Category Archives: California

Travel News! The Planetarium Aboard the Viking Ship

wittravel blog header (1)

Big Sur Road Is Coming Back

LA Times reports Big Sur road coming back: Highway 1, closed for a year and a half because of massive slide, to reopen by July 20 (that’s today!). Travelers soon will be able to do something they haven’t in a year and a half: drive the 650-plus miles of California’s Highway 1 between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Caltrans announced Tuesday that full access to the blocked area south of Gorda would reopen by 11 a.m. July 20. The new stretch of road could open to traffic a few days sooner, depending on when work is completed, according to Caltrans.

The Mud Creek Slide, which rained debris in one of the state’s largest landslides, destroyed a quarter-mile section of roadway on May 20, 2017. The road will be open to traffic in both directions, meaning there’s still time to take an uninterrupted summer road trip along the Big Sur coast. Last year, heavy rains led to slides and debris flow that wiped out a bridge and closed several points on Highway 1, including Paul’s Slide, roughly at Post Mile 21. The road is now open with a single lane and a traffic signal to direct drivers, which may cause some slowing. Construction crews worked round the clock seven days a week to complete the $54-million emergency repairs. They built new roadway across the slide, fortifying with embankments and other support features such as berms, rocks, netting and other materials.

EX4096.jpg

Courtesy of Silversea

Luxury Line Silversea To Cruise The Northeast Passage 

Silver Explorer will become the most luxurious cruise ship to sail the Northeast Passage through the Arctic when it sets sail from Nome, Alaska, to Tromso, Norway, on August 10, 2019. To celebrate the 10th anniversary of Silversea’s expedition arm, the line is offering a rare cruise ship itinerary to the far northern reaches of the globe. The 25-night cruise will take in destinations in Alaska, Russia and Norway, including Wrangel Island, a UNESCO site where polar bears and walruses live; the otherworldly Champ Island with its mysterious stone spheres; Murmansk, a Russian city that dates to the early 20th century; and coastal villages like Chukotka’s Uelen, where passengers can interact with and learn about the native Chukchi and Yupik people who live there. A highlight will be the day Silver Explorer spends sailing as far north as it can toward the edge of the polar ice cap. The expedition team will be in search of seals, walruses and polar bears hanging out on the ice floes. Its onboard expedition leaders will offer lectures and workshops, and lead Zodiac trips and other shore excursions to educate passengers on the itinerary’s remote destinations. The ship carries a mere 144 passengers, and pampers them, even in rugged climates, with suite accommodations, butler service and all-inclusive fares that cover all drinks, gratuities and unlimited Wi-Fi. Fares for this sailing start at $37,260 per person, based on double occupancy. Note that all suite categories but the lowest three are currently showing waitlist status.

EU Gets Tough With AirBnB On Pricing and Policy

the European Commission and EU consumer authorities are calling on Airbnb to be more transparent with its pricing. They say Airbnb’s current pricing and some of its terms do not comply with EU rules and it has given the homeshare giant until the end of August to fall into line. Consumers must easily understand what for and how much they are expected to pay for the services and have fair rules e.g. on cancellation of the accommodation by the owner. Airbnb has been told to show all fees and charges from the initial search or, where that’s not possible, clearly inform customers that additional fees might apply. It must also clearly identify if the accommodation offer is made by a private host or a professional, as consumer protection rules differ.

alcohol-1853327_640

American Airlines To Eliminate Plastic Straws From Cabins, Lounges

Reuters reports American Airlines on Tuesday said it plans to no longer offer plastic straws and stir sticks in its lounges and onboard its flights, amid a broader global push to abandon one-time use plastics. Starting this month, American said drinks in its airport lounges will no longer come with plastic utensils and will instead feature biodegradable straws and wooden stir sticks. The phase-out onboard its planes will begin in November, with plastic straws and stirrers to be replaced by environmentally friendly bamboo. The carrier will also transition to “eco-friendly” flatware in its lounges. American said that the move will eliminate more than 71,000 pounds (32,200 kg) of plastic each year. On Monday, Starbucks Corp, the world’s largest coffee chain, said it would no longer offer plastic straws at its 28,000 locations by 2020.

