Category Archives: Europe

Travel News: Virgin America to be retired in 2019

blog post.jpg

Mount Etna Eruptions

The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office has issued a travel alert warning travelers that Italy’s Mount Etna has been erupting with increasing frequency. The warning comes after tourists suffered minor injuries at the active volcano in Sicily. A BBC camera crew on the mountain filmed a big explosion which pelted a group with boiling rocks and steam. About eight people were injured and some had to be evacuated by mountain rescue teams after lava flow mixed with steam triggered the blast. According to BBC science reporter Rebecca Morelle, a volcanologist at the scene said it was the most dangerous incident he had seen in his 30-year-career. Travelers are advised to visit the Italian Civil Protection website for more information. 

airplane-744861_1920

Virgin America to be retired in 2019

Alaska Airlines Group has announced that the Virgin America brand will be retired in 2019. “While the Virgin America name is beloved to many,” Alaska VP of Marketing Sangita Woerner said. “We concluded that to be successful on the West Coast we had to do so under one name – for consistency and efficiency, and to allow us to continue to deliver low fares.” Last December, Alaska Airlines completed the $2.6 billion acquisition of Virgin America, and Alaska Airlines is now the nation’s fifth largest – behind American, Delta, United, and Southwest. According to Alaska, it plans to overhaul its operation to give passengers a more “Virgin-esque” experience that VA is currently admired for: a new satellite-based wifi system, free inflight movies, redesigned interiors with mood lighting, more stylish crew uniforms, upgraded airport lounges, more premium seating, and more complimentary upgrades.

NCL Raising Cost Of Gratuities

Norwegian Cruise Line is raising gratuities on April 1st from $13.50 per person, per day, to $13.99, on all ships except the Norwegian Sky. Daily gratuities for standard cabins on the Norwegian Sky will increase to $18.99 (an increase over 40%). NCL will increase daily gratuities for suites from $15.50 to $16.99 on all of its ships except for the Sky where it will charge $21.99. 

bora-bora-1018428_1920

Tahiti Embarks on 2020 Plan, New Cruise Terminal

Tahiti Tourism is embarking on an $8 million international cruise terminal project due for completion in 2020. The terminal will be located in the center of Papeete and will accommodate up to three ships simultaneously and 2,000 turnaround passengers. The North Pier will measure 300 meters in length; the South Pier 350 meters.

There are no cabotage rules governing Tahiti so cruise ships can sail a more varied itinerary among Tahiti’s 118 islands. Planned amenities include an aerial walk, luggage room, check-in counters, waiting room, duty free, snack bar/café and reservations facilities. Concurrently, Papeete is planning a $12 million upgrade of its airport which is 3 km from the cruise port. Upon completion of the upgrade the airport will be able to accommodate three departures (up to 950 passengers) at the same time.  

Panama Canal to Introduce New Scheduling System

Ships in the Panama CanalQuintiq said that its software has been selected by the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) to plan, schedule and optimize all vessels transit operations through the Canal “to reduce costs, improve safety and increase overall efficiency and reliability. This system will help carry that legacy forward, allowing us to tap the potential of technology to provide better solutions for our customers as we increasingly manage more transits and adapt to shifts in global trade.” Quintig is a Dassault Systèmes brand. The Quintiq solution will change how the Panama Canal plans and schedules transit operations. For the first time, the Canal will be able to execute a completely integrated operating plan for all of its critical resources, including tugboats, pilots and line handlers. The new solution will impact shippers looking to transit the waterway by shortening vessel waiting times, increasing the number of potentially available vessel slots each day and improving the overall reliability of the route. Quintiq will be fully integrated into Canal operations over the course of the next two years. 

norway-2068846_1920

World’s First Ship Tunnel To Be Built In Norway

Norway has approved the financing of an ambitious project to build the world’s first full-size tunnel for ships. The tunnel will be 45 meters high, 36 meters wide and 1.7 kilometers long, and be constructed through the Stad peninsula on the west coast of Norway. The tunnel will be designed to accommodate 16,000-tonne cargo and passenger ships with a draft up to 12 meters. The tunnel will provide a safe journey around Stad, laying the foundation for the region’s industrial development and establishment as a world-class tourist destination. The tunnel will allow up to 120 vessels to travel under a mountain rather than navigate the dangerous waters of the Stadhavet Sea, which experiences about 100 storm days annually. At least 33 people have lost their lives in the area since the end of the Second World War, according to reports. The project is expected to take a decade to complete. 

