Category Archives: Europe

Travel News: New Zealand Plans Tourist Tax

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KLM to Launch new Economy Class Service 
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has announced it will offer a new Economy Class service concept aboard its intercontinental flights. At the start of an intercontinental flight, Economy Class passengers will receive a bottle of water, a refreshing towel and earphones which, KLM says, will allow passengers to immediately get set for their journey. After this welcome service, passengers will be offered an extended choice of meals on flights out of Amsterdam. On intercontinental daytime flights out of Amsterdam, KLM said the new meal service will include “a choice of warm dishes, a large, well-filled salad, and a dessert.” On medium-range and longer intercontinental flights the selection of snacks will be further extended with ice-creams, sweets and savory snacks. Passengers will also be welcome to collect these snacks in the galley. The new Economy service is being introduced because KLM’s new collective labor agreement for its cabin crew includes a clause that one less crewmember will be assigned on many intercontinental flights. Consequently, a more efficient Economy Class service is required. KLM says that by better utilizing the space on meal trays, trolleys can be stocked with more trays, ensuring that passengers are served sooner. It adds that the new product is also more in line with passengers’ wishes, in that the amount of food and drinks served remains the same, while the quality of the service improves. The change will be introduced on the following nine destinations on July 1, 2018: Bonaire (via Aruba), Entebbe (via Kigali), Fortaleza, Osaka, Hong Kong, Vancouver, Seoul, Rio de Janeiro and Houston. From the start of its winter schedule on October 28, the service will be available on all of KLM’s intercontinental flights. The flights are subdivided into daytime and night-time flights, but also into three different distance zones, namely: The overall service will be adjusted per zone, so that it best coincides with the biorhythms of passengers. Passengers will, as always, be served a range of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages aboard every flight.
 
Cruise Lines Destination Planning Becomes More Complex As Industry Grows
Cruise Industry News reports the cruise industry is growing, there are more ships, and those ships are getting bigger, making itinerary planning even more complex, said Captain Vassilios Gazikas, director of marine operations at Celestyal Cruises, speaking at the MedCruise General Assembly that took place in Valletta, Malta. Gazikas said this meant ports needed bigger facilities and more berths, and is also leading to more ports in general. “It is very complex to develop a port in Europe,” he said, “considering local history, environmental constraints and regulations.” Steve Young, Carnival UK’s vice president of port and shore operations, said port development goes beyond just building a berth, and now takes into account the capacity of the destination. Thus, the mainstream ports in the Mediterranean: Venice, Barcelona and Civitavecchia cannot accommodate the entire cruise market. He said all lines were looking for new places to go. Gazikas said: “A cruise terminal is only a place for transit,” adding in an ideal world, a passenger would not spend more than 10 or 15 minutes in the terminal. For Carnival’s big ships, Young explained the turnaround operation was broken into four-hour windows. “This can mean up to 2,000 guests in an hour,” he said, “one person every 1.8 seconds.” Pierside, big ships require the supply chain to adapt, Young continued, meaning not only more goods, but more guides, buses and additional tourism infrastructure.
 
New Zealand Plans Tourist Tax
The New Zealand government has said it plans to impose a tax on most international arrivals to pay for infrastructure improvements. The tax could be up to NZ$35 per person. Minister for tourism Kelvin Davis said: “It’s only fair that they make a small contribution so that we can help provide the infrastructure they need and better protect the natural places they enjoy. “This rapid growth has impacted on the costs and availability of publicly-provided infrastructure. Many regions are struggling to cope and urgently need improved infrastructure, from toilet facilities to car parks.” Australia, which is the largest source market, will be exempt from the tax, as will several Pacific Island nations. Citizens from most other nations will however pay it, which will be collected with visa applications. Eligible visa-on-arrival travelers will pay it through a new electronic travel authority which will be rolled out. New Zealand says its infrastructure is buckling under the strain of surging tourist numbers which are up by nearly a third in the past three years. Other fees are also being hiked significantly, including fees for various immigration services and the cost of working holiday visas.
 
