Category Archives: North America

Gavi visits Alaska with Lindblad Expeditions

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A few weeks ago, WIT Agent Gavi joined Lindblad Expeditions on a trip to Southeast Alaska. Read on for her review of the ship and the ports of call. 

For two golden hours on a mid-May evening, I chased the Canadian sunset northward. I left behind clouds spread beneath me like fractured glass and entered Southeast Alaska: a land of glowing snow-dusted ridges, jagged peaks, frozen lakes, ice fields, fjords and mist. I spent the next week with Lindblad Expeditions, exploring Southeast Alaska’s fjords and glaciers from the 62-passenger National Geographic Sea Bird.

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SITKA

The town of Sitka nestles into Baranof Island’s eastern edge. It’s home to a small main street, which contains a well-stocked outdoor store (filled with any high-end brands you could ever want and an entire wall of rubber boots), an organic creperie, a coffee shop, and a few souvenir galleries (save your shopping for Juneau, although one of the shops does have a full mammoth skull on display, tusks and all). Two places in the town warrant time set aside for a visit:

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  • The raptor center happens to be one of the best wildlife rehabilitation centers I’ve ever seen. They have a symbiotic relationship with tourism in the town: it thrives because it’s able to charge admission to cover costs of an incredible operation. Flight training rooms have creeks to cover noise and one-way windows. Birds unable to fly are kept in expansive open-topped enclosures. The center has educational and hospital facilities, and permanent homes are found for all animals unable to be released.
  • Totem Park: This beautiful national historic park lies 10-15 minutes’ walk from the Sitka town center. The trails in this forested area are lined with totem poles that have been relocated from throughout Southeast Alaska for the sake of cultural preservation and education.

 

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THE CRUISE

The Boat: This boat is a smaller, expedition-style ship, which means we were able to go a lot of places many larger cruise ships were simply unable to navigate. It had a compact set-up, with several different communal areas that made it easy to get to know fellow passengers.

The lounge is cozy: it has lots of smaller tables with rotating armchairs, as well as padded benches around the edges. One large screen and several other screens set up throughout, so you can see presentations no matter where you’re sitting. There is a comprehensive library with literature relevant to the cruise area: natural history, cultural history, guidebooks and other reference materials. There was also a basket of novels (take one/leave one style).

The dining room was classy and practical. No assigned seating, so mingling and getting to know people was easy. Mix of round and rectangular tables.

There were wrap-around outside observation areas on the main deck as well as in front of the bridge, allowing a vantage point for anyone who wanted a view.

An area on the back of the third deck had a sun/rain cover and fitness equipment: three fitness machines, weights, foam rollers, yoga mats and some other things.

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The Rooms: Comfiest. Beds. Ever. Cabins could be termed either “small” or “cozy,” depending how you look at it, but this is to be expected on a yacht-style expedition ship. Bathrooms are “wet” style, where the shower and toilet are right next to each other (a curtain can be drawn to keep the toilet and paper dry). Plenty of storage beneath the bed, and there is also a cabinet with several hangers and a shelf. Amenities include bath scrubby, conditioner and lip balm, your own steel water bottle to take home, and there are shampoo and soap dispensers in the shower. A small clothesline is provided that reaches across the bathroom.

Onboard Activities: Largely educational, focused on photography and local history (both natural and cultural), and conservation. Each Lindblad expedition has a Certified Photo Instructor on board (some select programs also have a National Geographic photographer). The photo instructor on our expedition had extensive experience all over the world, and is currently involved in the continuation of time-lapse projects used to document glaciers’ retreat (used in the 2014 documentary Chasing Ice).

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During our trip, the instructor let a fantastic intro to photography session on the first day, followed by breakout sessions determined by camera style and experience. There were also evening lectures presented by onboard naturalists: some of the programs on this voyage included: marine mammal behavior and current research, history of fur trading in the region, formation of the area (including past, current and future hydrogeology), and Native American totem poles of the Pacific Coast. These programs reflected a set of naturalists with diverse strengths, and their passion and knowledge easily showed through their work.

There was great demo gear available on the boat including binoculars, camera bodies and lenses.