 Canada Looks At Joining US And Britain On Electronics Ban For Flights 

The Globe and Mail reports Transport Minister Marc Garneau says Canada is evaluating intelligence passed on by the United States to determine if it should require passengers traveling from some Middle East countries to pack all large electronic devices other than mobile cellphones in their checked baggage. US Homeland Secretary John Kelly spoke by telephone Tuesday with Mr. Garneau to explain why the Trump administration has ruled that only cellphones and smartphones will be allowed in the passenger cabin of flights into the United States from 10 airports in eight Muslim-majority countries. Mr. Garneau would not say what type of security threat the Americans are concerned about, but it was reported by The New York Times that intelligence showed Islamic State is developing a bomb hidden in portable electronics. 

Leave a comment

Filed under Airlines, Europe, News, Norway

10 stunning photos of Chile that will take your breath away

blog post (3)

Happy Spring Equinox! But it’s just about time for South America’s autumn, as the southern continent prepares for cooler temperatures. A year-round destination, Chile’s natural landmarks shine no matter the weather.

Through photos, Chile reminds us how unique it is as a travel destination. Hike around waterfalls and forest paths at Chile Aradal Siete Tazas National Park. Explore the volcanic world and hot springs around Nevados de Chillan. Here you’ll also find unique creatures like the pygmy deer, wildcat, king penguins, hummingbirds, furry vicuna and puma. This is the home to poet Pablo Neruda and writer Isabel Allende, and the final resting place of Chinchorro mummies, dating back 7,000 years!

You can combine a trip to Santiago and the port town of Valparaiso, with a trek through Patagonia. Or add on a few nights to your South American cruise. Or hop a plane to Easter Island! Chile requires a reciprocity fee upon arrival. Ask your travel agent for more details on the perfect vacation to Chile and its neighbors: 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com.

Our favorite photos of Chile are meant to inspire. Enjoy!

elaine-casap-86010

Atacama Desert

Atacama

Atacama Desert

Grey Glacier

Grey Glacier

patagonia

Patagonia

peter-gabas-223816

Mylodon Cave Natural Monument

rapanui

Rapanui / Easter Island Statues

Torres

Torres del Paine

pexels-photo-66073

Torres del Paine

torres-del-paine-mountains-granite-granite-rock-57456

Torres del Paine

Valparaiso

Valparaiso

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Europe

Travel News: The New Celebrity Cruises Edge

blog post (1).jpg

Subscribe to our blog for weekly Travel News!

Celebrity Unveils Edge-Class Ships

Celebrity Cruises has released its first look at what is it calling the transformational Celebrity Edge, with large staterooms, the ship-climbing Magic Carpet platform and stunning suites that set a new standard for ship design. The new Edge Stateroom with Infinite Veranda turns guest quarters into a seamless space, according to Celebrity, from the room’s door all the way to the water’s edge. The simple touch of a button gives guests open-air access to the sea, bringing the outside in and the inside out. The design adds 23% more square footage and 10% larger bathrooms than Celebrity’s Solstice Class. There is also the The Retreat, featuring a private pool on The Retreat Sundeck. Also part of this special space is The Retreat Lounge, which brings heightened levels of style and sophistication to Celebrity Edge and around-the-clock personal butler service. Celebrity Edge’s inaugural sailing is December 16, 2018. Reservations have opened just this week for her inaugural season—Call us to secure your spot on this one-of-a-kind ship. Space is selling out fast. Check out great pictures herehttps://www.cruiseindustrynews.com/cruise-news/16557-celebrity-unveils-edge-class-ships.html 

