Tag Archives: amsterdam

Travel News: Walt Disney World To Build Star Wars Hotel

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Walt Disney World To Build Star Wars Hotel

Walt Disney World used this weekend’s Walt Disney D23 Expo in Anaheim to announce it will build a Star Wars-themed hotel. The hotel will be built at Walt Disney World in Orlando and has been described as ‘the most experiential’ luxury resort ever attempted by the company. Each guest will have their own unique experiences following their own individual storyline throughout their stay while dressed up in realistic Star Wars attire. In the rooms ‘every single window has a view into space’. There is no confirmed date yet on an expected opening. Meanwhile Disney said the upcoming Star Wars themed lands at Disneyland and Walt Disney World will be named ‘Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge’.

New Destination For River Cruises Near Amsterdam

The development of two berths to handle river cruise vessels up to 135 meters has begun at Huizen, an old fishing village in the North Holland province of the Netherlands not far from Amsterdam. The berths are expected to be ready early next year. According to Amsterdam Cruise Port’s latest newsletter, the municipality of Huizen aims to become an additional destination for the many river cruises in the region. Huizen offers a charming old port area and can serve as a gateway for tours to Utrecht and other destinations. Funfact: Utrecht is a “friendship” city with Portland, on its way to becoming a sister city.

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Sandals Temporarily Closing Antigua Resort

Sandals Resorts International is temporarily closing Sandals Grande Antigua for important maintenance projects. The work, which is scheduled to begin Sept. 20, is anticipated to take five months, however, Sandals is in the process of completing a full and detailed assessment and say the timing may actually be shorter. This is the first time Sandals Grande Antigua, the only Sandals property in this destination, has closed since opening in 1992. 

Inbound International Airlines now requiring 3-hour check-in

More and more flights booked with international airlines that are flying into the USA are now requiring a 3-hour check-in. Keep this in mind the next time you’re flying back home!

Congress Set To Finally Push Back Against Shrinking Airline Seats 

Yahoo reports cabin seats have been shrinking over the past few decades. Since the 1970s, the average economy seat pitch, the distance between the seats, has shrunk from 35 inches to 31 inches, further pressurizing cabins and passengers’ tempers. This has allowed airlines to squeeze more seats in, or to make more room for larger seats they can sell at a premium. Today, travelers need to purchase premium economy seats for the same amount of legroom they used to get with the old economy. In May American Airlines said it would be shaving two inches of legroom in economy class, going from 31 to 29. Public blowback led the airline to partially reverse its decision and only cut one inch from most rows. But passengers’ knees, legs, and elbows are on track to get a reprieve thanks to the dogged efforts of one member of Congress, Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN). Cohen is finally looking at a win in his third year waging war against shrinking seats, having steered a version of his Safe Egress in Air Travel (SEAT) Act into the FAA reauthorization bill as an amendment, after failing numerous times.

22 Cruise Ships Earned Perfect 100 Health Scores So Far In 2017

Twice a year, each cruise ship that sails to or from a US cruise port goes through a surprise public health inspection. This inspection is done by the VSP (Vessel Sanitation Program at the Centers for Disease Control) to determine how well the ships are operating and to the check the sanitation standards on board. For a full list, click here: http://cruisefever.net/22-cruise-ships-earned-perfect-100-health-scores-far-2017/

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Tourism In Antarctica Funds Scientific Expeditions

tourism-review.com reports there are two things that are increasing in the Antarctic Peninsula: temperature and tourism. An unprecedented temperature of 17.5°C was recorded by the World Meteorological Organization at Base Esperanza, in Argentina in March 2015. As of July 2017, there are 63 vessels registered in the International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators, including Hurtigruten, Holland America Line, Seabourn, Silversea and Celebrity Cruises. They brought a total of 38,500 visitors on tourist expeditions to the white continent in the 2015-2016 season, an increase of almost 10,000 compared to the last decade. The scheme of the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators has agreed to require best practices to minimize the impact on the environment. The registered routes of the Association are limited to no more than 500 passengers on the ships, with only 100 of them on land at a specific time. And before approaching the Antarctic Peninsula, ships must comply with rigorous decontamination processes. At Palmer Station, a research base in the United States, is located the southernmost souvenir shop in the world, with t-shirts, sweatshirts and decals for sale. Clearly, it was put there for the arrival of tourists. Hundreds of thousands of coat-clad tourists will come to visit penguins on the ice in the 2017-2018 season, profits from responsibly managed tourism in Antarctica will help fund scientific expeditions to the continent.

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This Week in Travel News

Join us every Friday for the latest news from the Travel Industry.

