Category Archives: Cruises

Travel News: Louvre To Make Reservations Compulsory

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Ponant To Acquire Paul Gauguin Cruises

Cruise Industry News reports luxury expedition cruise company Ponant announced that it is acquiring Paul Gauguin Cruises, the French Polynesia and South Pacific specialist cruise line. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. According to a release from Ponant, the two cruise lines will keep separate management, with Diane Moore acting as CEO of Paul Gauguin at their office in Bellevue, Wash. and Navin Sawhney continuing to lead as CEO of Ponant in New York. The acquisition will give Ponant guests a wider range of destinations and will allow the combined company to boast a larger fleet with Ponant combining its fleet of nine with Paul Gauguin’s single ship, called Paul Gauguin. In June, Ponant took delivery of its fourth explorer series ship, Le Dumont-d’Urville, which kicked off its inaugural season this week. The ship is the ninth ship overall for Ponant, which is in the midst of a growth period that will see the line grow to a total of 12 ships and 460 departures by 2021.

US Virgin Islands Ban Coral-Harming Suncreams

Travelmole reports the US Virgin Islands has become the first place in the US to ban coral-harming sunscreens. In a bill signed this week, the Caribbean islands have outlawed the import of all creams containing oxybenzone, ocitnoxate, and octocrylene from September 30. It will become illegal for retailers to sell such creams on the islands from next March. The ‘three Os’ as they are called are known to cause damage to coral and sealife, according to the US Food and Drug Administration, but they are widely found in popular sunscreen brands. It is possible to find sunscreens without these chemicals, but they tend to be more expensive. Hawaii and Florida’s Key West have outlawed the sale of sunscreen products using oxybenzone and octinoxate from January 2021, but the US Virgin Islands’ ban will kick in first and include products with octocrylene as well. “Tourism in the Virgin Islands is our lifeblood, but to ensure we continue to entice visitors we need to protect our coral reefs as part of our quest to initiate sustainable tourism,” said governor Albert Bryan. The US territory’s retailers may not place new orders for sunscreens containing the banned chemicals and may not receive shipments of existing orders after September 30. The full ban takes effect in March 2020. It is not known whether holidaymakers will be banned from bringing sunscreen products containing the chemicals into the islands for their own personal use.

Paris’ Overcrowded Louvre To Make Reservations Compulsory 

France 24 reports the world-famous Louvre museum in Paris on Friday urged visitors to book their visit in advance online after seeing a heavy influx this summer, adding reservations would be obligatory by the end of this year. The Louvre, which houses the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci and is the most visited museum in the world, has become a victim of its own success and overcrowding is a problem. The problems intensified this summer due to the heatwave that encouraged tourists to take refuge in cool museum rooms. Also a temporary move of the Mona Lisa to another room to allow for refurbishments added to the confusion. “Reservations smooth the entry for the public throughout the week,” said Vincent Pomarede, the deputy general administrator of the Louvre. “Until now a reservation system has not been obligatory (but) we will put in place an obligatory reservations system, as many other museums have done, and, by the end of the year, all visitors will have to reserve,” he told AFP. He said this will help the museum cope with the numbers of visitors. “It will be from October or November. We have accelerated what we wanted to put in place at the start of the year 2020,” he added.

New Zealand NZeTA Now Available Online (Required For Visa Waiver Passengers Effective October 1, 2019) 

John Ollila reports New Zealand is following in the footsteps of Australia, Canada, and US by requiring passengers from Visa waiver countries to have an NZeTA (New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority) effective October 1, 2019. The cost of the NZeTA that is valid for up to 2 years is NZ$9/NZ$12 depending on whether you do it using an app or on their website. Most NZeTA eligible passengers are also required to pay IVL (International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy) of NZ$35. Note that Australian citizens do not require NZeTA. It seems that, based on the website, that you do need to have NZeTA even if you plan only TRANSIT via New Zealand on your way to another country. This NZeTA requirement also applies for cruise passengers. It is certain that this requirement will come as a surprise for many that are traveling to New Zealand later this year, as it has not been a requirement previously. Let’s hope that this NZeTA is as easy and fast to get/process as it is the Australian ETA (usually takes couple of seconds). 

