Category Archives: Disney Cruises

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

4 Family-Friendly Cruise Lines (you wouldn’t expect!)

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Today is the International Day of Families! The theme of this year? Education and Well-being. In celebration of the day, we’re taking look at a couple cruise lines that, at first glance, you wouldn’t think are family-friendly—but actually are.

A good kids’ program can transform a “week stuck with Mom & Dad” into an awesome summer break! Why not make it fun for everyone?

Of course, number one on the list is naturally Disney. But Disney’s ships were kind of made for kids—what about those cruise lines that cater mostly to adults, AND have a fantastic kids’ program on top of it? You might be surprised at the results. Here are our Top 5 Family-Friendly Cruise Lines that you wouldn’t expect!

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Uniworld

Uniworld was named #1 River Cruise Line for Families by Travel + Leisure readers four years in a row! This is thanks to their Uniworld Generations Family Cruise program, where kids cruise for half-price! For every accompanying adult, a child between 4 and 18, qualifies for 50% savings. Set your kids on a firsthand experiential course into history, culture and geography. In 2017 they offer nine itineraries in Europe: Danube, Rhine, Paris, Normandy, German Christmas markets, Italy and more! Includes onshore excursions for curious minds and kid-friendly menus.

Crystal Cruises

Kids transform into world explorers aboard Crystal Cruises. On select itineraries, they even sail Free! Junior Cruisers can enjoy scavenger hunts, cookie decorating, team games, karaoke, and video games. What’s cool about these Kids Sail Free Voyages, they also come with added perks for the parents, including 2-for-1 cruise-only fares, complimentary select alcohols, complimentary gratuities, complimentary computer and fitness programs and a free evening of specialty dining.

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Princess Cruises

Princess Cruises offers a really cool youth program, each uniquely designed by age group: toddlers, kids, teens and young adults. Science, arts and crafts, air hockey–whatever your kid’s into lately, it seems like they’ve got it in stock. And the fun isn’t even confined to the ship. For example, on an Alaska cruise excursion, preteens can sign up for the National Park Service Junior Ranger Program and learn all about Alaska’s animals and rugged terrain.

Royal Caribbean

RC does it in style, with rock-climbing walls, zippiness, ice rinks and bumper cars! The DreamWorks experience is a unique Royal Caribbean option where you can meet, dine and go on a scavenger hunt with your favorite characters from Shrek, Kung Fu Panda, Madagascar and How to Train Your Dragon.  

And as always, ask your WIT travel agent for details on which itineraries are best for your family, and how can you get that sweet cruise deal you’ve been looking for! Call 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com.

THIS WEEK: We welcome back Nancy, WIT Agent Extraordinaire, who was recently in Europe on a Barcelona-Windstar Cruise-Amalfi Coast Extravaganza! We look forward to her feedback and photos soon! ALSO: WIT Agent Rachael is in Puerto Vallarta this week! What great photos those will be. Stay tuned!

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Filed under Caribbean, Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Disney Cruises, Europe, Princess Cruises, UniWorld, Windstar Cruises

Travel News: October is National Cruise Month!

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October is the National Cruise Month!

October is National Cruise Month, with loads of opportunities to save on your next cruise. Looking for a last-minute romantic getaway? Want to take the kids on a fun sail-a-way? Cruises are hassle-free, relaxing, diverse way to see many places and do many activities in a short span of time. This month, most major cruise lines are offering major discounts and/or added benefits if booked and deposit paid the month of October. Over 5,000 cruise lines and travel agencies are participating! Our agents at Willamette Intl Travel can answer all your questions and help find a cruise that’s right for you and your loved ones. So what are you waiting for? Give us a call: 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com.

Snapshots from National Cruise Month

  • Professional racer Dale Earnhardt Jr. will make an appearance on the first official Nascar-themed Cruise, with Norwegian.
  • Disney Cruise Line Taps Broadway Talent for Frozen the Musical.
  • Lip Sync Battle coming to Carnival cruise ships.
  • Norwegian Cruise Lines Turning 50 with Special Anniversary Cruises!
  • PLUS: This new super yacht looks like a UFO on the water

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Latest Reports on Hurricane Matthew from Friday

At 500 am this morning Matthew is about 40 miles east southeast of Cape Canaveral or about 90 miles southeast of Daytona Beach. Maximum sustained winds are 120 mph and the storm is moving north northwest at 13 mph. Minimum central pressure is 938 mb. A turn toward the north is expected tonight or Saturday. On the forecast track, the center of Matthew will be moving near or over the east coast of the Florida peninsula through tonight, and near or over the coasts of Georgia and South Carolina on Saturday.Matthew is a category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Although weakening is forecast during the next 48 hours, Matthew is expected to be a category 3 hurricane as it moves near the coast of Florida today. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 60 miles (95 km) from the center, and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 185 miles.

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Tourism in Argentina Expected To Increase Thanks To A New VAT Refund

With a view of boosting tourism in Argentina and revitalizing the local hospitality sector, the government presented the official plan for a VAT refund on accommodation services for tourists coming from overseas. Under the new system, foreigners will pay a lower fee for accommodation services in the country. In other words, through this reform, the cost of renting a hotel room in Argentina will be cheaper for visitors. The refund will be automatic and will be given directly to the card that pays for the services and, according to official information, the measure will cover the entire supply chain of the hospitality sector.

