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Travel News: Delta Airlines To Change The Way You Board Planes 

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Silver Wind To Get Ice Class, Expedition Overhaul In 2020 Refurb

Cruise Industry News reports Silversea Cruises announced plans for a second extensive refurbishment of Silver Wind, which will see the ship pick up ice-class certification as well as a number of expedition cruising additions. The drydock is scheduled for August 2020 and will span two months, according to a statement, and falls under the company’s Project Invictus program. A fleet of Zodiacs and kayaks for on-water exploration will be added as well as an upgraded theater. All suites will undergo another full upgrade; the Spa & Salon will each be completely refurbished; the Reception/Atrium will be overhauled; and additional improvements will be made to La Dame, La Terrazza, the Main Bar, the Observation Lounge, the Panorama Lounge, the Pool Bar, public bathrooms, and the Theatre, among other spaces. Accommodating fewer guests (just 254) and retaining her characteristic sense of small-ship intimacy, the Silver Wind will offer higher space ratios, a higher crew-to-guest ratio, and more upper suites, among other enhancements. Following her drydock period, Silversea plans to deploy the ship on both traditional itineraries and to expedition destinations, including the Arctic and Antarctica. The ship will resume service on November 10, 2020, embarking on her inaugural season in Antarctica.

Delta Airlines To Change The Way You Board Planes 

Global news reports Delta Airlines is ditching the zone boarding process and will determine the order in which passengers board an airplane by which “branded fares” they pay for. The airline made the announcement in a statement last week, saying the zones “will soon be a thing of the past.” Delta operates flights to and from Canada, and Canadians might fly on a Delta flight due to its partnership with WestJet. The way zone boarding works is by letting on people who are sitting at the back of the plane first, with the exception of people who need extra time (like those with small children) and business and executive class passengers, who get on the plane first. Starting Jan. 23, 2019, there will be eight color-coded brands, prioritizing those who have paid more for their seats, and still “prioritizing customer loyalty.” The codes and their order of priority will be shown when people purchase their tickets. The airline says people who need help or more time to board will still board first. Other than that, the first brand is the high-priced Delta One, and the last is Delta’s cheapest ticket, the basic economy fare. The change is the latest attempt for airlines to minimize boarding times. United Airlines switched to a two-lane system, hoping to minimize people crowding around the gate at boarding time. The changes come as airlines are under scrutiny over the way passengers are treated, the legroom between seats is shrinking and passengers are increasingly paying for things that were once included for free, like carry-on bags.

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Sweden’s Ice Hotel Now Open

CNN reports as the annual Arctic deep freeze gets underway, Sweden’s ICEHOTEL is opening its frosty doors. And this year its icy rooms are as beautiful as ever. The famous hotel regenerates every year, and for 2018/19 some 15 new suites have been created by 34 artists and designers from across 13 countries.

But in a tradition spanning almost 30 years, part of the hotel remains transitory, each year when the old ice melts, new applications come forward and a panel of artists and ice experts choose the best of the best. The winners travel to Sweden to help make their frozen visions a reality, aided by experienced ice artists. Many of this year’s suites are inspired by the natural world. ICEHOTEL’s DNA is intertwined with its picturesque surroundings, the ice is sourced from the nearby Torne River, Sweden’s northernmost and the biggest national river. Another is The Living Ocean Suite,” by Jonathan Green and his daughter Marnie from England. It’s an icy underwater haven complete with coral and fish. “The suite is inspired by the climate changes and the overfishing that affects our oceans. “I also thought the idea of using frozen water from a river in northern Sweden to create an ocean with shells, fish, and corals is exciting.” Other designs are more mythical. A team from Sweden, Spain and Slovakia designed “Haven,” a supposed magical ice portal attended by imposing creatures.

“We are inspired by the meeting of people and want to create an experience that invites curiosity, creativity, and collaboration,” says one of Haven’s designers, Jonas Johannson. The sparkly ice in the hotel is illuminated by specifically curated light design, adding an otherworldly air to the hotel’s cool interiors. Sweden’s ICEHOTEL is made solely out of snow and ice and will use sustainable architecture to stay open during summer months. Roughly 70,000 guests a year visit ICEHOTEL, where a survival course is offered to help guests adapt to their frozen surroundings. Plus there are warm cabins on offer, so guests can switch between staying in the cold rooms and sleeping in the warmth they might be more accustomed to. The current edition of ICEHOTEL is open now until April 13 2019. Prices for two adults start at SEK 1,549 ($170) for a warm room and SEK 2,354 ($260) for an ice room.

