Category Archives: Europe

TRAVEL NEWS: AIRBUS CELEBRATES 50 YEARS


Swimmer Killed By Shark In Hawaii’s First Fatal Attack In 4 Years
Associated Press reports sharks can be dangerous, but a fatal shark attack is still a rarity. Over Memorial Day weekend, Hawaii saw its first shark death in four years when a man from California was attacked while swimming off the coast in Maui. According to reporting by The Associated Press, Thomas Smiley, a 65-year-old man who was a frequent visitor to the islands, was attacked by a shark on Saturday in the waters of Maui’s Ka’anapali Beach Park area. Smiley was swimming approximately 60 yards off the shore when he was pulled under, according to witness testimony given to the Maui police. A witness said that when rescuers pulled Smiley to the shore, he was missing a leg and died at the scene. Witness Allison Keller recounted the events to Hawaii News Now, “As we got closer, I saw some blood on his stomach and then I got looking a little bit more, and his wrist – it looked like the skin on his wrist was just torn off,” Keller said. “And then I got looking closer, and his entire left leg from his knee down was just missing.” The Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources and lifeguards searched for a shark, but were unsuccessful. The last fatal shark attack in Hawaii was in 2015, when a snorkeler off Maui was killed.

US Airlines Commit To UN Carbon Emissions Cap

Travelmole reports that even though the Trump administration pulled the US out of the Paris Climate Agreement, almost all US airlines have voluntarily agreed to follow its reduced carbon emissions guidelines. They will adhere to the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA), limits on emissions which caps them at 2020 levels. Compliancy is governed by the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization. Airlines agreeing to the scheme include mainline carriers Alaska Airlines, American, Delta, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue, Southwest, and United Airlines. Regional carriers like Piedmont and Republic will also participate. The US pull-out from the agreement was announced in 2017 and takes effect from 2020. Aviation is one of the biggest emitters of carbon and the CORSIA scheme is expected to be mandatory after 2027. ICAO will set an official emissions cap based on 2020 emissions data. The Paris agreement calls for ‘each country to determine, plan, and regularly report on the contribution that it undertakes to mitigate global warming.’

Disney Cruise Line Updates Navigator Mobile App To Ease Passenger Experience

Disney Cruise Line’s Navigator app has been updated to include new features, allowing more cruise planning to take place within the app itself. The Navigator app, which was mainly an organizational tool without any substantial action capabilities, will now allow cruisers to make payments, access online check-in and research and book all cruise activities, from dining reservations to spa services. Booking capabilities will be enabled once a passenger is within 130 days of their cruise. All of the Navigator app’s previous features will continue to be available. These include the pre-sailing “Countdown to Your Cruise” clock as well as a list of character meet-and-greet times, activities, dinner menus and ship maps. You can also still bookmark your favorites for easy reference and send free text messages to other people on the same ship via the app’s onboard chat feature. The app is free to download and available to cruisers on all four Disney ships. Before using your phone onboard, make sure to research your options to ensure maximum utility and minimal fees while cruising.

Americans Now Have Shorter Waits At British Airports
The UK now allows arriving US citizens to use ePassport gates for faster entry. At London airports last summer, international passengers waited in hours-long passport control lines to enter and exit the country. The lines were almost as bad as what foreign travelers must now endure at US airports. Last fall, the UK government said it would open up ePassport readers at its ports of entry to citizens of several more countries, including the US and that change has taken effect, making for speedier entry at major airports. The srvice is free, no extra fees are required. Previously, the ePassport gates were available only for UK and EU citizens. In addition to US citizens, the gates can now be used by citizens of Canada, Australia, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and New Zealand, all considered to be low-risk nations. (That’s about 10 million travelers per year.) The gates can be used by travelers age 18 and over who have a biometric or “chipped” passport (and travelers age 12 to 17 accompanying them). According to the U.K. government, “ePassport gates use facial recognition technology to compare the passenger’s face to the digital image recorded in their passport. The system is monitored by Border Force officers and anyone rejected by the gates will be sent to an alternative channel to have their passport checked.” The gates are in use at 14 U.K. ports of entry including major airports as well as the Eurostar high-speed rail terminals at Paris and Brussels.