Morning yoga and stretching sessions on the back deck for those so inclined, and there was a wellness specialist on board who was available to book massages. The boat had an “open bridge” policy, as long as we weren’t navigating something tricky or pulling into/out of harbor: this was an amazing opportunity to look over maps and monitors and ask questions about navigation. It also provided a way to watch our surroundings from one of the best seats in the house, in a nice warm room shielded from any weather outside.

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Excursions: In general, two per day: one in the morning and one in the evening. We had a variety of choices for each excursion, catered toward different physical levels. Some examples include:

  • Short, medium or long hikes
  • Stand up paddleboarding, Kayaking or Zodiac tours
  • Hiking, Kayaking or Zodiak tours
  • Hiking, cultural visit with river float, town time or flightseeing (port day in Haines)

It is important to remember that, due to nature of the location, schedule and location of excursions on an expedition-style cruise is fluid. Excursions may be adjusted based on any of the following: wilderness restrictions (only a certain number of people allowed on land at a time), weather, wildlife (boats are not allowed in areas where seals are pupping), accessibility (areas with established trails will allow longer hikes than coves with no established trail), and ability of the “slowest” person in a group.

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The food: was phenomenal, especially from the perspective of a girl who usually looks to the “apply heat and consume” philosophy. Responsibly sourced. Breakfast and lunch usually consisted of healthy buffets with a wide variety, and dinner was sit-down with a choice of three protein options which changed daily. Portions were small compared to usual classic American meals, but no one ever left feeling hungry. Light snacks were available throughout the day: cookies, trail mix, afternoon hors d’oeuvres. Dietary needs were all catered to beautifully.

The drinks: Free coffee, tea, hot chocolate, chai latte mix, and anything you can make with a cappuccino machine, any time of day or night. Alcohol was not included: there is an honor tally sheet for beers from the fridge, and a bar tab kept on your on-board account. However, wine was comped on the first and last nights, and beer was comped at the first lunch. Alcohol was included free of charge on three other occasions:

  • During our port day in Haines, we were given credit for drinks at one brewery and one distillery.
  • We returned from a cold zodiac tour and the bartender was waiting at the sign-in board with a vat of apple cider and your choice of Captain Morgan or… some other liquor.
  • Half way through the zodiac tour to the glacier, another zodiac full of crew dressed as Vikings “raided” our boat and distributed hot chocolate with a choice between three alcohols, and whip.

The vibe, overall: relaxed and casual.

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Some Things to Note: 

  • If you have kids: your best Lindblad option will be an Alaska or Galapagos program, which will have a dedicated “Global Explorers” kid-specific program and naturalist on board. On trips without a “Global Explorers” program, activities are not generally geared toward the younger generation (ex: evening lectures rather than entertainment with other companies). If a child is uninterested in an activity and wishes to stay behind, a parental unit will need to accompany the child and be responsible for them.
  • These are not ADA accessible cruises.
  • Remember to pack:
    • A waterproof cover for your day pack.
    • Three pairs of shoes:
      • sturdy, knee-high rubber boots (required),
      • tennis shoes, and
      • “camp shoes” for on the boat. (if your tennis get wet, you’ll be wearing your rubber boots everywhere on board, even when you want to relax).
    • A long string to use as an additional clothesline in your cabin. There is no electric dryer on board, and this will be a lifesaver after rainy expeditions.
    • Lots of warm layers (including gloves, hats, scarf): while Southeast Alaska has some absolutely stunning days, any time of year can also have cold, windy and rainy days. Zodiac tours can be a long activity, exposed with no movement, so you can get cold fast without the right clothing.

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JUNEAU

Alaska’s state capital has a few things worth doing:

On a clear day, take the tram up Mt. Roberts: this has a beautiful view down the channel and some trails at the top. Admission is covered by Lindblad.

While most “galleries” in town are maintained by cruise companies, there are two or three worth visiting:

  • Mt. Juneau Trading Post: Family trading post maintained for generations by a Tlingit family. Old and new art from all over the Northwest coast, ranging from $5 to the sky. If you love art, you can get lost in here for hours.
  • Trickster: Northwest Coast art designed and applied to modern purposes: skateboards, home décor, jewelry, apparel, etc.