5.1 Earthquake Strikes Sicilian City Of Catania

Following the recent eruption of Mt. Etna, an earthquake caused damage and injuries in eastern Sicily, Italy, during the early morning hours Wednesday. The earthquake was registered as a magnitude 5.1 by the United States Geological Survey (USGS). Italy’s national seismology institute recorded the quake with a magnitude of 4.8. The earthquake occurred at 3:19 a.m. Wednesday local time (9:19 p.m. EST, Tuesday) The epicenter was just north of Catania. No damage or injuries were reported in Catania, according to the Associated Press (AP). Minor injuries and some damage to buildings occurred in other communities of eastern Sicily. At least 10 people were injured, the AP stated. About 18 other people went to local hospitals for panic attacks or shock.
Satellite images from Wednesday afternoon indicate that steam continues to stream away from Mt. Etna. No travel advisories are currently in place by the Toulouse Volcanic Ash Advisory Center. If ash is emitted at anytime through at least Saturday, flights to and from Catania can be affected due to the expected wind direction.

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Cruise Industry Commits To 40% Carbon Emission Reduction By 2030 

The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) has announced a global cruise industry commitment to reduce the rate of carbon emissions across the industry fleet by 40% by 2030. “The announcement is a tribute to cross-industry collaboration and a shared commitment to environmental sustainability,” said Arnold Donald, Global CLIA Chairman and President & CEO of Carnival Corporation & PLC. “We aspire to the International Maritime Organization’s vision of a carbon-free shipping industry by the end of the century. Our commitment to a 40% reduction in the rate of emissions by 2030 is a strong first step toward realizing that vision.” CLIA says the commitment is the outcome of a collaborative process designed to build consensus among cruise line leadership. Progress toward the 40% target will be measured against a 2008 fleet baseline, and emissions rates will be calculated based on the industry fleet’s total carbon emissions, total ship berths and total distance travelled. CLIA plans to report annually on the industry’s progress toward the commitment. The reduction will be fueled by innovative technologies for energy efficiency in ship design and propulsion, CLIA says. The industry’s first liquefied natural gas (LNG)-powered ship launched just last week, and some 25 such ships could be operating by 2025. While LNG ships principally address pollution, there is a corresponding benefit for carbon emissions reduction.

Norwegian Air Maneuvers To Avoid Collapse

Several days ago there were questions about Norwegian Air’s ability to survive into the New Year. A report from a Danish bank suggested they could breach financing covenants which could have led to the unraveling of the low cost carrier that has been driving down transatlantic airfares and that is active in Europe. The carrier though has announced several moves that they say should shore up their balance sheet. Whether these are enough depends on a variety of factors such as the cost of fuel and demand during the winter dip in travel. $230 million (annualized) cost savings program. Meanwhile the airline faces heavy debt, high costs of fuel hedging in the face of falling oil, and weak seasonal demand on top of questions over whether its business model is sustainable over the long term.

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Filed under Airlines, Europe, Family Travel, Luxury Travel, News, Travel By

3 Ways to Do New Zealand Right

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It’s almost time to start booking that trip you always meant to take: to the fabled land of New Zealand! So we’ve prepared 3 itineraries that might inspire you of your journey. Whether you’re an adventurer, golf fanatic, or stopping by for a quick jaunt on your way to Australia, New Zealand has something for you!

Call your agent at Willamette Intl Travel to discuss options for a self-guided drive. We can arrange car, maps, itineraries, flights, and hotels for you to explore this fascinating country on your own. Call 503-224-0180 or email inquiry@wittravel.com. 

For the Adventurer: South Island Glacier Adventure

6 Days | 848 miles, 1365 km

Ancient Glaciers | Arthur’s Pass | Mt. Aoraki | Canterbury Plains | Azure Lakes

Day 1: Christchurch to Greymouth via Arthur’s Pass

Pick up your car for the freedom or choose to travel the more leisurely TranzAlpine. Today’s journey will take you to explore the hiking trails from the village of Arthur’s Pass. As you descend the Southern Alps, you’ll reach the rainforests of the west coast. Greymouth is the region’s largest town, known for its breweries and gold rush history.

Day 2: Greymouth to Fox Glacier

Drive out to Hokitika, for workshops and galleries to admire the pounamu, special New Zealand jade. Near Arahura River, you’ll find the Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers. Take the day for a guided hike, heli-hike or scenic flight for an unforgettable adventure.

Day 3: Fox Glacier to Queenstown

On your drive to Queenstown, the adventure capital of New Zealand, you’ll have loads to explore: the wild ranges of Haast, river safaris, Mount Aspiring National Park. Or take a break from the adventure to explore the town of Wanaka.

Day 4: Spend the day in Queenstown

Queenstown is THE stop to try all sorts of fun activities: bungee jumping, jet boating, skydiving, ziplining, rafting and mountain biking. Or just take it easy with hiking trails around the beautiful Lake Wakatipu.