Port Everglades And RCL Sign MOU That Includes Customized Terminal For Celebrity Edge

The MOU moves toward a long-term agreement with RCL through September 2026. The MOU provides the framework for a new long-term agreement with Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. that includes customized renovations of Cruise Terminal 25. Those are targeted for completion by Oct. 31, 2018, ahead of the arrival of Celebrity Cruises’ new Celebrity Edge. The MOU will allow negotiations to move forward toward a final agreement that must be approved by the Broward County Board of County Commissioners. RCL’s current agreement expires on Dec. 31. The new agreement will be effective on Jan. 1, and expire on Sept. 30, 2026, with options to extend the agreement for four years, followed by another five years.

Free Wi-Fi On Cruise Ships for All? 

This was a discussion of the Cruise Connectivity Panel at SeaTrade 2017 but Free Wi-Fi for all cruise passengers is still a long way off, due to costs and technology, the experts said. Although hotels have increasingly made free Wi-Fi to guests, the upfront costs for cruise lines to install the same technology is significantly higher. Panelist Tennyson LaJeunesse, owner of Redcell Technologies, urged lines to include passengers’ onboard internet experience into customer feedback. LaJeunesse also questioned whether the lines were catering for passenger needs: “Are we designing for capacity properly? The pool areas are a huge problem because the huge number of mobile devices are saturating the limited capacity.” He also said that’s already happening and that passenger feedback had been the main driver for the improvements in onboard connectivity: “It’s very important, and we to hear from our guests. A lot of that feedback led to our Wi-Fi at Sea Program, and we have had a phenomenal guest experience via that program.”

Skytrax Winners Unveiled At Passenger Terminal Expo 2017

The winners of the 2017 Skytrax World Airport Awards have been announced at Passenger Terminal Expo in Amsterdam, Netherlands, with Singapore Changi Airport claiming top spot for the fifth consecutive year. With more than 5,000 visitors attending the first day alone, including CEOs, architects, airport and airline executives, suppliers and key decision makers from across the world, Passenger Terminal Expo provided the perfect setting for the prestigious award announcements. he world’s top 10 airports were announced as: 

  1. Singapore Changi Airport, Singapore, 
  2. Tokyo International Airport (Haneda), Japan, 
  3. Incheon International Airport, South Korea,
  4. Munich Airport, Germany, 
  5. Hong Kong International Airport, China, 
  6. Hamad International Airport, Doha, 
  7. Chubu Centrair Nagoya, Japan, 
  8. Zurich Airport, Switzerland, 
  9. London Heathrow Airport, England, 
  10. Frankfurt Airport, Germany. 

This year’s Skytrax World Airport Awards were based on the results of nearly 14 million questionnaires completed by 105 different nationalities of airline customers. The survey was carried out from July 2016 to February 2017, covering 555 airports worldwide and evaluating passenger feedback for areas such as check-in, arrivals, transfers, shopping, security, immigration and departure.

gus-ruballo-158652.jpg

Which airline offers the most legroom for your money?

The airlines that offer the most value-for-money in terms of legroom have been revealed recently in research. Research reviewed the legroom on offer on the most popular airlines departing from the UK for long haul destinations in 2016, looking at the cost per cm in economy, as well as the price paid for extra leg room. On long-haul flights, Turkish Airlines was said to offer the best value legroom overall in economy, per cm. Passengers with Turkish Airlines only have to pay £4.97 per cm of space. Also commendable were Air India, whose legroom per cm costs £5.73; Qatar Airways, which costs £6.94 per cm; Delta Air Lines, which costs £7.06 per cm and Etihad Airways, which costs £7.26 per cm. Which airlines have the most legroom in long-haul economy? Legroom is in inches: Air Canada 30-35, Air China 31-33, Air France 31-34, British Airways 30-31, Cathy Pacific 32, China Southern 29-33, Delta Air Lines 31-35, Emirates 32-34, Etihad Airways 31-33, Jet Airways 32, KLM 31-35, Lufthansa 31-32

Dual Citizens of USA/Canada Make Note

A new Canadian Law affects dual citizens. If you are a dual citizen you must enter Canada with a Canadian Passport. We suggest you use the passport of the country you are now living in for both ways— It will make your life easier.