Some other Juneau activities: The Mendenhall Ice Caves are a full-day excursion with a local company, accessible only by first kayaking and then climbing over ice. There is also flightseeing available in Juneau.

It’s worth an extra half-day in Juneau to see the galleries and Mt. Roberts tram (arriving the night before you embark, or catching a later flight the day you disembark). For any further activities, you will need to allow an additional day in the city.

 

 

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Filed under Alaska, Cruises, Lindblad Expeditions

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

A post shared by The 96815 (@the96815) on

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

A post shared by Megan Tomino (@mtea) on

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.

#🌴

A post shared by GE Keoni (@ge_keoni) on

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.

A post shared by misterver 📲 (@misterver) on

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

A post shared by Lindsey Higa (@pineappleice) on

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

A post shared by Chad Koga (@chadkoga) on

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

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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Travel News: Airport Beehives, N. Korea’s Clocks & the Royal Wedding

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First Batch Of Honey Harvested From Dublin Airport Beehives

The honey, branded Nect-Air, has been put on the menu in the airport’s executive lounges. Four hives housing up to a quarter of a million Irish dark native honey bees are located beside the airport campus. They were installed with the help and advice of the Fingal North Dublin Beekeepers’ Association and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. The hives are tended to by aircraft engineer Colm Fogarty who has 15 years’ experience in beekeeping. “Honey bees are one of the most important species within our eco-system, they are crucial for the survival of most of our animal and plant population,” Mr Fogarty said. “They are the hardest working insects pollinating hundreds of thousands of flowers and they are incredibly industrious making honey. Nect-Air is result of 250,000 Irish dark native honey bees living and working in the airport apiary feeding on nearby wild plants such as clover, blackberry, bramble and hawthorn,” he added. This particular blend of flora gives Nect-Air its pleasantly mild, gently sweet flavour, along with its rich texture, warming amber hue, delicate aroma and slightly nutty undertone,” according to Mr Fogarty. Dublin Airport Managing Director Vincent Harrison said the bees are thriving in excellent environmental conditions on the airport’s land. Following the successful trial, which produced the first crop of Nect-Air, Dublin Airport now plans to install additional bee hives at other locations on campus and increase honey production.

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Airbus And Boeing Set To Lose Billions Over Ditching Of Iran Deal

Airbus and Boeing could be about to lose $39 billion in aircraft sales after President Trump pulled the US out of the Iran nuclear agreement and threatened to reimpose economic sanctions. The sanctions, which were removed in 2015 when the nuclear agreement was signed, cover aircraft exports as well as other industries. US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin confirmed licenses to build aircraft for Iranian airlines will be revoked, although this is not likely to happen immediately. Sanctions will be subject to 90-day and 180-day wind-down periods, said the Treasury. Iranian airlines had ordered about 200 new jets from Boeing, Airbus and ATR. Even though Airbus is a non-US company, the new sanctions would affect its contracts as some of its parts are made in the US. Airbus is currently mulling the potential impact. “We’re carefully analyzing the announcement and will be evaluating next steps consistent with our internal policies and in full compliance with sanctions and export control regulations,” said head of communications Rainer Ohler. Boeing, which could lose $20 billion in sales, said it ‘will consult with the US government on next steps’. It has agreements to produce about 80 planes for Iranian airlines. Sanctions against Iran could include certain exemptions or waivers. 

JetBlue A320 Redesign Promises to Bring Wider Seats, More Legroom, and ‘Humanity’ to Air Travel Fortune

JetBlue Airlines is launching a new cabin design for its A320 aircraft this week that it hopes will “bring humanity back to air travel.” The first complete restyling of the interior of an A320 since the JetBlue launched in 2000, the airline describes the plan as “bringing a living-room-comfort to the sky.” JetBlue says a new seat design will offer passengers the most legroom in coach of any U.S. airline. The new seat will have a width of 18 inches-the widest available for the A320-as well as improved cushioning, adjustable headrests, and a contoured setback design. Seats will also have two power connections and new stowage options to accommodate travelers’ personal items. On the seats’ backside, passengers will be treated to a 10.1-inch 1080p entertainment screen with more than 100 live television channels, along with an expanded collection of on-demand entertainment. NFC pairing will let smartphones to be used as a remote for the display, or as a controller for on-screen games. The first redesigned plane in JetBlue fleet flew its inaugural flight Wednesday between Boston and Bermuda. The airline plans to retrofit all of the A320 planes in its fleet within the next 3 years.

