Category Archives: Cruises

Travel News: Italian Airport Waives Max Limit of Liquids in Favor of: Pesto?

Happy Independence Day Weekend All! We hope you have a fantastic holiday. Our office will be open Monday 3 July 8:30am to 5pm, closed Tuesday 4 July.

 

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Italian Airport Waives Maximum Limit Of Liquids In Favor Of Pesto

Because, perché no? The BBC reports: “In an era of high-security air travel, many a passenger has fallen foul of the rules banning liquids on planes. But now an Italian airport has decided to waive the 3.4-oz maximum limit, as long as the liquid is pesto. More than 500 jars have made it through since Genoa’s Cristoforo Colombo airport launched the ‘Il pesto è buono’ (Pesto is good) scheme on 1 June. The cost? A donation to Flying Angels, which flies sick children abroad for treatment. Pesto, a popular pasta sauce made with basil, cheese, and pine nuts, is a local specialty in Genoa. The airport said the brainwave arose after staff were faced with ‘hundreds of jars that were seized in airport security checks’. Tourists with pesto jars of up to [1.1 pounds] can ask for a special sticker in exchange for a [55 cent] charity donation, although the airport says many are donating more. The pesto is then scanned in a special x-ray machine before proceeding onto the plane as hand luggage.” 

SIDEBAR: Recipe for Pesto

Want to recreate delicious pesto from your trip to Italy? No problem!

All you need are: 2 cups fresh basil leaves 2 cloves garlic 1/4 cup pine nuts 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, 1/2 cup freshly pecorino cheese

In a blender or food processor, combine basil, garlic and pine nuts until chopped. Then add the oil until smooth, season with salt and pepper. Spread on pasta, toast (with avocado), homemade pizza—the possibilities are endless!

Former Delta CEO Richard Anderson To Head Amtrak

Amtrak said Monday it has named Anderson as the nationwide rail network’s next president and CEO. Anderson, former chief executive officer of both Delta and Northwest Airlines, will begin his role on July 12. Amtrak operates a nationwide rail network, serving more than 500 destinations in 46 states, the District of Columbia and three Canadian provinces, on more than 21,300 miles of routes. During fiscal year 2016 (Octoer 2015-September 2016), Amtrak had approximately 31.3 million customers.

BA Facing Backlash After Forcing Families To Pay £20 Fee To Sit Together

Furious travellers complain they are being split up from loved ones on flights. The only way to ensure a seat with your family is to pay a minimum £7 reservation fee on a short-haul flight. Even BA’s executive club members awarded ‘companion vouchers’ to go on a romantic break or honeymoon with their partner are being separated on flights. The worst affected are passengers who have bought the cheapest deals. Seats by the emergency exit cost £50 to reserve, while executive club members are charged £24 per seat on longer flights. The policy was introduced in 2009. Paid-for reservations were said to be based on requests from customers, but many are now complaining about the policy on social media, as the airline also faces a backlash for scrapping free sandwiches on short-haul flights and for its plans to reduce leg room on some flights. BA says its computer system then randomly allocates seats for those who do not pay extra. It says this program aims to sit family and friends on the same booking together. But those who have bought basic fares, where they are only allowed cabin luggage, are given the lowest priority. Critics say BA is becoming similar to budget airlines under its Spanish boss Alex Cruz, previously CEO for a low-cost carrier. It is now ranked below Aeroflot.

Qantas Sorted Through 60,000 Suggestions To Name Its New Fleet Of B787-9s

The Australian carrier sorted through 60,000 suggestions to name its new fleet of B787-9s. A small, amiable marsupial known as a Quokka, the natural wonder of the Great Barrier Reef and iconic folk song Waltzing Matilda have won out against the salty, yeast-based breakfast spread Vegemite as names for Qantas’s new fleet of Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners. Also adorning the new aircraft, due to start arriving from October, will be Aboriginal terms Boomerang, Uluru and Dreamtime. The eight names chosen after a public competition also include Great Southern Land, both a song and an alternative name for Australia, and Skippy, which is most commonly associated in Australia with the 1960s TV series about a bush kangaroo. 45,000 votes were cast in selecting the names of the aircraft that will fly nonstop from Perth to London and Melbourne to Los Angeles. “We think the eight names are a reflection of the places and things that make Australians feel proud.

