Category Archives: Travel by Ship

5 Ways Ferry Travel in Europe is Just Awesome

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All Aboard the Ferry!

In the era of global air travel, boats and trains have quickly become the romantic alternative to transportation. If you’re traveling in Europe overland, opt for the comfortable and spacious train to get you from A to B. But if you’re traveling over the water—opt out of the time-consuming and cramped plane—and opt into the slow and languid pace of a ferry.

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Ketchup & Mustard, Peas & Carrots, Ferries & Lighthouses

Here are 5 Ways Ferry Travel in Europe is Just Awesome:

1. Wherever you go, no ferry is alike.

They’re different from country to country, from service line to service line. Some ferries are stocked with facilities like karaoke and bars; others are barebone! Some have cabins and others just seats! Most however offer food and refreshments for your trip, and a closed-off area protected from the elements.

What does that mean for you? You’ll never get bored! And there’s something for all styles of travel.

Sometimes ferries sail overnight, saving on the cost of a hotel room. They can carry cars, bikes as well as passengers, and usually operate year-round (depending on the climate of course!).

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Where are we heading today?

2. They are THE BEST way to explore those hard-to-reach places.

How do you get around the achingly beautiful Dalmatian isles without a sailboat? How do you hop from one continent to the next, Spain to Africa, in a mere half-hour? How to navigate the stunning Norwegian fjords? On a ferry of course!

3. Longer sailings can open up a whole new world.

Though most European ferry rides can be anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours, longer rides can be a terrific way to see the continent! Hop on a Baltic cruise from Stockholm to Riga, Latvia. It’s overnight, you get your own dinner and cabin, and in the morning wake up to a new land altogether!

Another incredible ferry journey you can brag about is the voyage from Hanstholm in Denmark to Seydisfjördur in Iceland on the Smyril Line. It’s the only way for the average traveler to reach Iceland by boat. The ship stops in Torshavn in the Faroe Islands—that’s three awesome destinations in one go! That certainly beats a predictable plane ride, cramped in a tight place for 5-8 hours, right?

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Water Tracks

4. They make for incredible memories.

Some of my favorite travel days were on ferries—the sporadic ferry from Sarandë to Corfu, the short ride from Klaipeda to Nida, the wealth of ferry systems within Stockholm city. They move slowly but are perfect ways to enjoy the wind on your face. Out on the open sea, blue waves and sunshine—watching the waters unfurl out behind you—it can be exhilarating for some. Some international ferry routes are covered by a rail pass.

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Wait — that’s not Europe!

5. They’re casual.

None of that rushing to the airport — checking your luggage — going through security nonsense. You show up, show your ticket and it’s all aboard! Though some ferry lines require booking your cabin before your trip, with others you can just buy at the ticket window an hour before departure. You’ll want to watch for peak travel times, though, as sometimes tickets can sell out. For overnight ferries, reserving your cabin is a must! Check with your travel agent for the details!

Ferry Services

There are dozens of ferry services, but some of the more popular are:

Greece: http://www.greekferries.gr/

England, Ireland, Sweden, Norway: http://www.stenaline.nl/en-GB-nl

DFDS: https://www.dfdsseaways.co.uk/

Croatia: http://www.jadrolinija.hr/en/ferry-croatia

Finland, Sweden, Estonia: https://www.vikingline.com/en/

Baltic Sea: https://www.tallinksilja.se

France: http://www.poferries.com/

Corsica, Sardinia: https://www.corsica-ferries.co.uk/

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Berth or Cabin?

By the way, ever wondered what the difference between a cabin and a berth is? You will if you book an overnight ferry!

A cabin is a ship bedroom. A berth is somewhere to sleep, a bed or bunkbed. For a couple, book a 2-berth cabin. When making reservations, some cabins offer a selection of choices: outside, inside, food included, private bathroom, wash basin only, no washing facilities. Watch out for shared cabins—you might sleep in the same cabin with a fellow traveler! When in doubt, ask your travel agent!

Call 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com for our Portland-based travel experts!