Disneyland Just Experienced The Hottest Day Ever At A Disney Park 

Travel + Leisure reports Disneyland just had its hottest day ever. While southern California experienced a heat wave temperatures in Anaheim (home of Disneyland) soared to 113°F on July 6. It is not only the hottest temperature on record since the park opened in 1955, it is the hottest temperature recorded at any of the Disney parks around the world (including Orlando, Paris, Shanghai, Tokyo and Hong Kong), according to Theme Park Insider. Because of the oppressive heat, park officials closed all outdoor rides, including Big Thunder and Mountain Railroad – several food vendors also shut down because of the heat. Those who went to the park on that day said that lines for rides were short, as the park was practically empty. Disney first aid staff were on call to help guests experiencing dehydration. “There was one medic run right after the other,” one park cast member said. Wait times for many popular attractions dropped to the point where it was basically possible to walk right on.

universe-2742113_640

This High-Tech Planetarium Is On A New VIKING Cruise Ship

The Explorers’ Dome is located on the second level of the Viking Orion’s Explorers’ Lounge. The newest Viking Ocean Cruise ship, made its debut in Italy on June 14, revealing a unique high-tech feature: a planetarium at sea. The ship is named after the constellation Orion (the hunter) and NASA’s Orion spacecraft, the first crewed capsule designed to carry astronauts beyond low Earth orbit. The ship’s name also honors retired NASA astronaut Anna Fisher, who is the “godmother” of Viking Orion and worked on the Orion spacecraft before retiring in May 2017.

The planetarium, called the Explorers’ Dome, features shows about space and exploration, including two 3D films: “Journey to Space” and “Under the Arctic Sky.” “The Explorers’ Dome onboard Viking Orion is currently the highest-definition 7K planetarium in the world,” Ralph de Klijn, Viking’s executive director of ocean operations, told Space.com. “The Explorers’ Dome is a versatile space that can operate as a high-tech planetarium, as well as show films and other programming in 2D or 3D.” Viking Orion is only the second cruise ship in the world to have a planetarium; the other is the Queen Mary 2.

Although Viking Orion is not the first cruise ship to offer a planetarium, the company says this one is the most advanced, with:

– Digistar 6 display system, five projectors and studio speakers.

– Viking resident astronomer. Howard Parkin, a Royal Astronomical Society fellow and founding member of the Isle of Man Astronomical Society

– lectures on the wonders of the cosmos

– offer guided tours of the night sky during stargazing sessions using Viking’s portable telescope.

While other Viking ships have resident historians, Orion is the only one with a resident astronomer and historian. Parkin will continue to offer lectures through the ship’s 2018 maiden season, de Klijn said.

Read more on Space.com: https://www.space.com/41145-space-cruise-vacation-viking-orion-reflections.html

Club Med Cancún Yucatán Introduces Expanded Family Area 

Club Med Cancún Yucatán has doubled the size of its Aguamarina family area, adding 60 rooms and a new pool. The Aguamarina family area now offers an additional 30 Club Rooms and 30 Deluxe Rooms. Both of the two-bedroom accommodation options provide oceanfront views. This expansion doubles the Aguamarina area’s capacity to 120 families. Club Med Cancún Yucatán also introduced a new Aguamarina reception area and concierge service. The resort also added a new family pool, offering water games, lounge areas and outdoor activities. After a long day in the water, guests can dine at the pool area’s new family bar La Marina. Here kids can visit the restaurant’s kids’ corner and the whole family can order special treats that change from day to day. Guests of the Aguamarina area receive all the benefits featured in a stay at Club Med Cancún Yucatán. This includes dining at the resort’s three restaurants, water and land sports such as snorkeling and flying trapeze, kids’ and teens’ clubs and nightly entertainment. The additions to the Aguamarina area follow a full renovation the resort completed at the end of 2017. The work included improvements to all the resort’s rooms, its meetings and events spaces and the 5-Trident Jade area. The property also introduced new wellness opportunities as well as new and improved dining options.