In addition to plastic, SFO is banning items with “unsubstantiated claims” about their sustainability. 

The Guardian reports the days of picking up a plastic bottle of water to stay hydrated during a long flight will soon be over for people flying out of San Francisco’s international airport (SFO). The airport, which restricted the distribution of single-use plastic straws when the city law went into effect in July, is now banning convenience shops, restaurants and vending machines from selling plastic water bottles. Starting on 20 August, only water in glass, recycled aluminum, or certified compostable materials can be sold. The change is a part of SFO’s five-year strategic plan. Launched in 2016, the plan includes SFO becoming a zero “waste-to-landfill” facility by 2021, as stated on its website. According to SFO, each airport guest creates a half-pound of trash. In an effort to reduce the waste, the airport is limiting single-use food accessories such as napkins, coffee cups and chopsticks. 

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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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5 Instagrammers that will make you want to pack your bags and head to the Caribbean

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  1. @goatcurrygallery is an adorable account of everyday life and sunshine in Jamaica.

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These are the handicrafts which are slowly dying out. These are techniques which aren’t being passed down, aren’t being learnt by new generations and aren’t being continued… This is the type of work that needs to be revived and supported. Big up yourself Bingy for creating this stunning piece of artwork! Let’s help him continue ✊🏾🙌🏾. . . Original, calabash Bingy Visor. DM me if you want one. . . Model @anash_d_deejay . . #supportlocal #promotelocal #entrepreneur #jamaicanartisans #localcrafts #bingyhats #bingyvisor #bingycollection #socialenterprise #uplift #createyourownbusiness #goatcurrytv, #goatcurrybites, #australianjamaican #cultureandidentity #goatcurrygallery

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2. Delicious seascapes of Trinidad & Tobago from @Agi_1908.

3. Unique shots from the world above from @marcshanghie.

4. Jaw-dropping oceans from the @bigbluecollective.

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And so it has begun. The beginning of the year marks winter’s epic annual migration of the return of the North Atlantic Humpback Whales to the tropical seas around the #turksandcaicos and the Dominican Republic to mate, calve and give birth. We’ve already seen them on our trips, heard them underwater and as is usually the case, we’ve also swam with them. Our focus over the next few weeks is all about interactions in the Big Blue while showcasing the best these islands have to offer. Join us and stay tuned to our encounters. Image by Big Blue Collective photographer @philipshearer #bigbluecollective #escapetheordinary #bewater #thesdventurestartshere . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . #surroundmewithwater #gnarbox #madeofocean #saltnomads #aquatech #humpbackwhale #bg_underwater #cnntravel #tlpicks #snorkeling #freediving #whales #underwater #uwphoto #uwphotography #roam247

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5. Get out and adventure in Turks & Caicos with @waketowaketc.

What are you waiting for! Let’s hit the beach! Spring break!

READ MORE…

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Filed under Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Disney Cruises, Oceania Cruises, Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Turks & Caicos, UniWorld, Viking Cruises, Windstar Cruises

Travel News: Luxury Sailing Cruise Line Ponant Adds Free Wifi on all Sailings

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New Adults-Only All-Inclusive Resort Opens In Florida Keys
The Press Release reports all-inclusive, adults-only luxury resort, Bungalows Key Largo, opened on the Northernmost island of the Florida Keys. Opening as the first-ever all-inclusive in the Keys and located just 63 miles south of Miami, the upscale, boutique, waterfront resort features 135 private bungalows dotted across the property’s 12 acres. Organic textures, soothing tropical hues, and all-natural materials complement the bohemian expression of Key Largo’s relaxed cabana lifestyle. The expansive, adults-only oasis is nestled within a botanical garden edged by the ocean and flanked by the Intercoastal Waterway and Everglades National Park. Immersed in timeless island-elegance under thatch roofing, Bungalows Key Largo boasts three dining experiences: Bogie & Bacall’s for multi-course fine dining and wine pairings, the beachside Sea Señor for Mexican fare under cooling coconut trees and resort-casual seafood restaurant, Fish Tales, inspired by the vibrancy of Capri in Italy. For those laying by the sun-drenched infinity pool or on the sands of Coconut Beach, the resort also features two floating six-seat tiki boats, aptly named the S.S. Rum Runner and S.S. Margarita; Largo Larry’s food truck for quick beach bites and the Sunset Tiki Bar where exotic cocktails are served across African teak and guests can enjoy sunset happy hours surrounded by unpretentious, coastal décor. Call your WIT Travel Agent for the full details!