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Aoraki

Day 5: Queenstown to Aoraki Mount Cook

Welcome to Aoraki Mount Cook National Park, the stunning grand playground for NZ escapades. Edmund Hilary used this area as a training ground for the Himalayas, and the unqiue landscape continues to draw mountain climbers, glacier-climbers, hikers, heli-skiiers and heli-hikers.

Day 6: Aoraki Mount Cook to Christchurch

Unwind from your adventures at Lake Tekapo, and take it easy with some lowland kayaking or horse-riding. Your drive will take you to into Christchurch, to chill back once more in civilization.

The Best Day Hikes in New Zealand

For the Golf Pro: North Island Golf Highlights

8-9 Days | 808 miles, 1300 km

Cliffside Courses | Cape Kidnappers | Hawkes Bay | Wellington

Day 1: Auckland to Matauri Bay

From Auckland, leap off to the town of Paihia amid the Bay of Islands. Continue along Matauri Bay to the world-renowned Kauri Cliffs. You can also visit the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, the birthplace of New Zealand, and attend a Maori cultural show.

Day 2: Spend the day at Kauri Cliffs

Spent a full day at one of the world’s top golf courses, which played host to PGA Tour’s Kiwi Challenge, and the Shell Wonderful World of Golf match between Fred Couples and Michael Campbell.

Day 3: Paihia to Auckland

From Paihia, return to Auckland for a scenic oceanside drive. Explore the North Island’s favorite city, wines and foods, or escape a bit out to the black sand beaches on the west coast.

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Golf Course in NZ

Day 4: Spend the day at Windross Farm

Take your clubs to Windross Farm Golf Course, just 30 minutes from Auckland. It covers 60 hectares of pristine golf grounds — perfect to work on your swing.

Day 5: Auckland to Taupo

Drive to the center of the island, past the stunning Lake Taupo, and Kaimai Mamaku Forest Park. The road will take you to Wairakei Golf Course, in the middle of NZ’s famous bush.

Day 6: Spend the day at Kinloch Club

From Taupo, a 20-minute drive will take you to Kinloch Club, designed by the one and only Jack Nicklaus. This picturesque landscape is a beautiful respite for fishermen, golfers and boat lovers (and you can even charter a boat to catch the sunset!)

Day 7: Lake Taupo to Napier

From Taupo you’ll make your way to Napier, an Art Deco city on Hawke’s Bay, known for its winning temperature, orchards and vineyards, and the magnificent Cape Kidnappers Golf Course.

Day 8: Napier to Wellington

Finally, drive on the scenic route to Wellington, NZ’s capital. If you’re still gearing to golf, head out to the stylish grounds at Paraparumu Beach Golf Club. If you’d rather pack your clubs in for the week, spend the rest of the day exploring magnificent Wellington’s museums, gardens, old cable cars.

Reading List: New Zealand

For the Quick Sightseer: Christchurch, Canterbury + Dunedin | 4 Days | 406 miles, 654 km

Turquoise lakes | Stargaze above Lake Tekapo | NZ’s longest glacier | Dunedin’s Larnach Castle

Day 1: Christchurch

Discover the street art and botanical gardens of vibrant Christchurch, famous for its stunning Avon River.

Day 2: Christchurch to Lake Tekapo

Hop on the bus or car for 3h-3h30 to beautiful turquoise waters of Lake Tekapo. At nightfall, head to Mt. John for panoramic views from the International Dark Sky Reserve.

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Lake Tekapo

Day 3: Lake Tekapo to Omarama via Aoraki

Explore the South Island, stopping at Aoraki for a short detour to admire the country’s largest glacier. In Omarama, spend the night at the famed hot tubs amid wondrous geological formations.

Day 4: Omarama to Dunedin

Drive southeast past lakes to the iconic Moeraki Boulders and Moeraki Lighthouse. Once in Dunedin, explore what some call the “Edinburgh of New Zealand,” home to remarkable Victorian and Edwardian architecture and the country’s only castle.

 

Read More on New Zealand:

Top Roads of Australia & New Zealand

From the Gallery: Clients’ Trip

More posts on NZ, Click Here

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Filed under New Zealand, Oceania, Travel By, Travel by Backpack, Travel by Car, Travel by Rail

Top Tips on Best Travel Photography

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Awesome travel photography doesn’t happen overnight. Even the pros have had to work on improving their composition, equipment, and methods. Here are some of our best tips from decades in the travel business.

Note: I use the word camera here, but you can easily apply these same tips to smartphone cameras.

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Engage with your Subjects.

Don’t simply snap an image and walk away. Like you should get to know your destination, get to know the people there. Speak to them, and ask them about their day, their family, what they are doing. If you don’t speak the local language, try hand gestures, nodding, word of greeting, or smile. Open up, and you might find that people open up as well.