New Proposed EU Aviation Fuel Tax Will Send Airfares Soaring

Travelwirenews reports the European Commission is considering aviation fuel tax that is supposed to reduce carbon emissions by 11% and have a “negligible” impact on jobs and the economy. But experts say that it will have far-reaching effects. According to a leaked EC report, taxing aviation kerosene sold in Europe would cut aviation emissions by 16.4 million metric tons of CO2 a year. It said that applying a tax of €330 per 1,000 liters of kerosene (which is the EU’s minimum excise duty rate for the fuel) would result in a ticket price increase of 10% and an 11% decrease in passenger numbers. It would also lead to an 11% fall in carbon emissions. Imposing the tax could certainly lead to a reduction of flights that will result in cuts of airlines’ staff, said Elmar Giemulla, a leading expert on air and traffic law at Berlin University of Technology’s Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. He said that nobody, however, could calculate the exact numbers, saying “that’s just speculation.” Airlines are very sensitive to fuel price because it affects their entire operation, explained another aviation security expert Jacques Astre. He said that the level of the tax increase will indicate “whether they increase ticket prices which falls on the customers and will affect passenger transportation in terms of numbers.” “So, it really depends on how high the tax is because it has a far-reaching effect, not just on the airlines directly but on passengers as well,” Astre explained.

Vegas Escapes: New hotels, New team, New Stadium
LA Times reports Resorts World, which features two 60-story hotel towers, takes shape in Las Vegas. It will have more than 3,200 hotel rooms when it opens toward the end of 2020. That means there will be more to do and see in Vegas than ever. It’s not as though that’s not consistently true in many smaller or less visible ways. In the city that never sleeps, never even thinks of snoozing, we have new shows (think action and immersion), new attractions for adults and kids (and adults who act like kids), a new look coming soon to Fremont Street, and new discoveries on the Colorado River. Top it all off with the news of the return of free parking, plus Chris Erskine’s report on Nevada’s Electric Highway, and it’s Vegas for the win.

Airbus Celebrates 50 Years

Airlineratings reports Airbus has launched a global campaign celebrating the company’s 50 year anniversary, showcasing key moments of pioneering progress throughout the past five decades. The campaign began by marking 50 years since the French Minister of Transport, Jean Chamant and the German Minister of Economic Affairs, Karl Schiller, signed an agreement at the 1969 Paris Air Show for the joint-development of the A300 aircraft, a first European twin-aisle twin-engine jet for medium-haul air travel. Guillaume Faury, CEO of Airbus said: “Airbus’ story is one of ambition and progress, and has been a showcase of European integration. Over five decades, we have brought together civil and defense aviation businesses from throughout the continent. For 50 years, we have pioneered many firsts through our passion and innovation, transforming the industry and helping to move society forward. Airbus is a story of incredible men and women, a story of great achievements in the past and, above all, in the future.”

American Airlines Is Latest To Turn To Innovative Solutions For Overbooking

Dallas News reports ahead of an anticipated record summer travel season, American Airlines became the most recent company to implement technologythat could create smoother experiences at boarding time for travelers in an era where overbooking of flights remains inevitable. An update to the American Airlines app this month allows fliers to instantaneously volunteer to be bumped from oversold flights, and reap the benefits, before they even leave for the airport. “This helps our team members at the gate who are already having to deal with an oversold flight,” a spokesperson for American Airlines said. The app provides employees at the gate with a list of people willing to take another flight, which could simplify the boarding process.

Tanzanian government bans plastic bags
As of 01 June 2019, all plastic carrier bags, regardless of their thickness, will be prohibited from import, export, manufacture, sale, storage, supply, or use in Mainland Tanzania.

We advise all of our clients to avoid the use of plastic carrier bags either in their suitcase, or as part of their hand luggage when visiting Tanzania. A special desk will be assigned at all entry points for the surrender of plastic carrier bags brought into Tanzania.

You CAN however still being Ziploc bags for your toiletries.

