which were removed in 2015 when the nuclear agreement was signed, cover aircraft exports as well as other industries. US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin confirmed licenses to build aircraft for Iranian airlines will be revoked, although this is not likely to happen immediately. Sanctions will be subject to 90-day and 180-day wind-down periods, said the Treasury. Iranian airlines had ordered about 200 new jets from Boeing, Airbus and ATR. Even though Airbus is a non-US company, the new sanctions would affect its contracts as some of its parts are made in the US. Airbus is currently mulling the potential impact. “We’re carefully analyzing the announcement and will be evaluating next steps consistent with our internal policies and in full compliance with sanctions and export control regulations,” said head of communications Rainer Ohler. Boeing, which could lose $20 billion in sales, said it ‘will consult with the US government on next steps’. It has agreements to produce about 80 planes for Iranian airlines. Sanctions against Iran could include certain exemptions or waivers. 

JetBlue A320 Redesign Promises to Bring Wider Seats, More Legroom, and ‘Humanity’ to Air Travel Fortune

JetBlue Airlines is launching a new cabin design for its A320 aircraft this week that it hopes will “bring humanity back to air travel.” The first complete restyling of the interior of an A320 since the JetBlue launched in 2000, the airline describes the plan as “bringing a living-room-comfort to the sky.” JetBlue says a new seat design will offer passengers the most legroom in coach of any U.S. airline. The new seat will have a width of 18 inches-the widest available for the A320-as well as improved cushioning, adjustable headrests, and a contoured setback design. Seats will also have two power connections and new stowage options to accommodate travelers’ personal items. On the seats’ backside, passengers will be treated to a 10.1-inch 1080p entertainment screen with more than 100 live television channels, along with an expanded collection of on-demand entertainment. NFC pairing will let smartphones to be used as a remote for the display, or as a controller for on-screen games. The first redesigned plane in JetBlue fleet flew its inaugural flight Wednesday between Boston and Bermuda. The airline plans to retrofit all of the A320 planes in its fleet within the next 3 years.

North Korea Realigns Clocks With Seoul

North Korea has adjusted its time zone to match Seoul, in a move that Pyongyang’s official news agency calls an early step towards “becoming one” with the South. The Saturday change saw North Korea set its clocks 30 minutes ahead, doing away with “Pyongyang Time,” which was created in 2015. The move was fulfilled through a decree of the country’s Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly. The North’s official KCNA agency called the move the “first practical step” to “speed up the process for the North and the South to become one and turn their different and separated things into the same and single ones.” KCNA previously reported that Kim wanted to change Pyongyang’s time zone to match Seoul because it was “a painful wrench to see two clocks indicating Pyongyang and Seoul times hanging on a wall of the summit venue,” referring to the historic April 27 meeting between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in. At the time of its creation, the North said that Pyongyang Time was aimed at pushing back against Japanese colonial rule, which took place from 1910 to 1945 and saw the clocks in Korea changed to match Tokyo time. The gesture comes after Kim and Moon held a historic meeting, making progress towards achieving peace on the peninsula. The North Korean leader now awaits a meeting with US President Donald Trump, which is expected to take place in the coming weeks.

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Ritz-Carlton DC Offers $1 Million ‘Royal Wedding’

The Ritz-Carlton, Washington, D.C., has joined the growing list of hotels hosting royal wedding watching party for the May 19 nuptials of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. But if just watching isn’t enough for some future brides, the hotel is also offering its own fit-for-a-princess wedding experiences, including the Crown Jewel Royal Wedding Experience, which starts at a cool $1 million. The package includes a consultation and comprehensive wedding plan designed by Amal Zaari, who will work to replicate all the details of the royal wedding. Among other things, it includes a flight to New York on a private jet for a custom-made bridal gown by celebrity designer Romona Keveza; wedding dress fittings with bridal expert Carine Krawiec, owner of the exclusive Carine’s Bridal Atelier in Washington, D.C; personal consultation with Edge Floral Event Designers, who will transform The Ritz-Carlton’s Grand Ballroom into a Windsor Castle-style setting; custom wedding rings; food and drinks; two nights in The Ritz-Carlton Suite; and a two-week Mediterranean honeymoon on one of the upcoming Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection ships. Reception entertainment will be provided by Elan Artists, who will cover songs by British artists, including Ed Sheeran and Elton John. 