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Filed under Europe, Travel by Ship

Conscientious Traveler: Lindblad Expeditions

Welcome back to Conscientious Traveler–our monthly series in which we showcase a fantastic travel organization that supports humanitarian and/or environmental work. This month May is all about Lindblad Expeditions!

Lindblad Expeditions offers cruises emphasizing eco-tourism, adventure and conservation efforts around the globe. Travelers choose the cruise line for their on-ship education and intimate experiences with amazing wildlife and environments. They’ve partnered up with National Geographic to showcase earth-friendly destinations and projects around the globe.

Lindblad has raised more than $12 million to conversation initiatives worldwide. Projects cover everything from community development to ecological programs in Antarctica, Baja, Galapagos, Patagonia, Amazon and other areas around the globe.

Click here to read in-depth of all the donated programs!

Willamette Intl Travel has sent clients on Lindblad Expeditions for years now. Call now for an appointment to find out more! 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com. 

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Filed under Conscientious Traveler, Lindblad Expeditions, Travel by Ship

6 Travel News Tidbits

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1. Viking Cruises partners with National Geographic

Viking Cruises will sponsor National Geographic’s first fully scripted global anthology series, “Genius,” which will tell the story of Albert Einstein. During the global premiere of Genius — April 25 at 9PM ET/PT on National Geographic — Viking will showcase their brand campaign “Time.” The Founder of Viking, Torstein Hagen, is a lifelong admirer of Einstein and a physicist himself. Read more on their website.

2. Hilton rapidly expanding

In 2016, Hilton opened a whopping 354 properties — that’s nearly one per day! Hilton is especially progressing in China, with 328 properties open or to open. In total, Hilton has 4875 hotels open worldwide.  

3. More attention to flying needs for children with neurological issues

Wings for Autism®/Wings for All® are sponsoring airport “rehearsals” specially designed for individuals with autism spectrum disorders and individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities. The programs are designed to alleviate the stress that families who have a child with autism or intellectual/developmental disabilities experience when flying. It provides families the opportunity to practice entering the airport, obtaining boarding passes, going through security and boarding a plane. Learn more here at The Arc’s website

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4. What’s NEW for the 72-Hour Visa Free Transit in Beijing

Beijing has introduced new regulations concerning the 72-hour transit without visa. Travelers must now fill in an application and wait for clearance. An application form and background check are required for stays over 24 hours. So travelers need: 1) onward ticket, 2) application form, 3) background check. This system doesn’t necessarily exist in other Chinese cities as they can be different. In Shanghai, for instance, you can stay double the time (6 days / 144 hours) without a visa. Ask your WIT Travel Agent to Learn More.

5. Avalon Waterways Announces A New Ship

Avalon Waterways is expanding in 2018 with a new ship for the Mekong River, adding new active and themed cruises and cutting the single supplement for all European river cruises. The line’s next new ship will be based on the Mekong River in Southeast Asia, sailing between Ho Chi Minh City and Siem Reap. The 36-passenger vessel will be called Avalon Saigon and will launch in September 2018. The cabins will be slightly bigger, at 245 square feet, with sliding French balcony doors that extend 9 feet. The 14-foot windows have screens to keep out insects. Ask your WIT Travel Agent about available cruises, itineraries, and pre- and post-cruise land tours. 

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6. Did You Know? Two-thirds Of Travel Websites In EU Mislead On Prices

According to a European Commission report, 2/3 of EU websites display misleading prices. Of the 352 price comparison and travel booking websites checked in October 2016, the Commission found 235 gave prices that were not reliable. The sweep of websites, conducted with consumer protection authorities, found that in 1/3 of cases, the final price was not the same as the first price shown. In 1/5 of cases, promotional prices were not available at all. Additionally, in 1/3 of cases, the final price or the way it was calculated was not clear. In a quarter of instances, websites did not make it clear that room availability applied just to that site, and rooms might be available through other channels. The Commission said the 235 websites will have to correct the irregularities and it will ensure sites comply with national enforcement procedures.