January Makamba, Tanzania’s environment minister, posted in a statement on Twitter: “Plastics carrier items known as “ziploc bags” that are specifically used to carry toiletries will be permitted as they are expected to remain in the permanent possession of visitors and are not expected to be disposed in the country.

Do check in the Tanzania government website for further details on what is permissible.

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Postcard from Inverness

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This week, WIT Global Correspondent Wailana zipped over to Inverness! The Scottish Highlands have been receiving a lot of buzz lately, with mentions in Lonely Planet and Wanderlust – so she couldn’t wait to check what it was all about.

Inverness, “the capital of the Highlands,” is an ancient city with a lot of character. Founded as a Pict stronghold, the first fortifications were established in the Iron Age. Wailana was in town to join a bike and barge cruise – more gooey details on that later! But for two glorious days, Inverness was home.

Today, Inverness is largely a hidden gem, looked over by shining neighbors Edinburgh and Glasgow. It’s most noteworthy as the eastern edge of the Great Glen Way (more on that later!), a 125-km long path that follows the canals and lochs from Inverness to Fort William.

Within its city limits, Inverness Castle is worth exploring, as are the Pictish stones are Inverness Museum & Art Gallery. Just outside, historical sites abound, from Culloden Battlefield to Clava Cairns, and beyond to Loch Ness of cryptozoology fame.

Here’s a quick guide on how to spend a day in Inverness well!

Breakfast: Grab a Scottish Breakfast at Girvans, the most popular brunch joint in town. Their menu is comprised of fresh pastries and savory dishes, and, like most restaurants in Scotland, offer the Scottish Breakfast. This unique highland dish is similar to the English Breakfast but with a twist: broiled tomatoes, bacon, tattie scone (made from potato), link sausage, sauteed mushrooms, baked beans, egg, and black pudding. Some even serve it with haggis. It’s filling, it’s delicious, and definitely a must-have!

Morning: The old center of Inverness is easy to walk around. There are the main thoroughfares, Church St. and Academy St., where you can pick up all that last-minute hiking shoes you forgot to pack. Look out for artisan goods at the old Victorian Market. During your wanderings, you shouldn’t miss out at lovely Leakey’s Bookshop, an old secondhand bookstore with all sorts of literary delights, and prints dating back 100 years and more.

Lunch: Pop into Comfort Foods for a real look into a traditional Scottish kitchen. The menu is exactly what it sounds like–heavy, delicious dishes of potatoes, cakes, seafood–yum! Just be prepared for hefty portions! This place definitely doesn’t want you to walk away unfulfilled.

Afternoon: Peek your head into Inverness Castle, with its old fortifications, and a tower that offers the best views of the town. Step inside the tower for a creative look into Inverness’ magical histories, mythologies, and folklore–including a cameo by ole Nessie of course.

Dinner: Johnny Foxes is a large, traditional Scottish pub popular with both tourists and locals right on the riverside. They have a great founding story about an Irish poacher forced to flee Irish shores and set up a pub here on this very spot – who knows if it’s true though. 😉 But as the proverb says, never let the truth get in the way of a good story.

After dinner, join the crowd at the Hootananny, the best pub in town for traditional live music and ceilidh.

How to Get There: Inverness is best enjoyed as part of a tour of the Scottish Highlands. It’s an easy flight from Edinburgh or London, or by train via the 8-hour Caledonian Sleeper.

Short Cuts:

  • Inverness Castle: Open 11am-6pm daily
  • Culloden Battlefield: Culloden Moor, Open 24/7
  • Clava Cairns: Open 24/7
  • Girvans: 2-4 Stephens Brae, Open Mon-Wed 9am-6pm, Thu-Sat 9am-7pm, Sun 10am-5pm
  • Victorian Market: Queensgate, Open weekdays 6am to 6:30pm, Saturday 6am-5:30pm, Sunday Closed.
  • Leakey’s Bookshop: Church St, Open Mon-Sat 10am-5:30pm
  • Comfort Foods: 22 Church St, Open daily 9am-5pm
  • Johnny Foxes: 26 Bank St, Open daily 11am-3am (kitchen closes at 9pm)
  • Hootananny: 67 Church St, Open Mon-Thu 12pm-1am, Fri-Sat 12pm-3am, Sun 4pm-12am

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Princess Cruises’ Ocean Medallion – What is it, and is it Worth It?