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Ritz-Carlton To Launch A New Luxury Cruise Line

The company sees a three-ship fleet of ultra-high-end 298-passenger ships, with 149 all-suite, balcony cabins, that will play in the same international waters as the luxe lines Regent, Seabourn, and Silversea. Announced yesterday, the company’s cruise venture, with bookings opening in February for voyages in 2019, makes it the first top-tier hotelier to enter into the cruising waters in the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, Canada, Latin America, the Caribbean, and New England. Among the unique offerings the new cruise line will offer is a greater percentage of large-scale suites than the competition, including duplexes; the highest crew-to-guest ratio in luxury cruising; and a platform that gives guests direct access to the water. The debut yacht, the next two follow in early 2021 and early 2022, will have three swimming pools and three whirlpools; a Ritz-branded spa; a restaurant from the chef at the Michelin-starred restaurant in Wolfsburg, Germany’s Ritz-Carlton, plus four additional dining venues, and a panoramic lounge and wine bar.

Scandinavian Airlines Testing Electronic Chips For Biometric Boarding Passes

Rickard Gustafson, CEO at Scandinavian Airlines, revealed that one member of staff has a chip implanted in an employee’s hand to test biometric boarding pass ideas. as part of SAS Lab, an innovation center that aims to come up with ways of disrupting the air travel industry in the next three to five years. Swedish commuters can use a hand implant chip instead of train tickets. You can board or access the lounge by simply reaching out your hand. “I don’t think that a lot of customers will let us implement a chip in their hands, but we’re playing around with technology. And out of that, there will come one or two good ideas that then could be commercially viable.” In addition to the chip, SAS is experimenting with other new technology, such as Bluetooth bags tags. “When you check in on our app, the tag is populated with information,” says Gustafson. “There’s kind of a liquid screen on a bag tag. It’s reusable, so when you check-in, you already have populated your tags. When you get through the airport, you go to the self-service bag drop, you scan it and you put it on the belt. Then when you go back home again and you check in on the app, you have an automatically repopulated bag tag, and you’re all set to go. Sweden seems to be at the forefront of biometric chip technology. Swedish train company SJ recently announced it was offering passengers the option of using a biometric chip instead of a paper ticket. The tiny chip has the same technology as Oyster cards and contactless bank cards, NFC (Near Field Communication), to enable conductors to scan passengers’ hands. The scheme is only applicable to those who already have the biometric implant. SJ is not offering to chip people. Around 2,000 Swedes have had the surgical implant to date, most of them employed in the tech industry.

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Adriatic Cruises 2017-18

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Yesterday was Croatia’s birthday, so in celebration, we’re taking a closer look into cruising the Adriatic Sea!

Choosing an Adriatic Cruise depends on a lot of factors: sailing date, ports of call, price, length and itinerary. We’ve written up a few cruise lines who sail along the Dalmatian Cruise. To learn more, give us a call — We can advise the best cruise to fit your travel style and budget, and even find special discounts exclusive to travel agencies. 

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Crystal Cruises

Crystal offers Adriatic cruises on its lovely yacht, the Crystal Esprit. The yacht is a “boutique hotel on water,” accommodating up to 62 adventurers in butler-serviced suites. You feel more like you’ve joined a private, exclusive voyage than an official cruise! Voyages sail from Croatia to Athens by way of Greece and Montenegro, or from Athens to Venice by way of the Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast. Choose from 7 days or 14 days. Prices start in the $6,000 per person range.

Royal Caribbean

All Aboard the 2076-passenger Rhapsody of the Seas, which offers roundtrip Venice cruises stopping in Dubrovnik, Kotor Montenegro, Santorini and Katakolon, Greece. Or head west from Venice down through the Adriatic to Capri, Rome, Florence and Barcelona. Itineraries of 7-8 nights start in the $900 per person range.

Windstar

Windstar’s small, intimate ships are perfect for those looking to sail the Croatian Riviera in privacy. Discover the timeless charms of Croatia on the 8-day Venice roundtrip Quintessential Croatia, which takes you through the Plitvice Lakes and Diocletian Palace. Or expand your itinerary to the 12-day Athens to Venice voyage. Itineraries start in the $3,400 per person range.

