Category Archives: Hawaii

Travel News: St. Petersburg: 72-Hour Visa-Free

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St. Petersburg: Homeport Plans and 72-Hour Visa-Free Arrivals

The Russian port, which expects 243 ship calls and more than 540,000 passengers this year, is a record and an increase of 19% over 2016. The majority of calls into St. Petersburg are overnight to help drive shore excursion programming. The port is hoping to build up winter business with attractions including the Festival of Light and the Festival of Ice Breakers. Missing from the monster cruise port is a turnaround business, and port officials are keen on breaking into the homeport market. That, however, will need to begin with the government removing existing barriers to entry by foreign citizens. A framework has already been put into place between the port and airport with the aim to introduce electronic visas and a 72-hour visa-free arrival program. New mooring dolphins are going in at the No. 7 berth which will increase the length of ships it can handle and also provide an additional ship “parking space” if needed. Construction will start in October and be finished by May of 2018.

CBP To Test One-Step Facial Recognition Exit Screening In Atlanta

Atlanta Business Chronicle reports Delta said its customers departing Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta airport and New York-JFK for international destinations this summer will be part of the new biometric exit immigration procedure and technology test that captures customers’ biometrics upon exit of the United States at the same time they self-scan their boarding pass. Delta became the first airline to partner with US Customs and Border Protection to test one-step facial recognition exit screening. Delta said the procedure and technology is designed to give CBP an enhanced ability to record when visitors depart the US. Delta’s eGate tests, powered by biometric identification and management providers Vision-Box at JFK and NEC Corp. of America at ATL, confirms passenger identity using advanced facial recognition technology and Delta ticketing information. Delta noted upon successful screening at JFK, the eGate will open for individual customers to pass into the boarding area. In Atlanta, a self-contained unit will capture and verify customer’s identity before the customer continues on to boarding. All customer data is managed by CBP. The system allows eligible Delta SkyMiles Members to forego a paper or mobile boarding pass and hard copy ID in favor of using fingerprints as proof of identity at the Delta Sky Club. Phase 2 would allow Members to use their fingerprints to check a bag, check in at the Delta Sky Club and board a flight.

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United Airlines To Increase Service To Hawaii

Beginning December 20, United Airlines will increase service on 11 routes to Hawaii from its hubs in Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles and San Francisco. On May 1947, United Airlines made their first flight to Honolulu, Hawaii from San Francisco on a DC-6 Mainliner. In the celebration of the 70th-anniversary maiden flight, the carrier also announced Denver’s hub will be another primary interior gateway to the island, beginning on December. The increase of service is an addition to United’s daily nonstop service to Honolulu from their seven domestic hubs in Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, New York/Newark, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., plus Guam and Tokyo. Also, the Premium Cabin customers on overnight flights between Chicago, Denver, Houston, New York/Newark and Washington D.C., and Hawaii will have 180-degree flat-bed seats, beginning in summer.

AmaWaterways Debuts Sports Scientist-Led Wellness Program

AmaWaterways’ new wellness program aboard AmaLyra’s ‘Paris & Normandy’ sailings is led by ‘sports scientist’ Selina Wank. It features four to six classes daily, including morning stretches, jogging, yoga, cardio and core strengthening and circuit training. Activities will be complemented by discussion groups with a focus on healthy eating and relaxation techniques. AmaWaterways embraced the wellness trend in 2006 by providing 25 bicycles on each European vessel. The company also expanded its biking and hiking shore excursions and offers each excursion at a variety of paces to suit passengers’ needs. Additionally, this year AmaWaterways deepened its relationship with Backroads, a leader in active travel, and now offers more than 50 active departures. Healthy eating and locally sourced ingredients are incorporated into culinary offerings. Gluten-free, low-sodium and vegetarian options are available, and vessels feature a hydration station with infused detox and gemstone water. AmaWaterways expects to introduce its wellness program to additional ships in 2018. And the company will take Active Travel one step further in 2019 with the debut of AmaMagna, twice the width of traditional European vessels. It will feature a retractable water sports platform and expanded fitness and spa facilities.

