Category Archives: North America

Travel News: Snakes on a Plane?

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TSA Finds Python Hidden In Hard Drive

ABC News reports airport security agents stopped a woman from boarding a plane with a python wrapped in a nylon stocking concealed in a computer hard drive Sunday. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said its agents stopped a real-life version of “Snakes on a Plane” from happening after an agent noticed the ball python. “A traveler on her way to the Grantley Adams International Airport (BGI) in Barbados attempted to smuggle the snakelet inside of an external hard drive packed in her checked bag. If you think airplane seats can feel constricting, imagine how this little guy felt! Talk about bad memories!” the TSA continued. “While the python itself posed no danger to anyone on the aircraft, an organic item concealed inside electronics raises security concerns, which is why our officers took a closer look. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service was notified. They responded and took possession of the snake and cited the traveler. Both the traveler and the snake missed their flight,” the TSA added. “Conversationally, this python had not gone full monty. It was wearing a nylon stocking.”

If You Owe The IRS It Could Cost You Your Passport

EtN reports if you have a seriously delinquent tax debt, the IRS can certify that debt to the State Department for action, and that department generally will not issue a US passport to a potential traveler after receiving certification from the IRS. This is all in plain print at the IRS website: “Upon receiving certification, the State Department shall deny your passport application and/or may revoke your current passport. If your passport application is denied or your passport revoked, and you are overseas, the State Department may issue you a limited validity passport good only for direct return to the United States. Seriously delinquent tax debt is an individual’s unpaid, legally enforceable federal tax debt totaling more than $51,000 (including interest and penalties) for which a Notice of federal tax lien has been filed and all administrative remedies under IRC § 6320 have lapsed or been exhausted, or seriously delinquent tax debt is limited to liabilities incurred under Title 26 of the United States Code and does not include debts collected by the IRS such as the FBAR Penalty and Child Support.

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Anguilla Retains Best Caribbean Island Ranking

Travel + Leisure reports the Anguilla Tourist Board (ATB) is pleased to announce that for an unprecedented second year in a row, Anguilla has been ranked #1 island in the Caribbean, Bermuda and Bahamas in the 2018 Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards, honoring the top travel destinations and companies around the globe as rated by its readers. Frangipani Beach Resort has been ranked #1 in the Top 25 Caribbean Resort Hotels category and #3 in the Top Hotels Overall category. The Four Seasons Resort & Private Residences Anguilla has been ranked #12 in the Top Caribbean Resort Hotels category; Zemi Beach House was ranked #15; and Malliouhana, An Auberge Resort was ranked #18 in the Top Caribbean Resort Hotels category. The World’s Best Awards appear in the August 2018 issue of Travel + Leisure, on sale July 27, and online: travelandleisure.com/worlds-best.

Singapore Airlines To Launch Non-Stop Flights From LAX To Singapore

By Christmastime, Singapore Airlines will be flying ten times a week between LAX and Singapore. If you don’t mind sitting on a plane for 17 and a half hours, getting from the West Coast to Singapore will be a whole lot easier and faster, thanks to the elimination of a layover in Seoul. Starting November 2, Singapore Airlines will bring back its nonstop route from Los Angeles International to Singapore Changi. The airline will will fly the route three times a week (Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday) until November 9; service will go daily after that. From December 7, three more flights a week will be added for ten total non-stop flights between Los Angeles and Singapore per week. The fall kickoff date is notable for many reasons: It’s two weeks after Singapore restarts its longest-flight-in-the-world Newark-Singapore route (clocking in at nearly 19 hours), and just a week after Star Alliance member United ends its LAX-Singapore route. 
 

Airlines Load Factor Hits All-Time High

Forbes reports that if you think that airline flights are much more crowded than they used to be, you’re not wrong. The passenger load factor of commercial airlines has risen significantly over the past decade. In 2005, airlines had an average load factor of 75.2%, so on average, just three out of every four seats were sold. The recession of 2007-2010 stopped load factor growth. But by 2018, the average airline load factor hit 81.7% worldwide. In the US load factor has increased on domestic flights from 67.88% in 2002 to 86.08% in 2018, while the number of domestic flights has stayed almost constant, from 8,085,083 in 2002 to 8,176,610 in 2017. The US airline industry has clearly gotten better in filling seats as revenue passenger miles rose from 471,652,206 in 2002 to 684,221,393 in 2017. The days of having a whole row to stretch out in coach, or even an empty middle seat separating you from your neighbor, increasingly seem like a distant memory. The airlines are busy shrinking seats and cramming in additional rows into smaller, more fuel-efficient jets.