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Star Clippers

The iconic winged sails of Star Clippers will sail there way through the Adriatic Sea on the Star Flyer. Get to know the Eastern Mediterranean intimately in Corfu, Santorini, Kotor, Dubrovnik, Hvar and Korcula. Or hug the Dalmatian coast and keep to Croatia, Montenegro and Slovenia on the Venice roundtrip. Prices for 7-11 itineraries start in the $2000 per person range.

Princess Cruises

Princess’ larger vessels promise luxury in magnitude. Explore the highlights of the Eastern Mediterranean on the 12-Day Adriatic & Aegean Connoisseur, or the 12-day Venetian Connoisseur. Prices start at 2400 per person.

Find out more by chatting with our agents today! Our staff has sailed with all of these cruise lines and would love to discuss the ideal Adriatic cruise for you and your family. Call now! 2017 and 2018 Seasons are open for booking. Ask us about special offers like reduced deposits, no single supplements, and last-minute discounts.

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Travel News: Chinese Gov’t Requiring Strict Photos for China Visa

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Chinese Gov’t Requires Strict Photo Regulations for China Visa

Lately the Chinese government has gotten very particular on their acceptance of photos on the China visa application. Applicants must adhere to the visa requirements to the letter or risk rejections. Please double check with your passport photo photographer that they are up-to-date with recent regulations. Full details on requirements in the attached PDF here. 

Biggest-Ever Airplane Poised For Test Flights Into Orbit

The world’s largest airplane, designed to reshape space travel by launching rockets mid-air into orbit from 30,000 ft, rolled out of its hangar for the first time last Wednesday at the Mojave Air and Space Port. The groundbreaking plane, which looks like two aircraft joined together, is the brainchild of billionaire Microsoft Co-Founder Paul Allen and his private spaceflight company Stratolaunch. Allen founded the company in 2011 with the goal of making access to low-Earth orbit more “convenient, reliable and routine.” It has the biggest wingspan of any aircraft ever built, coming in 385 ft, longer than an NFL field which is 360 ft in length. The aircraft is 238 ft from nose to tail and stands 50 ft high on its 28 wheels. This is the first time the public has got a look at the spaceplane and now work must begin on testing before its predicted maiden voyage in 2019.

Montreal Ferris Wheel Set For July Opening

Montreal’s new La Grande Roue Ferris wheel will start operating in the Old Port in mid-July. The ride will offer panoramic 60-metre-high views of the river, Old Montreal, downtown and the mountain. The Ferris wheel will operate year-round from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., giving visitors a chance to enjoy a day or evening view from an air-conditioned cabin (heated in winter). There will also be a bar, bistro and coffee shop on site

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Record Number Of Climbers On Mount Everest

Safety concerns are on high alert this year as Mount Qomolangma, more commonly known as Mount Everest, is expected to see its highest number of climbers this year. The mountain is located on the border between Nepal and China and in order to climb it, interested climbers need to apply for a permit from either the Nepalese or Chinese government depending on which side the ascent begins. Unlike previous years, the world’s highest peak which sits at 8,848 meters above sea level, is estimated to receive more than 1000 people this year during the peak season, which is the highest number of climbers ever. The cause of the increasing number of climbers is varied but a lot of it has to do with the increasing popularity of the climb ever since it was opened to the public over 60 years ago. This year alone, the Nepalese government has granted 371 permits, the most it’s ever issued in a single year. A key factor which has caused the growth of the number of climbers may be the portrayal of Mount Everest in popular media. Experienced climbers have noted that the climb is promoted as a fashionable activity rather than what it truly is; a challenging extreme sport which should only be limited to climbers who have had experiences with similar conditions such as the 5,895 meters tall Mount Kilimanjaro. In order to handle the increase of applications, the Nepalese government has imposed more stringent conditions such as instigating a ban on climbers who are younger than 18 or older than 75.