Chinese HNA Group To Buy Carlson Hotels
HNA Group has agreed to buy Carlson Hotels, which owns brands including Radisson and Country Inns and Suites, the latest in a flurry of overseas investments by Chinese companies. HNA Tourism Group will acquire all of Carlson Hotels Inc., the companies said in a joint statement released late Wednesday that did not disclose the purchase price. Carlson’s headquarters would remain in Minnetonka, Minn., after the deal is completed. The purchase is the latest in a string of global transactions by Chinese companies as they diversify abroad to counter slowing growth at home while also scooping up foreign expertise and technology. As part of the deal, the Chinese company will also acquire a 51.3 percent stake in Brussels-based Rezidor Hotel Group AB, which operates Carlson hotels in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Carlson has 1,400 hotels in 115 countries and territories and employs about 90,000 staff worldwide. The deal is subject to regulatory approvals and is expected to be completed in the second half of 2016.

JetBlue To Launch NY LaGuardia-Boston Flights, Aiming At Business Travelers
Reuters reports JetBlue Airways Corp said Thursday that it will start six round-trip flights per weekday between New York’s space-constrained LaGuardia airport and Boston, in a bid to capture business travelers on the heavily trafficked route. JetBlue said it would move some of its LaGuardia-Florida flights to nearby Newark Liberty airport in order to free up take-off slots for the endeavor, now that the US Federal Aviation Administration has made it easier for airlines to grow at Newark.

United Airlines Cutting Chicago To London Flights June 30
The airline has been flying the route for the past seven years. United gave no warning and has not formally announced the cancellation. Travellers only found out last week when told by airport counter staff and when the United website would not book direct London-Toronto flights past June 30. A United spokesperson said last week the Chicago-London route was canceled because a regular review found it was “not meeting expectations.” London International Airport president Mike Seabrook said United was cutting a number of Canadian services because the low Canadian dollar was making the flights unprofitable.

Her Majesty Queen Máxima Of The Netherlands Named Godmother Of Koningsdam
Holland America Line’s tradition will continue when Her Majesty Queen Máxima of the Netherlands christens Holland America Line’s new Pinnacle-class ship, Koningsdam, in a ceremony in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, May 20, 2016. embers of the Dutch Royal Family have launched 11 Holland America Line ships. Most recently, then-Princess Máxima christened ms Nieuw Amsterdam in 2010 and then-Queen Beatrix served as ms Eurodam’s godmother in 2008.

London’s Big Ben To Go Silent For Several Years
The British Parliament announced Tuesday that the chimes of Big Ben that have rung out across the British capital for more than 150 years are set to fall silent for “several months” to make “urgent” repairs. Big Ben is one of London’s most famous icons, and its “bongs” are broadcast live on BBC Radio. Urgent repairs are needed on the Great Clock and the tower that houses Big Ben. While almost everyone refers to the clock tower as “Big Ben,” that’s not technically true. Big Ben is the nickname given to the 13.5-ton bell that resides inside the Elizabeth Tower. The clock itself is known as the Great Clock.

Anne Frank House In Amsterdam Aims To Cut Queues With Timed Tickets
The Anne Frank House is introducing a new timed ticketing system to reduce the length of queues outside one of Amsterdam’s most popular tourist attractions. Visitors who want to see the museum before 3.30 pm will have to book their tickets online before they go. They will be allocated a 15-minute time slot so they can go in without having to wait outside. After 3.30 pm tourists will be able to pay at the desk as before and pre-purchased tickets will not be valid.

Australians Sue Scenic Over Flood-Disrupted European River Cruises
A class action against Australian-owned Scenic has begun in the New South Wales Supreme Court with 1,265 plaintiffs claiming ‘expensive luxury river cruises’ turned into ‘cheap second-rate bus tours’ because of extensive flooding in Europe in 2013. Heavy rain in France and Germany in April and May 2013 caused extensive flooding and water levels on the Rhine, Saone, Rhone and Danube rivers rose so high that river cruise ships were unable to operate as scheduled for about six weeks.

Biggest Theme Park In The Dubai Region To Open In October
It’s been two years in the making, but Motiongate Dubai’s development is on schedule; it will open its doors as the biggest theme park in the region this October. Motiongate is a park themed to DreamWorks, Sony Pictures, Lionsgate, Smurfs Village and Studio Central animation characters emerged to take the form of Dubai’s newest leisure and entertainment destination in 2014. Motiongate Dubai will be part of a larger complex of theme parks, which will include Bollywood Parks Dubai and Legoland Dubai. The entire complex will estimated to cost Dh10.5 billion that will cover 25 million square feet on the south side of Dubai near the border with Abu Dhabi. The complex is expected to attract 6.7 million visitors in its first year of operations. Motiongate Dubai will boast 27 attractions, with dining, retail and entertainment options throughout the area.