The New Riverboat That Will Cruise The Mississippi
A new kind of modern riverboat is coming to the Mississippi River. American Cruise Lines is debuting the new boat, called American Song, in Louisiana and it will cruise from New Orleans and Baton Rouge. The riverboat is similar to the Viking River Cruise boats in Europe, which had planned to come to New Orleans but couldn’t because of a longstanding federal law that says all boats carrying goods (or people) between US ports must be manufactured, owned and operated by US citizens. The new riverboat, called American Song, is the first of a new series by American Cruise Lines, which has been operating paddlewheel boats out of New Orleans and Baton Rouge for several years. It boasts triple the amount of glass, or windows, as other riverboats, the cruise line said. It also has expanded suites, with 900 square feet of space to host small cocktail parties or private dinners. American Song is set to take its inaugural cruise from New Orleans on Oct. 6, 2018. The cruise line also has already begun construction on the second ship in its Modern Riverboat Series, named American Harmony, but it won’t be ready until 2019. It will take over on the Mississippi River from American Song, which will move to the Pacific Northwest. A paddlewheeler from American Cruise Lines, called America, already kicked off the 2018 Mississippi River season, departing from New Orleans. That paddlewheeler, another paddlewheeler and American Song will all cruise the Mississippi River by October this year. The American Song, a 184-passenger vessel will begin sailing on Oct. 6 with a trip from New Orleans to Memphis, Tennessee. 
 
Elon Musk To Build Chicago O’Hare High-Speed Rail Link
The New York Times reports business tycoon Elon Musk says he can get travelers from downtown to Chicago O’Hare Airport in just 12 minutes, after being awarded the contract to build a new high-speed transportation system. Musk-owned venture The Boring Company got the nod to build the new underground transit system linking Block 37 with the airport via two underground tunnels. Musk reckons the small rail cars can reach up to 150 mph and it could be operational within three years. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel pointed out no taxpayer money will be needed as The Boring Company and backers will fund the entire project. The estimated fare will be in the region of $20 to $25. This is ‘the fast lane to Chicago’s future’, Emanuel said. The mayor acknowledged there is a lot of skepticism surrounding a largely untested system, while Musk himself is coming under pressure over the current struggles of flagship electric car company Tesla Inc.
 
 
The Airports With The Speediest Free Wi-Fi
Bloomberg reports if you’re looking for an airport with quick, complimentary wi-fi, head west. Seattle-Tacoma International’s connection took the top place in a new ranking of North American airports by software firm Ookla LLC, which runs the site Speedtest.net. SeaTac more than doubled its download speed from last year, reaching 103 Mbps. Denver, which topped the list over the past two years, came in second at 78.7 Mbps. The slowest Wi-Fi speeds were in Toronto and Montreal, with download speeds of 7.1 and 6.4 Mbps, respectively, Ookla said. Both Canadian entrants improved on their speeds from 2017. The data are from tests conducted on Speedtest.net from January-April 2018 by computers logged onto the airports’ Wi-Fi network. The ranking does not include airports that charge for Wi-Fi access. Three major US hubs, Dallas-Fort Worth, Detroit and Miami, saw speed declines ranging from 26% to 59% over the past year, according to Ookla, with Detroit’s performance declining the most in the surveyed group. Dallas and Miami are hubs for American Airlines Group Inc., while Detroit is a hub for Delta Air Lines Inc. The world’s busiest airport, and Delta’s largest hub, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta saw the largest one-year improvement in speed, jumping to 59.6 Mbps from 2.7 Mbps, according to the survey data. LaGuardia fared the best of the three major New York-area airports, clocking a speed of 28.5 Mbps, good enough for 10th place on the list. 
 
Ritz-Carlton Opens Reservations For New Cruise Line’s Maiden Voyage
Just a year after announcing plans to launch a luxury yacht and cruising experience, the Ritz-Carlton has opened the reservation line for the maiden voyages in 2020. Set to sail in February of 2020, The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection will be an extension of the luxury hotel brand onto the high seas. The first of three bespoke yachts is scheduled to cruise regions including the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, the Caribbean, Latin America, Canada and Northeastern US. At 190 meters, the vessel can accommodate 298 passengers in 149 suites, including the most opulent Owners suite, which comes with a private terrace overlooking the ocean and private outdoor whirlpool. The suite also features two bathrooms, living and dining space, king size bed and dedicated “personal assistant.” Guests have at their disposal, an onboard spa, where they can get a facial or massage, and a humidor, where they can sip on a cognac and smoke a hand-rolled cigar. Cruisers who are accustomed to eating breakfast or lunch shirtless and running around shoeless and fancy-free, however, may not do well with the dress code aboard Ritz-Carlton ships. For breakfast and lunch, shirts, shoes, and bathing suit cover-ups are mandatory. For dinner, bathing suit and sleeveless T-shirts are not permitted. Voyages range between seven and 10 days, and fares start at US $4,835.