Royal Caribbean Reinstates Corkage Fee for Wine Brought Onboard

Cruise Critic reports Royal Caribbean has reinstated its corkage fee for wine brought onboard by passengers. The $15 per bottle fee will be charged for the opening of any bottle brought onboard by passengers on embarkation day. Wine purchased from the onboard menus or through the line’s Gifts and Gear program and consumed in a public space does not bear an extra charge. Passengers are permitted to bring onto their cruise ship, on embarkation day only, two bottles of wine or Champagne per cabin, up to 750 ml each for consumption during the cruise. Any bottles brought onboard during the length of the sailing will be stored for the duration of the cruise and returned to passengers the night before disembarkation. Royal Caribbean declined to comment on why the line brought back the fee, which it had removed back in 2014.

President Trump To Reverse Cuba Policy

There are many reports circulating that the President plans to reverse the previous administration’s Cuba policy. Business Travel News reports US cruise operators and airlines could lose $712 million in annual revenues if restrictions are reinstated. President Trump is poised to void the re-normalization of US relations with Cuba, according to multiple congressional and advocacy organization sources with direct knowledge of the administration’s intentions reported by numerous news media yesterday. Possible changes Pres. Trump is considering include “reconfirming the licensing structure that would rescind the system that has allowed for easier travel to the country,” many news media outlets report, as well as new regulations for businesses interested in working in the Cuban market; reinstating caps or outright banning imports from the country; and redefining the what it means to be a part of the Cuban government or military, which could affect contracts with the Cuban government. The sources say some of the changes could take effect this month. US businesses have established 26 agreements with the Cuban government from 2015 to 2017, according to ABC News, including airlines and cruise lines as well as telecommunications companies and Google, which hoped to expand internet access in Cuba. The number of US citizens visiting Cuba increased 74% from 2015 to 2016, according to the Cuban Ministry. Trump’s administration is reviewing US policy toward the country’s former Cold War foe.

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Arctic Tourism Groups Forge Guidelines For Community Visits

Five Arctic tourism organizations have joined forces to develop guidelines for tourists visiting Arctic communities. In addition to general advice on how to behave, the organizations presented a template that helps communities to create their own tailored guidelines. The guidelines, which provide travelers with useful dos and don’ts when visiting Arctic communities, were developed with the input of local stakeholders. Included are pointers on everything from cultural considerations to recommendations on what kind of souvenirs to buy. For example, visitors are encouraged to talk to, and not about, the people they meet and to ask before taking photographs of people (‘a hesitation means “no”‘). ‘Think of yourself as an ambassador for your country and your culture, as the locals are for theirs. Politeness and good manners are always appreciated,’ one guideline states. Visitors are advised to respect privacy and private property, and places of religious or cultural significance. Children shouldn’t be photographed or given gifts without their superiors’ permission. Religious or cultural ceremonies shouldn’t be disturbed or photographed without permission. People should avoid walking on graves. The groups that teamed on the guidelines are the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO), Visit Greenland, Cruise Iceland, Visit Svalbard and the Northern Norway Tourist Board.

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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

Travel News: State Dept says Renew your US Passport Now

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State Dept. Says Renew Your Expiring US Passport Now!

In general, for regular applications, the State Department lists the turnaround time as 6-8 weeks (although wait times usually end up shorter than that), and by paying an extra fee you can have that cut down to 2-3 weeks. In urgent circumstances, travelers can get a same-day passport renewal at a local passport office, if they can prove they are traveling sooner than the normal wait time. While the State Department promises to do a better job of staying on top of the flood of applications than they did ten years ago, if your expiration date ends in a seven, better to get on it early–specially because applications tend to spike in spring and summer as people gear up for vacation. And remember, some countries require you to have six months of validity left to enter, not something you want to find out the hard way. On average, the State Department processes around 13 million passport applications a year–last year, it saw 16.8 applications-so while 20.5 million is out of the norm, the State Department has seemingly learned to expect major increases of this magnitude every ten years when that initial flood of passports is up for renewal.