North Korea Realigns Clocks With Seoul

North Korea has adjusted its time zone to match Seoul, in a move that Pyongyang’s official news agency calls an early step towards “becoming one” with the South. The Saturday change saw North Korea set its clocks 30 minutes ahead, doing away with “Pyongyang Time,” which was created in 2015. The move was fulfilled through a decree of the country’s Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly. The North’s official KCNA agency called the move the “first practical step” to “speed up the process for the North and the South to become one and turn their different and separated things into the same and single ones.” KCNA previously reported that Kim wanted to change Pyongyang’s time zone to match Seoul because it was “a painful wrench to see two clocks indicating Pyongyang and Seoul times hanging on a wall of the summit venue,” referring to the historic April 27 meeting between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in. At the time of its creation, the North said that Pyongyang Time was aimed at pushing back against Japanese colonial rule, which took place from 1910 to 1945 and saw the clocks in Korea changed to match Tokyo time. The gesture comes after Kim and Moon held a historic meeting, making progress towards achieving peace on the peninsula. The North Korean leader now awaits a meeting with US President Donald Trump, which is expected to take place in the coming weeks.

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Ritz-Carlton DC Offers $1 Million ‘Royal Wedding’

The Ritz-Carlton, Washington, D.C., has joined the growing list of hotels hosting royal wedding watching party for the May 19 nuptials of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. But if just watching isn’t enough for some future brides, the hotel is also offering its own fit-for-a-princess wedding experiences, including the Crown Jewel Royal Wedding Experience, which starts at a cool $1 million. The package includes a consultation and comprehensive wedding plan designed by Amal Zaari, who will work to replicate all the details of the royal wedding. Among other things, it includes a flight to New York on a private jet for a custom-made bridal gown by celebrity designer Romona Keveza; wedding dress fittings with bridal expert Carine Krawiec, owner of the exclusive Carine’s Bridal Atelier in Washington, D.C; personal consultation with Edge Floral Event Designers, who will transform The Ritz-Carlton’s Grand Ballroom into a Windsor Castle-style setting; custom wedding rings; food and drinks; two nights in The Ritz-Carlton Suite; and a two-week Mediterranean honeymoon on one of the upcoming Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection ships. Reception entertainment will be provided by Elan Artists, who will cover songs by British artists, including Ed Sheeran and Elton John. 

Travelers Paid Airlines A Record $4.6 Billion Last Year To Check Their Luggage

Travelers paid US commercial carriers a record $4.57 billion last year in checked bag fees, according to a US Department of Transportation report released Monday. It’s a large figure, but the pace of growth from 2016 to 2017, 6%, is less than half of that from 2015 to 2016. While some passengers may have decided to wear a dress or shirt more than once on a vacation to avoid packing too much, or are using some co-branded credit cards to get a free checked bag, travelers may still find on some trips they’ll have to pay up to check their suitcases. Airlines are changing their long-standing policies on free checked bags on international routes. This year, Delta Air Lines and American Airlines are starting to charge for a checked bag on flights to Europe for passengers traveling in basic economy, generally the cheapest fares on board that come with few frills, like complimentary seat selection. Unlike domestic basic economy tickets, American Airlines said it will allow basic economy passengers traveling to Europe to use overhead bins on board. Delta and American will each charge $60 for the first checked bag and $100 for the second on trans-Atlantic routes. Passengers may instead opt to buy the more expensive economy-class ticket that comes with a free checked bag, which is what airlines want travelers to do anyway.

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Kilauea’s Eruption: Wednesday Updates

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Planning a trip to the Big Island?