Rapid Response Force Deployed To Carry Out Checks At US Airports

National Deployment Force officers have been drafted into major US airports to carry out security checks after one in 10 security staff called in sick over the weekend. The normal absence rate for Transportation Security Administration staff at this time of year is about 3%, but more staff are calling in sick rather than working without pay during the US government partial shutdown. The shutdown, which means there’s no money to pay around 800,000 government employees, including airport security staff, is now in its fifth week. As a result of staff shortages, passengers are seeing longer security queues at some airports. A checkpoint at Baltimore airport was shut down on two occasions last weekend due to a lack of staff but reopened on Monday. “Some airports experienced longer than usual wait times,” the TSA said, adding that the average waiting times are within the 30-minute standard for regular screening lanes. Of the 1.78 million passengers screened on Sunday, the TSA said fewer than 7% had to wait longer than 15 minutes. National Deployment Force officers, who make up the TSA’s rapid response team, have been drafted into several airports including Newark, New York’s LaGuardia Airport and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta.

World’s Largest Eco-Friendly Underwater Theme Park In Bahrain

The world’s largest eco-friendly underwater theme park is coming to Bahrain. Expected to welcome visitors by summer 2019, the underwater playground will feature a submerged 70-meter Boeing 747 aircraft. The plane is believed to have been transported to Bahrain from Fujairah, UAE, and is reported to be the largest plane ever to be submerged. The announcement, made by the personal representative of His Majesty King Hamad, president of the Supreme Council for the Environment, Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad Al Khalifa, confirmed: “Covering an area of over 100,000 sqm, the exceptional dive experience includes several structures in addition to a submerged jumbo jet as its centerpieces, such as a replica of a traditional Bahraini pearl merchant’s house, artificial coral reefs and other sculptures fabricated from eco-friendly materials, all submerged to provide a safe haven for coral reef growth and a habitat for marine life.”

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Bali To Introduce Tourist Tax

Bali plans to impose a US$10 tax for all foreign tourist arrivals. Revenue will go toward environmental works and protection of cultural assets, said Bali governor Wayan Koster.”Most foreigners come to Bali for a holiday, local tourists only come to visit their family, have meetings or for their institution’s events,” he added. Bali is trying to combat the growing problem of plastic waste strewn on its beaches and in the ocean. The island generates more than 3,000 tons of rubbish every day. It has already taken steps to ban single-use plastics such as straws and plastic bags but remains to be seen how effective this will be.

Emirates Introduces Entertainment Playlist Syncing Ahead Of Travel

Emirates has introduced an innovative new function on its app to allow customers to create bespoke playlists ahead of their flight and sync it to their seats once on board. Customers can plan their trip more effectively, and maximize their onboard experience by using the Emirates app to browse the expansive entertainment catalog at any time. ice, Emirates’ award-winning inflight entertainment has reached a new milestone of over 4,000 channels of on-demand entertainment. The catalog includes over 1,000 movies, more than any other airline, popular television box sets, tens of thousands of music tracks, podcasts and games. The syncing capability is currently available on over 100 Emirates Boeing 777 aircraft and will be made available progressively across the entire fleet, including A380 aircraft in the coming months. In addition to the catalog, travelers can browse through their flight’s menus and wine lists up to a month before the departure date. The Emirates app also features 3D seat maps which allows customers to navigate the interior of the Emirates A380 and the Emirates Boeing 777 during seat selection and explore the spacious cabin before they board.