More glimpses of the family area here: https://www.clubmed.us/r/Cancun-Yucatan/y

paris-1209540_640

Paris Métro Ditches Paper Tickets, Moves to London-Like System 

Cntraveler reports Paris’s more-than-a-century-old, white paper Métro tickets are on their way out. Starting in 2019, entry to Paris’s efficient public transport system, including buses and express RER trains, will be done through contactless Navigo cards. The city’s transport agency, Ile-de-France Mobilités, announced Wednesday that it would be rolling out two different travel cards, in addition to the unlimited Navigo card for residents already available, over the next year for all sorts of travelers and commuters. If you’re visiting the city for a short time, you’ll need the Navigo Easy pass, available starting in April 2019. Almost identical to London’s Oyster card, the Easy pass costs €2 ($2.34) to buy. Then, you’ll load up the card with T+ rides, what the paper tickets represent now, which will cost the same in 2019 as they do today: €1.90 ($2.22) per ride or €14.90 ($17.39) for a pack of 10 rides. That’s a more than 20% discount, and will cover one-way Métro rides, RER trains in Zone 1 (central Paris), and bus trips. Much like the Oyster card in London, you can top the card up as needed at all transit stations so be sure not to throw yours away. There will be no time limit on them and the card is not nominative, meaning it can be given to a friend. You can also load Orlybus (to Paris Orly Airport) or Roissybus (to Charles de Gaulle Airport) tickets on the Easy pass as well.

Leave a comment

Filed under California, Club Med, Disneyland, Europe, France, News, USA, Viking Cruises

NEW Spring 2018: Legoland Castle Hotel

Legoland castle hotel

Opening in Spring 2018, lookout for the upcoming Legoland Castle Hotel in San Diego!

Some of you may have booked a vacation to the Legoland Hotel California in San Diego,  right at the entrance to Legoland California. This fun themed hotel offers a free breakfast buffet, nightly children’s entertainment and in-room treasure hunt full of fun surprises for the kiddo. Legoland California was listed on TripAdvisor’s list of Best Family Hotels in the USA, and we completely agree!

RETOUCHED castle hotel_10303_RETC (2)

But NOW, we’re happy to announce that there’s a new guest in town: Legoland Castle Hotel is coming Spring 2018! It’s right next to Legoland California, Legoland Water Park, and Sea Life Aquarium. This new hotel offers family adventure fit a king, with exclusive Lego characters and interactive treats. Here the theme is kingdoms, full of knights, wizards, princesses and villainous dragons.

Choose from THREE themes: 

  • Knights & Dragons – deluxe (5 ppl), balcony (5), or suite (7)
  • Magic Wizard – deluxe (5), suite (7), or deluxe accessible with roll-in shower (5)
  • Royal Princess – deluxe (5), balcony (5), or suite accessible with roll-in shower (7)

castle hotel bunk beds

All rooms include: 

  • FREE breakfast
  • Exclusive early Park access
  • King size bed
  • Kids’ own sleeping area with entertainment center, bunk bed and pull out trundle
  • LEGO bricks to build with in your room
  • In-room treasure hunt with LEGO surprises

Packages include Legoland/Sealife Hopper Tickets (Kids enter FREE)

Legoland Castle Hotel is available for stays beginning May 11, 2018. 

castle hotel lobby statue

California is a perfect kids’ vacay spot, with Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm, and San Diego Zoo all within driving distance of each other. Fly from Portland into Orange County Airport for a few days in LAX before driving southward, or fly in straight from Portland to San Diego International Airport to be close to the San Diego Zoo, SeaWorld and Legoland California.

legoland-california-resort-directions

Book your California Vacation for next May 2018 with your Willamette Intl Travel travel agent. 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com to plan your San Diego vacation. 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under California, USA

Join the Whales with UnCruise Adventures!

uncruise-logo-cmyk-hor

Join Bruce & Mary Lou Mate Aboard The Safari Endeavour with Un-Cruise Adventures!

Departure: February 24, 2018 > Just 9 more cabins available on this sailing!

