Category Archives: UK

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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Filed under Africa, Conscientious Traveler, Europe, France, UK

London Walking Tours with Context Travel

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Context Travel – Private Guides and (Very) Small Group Tours for the Intellectually Curious Traveler

The Royal Wedding is over but that doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy London in all its glory.

One of our favorite walking tour experts, Context Travel, offers several awesome historical and foodie tours around the British capital.

One of the key reasons we enjoy Context Travel is that their tours are all led by qualified docents, Ph.D.-level scholars of history, art and archaeology. Forget the boring introductions–discover in-depth perspectives that go beyond the guidebook. 

Here are just some of the tours to check out this summer:

London Walking Tours with Context Travel

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1. Royal Life

The world’s attention descended upon London this past weekend as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle tied the knot. It was a wedding that defied many royal traditions, from Markle’s country of origin, to its location at Windsor Castle, to the dearth of fruitcake at the reception (Gasp!). 

How did these rules become so codified, and what is the significance of their recent breaking? Get an “intellectually curious” take on royal tradition—be it marriage on Context Travel’s Westminster Abbey Tour, murder on their Tower of London Tour, or a full overview on their Full Day Royal Tour (8 hours of monarchy glory). 

2. Tate Britain

Though often overlooked by visitors, some have argued that Britain’s heart and soul resides in the stately Tate Britain Museum. Dive right in with Context Travel’s art historian and explore J.M.W. Turner’s sublime seascapes and Francis Bacon’s contortions.

Read: Why a visit to this cultural treasure is a must for any visitor. 

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3. The King’s Sport

This July, London welcomes the return of Wimbledon, but year-round there’s another royally curious sport upstream the River Thames. The week following the tournament, the Real Tennis Champions Trophy returns to Hampton Court Palace, in which world-famous players descend to play an ancient game of, shall we say, “real tennis.” Real tennis, is not your grandma’s racket sport. “Real tennis,” enjoyed by the likes of Charles II, William III, and even Prince Albert, differs significantly from its modern counterpart, and can only be played on one of 50 courts remaining in the world.

4. Shakespeare in London

What better place to celebrate the Bard than the city where his plays excelled? Behind the modern sprawl of London lies the secret history of the theatre. During this London Theater Tour,you’ll reconstruct London’s historic stages, and come to understand the social and artistic forces that were born here and that still underpin entertainment in the western world. You’ll explore in-depth the influence of one William Shakespeare, whose works, staged in London, continue to resonate throughout the world today.

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5. Pubs, Pubs and More Pubs

Pubs and beer are symbols of the best of Britain, where you can gorge yoruself on fish, chips, and brews. This 3-hour London Beer and Brewery Tour is all about ample tastings at various pubs and breweries located in the South Bank London area. Led by a trained food anthropologist specializing in beer and brewing, you’ll focus on the history of brewing in London, highlighting beer’s evolution from a dietary staple, to the almost lost tradition of cask ales, to today’s renaissance of craft beer and brewing.

For more awesome London tours or an awesome travel agent to book your trip to Britain this year, give us a call at 503-224-0180 or email inquiry@wittravel.com. Cheers!

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Filed under Europe, UK

NEW: Celebrated Hotels for Celebrated Travelers

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The British Isles are ever-popular among our clients, so it’s no wonder that we’ve chosen to work with some of the finest tour guides and accommodations to curated memorable trips.

Celebrated Experiences offers tailor-made itineraries to England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales — and yes, also Italy.

CE takes pride in hand-picking the most delightful hotels, castles, and country B&Bs through the UK, Ireland and Italy. Their selective staff has over 250 annually inspected hotels. Just earlier this month, CE announced some new properties at their fingertips.

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EDINBURGH: The Principal Edinburgh Charlotte Square

The Principal always makes a splash in vibrant New Town, boasting a multimillion-pound restoration and refurbishment. Don’t miss the immensely fashionable Eastern Mediterranean restaurant, BABA. When we book the Principal for our guests, we make sure they enjoy a bottle of house champagne and canapés – because what is style without champagne? You can also try your hand at the free Gin or Whiskey Master Class!