Universal Orlando Is Accepting Reservations For Its Newest Hotel
Universal Orlando revealed the opening date for the second phase of its Endless Summer value-priced resort. Universal and its partner Loews Hotels are now taking reservations for Universal’s Endless Summer Resort, Dockside Inn and Suites, which will start accepting guests in May 2020. Prices start at just $89 a night for the budget-priced hotel, which is going up on the site of the former Wet ‘n’ Wild water park. Dockside’s sister hotel next door, Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Surfside Inn and Suites, will open this August. Reservations have been available for that hotel for a few months now, with its rates starting at $85 a night. These promotional rates for both hotels are based on a four-night stay.

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Brazil Plans To Eliminate the need for Visitor Visas For US Citizens 
Brazil plans to eliminate the need for visitor visas for Americans, the country’s tourism minister said on Wednesday, as President Jair Bolsonaro seeks to turn around the lagging tourism sector and engineer cozier relations with the United States. The visa initiative is part of the Foreign Ministry’s plan for the first 100 days in power of Bolsonaro, who assumed office on Jan. 1, Tourism Minister Marcelo Alvaro Antonio said in an interview “Our intention is really to eliminate visa applications for Americans.” Bolsonaro won the presidency running on a right-wing populist platform. He has sought to realign Brazil with the United States, unlike the leftist Workers Party government that led the country for 13 of the past 15 years and favored relations with fellow developing economies. “The left has treated the United States as an adversary, but not our government,” Antonio said. “President Bolsonaro wants to embrace the United States as a partner of Brazil.” Brazil is Latin America’s largest economy but has long punched below its weight in tourism. The country currently receives 6.6 million foreign tourists a year, roughly half that of New York City alone. Brazil will also seek to eliminate visas for Canadians, Japanese and Australians but the timeline is up to the Foreign Ministry, Antonio said.

Ponant Adds Free WiFi on All Sailings

The luxury cruise line Ponant announced that it is offering unlimited free access to WiFi to all guests across its fleet of ultra-luxury French-flagged vessels. All Ponant passengers will have free access to WIFI throughout the entire ship from January 2019, irrespective of their category of stateroom,” the company said, in a prepared statement. Ponant noted the complimentary WiFi will add to the customer experience aboard and is a key step in the company’s ship digitization process. Ponant also recently inked a deal with industry-leading connectivity provider Global Eagle to provide new technology, entertainment, and television services.

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Travel News: More Lindblad Small-Ship Expeditions coming your way

Tourism Giant Thomas Cook Stops Selling Tickets To SeaWorld

Travelwirenews reports Animal advocates are celebrating another big win for captive whales and dolphins with an announcement from tourism company Thomas Cook that it will no longer be selling tickets to any attractions that keep Orcas in captivity. Last year the company announced a new animal welfare policy and began auditing 49 of the facilities it sells tickets to in an effort to see if they met the standards set by the Association of British Travel Agents. In all 29 of them failed, and the company stopped selling tickets to them. Now, the company is amending that policy over concerns about welfare and changes in what people consider acceptable and has officially announced it will no longer be selling tickets to facilities that keep Orcas in captivity as of next summer, which includes SeaWorld in the U.S. and Loro Parque in Spain.

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New Tourism Taxes Have Made Holidays To Barbados More Expensive

Travelwirenews reports Holidays to the Barbados has gotten more expensive with new tourism taxes. As of July 1, tourists were hit with a new hotel tax, equal to US$2.50 to US$10 per night, depending on the class of accommodation. This new tax comes on top of an “airline travel and tourism development fee” of US$70 that will be applied to passengers flying to destinations outside the Caribbean as of October 1, and a 2.5% levy applied to “direct tourism services” like car rental services. The additional taxes are meant to help offset the island’s government debts. For the average family staying an average of 12 nights, the additional tax could add US$240 to their hotel bill. The additional room levy will be collected at the resort and hotels until 2020, when the VAT doubles to 15%.