Ask people for portrait shots. The worst they can do is say no. Most people will likely smile in agreement. Make sure you thank them, and if you can, show them their own photo. You can even offer to send them a copy if they have email or postal address.

Talking to people even before you bring out your camera can also help you get a sense of place. Say hello to passersby. Ask for directions. Buy souvenirs. Use your interactions as inspiration for the mood and essence you want your photos to convey.

Be your true self, and engage with people authentically. Become part of the story that you tell.

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Travel Lightly.

Perhaps a difficult task if you have expensive photography gear, but traveling light is an important tool to learn. Pack only your camera, memory cards, lightweight mini tripod, portable storage unit, flash unit, selection of lenses—all in a supportive camera bag that protects from weather conditions and terrain.

As to whether lenses you take, choose a fast zoom like 18-200mm or 28-300m. If you have space, also grab a portrait prime lens, a wide angle lens and a telephoto.

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Research your location.

The best travel photography comes in part due to Research. Know your destination, the festivals, the scenic routes and panoramas. Consult your travel agent. Read guidebooks. Read articles online and blog posts from writers you admire. Scan through Instagram.

Know what other photographers have managed to capture in the region, and decide if you want to pursue similar shots or look for unique angles. Make sure you keep track of the light via an app—download The Photographer’s Ephemeris, which tells you what time the sun rises, sets, and the position of the moon to your location. You can also check the tides for access to cool shots and locations during low tides.

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Late to Bed, Early to Rise

I know, you’re on vacation, so you’d rather not wake up early! But some of the most fantastic light for your next iconic shot will be early in the morning. The soft, warm morning light is perfect for images—and plus you can beat the tourist crowds, too. Need that epic shot of the Taj Mahal—wake up before sunrise.

Make sure you’re outside for sunset, too. The golden hour and subsequent blue hour of photography bathe cities and landscapes in magical light. Time to make some forever memories.

Rule of Thirds

Maybe you’ve heard of this one—one of the basic tenants of photography. Understanding the Rule of Thirds will change the way you look through the camera lens. This is about composition. Imagine breaking down the image into thirds horizontally and vertically. Place important parts of the photos into those sections. This means, for example, positioning a person on the left grid line instead of the center. Shift the horizon on the bottom third, rather than straight down the middle. Remind yourself of the Rule of Thirds by switching on your camera’s “grid” feature.

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Travel Tripod

Many of the best travel photographers recommend a lightweight tripod fashioned specifically for travel. These will keep your images in a steady position and let you play with all types of tricks: video production, exposure, time-lapse, panorama. Tripods also let you shoot non-optimal subjects, like waterfalls or low-light stars, without that annoying shaking camera.

Did you know that some tour guides offer special photography tours? Our clients have done these special-interest tours in Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, Norway, Iceland and more! Ask your Willamette Intl Travel agent about more of these incredible, eye-opening photography tours.

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Filed under Europe, Travel By, Travel by Sport, Travel by Taste

8 Awesome Africa Accounts you should be following on Instagram

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We at Willamette Intl Travel love any photo of Africa we can get our hands on! Thank goodness for Instagram! We’ve stumbled upon some great wildlife and cultural photos of Africa, that we’d love to share with you. 

WIT Owners/Founders Christina and John go practically every year to Africa. In Portland, Oregon? Call Christina today to arrange your trip to Africa, or to simply find out more: 503-224-0180 or email inquiry@wittravel.com.

1. Gboxcreative

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Moving Shadows II, IV. #StreetsofAddis

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Get colorful with G Box Creative – freezing life on the everyday streets of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

2. South_Africa_through_my_eyes

Take a walk on the wild side of beautiful South_Africa_through_my_eyes, founded by Nina Zimolong, a photographer based in Cape Town.

Did you know: Willamette Intl Travel has a brand-new Instagram account! Follow us over at @Wittravel.

3. Originsafaris

Of course we couldn’t help but mention the awesome cultural and natural photographs by our friends over at Origins Safaris.

4. DSWT (David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust)

Who can help but “oo” and “aa” over the touching photos of the elephants and rhinos by the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.

5. Davidlloyd

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At Home in the Jungle

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The breathtaking photos of big cats and other African nobles, courtesy of David Lloyd, an NZ wildlife photographer.

6. Stevenchikosi

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A3 (Harare – Mutare Rd)

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We love the storytelling lens of Steven Chikosi’s account!

7. Wildlifeplanet

The feed of wildlife planet looks like something out of a fairytale picture book.

8. Margotraggettphotography

Conservationist and photographer Margot Raggett captures snapshots of animals at play, and in peaceful and quiet moments.

Follow us on Instagram for more glimpses of Africa – coming soon!

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Filed under Africa, Ethiopia, Kenya, Namibia, South Africa, Travel By