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American Tests CT Scanning To Keep Laptops In Carry-Ons

Bloomberg News reports American yesterday began the first US test of new airport-security scanners that provide a more detailed view inside carry-on luggage and may allow travelers to keep laptops in their bags. The CT scanner, using technology borrowed from the medical world, is being used in a security checkpoint lane at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, the airline said in a statement. The testing, at Terminal Four, is being conducted with the Transportation Security Administration. The experiment comes as the US Department of Homeland Security considers whether to expand a ban on electronic devices in airliner cabins that began on some international routes in March. CT scanners are better than existing X-ray devices at detecting explosives, meaning that at some point they could enable passengers to leave laptops, other electronics and possibly even liquids in their bags, vastly simplifying airport security. So far Congress hasn’t appropriated funds for large purchases of new devices, which cost several hundred thousand dollars apiece and would require $1 billion or more to install at thousands of security lines in the US. The machines use computed tomography scanning to create a high-definition, three-dimensional view inside a bag. The image can be rotated for a thorough study and bags can be examined layer by layer. The scanner tested by American was manufactured by L3 Technologies Inc. The TSA has sanctioned a second test at Boston’s Logan International Airport, using a CT scanner made by Integrated Defense & Security Solutions Inc., Joseph Paresi, the company’s chief executive officer, said by email. That machine was installed earlier this month and TSA screeners are being trained to use it, Paresi said. The device already is undergoing tests in Amsterdam. If the tests are successful, American and the TSA may deploy CT scanners to other checkpoint locations, the Fort Worth, Texas-based airline said.

Frankfurt Airport Opens “Quiet Room”  

Frankfurt Airport has added a Quiet Room where travelers can find peace and quiet. Harry Gatterer, a trend researcher and futurologist who leads the Zukunftsinstitut (“Future Institute”) in Frankfurt and Vienna, explains why havens like this are so important in today’s fast-paced world: “In the 21st century, we are constantly bombarded by masses of information and bathed in the glow of screens with hardly a break. The so-called information society is now reacting to this overkill with a countertrend: mindfulness. It’s therefore safe to say that in the future, people will actively seek moments in which to reflect and reconnect with themselves. This type of everyday spirituality is poised to become an essential survival technique. The principle of ‘strength in serenity’ has never before been so relevant.” Passengers have responded to this wish for a place of silence by creating the “Quiet Room”, which all passengers may use for free regardless of their worldview, culture and religious affiliation. The highlight of the white room is an undulating golden ceiling illuminated by lamps that reflect the light onto the floor and walls. An oak bench occupies the middle of the room, inviting travelers to sit down and enjoy moments of rest and contemplation. The Quiet Room is located in the post-security part of Terminal 1 on Level 3 of Pier Z and is open daily until 10 p.m.

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Carnival: New Cuba Policy Won’t Affect Their Cruises 

Carnival Corp. & plc said the policy changes planned by the Trump administration will allow its ships to continue to sail to Cuba. ‘We will review the extent of the tightening of the travel rules, but our guests have already been traveling under the 12 approved forms of travel to Cuba since we undertook our historic first cruise to Cuba more than a year ago,’ the company said in a statement. According to Reuters, a draft memo of President Trump‘s remarks planned for Friday in Miami will include tighter enforcement to make sure Americans legally fit the 12 authorized categories they claim to be traveling under. US-based cruise operators like Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line and others advertise group excursions in Cuba that they say comply with the people-to-people requirements under US law. What’s expected to be curbed now is the individual, self-certifying people-to-people travel, the category that has been ‘the source for most abuse,’ according to a US-Cuba trade expert. In a note to investors, Wells Fargo Securities said, in essence, the Trump plan will require tourists to keep detailed records, subject to audit by the Treasury for five years, of all financial transactions while in Cuba to ensure they are avoiding benefit to GAESA (Cuban military) entities. ‘Our experience in Cuba this past year has been extremely positive,’ Carnival said. ‘We look forward to the new cruises being planned forCuba with Carnival Cruise Line and Holland America Line. We also have requested approval for our other brands to travel to Cuba. 

Mid-Flight Battery Fires On The Increase 

A Federal Aviation Administration report says there have been 17 instances of overheating or exploding batteries in the first five months of 2017. They involved batteries in cell phones, laptops, e-cigarette devices, cameras, power packs and headphones. They impacted flights with Southwest Airlines, Frontier, American and Delta Air Lines, while two fires were reported on FedEx cargo planes. Three flights ended up being diverted. There were 31 in total throughout 2016. With an electronics device ban in effect from 10 airports, primarily in the Middle East, and the possibility of it being expanded to 71 more airports, there are fears the problem will only get worse with baggage holds filled with unattended electronic devices that all use lithium-ion batteries.