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Our Favorite Instagrammers from Hawaii

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We know a lot of our clients are concerned about traveling to the Hawaiian Islands right now, but it’s business for usual in most tourist locations – Waikiki, North Shore, Maui, Kaua’i, Kailua-Kona. To prove it to you, we’ve amassed a few of our favorite Instagrammers from Hawaii. 

1. @the96815

For all things Waikiki, check out Nova’s channel @the96815, who manages to balance the glitzy, touristy side of Hawaii’s favorite beach with hidden hole-in-the-walls.

Soaking in all these rays of sunshine. #the96815 #waikiki #hawaii

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2. @mtea

If mouth-watering, ono-kine food is more the reason you travel, look no further for inspiration than Megan Tomino. Megan of @mtea is all about curating succulent foodgasms on the table.

HBD @musubman! You win for the best bday celebration. #marchbabies

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3. @ge_keoni

Keoni introduces fans to the islands with a descriptive photo paired with a story or legend that brings the landscape to life.

#🌴

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4. @misterver

Forget the iconic sunset photo or snapshot of O’ahu’s misty mountains — @misterver takes a dive into local culture and street smarts.

Friday moves.

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5. @pineappleice

Fashionistas are sure to flock to Lindsey Higa’s account, rich in cool tropical fashion, swimsuits, jumpsuits, with a dash of flowers and flavor.

East side road trips ☁️ snap by @walktheeearth

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6. @chadkoga

Need a bit more water adventures for inspiration? Chad Koga’s account springs to life with dolphins, schools of fish, whales, turtles, rays and other coastal treasures.

Mauka Makai #ahonuperspective

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7. @tomkualii

Alright, we get it – you want to see some lava! Tom Kualii is drawn to Pele, so we’re sure he gets ample opportunity these days for some epic shots. For updates on the Kilauea lava flow on the Big Island, click here. 

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Filed under All About Hawaii, Europe, Hawaii, Hawaiian Airlines

France’s Elephant Sanctuary and the World’s First Airport ER

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Europe’s First-Ever Elephant Sanctuary To Open In France
World Animal Protection has teamed with Elephant Haven to help fund Europe’s very first elephant sanctuary in France for former circus elephants. The collaboration between the two charities came after successful lobbying by World Animal Protection to the Danish Parliament, which recently announced its commitment to ban the use of wild animals in circuses. The charity mobilized more than 50,000 Danish supporters calling for the government to take action to end the cruelty inflicted on elephants used for entertainment in circuses. The tide is now turning as 14 other European countries have recently implemented similar bans, many of which come into force this year. Until now, there has been no safe place where they can retire. More than 100 elephants are still forced to entertain in circuses across Europe. The sanctuary will be a retirement home for elephants that suffered at circuses, and its first barn will be completed by the end of summer. World Animal Protection is urging any elephant owners to release traumatized animals as soon as the sanctuary is able to welcome them. Elephant Haven has plans to expand further and build another barn to house five more elephants by 2020. The safety of elephants is paramount, and cameras will be placed inside and outside the barn with permanent security on site. Once the elephants are safely housed, a platform will also be built for visitors to safely watch elephants roaming freely and behaving as they would in the wild.

Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport Just Opened The World’s First Airport ER

CNTraveler reports medical care is about a minute from the terminals. Last Friday, the Texas airport opened what is the world’s first free-standing emergency room on an airport’s grounds, serving passengers, crew members, airport staff, as well as the general public near the airport’s south entrance. With 24/7/365 service, the 8,160-square-foot facility operated by Code 3 Emergency Partners occupies 1.5 of DFW’s staggering 17,207 acres. It’s fully equipped with a CT scanner, ultrasound machine, X-ray machine, lab, and a pharmacy. All physicians are also board-certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine, which means they have extensive training in both disaster management and emergency medical systems. The facility also employs physicians trained in travel medicine, who have experience in infectious disease and travel-related illnesses.
Gatwick Celebrates Historic Anniversary
Gatwick has celebrated its historic 60 year anniversary since it was officially opened in its current form. Opened by Queen Elizabeth II on June 9th, 1958, Gatwick Airport became the first airport in the world to combine air, road and train travel in one close-knit single unit. The £7.8 million construction project in 1958 transformed Gatwick into a global travel hub. Taking over two-and-a-half years to complete and marking a new beginning for air travel in the UK, it became the first airport in the world to have a direct railway link, allowing passengers to enjoy a seamless journey from the moment their travels started. Increased passenger demand and the modern age of air travel, with the introduction of aircraft like the Jumbo Boeing 747-400, required three runway extensions in 1964, 1970 and 1973 – the latter enabled non-stop flights from the US West Coast to begin. With an ever-increasing number of passenger planes arriving daily, Gatwick opened its new control tower in 1984, which at the time of completion was the tallest in the UK. In the same year the Gatwick Express was launched, further cementing Gatwick’s position as an accessible and leading destination for global travel. 
 
