Tag Archives: antarctica

Travel News: Hurtigruten Going Big in the Arctic in 2019

Hurtigruten Going Big in Arctic in 2019

Hurtigruten has announced an expanded Arctic deployment for 2019, not only sailing from Tromso to Russia, but offering expedition cruises in Svalbard with five ships, and a Northwest Passage transit on the new Roald Amundsen. It will be the first time a hybrid ship has sailed the Northwest Passage. In addition, the company announced that both the Roald Amundsen and Fridtjof Nansen will offer expedition sailings along Norway’s coast in 2019. Among new expedition offerings are departures from Tromso calling at Murmansk and Frans Josef Land. “Frans Josefs Land is one of the world’s most spectacular, yet at least visited destinations. The Arctic regions of Russia have enormous potential and are perfect for Hurtigruten expeditions,” added Skjeldam. A 15-day expedition departure on the Spitsbergen will cross into Russian waters and Murmansk before sailing the Barents Sea to Franz Josef Land for five days of expedition landings.

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Some NYC Hotels Turn To Urban Destination Fees

The Independent reports in New York City, hotels have found the perfect solution with the introduction of “urban destination fees,” which are similarly hovering around $25 per night on top of the regular room rate. In many cases, the fee also includes extras like free local telephone calls, an F&B credit and Wi-Fi, but in other cases, it is strictly an add-on to reflect “the hotels’ proximity to a ‘tourist attraction,'” A spokesperson for Marriott Hotels and Resorts told The Independent, “The Destination Fee was created as a way to lift the guest experience by providing added value to a hotel stay. Each hotel may offer a combination of hotel services (such as dry-cleaning, pressing or a food & beverage credit); local experience vouchers for free/discounted events and attractions (such as city tours), and/or access to fitness programs (such as yoga or cycling) in nearby studios.” “All participating hotels will include enhanced internet, as well as local, long distance and international phone calls. The implementation of the Destination Fee gives us the opportunity to test how a bundle of benefits that our research shows are valuable to guests might enhance the stay.

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Holland America’s Nieuw Statendam Celebrates Cruise Ship Milestone

The AP reports a coin ceremony was held Wednesday for Holland America’s Nieuw Statendam at Fincantieri’s Marghera shipyard in Italy, taking the new-build one step closer to its November 2018 launch. During the event, a Dutch guilder was welded to the front of the 2,660-passenger, Pinnacle-class ship to mark the line’s Dutch heritage. Anne Marie Bartels, a member of Holland America’s President’s Club loyalty program who’s sailed on more than 79 of the line’s voyages, served as the ship’s madrina, an honorary ceremony guest similar to a godmother. Nieuw Statendam, which officially will be floated out December 21, is the second ship in Holland America’s Pinnacle Class; Koningsdam was first in class when it debuted in April 2016. A third Pinnacle-class ship is scheduled to launch in 2021. Much of the new ship’s design will be similar to Koningsdam, but it will have exclusive public spaces and differentiating style elements created by designer Adam D. Tihany and designer and architect Bjorn Storbraaten. Holland America Line’s first ship to be called Statendam sailed in 1898; this will be the sixth vessel in the company’s history to carry the name.

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Marriott Tops J.D. Power Hotel Loyalty Survey

Marriott International’s loyalty program Marriott Rewards edged out Hyatt Hotels Corp.’s World of Hyatt to win J.D. Power’s 2017 Hotel Loyalty Program Satisfaction Study. Marriott Rewards earned a score of 806 on a 1,000-point scale and World of Hyatt received a score of 805. Hilton’s Hilton Rewards finished third with a score of 793 and InterContinental’s IHG Rewards placed fourth with a score of 789. Finishing at the bottom of the study were Wyndham Worldwide’s Wyndham Rewards, 742, and Choice Hotels International’s Choice Privileges, 743. The annual study, which measures member satisfaction with hotel rewards and loyalty programs, found this year that members who redeemed rewards points for dining, car rentals, product purchases and special events exhibited greater satisfaction than those who redeemed only for hotel stays. That finding could spell trouble for some hoteliers but prove a boon for others as many of the industry’s top players expand their rewards programs offerings to include experiences, as well as a wider array of redemption opportunities. The study is based on 4,682 responses from rewards program members who experienced five or more trips during the past 12 months and was fielded in September and October of 2017.

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Abandoned Air Traffic Control Tower In Denver Becomes A Restaurant

An abandoned air traffic control tower which has lain empty for 22 years has been turned into a trendy restaurant. In addition to a dining venue and bar, the Punch Bowl Social will bring arcade games, karaoke and bowling to the disused building at the long-gone Stapleton International Airport in Denver. The plans were revealed earlier this year, but the “entertainment” establishment, has opened this month, retaining the original tower and using much of the former exterior of the building on the inside. The former airport was used to handle hundreds of flights a day between 1929 and 1995, and its tower now offers sterling views over the city. Stapleton, which at its prime welcomed major airlines including United and Continental to its six runways, was decommissioned in 1995 and replaced by Denver International after suffering from a number of problems including lack of room for new airlines, a lawsuit over noise and inadequate separation between runways. Its last flight was a Continental service to London Gatwick. All of the airport’s infrastructure has been removed except for the control tower. The Punch Bowl Social has been designed with its aviation heritage in mind. The interior’s design is intended to hark back to the “golden age of air travel”, while an aviation-themed cocktail menu will remind visitors of the building’s heritage.