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Filed under All About Hawaii, Cuba, Europe, Hawaii, Hawaiian Airlines, News, Russia

Kaimuki: O’ahu’s favorite eclectic neighborhood

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WIT Agent Debbie is currently on O’ahu, Hawaii for an educational trip! Look out for her photos later — we’ll post them to Facebook!

She’ll be checking out the Prince Waikiki hotel and Turtle Bay on her trip, so she’ll be able to provide firsthand feedback. Feel free to give her a call when she’s back to know more at our office: 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com. 

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Why you should check out Kaimuki

Want a break from the hubbub of Waikiki? Why not swing by its sleepier sister?

Have you heard of Kaimuki? Not far from Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, this historic neighborhood calls back to Hawaii of 50 years ago. With old-timer buildings, charming parks and old-fashioned delis, it makes a great place to hang out on a hot afternoon.

Once a farm owned by King Kalakaua, where ostriches roamed wild on green slopes, Kaimuki is now a low-key residential area with a strip of niche restaurants and cute boutiques.

Talk story at Coffee Talk, a friendly, relaxed cafe with a hearty selection of drinks and pastries. Grab a tasty sandwich at Kaimuki Suprette, a new deli made up in the old-fashioned style, serving with farm-fresh favorites. Wander down the main street of Waialae Avenue to the niche shops, where you can scavenge for unique jewelry, aloha shirts and rare comic books. Summer is a great time to snack up on those cool treats: and you’ll find everything from shave ice to acai bowls to handmade gelato here. There is even some karaoke, and a wealth of cosmetic spas!

Fun fact: This is the very neighborhood where Israel Kamakawiwo’ole grew up!

So check it out! Kaimuki is just east of Waikiki Beach and Ala Moana–behind Diamond Head:

(Kaimuki is in shaded pink)

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Filed under All About Hawaii, Hawaii, Hawaiian Airlines

Infographic: 6 Destinations to Spot the Southern Cross in 2017

We at Willamette Intl Travel love tried and true destinations like these! Interested in one (or more) of the places below? Give us a ring! 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com.

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Filed under Antarctica, Australia, Brazil, Europe, Hawaii, New Zealand, South Africa, South Africa

Travel News of the Week: Hawaii Travel App

Hawaii’s First Travel Destination Mobile App Launched

Created by the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA), tourism agency for the State of Hawaii, the GoHawaii app is a one-stop mobile reference guide for travelers wanting fast, accurate and trustworthy information while exploring all that Hawaii offers. The GoHawaii app offers valuable travel tips for each of the six major Hawaiian Islands: Kauai, Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Lanai and the Island of Hawaii. App users will discover useful information to help them enjoy Hawaii’s wide variety of sites, activities, special events and cultural festivals statewide. A listing of essential Hawaii websites and phone numbers is also provided to direct travelers to other reliable sources for information and assistance. Helping visitors experience Hawaii safely is a significant aspect of the GoHawaii app, which contains important advice for ocean activities, hiking and weather conditions on each island. Visitors are outdoors most of the time in Hawaii. This app helps keep them safe while they enjoy the beauty of the Islands,. A special app feature is the “Locomoji,” Hawaii-inspired emojis that can be shared with family and friends. Locomojis include images of an ukulele, aloha shirt, erupting volcano, shave ice, and Spam musubi, among many others. The GoHawaii app is free and may be downloaded in the Google Play Store and Apple iTunes Store. It is offered in English, German, Japanese, Korean, Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese. Searider Productions, a career development program in arts and communication at Waianae High School on Oahu, created a video about the new app.

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Niagara Falls Latest Natural Wonder to Add Zip Line
Niagara Falls is the latest natural wonder to add a zip line. The elevated cable rides have evolved from a novel way to explore jungle canopies to a major tourist attraction. There has been a booming popularity of commercial zip lines over the past five years, with at least 200 in the United States alone. Visitors can ride above the tree line at New River Gorge in West Virginia, over California’s Catalina Island, above lush Hawaiian landscapes and in view of Denali in Alaska. A zip line ride in Mexico’s Copper Canyon runs more than 1 ½ miles, one in Nepal has a drop of 2,000 feet and another in Sun City, South Africa, boasts top speeds of 100 mph. At Niagara Falls, WildPlay’s Benson said his four lines angling 2,200 feet along the Canadian side of the gorge were designed to be sensitive to the local environment.