Lufthansa And Pilots’ Union Reach A Deal

Following constructive talks this week, Lufthansa and the pilot’s union Vereinigung Cockpit reached an agreement regarding all previously unresolved collective bargaining matters. In a declaration of intent, the negotiating partners agreed on forward-thinking provisions for transitional payments, pension plans, the framework agreement on employment conditions and the collective wage agreement for the pilots of Lufthansa, Lufthansa Cargo and Germanwings. Likewise, Lufthansa will not be pursuing a previously announced plan to staff 40 newly acquired aircraft outside the group-wide collective bargaining agreement. In return for the cost-reducing elements of the agreement, 325 aircraft will be crewed in the current KTV flight operations in stages by 2022. This will make it possible for Lufthansa to hire trainee pilots again in the coming years and create career prospects for pilots with a large number of positions for prospective captains. A reciprocal agreement to refrain from industrial action for the duration of the talks has already been reached, and is set to be formalized in a collective bargaining agreement that will last until 2022.

Expedia Customers From Toronto Denied Entry To St. Lucia Due To Passport

A Toronto couple who paid more than $5,000 for a trip to St. Lucia were denied entry because one of their passports was less than three months from expiring. Airline representatives informed them that they were inadmissible to St. Lucia because their passports did not have a minimum validity of six months, an entry requirement. The couple said they didn’t know of the requirement; they claimed that Expedia, a licensed travel agent in Ontario, failed to inform them accordingly. “At no point was there a pop-up or notice that your passport should be valid for six months,” he said. Ontario’s Travel Industry Act stipulates that travel agents are obligated to clearly inform consumers about the need to have appropriate travel documents. Expedia’s website claims that when travel is finalized, a message appears advising the customer(s) about the need to have a passport valid for at least six months. Expedia offered to reimburse the couple half the value of the hotel portion of the trip, about $1,712. Willamette Intl Travel advises clients to check their passports well before departure. Many countries will not permit entry unless your passport expires after at least 6 months from your return date. 

Leave a comment

Filed under Europe

Why More & More Millennials are Using Travel Agents

blog post

Millennials are Turning to Travel Agents for that Personalized Touch

In the past few years, we’ve seen more and more millennials come into the office. Recent travel trends pave the way for customized, one-of-a-kind tours. Millennials are independent, they are internet-savvy, and they’re on the lookout for special travel experiences. That’s where travel agents come in.

Travel agents can be a great resource to tap into what’s new and unique in the travel market. We go out of our way to tailor each trip to the client.

A Better Travel Experience

A 2016 study from the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) found that 34% of millennial travelers have booked a trip through a travel agent. These days, travelers have tried it all—booked direct, booked online through a third party, consulted travel agents. There’s so much information online, it can be overwhelming to sort through what is genuine and what is merely a cookie-cutter package. Agents know the industry inside and out, and understand what might work according to particular travel styles. Those who have worked with travel agents report a better travel experience overall when tapping into an agency’s resources and know-how.

Great for Groups and Niches 

Millennials also tend to travel in groups more these days than ever. They fly home or abroad for bachelorette parties, reunions, weddings, etc. Agents listen to what clients need and manage accommodation, transportation, fun activities and group discounts.

Agents are also helpful especially for niche travel and exotic locales. Travelers looking to ride a riverboat down the Amazon jungle, take a gastro-tour of Vietnam, swim with the sharks, or enjoy a Namibian safari, would certainly benefit from agents who can offer decades of knowledge, exclusive discounts and a personalized, human touch.

Call Willamette Intl Travel at 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com to speak to one of our travel agents today!

Leave a comment

Filed under Europe, Our Travel Agents

PDX’s New Microcinema

blog post

New at PDX!