British Airways Takes on Budget Carriers With New Fares
British Airways has launched new fares in a bid to simplify short-haul travel and compete with its low-cost rivals. There are three new fare types – Basic, Plus and Plus Flex are now on sale, replacing the airline’s six existing options. Basic is the cheapest of the new fares and doesn’t include checked luggage. The new Plus fare includes a 23kg checked baggage allowance and allows free flight changes until the day of departure, up to one hour before the scheduled take off, though fare differences may apply. The Plus Flex fare, meanwhile, is fully refundable and includes a 23kg checked baggage allowance, free flight changes on the day, free seat selection at booking and free advance changes subject to fare difference.

Delta Air Lines Just Abolished One of the Most Hated Fees
Delta Air Lines has abruptly stopped charging extra for booking seats offline. “It is much simpler for our customers to not have to worry if they will pay a fee for ticketing with Delta,” Glen Hauenstein, Delta’s incoming president, said in a prepared statement. Phone reservation fees are among the most least popular charges in the travel industry. A recent survey found 49% of travelers “hated” them. The announcement came as a surprise, given that the airline industry lately has based its business model on ancillary fees, like these: $25 per ticket when purchased over the phone through reservation sales and $35 per ticket when purchased at airports and other ticket office.

Venezuela To Ration Electricity
On 21 April 2016, the Venezuelan government announced that it will begin rationing electricity nationwide for four hours each day, starting on 25 April. The electricity cuts will be in place for 40 days or until water levels at the Guri Dam, which provides the majority of electricity in Venezuela, stabilize. The schedule of cuts will be published on a daily basis in newspapers and on ministerial websites. Only the oil sector will be exempt from the rationing. The announcement is the latest in a series of measures aimed at reducing Venezuela’s electricity usage, including plans to shift the country’s time zone forward by 30 minutes on 1 May, reducing government workers’ workdays to six hours and giving them Fridays off for the next two months, and ordering shops and hotels to ration electricity.

Germany Rolls Out ‘Women Only’ Train Compartments
Special train compartments exclusively for women have been introduced by a German rail company. The areas for female passengers only are regularly checked by workers on services run by Mitteldeutsche Regiobahn (MRB) in the east of the country. Women-only train cars are in use in many cities – including Cairo, Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur – but none are believed to be in the heart of Europe. Now, in a highly controversial decision, a private German railway company wants to adopt the idea as well. According to Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper, women-only carriages will be available on trains running between Leipzig and Chemnitz.

FAA Orders Fix For GE Engines On 787 Dreamliners
Another problem for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The FAA has ordered an urgent fix for General Electric engines on up to 150 Boeing 787 Dreamliners, a step to avoid engine failure in icy conditions. The Federal Aviation Administration said it was requiring modifications to prevent fan blades from rubbing against the engine casing, which can cause “damage and a possible in-flight non-restartable power loss of one or both engines.” The measure was prompted by a report in January that such rubbing caused vibrations, leading the pilot to shut down the engine, a GE spokesman said.

Maryland And Royal Caribbean Sign New Contract
The Maryland Port Administration announced a new contract with Royal Caribbean International that will extend the cruise line’s year-round departures from the Helen Delich Bentley Port of Baltimore through June 2020. Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas will continue to offer a wide range of cruising experiences from Maryland to the Bahamas, Bermuda, the Caribbean, and New England/Canada. The Grandeur of the Seas will continue offering five, nine and 12-night roundtrip itineraries from Baltimore, including a new nine-night voyage to Nassau. In 2015, nearly 200,000 passengers sailed on 90 cruises from the Port of Baltimore. The Port ranks 6th on the East Coast, 11th in the U.S. and 20th in the world for cruise passengers.

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Why you should visit Amsterdam in 2013

This year there’s no better town to visit than Amsterdam. Lonely Planet declared the city as one of the top 10 to visit in 2013. Dozens of museums and artistic venues are celebrating their reopenings, rededications, and anniversaries. The 400th anniversary of trade between the Netherlands and Russia and the 150th anniversary of the Dutch abolition of slavery will also influence events and activities. The city will be abound with concerts, exhibits, processions and sporting events. Check out just some of these fantastic opportunities:

  • From March to September, the Hermitage Amsterdam is hosting a grand Peter the Great exhibit.
  • Rijksmuseum has reopened this April after an extensive renovation.
  • The Royal Artis Zoo is celebrating its 175th birthday with a colorful parade of flora from all over the world.
  • The Van Gogh Museum also got a makeover as it celebrates its 40th anniversary—it reopened its doors to the public early May.
  • The world-renowned Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra is celebrating 125 years of top-rate musicianship.
  • The city is celebrating the 400th anniversary of the Amsterdam canal belt.
  • The Carre is celebrating 125 years as a performance venue, kicking off the festivities with a visit from Moscow’s Opera Stanislavski.
  • Frans Hals Museum celebrates its 100 anniversary.
  • The Felix Meritis is celebrating its 225th birthday. A center for science, arts and culture is celebrating by opening its doors to its famous Observatory for anyone who’d like to visit. The center is also hosting readings, exhibitions, educational programs and tours.
  • Regular annual celebrations include the Gay Pride Parade in August, the Amsterdam City Swim and Dam tot Damloop marathon in September, and the Light Festival in December.