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Cage Diving To See Sharks
Cage Diving has seen a boom in recent decades and is now one of the fastest growing sectors of the tourism industry. The chance to go diving and safely see some of the world’s most spectacular and bloodthirsty predators up close in their own environment is regarded as the opportunity of a lifetime for many tourists. Great white sharks are altering their behavior, diverting them from hunting, and making them needlessly waste energy, all because of the interaction with tourists. Australia, South Africa, the US, Mexico and New Zealand are all offering cage diving. A study published in the journal Conservation Physiology reveals that great white shark (also known as white sharks) activity increases dramatically during cage diving sessions, compared to when tour operators are absent, raising questions about the behavioral changes this form of tourism may be causing in some species. The researchers tracked ten white sharks at South Australia’s Neptune Islands with devices for nine days. They found the increased movement when sharks are interacting with cage divers results in overall dynamic body acceleration 61% higher than at times when sharks are present in the area but cage divers are not. The sharks’ interactions with the cage divers are likely to cost them a lot more energy than standard white shark behaviors. The mere presence of the cage diving operators in the general vicinity of the sharks was not sufficient to elicit such behavioral changes. These only occurred when white sharks were close to the cage diving vessels. The research notes that licensed commercial white shark cage diving operators use approved and regulated attractants to entice sharks within close proximity of the cages and provide good viewing opportunities for divers. However, operators are not allowed to feed white sharks. The interaction with cage diving tourists is, therefore, not rewarded by more food. Great white sharks are listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature as a vulnerable species. They are protected by governments in the US, New Zealand and Australia.
 
Cruise Lines Announce Efforts to Eliminate Plastic Waste
Two major cruise companies are stepping up efforts to eliminate a modern-day scourge of the oceans: plastic. Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. has announced that its fleet will eliminate plastic straws as of 2019. That applies to all 50 ships under the Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Azamara Club Cruises, TUI Cruises, and Pullmantur Cruceros brands. A “straws upon request” policy has already been in place across the RCL fleet. Beginning in 2019, guests requesting a straw will receive a paper straw rather than plastic. Additionally, the ships will incorporate Forrest Stewardship Council-certified wood coffee stirrers and bamboo garnish picks. All are part of RCL’s plastic reduction strategy. “Healthy oceans are vital to the success of our company,” said Richard Fain, RCL chairman and CEO. “For over 25 years, our Save the Waves program has guided us to reduce, reuse, and recycle everything we can. Eliminating single-use plastics is another step in that program.” The company is doing a full plastics audit, with an overall plan set for completion by 2020. Implemented in 1992, RCL’s Save the Waves program has focused on sustainability practices. Those practices include state-of-the-art recycling centers on board ships. Equipped with shredders, balers, compactors, and crushers, their goal is “zero landfill.” Additionally, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings has joined Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas Alliance. The announcement comes in celebration of World Oceans Day. Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. operates Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises brands. Founded in 2012, the Trash Free Seas Alliance is a collaboration between leaders of industry, academia and the conservation world. Their focus is on the measurable reduction of ocean trash. ” Nothing connects people to the ocean more than time spent on the water, and with Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings offering that experience to more than 2.5 million guests each year, we believe this is a tremendous opportunity to foster greater stewardship of our oceans,” said Janis Searles Jones, chief executive officer at Ocean Conservancy.
State Dept. Updates Nicaragua Travel Advisory,
Reconsider travel to Nicaragua due to crime, civil unrest and limited healthcare availability. On April 23, 2018, the U.S. government ordered the departure of U.S. government family members and authorized the voluntary departure of U.S. government personnel. Rallies and demonstrations are widespread and occur daily with little notice. In many instances the government responds using tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, and live ammunition, leading to significant numbers of deaths and injuries. Looting, vandalism, and acts of arson often occur during unrest, including in tourist areas. The perpetrators are often government-controlled thugs in civilian clothing, sometimes using vehicles without license plates. Government authorities detain protesters, and some people have disappeared. Human rights groups have documented credible claims of torture of detainees. 