Serenity Departs For Northwest Passage Trip
The Crystal Serenity has embarked on a 32-day journey through the Northwest Passage!! This is an unprecedented voyage. Following more than three years of planning and preparation the ship sailed from Seward, Alaska, through Northern Canadian Waters and will conclude its trip next month in Manhattan. The ship and its crew have been through extensive training and fitting for the trip. Serenity will sail with additional crew, training and equipment in consideration of the unique operating conditions in the far north. Two veteran Canadian Ice Pilots will be onboard to advise the Master of Crystal Serenity, Captain Birger J. Vorland and his bridge team. Earlier this year, the Captain and ice pilots attended an ice navigation simulator training in St John’s Newfoundland, and during a routine scheduled dry-dock in May, Crystal Serenity was outfitted with two ice searchlights, forward looking sonar, a thermal imaging camera and software to improve the ability to pick up small contacts on the radar such as small amounts of ice. During the route of the Northwest Territories the ultra-luxury ship will be accompanied by the RRS Ernest Shackleton, an ice classed vessel with a crew that has years of experience operating in polar conditions. Crystal will sail this route again in 2017. Those cruises are not sold out yet — so call your Willamette Agent Today!

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World’s First Dementia Friendly Airport
Heathrow has announces its commitment to becoming the world’s first dementia friendly airport. Heathrow is working with Alzheimer’s Society to change global attitudes towards dementia as part of the charity’s Dementia Friendly Communities program. The airport has pledged to make all 76,000 people that work at the airport dementia aware through the provision of ‘Dementia Friends’ sessions, training and online resources. The initiative, which is part of the Prime Minister’s 2020 Challenge on Dementia, encourages businesses to sign up to being dementia friendly so people with the disease feel understood and included. Heathrow is leading on transforming air transport in this area. Heathrow has already implemented a number of initiatives, which includes: Creating training for all frontline staff and the wider Heathrow team based on Alzheimer’s Society courses, to ensure all employees have increased awareness and knowledge of how they can support passengers with dementia to travel. Training the frontline Special Assistance team, who regularly interact with passengers affected by dementia as ‘Dementia Friends.’

Celebrity Brings Back Caribbean ‘Quickies’ In Early 2018
Celebrity Cruises is reintroducing quick escapes to the Caribbean starting in early 2018. Vacationers can choose four or five-night getaways aboard Celebrity Summit from Fort Lauderdale to ports including Key West, Nassau and Cozumel. The four-night cruises provide an extended weekend getaway to Nassau and Key West, while the five-night mini-escapes include Cozumel, Key West and two days at sea, with passengers returning home to a three-day weekend still ahead of them. Celebrity Summit’s winter homeport is San Juan, Puerto Rico. A seven-night cruise will take it to Fort Lauderdale for the new short sailings, and the ship will return to San Juan afterward via a seven-night voyage. These repositioning cruises call at destinations like Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten. The new short cruises are available for booking now for travel beginning in early 2018 and during spring break and Easter. Call your Willamette Agent to find a voyage just for you.

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American Offers Free Wi Fi
American has started offering all in-flight entertainment for free on any domestic flights with seat-back entertainment systems or wifi. Customers traveling with the Oneworld carrier are now able to enjoy premium shows such as HBO’s critically acclaimed Game of Thrones TV show as well as new movie releases like Captain America: Civil War, The Boss and The Lobster. This is a significant upgrade to the passenger experience on domestic flights, as AA had previously only offered a portion of its entertainment options for free. Seat-back entertainment is offered on nearly 300 of the airline’s aircraft, with more being added every month. While AA’s domestic mainline aircraft and two-class regional jets may not have seat-back screens, they do offer in-flight wifi. Passengers can download the carrier’s mobile app during their flight, and gain access to streamed entertainment content.

“Travel (trav-el) – noun
The only thing you buy that makes you richer”

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Filed under Hawaii, News, North America, USA

Dolphin Swims and Helicopters: Our Agent in Hawaii

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Aloha!

WIT Agent Krista traveled to Hawaii last winter and came back with some fantastic stories, which we published in the seasonal newsletter. In case you missed it, we’ve republished her feedback here, along with some of her lovely photographs. Check it out!

Thinking about vacationing in Hawaii but don’t know where to start? Our Agents are well-versed in the properties and activities on O’ahu, Maui, Kaua’i and the Big Island! Call us up and we’ll arrange the perfect holiday! 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com.