We’re sure that many of our clients are staying abreast with news of Kilauea Volcano.

The main impact for tourists to the Big Island will be access to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, on the east side past Hilo.

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Headed to the Windward Side?

Here are some more stories on the lava flows to stay in the know:

Conde Nast: Kilauea: What travelers should know

Earth Sky: Satellite Images

Independent: Wednesday’s Latest Updates

The Atlantic: A Look Back at Kilauea’s Spectacular 1969-74 Eruption

The Guardian: Eruption in Pictures

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Travel News: Cruise calls on D.C. for the first time in half a century

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American Constitution Makes History During Maiden Voyage

American Cruise Lines’ new American Constitution has successfully completed her maiden voyage, making history by becoming the first cruise ship to dock at Washington D.C.’s Southwest Waterfront in more than 60 years. Delivered by Chesapeake Shipbuilding in Salisbury, Maryland earlier this spring, the 175-guest American Constitution departed Baltimore on 18 April and took guests on an 11-day ‘American Revolution’ itinerary. In addition to taking tours in Washington DC, guests were able to visit Williamsburg, Yorktown and Jamestown, the three cities of Virginia’s Historic Triangle, which were the sites of major events in colonial America. Harold Cones, emeritus Professor of Biology at Christopher Newport University in Virginia, US, also joined the cruise to lead talks on American history and the significance of the historical sites the guests visited. American Constitution will continue to sail ‘American Revolution’ cruises until late May, before heading north to offer the cruise line’s popular ‘Grand New England Lobsterbake’ itineraries throughout the summer. The vessel will then sail ‘Hudson River Fall Foliage’ cruises in the autumn and then return to Chesapeake Bay in late October to sail several more ‘American Revolution’ voyages and a ‘Colonial Holiday’ cruise that depart son 23 December. American Constitution will sail a series of ‘American Revolution’ itineraries in 2018. 

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Venice Installs Barriers To Manage Mass Tourism

The Telegraph reports Capri could follow the example of Venice as lagoon city installs barriers to manage mass tourism. The island of Capri wants to bring in crowd control measures to man the mass tourism, as Venice installed checkpoints capable of blocking off the most congested parts of the World Heritage city. The limestone outcrop in the Bay of Naples is inundated with two million tourists a year, with the mayor telling The Telegraph that the island could “explode” from a social point of view under the sheer weight of visitors. Venice introduced radical new measures for the bank holiday long weekend, installing metal barriers that can divert tourists down less frequented alleyways so that locals and workers can go about their business without constantly dodging tour groups and visitors trundling wheeled suitcases. The barriers edged Venice closer to the long-debated, highly controversial idea of limiting the number of tourists allowed to enter the lagoon city, as it buckles under the strain of around 25 million visitors a year. 

Antarctica Tourism Numbers Surge 

Cruise Industry News reports The International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) has reported its visitor numbers for the 2017-2018 Antarctic season at the start of its annual meeting in Newport, Rhode Island. The upward trend in visitor numbers recorded since 2011-2012 continued in 2017-2018, the group said. Overall, the total number of Antarctic visitors in 2017-2018 was 51,707, an increase of 17% compared to the previous season. All visitor activities follow strict codes of conduct developed by IAATO and through the Antarctic Treaty System. The majority, 41,996, of visitors travelled by sea to Antarctica on vessels offering excursions ashore, representing a 16% increase compared to the previous year. Of these, 3,408 flew to the South Shetland Islands on the Antarctic Peninsula where they immediately boarded a vessel for onward travel. In addition, 9,131 visitors experienced Antarctica on one of four cruise-only vessels that do not make landings, an increase of 22% since 2016-2017. 