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Filed under Avalon Waterway, China, Cruises, Europe, Travel by Ship, Viking Cruises

Conscientious Traveler: Bruce Mate (& Uncruise Adventures)

Baja (142)Welcome back to Conscientious Traveler–our monthly series in which we showcase a fantastic travel organization that supports the environment and wildlife. This month is all about Bruce Mate!

Call to all Potential Sailors: Join Bruce Mate — February 24, 2018!

Every year, Oregon State University’s Marine Mammal Institute Director Bruce Mate and his wife Mary Lou lead a natural history trip down to Baja California. In 2018, he’s sailing back down to this area with UnCruise Adventures, joined by a team of interested individuals (such as yourself? read on!). Bruce has conducted marine mammal research since 1967, including determining the migration routes of sea lions along the west coast of the United States. He started in the Baja region with whale tagging work way back in 1979, and knows the area and its wildlife intimately. 

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So what makes 2018 so special?

YOU TOO can join Bruce Mate, whale expert, on that year’s annual sail down to Baja. Learn all about gray whales and whale sharks from one of the Pacific Northwest’s leading experts, all in the comfort and accessibility of a small cruise ship. We have fourteen open spaces left–can you fill one of them? Bring a friend or loved one, and fill two spaces! 

We already have 34 passengers confirmed to join him–but we still have 14 open spaces left! That’s in a ship that carries a total of 84 passengers. Call us up to join this rare, once in a lifetime cruise! 503-224-1080 or email info@wittravel.com for the details. Check out the on sailing on UnCruise Adventure’s website

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Need to Hear a Firsthand Experience?

WIT Agents Barbara and Racheal are now cruising with Uncruise Adventures down in Baja. We’re super excited for them and happy to hear all about it when they get back!

Missed our previous post about it? Click here.

Starting next week—when Barb and Racheal are back, you’ll be able to hear all about the cruise from a firsthand perspective!

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Filed under Conscientious Traveler, Cruises, Europe, Mexico, Travel by Ship, Un-Cruise

Cruisin’ Baja with UnCruise Adventures

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Baja Caramba!

This week, WIT Agents Racheal & Barbara are going on an Uncruise Adventure to Baja. They’re joining UnCruise alumni for a week down to the Baja Peninsula to swim with the whale sharks and go island-hopping. The boat sails down to Mexico, cruising the Sea of Cortés UNESCO World Heritage Site. When they return, they’ll have to share their firsthand knowledge with you, our lovely clients, and give you pointers on what to expect on a cruise with reputable line UnCruise. We can’t wait to hear their stories!

The Sea of Cortés is a veritable natural aquarium. With bountiful marine life, from scores of dolphins and mobula rays, to sea lion pups and playful pelicans. If you’re lucky, you might even spot the august humpback whale. Dive into the thrill of exploration or relax on a warm beach. The coastline of Baja is bountiful with bird colonies, schools of dolphin and colorful reef fishes. Depending on the season you go, you’ll have the chance to see whale sharks in Bahía de La Paz (Nov to mid-Jan, Mar) or spot gray whales at Bahía Magdalena (mid-Jan to early-Mar).

Call your Willamette Intl Travel agent to find out more about UnCruise Adventures, what they offer and when. 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com. 

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What is UnCruise?

UnCruise Adventures is a small ship experience devoted to sharing untraditional, intimate itineraries that really delve deep into the heart of a destination. Their cruises are a great opportunity for travelers who want to explore well-known places like Mexico, Oregon, Hawaii and Alaska in a different and new perspective. Read more about Uncruise Adventures, their history-packed Oregon cruise, and our Alaska trip report.  Also be sure to check out the photos from our Clients’ the Dents, who sailed with UnCruise to Alaska

PLUS! There are themed departures available on certain dates.

  • Birding: Renowned bird experts – on March 25.
  • Chairman’s Cruise: Sail with the leaders and owners of the UnCruise Adventures! – on Jan 7.
  • Marine Biology: Learn all about the amazing aquatic world beneath the waves on excursions and onboard lectures. – Jan 21, Feb 18, Mar 18.
  • Photography: Join NatGeo travel photographer Christopher Baker to capture perfect shots on the boat and in the field – on January 28.