Travelers Paid Airlines A Record $4.6 Billion Last Year To Check Their Luggage

Travelers paid US commercial carriers a record $4.57 billion last year in checked bag fees, according to a US Department of Transportation report released Monday. It’s a large figure, but the pace of growth from 2016 to 2017, 6%, is less than half of that from 2015 to 2016. While some passengers may have decided to wear a dress or shirt more than once on a vacation to avoid packing too much, or are using some co-branded credit cards to get a free checked bag, travelers may still find on some trips they’ll have to pay up to check their suitcases. Airlines are changing their long-standing policies on free checked bags on international routes. This year, Delta Air Lines and American Airlines are starting to charge for a checked bag on flights to Europe for passengers traveling in basic economy, generally the cheapest fares on board that come with few frills, like complimentary seat selection. Unlike domestic basic economy tickets, American Airlines said it will allow basic economy passengers traveling to Europe to use overhead bins on board. Delta and American will each charge $60 for the first checked bag and $100 for the second on trans-Atlantic routes. Passengers may instead opt to buy the more expensive economy-class ticket that comes with a free checked bag, which is what airlines want travelers to do anyway.

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Filed under Central America, Europe, North America

Photos that will fill you with Sun-Envy: WIT Agent Pam in Baja

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Last year, WIT Agent Pam cruised with one of our favorite vendors, Un-Cruise. 

Photos from her trip are now available to “ooh” and “aah” over! Check them out in our Photo Album

Click for the photos!

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Many of our clients and agents have traveled with UnCruise and rave about the experience-based cruise line. Here’s what they have to say about it: 

“The UnCruise was outstanding – only 48 passengers so plenty of room to enjoy everything – no wind, plenty of warmth and sunshine too.  I would highly recommend this cruise. “

– Marilyn and David D

“We just returned from a family vacation with Un-Cruise on the SS Legacy and I don’t have enough good things to say about it! The route took us through the inner passage and included stops in Wrangell, Petersburg, Sitka, Haines, Skagway, and ended in Juneau. The route passed through Frederick Sound, Glacier Bay, Lynn Canal, and numerous smaller passages that are inaccessible to larger vessels. Wildlife sightings were frequent and, unlike large boats, we enjoyed the luxury of being able to linger in an area to observe at length (a notable instance being humpback whales in Frederick Sound!).

In short, the amazing experiences of Alaska itself – the scenery, the wildlife, the raw natural beauty – were made all the better by the uncompromising quality of the boat’s accommodations and especially its crew. We have never been interested in the “large cruise” experience and were not sure what to expect with this one. We all – guests and crew alike – became a ship-board family almost immediately and were sorry to leave the beauty of Alaska, and the warmth of our newfound friends. We would highly recommend this cruise!

– Mark J

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Read more on UnCruise: 

Conscientious Traveler: Bruce Mate & Uncruise Adventures

Cruisin’ Baja with UnCruise Adventures

Cruise Oregon Rivers with UnCruise

Video: River Cruises in North America

Or call Barb, Racheal or Pam to discuss more about this amazing and unique cruise line.

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Filed under Central America, Cruises, Mexico, Un-Cruise

Club Med Ixtapa Pacific

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Club Med Ixtapa Pacific

Barb recently got back from travels in Mexico, where she stayed at Club Med Ixtapa Pacific for six days. Named as one of the world’s best family resorts by Trip Advisor, Ixtapa is an all-inclusive resort with glorious sandy beaches, the second largest coral reef in the world, and fun family activities like sailing and scuba diving. The resort offers kids’ clubs especially geared to specific age groups. It’s perfect for a family reunion, and our agents have booked a number of multigenerational trips to the Club Meds in the past. Located on the Riviera Maya, ancient Mayan ruins are just a short distance away, ready for your little explorers.

Club Med Ixtapa Pacific is located about 30-40 minutes from Zihuantanejo Airport, resting on a quiet, protected beach perfect for swimming. I’m told this area almost always has great weather due to their location close to the mountains, however it was more humid than I expected.  The resort is well laid out, with capacity for up to 800 guests, but spread out enough that it never feels overflowing when totally full. We had an Oceanview club room, which was very comfortable. — Barb B.