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Dublin and Cork will have more arrivals this year than Nice and Venice

Irish ports are going to have a busy year, with more than 400 cruise ships scheduled to dock across the country. Dublin will have almost 150 visiting ships, some capable of accommodating up to 6,000 passengers. So many ships are coming to Ireland that Dublin and Cork will have more liners visiting than the traditional big draws of Nice and Venice. On August 8th, four large ships will juggle for space in Dublin Port – not to mention the 4,000-plus visitors landing in the city. Dublin will also celebrate for the first-time arrivals and departures for Celebrity Cruises, which will see 15,000 passengers embarking and debarking in the city during five journeys. Most of the best-known operators have Dublin on their itineraries: Cunard, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Viking, MSC, Seabourn, Silversea, and Norwegian all have ships stopping off. The city will also see the biannual visit from The World – the cruise ship where the suites have individual owners. So popular are Cork and Dublin becoming that four major liners berthed in them over Christmas, bringing 6,000 passengers. On the west coast, Galway is expecting 24 ships this year, and even little Killybegs in Co Donegal, population under 1500, will see some of the world’s greatest liners stopping off: the Queen Elizabeth – the QE2 – and Queen Victoria, as well as the Silver Cloud and Silver Wind from the Silversea brand, will spend nights in the harbour. There will be 20,000 visitors to Killybegs, spending an average of €100 per person.

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Hurtigruten making significant effort to cut plastic pollution

Hurtigruten has announced its plans to become the world’s first plastic-free cruise company as it kicks off new efforts immediately. The cruise line has revealed that all unnecessary single-use plastic will be banned across its entire fleet, aiming for the measures to be in place as soon as July 2018. This will include the plastic straws, drink mixers, plastic cups, coffee lids and bags, all of which will be removed from each and every Hurtigruten ship.The company revealed some of the plastic it currently uses including approximately 6200lbs of plastic straws, 11,000lbs of plastic glasses and 9,500lbs of plastic aprons. It’s not just the cruise ships where the single-use plastic ban will be imposed. Hotels and restaurants in the company’s land-based operations on Svalbard will be included too.

Cruise ship calls on DC for the first time in over half a century

For the first time since the 1950s a cruise ship has called on Washington, D.C. The brand-new, 175-passenger American Constitution made The Wharf a stop on its current 11-day voyage out of Baltimore. The Wharf’s largest dock can handle cruise ships up to 400 feet in length – a good-sized ship, but not big enough for megaships. Welcoming smaller cruise ships will likely be an infrequent thing for The Wharf, though. Monty Hoffman, with The Wharf development team Hoffman-Madison, has said that he wouldn’t call cruise-ship destination “a primary use” of The Wharf – “I don’t want too much of a good thing, if you will. We like having them come in, but I’m not pushing it too hard either.” While it has been more than 60 years since cruise ship passengers embarked and disembarked along the D.C. waterfront, that kind of commerce is part of D.C.’s history. “There were ships that came in here quite regularly up until the Civil War,” Hoffman said. “Then there was a steamship group that came in here up until the mid-1950s. And there were regular routes to Hampton Roads and to Bermuda actually.” The American Constitution is the newest ship for American Cruise Lines.

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Travel News: The Time is Now to Check Your Passport

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Get your passport now
It’s now the busy season for passports. Take the time, at least 9 weeks before your departure date), to look at your passport and make certain that it is valid for six months past your return flight to the US. The US Passport offices are processing a multitude of renewals the closer we get to Spring and Summer peak travel seasons. 
 
Brazil Introduces e-Visa
The Brazilian Government has announced a new e-Visa for USA citizens for Tourist, Business, Transit and Artistic or Sports Activities travel purposes. The new visa type will be valid for 2 years, multi-entry with a max stay of up to 90 days per year. The new e-Visa is only currently offered to US, Australia, Canadian and Japanese citizens. The e-Visa processing time is excepted to be 7-8 business days. 
 
American Airlines suspends Smart Luggage with Lithium Batteries
In mid-January, American Airlines stopped allowing “Smart Luggage” that includes built in lithium batteries to be placed in the baggage compartment of the plane. But if you can remove the batteries you can put them in your carry-on. If they aren’t removable then either the TSA or AA will allow you to check the bag in the baggage hold where there is not access to the area from inside the plane on most planes today. So, think twice about taking a non-carry-on sized SMART BAG (more than 22 inches). The theory is that any fire that erupts from the battery in the cabin can be put out easily. Remember, if you can remove the lithium batteries from the suitcase you can check the bag and put the batteries in your carry-on.
 