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Travel News: Van Gogh’s Sunflower

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Kilauea Volcano continues its flow

Hawaii’s Kilauea Volcano continues its flow on the East side of the Big Island. Catch the latest updates at the following links: 

X-Rays Show That Van Gogh’s Sunflowers Will One Day Wilt
The Smithsonian reports a new analysis shows that half of the canvas held in Amsterdam is painted with pigments that darken with exposure to UV light. Some of Van Gogh’s most iconic floral artworks, painted in 1888 and 1889, are facing the test of time. Vincent Van Gogh painted his iconic Sunflowers in vibrant yellows and golds, bursting with a sense of life and movement that has made them universally beloved. But the artist could hardly have predicted that more than a century later, those bright lemon-yellow hues would start to wilt into a brown muddle, reports Daniel Boffrey at The Guardian. A new X-ray study confirms what researchers and art lovers have long suspected: Van Gogh’s paints are fading over time. In 2011, Sarah Zielinski at Smithsonian.com reported that chemists were looking into how the 100-year-old paint was holding up. They found that exposure to UV light, both from sunlight and the halogen lamps used to illuminate paintings in some museum galleries, led to oxidation of some paint pigments, causing them to change color. A 2016 study looked deeper into the matter to find that one of the bright yellow paints Van Gogh liked, a mix between yellow lead chromate and white lead sulfate, was particularly unstable. Under UV light, the unstable chromate changed states and the sulfates began to clump together, dulling the color. The museum has already taken some steps to protect the artwork, like installing smart LEDs last year which allow them to control the light spectrum hitting the paintings and more finely control the brightness and hours of light paintings receive. But now is definitely the time to head to Amsterdam to catch the color before it fades too much!

Three Western Women To Head Saudi Women Driving Program

Travelwirenews reports Saudi Arabia has chosen a global team of instructors from Wales, Canada and America to train women starting from June 24. The BBC has reported that this team will work as “senior assessors” to train new examiners and instructors. Around 1,500 people applied for the three jobs. Susan Newbon, Deborah Sherwood and Norma Adrianzen were the ones chosen for these positions. Newbon said teachers at the driving schools will be Saudi women who have obtained their license abroad. She added that more Saudi trainers are travelling to other countries in the region to get their driving licenses and experience in preparation for the team’s arrival. In September 2017, a royal decree announced the end of a decades-long ban on women driving, the only one of its kind in the world. The lifting of the driving ban comes in light of the Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s push for reform in the country which aims to restore moderate Islam to the country amid decades of conservative domination as well as boost the economy by opening up the workforce to more women. Allowing them to drive is seen as essential in boosting their numbers in the workforce.
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New Zealand Is Experiencing Overcrowding In Its Tourist Hotspots

Travelwirenews reports Tourism in New Zealand is on a crossnote. Calls for visitor limits and charges to help pay for infrastructure are not only loud in Galapagos, Barcelona or Hawaii. In New Zealand current growth is a threat to this World Heritage walk. New Zealand tourism is complaining having queues of tourists in protected parks enjoy breathtaking views of Lake Wanaka.There is a rare opportunity to experience a dynamic glacial environment, worth the 30 minutes wait to find a parking spot. And while New Zealand’s threatened species become ever more threatened, the de facto tourist department, aka the Conservation Department, is employing car park attendants and investing millions of Dollars building toilets and tracks for tourists who pay nothing towards their upkeep. 

The Shed At Dulwich’ Was London’s Top-Rated Restaurant – Except It Didn’t Exist

Washington Post reports the Shed at Dulwich was a unique restaurant in London and certainly the hardest to get into. And it beat out thousands of upscale restaurants in the city to earn the top ranking on the popular review site TripAdvisor for a time, drawing a flood of interest, except the restaurant did not exist. The restaurant was just a listing created this year by a freelance writer, Oobah Butler, who used his home, a shed in the Dulwich area in South London, as the inspiration for a high-concept new restaurant that he posted on TripAdvisor: “The Shed at Dulwich.” With hardly more than some fake reviews, “Best shed based experience in London!” a particularly cheeky one read, and a website, it had gamed the site’s ratings in London, a highly sought-after designation that could bring a surge of business to any restaurant, let alone one in a major global capital. The story has by now traveled around the globe and back, after Butler wrote a piece that exposed the ruse on Vice. The moral of the story: be aware of fake news on review sites!

