Category Archives: Travel by Ship

‘Twas a day of adventure…

uncruise-logo-cmyk-hor

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.

screen-shot-2015-05-29-at-5-27-36-pm

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

Leave a comment

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

River Cruises in Myanmar

bagan-701006_960_720

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.

fischer-1566381_960_720

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!

agriculture-1793403_960_720

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.

alms-1807513_960_720

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

aec-1807496_960_720

3 Comments

Filed under Asia, Cruises, News, Travel by Ship

Where in the World is the WIT Agent? — Sailing the Viking Ocean!

vikinglgo

We’re continuing the Celebration of National Cruise Month! Virtually all major cruise lines are offering special discounts and rates this month! Call our office to inquire: 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com.

Where in the World is the WIT Agent? — Sailing the Viking Ocean!

WIT Agent Nancy Fowler, a longtime fan of cruise vacations, is out on the open seas this week onboard with Viking Ocean Cruises!

Viking Ocean Cruises is the ocean branch of Viking Cruises, famous for their state-of-the-art river cruises. Itineraries are diverse and delightful, with ports such as Barcelona, Bergen, San Juan and Limassol. Step deep into history and natural beauty for a week or a month—it’s up to you!

Infinity Pool, artist's rendering, image provided by Viking Cruises

The Viking Ocean Cruises boasts a fleet of five all-veranda ships with elegant and minimalist Scandinavian design. Viking Star, the flagship of the line, received numerous laudations from Cruise Critic, CNN, Berlitz and more. With just 930 guests at full capacity, these small ships give access and intimacy that larger cruise lines just can’t compete with.

We have sent countless clients on Viking Cruises, which come highly recommended for their service and all-inclusive packages. Their immersive program of educational lectures, special dining, regional music performances, folkloric shows and an onboard cooking school are designed for the sole purpose of providing an enriching experience for guests.

In 2014, we organized the air, cruise, hotel, and pre-/post-cruise arrangements in Russia for 70+ of Portland’s own Royal Rosarians.

viking river 2

All-Inclusive Cruises include:

  • – one included shore excursion in every port of call
  • – access to top-rated spa
  • – beer, wine and soft drinks with onboard dinner and lunch
  • – port taxes and fees
  • – restaurant dining
  • – 24 hour room service
  • – self-service laundry

See more of our posts on Viking: 

Call our agents at Willamette Intl Travel to find out more about the itineraries Viking Cruises offers in 2017. We can share our expertise and advise if Viking is right for you. Call 503-224-0180 to chat. 

Leave a comment

Filed under Europe, Travel by Ship, Viking Cruises, Where in the World is the WIT Agent?

11 Fun Facts about Cuba

cuba3
Many of our clients inquire about Cuba — a fascinating country that is quickly becoming a top destination for US travelers. Our agents at Willamette Intl Travel have sent clients to the island for years and would love to share our expertise with you. Give us a call or email us for more info: 503-224-0180 or info@wittravel.com.

cuban-trogon

Did You Know… ?

  1. Cuba’s unofficial nickname is “El Cocodrilo” or “El Caimá,” meaning crocodile and alligator respectively. These names are in reference to the shape the island resembles from an aerial perspective.
  2. Cuba was once inhabited by the Taíno, Guanajatabey and Ciboney populations, who lived as farmers, fishers and hunter-gatherers. Within 40 years after the arrival of Columbus, most of the locals had died of diseases like smallpox and measles.
  3. Columbus dubbed the island Isla Juana after Price Juan of Asturia but this never quite caught on. The name Cuba comes from the indigenous Taíno language, and can be translated as “fertile land” or “great place.”
  4. Cuba was a Spanish colony from the arrival of Columbus in 1492 until the Spanish-American War of 1898. After the war, the country was under US jurisdiction until 1902, when Cuba declared formal independence.
  5. In 1848 the U.S. offered Spain $100 million dollars for Cuba, but this offer was rejected.
  6. Cuba also has a French heritage. The slave uprising of 1791 in Haiti caused more than 300,000 French settlers to flee the island and many arrived on Cuba.
  7. The most popular sport in Cuba is baseball, followed closely by boxing. One of the most popular games is dominoes.
  8. In 2000, Fidel Castro erected a statue of John Lennon in a Havana park in remembrance of a revolutionary hero.
  9. Cuba has a 99.8% literacy rate, one of the highest in the world.
  10. Government vehicles are legally obligated to pick up hitchhikers if they have space.
  11. Christmas was not an official holiday in Cuba until 1997, when the government adopted the holiday as preparation for the Pope’s visit the following year.

cuba4

Related Posts: 

Reading List: Cuba

Circumnavigate Cuba in 2016

Cuba in 2016!