Where: Baja California

Willamette Intl Travel is holding 25 cabins, but we’ve already booked 15 on this 2018 sailing to Baja California! This means there are just 9 more left! 

  • 4 commander cabins

  • 4 captain cabins

  • 1 admiral cabin

After March 24, we will have to give our unsold cabins back to Un-Cruise. So don’t wait! Secure your cabin with a deposit today. 

Last December, WIT Agents Barb and Racheal joined UnCruise Adventures to Baja California. Click here to read what they thought!

Baja (73)

Our longtime client Bruce Mate has been involved in whale research for over 47 years, mostly at the Marine Mammal Institute in Newport. He’s served on the International Whaling Commission for over 30 years and was sent by Exxon to track whales in Siberia. Join him and his wife Mary Lou Mate on this wonderful cruise, which will also be a fundraiser for the MMI foundation and provide scholarships to students.

Call 503-224-0180 and ask for Barb or Racheal to secure your cabin today!

baja-44

 

Leave a comment

Filed under California, Central America, Cruises, Mexico, Un-Cruise, USA, Vendors

Ringing in the New Year

Ringing in the New Year (1).jpg

It’s our last post of the year, and 2016 has been quite a big one!

Thank you to all of our clients whose trips we’ve arranged these year; it was our pleasure to see that you enjoy the vacation you deserve. We hope that you made albums full of memories to treasure your whole lives. Some of our clients this year have been new, some we have serviced for the past 20 years. We take pride in providing the most special and informed travel arrangements for each and every one. Thank you, clients and subscribers to our blog, without you our business would not be possible.

This past year there have been a fair share of changes in the office. We saw long-time staff member Linda Fisher retire. Krista left for Arizona, and Racheal, Lori and Debbie joined us as new agents.

Our Agents embarked on a few trips this year, which we’re so excited to share with you. Christina and John led a group in Namibia. Barb visited the new locks at the Panama Canal. Pam dropped in on the islands of Malta. Nancy sailed with Viking Ocean, and Barb and Racheal with Un-Cruise Adventures to Baja California. Wailana moved to Stockholm, where she continues to work with our social media.

Next year we will celebrate our 40th birthday–quite an accomplishment! Mark the weekend of August 5-6, 2017 on your calendars, we’ll be planning a special Birthday party. We hope to see you there.

For more updates, catch up with us in our newsletter from Fall 2016.

Here’s to 2017 having more Travel in store for everyone!

screen-shot-2016-12-30-at-17-56-13

_______

screen-shot-2016-12-30-at-17-55-35

Safari in Namibia

Transylvania, the Land Beyond the Forest

The Elephants that Came to Dinner

Napili Kai Beach Resort

Agent Trip Report: Malta

And a flashback from the past: Where to Spot the Southern Cross

See you next year! — From all of us at Willamette Intl Travel

Leave a comment

Filed under Africa, California, Europe, Mexico, Namibia

Tours: Special Events

Yesterday the United States was glued to their screens as the XLVII Super Bowl raged on! Did your team win? Did you know that many tour operators can arrange custom packages for you during major events? From the Super Bowl to the World Cup, there is a variety of special sport events, festivals, and races around which we can design your travel! Our travel partners can arrange exclusive travel experiences during these major events, so you’re right in the action!

And remember: if you aren’t attending the event, best to stay away from the destination during this time as there are sure to be enthusiastic crowds!

MASTERS IN AUGUSTA

Join the pros at the Augusta Golf Tournament, held in April at the Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia. Founded by Bobby Jones in 1933, it’s a dream for every avid golfer everywhere, and rival only to the Old Course at St. Andrews. Watch the greatest golfers in the world as they plan on the emerald green. Combine the event with a few relaxing days at the nearby Ritz-Carlton Lodge, with its gorgeous lake villas or Mediterranean style lodge villas around the stunning Lake Oconee. Put the ball on the famous Great Waters Course, a 7,073 yard, par-72 layout course that hosted the 41st PGA Professional National Championship in 2008.