Did you know?    The Best Passports for Travel

USA is 4th Place!
1. Japan 189 countries can be visited without a visa
2. Germany, Singapore: 188 countries without a visa
3. Finland, France, Italy, Sweden, Spain, South Korea: 187 countries
4. Norway, United Kingdom, Austria, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, United States: 186 countries
5. Denmark, Belgium, Switzerland, Ireland, Canada: 185 countries
6. Australia, Greece: 183 countries
7. New Zealand, Czech Republic, Malta: 182 countries
8. Iceland: 181 countries

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Photos from A Safari in Tanzania

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Many of our longtime readers and subscribers of the print newsletter may know that Christine and John are in Africa right now, on their annual trip escorting clients on safari!

These photos are from our client Brian Allen, President of Windermere Realty Trust, who took a marvelous trip from Tanzania earlier this year.

WITTRAVEL organized Brian’s trip in coordination with Origins Safaris operators on the ground.

If you want to see some FANTASTIC photos of wildebeest, birds, hippos, lions – (oh my!) – check out the full album here

The photos were taken on Canon 5D Mark III with a Canon 100-400 mm zoom lens for safari shots, and a smaller Sony mirrorless camera with a wide lens for landscape shots.

COMING UP: More Willamette Intl Travel ESCORTED TOURS in 2019!

Call Wittravel for Details on:

  • Tanzania – February 2019.
  • Kenya – September 2019.
  • Namibia – August 2019.

CALL 503-224-0180 or email inquiry@wittravel.net

LOVE Africa photos? Check out more:

On our Instagram: instagram.com/wittravel

On others’ Instagrams: 8 Awesome Africa Accounts you should be following on Instagram

AND Africa Geographic 2018’s Winners for Photographer of the Year!

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Travel News This Week: Kilauea Updates

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Passengers Stuck In Shrunken Lavatories On American Airlines

The London Times reports executives face suggestions that they have gone too far in their attempt to keep hold of customers. Some passengers, in fact, were said to be struggling to extricate themselves from the loos. Flight attendants complained that the sinks were so small they could wash only one hand at a time. In the fierce fight to offer cheap flights to more of the traveling public, American Airlines has trimmed the space between rows and shrunk its lavatory cubicles to pack in more seats. Complaints that the cubicles were trapping unsuspecting travelers were first raised by Zach Honig, an editor for the website The Points Guy, who crammed into one of the airline’s new Boeing 737 MAX planes for a flight from New York to Miami.

Hawaii’s Kilauea Volcano: What travelers to the Big Island need to know

  1. Yes, it’s still safe and there are many things to do, from friendly manta rays to snorkeling in Kailua-Kona… Read the full list at Hawaii Magazine.

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Honolulu’s USS Arizona Memorial is closed indefinitely 

Built in 1962 to honor the 1,177 sailors and marines who died aboard the USS Arizona during the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Memorial has closed until further notice. Concerns began when a transportation operator reported cracks on the exterior. The Memorial hosts 4-5,000 visitors daily. The Pearl Harbor Visitor Center remains open for business, where the guests can watch the documentary film and take a harbor tour of Battleship Row near the USS Arizona Memorial. Bookstores, gift shops, Pearl Harbor museums, USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park, and the Pacific Aviation Museum are still open. 

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NOAA’s Predictions For 2018 Atlantic Hurricane Season

What will the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season bring? That’s the question everyone’s asking after last year saw 17 named storms. Ten of those storms became hurricanes, including six major hurricanes, making 2017 the seventh-most active season since 1851, based on the Accumulated Cyclone Energy index. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has predicted a near- or above-normal Atlantic hurricane season for 2018. It has determined a 70% likelihood of 10 to 16 named storms (winds of at least 35 mph) of which five to nine could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including one to four major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5, with winds of 111 mph or higher). Last year, the NOAA predicted an above-normal season with a likelihood of up to 17 named storms. “With the advances made in hardware and computing over the course of the last year, the ability of NOAA scientists to both predict the path of storms and warn Americans who may find themselves in harm’s way is unprecedented,” Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said according to the NOAA’s prediction. “The devastating hurricane season of 2017 demonstrated the necessity for prompt and accurate hurricane forecasts.”