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COTSWOLDS: The Lygon Arms

With new owners and management, the Lygon Arms is all about timeless service, blending old traditions with new renovations. Originally built as a coaching inn, the hotel is over 500 years, located in that quintessential Cotswolds village, Broadway. Booking with Celebrated Experiences, your agent at WIT can guarantee an upgrade at time of booking – and a spot in the exclusive Cocktail Making Class with the Bar Team!

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ROMA: Palazzo Scanderbeg

This 15th-century palazzo is just steps from the Trevi Fountain. Originally built by an Albanian noble, this old palace boasts 11 rooms and suites, most of which are 1- and 2-bedroom apartments with fully equipped kitchenettes, 24/7 concierge, and all the amenities of a full hotel. We can promise a Welcome bottle of sparkling wine when we book a Celebrated Experience at this exceptional hotel – because why shouldn’t we celebrate all our clients?

For More Celebrated Experiences, call us at 503-224-0180 or email inquiry@wittravel.com. 

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Filed under England, Europe, Ireland, Italy, UK

Hotel Profile: The Ampersand

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Make 2018 extra special with a stay at the Ampersand in London.

Winner of multiple awards including World Luxury Hotel Awards and Condé Nast Traveler’s Hot List, we at Willamette Intl Travel are absolutely in love with this hotel. The Ampersand is a hit with all of our clients who we’ve recommended to stay at this elegant boutique hotel in South Kensington. Just south of Hyde Park, and within walking distance of Harrods, Knightsbridge, Chelsea, the Victoria & Albert Museum, and of course the tube just across the street, all of London is well within reach.

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London was absolutely wonderful.  The Ampersand Hotel was really perfect, great location, great room – I would highly recommend to other travelers to London. 

—Our client Karen Q.

Built in 1888, the Ampersand Hotel boasts original Victorian features—from high ceilings to haunting gargoyles—and a modernist flair that attracts patrons looking for that special, atmospheric je ne sais quoi. At the Ampersand, guests can choose among 111 luxury hotel rooms, each designed with five themes in mind – botany, music, geometry, ornithology and astronomy. Their eclectic interior harks back to the Victorian age of discovery and curiosity. Dubbed by various patrons “whimsical,” “stylish” and “modern,” sometimes you just need a luxury hotel with a dash of the creative and humorous.

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The on-site restaurant Apero appeals to both guests and locals, with relaxed Mediterranean fare. In the Drawing Rooms, guests can enjoy delicious desserts and savory treats from cream cheese planet mousse to passion fruit macaroons and prosecco mint jelly. Look for the all-day coffee and tea menus and the classic hearth fire. Hosting a private dinner party? At the Wine Room, enjoy private dining dedicated to their cellar of fine wines. There is also a Game Room, Gym and Library to round out your London stay.

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Families are also welcome at the Ampersand, with a range of facilities just for parents traveling with children. Their rooms, studios, and suites in the Deluxe category accommodate either a fold-away bed or an interconnecting room. All suites come with a small kitchenette, and in their restaurant Apero, there is a children’s menu available. Children of ages up to 4 receive a complimentary continental buffet breakfast. Kids will certainly appreciate the proximity of fossils and the cool whale skeletons at the Natural History Museum!

The Ampersand is a member of the Imperial College Environment Society, which is devoted to sustainable hotel practices such as recycling, proper disposal of food waste and the use of biodegradable cleaning materials. The hotel also raises donations each year for the Great Ormond Street Hospital and the British Heart Foundation.

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Travel News: New Pilots in Demand

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World’s Airlines Need To Train 70 New Pilots A Day Over Next 10 Years
The world’s airlines need to train 70 new pilots a day over the next 10 years to meet growing demand, CAE study says. Pilots are aging and the profession has lost its appeal, leaving airlines to scramble to find the 255,000 new bodies needed. A new report just released by CAE, a Montreal-based aviation training company, says about 255,000 pilots must enter the global commercial aviation profession in the next 10 years in order to meet growing passenger demand and replace retiring pilots. According to the CAE’s Airline Pilot Demand Outlook, rapid airline fleet expansion and substantial passenger growth combined with high pilot retirement rates means that airlines will need to train 70 new pilots per day to meet global demand. Growth will also require 180,000 first officers to be trained to airline captains, more than in any other decade, the report says. 
 
