Category Archives: Mexico

Travel News of the Week: The Country that Ranks #1 in Safety

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Finland ranked as safest country in the world for travel

The World Economic Forum releases the Travel & Tour Tourism Competitiveness Index, which is an in-depth analysis of tourism in countries around the world. One of its most important rankings is the safety of the countries, and Finland has topped the list this year. “[Finland] remains the safest destination globally, despite rising concerns in most [of] Europe, including Finland, regarding terrorism,” the report reads. The report collected data from a total of 136 countries.

Mexico rapidly rising in list of world’s top tourism destinations

A recent report released by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) revealed that Mexico has surpassed Turkey as the eighth most popular tourist destination in the world. According to MexicoNewsDaily.com, Mexico welcomed 35 million visitors last year, including a nine percent increase in foreign tourists arriving in the country. Due to political unrest and security concerns, Turkey only boasted 28.3 million visitors last year. Mexico had dropped in the UNWTO rankings to 15th in 2013 but had climbed all the way back to ninth during 2015 thanks to improved security and a steadily recovering tourism industry. While the country finished eighth for last year, it boasted only 600,000 fewer visitors than the seventh-place United Kingdom. Tourism officials in Mexico believe the country will enter the top five in the UNWTO rankings soon due to the 50 percent increase in visitor numbers since 2012. 

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Tanzania was born 53 years ago yesterday Thursday

Britain and Germany had long been the colonial powers in eastern Africa, and the nation of Tanganyika was no exception. But when British rule came to an end in 1961, Tanganyika peacefully moved into independence with Julius Nyerere as its President. Just offshore on the small island nation of Zanzibar, however, a long-standing Arab dynasty remained in place even after the British gave the country its independence in 1963. Only a month later, the bloody Zanzibar Revolution was underway, and thousands of Arabs and people of Indian descent were either killed or expelled. On April 26th, 1964, the two nations merged to form Tanzania, of which Zanzibar remains a semi-autonomous region.

New light show at Disney World

Summer visitors to Orlando’s Disney World will be in for an extra treat this year: a new and improved evening light show at the Magic Kingdom Park, unveiled this week and set for a May 12 debut, just in time for Mother’s Day. “The show will take guests on an emotional journey as favorite Disney characters set out to pursue their dreams, encounter obstacles (and villains!) to ultimately prevail and find their ‘happily ever afters,'” Disney explained. But the most intriguing part of the new show – titled, aptly, “Happily Ever After” – is the advanced use of projection mapping technology, in which the Disney designers craft elaborate lighting schemes projected onto the famous castle’s exterior surfaces, effectively transforming the whole castle’s architecture into a dynamic, multidimensional screen.

Disney World has large gondola system planned

A gondola lift system is in the works for Disney World, with six stations and three lines. The lines will link Hollywood Studios, Epcot, the Caribbean Beach Resort and a lakeside area between the Pop Century and Art of Animation resorts. The system is being developed by a European company, with gondola cabs to hold 10 passengers. This will be an improved version of the Disney Skyway ride that closed in 1999 after an employee was killed in an accident involving a gondola. Disney is releasing very little information about the new operation as yet.

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Dale Chihuly exhibit at NYC Botanical Garden through late October 2017

For those of you who love the works of Dale Chihuly, see

Dale Chihuly exhibit at NY Botanical Garden

Windstar Cruises and James Beard Foundation ‘special chef’ cruises

As part of their partnership, Windstar Cruises and the James Beard Foundation will offer eight sailings this year featuring award-winning chefs from around the country. The announcement was made at a lunch at New York’s Beard House, the Foundation’s headquarters. Windstar’s new corporate executive chef Graeme Cockburn came up with the menu, which included foie gras croquettes, marinated cucumber and burrata and goat cheese truffle lollipops. Serving a meal at the famed Beard House is a milestone for a chef. Each of the sailings in the James Beard Culinary Cruise Collection will feature a demonstration of a signature recipe. There will also be special menu items, culinary shore excursions and market tours. “Other cruise lines have one celebrity chef, but thanks to our partnership with the James Beard Foundation, we have an array of incredible culinary superstars in our ranks,” said John Delaney, president of Windstar Cruises.