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Goway lays out Peru’s new rules for visiting Machu Picchu

New admission rules for Machu Picchu, which (as of now) go into effect January 2018. Ticket sales will be divided into a morning ticket 8am to 12pm and an afternoon ticket 12pm to 5:30pm. Change in cost for a ticket has not been announced. Travelers can buy both to spend a full day at the site. “Initially this change was to begin mid-2017, but after consultations with tour operators locally and internationally the date has been unofficially moved to Jan 2018,” says Goway. The number of visitors has grown annually, from low hundred thousands in 1980s to a peak of 1.4 million tourists in 2014. The ticket changes are an attempt to ease the stress on the fragile ruins, and keep it in good shape and accessibility for future travelers.  

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Holland America Adds Cuba Calls

Holland America Line has received approval to begin sailing to Cuba from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, starting with the Dec. 22, 2017, 12-day holiday cruise aboard the Veendam, according to a statement from the company. The addition of Veendam itineraries will help meet the growing demand for premium cruise experiences to Cuba, the company said. Nine seven-day itineraries will feature the capital city Havana, and three of these will add another Cuba call at Cienfuegos. Depending on the departure day, cruises include the Cuba ports, as well as a combination of Caribbean ports, including Amber Cove, Dominican Republic; Belize City, Belize; Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico; George Town, Grand Cayman; Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos; Key West, Florida; and Montego Bay, Jamaica. The series of Cuban cruises will debut with the Dec. 22, 2017, 12-day holiday sailing roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale. In addition to the seven-day cruises, an 11-day spring cruise sails March 17, 2018, and also features the Cuban ports of Havana and Cienfuegos, as well as Key West, Cozumel, Montego Bay and Georgetown. The final seven-day Cuba sailing departs on April 18, 2018.

 

 

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Filed under Cuba, Europe, Goway, holland america, News, Peru

Cruising in Stockholm Archipelago

Today WIT Blogger Wailana reports from the archipelago in Stockholm. Thousands of islands cluster off the east coast of Sweden, and no better time to explore them than in summer! Sunshine and a lofty 68 degrees F make for a perfect Wednesday excursion. The m/s Vindhem departs at least biweekly from Gamla Stan, with dinner, live music, and all you can eat shrimp. After a full day of sightseeing, it’s just a short hop on the boat at 7pm.

Check out Wailana’s photos!

Wish you were in Europe this summer or fall? Give out agents a call! 503.224.0180 or email info@wittravel.com. Hope to see you and your family in the great European capitals before long.

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Travel News: Irish Beach reappears 33 years after vanishing into Atlantic Ocean

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Delta Passengers Can Now Check Their Bags By Scanning Their Face 

Mashable reports Delta passengers will soon be able to check their bags via a facial recognition scanner that uses biometric technology to match their passport photos to their face. The new technology is the first of its kind in the US and Delta hopes it will help both customers and airline agents save time during check-in. Launch details: Delta has invested $600,000 in 4 biometric self-service bag drop machines, which will be placed in Minneapolis-St Paul International Airport this summer, but only one will include the facial recognition software. Delta will then collect customer feedback to determine how and when it will expand it other airports. Privacy experts have urged government agencies and airlines to be cognizant of the risks involved when implementing this type of technology, “especially if it’s found that they are cross-checking facial images with law enforcement databases without permission.” Delta has insisted it will protect customer’s privacy, and will not save anyone’s information or images of their faces.

American Duchess To Launch Service In August From New Orleans

The American Queen Steamboat Company will launch service with its new American Duchess from New Orleans on Aug. 14, 2017. Inland riverboat cruising has boomed for the Port of New Orleans in recent years, growing 40 percent in 2016 compared to 2015, as the Port welcomed 21,391 passengers on three homeported paddle wheelers sailing on the Lower Mississippi River, according to a press release from the port. Other Louisiana stops on the American Duchess itinerary include the Nottoway Antebellum Mansion in White Castle, the historic district in downtown St. Francisville, and museums and attractions in Baton Rouge.

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Irish Beach reappears 33 years after vanishing into Atlantic Ocean

A beach that was swept away more than 30 years ago from a remote island off the west coast of Ireland has reappeared after thousands of tons of sand were deposited on top of the rocky coastline. Dooagh beach is now back after a storm returned sand to it, 30 years after another storm had stripped all the sand off the beach, on Achill island, County Mayo, Ireland, The 300 meter beach near the tiny village of Dooagh on Achill Island vanished in 1984 when storms stripped it of its sand, leaving nothing more than a series of rock pools. But after high spring tides last month, locals found that the Atlantic Ocean had returned the sand. The popular beach once sustained four hotels and a number of guesthouses on the west coast of the island of 2,600 people.