IcelandAir To Offer Nonstop Service To Reykjavik From Tampa

IcelandAir will offer nonstop service to Reykjavik from Tampa International Airport beginning Sept. 7, 2017. Reykjavik is Iceland’s city and capital. The service will be twice a week. This will be the fourth international carrier in its growing lineup of carriers. The IcelandAir announcement comes on the heels of the one-year anniversary of Lufthansa’s nonstop flight to and from Frankfurt at Tampa International Airport, which began last September. IcelandAir offers flights to 39 cities in 16 countries, including 18 destinations in the United States. The new flight to Tampa will be the carrier’s second to Florida. IcelandAir also offers service to Orlando International Airport. IcelandAir is known for its stopover program, which encourages travelers from Europe or North America to “stop over” in Iceland on transatlantic flights for up to seven nights at no additional cost. The carrier’s main hub is at Keflavik International Airport, where it offers connections to dozens of destinations around the world.

LOT To Launch Los Angeles Flights

Polish airline LOT will connect Warsaw with the US West Coast from April, 2017. Although as yet there has been no official announcement, Business Traveller can reveal that Warsaw-based LOT will launch a four times a week non-stop service between Warsaw and Los Angeles on April 4. The flight will be operated by a three-class B787 configured for business, premium economy and economy. LOT would appear to be following in the footsteps of Vienna-based Austrian Airlines who recently announced that it too would launch flights to the US West Coast this coming April. Austrian Airlines will be providing the only non-stop link between Central Europe and Los Angeles while LOT will operate the only non-stop link to the US West Coast)from a city in the former Eastern Europe. Flight time is 12 hours, 20 mins for Warsaw-Los Angeles and 11 hours, 20 mins for Los Angeles-Warsaw.

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KLM Runs Pilot Project With Artificial Intelligence
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines is taking the next step in social servicing by testing artificial intelligence (AI) to help answer customer questions. When an agent needs to answer an incoming question, he or she gets a proposed answer through AI, which is trained on more than 60,000 KLM questions and answers. The agent decides whether the proposed answer is the right answer to the question, adjusts it if necessary and sends it across the appropriate social media channel. The system learns based on what the agent does, and becomes smarter in real time. KLM receives around 100,000 mentions per week via social media and this number is still growing. A dedicated team of 235 social media service agents personally engages in 15,000 conversations. The DigitalGenius AI system is integrated directly into KLM’s Customer Relationship Management tool, and provides a layer of deep learning and artificial intelligence to service agents in real time.

Holland America Bans Smoking On All Its Cruise Ship Balconies
Beginning January 2017, Holland America cruise line will ban smoking on all cabin balconies. No smoking of any kind will be permitted on any stateroom verandah. A “smoking of cigarettes, cigars and pipes is already not permitted in any stateroom. The new policy has been announced to better align with guest wishes and health concerns.” Holland America is the last major U.S. cruise line to enact the smoking ban; the most recent line to do so was Norwegian Cruise Line in November 2014. Royal Caribbean announced its smoking ban three years ago, followed by Carnival Cruise Line in July 2014. Holland America’s no-smoking-on-balconies ban will roll out fleetwide over five months on a staggered schedule.

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Filed under Argentina, Celebrity Cruises, Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Disney Cruises, News, Oceania Cruises, Princess Cruises, Un-Cruise, UniWorld, Viking Cruises, Windstar Cruises

Ship Inspection Report: Disney Wonder

This week we are reporting on WIT agent Wailana’s trip up to Seattle mid-July to view Celebrity and Disney cruise ships. Today we take a look at her account of Disney’s Wonder.

Ship Inspection Report: By Wailana

Disney’s spectacular Wonder ship can accommodate 2,700 passengers comfortably, as well as 950 cast and crew members. It has 11 main decks, all dressed in a variety of colors and illustrations. Hanging pictures showcased familiar character prototypes such as Mickey or Goofy, yet the décor never came across as gaudy or childish. There’s an air of sophisticated nostalgia—Walt’s photos and illustrations from the 1950s decorate the walls, colors are elegantly combined. Heroic, animated music followed us wherever we stepped. The ceilings were quite low for some towering individuals—topping perhaps 8-9 feet high in most areas.

Some highlights of the tour include:

–          Animator’s Palate. This unique restaurant begins at lunch as an all black-and-white tablet, and colors creep up gradually as the evening wears on! The décor is very cartoonish, with walls covered in sketches and columns designed to look like huge paintbrushes.

–          The surface deck’s Pirates’ Party, thrown once a voyage. Pirates parade on a stage, accompanied by lively music and dance. Passengers are of course encouraged to dress up themselves!

–          Oceaneer Club is a playroom for children who wish to explore their artistic side, and the adjoining Oceaneer Science Lab is for the computer-obsessed and the scientist in every child. They do have an Open House hour, when all ages can join.

–          The spacious handicapped suites, which were very handsome with plenty of hall space. Quite the luxury accommodation! (Un)fortunately you must prove your handicap status before voyage.

–          All rooms come with a “wave” phone, or ship phone, that allows family members to keep track of each other.

Afterwards, we enjoyed a relaxing lunch in Parrot Cay—dill mashed potatoes, shrimp cocktail, moist chocolate cake. A high quality of ingredients, and most importantly, delicious!

Tune in next time when I report on the King Tut exhibit at Seattle’s Pacific Science Center. In the meantime, check out my trip photos here.

Willamette Intl Travel arranges all sorts of cruises customizable to our clients! Interested in cruising with Disney? Call us for more info at 800.821.0401 or email Wailana at wailanak@wittravel.com.

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Filed under Cruises, Disney Cruises, North America, Our Travel Agents, The Pacific Northwest, USA, Washington, Where in the World is the WIT Agent?