Important TSA information regarding transgender passengers

For transgender passengers, this TSA link will take you to important information. www.tsa.gov/transgender-passengers 

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Big new eco theme park in the works for Costa Rica

Discovery Communications, the parent of the Discovery Channel and Animal Planet, will be loaning its name to a new eco theme park in Costa Rica. The park, which is anticipated to open in 2020 in the province of Guanacaste near Liberia will be owned by Sun Latin America and will license the Discovery name. It is expected to cost $1 billion to develop. Although the park may feature such attractions as Shark Week: The 4D Adventure and Myth Busters: The Hall of Mirrors, according to the Costa Rican Times, the park will focus on biodiversity and conservation and include such activities as scuba diving and rock climbing. Additionally, it will offer a water park, Discovery-branded hotels and a number of eateries. Although details have not yet been released by Discovery Communications, Costa Rica president Luis Guillermo Solis confirmed through his Facebook page that this will be one of Costa Rica’s “largest investments in the last 10 years.”

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Filed under Africa, Disney, Disney World, Europe, Finland, Mexico

Travel News: Lights Up Down-Under

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Lights Up Down-Under
A round trip flight from New Zealand just for the view the Southern Lights. Otago Museum Director Ian Griffin came up with the idea. An astronomer, Griffin said he was inspired after seeing the Southern Lights while flying as a guest on a NASA observatory plane. A charter plane that left Dunedin, New Zealand, late Thursday flew close to the Antarctic Circle to give the eager passengers an up-close look at the Aurora Australis, or Southern Lights. He says the 134 seats on the chartered Boeing 767 sold out within five days and one man traveled from Spain for the trip. He says he could have filled the plane several times over, although they were only selling window seats and seats immediately adjacent, leaving the middle of the aircraft empty.“I thought it was absolutely brilliant,” Griffin said. “We were right under it. There were beautiful streamers, auroral streamers. This green-colored stuff that moves quickly, it looks like you’re looking into a green, streaky river.”
 
Viking Cruises Launches New Resident Historian Program
Viking Cruises has announced the roll-out of its new onboard Viking Resident Historian program. Launching on Viking Star, Viking Sea and Viking Sky this month, a faculty of historians will provide an enhanced level of enrichment for guests onboard all of Viking’s ocean cruise ships,” said the company, in a statement. According to the cruise line, the Viking Resident Historians will provide guests with a high-level historical and cultural education that is specific to their journey, offering a framework for understanding the major chapters in world history. They will also conduct seminar-style roundtables.
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Large Sections of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef Are Now Dead
The Great Barrier Reef in Australia has long been one of the world’s most magnificent natural wonders. But the reef, and the profusion of sea creatures living near it, are in profound trouble. Huge sections of the Great Barrier Reef, stretching across hundreds of miles of its most pristine northern sector, were recently found to be dead, killed last year by overheated seawater. More southerly sections around the middle of the reef that barely escaped then are bleaching now, a potential precursor to another die-off that could rob some of the reef’s most visited areas of color and life. The damage to the Great Barrier Reef, one of the world’s largest living structures, is part of a global calamity that has been unfolding intermittently for nearly two decades and seems to be intensifying. The state of coral reefs is a telling sign of the health of the seas. Their distress and death are yet another marker of the ravages of global climate change.Australia relies on the Great Barrier Reef for about 70,000 jobs and billions of dollars annually in tourism revenue, and it is not yet clear how that economy will be affected by the reef’s deterioration. Even in hard-hit areas, large patches of the Great Barrier Reef survived, and guides will most likely take tourists there, avoiding the dead zones.
 