Restaurants

Keep the kids happy with 3-4 restaurants to choose from. The elegant Encanto enchants with its five themed lounges–the mirror room, mask room, indoor garden, aquarium and stargazing lounge. Head to the Miramar for all-day, laidback fare on an oceanfront terrace. The Luna Azul sparkles at dinnertime with delicious local Mexican cuisine, overlooking the beach and coconut palms. The kids will be able to show off their culinary talents at Sirena, where children ages 2-10 can be their own chef!

Club Med has two restaurants that stagger their opening times so that one can eat pretty much any time during the day and evening.  There is a “dress code” in the evening, these are more like theme nights – there is an optional color code for clothing, I’d say less than half of the guests followed the dress code, other than that dress for all meals is very casual, just no bathing suits!  There is nightly entertainment put on by the staff (GO’s), one night they had a trapeze show.  One night the kids of the resort performed, the kids are dressed in costumes and different age groups come and perform dances, it was so cute! — Barb B.

Activities

A stay at any Club Med includes dozens of fun sports, activities, and sports schools with excellent instructors. Brush up on your sailing skills, perfect your archery technique, or monkey around at the Flying Trapeze School. There’s also mini golf, table tennis, SUP–or if you want to try something a bit more challenging, book a special instructor for deep sea fishing, snuba, scuba or flyboarding.

Kids’ Clubs

Club Med Ixtapa is home to kids’ clubs of varying ages, including the Baby Club Med (4-23 months), Petit Club Med (2-3 years old), Mini Club Med (4-10 years old). Teens (11-17 years old) can enjoy an exclusive Juniors’ Club Med outdoor recreation area – no unsupervised adults allowed! For newborns, Club Med provides free baby-care materials and equipment, foods, and a special playground just for the little ones–plus baby-sitting on demand.

This resort is very focused on families and kids, with lots of children’s activities for kids of all ages.  The kids club is included in the cost of your stay, except for kids under 3, where there is a fee. There are activities for adults all day long too, the schedule is posted daily (like on a cruise ship), activities range from gentle 1 hour walk, water aerobics, tennis, canoeing, standup paddle boarding. They also offer, trapeze, Zumba and salsa lessons!  There is also a spa and 3 swimming pools. There is no pressure to participate or not participate in any of the activities.

The resort also has a great setup for family rooms – they have 2 room units which can accommodate parents, up to 3 kids plus a crib.  Each family with a little child has a stroller at their disposal during their stay. Their suites are located in a separate building with their own front desk and beach area.

— Barb B.

One can purchase excursions through Club Med – we went to a Turtle Hatchery, and helped release baby turtles back into the water, it was fun!  Ixtapa has a bicycle path, which goes along a lot of the town area, one can rent bicycles and they offer bicycle tours. Ixtapa is the modern resort area, with many high rise beachfront resorts, many are all-inclusive, and golf course.  Zihuantanejo is the old town, with a nice town square, good for local shopping and culture, located close to the beach, a pier, and a lovely old church. — Barb B.

Why book with Willamette Intl Travel?

Many of our agents have stayed at Club Meds and can give you firsthand tips and honest feedback. We have access to deals and perks through our connections with Club Med, and can arrange a whole package for you and your family to stay at a Club Med – with airfare, transportation, activities – so you don’t have to stress about any of it.

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Filed under Club Med, Family Travel, Mexico, Travel by Scuba, Travel by Sport, Travel by Taste

3 Ghoulish Alternatives to Halloween around the World

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Happy Halloween! So how do other cultures celebrate this time of year? Here are five of our favorite devilish celebrations come November: 

La Diabalada, Peru. Early November. 

In the week leading up to November 5, the village of Puno in Peru celebrates La Diablada, a devilish sort of festival where men dress up as demons and hit the streets in a horned parade. Some say that it was to herald the departure of the conquistadors in the late 19th century—others claim that it’s a much older tradition, a way to pay home to ancient spirits of Lake Titicaca that gradually took on the trappings of Christianity. Set against the backdrop of the Cordillera Real mountains, there’s hardly a more dramatic setting. Before the night is over, don’t forget to try a glass of La Diablada Pisco (Peruvian brandy).

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Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead), Mexico. Nov 1-2. 