First Exhibition Exploring ‘Golden Age’ Of Ocean Travel To Launch At Victoria & Albert Museum in London
Travelwire reports Ship design, groundbreaking engineering, architecture and lifestyle aboard the great vessels will all be explored in the exhibition which sees the V&A team up with the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts and Viking Cruises for their first major exhibition of 2018. Ocean Liners: Speed And Style showcases more than 250 objects, including a wooden panel fragment from an overdoor in the Titanic’s first-class lounge. It traces the revolution of sea travel from the mid-19th century with the emergence of the ocean liner. A precious diamond and pearl Cartier tiara rescued from the sinking Lusitania in 1915 is among the more luxurious items. Exclusive Maison Goyard luggage previously belonging to King Edward VIII. who became the Duke of Windsor after abdicating to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson, will return to Europe for the first time since they were acquired from the Windsor Estate. The set of luggage was used by the couple as they traveled between their adoptive home in France and the US, with the duke’s personalized with his title and yellow and red stripes. Also included in the collection is a Christian Dior suit worn by German actress Marlene Dietrich as she arrived in New York aboard the Queen Mary in 1950. As the largest machines of their age, ocean liners were powerful symbols of 20th-century modernity and the exhibition will also feature works from Modernist artists, designers and architects including Le Corbusier, Albert Gleizes, Charles Demuth, and Eileen Gray. Director of the V&A, Tristram Hunt, said: “This seminal show reveals hidden design stories of some of the world’s most luxurious liners, from the Titanic to the Normandie and QE2. “We have collected ship-related objects and ephemera for well over 100 years, and now have a startlingly brilliant collection of ocean liner material, making us uniquely placed to present this exhibition.” Ocean Liners: Speed And Style will run at the V&A from February 3 until June 17 2018.
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Madrid Prepares for Its Greenest Year Yet
The European city with the most ambitious plans to improve its air quality this year probably isn’t the first one that comes to mind. In fact, it’s Madrid, which is embarking on what, policy-wise, could be its greenest year yet. The country’s capital is actually getting down to business to improve its poor air quality, making the city altogether more healthy and livable. It’s doing so by introducing a host of air-cleaning measures under a 30-point plan entitled Plan A, “because there is no plan B,” Mayor Manuela Carmena says. The first major change actually started last month when Madrid closed its main drag, the broad, often car-filled avenue Gran Vía, to cars at the beginning of December. Cars returned on January 7, but the streets won’t be the same for long. Madrid plans to start doubling the street’s sidewalks, taking space from car lanes to give pedestrians an extra 58,000 square feet of space, plus a segregated bike lane down its busiest stretch. While this will reduce car space on a very busy thoroughfare, Gran Vía will soon be one of the few parts of central Madrid that admits non-local cars at all. In June, Madrid will debut its Zero Emissions Zone, which will only allow local residents, people with limited mobility, or zero-emissions vehicles to drive into most of the old city. 
 
Qantas 787 Dreamliner Makes Long-Haul Flight On Mustard Seed Biofuel
The aviation industry has been experimenting with cleaner-burning fuels to lower the carbon footprint of flights. We’re far from a complete switch to biofuels but work continues to make that a possibility at some point in the future. Case in point: the world’s first biofuel flight from the United States to Australia. A Qantas Boeing 787 Dreamliner made the long-haul flight from the Los Angeles to Melbourne with 24,000 kilograms of mustard seed based blended fuel. The QF96 flight from Los Angeles to Melbourne used biofuel extracted from the Brassica carinata mustard seed. The extraction process was developed by Agrisoma Bioscienses, an agri-tech company based in Canada. According to reports, the fuel from this mustard seed offers over 80% reduction in carbon emissions compared with conventional jet fuel across its life cycle. That blend that was used in the Dreamliner flight will see a 7% reduction in emissions on the route as 10% of its tank was filled with the biofuel. Qantas is planning on running flights regularly with biofuel by 2020. The company’s historic biofuel-powered flight comes after it was named the least efficient carrier in the region. Qantas was found to be the least efficient by the International Council on Clean Transportation and that it burnt the most carbon of all major airlines that fly across the Pacific.
 