Venice Cruise Traffic Plateaus For Now
Ongoing vessel tonnage restrictions in Venice have capped cruise traffic for now, with a limit of 96,000 tons. In 2017 the classic Italian port is looking at a forecast of 473 calls and just over 1.4 million passengers, which is down from 2016. Next year looks set to be similar to 2017. Meanwhile, government officials are still working to lock down an alternative route for larger ships to reach the port facilities. Future growth will need to depend on the identification and availability of a new alternative route for ships to reach port facilities, thus allowing large ships to use Venice again. The port spokesperson said that they want to increase their weekday call portfolio. VTP offers 10 terminal choices.
Frankfurt To Impose A Tourism Levy On Leisure Travelers
TR Newsletter reports The German city of Frankfurt is hoping for a new tourism levy to add several million euros to the city. All leisure visitors of Frankfurt will pay the fee per night starting next year. The tourists will have to pay the so-called tourism fee in their hotels or accommodation in addition to the room rate. The Mayor and Chamberlain Uwe Becker said that the tourism levy should be between 1.50 and 2.50 euros per person per night. The exact amount has not yet been fixed. Despite the fact that businesses travelers will not pay the new levy, it will annually take in millions to the town hall. Approximately, 30% percent of the almost nine million overnight stays in the city account to leisure travelers. A revenue of six million euros per year is, thus, likely to be easy to achieve. Since the new levy is a contribution and not a tax, the revenues will not be included in the general budget, but only used for a specific purpose. The revenues should be used to improve the tourism infrastructure and expand marketing of Frankfurt. A large part of the proceeds could benefit the marketing activities of the urban tourism and congress society.
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G Adventures Is Expanding Into Coastal Norway
G Adventures is expanding into coastal Norway in 2017, in addition to its programs in Antarctica and the Arctic, according to the 2017 Expedition Cruise Market Report. The adventure travel company also has a presence in the Galapagos and bought the Swan Hellenic brand in January, in addition to other travel brands Just You and Travelsphere. In Antarctica, the season is at its maximum length, according to Heller, starting in mid-October and running through mid-March on the company-owned Expedition, a 134-passenger ship.
 
 
Trondheim Targeting Offseason and Homeporting Buildup
A renovated runway at Værnes, the international airport in Trondheim, will be open in time for the 2018 cruise season. This will lead to the re-introduction of Pullmantur using Trondheim as a turnaround port. “We are expecting 79 calls for 2017 with 130,000 passengers, which will be an all-time high,” said Maria Kühnl, cruise coordinator. “Among them will be 10 off-season calls and five overnight stays. “Trondheim is the ideal port to start or end a cruise in Norway. We are located in the heart of Norway from which you can either go south or north. We can accommodate thousands of visitors and have proven that we can handle big turnover operations”
the port is keen on building both winter and over-night stays. The port has plans to add new bollards to its cruise quay to handle larger ships, and plans are in the works to extend the parking area for shore excursion buses.
 