Nobody does death quite like Mexico, who adopts a kind of upbeat discussion of mortality and immortality. Mexicans believe that the dead wait in Mictlan, a spiritual limbo, and can return to their homes just once a year, the Day of the Dead. Families erect an altar piled high with flowers, candles, ribbons, a bowl of water, and bread, and the house is strewn about with candy skulls, papier-mâché skeletons, banners of colored paper, and miniature coffins. Festivities include cooking, singing, dancing, culminating in a family visit to the cemetery.

Festa del Cornuto (Festival of the Horned One), Italy. Mid-November. 

With famed Mediterranean lust comes also its fair share of broken hearts. The Festival of the Horned One is a tribute to anyone who’s been made a cuckold in love. The small village of Rocca Canterano throws a party each November to remember those unlucky ones spurned by their partners. Actors dress up and recite their misfortunes on the streets, bearing helmets with horns, some adopting a more commercial devil’s garb.

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Filed under Europe, Italy, Mexico, Peru, South America

What it’s Like Using a Travel Agent

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Willamette Intl Travel is a travel agency based in Portland, Oregon.
Thought about using a Travel Agent to book your next trip, but not sure what that might entail? According to the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA), 85% of all cruises and 70% of all tours are finalized through travel agencies. Agents are invaluable resources who work tirelessly to provide you with excellent service before, during and after your trip.
 
But what does working with a travel agent entail, exactly? Particularly one of our awesome travel agents at Willamette Intl Travel? Let’s take a look!
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HAVE A CHAT

The first step involves sitting down with one of our qualified travel agents and discussing the potential trip. Sometimes clients have an exact itinerary already in mind, sometimes they have just a general idea. Your travel agent, with their years of experience and information, can help you narrow down your ideal trip.
This is the time to get a sense of your travel style, your needs, preferences, and budget, in order to plan the perfect package for you and your family. Your travel needs are the most important factor to us. We don’t try to upsell you or push an itinerary or destination when it obviously doesn’t work for you. We’ll find one that fits you best.
 
Agents typically ask for passport names and ages at this point, which will be necessary down the line to hold space on airlines, hotels or cruises.
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ENCYCLOPEDIC RESOURCES

Swimming through the endless volume of options on the internet can be a headache–that’s where the agent comes in. Travel agents do all the legwork for you, and draw from their vast, firsthand experiences in the industry. They know which tour guides to recommend and which cruise ship best fits your style and budget.
If you want a romantic week away, maybe a resort on Maui. More the adventurous type? We’ll recommend Costa Rica over, say, the Bahamas. If you want something new and luxurious—why not try river-cruising in Myanmar? We keep in mind travel trends and plan accordingly.
 
At this point, we communicate with you mostly by email and phone. Some clients prefer to return to the office to discuss the details of the trip further but it’s not absolutely necessary.
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DISCOUNTS AND PERKS

Next, we look into discounts and perks. We have access to offers and special packages that are sometimes exclusive to travel agents, or even to our particular agency. We might know which travel guide might be a perfect fit for you, and other times we supply a couple options to choose from. The industry is constantly changing, and as travel agents, we keep abreast of all changes.
 
This on-the-feet, out-of-the-box thinking especially comes in handy for a tailored or unusual trip, such as a cruise to Svalbard, vacation to Hokkaido, hike through the Dolomites, or safari in Namibia or Indonesia. We know how much a relief it is to speak to someone face-to-face who knows so much about the destination and has probably been there.
 
We work daily with global software platforms, which gives us backend access to air, hotel, car or other travel services worldwide, and compare prices and routes, to get you the most value for your price point.
 
We also assist with groups, such as wedding parties to Cancun, multigenerational trips to Disneyland, or educational programs to Lagos. We know it’s a headache to coordinate everyone’s plane, hotel, cars–and it’s our pleasure to do it for you.
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PROPOSALS

Once we come up with a plan, or even a few plans to choose from, we send our proposals your way. What’s more, we’ll advise you of any foreign travel requirements to your destination: travel advisories, required documents, weather conditions. We’ll answer any questions you might have. We always include any special terms and conditions, and notify you if something is nonrefundable.