Lindblad Positive On Expanding Expedition Demand

National Geographic Explorer reports Lindblad Expeditions reported positive second quarter earnings on Thursday morning, with Sven-Olof Lindblad, president and CEO, continuing to paint a picture of a strong demand environment for expedition travel. “I know new entrants and new ships are (coming) at an unprecedented level,” Lindblad said, noting the capacity increase in the expedition market in the next two years was still less than the introduction of one mass market ship. While some of those new ships will replace older inventory, Lindblad said the additional capacity will drive marketing and interest across the sector. For 2019 Lindblad said he was expecting a stronger South Pacific season as the company was able to rebalance capacity to maximize revenue opportunities. Across the globe, the company is also eyeing building up deployment in Egypt, citing strong demand. “Creating new geographic opportunities is a key ingredient to sustain growth,” Lindblad said, speaking on the company’s second quarter earnings call. A July deal to build a second blue-water expedition ship was based on increasing demand for high-quality expedition travel, Lindblad explained, as the company will get new 126-passenger polar-class ships in 2020 and 2021, respectively. The company has an option on a third vessel as well. “We have done diligent research,” he said, referring to the 126-guest ship size. “Once you cross over into larger numbers the opportunities (to land guests) diminish dramatically.”

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Hot Weather In Europe Causes Low Water, Prompts River Cruise Itinerary Changes

Cruise Critic UK reports unusually hot weather in Europe is affecting river cruises, causing lines to swap ships between different port cities, change itineraries and use buses to take passengers to various sites. The issues are primarily on Germany’s Elbe River, which historically has had low water issues, and parts of the Danube River north of Passau. The Rhine River is also low, with daily fluctuating levels. River cruise lines handle low water levels in a number of ways, doing their best to keep as close to the itinerary as possible. Ports often close with little advance notice, with the local officials making the determination, leading to last-minute decisions by the line. It’s also hard to predict which season water issues will arise, as it’s entirely dependent on the weather. Sometimes high water strikes in the spring, when snow melts in the Alps, but that’s not always a given (and it wasn’t this year). Low water is generally more common in the fall, but a hot summer can cause issues earlier. Conversely, a particularly stormy summer can cause flooding. The most common, and least disruptive, practice for cruise lines is to keep identical ships as floating hotels in various ports. That way, when passengers swap ships, they have the same cabin category and amenities.

Florida Suffers Worst Red Tide In Over A Decade

Travelmole reports holidaymakers in Florida are being warned to take care as the worst outbreak of red tide in over a decade is affecting its beaches. Officials fear the toxic algae bloom, which is affecting at least 120 miles of beaches on the Gulf of Mexico, could last until 2019. It has already killed thousands of fish, hundreds of sea turtles, and also pelicans and manatees. It poses health risks to beachgoers, particularly those with severe or chronic respiratory conditions, such as emphysema or asthma. The algae can cause rashes and eye irritation, nausea, vomiting and allergy-like symptoms in humans, while drinking water with the toxins can cause long-term liver disease. Last month, Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency for seven counties after the algae blooms tainted the water in the wake of discharges from Lake Okeechobee. This gave state environmental and tourism agencies more resources to respond to problems caused by the algae. The red tide, which usually goes away in the spring, has persisted for nine months. According to US reports, the worst bloom in 2006 lasted 17 months.

The UK Has Updated Its Travel Advice For Portugal

The UK Foreign Office has updated its advice for Portugal following three days of forest fires in the Algarve. Portuguese authorities are evacuating affected areas in and round the town of Monchique. “If you are in this area, follow the instructions of the Portuguese police and Civil Protection authorities,” the FCO told British visitors. “For your own safety, travel to the Monchique area is not advised under any circumstances until cleared by the Portuguese authorities.” Flames have already consumed more than 1,000 hectares of forest despite efforts by more than 800 firefighters. Wildfires in Portugal killed more than a hundred people last year. This year authorities were quick to act with evacuations.