The Quick Low-Down on Cuba

cuba2

1 Comment

Filed under Caribbean, Cuba, Travel by Ship

Client Report: Viking Ocean’s Star in the Mediterranean

Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 17.22.42

Our agents at Willamette Intl Travel booked a cruise with Viking Ocean for long-time client Nancy T. Now Nancy’s come back from her amazing trip through the Mediterranean. Hear what she has to say about the voyage:

How was the Ship?

The Viking Star is absolutely stunning. It is very well thought out. Even though there were over 900 people on the ship, you never felt crowded. Our room was quite large and the bathroom was exceptional – full size shower and heated floor! The food was amazing. We loved the sauna and snow grotto room. Because we took an extensive excursion every day, we really didn’t have time to try out all the amenities on the ship. You could spend your entire trip onboard! There are so many beautiful places on the ship.

You did the pre-cruise extension, Two Nights in Istanbul, with Viking. How was the hotel?

Istanbul was beautiful. A side note to Viking—the Conrad hotel is not well placed for visitors. I know Viking will be getting a lot of feedback regarding that. It’s a beautiful hotel but not situated well for those wanting to explore Istanbul. Lots of business people and conferences being held there. It’s  a 30 – 40 minute walk to the nearest transit station and then another 20 minute ride to the old section. Taxis from the hotel to the old section are expensive because of where the hotel is placed and all the traffic.

(Note from Wittravel: The Conrad is a superb hotel, but indeed may be suitable for those travelers who wish to relax before their voyage. For those who want quicker access to the sights and smells of Istanbul, we can arrange nights in many excellent hotels closer to the city center. Call us for a one-on-one consultation.) 

Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 17.23.49

Tell us about the Excursions — how was Istanbul?

We did the guided tour provided by Viking on the first day – well thought out. The second day, we walked and took the light rail to see the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia. Also went to a small bazar. The next day was spent entirely at The Topkapi Palace which is huge. We were too tired to get to the Grand Bazaar or go to the recommended spice market. It was good we had done the smaller bazaar since it had spice stores there.

We did see some of the Syrian refugees. It broke our hearts. Turkey is trying hard to deal with them compassionately but their patience is running out. There are already over 2 million refugees and a million more are expected. I have a greater regard for Turkey and its place in our world.

We loved all the other, added-on excursions we did. I fell in love with Montenegro. Our excursion was 5 hours that day. Santorini was amazing – that was an 8-hour day. Athens was a 6-hour tour. Kusadasi ( Ephesus) was a 3.5-tour.

Final Thoughts?

It was an amazing, exciting trip. I highly recommend it to anyone wanting to explore that part of the world. Another side note – the majority of passengers on the ship had already on it for ten days before we got on it. They had combined this trip with another one which started in Barcelona.

Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 17.24.09

Viking Cruises launched its first ocean-going itinerary in May of this year. Ocean voyages have been fully booked up well into 2016! Viking’s world-renown cruise line has ranked highly on multiple travel lists, including Conde Nast Traveler’s Gold List, Travel + Leisure World’s List, Travel Weekly Readers’ Choice Awards, and National Geographic’s The 10 Best of Everything. The ocean cruises continue the Viking tradition of an all-inclusive experience, from all onboard meals, cultural enrichment, complimentary room service, to shore excursions, wifi, self-service laundry, wine, beer & soft drinks, and all port charges and government taxes.

The Viking Star is an all-veranda ship that accommodates up to 928 passengers. Combining Viking world-class standards with refreshing itineraries, the Viking Star is the ultimate luxury voyage that enhances each destination port. From the lavish 270-square-foot veranda to the premium Owner’s Suite spanning a whopping 1448 square feet, there’s something for everyone on the Star. She will be equipped with multiple restaurants, serene Wintergarden lanai, Piano Bar, Explorer’s Lounge, and a Nordic Spa. The Star will also have as its token jewel an Infinity Pool that is cantilevered over the ocean—the only one of its kind among cruise ships worldwide.

Call us for more information on Viking and their ocean and river itineraries. Contact 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com.

2 Comments

Filed under Cruises, Europe, Travel by Ship, Viking Cruises

Islands Series: the Orkneys

Tired of this heat and seeking a cooler harbor?

This week we’re taking a look at islands where you can stay cool in the summer, big and small. Islands where you can still enjoy a cup of piping hot coffee or tea without sweating away in your windbreaker!