RESERVATIONS

Once you give approval, depending on the trip, we may put a deposit or full payment down at this point. We never make deposits without checking with you first. Many tour guides or cruises require a deposit, with gradual payments or full payment required closer to departure. In some cases, tour guides require full payment upfront. If this is the case, we advise you accordingly.
Once first deposit is made, we recommend a travel insurance plan that is right for you. (Read more reasons why we love travel insurance.)

PERKS

Where it’s possible, we call in all the connections we’ve solidified over decades in the business. We contact the Sales Rep at the hotel or resort, and plan a special something at your hotel. Whether it’s a room upgrade, fee waiver, or popular but unattainable tour reservations–we’ll do our best to draw in all the perks. 
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DURING YOUR TRIP

Once you depart, our live phone service is available 24/7 for booked clients, to reach in case of emergency. If your flight is delayed and you miss your airport pickup, we’ll make the call. We work as a team, keeping extensive files on all of our clients, so if the agent with whom you booked is not available for some reason, another agent can fully assist you in an emergency. This type of personalized attention just simply isn’t available when you book through an online travel site. If some mishap happens, if your room is unacceptable or your ferry is delayed, you can call your travel agent and we’ll do our best to serve. 

AFTER YOUR TRIP

Welcome back! We’re thrilled that you booked with us. If there are any loose ends with any of your arrangements that we can help out with, we’ll happily address them.

willamette intl travel: expert trip curators and counselors

Are you in the Portland area? Give us a call! 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com. 

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Filed under Africa, Asia, Central America, Europe, North America, South America

Happy World Chocolate Day!

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Friday 7 July is World Chocolate Day!

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Originally from Mesoamerica, the cacao bean has been a favorite culinary passion for thousands of years. People’s intimate relationship with chocolate is thought to date back all the way three or four millennia, when ancient pre-Columbian cultures like the Olmec were drinking fermented beverages made from the cacao bean.

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The world chocolate comes from the Aztec “xocoatl,” and the scientific name for the tree, Theobroma cacao, means “food of the gods.”

Why July 7? Friday marks 467 years since chocolate was introduced to Europe.

After all, who doesn’t love another excuse to sip down hot chocolate, or bite into a Belgian truffle?

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Celebrate the sweet day of chocolate by:

  • booking a honeymoon vacation to the Mexican coast to see the land that inspired a worldwide culinary passion
  • asking our travel agents about deals for families on Big Island to visit the candy factory and sample macadamia nut chocolates
  • attending a chocolate-making class in Brussels, Belgium in a fine chocolaterie
  • tasting Mexican cocoa in its mouthwatering perfection at Oaxaca, home to small cacao farms
  • booking a train trip in our office on Switzerland’s chocolate train to discover legendary Swiss chocolate in the medieval town of Gruyères
  • book a chocolate workshop in lovely Paris with our friends Chocolatine (their name is oh so apropos)
  • visiting Turin, home to legendary cioccolato caldo (hot chocolate) and the annual CioccolaTò festival, with chocolate factory and treasure hunt

See more destinations for chocolate lovers here

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Recipe: Mexican Hot Chocolate

(from Olivia’s Cuisine)

  • 2 (3.5oz) bars good quality bittersweet chocolate (Lindt or authentic Mexican chocolate)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ½ tsp chili powder (optional)
  • ½ Tbsp light brown sugar (optional)
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • Whipped cream to serve

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Instructions

  1. Over medium-high heat, melt the chocolate with the water and cinnamon sticks.
  2. Once everything is melted, add the milk, heavy cream, chili powder and sugar, and the nutmeg. Stir until well-combined.
  3. Once it boils, lower the heat to medium and let it cook until it thickens a little (about 5 minutes). If you think it’s too thick or sweet for you, add an extra cup of milk to thin it out.
  4. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream on top!

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Filed under Europe, Italy, Mexico, Travel by Taste

Travel News: HAL cruises to Cuba

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Holland America Becomes Latest Cruise Line to Sail for Cuba

HAL just announced it will begin sailings from Ford Lauderdale to Cuba starting December 22, 2017, with a 12-day cruise on the Veendam. HAL will begin with nine 7-day itineraries calling at Havana, with three of these also calling at Cienfuegos. Other ports on the cruises will include Cozumel and Costa Maya in Mexico, Grand Cayman, Turks and Caicos, Key West in Florida, Montego Bay in Jamaica, Belize, Dominican Republic. This follows the announcement of Royal Caribbean, Azamara Club Cruises, and Norwegian Cruise Line, who will sail Cuba as well.