Also check out our 7 Reasons You should Visit O’ahu (as if you need more) and that time when WIT Wailana went scuba diving with the sharks!

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Travel Tips: 7 Reasons you should visit O’ahu

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The beautiful Hawaiian island of O’ahu is an unparalleled destination, full of fun and unique sights, smells, and savories! Here’s a quick list to whet your appetite: 

1. The Byodo Temple

The stunning and breathtaking Byodo Temple was built to commemorate the first Japanese immigrants in Hawaii. Located on the Windward Side of O’ahu, the temple is more exhibition than functional, complete with a Lotus Buddha statue, lush Japanese gardens, koi ponds and crooning peacocks.

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2. The North Shore Highway

Escape the urban sprawl of Honolulu for the more remote and beautiful North Shore. The north is more relaxed and nostalgic, giving you a glimpse of “Old Hawaii”—and is also the legendary surfing capital of the world. Plus the drive alone has some gorgeous views of the scenic Pacific Ocean.

3. Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck

Be sure to stop by Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck driving north on the Kamehameha Highway. A converted 1953 bread truck now offers some of the tastiest shrimp you’ll ever try—with mouthwatering scampi, lemon butter, hot & spicy shrimp shrimp shrimp!

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4. Matsumoto’s Shave Ice

Nothing says “Hawaiian-style” so much like shave ice, a.k.a. the island snow cone. On O’ahu, flavors like red bean, passion fruit, and guava are as ubiquitous as the dessert shops that sell them. And the ice at Matsumoto’s is legendary, with delicious bowls of frosty pineapple and li hing mui flavors.

5. KCC Farmer’s Market

The KCC Farmer’s Market is an awesome market, chock-full of tropical fruits, baked goodies, drinks and a snippet of crafts. Don’t leave the islands without trying some dragonfruit, white guava, or young coconuts.

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6. Manoa Falls

Trekkers all love the elegant waterfalls at Manoa Falls. The tree-studded path will take you past old park buildings, large boulders, sweet floral aromas and delicate bamboo and ginger. The area is also famous as a filming location for Lost and Jurassic Park. Just be sure to wear the proper shoes (it gets muddy!), sunscreen and insect repellent. 

7. Ahi Poke from Foodland

Nothing says Hawaii like fresh aki poké, raw fish appetizer served with soy sauce, sea salt, roasted candlenut, sesame oil, seaweed and chili pepper. Freshly caught poké is hard to come by, even in Hawaii, so best to try your luck with a local. Foodland supermarkets have a huge poké and poké bowl selection—come early in the morning for the best taste.

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Looking to Experience Pearl Harbor and the Arizona Memorial? Look no further.

In addition to your hotel, flights and car, Willamette Intl Travel can organize tours for you and your family while on the magical island of O’ahu. Call us at 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com and ask us about your Hawaiian vacation today.

WIT Agent Nancy’s favorite way to experience historical O’ahu is a Pearl Harbor Tour. Tours may include:

  • Fort Shafter, Wheeler Army Airfield, Schofield Army Barracks, and Punchbowl National Memorial.
  • Visit to Home of the Brave’s nostalgic WWII museum that honors the brave men and women who fought courageously during WWII. One of the largest and most unique collection of 1940s memorabilia and photographs.
  • Ticket to board the Arizona Memorial via the Navy Launch, park service film, and tour of the Valor in the Pacific Visitor center.
  • Pick up at Waikiki hotels, avoid the crowds with guaranteed earliest timed entry at the Visitor Center.
  • Driver and knowledgeable guides in period costume.
  • The real radio broadcast of the day Pearl Harbor was bombed on the car’s PA!

photos from Flickr creative commons, courtesy of Jason Raia, frontriver, Edmund Garman, Eugene Kim, Christopher Liang

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Scuba Diving off O’ahu

Last Week WIT Agent Wailana plopped beneath the waves off O’ahu shores and had a chance to scuba dive! Check out her photos in the slideshow below:

(Can’t see the photos? Try using a different browser, like Firefox.)

Interested in exploring the blue underworld in Hawaii? Call Willamette Intl Travel to book your vacation today! Our agents have been visiting the islands of Aloha for decades and we would love to share our insider tips on the best beaches, resorts and activities, with you and your family. Call 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com to find out more.

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Filed under Hawaii, North America, Our Travel Agents, Travel by Scuba, USA