The new Berlin Welcome Card
The card covers admission to 30 attractions across the city as well as public transportation, and is commissionable. Among the highlights is access to selected national museums such as the Pergamon Museum and the Bode Museum, and private museums such as C/O Berlin, the Jewish Museum, and the DDR Museum. A hop-on, hop-off bus tour and a boat cruise are also included as is admission to Berlin’s TV Tower and Madame Tussaud’s. The city guide that comes with the pass provides insider tips and the city map points the way to all of the participating sites. The Berlin WelcomeCard is all-inclusive and is available for $84 for adults and $52 for children ages 3 to 14 and is available for three durations: 48 hours, 72 hours, and four calendar days. The Berlin WelcomeCard all inclusive includes public transport in the city of Berlin and the surrounding region. It will be sold at Berlin Tourist Information centers, at berlin-welcomecard.com, at turbopass.com, and by travel agents and tour operators. The Berlin WelcomeCard all inclusive is being offered in partnership with Turbopass. 
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New Orleans breaks tourism records
A new study says New Orleans has broken a tourism record set before Hurricane Katrina, with nearly 10.5 million visitors in 2016. The record had stood at 10.1 million since 2004, the year before the hurricane struck. University of New Orleans’ Hospitality Research Center says last year’s visitors spent US $7.41 billion dollars. That’s 51 percent more than the amount spent in 2004, and 5.1 percent above the spending record set in 2015. Mayor Mitch Landrieu says in a news release that he’s looking forward to 2017 being even bigger.
Museum Of Ice Cream Announces Its Opening In Los Angeles
Museum of Ice Cream opens its doors to the West Coast this April claiming sunny Los Angeles as its highly anticipated second location. Stationed in DTLA’s burgeoning art district, Museum of Ice Cream welcomes visitors to enjoy an experiential ice cream journey. Museum of Ice Cream captivated a global audience with its unprecedented 2016 launch in New York City, selling out in five days and attracting a waitlist of over 200,000. The Los Angeles location is four times larger than the New York City incarnation and showcases 10 completely reimagined installations. Interactive highlights include a “banana split” comprised of ten thousand “bananas”, a mint “grow house”, a room dedicated to California, a melted popsicle jungle and more. The iconic swimmable sprinkle pool returns filled with one hundred million sprinkles that were custom designed and produced by Museum of Ice Cream! Museum of Ice Cream is open from April 22 until May 29 from 11 am-10 pm, Wednesday-Monday. Tickets include two curated ice cream tastings and surprise edible treats!
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Off the beaten track in Mexico
Isla Holbox (pronounced “ole-bosh”) has just been added as a “hidden hotspot” among vacation destinations in Mexico. Part of the Yum Balam Natural Reserve, the island offers vacationers a pristine tropical haven away from the hustle and bustle of more well-travelled tourist hotspots.Comprised of sandy-white beaches and home to a diverse and protected ecosystem, Isla Holbox is a popular island destination for bird watchers, snorkelers and beach lovers. Along with a variety of land and water sports excursions available, travellers in the summer months can also opt to join a snorkeling or boat tour to view the annual migration of the whale sharks that takes place close to the island between the months of June and September. There are two quaint hotels on the island to appeal to a range of travelers. At both properties complimentary kayaks and bikes are available to enable independent explorations of the island and windsurfing, kite surfing and fishing are also offered for an additional fee. Villas HM Palapas Del Mar, is a small, oceanfront hotel where guests can watch romantic sunsets from their infinity pool overlooking the beach.Those looking to adopt a slower pace can opt for Villas HM Paraiso Del Mar, with a  large swimming pool surrounded by lush vegetation, buffet meals, and unlimited national drinks and cocktails. Offers include packages where guests can enjoy four nights on the peaceful Isla Holbox, and three nights in Riviera Maya at Reef Coco Beach or the cosmopolitan HM Playa del Carmen resort—both of which are quite close to shopping, nightlife, and the exciting attractions of Playa Del Carmen’s 5th Avenue. Call your travel agent to discuss week-long packages. 

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Filed under Europe, Mexico, New Zealand, North America, USA

Join the Whales with UnCruise Adventures!

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Join Bruce & Mary Lou Mate Aboard The Safari Endeavour with Un-Cruise Adventures!

Departure: February 24, 2018 > Just 9 more cabins available on this sailing!

Where: Baja California

Willamette Intl Travel is holding 25 cabins, but we’ve already booked 15 on this 2018 sailing to Baja California! This means there are just 9 more left! 

  • 4 commander cabins

  • 4 captain cabins

  • 1 admiral cabin

After March 24, we will have to give our unsold cabins back to Un-Cruise. So don’t wait! Secure your cabin with a deposit today. 

Last December, WIT Agents Barb and Racheal joined UnCruise Adventures to Baja California. Click here to read what they thought!

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Our longtime client Bruce Mate has been involved in whale research for over 47 years, mostly at the Marine Mammal Institute in Newport. He’s served on the International Whaling Commission for over 30 years and was sent by Exxon to track whales in Siberia. Join him and his wife Mary Lou Mate on this wonderful cruise, which will also be a fundraiser for the MMI foundation and provide scholarships to students.

Call 503-224-0180 and ask for Barb or Racheal to secure your cabin today!