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A few weeks ago, WIT Agent Lindsay embarked on a 7-Night Princess Cruise to Puerto Vallarta on the Pacific Coast of Mexico.

She set sail from Los Angeles on the Royal Princess down to Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlán and Puerto Vallarta. She also had a chance to try out the new Ocean Medallion. Read on for her insider tips on how to use this new device.

The Royal Princess is a beautiful ship, voted the Most Popular Cruise Ship by Cruise Critic. Boasting more than 1300 crew and room for more than 3500 guests, the Royal Princess is a favorite among cruise veterans and newbies alike.

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Here’s what Lindsay had to say:

The ship was so GRAND, I couldn’t believe how massive it was. At every port we saw them doing maintenance on it as well. The ship staff were wonderful! Ryan Sarera in particular made our trip just amazing, he went over and beyond providing us with a special experience. Flowers, chocolates and strawberries, party invites and concierge services all helped make our trip extra enjoyable and that much more memorable. We really can’t thank him enough for taking such good care of us, along with our Cabin Attendant Mahdi for being so welcoming and making our stay comfortable.

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The Ocean Medallion – What is it?

One of Lindsay’s main missions was to test out the new Ocean Medallions.

The complimentary OceanMedallion™ is your personalized access key onboard. Only as big as a quarter, this tiny accessory is available only on select cruises. It’s your key to Wifi onboard, shopping, drinks, online Concierge, original travel shows, and an OceanCompass that acts as a navigator so you can easily locate your friends and family onboard. The medallion can be delivered to you ahead of your cruise.

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Its features include:

  • Fast ship boarding with OceanReady: Guests who arrive at the terminal with travel documents (i.e. passports) uploaded to their profile have a personalized check-in process. Personalization starts pre-cruise by guests becoming OceanReady while at home.
  • On-demand beverage delivery: Using smart devices, guests have the ability to order drinks using OceanNow and have them delivered directly to them throughout the ship and even in their stateroom.
  • Enhanced Wi-FiMedallionNet provides fast, unlimited Wi-Fi, allowing guests to stay connected from anywhere on the ship, including staterooms which are each equipped with a Wi-Fi access point, Princess said. With MedallionNet, guests can share vacation experiences with friends and family back home, stream TV shows, movies and sports events, and make voice and video calls.
  • Keyless Stateroom Entry: Each guest is securely validated and the door automatically unlocks with personalized greetings displayed on the door portal.
  • OceanCompass: OceanCompass leverages the Princess Medallion to enable point-to-point wayfinding throughout the ship. OceanCompass guides guests throughout their journey, providing directional information so they can seamlessly navigate to their next point of interest.
  • MedallionPay: An easy to use payment feature, enabling crew members to focus on meaningful guest interactions.
  • OceanCasino: On smart devices and select portals, guests can wager real money on games, including slots, poker, bingo, roulette, keno and lottery from anywhere on board.
  • OceanView: Guests can stream more than 100 hours of award-winning Ocean Original travel shows to their smart device anywhere on the ship at no cost – content which airs nationally on weekends on ABC and NBC.
  • PlayOcean: On portals located throughout the ship, guests play family games, including trivia, word jumble, a matching game and Ocean Treks Adventure – an interactive, ship-wide digital scavenger hunt. PlayOcean also transforms guests’ mobile devices into game controllers for interactive gaming on the Movies Under the Stars screen. And, guests can enjoy Games Under the Stars where players enjoy arcade and trivia fun on the cruise line’s Movies Under the Stars screen.