Heathrow Loses Its Position As Europe’s Largest Airport
Travelmole reports Amsterdam’s Schiphol has overtaken Heathrow as Europe’s largest airport for direct flights. According to the Airports Council International (ACI) Europe, Schiphol has risen from sixth place in 10 years. It put the reason for its growth partly down to the rise of low-cost carriers, which now make up 21% of its direct flights. Heathrow’s growth, on the other hand, has been constrained by a lack of capacity. Frankfurt, Paris Charles de Gaulle and Istanbul Ataturk airport make up the rest of the top five airports for direct flights. ACI Europe’s airport industry connectivity report found that for the second year in a row, direct flights are growing at a faster rate than indirect and connecting flights. It said this reflected the expansion of low-cost carriers on both short and medium haul markets and ‘the relative retrenchment of network carriers’. ACI said that over the past 10 years, 99% of the growth in passenger traffic of the top 20 European airports has been delivered by low-cost carriers. Low-cost carriers have moved into larger airports and hubs, and they are now making inroads into the long haul market. Europe’s airports will see 87 long haul routes being operated by low-cost carriers this summer, up from 14 just four years ago. The next step – which Ryanair has just started experimenting, is to offer feed to network carriers or even develop their own connecting product. Frankfurt still boasts the highest number of connecting flights, followed by Amsterdam, Dallas-Fort Worth, Paris Charles de Gaulle and Atlanta. Abu Dhabi has been the fastest-growing hub since 2007, followed by Delhi and Guangzhou.
 

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Filed under Airlines, England, Europe, Germany, News, Norway, UK

Travel News: New Harry Potter Exhibit

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FCC To Return To Banning In-Flight Phone Calls
Federal Communications Commission head Ajit Pai says he’s doing something many consumers may actually agree with for a change: making it harder to talk on the phone while on an airplane. The FCC yesterday announced that it’s killing an FCC proceeding that would have opened the door to allowing phone calls during commercial flights. In late 2013 the FAA lifted restrictions on in-flight electronics use during take offs and landing, and in 2014 the FCC lifted restrictions on in-flight phone calls over WiFi (but not yet cellular) with an ongoing eye on removing the restrictions entirely. The move wasn’t a popular one among consumers, and former FCC boss Tom Wheeler took a lot of heat for the decision. “I stand with airline pilots, flight attendants, and America’s flying public against the FCC’s ill-conceived 2013 plan to allow people to make cellphone calls on planes,” said FCC boss Ajit Pai in a statement. “I do not believe that moving forward with this plan is in the public interest. Taking it off the table permanently will be a victory for Americans across the country who, like me, value a moment of quiet at 30,000 feet.”

Delta Changes Partner Award Mileage Requirements Without Notice 
John Ollila of Loyalty Lobby.ccom reports Delta Air Lines has been tinkering with the number of SkyMiles required for partner awards that seems to have gone up anywhere from 15% to 20% without any prior warning from the airline. Delta Changes Partner Award Mileage Requirements Without Any Prior Notice On April 7, 2017. This change was first noted on a FlyerTalk post where a member noticed that the number of SkyMiles required for an award had changed from 70,000 to 85,000 (transatlantic partner award in business class).
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New Harry Potter Exhibit Will Feature Never-before-Seen Manuscripts and Drawings
A new exhibition at the British Library later this year will offer never-before-seen pieces from author J.K. Rowling. The exhibition, titled “Harry Potter: A History of Magic,” will open at the library in October, taking visitors through a fascinating collection of wizardry books, manuscripts, magical objects, and original materials from the Rowling archives. The exhibition will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the publication of “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” (“Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” in the US), delving into the origins of the story. The display will take magic lovers through medieval manuscripts covering everything from potions and herbology to caring for magical creatures. Visitors will also be able to gaze at original drafts and drawings by both Rowling and illustrator Jim Kay, ranging from drawings of a mandrake for the illustrated edition of “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” to an early handwritten draft of Rowling’s “Sorting Hat” song, according to Pottermore. There will also be original manuscripts and editorial notes from the series’ publisher, Bloomsbury. The exhibit runs from October 20, 2017 through February 28, 2018, though tickets are already for sale on the library’s website.
 
BA May Drop Free Meals On Long Haul Flights 
The Sunday Times reports that British Airways is apparently mulling bringing paid food and beverages for long-haul coach as well as short haul coach flights. British Airways recently enhanced away complimentary snacks, food, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages in short and medium haul economy and introduced paid products. Now long-haul British Airways passengers are in line for the “improvement” to services known as paying for your own food and drink. The airline could start charging long-distance flyers for a menu drawn from the aisles of Mark & Spencer, BA’s boss, has revealed. In an interview with The Sunday Times, Cruz said that after “a rough start” customers now welcomed the chance to pay for M&S food on European flights. 
 