So you’ve been to England, you’ve seen Bath and Stonehenge in all their glory–you’ve even did a train up to Edinburgh and checked out the incredible Sterling Castle. What’s next to explore in the UK? How about a week in the slightly stranger, much more tranquil, Orkney archipelago?

Screen shot 2015-09-09 at 2.20.23 PM

The Orkney Islands include about 70 islands just off the coast of Scotland. With its sloping valleys and stark green moors, the islands–much like its Faroe neighbors to the north–give off a wild and somewhat mythical atmosphere that tends to draw the more curious of travelers.

The locals tend to be hospitable and thoughtful, with the pragmatism that comes from centuries of survival in a challenging environment. Officially, the native tongue is English–but the pronunciation tends to differ between districts, and much of the lexicon has close roots to Old Norse.

Screen shot 2015-09-09 at 2.08.40 PM

There’s loads to see and do on the islands, most notably for avid history fans. Visitors interested in Orkney’s vivid Viking heritage will surely find Maeshowe intriguing. This tomb contains the best collection of Viking runes outside of Scandinavia, and is located 14 km west of Kirkwall. Travelers can also investigate the prehistoric ruins of Skara Brae, arguably the best-preserved ancient village in Western Europe and inhabited well before the Pyramids were built–as well as the stone circles at Brodgar and Stenness. Other (and relatively more recent) historical attractions include the ruins of St. Magnus Cathedral, an elegant medieval church on the islet of Streymoy, and the Italian Chapel, built by prisoners of war in WWII.

Try to visit in the summer, when the weather is tolerable, or during one of the spirited town festivals. The Orkney Folk Festival is a lively event in May of folk music, dance, song–the towns erupt with ceilidhs and fiddle concerts. Or stop by during midsummer for the St. Magnus Festival, a distinguished celebration of the arts. But, if you happen to come in the winter or cusp season, you may get a glimpse of the Northern Lights!

Screen shot 2015-09-09 at 2.10.51 PM

Locals love giving guided walks and tours of their famous sites. Join a guide around the WWII Naval Base near the bay of Scapa Flow. Whisky enthusiasts will delight in Highland Park, the world’s most northerly Scotch distillery. Outdoorsy types will find a home in the Orkneys, where there are ample valleys and cliffs to hike or cycle, and the multiple bays make for great sailing, fishing, kayaking and windsurfing. Visitors will also find 9- and 18-hole golf courses–where windy turf can prove quite the challenge.

Travelers can even bring their kids without worry–there are lots of activities for the whole family to enjoy–from secluded beaches, to diverse marine wildlife, to farm museums and swimming pools.

Screen shot 2015-09-09 at 2.08.53 PM

Did You Know? Some great opportunities for scuba divers abound in the Orkneys. You can dive down to the remains of the German WWI Imperial Fleet, scuttled in Scapa Flow.

How to Get There: The best way to access Orkney is by plane, via Flybe from major airports in Scotland, or by ferry.

Our Agents would love to help you beat the heat! Call us up to chat more about next year’s options to the Orkneys, Shetlands, Faroe Islands or other misty, spellbinding destinations.

Screen shot 2015-09-09 at 2.10.38 PM

Leave a comment

Filed under Europe, Family Travel, Luxury Travel, Travel by Ship, UK

Acclaimed Golf Voyages with Azamara Club Cruises

PerryGolf-hero

Does your perfect day involve playing a round of golf at the most prestigious courses in the world?

If it does, you’ve come to the right place! Azamara Club Cruises and Perry Golf have teamed up to bring you worldwide golf voyages to some of the most acclaimed courses on the planet.

Call your agent at Wittravel for more details: 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com Let us plan your perfect holiday from start to finish, so you can enjoy a vacation without any hassles!

The golf packages on Azamara’s 2016 & 2017 British Open voyages feature venues such as Royal Birkdale, Gleneagles, and Turnberry, and also include attendance at the final round of the British Open Championship to watch the world’s finest players compete for the coveted Claret Jug.

Their voyages to Australia & New Zealand, the Mediterranean, and the Baltic Sea offer golf packages as well, with an outstanding collection of courses including Barnbougle Dunes, Cape Kidnappers, Bro Hof Slott, Continental Europe’s #1 Valderrama, and many others.

AND if you book selected voyages by June 30, 2015, you’ll receive 50% OFF the cruise fare of the second guest!

Hurry! PerryGolf packages sell out quickly.

Sample 11-Night Golf Cruise: Screen shot 2015-06-24 at 2.30.37 PM

Screen shot 2015-06-24 at 2.35.22 PM

Leave a comment

Filed under Australia, Azamara, Cruises, Europe, New Zealand, Oceania, Travel by Ship, Travel by Sport