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Lindsay’s Insider Tips – How to Use the Ocean Medallion

  • Everyone gets a medallion on the ship, it’s just whether you do it on arrival or beforehand (not all ships have the technology yet but they are slowly expanding). It is best to do it in advance so you get through check-in quicker- we were on the boat in less than 15 minutes after our taxi dropped us off at the tier! Definitely get “Ocean Ready” by ordering the medallion delivery and by downloading the app ahead of time.
  • It is definitely worth it, but travelers need to be conscious of their spending. There is a machine that you can go to and print out your bill at any time, next to the front desk.
  • Payments are done by scanning the medallion but a lot of time the server’s technology will detect your medallion and the cashier will see your picture on their screen. The server then confirms your name and room #, this was how we knew we were being charged but there were plenty on the boat that had no idea when they were being charged for things.
  • Register for shore excursions before on ship, wait lines were a bit crazy the first day onboard and the morning of. This also gave us discounts at the spa.
  • Download apps beforehand and get to know them when you have free Wi-Fi, this way you have the apps before and don’t have to get internet just to download. There are 5 apps (yikes) but just pick the ones you need (drinks, map, gambling, etc.). We didn’t use the map, but those we met that were in a group loved it because they could easily find their friends on the ship.
  • The Medallions come with free lanyards, which are color-coded based on your standing with Princess (how much you have sailed with them). You can also buy some accessories to hold your medallions–watches, necklaces, etc.
  • We met another couple that was with a group of their family members and they loved the Compass App because they could find people from their party anytime which was really nice. You add people from your party by name and they pop up on your map. If you don’t mind location tracking, then it can be a real time saver.

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Tune in Next Time, when Lindsay’s Princess Cruise stops at Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlán and Puerto Vallarta. She also visited Disneyland in California, to test out the new Disney MaxPass – so Stay Tuned!

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Intrepid is starting a fundraiser for Porter’s rights

Intrepid is starting a fundraiser for Porter’s rights and it’s easy for anyone to join.

As reported by Insider Travel Report,

Step Up For Porters is a virtual climbing challenge that brings some of the most incredible trekking experiences to customers. From June 1-30, 2019, participants will be asked to tackle a series of virtual treks, including Everest Base Camp, Kilimanjaro, the Inca Trail and Mount Kinabalu—mountains that porters around the world do every day—using the Healthwise app to track their steps. Intrepid hopes the Step Up For Porters challenge will raise $175,000 AUD for porter welfare.

Participants can register at www.stepup.travel for a fee of $18 U.S./$22 Canadian, with 100% of proceeds donated directly to the Porters Collective, a group of three non-governmental organizations (NGOs) supporting porters’ rights: Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project (KPAP), Kathmandu Environmental Education Project and Awamaki-The Tourism Academy for Porters in Peru.

Porters take on some of the world’s toughest routes, such Mount Kilimanjaro and Everest Base Camp, several times a month, while carrying heavy bags, cooking food, and pitching tents. But they are often the least valued on the mountain, overworked, underfed and underpaid.

“Anyone who’s done a trek understands the importance of porters and the amazing work they do,” said Robyn Nixon, general manager of the Intrepid Foundation. “We want to help people get fit and do good for porters.”For more information or to register, click on Step Up for Porters.
To view Intrepid’s porter policy, click on Intrepid Porter Policy.

For more information or to register, click on Step Up for Porters.
To view Intrepid’s porter policy, click on Intrepid Porter Policy.

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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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Travel News: Four-Hour Limit For First Guests To Disneyland’s Star Wars Land 

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Four-Hour Limit For First Guests To Disneyland’s Star Wars Land

Travelmole reports the first guests to visit Disneyland’s hotly anticipated new Star Wars land will be racing against the clock to experience it all. They will only get four hours to see it when Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens to the public on May 31. Disney has set a four-hour window for guests presumably to minimize long lines but it is unclear how the company will enforce it. Disneyland sent out emails to guests who are guaranteed a first look at the land after booking stays at the resort’s three hotels. There were a few glitches with this as guests were allocated days before their hotel stay was due to start and in some cases even before the attraction’s official opening date. Disney says it has now rectified this. Disney also announced non-hotel guests can make free reservations to visit Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge via Disneyland’s website from May 2.