Caribbean Princess Added Family Areas, Connecting Rooms, New Mini-Suite Category
New offerings for families, including the Camp Discovery Youth & Teen Center, upgraded Movies Under the Stars, Princess Luxury Bed and connecting staterooms have been added to Caribbean Princess during a two-week drydock at Grand Bahama Shipyard, just ahead of the vessel’s summer Europe and fall Caribbean seasons. The ship has also been wired for the Ocean Medallion Class cruising that will be available starting with its 2018 summer Caribbean season. Camp Discovery, the reimagined youth center created in partnership with the consumer products arm of Discovery Communications, joins the line’s Discovery at Sea program. For ages 3-17, this caters to specific age groups with three center themes. The Treehouse, formerly Pelicans, is for ages 3-7 and offers a bright, whimsical forest and animal-themed area including hands-on activities. The Lodge, formerly Shockwaves, for ages 8-12, is inspired by the great outdoors, and offers sports activities and places for kids to explore, hang out and lounge. The Beach House, previously Remix, for ages 13-17, is a contemporary surf-themed lounge. New youth and teen center programming includes ‘MythBusters’ science activities with hands-on challenges, featuring show star Tory Belleci. In addition, new Camp Discovery destination-themed programs focusing on Europe and the Caribbean to immerse young cruisers into the culture, nature, and customs of this region. Eighty-seven connecting staterooms catering to family travelers have also been added. A new HD Movies Under the Stars outdoor movie screen will offer a higher resolution picture with double the image quality of previous systems. This will give concerts and movies more sound power, truer color, extreme wide angle viewing and smart contrast/brightness for optimal viewing any time of day. 3,200 new Princess Luxury beds and luxurious linens have been installed. In addition, Caribbean Princess will introduce Club Class Mini-Suites, the new premium stateroom category featuring VIP amenities and exclusive dining. This elevated mini-suite category offers perks including new Club Class Dining, a reserved dining area with expedited seating and expanded menu options as well as priority embarkation and disembarkation.
 
TripAdvisor Users Vote Emirates World’s Best Airline
Users of the online travel site TripAdvisor have voted Emirates airline their favorite carrier on a top 10 list that’s dominated by Asian airlines. In the 2017 edition of their Travelers’ Choice Awards for Airlines, Emirates received high marks as the best overall carrier in the world, taking the title of both Best First Class experience, and Best Economy Class. After Emirates, Singapore Airlines, Brazil’s Azul airline, JetBlue and Air New Zealand round out the top five spots on the list. The top-ranked major airline for North America is Delta Air Lines. 
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Belgium And Italy Have The Highest Taxes For Tourists
According to statistics gathered by Kayak, Belgium and Italy are the tourist destinations with the highest tourist taxes. Travelers who decide to visit Brussels are required to pay approximately 42, 56 or 70 euros for a seven-night stay in a 3, 4, or 5-star hotel respectively. In the case of Italy, Rome is in the lead with a maximum tax of 49 euros for the same seven-night stay. Next in line is Florence, Venice and Milan with an average of 35 euros. Except in the case of Venice, where only the first 5 days are charged for, in the rest of Italy’s cities, the tax is charged for the first ten days. The lowest taxes are found in Lisbon. Other European capitals, such as Amsterdam, Berlin, and Vienna, calculate the tax according to the cost of the room and not according to the category of the establishment. In these cities, the percentages reach 6%, 5% and 3.2%, respectively. 
Malibu’s New Ryokan Opening
You don’t need to travel to Japan for an awesome night at a Japanese-style inn. Nobu Ryokan Malibu, the first in Nobu Hospitality’s Ryokan Collection, will open on April 28, 2017. Located next to Nobu Restaurant Malibu, Nobu Ryokan Malibu will combine modern comforts with a Ryokan-inspired building. Read more here. 