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Croatia Is Latest EU Country To Increase Tourist Tax

Travelwirenews reports Croatia is the latest destination to announce an increase in its tourist tax, in an effort to mitigate the impact of its growing holiday industry. The country will raise its visitor levy from 8 kuna (€1.08) per night to 10 kuna (€1.35) from next year. The new rate will apply to all accommodation during peak season, with the exception of campsites. Gari Cappelli, the country’s tourism minister and president of the Croatian tourist board, said money raised would be distributed to the Red Cross, the tourist board and destinations within the country. While the new levy will add just £3.23 per person onto the cost of a fortnight’s holiday, or approximately €18.90 for the two weeks, it’s part of a wider move by holiday destinations to raise tourist taxes. This year, the Balearic Islands of Majorca, Ibiza, Menorca and Formentera doubled their daily tax on tourists in peak season to up to €4 per night. Earlier this summer Barbados announced that it was increasing its visitor levy, which could see families pay €224 extra for a fortnight’s stay. While many destinations impose such taxes to support sustainable tourism, Barbados is doing so to raise money to reduce its overwhelming deficit. Edinburgh is looking to become the first UK destination to introduce a tourist tax. The council claims it would use the money to improve the city’s infrastructure, which is struggling to cope with a surge in visitors.

National Geographic Partners with Ponant to Develop Global Expedition Cruising

Cruise Critic reports National Geographic Expeditions and Ponant have announced a new range of co-branded, luxury expedition cruises on small ships with a common vision for responsible travel and unique experiences. The 130 itineraries, to be offered over the next four years, cover all seven continents. Core destinations are the Arctic and Antarctic, complemented by a range of expeditions in northern Australia, the South Pacific, Alaska, the Seychelles and the Caribbean. Unusual options to some of the world’s most remote locations include Antarctica to Africa (Ushuaia to Cape Town) and Fiji to Guam via Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and Micronesia. A 10-night ‘Top End’ cruise sails from Darwin to Cairns stopping at several Aboriginal communities. The new strategic partnership specifically targets travellers in Australia, New Zealand and Asia Pacific and does not impact National Geographic’s partnership with Lindblad Expeditions in the Americas. Expeditions will be conducted on Ponant’s ‘clean ships’, which are designed to respect the environment and marine life, with capacity for 180 to 240 passengers as well as National Geographic photographers and other relevant experts onboard. Ponant is committed to recycling and reuse programs, reduced exhaust emissions and sustainable purchasing practices. Some of the latest ships will also have the line’s new multi-sensory underwater lounge. Available to book now, the new cruises are priced from AU$4,730 per person. A portion of all proceeds is returned to the non-profit National Geographic Society.

American Song, New Orleans’ First Modern Riverboat, Is Nearly Complete

Cruise Industry News reports American Song is nearly finished with construction and will arrive in New Orleans in October 2018. The vessel is one of two modern riverboats American Cruise Lines will debut in New Orleans over the next year. The 190-passenger riverboat, owned by American Cruise Lines, has sailed from its outfitting basin at Chesapeake Shipbuilding in Salisbury, Maryland to the yard’s outfitting bulkhead, where it will receive final touches, according to a news release. It will sail its inaugural Mississippi River cruise from New Orleans in October. American Song has a range of modern features including a rotating, retractable gangway that extends from the bow, which is designed to open for boarding and disembarking. It is one of two new, top-of-the-line riverboats being built by American Cruise Lines, both of which will launch in New Orleans. American Harmony, its sister ship, is currently under construction and will go into service on the Mississippi River in 2019. American Song will sail from New Orleans through the end of this year before it relocates to the Pacific Northwest in 2019. American Song and American Harmony have a new design that eliminates the paddlewheel and adds luxury features, including new grand suites with 900 square feet of private space, large windows and a wraparound balcony. Of the boat’s 102 staterooms, the grand suite is the most expensive, running more than $9,000 for a seven-night cruise from Memphis to New Orleans. The company also plans to have two paddlewheel boats operating from New Orleans by October, America, a 185-passenger boat, and Queen of the Mississippi, a 150-passenger boat. American Song’s inaugural cruise departs New Orleans on Oct. 6.