Rooftop Infinity Pool At JFK’s New TWA Hotel Overlooks Runway

Open Jaw reports passengers flying from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City will soon be able to witness spectacular views of its famous runways from what could be one of the coolest pools on the planet. Due to launch on May 15, the highly anticipated TWA Hotel features an impressive rooftop infinity pool complete with an observation deck where you can see as far as Jamaica Bay. The pool, which measures 64 feet long, is said to have been inspired by the infinity edge pool at the Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc in Antibes. Open 365 days a year, it will transform into a “pool-cuzzi” during winter, when its filtered water can be heated to up to 100 Fahrenheit. “Our rooftop pool provides a JFK runway view that rivals an air traffic controller’s vantage point,” says Tyler Morse, CEO and managing partner of MCR and MORSE Development, the developer and lead investor of the hotel project. “There’s simply no better place for plane spotting, and enjoying a cocktail, in a room which overlooks runway 4L/22R. Based in two low-rise buildings, the TWA Hotel will boast 512 guest rooms featuring classic Hollywood-inspired interiors and floor-to-ceiling, full-width soundproof windows. There are also six restaurants and eight bars, one of which is based inside a Lockheed Constellation L-1649A Starliner, along with a 10,000-square-foot fitness center that’s been dubbed the ‘world’s biggest hotel gym.” The TWA Hotel also holds a museum with exhibits devoted to the glamorous jet age as well as the history of TWA.

Tallest Modular Hotel In The World Will Be Built In New York City

Travelwirenews reports each “module” will contain a fully outfitted guest room. with beds, sheets, pillows, flooring and even toiletries. The world’s tallest modular hotel, which will carry the brand of Marriott International, is on track to be stacked in late fall in New York City with prefabricated and pre-furnished guestrooms. Once erected over a 90-day period, the 360-foot-tall tower will represent a milestone for Marriott’s ongoing initiative to encourage hotel developers in North America to embrace modular for new construction projects. To be topped with a modular roof and modular rooftop bar, the world’s tallest modular hotel is expected to open in late 2020 as the AC Hotel New York NoMad. The 168-room, 26-story AC Hotel New York NoMad is scheduled to rise at 842 Sixth Avenue with prefabricated guestrooms arriving at the hotel site fully constructed, inside and out. Besides finished, painted walls, each “module” will contain a fully outfitted guest room, with beds, sheets, pillows, flooring and even toiletries. The hotel’s roof and rooftop bar are expected to be produced using modular construction, and its more customized public areas such as the restaurant and lobby are expected to be constructed using traditional methods. Prefabrication is a process that Marriott has found typically reduces the construction timeline, curbs site waste and noise, and results in a higher-quality product produced with factory level precision. The time savings comes from the ability to perform two crucial functions simultaneously – building the public spaces on site while manufacturing the guest rooms offsite. Marriott, which has the largest pipeline of hotels in North America, began researching modular construction in 2014 to offset lengthening hotel construction times, a trend attributed to the nation’s building boom and resulting labor shortages. Since 2011, Marriott has seen the average time to build and open a hotel in North America increase by as much 50%, depending on factors such as location and size of the property.