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Travel News: Scotland’s New Independence Referendum

Our Hearts go out to Stockholm…

Alaska Airlines Announces New Long-Haul Service From Portland And Los Angeles

Alaska Airlines and Virgin America today announces new daily, nonstop service between Portland, Oregon, and New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport beginning Nov. 6; Portland and Detroit beginning Aug. 30; and Los Angeles and Philadelphia beginning Sept. 1. This added service provides flyers greater access to two New York metropolitan area airports – JFK and Newark. JFK is the country’s busiest international gateway, and is a prime jumping off point for customers traveling to Europe and beyond on Alaska Global Partners including British Airways, Icelandair and Condor. Members of the Alaska Mileage Plan can earn and redeem miles when flying on one of Alaska’s global airline partners to over 900 destinations around the globe. With the new service to Detroit, Alaska Airlines will offer the only daily, year-round nonstop service from Portland to the Motor City, home to auto industry giants such as General Motors and Ford Motor Company. The new Los Angeles-Philadelphia flight builds on the 27 new markets the combined airline has added from California, since merging with Virgin America in December. Virgin America previously served this market from April 2012 to October 2014.

Scotland Formally Requests New Independence Referendum

A letter informing Prime Minister Theresa May of the Scottish government’s official request to hold a second independence referendum has been delivered to Downing Street. Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon signed the Section 30 letter requesting transfer of powers to Holyrood on Friday morning. May’s government has already said it will decline the request, however. “As you are aware, the Scottish Parliament has now determined by a clear majority that there should be an independence referendum,” Sturgeon wrote. “The purpose of such a referendum is to give people in Scotland the choice of following the UK out of the EU and single market on the terms you negotiate, or becoming an independent country, able to chart our own course and build a genuine partnership of equals with the other nations of the UK. On Tuesday Scottish MSPs voted 69 to 59 in favor of requesting another referendum, which would be held sometime between autumn 2018 and spring 2019.

Britain Triggers Brexit

Forbes reports on the how in which the EU and the UK must begin the complicated process of untangling from each other’s affairs. With Great Britain triggering Brexit negotiations, the many strands to be unwound from the tightly woven UK-European Union carpet apparently will include Europe’s highly popular low-cost airlines, including Easyjet and Ryanair, as well as traditional carriers as their ability to fly as freely as before could be sharply restricted once the UK is on its own. Prime Minister Theresa May has indicated that she intends a “hard” exit, meaning leaving the single market and moving her country outside the purview of the European Court of Justice (ECJ), and therein lies the problem for the aviation industry. The ECJ has ultimate jurisdiction over European aviation law, and the UK would have to agree to the unlikely scenario of submitting to its authority. It’s just one of the literally innumerable economic, financial, business, judicial, social, and cultural sectors, to name a few. in which the EU and the UK must begin the complicated process of untangling from each other’s affairs. European Commission negotiators reportedly have warned British airline officials that post-exit, the U.K. airlines as currently structured would have to curtail various services, including flights between European cities. In that scenario, they would be restricted to flights between British and European cities only. Lead the full article here:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidschrieberg1/2017/03/28/airlines-and-their-passengers-expected-to-suffer-serious-disruption-as-britain-triggers-brexit/#7a484fc1b187

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The End Of The line For American Long-Distance Trains?

CNN reports that US passenger rail travel is subsidized by federal funding. The threat of budget cuts has been hanging over less profitable lines for a number of years. Amtrak CEO and President Wick Moorman says that budget cuts could potentially impact 500 communities. These trains connect our major regions, provide vital transportation to residents in rural communities and generate connecting passengers and revenue for our Northeast Corridor and State-Supported services. It is not known yet if the proposed budget will be approved by Congress, or even how those cuts might be implemented. But from the 1950s onwards, many railroads have been driven out of business due to the rise of the motor car and of the airline industry. The long-distance lines might well be running out of track. Amtrak operates 15 long-distance trains across the nation and these routes offer the only Amtrak service in 23 of the 46 states served. In fiscal year 2016, numbers on Amtrak’s 15 long-distance lines were up 3.7% versus the year before, with close to 4.7 million riders. Should cuts to long-distance funding go ahead, the money could be directed instead to the busier Northeast Corridor lines, which served close to 12 million riders in fiscal year 2016.