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Danube Waltz with Viking Cruises

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Budapest – Bratislava – Vienna – Krems – Linz – Passau

This week, WIT Agent Debbie is joining Viking Cruises on an educational cruise onboard the Viking Vilhjalm!

She will fly to Budapest and spend 2 nights at the lovely Corinthia Hotel, before embarking on her ship on the Danube. 

Saturday is her birthday, and she’ll be in Vienna so hoping for some succulent Sachertorte!

Upon disembarking arrival in Passau, she’ll be staying 3 nights in Munich before heading home. A full 12 days of exploring Central Europe! We can’t wait for her pics 😉

Willamette Intl Travel has been on countless cruises and sent countless happy clients on the cruise of their dreams. ASK your WIT agent which cruise might be right for you. Whether you love scientific lectures or prefer to kick-back with a glass of wine, traveling with your spouse, kids or going solo, we guarantee there’s a cruise made just for you. Call 503-224-0180 or email inquiry@wittravel.com

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The Cruise

Highlights

  • Soak up soothing steam at a Budapest thermal bath.
  • Learn to waltz at a Viennese dance school.
  • Savor Austro-Hungarian cuisine in Vienna and Budapest.
  • Admire the Wachau Valley’s beauty from your Viking Longship.
  • Explore lesser-known Central European cities like Bratislava.
  • Witness daily life in an abbey on an exclusive visit to Göttweig. 

The Sail

WED AUG 08, 2018 Embark In Budapest on Viking Vilhjalm

THU AUG 09, 2018 Budapest, Hungary

FRI AUG 10, 2018 Bratislava, Slovak Republic

SAT AUG 11, 2018 Vienna, Austria

SUN AUG 12, 2018 Krems, Austria

SUN AUG 12, 2018 Durnstein, Austria

SUN AUG 12, 2018 Scenic Cruising: Wachau Valley

SUN AUG 12, 2018 Melk, Austria

MON AUG 13, 2018 Linz, Austria

TUE AUG 14, 2018 Passau, Germany

WED AUG 15, 2018 Disembark In Passau

The Ship

The Viking river boat is named after Vilhjalm Langaspjót, William I Longsword. As the son of Rolf the Ganger, a Viking chief and first Duke of Normandy, William ruled Normandy after his father from 927 to 942.

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Features: 

  • 95 comfortable outside staterooms (25 Standard Staterooms, 22 French Balcony Staterooms, 39 Veranda Staterooms, 7 Veranda Suites, 2 Explorer Suites)
  • All suites feature two full-size rooms with a veranda off the living room & a French balcony in the bedroom
  • Sun Deck with 360-degree views & shaded sitting area; organic herb garden & solar panels; putting green & walking track
  • Aquavit Terrace & Lounge, a revolutionary indoor/outdoor viewing area at the bow of the ship for al fresco dining
  • Viking Lounge & Bar with floor-to-ceiling glass doors
  • Restaurant with floor-to-ceiling windows for panoramic views
  • Library & onboard shop
  • Elevator from Middle to Upper Deck only; no elevator access for categories E & F
  • Free Wi-Fi (connection speed may vary)
  • Laundry service
  • Ecologically friendly hybrid engines producing less vibrations for a smoother ride
  • 40″ flat-screen Sony TV with infotainment system featuring Movies On Demand, plus CNBC, CNN, National Geographic & more
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The Room

French Balcony Stateroom (C, D)

  • Stateroom size: 135 sq ft
  • River-view stateroom with floor-to-ceiling sliding glass door to create a French balcony
  • Hotel-style bed 79 in x 63 in (with optional twin-bed configuration); luxury linens & pillows
  • Free Wi-Fi (connection speed may vary)
  • 40″ flat-screen Sony TV with infotainment system featuring Movies On Demand, plus CNBC, CNN, FOX, National Geographic & more
  • 110/220 volt outlets & USB ports
  • Telephone, safe, refrigerator, hair dryer & individual climate control
  • Private bathroom with spacious glass-enclosed shower, heated bathroom floor & anti-fog mirror
  • Premium Freyja® toiletries; plush robes & slippers available upon request
  • Bottled water replenished daily
  • Stateroom steward & twice-daily housekeeping
  • Space under bed for storing suitcases
  • Roomy wardrobe with wooden hangers
  • View the French Balcony in our 360° Longship Tour