It’s finished! A few weeks ago, Portland International Airport PDX unveiled its free microcinema on Concourse C. The new 1920s-inspired Hollywood Theatre has seating for 17, an impressive $200,000 projection and sound system, and a marquee to make any historic cinema jealous!

Now all ticketed passengers can drop in free of charge while they’re waiting for their flight. Check in an hour early to watch the hour-long loop of G-rated short films from Oregon filmmakers: an animated film, a music video, a documentary, mini-shorts and more.

Airports in Asia and Europe have hopped on the cinema trend wagon, but American airports (besides Minneapolis) are slow to catch on. Here’s to hoping more take up the idea in the future!

Opening Program: Winter 2017

Leave a comment

Filed under Europe

Travel News: New European Wine Cruises

blog post.png

AmaWaterways introduces new European Wine River Cruise itineraries

River cruise line AmaWaterways celebrates the modern epicurean lifestyle aboard its ships with the release of its 2017-2018 Wine Cruises Through Europe brochure. With a new luxury ship in its fleet, AmaKristina, and 95 sailings hosted by celebrated North American wine experts, AmaWaterways invites guests to uncork the traditions of the local culture and experience the wonders of wine along Europe’s legendary waterways. “It has been extraordinary to witness the increase in interest and enthusiasm for our Wine Cruises over the past several years,” said president and Co-Owner Rudi Schreiner. In addition to the many onboard activities and immersive shore excursions, AmaWaterways’ Wine Cruises add a unique, epicurean dimension to a variety of itineraries that immerse guests in the wine culture of the regions toured, such as Austria’s Wachau Valley, France’s Bordeaux region, Portugal’s Douro Valley, and more. Tastings, winery tours, private cellar tours, visits to iconic vineyards, and first-hand lessons on the nuances of Old World winemaking provide an enriching, educational experience – all at no additional cost.

Norwegian Cruise Line Tests New Internet Plans on Two Ships

Cruise Critic reports passengers sailing on Norwegian Escape and Norwegian Getaway now have the option to purchase internet based on how they use it versus prepaid minutes. Norwegian Cruise Line is testing a new internet pricing model that could be rolled out fleetwide by this summer. Dubbed “Freestyle Choice Plans,” the options include Social Chat ($35 for seven days), Basic ($189 for seven days) and Premium ($245 for seven days). Social Chat provides unlimited access to social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat; it also allows for sending and receiving messages. Basic offers unlimited Internet access as well as messaging and email, and supports file attachments. Premium includes everything in Basic, plus streaming capabilities and VPN access. The line has previously offered more traditional internet plans ranging from $29 per day to 250 minutes for $125, on weeklong cruises. Last summer NCL signed a deal with Global Eagle Entertainment to quadruple bandwidth across its brands for stronger Wi-Fi onboard. Norwegian’s new test follows a trend of cruise lines switching to Internet plans that are more tailored toward how passengers surf the web at sea. Carnival Cruise Line recently adopted a similar model that includes a social media-only plan for $5 per day.

US Airport Pat-Downs Are About to Get More Invasive

Bloomberg reports that air travelers in the US should get ready for more comprehensive pat downs that include intensive intimate contact with the TSA officers. Until now, there have been various degrees of pat downs but TSA has now decided to have only one method used nationwide. The new physical touching, for those selected to have a pat-down, will be be what the federal agency officially describes as a more “comprehensive” physical screening, according to a Transportation Security Administration spokesman. “I would say people who in the past would have gotten a pat-down that wasn’t involved will notice that the [new] pat-down is more involved,” TSA spokesman Bruce Anderson said Friday. The shift from the previous, risk-based assessment on which pat-down procedure an officer should apply was phased in over the past two weeks after tests at smaller airports, he said.