American Cruise Lines Announces Name for 2018 Coastal Cruise Ship

A new coastal cruise ship coming from American Cruise Lines in 2018 will be named American Constitution, the line announced last Thursday. The name for the 175-passenger ship, which is currently under construction at the company’s shipyard, Chesapeake Shipbuilding in Salisbury, Md., is inspired by the USS Constitution, the US Navy’s oldest commissioned naval vessel afloat. It will continue the company’s hallmark of having larger-than-average cabins with private balconies, as well as multiple lounges. American Constitution will be a sister ship to American Constellation, which will launch in May 2017. American Constellation is sailing a new itinerary for the company, Grand New England, which visits small Northeast ports such as Martha’s Vineyard, Provincetown, and Boothbay Harbor, Maine. Itineraries for American Constitution have not been released, but the company said that it’s expanding in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska next year. Full details on the 2018 schedule will be released soon.

U By Uniworld Changes Age Range To 21-45

Uniworld is launching a new brand, U by Uniworld, designed for ages 21-45. The starting price for one week on U By Uniworld is $1,699 per person, based on double occupancy, significantly lower than Uniworld’s all-ages luxury river cruises. Described as “semi-inclusive,” U fares include free Wi-Fi, one shore excursion each day, breakfast and dinner but no lunch. Another difference is that excursions will be active, with some taking place at night. Options include an evening bike ride along the Danube, a “Midnight in Paris” stroll, a canal cruise in Amsterdam, vineyard hikes and a street art walk. Many of the cruises are also timed to coincide with events such as Oktoberfest and the Sziget Festival. Drinks packages will be sold, with pricing yet to be finalized. U By Uniworld cruises will be operated on the renovated 116-passenger ships, River Baroness and River Ambassador. They will also feature onboard activities such as silent discos, yoga, and painting, cooking and mixology classes. The sun deck will receive a new “cafe-bar” venue, as well as an open-air movie screen. Another new feature being planned is a smartboard where passengers can leave messages about meeting up for drinks or going ashore together. The company is also looking at ways to help passengers connect before their cruise, most likely on the website or social media. The last-minute move to slightly older passengers was a response to listening to customers and travel agent partners. U By Uniworld is aimed at “young professionals who have a bit of money, who want to travel, and want to meet and hang out with people like them. U By Uniworld bookings open next week, and sailings will start early 2018 (dates to be confirmed).

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 New World-Class Attraction Coming To Old Port Of Montreal

Starting this June, Montrealers and visitors to the city can soar to a unique vantage point between the city and the river on Montreal’s Observation Wheel. Designed especially for Montreal, this new attraction, already under construction on Île Bonsecours in the Old Port, will generate significant tourism and economic benefits for the metropolitan region. The wheel will be the highest observation wheel in Canada and third highest in the United States and Canada , rising 60 meters above ground, with a view stretching 28 km. It will be in in operation year round, whatever the weather, from 10 am to 11 pm. There will be 42 temperature-controlled gondolas that can seat 8 comfortably, during three revolutions, for a total of 15 minutes. The Old Port is a unique, must-see destination for visitors and with this new observation wheel, created through a major private sector investment on this federal site, the city will once again be at the forefront creating unique activities that complement Montreal’s tourism offers.

Tourisme Montréal’s Passeport MTL Is Now Available

Tourisme Montréal is relaunching Passeport MTL, a single card for discovering Montréal’s top attractions. The card gives users access to 23 attractions and unlimited public transportation using the Société de transport de Montréal (STM) network, which includes the 747 bus that runs between Montréal-Trudeau airport and downtown.

Valid until March 31, 2018, Passeport MTL represents more than $300 in admissions to the 23 attractions: Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Pointe-à-Callière, Montréal Archaeology and History Complex, McCord Museum, Grévin Montréal Museum, Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, are just a few of the attractions. You can get the passport here:

https://antispam.roaringpenguin.com/canit/i.php?z=1&m=3447856d&f=101260913&rlm=nexicom-net

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