Catch a flight to Amsterdam this year to take advantage of this Year of Celebration! Delta flies nonstop from Portland to Amsterdam once a day everyday. Willamette Intl Travel can arrange your flight and hotel reservations, and advise on the best activities in and around the Netherlands. Call Wittravel to book your trip to Amsterdam and beyond.

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Filed under Europe, Netherlands, Where in the World is the WIT Client?

Tulip Time!

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photo by Kivanc Nis, Creative Commons

The season for Tulips is just concluding in the Netherlands. Didn’t catch this year’s festivities of buds and blossoms? Never fear—it’s not too early to plan a 2014 tulip trip!

The Netherlands has a long history with these colorful little buds. Ever since the Dutch Golden Age introduced the tulip to Europe from the Ottoman Empire, the Netherlands have nurtured a passion and some might even say mania for tulips. During blooming season from March to May, the Netherlands offers dozens of ways and places to enjoy these beloved flowers.

Like everything that is weather-dependent, the blooming season of tulips is unpredictable. Late springs can lead to missing the blossoms in March. The safest bet to catch the blooms is mid-April. The most well-known bulb region in the Netherlands lies between Haarlem and Sassenheim. This area includes the small village of Lisse, 30 miles southwest of Amsterdam and less than an hour away.

You can catch the bus from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol to Keukenhof gardens. Once there, you can rent a bike outside the garden entrance for about 10 euros. If you prefer more private transportation, book a guided tour, which includes coach rides and prepaid entrance fees. You can also enjoy the gardens as a shore excursion.

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photo by bertknot, Creative Commons

Another major tulip event is the Netherlands’ annual Flower Parade, held one Saturday in April. Floats, luxury cars, dancers and musicians travel along the 40-km route from Noordwijk to Haarlem. It’s an all day event—so pack a lunch!

Looking for a unique way to enjoy the tulip season? Several river cruises have opened for sale for 2014, some of which even focus on the tulip festivals. Cruise companies typically award early booking savings to their fore-thinking customers. Avalon Waterways has deals of up to $1000 per couple off for 2014, and Viking River Cruises is offering an Early Booking Discount that expires May 31, 2013.

A trip to Europe not in the stars next Spring? For a tulip festival closer to home, check out Skagit Valley, a.k.a. “tulip town,” in northwest Washington State. Here, you can enjoy indoor tulip displays and outdoor gardens, visit bulb shops, kite displays and snack bars. Snap a photo with your family in front of the picturesque windmill. You can even wander the fields aboard a tractor-pulled carriage. You can even purchase some tulips at one of the stands. These are not harvested until late summer or early fall, after which the bulbs are shipped to your home.

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photo by Hisa Fujimoto, Creative Commons

Missed the Tulips this Year? Call us for your trip in 2014!

If you want to catch the famous Dutch tulip fields in bloom, book your trip today to the Netherlands for Spring 2014. It’s not too early!

Delta flies nonstop from Portland to Amsterdam everyday once a day. Call Wittravel to book your trip today. We can arrange your flight and hotel reservations, and advise on the best activities in and around the Netherlands.

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Filed under Avalon Waterway, Europe, Netherlands, Viking Cruises

Cruise News: WIT Owners sail with new Viking River Cruises Longships

Willamette International Travel’s owners Christina and John Cooper attended the debut of four of Viking’s River Cruises’ longships in Amsterdam on Wednesday, March 21. Destined to sail the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers, they have been an exciting and welcome addition to the travel community.

WIT has enjoyed a long relationship with Viking Cruises, and we can offer a number of discounts and limited opportunities to their luxurious services. Most of our travel agents have sailed on their premium cruises, and can personally attest to the quality of their onboard experiences.

At a capacity of 190 passengers, Viking predicts that these longships and their revolutionary additions promise amazing growth for the European river cruise industry. Some highlights include cabins with balconies, record-breaking suite sizes, and all-weather terraces—all remarkable innovations in cruise development.

As she reported to the Travel Market Report, Christina admired “the extra outdoor space and the balconies…the clean lines, airy contemporary décor.” Several agents remarked similarly in favor of the modern design, the onboard herb garden, and the vibrant colors.

Interested in a cruise? You can book a number of Viking’s River Cruises with WIT. Call us at 1.503.224.0180 or email at info@wittravel.com.

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