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Amtrak Service Declines As It Becomes An Airline On Rails

Travellers United reports Amtrak service is becoming more airline-like with a former airline executive in charge, former Delta Air Lines CEO Richard Anderson. His Amtrak service changes bring the railroad closer to service practices in the airline industry. Some of the changes: – Hot dining car meals prepared on-board, included in the fare for first-class sleeping car passengers, are being replaced with cold pre-prepared meals served in-room on the Chicago-New York and Chicago-Washington routes starting June 1.

– Amtrak no longer offers discounts to veterans, students and AAA members, and the minimum age of eligibility for the senior discount (which is now 10% rather than 15% was raised to 65 from 62.

– The railroad’s cancellation policy is now more airline-like. There is now a 25% penalty for most reservations canceled more than 24 hours after booking, even if the value is credited to the passenger as an eVoucher (redeemable for future ticket purchases) rather than as a cash refund. Luckily, Amtrak still does not charge change fees.

– First Class amenities like a lounge car for sleeping car passengers have been removed from several routes, and two routes have lost Business Class seating.

– A number of stations have lost their Amtrak Customer Service Representative(s), employees who do everything from selling tickets to handling baggage and assisting passengers with special needs.

– Amtrak has stopped operating charter and special trains in partnership with rail museums and preservation nonprofits, tour groups, sports teams and others, jettisoning a source of revenue and public goodwill in the name of operational convenience.

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Ethiopia Launches New E-Visa Services

Ethiopia, a treasure trove of history and culture, has become easier to get to with an all in one new e-visa service launched by the Ethiopian Immigration and Nationality Affairs Main Department in collaboration with Ethiopian Airlines. The new service brings the travelers closer to authentic travel experiences and enables them to travel to Ethiopia. All the visitors have to do is process their visa online on a single webpage where they apply, pay and secure their entry visa online. Give it a try and you will get authorized via email to secure your passport stamped with visa upon arrival at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport. Call Willamette Intl Travel to discuss a unique holiday in Ethiopia – you’ll be sure to love this beautiful country and the warm-hearted hospitality of its people.  

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Filed under Africa, Europe, News, Travel by Rail, USA

WIT Agent Nancy on Maui

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Last month, WIT Agent Nancy Fowler returned from a trip to Maui with her daughter, Sam. Nancy is one of the experts in the office on all things Hawaii.

She always has some recommendations at her fingertips, especially for O’ahu, Maui, and Kaua’i.

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Note: Kilauea’s Eruption on the Big Island hasn’t affected conditions on other islands. For the latest updates, check out USGS.gov.

Nancy’s Insider Tips for a Great Vacation on Maui

Tokyo Tei tempura

Tokyo Tei Restaurant in Wailuku. Open since 1935, Tokyo Tei offers delicious, authentic, and reasonably priced awesome Japanese food. This is a no-frills, nicely hidden, family-owned and -operated restaurant. As it’s minutes from Maui airport, it’s a great place for lunch or dinner before an overnight flight home (or anytime really!).

Beach Buddy Freya

Maui Humane Society Beach Buddy Volunteer Program. Volunteer to play with a pup in the sun every Wednesday and Friday. Due to the popularity of this program, it books out months in advance! Get your spot before your flight.

PacWhaleFoundation snorkel Lanai

Pacific Whale Foundation Cruises. Frolic with the whales and dolphins in their natural habitant. Enjoy a sunset dinner or cocktail cruise, or snorkel out to Molokini, Lana’i and Honolua Bay. As only 2 boat companies have permission to land on Lana’i, and this isn’t one of them, the cruise anchors off the Marina and guests swim close to the harbor.

More posts on Maui

Our Favorite Instagrammers from Hawaii

Dolphin Swims and Helicopters

Conscientious Traveler: Napili Kai Beach Foundation

Hotel Profile: Turtle Bay

Kaimuki: O’ahu’s Favorite Eclectic Neighborhood

Day on Maui: Fun in the Sun

Have only one more day on Maui? Nancy’s itinerary for a leisurely and fun day prior to an evening flight home: 

11am / checked out of our condo in Kaanapali and drove to Kahului

1130-1p / Swap Meet at the University of Maui.  (every Saturday; 50 cents per person admission, and free parking

1p-230p / drive to Twin Falls via the Hana Hwy and walk 45 minutes ~ along the river (upper path closed due to flooding)

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230p-430p / leisurely return via Paia and Makawao. with stops for tea and shopping in each town

445p / in the parking lot waiting for 5pm to come so we could have dinner @ Tokyo Tei

600p / drove the “back” road to Alamo to return our car (a way more “colorful” approach to the airport than via town!)

615p / at the airport, in time for 8:45pm departure flight.

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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.

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.

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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#🌴

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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