Royal Caribbean Adds Chief Meteorologist To Marine Ops Team

Royal Caribbean Cruises has added what may be the first-ever full-time cruise industry Chief Meteorologist to its operations team in Jim Van Fleet, who brings a broadcasting background to the position and has degrees in climatology and broadcast meteorology. Van Fleet joined the Miami-based company in January.

Port of Lisbon Wants Homeport Calls

A new cruise terminal will be inaugurated this summer, a new state-of-the-art building located downtown in the city center as port officials have their eyes on building Lisbon into a major home port. And of those, the port is expecting quite a few with maiden visits scheduled from the Viking Sky, Freedom of the Seas, TUI Discovery 2, Columbus, Silver Muse, Variety Voyager, Caribbean Princess, Ocean Diamond, Viking Sun and the new MSC Meraviglia. Lisbon cruise season is mainly spring and fall and the city wants cruise ship to call year round. In addition, one of the main strategic goals is to increase the turnaround segment and establish Lisbon as a big national and international homeport hub, which will induce growth and eventually reduce seasonality effects.

John Travolta Donates His Famous 707

Actor John Travolta has donated his famous Qantas Boeing 707-138 to the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) based at Albion Park, approximately 90 miles south of the city of Sydney, Australia. In a statement Travolta said “The aircraft was originally delivered to Qantas Airways in 1964 and was converted for private use after it finished its life with “The Flying Kangaroo”. I was honored to have the 707 repainted in the original Qantas colors when I became the ambassador for the airline, and it’s so fitting that many of the volunteers at HARS are retired Qantas employees.  HARS is a not-for-profit organization and was formed in 1979 by a group of aviation enthusiasts interested in the preservation of Australian aviation history. It has built up an impressive collection of over both flying and static aircraft including a Lockheed Constellation and Douglas DC-3 and DC-4. It is, without doubt, the most impressive aircraft museum in the Southern Hemisphere.”

Florence Mayor Aims To Keep Polluting Tourists At Bay

The mayor of Florence has told tourists they will “get wet” if they settle down for lunch on the steps of some of the city’s prized churches as he is turning to hosepipes to restore “decorum” among visitors to the Renaissance city. Dario Nardella wants to discourage people from ‘camping out’ by hosing down steps of Basilica of Santa Croce and other sites. The steps of the Basilica of Santa Croce, the burial place of Michelangelo, will be the first to be hosed down at lunchtime, in order to stop visitors from eating on them, followed by the Chiesa di Santo Spirito. “We have nothing against tourists. We know that they are a great resource for our city,” the mayor told The Guardian. “But there is a problem with respecting decorum. The majority of visitors are respectful and elegant. But there has been an increase among those who don’t respect our cultural heritage, who sit down on church steps, eat their food and leave rubbish strewn on them.” The streets of the city’s historic center, a Unesco World Heritage site, will also be hosed down as part of what will initially be an experiment to see if tourists can be discouraged from eating lunch on the steps. Concerned about the spread of fast-food outlets catering to backpackers, he introduced regulations in January last year stipulating that restaurants in the center use products that were typical of the city and the Tuscany region. He also blocked an application by McDonald’s to open an outlet in the historic Piazza del Duomo, prompting the US chain to seek €17.8m (£15.5m) in damages.

Family-centric getaways to Mexico offer something for all ages

On Mexico’s East and West coasts, Palladium Hotels and Resorts’ all-inclusive getaways emphasize privacy and wellness in the Riviera Maya and Riviera Nayarit. All hotels have tiered kids’ clubs — baby, mini and junior clubs — where children are entertained with kid-centric programs, designed to optimize both fun and education. The resorts’ Play at Palladium with Raggs program includes a group of 5 colorful TV characters as on-site ambassadors, hosting activities, poolside events, disco parties, a pirate show and on-property water sports. For older kids, cooking, science and magic classes are also available. 

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Filed under Airlines, Caribbean, Cruises, Cuba, Europe, Holland America Line, Italy, Mexico, portugal, Royal Caribbean