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Filed under California, Central America, Cruises, Mexico, Un-Cruise, USA, Vendors

Ringing in the New Year

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It’s our last post of the year, and 2016 has been quite a big one!

Thank you to all of our clients whose trips we’ve arranged these year; it was our pleasure to see that you enjoy the vacation you deserve. We hope that you made albums full of memories to treasure your whole lives. Some of our clients this year have been new, some we have serviced for the past 20 years. We take pride in providing the most special and informed travel arrangements for each and every one. Thank you, clients and subscribers to our blog, without you our business would not be possible.

This past year there have been a fair share of changes in the office. We saw long-time staff member Linda Fisher retire. Krista left for Arizona, and Racheal, Lori and Debbie joined us as new agents.

Our Agents embarked on a few trips this year, which we’re so excited to share with you. Christina and John led a group in Namibia. Barb visited the new locks at the Panama Canal. Pam dropped in on the islands of Malta. Nancy sailed with Viking Ocean, and Barb and Racheal with Un-Cruise Adventures to Baja California. Wailana moved to Stockholm, where she continues to work with our social media.

Next year we will celebrate our 40th birthday–quite an accomplishment! Mark the weekend of August 5-6, 2017 on your calendars, we’ll be planning a special Birthday party. We hope to see you there.

For more updates, catch up with us in our newsletter from Fall 2016.

Here’s to 2017 having more Travel in store for everyone!

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Safari in Namibia

Transylvania, the Land Beyond the Forest

The Elephants that Came to Dinner

Napili Kai Beach Resort

Agent Trip Report: Malta

And a flashback from the past: Where to Spot the Southern Cross

See you next year! — From all of us at Willamette Intl Travel

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Filed under Africa, California, Europe, Mexico, Namibia

Conscientious Traveler: Bruce Mate (& Uncruise Adventures)

Baja (142)Welcome back to Conscientious Traveler–our monthly series in which we showcase a fantastic travel organization that supports the environment and wildlife. This month is all about Bruce Mate!

Call to all Potential Sailors: Join Bruce Mate — February 24, 2018!

Every year, Oregon State University’s Marine Mammal Institute Director Bruce Mate and his wife Mary Lou lead a natural history trip down to Baja California. In 2018, he’s sailing back down to this area with UnCruise Adventures, joined by a team of interested individuals (such as yourself? read on!). Bruce has conducted marine mammal research since 1967, including determining the migration routes of sea lions along the west coast of the United States. He started in the Baja region with whale tagging work way back in 1979, and knows the area and its wildlife intimately. 

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So what makes 2018 so special?

YOU TOO can join Bruce Mate, whale expert, on that year’s annual sail down to Baja. Learn all about gray whales and whale sharks from one of the Pacific Northwest’s leading experts, all in the comfort and accessibility of a small cruise ship. We have fourteen open spaces left–can you fill one of them? Bring a friend or loved one, and fill two spaces! 

We already have 34 passengers confirmed to join him–but we still have 14 open spaces left! That’s in a ship that carries a total of 84 passengers. Call us up to join this rare, once in a lifetime cruise! 503-224-1080 or email info@wittravel.com for the details. Check out the on sailing on UnCruise Adventure’s website

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Need to Hear a Firsthand Experience?

WIT Agents Barbara and Racheal are now cruising with Uncruise Adventures down in Baja. We’re super excited for them and happy to hear all about it when they get back!

Missed our previous post about it? Click here.

Starting next week—when Barb and Racheal are back, you’ll be able to hear all about the cruise from a firsthand perspective!

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Filed under Conscientious Traveler, Cruises, Europe, Mexico, Travel by Ship, Un-Cruise

Cruisin’ Baja with UnCruise Adventures

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Baja Caramba!

This week, WIT Agents Racheal & Barbara are going on an Uncruise Adventure to Baja. They’re joining UnCruise alumni for a week down to the Baja Peninsula to swim with the whale sharks and go island-hopping. The boat sails down to Mexico, cruising the Sea of Cortés UNESCO World Heritage Site. When they return, they’ll have to share their firsthand knowledge with you, our lovely clients, and give you pointers on what to expect on a cruise with reputable line UnCruise. We can’t wait to hear their stories!