In-Flight Wi-Fi Is About To Get A Lot Faster
Bloomberg reports in-flight Wi-Fi is finally emerging from its role as a punchline as the cost of buying and installing better hardware has fallen far enough that many airlines have begun upgrading to faster speeds, and smaller airlines are adopting Wi-Fi for the first time BUT what you’ll pay for it may be outrageous. Worldwide, 82 airlines offer in-flight Wi-Fi, 12 more than last year, with the amenity now common enough that there’s a 43% percent chance your plane will have it, according to an annual airline report from New York-based Routehappy Inc. (And more than 80% in America.) Airbus SE and Boeing Co. also fit most of these newer systems onto new airplanes as part of the final assembly process. In terms of the most Wi-Fi access, Delta Air Lines Inc., American Airlines Group Inc. and Emirates take the top three spots, with Delta and Emirates also among the 13 airlines that offer Wi-Fi on all of their long-haul flights, according to the report released last week. 
 
Holland America Expands Denali Experience
Travelwire reports Holland America Line has announced an expansion of the guest experience on its Alaska Land+Sea Journeys with the addition of new guest accommodations at its Denali operation. The 99-room addition will feature the first-ever junior suites at the resort and is expected to be open for the 2019 summer Alaska cruise season. The 55 new junior suites will showcase balconies, larger living areas and greater amenities for guests. The company said that the new rooms are an extension of its overland Alaska experience to Denali, which includes the McKinley Chalet Resort hotel and Denali Square, a gathering area to relax, shop, dine and for music and entertainment. The addition will be located just west of Denali Square with views of Mt. Healy and Denali National Park. According to a prepared statement, the three-story project will feature junior suites and standard rooms with “rustic-chic” décor. All junior suites have balconies offering views of the surrounding Alaska wilderness. Each floor will have a central, open-air lobby. The third floor has open public deck space with tables and loungers.
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Montreal Adding Capacity for More Demand From Cruise Lines
Montreal inaugurated a new cruise terminal in June, which will be joined by a second operational terminal in 2018, along with the existing alternate terminal located east of the Jacques-Cartier Bridge. The trio of berth locations will help the iconic city accommodate extra ships during its peak fall season. The two new berths offer shorepower and a direct connection to black and grey water collection lines. As 2017 ended, the port was expected to report 52 international ship calls, according to a spokesperson, a 20,000 passenger increase year-over-year. 2018 will continue the surge, with 16 more calls on the books and a prediction of 130,000 passengers, up 50,000 year-over-year. New business includes summer cruises from AIDA, and the debut of Windstar Cruises in the Saint Lawrence. The Seabourn Quest is also offering a round-trip Montreal itinerary. More hopes lie in the winter, where the port city is working closely with the Cruise the Saint Lawrence group to develop a winter program to make the river a year-round destination. The port also recently joined the Great Lakes Cruising Coalition as it expects more river traffic and is developing a business plan for river cruising.
Heathrow Enhances Service For Passengers With Disabilities
Heathrow has announced a multi-million-pound package of investments and tools to improve the travel experience of passengers with disabilities and mobility restrictions at the airport. The number of passengers requesting special assistance at Heathrow is rising at approximately 8% annually, with over one million requests in 2017 alone, more than any other European airport. Following a report by the Civil Aviation Authority this year, Heathrow is taking proactive steps to transform its service for these passengers, backed by an investment of £23 million in a revamped, upgraded contract with its special assistance partner, OmniServ. Heathrow announced the introduction of a distinctive lanyard that will allow passengers that need tailored help and support to discreetly identify themselves to Heathrow staff. This lanyard is part of an established service initiated at Gatwick and rolled out in other UK airports, and is supported by leading UK charities including the Alzheimer’s Society, the National Autistic Society and Action on Hearing Loss.  Special assistance staff, security officers and passenger ambassadors at Heathrow have been trained to identify the lanyard so they can provide additional assistance, or allow passengers wearing it more time or space as they travel independently through the airport. 

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