Dates: April 11-14, 2013

THE KENTUCKY DERBY

Kensington Tours hosts guests during the Kentucky Derby in Louisville. Take your reserved seat in the most famous horse race in the United States, and root for your winning stallion amid the mighty roar of the crowd. Tours are tiered based on seats at Churchill Downs—from Clubhouse Seating, Grandstands, Grandstands Orange to the luxurious VIP Suites. Arrangements are full customizable, and can include transfers, shuttles, accommodation, upgraded tickets, bourbon distillery tours and horse farm tours.

Dates: May 4, 2013

ALBUQUERQUE BALLOON FIESTA

New Mexico hosts one of the world’s most photographed events in October. Join Collette or Globus on a tour of sound and color. Enjoy the incredible mass ascension and race as the colorful balloons take off. At night, the balloons burn fires during the Balloon Glow and follow up with a fireworks show. Go on a balloon ride yourself on the Sandia Peak Tram, the world’s longest aerial tramway. In addition to the main event, your hosts will take you through the unique markets and streets of Albuquerque and Santa Fe. Visit the International Balloon Museum, the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center and the beautiful Turquoise Trail.

Dates: October 5-13, 2013

TOURNAMENT OF ROSES

Pasadena holds their famous Tournament of Roses annually in winter. Be up-close and personal in the parade on a reserved seat and get a sneek-peek of final touches on the gargantuan floats. Celebrate the season with New Year’s Eve Gala dinner dance with live entertainment and champagne. Afterwards, enjoy a farewell dinner on board the RMS Queen Mary, or take a guided tour through the Getty Museum or the Ronald Regan Presidential Library.

Dates: December, 2013

BRAZIL WORLD CUP

The 20th FIFA World Cup will be a soccer (for our international readers, football) tournament hosted in Brazil in 2014. As the first World Cup held in South America since Argentina’s in 1978, the continent is understandably excited and already making plans. Kensington Tours have created an exclusive collection of customizable Brazil tours around your soccer experience that are based out of Rio de Janeiro. Transport yourself to the heart of history on Brazilian soil. Pair with a destination expert. Explore natural beaches, rainforest safaris and cultural highlights. Be part of football history. You can even follow your team around the country as they race to the championship.

Dates: June 13-20, 2014; June 20-27, 2014; June 27-July 5, July 7-14.

Leave a comment

Filed under Brazil, California, South America, Travel by Sport, USA

NEWS: Legoland Hotel Opening April

NEW! Opening April 5, 2013 is America’s first Legoland® Hotel, located in Carlsbad, California! Here your family can stay in the creative and lively world of LEGO®, with its 250 guest rooms, themed rooms, and a family pool. Book a stay at Legoland® Hotel and enjoy the attractions at the Legoland® California Resort. The three-story hotel will be located just to the right of the resort’s entrance, and a stay comes with exclusive early admission to the rides and waterslides!

All Rooms include two separate sleeping areas, queen size bed for grown-ups and separate area for up to three little ones, complete with bunk bed, pull-out trundle bed and their very own TV. Each room comes with a treasure hunt that will lead the way to a secret chest of Lego bounty. Choose from one of three popular lines—pirate, kingdom or adventure. Will you be a first mate hunting for your hidden gold? Or a daring young explorer battling scorpions and lizards to the “X” that marks the spot? Or perhaps you will don your crown and colors to discover the dragon’s horde. You also have the option to upgrade to a premium room, which includes extra theming and Lego features in your room, and an extra Lego gift for each child in the in-room treasure chest!

All Guest rooms include:

–          Exclusive early admission to Legoland® California

–          Queen bed

–          Flat panel TV

–          In-room treasure hunt with LEGO prize

–          LEGO brick to build with during your stay

–          AC

–          Mini fridge

–          Coffee maker

–          Vanity/work station

–          Complimentary wifi

–          Hairdryer and toiletries

Packages are now available for you and your family! We’ve booked families in and around San Diego for fun vacations at Legoland and SeaWorld. Book with Willamette International Travel today!

Leave a comment

Filed under California, News, North America, USA