The Sea of Cortés is a veritable natural aquarium. With bountiful marine life, from scores of dolphins and mobula rays, to sea lion pups and playful pelicans. If you’re lucky, you might even spot the august humpback whale. Dive into the thrill of exploration or relax on a warm beach. The coastline of Baja is bountiful with bird colonies, schools of dolphin and colorful reef fishes. Depending on the season you go, you’ll have the chance to see whale sharks in Bahía de La Paz (Nov to mid-Jan, Mar) or spot gray whales at Bahía Magdalena (mid-Jan to early-Mar).

Call your Willamette Intl Travel agent to find out more about UnCruise Adventures, what they offer and when. 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com. 

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What is UnCruise?

UnCruise Adventures is a small ship experience devoted to sharing untraditional, intimate itineraries that really delve deep into the heart of a destination. Their cruises are a great opportunity for travelers who want to explore well-known places like Mexico, Oregon, Hawaii and Alaska in a different and new perspective. Read more about Uncruise Adventures, their history-packed Oregon cruise, and our Alaska trip report.  Also be sure to check out the photos from our Clients’ the Dents, who sailed with UnCruise to Alaska

PLUS! There are themed departures available on certain dates.

  • Birding: Renowned bird experts – on March 25.
  • Chairman’s Cruise: Sail with the leaders and owners of the UnCruise Adventures! – on Jan 7.
  • Marine Biology: Learn all about the amazing aquatic world beneath the waves on excursions and onboard lectures. – Jan 21, Feb 18, Mar 18.
  • Photography: Join NatGeo travel photographer Christopher Baker to capture perfect shots on the boat and in the field – on January 28.

We love UnCruise Adventures! Let us tell you why. Call us up for a chat at 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com. 

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Filed under Cruises, Europe, Mexico, Travel by Ship, Un-Cruise

Un-Cruise Adventures

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Been around the globesphere and looking for a unique way to see the world? How about trying Un-Cruise Adventures?

A partner of Willamette Intl Travel and based in Seattle, Un-cruise specializes in destination-centric and activity-focused itineraries.

Some of their exciting journeys include: Alaska, coastal Was      hington, British Columbia, Hawaiian Islands, Columbia & Snake Rivers, and Mexico’s Sea of Cortes, the latter which are year-round to enjoy the best of Baja and whale-watching.

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Un-cruise has been featured in the February issue of Conde Nast, who took us firsthand on the “S.S. Legacy, the newest ship to sail that same spectacularly scenic route” as Lewis and Clark. They combine exceptional quality of service with a fresh a sense of adventure. Travel solo, with a companion, with your family or with a group! Their small vessels allow you to experience wilderness and off-the-beaten waterways from an intimate perspective. The crew on board is staffed with knowledgeable experts and trained guides with decades of experience.

On the lookout for that unique itinerary in Alaska? Un-cruise includes “not in the guidebook” places in Alaska. Their Northern Passages and Glacier Bay cruise stops at locations like South Marble Island, Chichagof Island, and the Icy and Peril Straits—with three full days in Glacier Bay!

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Sail with Un-cruise on:

  • A history-themed program down the Northwest rivers aboard an 88-passenger ship refurbished in the style of a fin-de-siècle coastal steamboat. Sailing on the Columbia and through Walla Walla wine country, all the while entertained by reenactments and shoreside tours.
  • A journey into the remote wilderness of Alaska, including Glacier Bay National Park, the White Pass and Yukon Railway. Uncover local Tlingit culture and the historical ports of Petersburg, Sitka, Skagway, Haines and Wrangell.

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  • A cruise to the Hawaiian Islands, where you can kayak in the Pacific Ocean and snorkel among coral gardens and manta rays. Delve into the heart of nature at the Humpback National Marine Sanctuary. Discover the rich history of Hawaii at Lana’i and an evening pa’ina (feast).
  • An island-hopping adventure through the Sea of Cortes, discovering a world of magnificent sealife—turtles, whales, dolphins, sharks and more! Kayak in sapphire blue coves and enjoy a desert burro ride ashore.

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 Willamette Intl Travel agents have sent several clients on successful vacations with the Un-Cruise. See some of their breathtaking photos in our gallery: https://wittravel.wordpress.com/gallery/1223-2/

Call us to learn more or to book your Un-Cruise today! 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com.

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All of the photos on this post were sent over by the Dents, long-term clients who recently returned from an Un-Cruise sail in Baja. Thank you!

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Filed under Central America, Cruises, Guest Writers, Mexico, Travel by Ship, Un-Cruise, Where in the World is the WIT Client?