Emerald Waterways To Offer Nile River Cruise Sailings In 2019 and 2020

Emerald Waterways will begin Nile River cruises in February 2019, offering two different itineraries. The line has two cruise tour options planned, with seven sailings in 2019 and eight in 2020. The 10-night Egypt and Nile cruise tour spends five nights on MS Hamees, a chartered 142-passenger ship owned by Movenpick, as well as four nights in Cairo. The 15-night Egypt and Nile River cruise tour adds time in Jordan, with visits to Amman, Petra and the Dead Sea. The tours encompass the major sights of Egypt, including the Pyramids of Giza, Luxor’s Valley of the Kings and temples on the west bank, Abu Simbel and Aswan. The ship, which has been newly refurbished, has a main restaurant with international and local options at meals, as well as a sun deck with a swimming pool. The ship also has its own private dock in Luxor. After many years of dormancy, Nile River sailings have been making a comeback. Viking River Cruises has invested in the region with a new ship, Viking Ra, debuting this year. Other river lines that offer cruise tours on the Nile include Uniworld, Vantage and Emerald Waterways’ sister company Scenic. Meanwhile, Emerald Waterways continues to expand. The line debuted in 2014 and quickly grew to seven ships in Europe and one ship on the Mekong. Emerald Waterways recently announced that it will be offering yacht-style cruises on Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast in 2019 on the 36-passenger Adriatic Princess II.

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2018: The Baltic States Centennial

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8 Facts You Didn’t Know About the Baltics

In 2018, the Baltic States — Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania — are celebrating their 100th Anniversary!

Naturally, there are plenty of awesome events, concerts and festivals to take place in the capitals—Tallinn, Riga, Vilnius, as well as smaller towns like Klaipeda.

The Baltic States were first born in 1918, when they declared their independence as sovereign nations. Over the century, they were occupied first by Nazi Germany and then nearly 50 years by the Soviet Union. Declaring their independence in 1990, each country has gone through its own growing pains to become the fascinating and beautiful nations today in their own right.

Aušros Vartai #ausrosvartai #vilnius #lithuania #gateofdawn #ourladyofthegateofdawn

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1. Pope Francis will pay a visit

The charismatic and popular Pope Francis will drop by this September. The predominant Roman Catholics in the region are in Lithuania, with 77% belonging to the church as per a recent census.

2. It’s literally the Heart of Europe

According to theFrench National Geographic Institute, the one and only geographical central point of Europe is located in Lithuania, 26 km north of Vilnius.

#zaliabalta #lithuaniabasketball

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3. Lithuanians are obsessed with Basketball

Okay, I lied—most Lithuanians’ religion is basketball. Where did it all begin? It all started when Lithuanian Americans launched the men’s national basketball team in the 1930s. When they won the EuroBasket tournaments in 1937 and 1939, this solidified the country’s devotion to the sport.

Estonia flag #tallinn #estonia🇪🇪 #oldtown #estoniaflag #flag

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4. Due to the aforementioned history, all three states have two Independence Days.

The first day is the one declared after WWI. The second one was the day declared after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

5. Latvian Crocodile Dundee

Latvia has their own hero they claim as their favorite tried-and-true adventurer. Arvīds Blūmentāls was a Latvian explorer who allegedly killed more than 10,000 crocodiles.

6. The Baltic Way isn’t a road.

On August 23, 1989, around 2 million people joined hands in peaceful protest against Soviet occupation, in a line that extended from Lithuania all the way to Estonia. The Baltic Way was about 600 km (370 miles!)

7. Sweet curd cheese & other goodies

There are many peculiar and tasty foods around the Baltics, but one often missed by tourists are the bars of Kurd smothered in chocolate, nuts, caramel, and fruit. Other favorites spied all around the Baltics are dark rye bread, blood sausage, kefir, and potato pancakes.

☀️ Time is precious, waste it wisely ☀️

A post shared by Estonian Nature 🇪🇪 (@wild.estonia) on

8. Estonia’s Beauties

Estonia is world-famous for its breathless natural beauty. After all, half the country is covered in woodland. Bogs and mires, primal forests with wolves and lynxes, and 2,000 islands offer up testimony to this reputation.

Join the Baltic States 100th Year Celebrations!

Check out the events programs here:

https://www.ev100.ee/en

http://lv100.lv/en/

http://www.lietuva.lt/100/en

Events in the US here:

http://www.latvia100usa.org

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