We love UnCruise Adventures! Let us tell you why. Call us up for a chat at 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com. 

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Filed under Cruises, Europe, Mexico, Travel by Ship, Un-Cruise

‘Twas a day of adventure…

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Happy Thanksgiving All! Have a Great Long Weekend!

A Special Holiday Message from our friends over at Un-Cruise: 

‘Twas a day of adventure, when all thru the boat…

Many stories were shared and we all got to gloat.

Visions of kayaks and glaciers filled up our heads,

And none were too anxious to head off to bed.

Dolphins were leaping and whales were a’feeding,

Tomorrow’s adventures would go on exceeding.

You move through the world as distinctly and uniquely YOU—from day-to-day to grand adventures. Like our small ship adventure and river cruises. Unbeatable activity and culture. Up-close wilderness. Expertise, exclusivity, and personalized service. Time to experience a destination. Embark on exploration… and define your un-ness.

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Orca in the Pacific Northwest

What is UnCruise?

UnCruise Adventures is a small ship experience devoted to sharing untraditional, more intimate itineraries that really take deep in the heart of a destination. Their cruises are a great opportunity for travelers who want to explore well-known places like Mexico, Hawaii, Alaska in a different and new perspective.  Continue reading

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Filed under Cruises, News, Travel by Ship, Un-Cruise

River Cruises in Myanmar

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Have you always wanted to visit Myanmar but not sure where to start? A River Cruise is an exceptional way to see the highlights of the country, without all the hassles. Here we share what you might expect from an Irrawaddy River Cruise.

Unsullied Waters

Myanmar (otherwise known as Burma) only recently opened its borders after a good long 50 years, making it a prime destination for any globetrotter. The country has all the charms of SE Asia while still maintaining its individuality. Even in the more popular sites like the UNESCO Valley of Bagan, Myanmar is still protected from the inevitable changes of tourism.

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A River Cruise is the best way to visit the more remote villages of the north, just 30 miles from the border of China. Cruises can start from either north or south, but the country is perhaps best explored first in the relaxing north and later in the more chaotic, bustling markets of the south.

The Irrawaddy River, also known as the Road to Mandalay, will open your eye to the ancient and unblemished cultures of rural Myanmar. Step back in time to a land full of oxcarts, monasteries, village markets, toddy palm trees, pottery masters. If you’re lucky, you may even glimpse the elusive Irrawaddy dolphin!

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When to Sail

Prime cruise season is from September to April. The driest, and coolest, season is between November and February. Starting May, Monsoon season hits SE Asia in full force, when the snow melt from the Himalayas swells the river to disturbing levels—avoid the traditional summer months.

Ship to Ship

Though ship amenities and features differ from cruise line to cruise line (and often ship to ship), guests can usually expect high standards on our renowned trips. Spacious suites, with large closets and private bathrooms, premium bar and restaurant, fascinating destination lectures, onboard entertainment, and sightseeing adventures.

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What to Expect?

Cruises typically run around 2 weeks in length, roundtrip Yangon or Bangkok to Yangon.

That’s 14 days or more to explore the Golden Land of Myanmar from top to bottom:

  • Start with a walking tour of the Shwedagon, said to be the oldest pagoda in the world
  • Fly north to Bhamo, where your boat awaits
  • Sail past ornate shrines, hillside villages and teak forests
  • Stop at island villages, learn about daily life of schoolchildren and fishermen
  • Visit a local market, and ride an elephant through a sea of teak trees
  • Pay your respects at the monastery of Kya Hnyat and learn about pottery-making in Mandalay
  • At Amarapura, enjoy a sampan ride at sunset
  • Watch a traditional puppet show
  • Sip local tea at a speciality tea boutique
  • Marvel at the 2,000+ stupas and pagodas in the Bagan Valley

Got your curiosity piqued? Call us up for a chat about possibility to cruise or otherwise explore the fascinating country of Myanmar. 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com. 

READ MORE: Buddhas & Boats on Inle Lake

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Filed under Asia, Cruises, News, Travel by Ship