US Travel To Cuba Made More Difficult Again With Non-Family Visits Barred

Skift reports when the Trump administration took office in 2017, the popular wisdom was that it would eliminate US travel to Cuba. The changes have turned out to be incremental, but now it appears that non-family travel to Cuba will be all but gone. The unraveling of the Obama administration’s opening up of US citizen travel to Cuba is just about complete. The US Treasury Department will issue new restrictions on non-family travel to Cuba as part of a multifaceted effort by the Trump administration to clamp down on the Cuban regime, and Americans’ freedom to travel. Details were sparse and there were no guidelines about the policy change on the US Treasury Department website. A Treasury Department spokesperson didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. The new restrictions on Americans’ travel to Cuba were part of a series of measures, including tighter limits on remittances that Cuban-Americans can send to families in Cuba and loosening restrictions on lawsuits designed to recover damages for properties confiscated on the island, designed to pressure the Cuban government. “U.S. travel and remittances are the lifeblood of the private-sector entrepreneurs in Cuba,” said James Williams, president of the Washington-based Engage Cuba coalition, a non-profit lobbying group. “These restrictions are a cruel betrayal and a knife in the back of Cuban civil society and the prospects for a growing independent private sector in Cuba. The Cuban people are already struggling under tremendous difficulties, and these actions only make it worse. We need a policy that focuses on empowering the Cuban people and advancing American interests, not continuing a 60-year failed policy that only serves fringe domestic politics in South Florida.” Bolton said the new Treasury Department restrictions on non-family travel to Cuba and the series of other measures he announced would bar American money from propping up Cuban military and security services “who control the tourism industry in Cuba.” Several US cruise lines, such as Carnival and Norwegian, as well as major airlines,  began cruises and flights to Cuba following the Obama administration lifting restrictions. With little guidance from the Treasury Department about the travel policy changes that Bolton announced, it’s unclear just how radically they will affect US travelers, as well as cruise lines, tour operators, and airlines. But the moves can’t be welcome news for the US travel industry or travelers. 

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Exclusive D-Day Private Package with Context Travel

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2019 promises to be a huge year in terms of D-Day events in France, as this year marks the 75th anniversary of this historic landing. with commemorations all across Normandy, Paris and London. So you can bet that availability for tours this summer are extremely limited!

Which is why we were thrilled when Context Travel, one of the most esteemed guides in the world, announced a special D-Day overnight tour running this year.

If you’re lucky enough to be in France this year and a military history buff, it just might be up your alley.

The tour includes a full two days of insight the historic event from a French perspective, including the daily life of Parisians at the time, with an excursion to the Normandy beaches.

No online booking available! Call your WIT Travel Agent to book – but hurry as spaces are extremely limited! 503-224-0180 or inquiry@wittravel.com.

Subject to availability of Context Travel’s specialist guides. 

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75th ANNIVERSARY D-DAY PRIVATE TOUR PACKAGE

from $2648

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Visits both Paris and Normandy
  • The Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial
  • Juno Beach
  • Omaha Beach
  • Place de la Concorde
  • Champs-Elysées
  • Normandy Beaches
  • École Militaire

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Day One

We’ll pick up our story in the Paris of 1940, exploring what life was like in the city under the four years of Nazi Occupation. Over the course of roughly 3 hours, we’ll learn about individuals like Helen Berr, Marchal Pétain, Sacha Guidry, François Mitterrand, the French Gestapo group Bonny-Lafont, and artists like Chanel and Picasso, using their stories as a window into the Occupation, the French Resistance, and the experiences of Jewish families living in Paris up to the Allied liberation in 1944. Our route will weave from the Left Bank to the Right, visiting sites relevant to the Occupation years like the Champs Elysees (where Hitler’s Grand Tour took place) and the Place de la Concorde. We’ll finish by discussing what happened to German collaborators, the return and reaction of Jewish survivors to their homes in Paris, and how France has since managed the historical weight of this turbulent period.

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Day Two

On our second day, we’ll pivot from a strictly Parisian viewpoint to take in a broader understanding of D-Day itself with a 12-hour excursion to Normandy. Starting in Paris, you’ll take a 2-hour train to meet your Context expert and driver at the Caen station. We’ll vary our particular stops based on the interests of your group, but typical sites along the Normandy beaches and coastline include Pointe du Hoc, Omaha Beach, Normandy American Cemetery, and Arromanches (where we’ll discuss Operation Overlord). In the company of your expert, you’ll witness firsthand the cliffs, beaches, and fortifications that were the site of the greatest amphibious landing in history as well as unspeakable losses on both sides.

Those venturing back to Paris will follow the footsteps of Allied soldiers as they officially reclaimed the French capital in August 1944, a mere 10 weeks after the D-Day landings. Regardless of your next destination, our two days examining the decisive impact of D-Day on France will leave us with a greater understanding of World War II in Europe as a whole.

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More posts with Context Travel: 

Japan for Families

London Walking Tours with Context Travel

Stockholm with Context Travel

Vatican After-Hours

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