Heathrow Named Best Airport In Europe

The Airports Council International has announced the winners of the 2016 Airport Service Quality (ASQ) Awards, naming Heathrow as the Best Airport in Europe among airports with over 40 million passengers for 2016. The awards are particularly significant for Heathrow as they are voted by passengers themselves, reflecting the views of travellers from right across the globe. Alongside the award of ‘Best Airport in Europe’, Heathrow achieved its best ever annual ASQ passenger satisfaction score while welcoming a record 76 million passengers through the UK’s hub. 82% of passengers rating their journey as either ‘very good’ or ‘excellent’ represents approximately 62 million Heathrow passengers, an increase of 1 million more ‘happy’ passengers than in 2015. In 2006, only 41% of passengers rated their experience as either ‘Excellent’ or ‘Very Good’. Since then, Heathrow has invested more than £11 billion to enhance the airport experience which has dramatically transformed the airport’s performance for passengers and airline customers alike.

Royal Caribbean Names Newest Cruise Ship Symphony Of The Seas

The line announced the name at a press conference yesterday, prior to the groundbreaking ceremony for its new Terminal A at PortMiami. Launching in April 2018, 5,494-passenger, 230,000-ton Symphony of the Seas will be the largest cruise ship in the world, offering 28 more cabins than its “little” sister, Harmony of the Seas. Symphony will feature Oasis-class innovations like the seven-neighborhood concept, the Bionic Bar with its robot bartenders, Broadway-style productions, and outdoor amenities like the AquaTheater, a trio of water slides known as the Perfect Storm, and the 10-deck Ultimate Abyss dry slide. The ship will spend its inaugural summer season sailing Mediterranean itineraries from Barcelona before relocating to Miami in November 2018. When Symphony of the Seas and Allure of the Seas arrive in Miami, all four of the Oasis-class ships will be based in Florida, with Oasis of the Seas sailing from Port Canaveral and Harmony of the Seas sailing from Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale.

Lufthansa: 12 Female Pilots Flew Passengers From Frankfurt, Munich, Düsseldorf, Zurich, Vienna And Brussels To Berlin

Wednesday 8 March was International Women’s Day, and in observance, six crews from Lufthansa, SWISS, Austrian Airlines and Brussels consisting only of women will make their morning flights from the Lufthansa Group hubs to Berlin. The jets set off from Frankfurt, Munich, Düsseldorf, Vienna, Zurich and Brussels and were flown by two female pilots. The first two women began their scheduled service with Lufthansa in 1988. The year 2010 saw a world premiere in the airfreight industry: a Lufthansa Cargo aircraft took off with an all-female crew. These days, women in the cockpit are no longer an exception. Around 6% of pilots at the Lufthansa Group are female and the percentage has been continuously increasing over the past years. Around 80% percent of the cabin staff are female. Lufthansa received a blessing from the Society for the German Language for the new German word “Kapitänin” (female form of “Kapitän” = captain) specifically to refer to the growing number of female pilots. In addition to the supposedly male domains, increasing the percentage of women in management is another goal of the Lufthansa Group. In 2011, Lufthansa and other major German companies set themselves voluntary targets to increase the number of women in management. By 2020 the aim is to have 30% more women compared with 2010.

Leave a comment

Filed under Cruises, Europe

International Women’s Day

It’s that time of year again– International Women’s Day!

International Women_s Day

Observations across the globe

Italy: Women in Italy enjoy free entry to all museums and cultural sites today.

India: Today in New Delhi, activists held a march for the One Billion Rising campaign, advocating against the culture of violence against women.

China: In China, women are entitled to a half-day off on IWD, and recently, commercial centers have turned it into shopping day, an indicator of women’s economic power.

Australia: 1,000 childcare workers orchestrated a strike to protest pay inequality and lack of funding for early education.

Lebanon: Women’s rights activists plan to march from Beirut’s Sassine Square to Kaskas Garden this Saturday to protest lack of political representation.

More Reading: 

Voices of Spanish Women, silenced by Franco, are being heard once more

How to win a feminist battle – six activists share their secrets

This Google Doodle Celebrates 13 Inspirational Women for International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day Campaign

Leave a comment

Filed under Europe