The island, the largest off the coast of Ireland, forms part of the Wild Atlantic Way, a tourist trail stretching from the south of the country to the north-west that has benefited from a tourist boom in the European Union’s fastest-growing economy.

Newest Celebrity Edge, will have Malala Yousafzai as godmother

Celebrity Cruises named human rights activist and Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai godmother to the line’s newest ship, Celebrity Edge, which launches in late 2018. She will christen the ship in Fort Lauderdale in December 2018. Celebrity is also partnering with Yousafzai’s nonprofit foundation, the Malala Fund, to help tell her story and raise money for the more than 130 million girls who do not have access to 12 years of schooling. “The godmother is a beacon for what we stand for and what we believe in,” said Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, president and CEO of Celebrity, adding that among the brand’s strongest commitments is a belief in gender parity, equality and diversity. As part of the partnership, Celebrity Cruises is making a “significant donation” to the Malala Fund. Additionally, the cruise line will begin showing the documentary “He Named Me Malala” on the in-cabin TVs (both passenger and crew cabins) on all of its ships. The line will also “in the very near future” start selling the book “I Am Malala,” along with Malala Fund t-shirts and a co-created Celebrity Cruises and Malala Fund piece of merchandise on all ships. All proceeds from these items will go directly to the Malala Fund. Celebrity will also provide a custom Malala Fund URL onboard its ships that cruisers and crew can use to donate to the fund.

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New Japanese luxury train even has a fireplace on board

From the BBC: The Train Suite Shiki-shima is designed to give you the ultimate luxury experience: tickets range from $2,860 to around $10,000 and you can choose between a two- or four-day trip. The Shiki-shima had its maiden journey on 1 May. The train was built to the plans of designer Ken Kiyoyuki Okuyama and is being advertised as using only the best of materials, many linked to traditional Japanese craftsmanship. The train will take you from Tokyo to the northernmost island Hokkaido, and carries 34 passengers. There are trips with one or three nights on board to choose from. The plans for the train were announced by the East Japan Railway Company in 2014 and there has been crazy demand now the train is finally here. A lottery for seats on launch day was said to have been over-subscribed by a factor of 76. Tickets for the 10-car train are sold out until March 2018. The food will be prepared by Michelin star chefs and presented by uniformed butlers. Everything on board aims to rival the experience of a top-end luxury hotel. 

Disney Wonder is the first ship through the expanded Panama Canal locks

Although passenger ships first made their way down the Panama Canal back in 1914, and millions have done so in the last century, the world’s most famous man-made waterway saw the beginning of a new era this weekend when a cruise ship crossed the recently expanded locks for the first time. The Disney Wonder, a 2,713-passenger ship, passed through the canal’s new locks on April 29 as part of its 14-day trip from Florida to San Diego. As USA Today reports, the 83,308-ton ship had used the canal in the past, but it was too wide to travel the old route after the ship was expanded in 2016. On April 1, the Panama Canal began accepting booking requests for passenger vessels in the new locks. So far, 18 reservations have already been made for passenger vessels to transit the Expanded Canal for the 2017-2018 season, a number which is expected to increase in the coming months. To put things in perspective: The old locks measured 1,000 feet by 110 feet by 42 feet; the new locks are 1,400 feet by 180 feet by 60 feet. The ten-deck Wonder is 106 feet wide, leaving about 35 feet of water on either side of the boat in the new locks. It’s cozy, but it does the job. The canal upgrade began in 2007 but encountered a number of problems along the way; it finally opened in 2016, two years behind schedule and about $1 billion dollars over budget, for a total cost of $5 billion, according to NPR. But it came about to keep up with recently expanded Suez Canal, and to allow larger cargo ships to transit the isthmus, rather than having to circumnavigate the southern cone of South America, which adds 8,000 miles to a journey.

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Filed under Disney, Disney Cruises, Europe, Ireland, Japan, USA