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Filed under Cruises, Europe, Travel by Ship, Travel by Taste, Viking Cruises

Sail the Mekong with the Brand-New Emerald Waterways Harmony

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If you love Emerald Waterways, here’s your chance to join their brand-new river cruise ship on the Mekong River.

The 84-passenger Emerald Harmony, will sail the Mekong River in 2019.

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Emerald Harmony will have many of the features of the line’s European “star ships,” including:

  • Panorama Balcony suites with drop-down windows
  • Asian design touches
  • Horizon Bar & Lounge will be Asian-themed
  • the ship’s main dining venue, Reflections Restaurant, will serve a locally-inspired menu.

One standout feature of the ship is that it will be built to allow access to the center of Ho Chi Minh City, so passengers can embark there as opposed to a dock outside of the city. Emerald Waterways has been sailing on the Mekong since 2014, with a chartered vessel, Mekong Navigator.

Emerald Harmony will be the first time that the company has put a “star ship” style ship outside Europe.

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Itineraries

Beginning August 2019, Emerald Harmony will sail three itineraries in Vietnam and Cambodia:

a 13-Day Majestic Mekong River Cruise – cruise tour sailing between Ho Chi Minh City and Siem Reap, with time for Angkor Wat; 

Your journey begins in Siem Reap, where early mornings and ancient architecture promise to be the perfect combination. Angkor Wat is sure to fascinate, as is Angkor Thom and Ta Prohm. Then your journey along the majestic Mekong introduces Phnom Penh, invites you to a family-owned silk-producing factory and to attend a scarfweaving workshop in Long Khanh Island. Continue onwards before leaving your Star-Ship at the center of Ho Chi Minh City for a two-night stay in a 5-star colonial-style hotel.

a 17-Day Treasures & Temples of Vietnam & Cambodia: that adds stops at Hanoi and Halong Bay in the north;

Begin your adventure in Hanoi, where centuries-old architecture is a wonderful nod to the past and the Old Quarter strikes a fine contrast with its many temples. Cruise the emerald waters of Halong Bay in a traditional junk boat, learn of Ho Chi Minh City’s fascinating war history and embark on a once-in-a-lifetime river cruise along the Mekong. Enjoy tuk-tuk and ox cart tours in Phnom Penh and finish your adventure in the Cambodian city of Siem Reap, where you’ll witness Angkor Wat and attend a circus performance.

and a 21-Day Grand Tour of Vietnam & Cambodia that encompasses all of the above, plus Hoi An and Hue.

Hanoi’s labyrinth of streets is filled with food stalls and markets. Journey to Halong Bay and embark on a traditional junk boat as you sail its ethereal waters, and drive through Da Nang before crossing the Pass of Ocean Clouds. Discover Ho Chi Minh City’s Cu Chi Tunnels, before meeting your Star-Ship and sailing the Mekong, stopping off in My Tho, Sa Dec and Phnom Penh. Conclude your trip with three nights in Siem Reap, attending the Phare Cambodian Circus and visiting the historic Angkor Wat.

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Inclusions

Fares for Emerald Harmony will have the same inclusions as other Emerald Waterways ships:
  • transfers,
  • port charges,
  • meals,
  • unlimited wine and beer with lunch and dinner,
  • bottled water in the cabins,
  • complimentary Wi-Fi,
  • at least one shore excursion in every port and
  • all onboard and excursion gratuities.
  • During the cruise tour portion of the trips, hotel, internal flights and transfers are also included.

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Filed under Asia, Cambodia, Cruises, emerald waterways, Thailand, Travel by Ship, Vietnam, Vietnam