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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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Client Trip Report: Why Antarctica continues to be the most Awe-Inspiring Destination

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Willamette Intl Travel booked an amazing trip for our long-time clients Doug and Diane. They sailed on an unforgettable voyage to Antarctica last December. So in the interest of sharing it with our readers, we’ve made up a presentation that we think you’ll love—chock-full of firsthand feedback, quotes, tips, and gorgeous photos. We hope you enjoy it!

Take Me on a Virtual Voyage to Antarctica!

 

Thinking about a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Antarctica?

Let us advise you!

We’ve sent dozens of clients to explore the lonely continent. Nothing prepares you for the sheer beauty of its nature. Call us for a consultation now: 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com.

I had no idea that ice, mountains, icebergs, clouds, flat water, sky, and sun could work together to make such beautiful scenes.  I was in awe the whole trip.

–Doug D.

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Filed under Antarctica, Argentina, Cruises, G Adventures, South America

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

Early Booking Discount: G Adventures Antarctica

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Join G Adventures this winter on an unforgettable adventure to Antarctica! Experience the remote edge of the earth, otherworldly landscapes and rich wildlife in 2- or 3-week sailings on the G Expedition. Call our agents to discuss any one of these amazing voyages:

Spirit of Shackleton, 21 Days, sailings in November and January. Falklands, South Georgia, Antarctic Peninsula, South Shetland Islands, Drake Passage, Ushuaia.

Antarctica Classic, 11 Days, sailings in December, January and March. Ushuaia, Antarctic Peninsula, South Shetland Islands, Drake Passage.

Quest for the Antarctic Circle, 14 Days, sailings in December and February. Similar to Classic, only longer.

AND we are excited to announce Early Booking Discount on select sailings for 2016!

BOOK BY 30 JUNE 2015 and receive a 10% per person discount on the following:

Falklands, South Georgia & The Antarctic Islands, 22 Days, October 23, 2016
Antarctic in Depth, 13 Days, November 12, 2016
Antarctic Classic, 11 Days, December 12, 2016

Applicable for cabin categories 3-5. Cannot be combined with other offers. Restrictions apply.

In the Portland area this Fall? Drop by our office on Sept 9! Join staff from Willamette Intl Travel and G Adventures for an evening of adventure travel! We’ll highlight Galapagos and Antarctica as well as G Adventures’ special Arctic Cruise. 

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Hurtigruten Voyage to Antarctica!

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Hop onboard with Hurtigruten this winter for a once-in-a-lifetime voyage to Antarctica!

The small-ship cruise line is having an incredible 5-Day SALE up to 35% off standard prices. For 5 days only from July 28 to August 1, Antarctica Voyages departing between Nov 2014 and Feb 2015 are on SALE.

Book Exclusively with your Willamette Intl Travel Agent!

Because the ship is an intimate experience, availability is VERY limited and are sold on a first-come, first-serve basis. As a Hurtigruten partner, our agents have access to pre-booking you on the cruise before it is available to the general public. Contact us at 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com.

Choose from one of three itineraries:

13-Day The Land of the Penguins, departures on Nov 19, Jan 4, Jan 16

15-Day Polar Circle Expedition, departures on Jan 28, Feb 11

17-Day Christmas Expedition, departures on Dec 19

Check out the Video: http://vimeo.com/56082361

Inside cabins start at $7,187 per person for a 13-day itinerary. Outside cabins start at $8,177 per person for a 13-day itinerary. Based on double occupancy, restrictions apply, call for further details.

Hurtigruten offers only a few fantastic sailings a year on their beautiful medium-sized ships. Their focus is on expedition travel, combining luxury and adventure. Sail in the wake of historical explorers in the cutting-edge technology of MS Fram. Explore dramatic landscapes, stunning icebergs, and spot the millions of penguins, thousands of seals, and pods of whales that inhabit the waters and shores during the austral summer.

Plus! Extensions with Argentina are possible. Call us to discuss your options on an Antarctica cruise before July 28!

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Filed under Antarctica, Hurtigruten, Our Travel Agents, Travel by Ship

Cruise to Antarctica

Antarctica is a land like no other. Covering almost one-tenth of the Earth’s surface, it’s one bucket-list destination never to be missed. Nowhere else on Earth has what Antarctica can offer—the largest concentration of marine wildlife in the world, dramatic scenery, massive icebergs and glaciers. Since you are venturing where few ever do (30,000 tourists per year), you will want to make sure your experience is well-planned and well-suited to your travel preferences. Our agents are careful in ensuring that we match client with company, taking close looks at crew expertise, ship features, expedition activity, and overall quality of experience.

photo by John Lester, Creative Commons

It’s important to be familiar with the ships and routes. Antarctica ships tend to fall in three main categories: small expedition ships with ice-hardened hulls, medium-sized ships and large cruise ships. Smaller ships carry inflatable landing craft (zodiacs) so passengers can venture off the ship and onto land. Itineraries typically sail from Ushuaia across the Drake Passage, and a sailing often includes the South Shetland Islands, South Georgia, around Cape Horn, and the Falklands (though recently some cruise lines have pulled from the Falklands due to territorial disputes). Here are some companies who offer expedition travel to Antarctica, used and approved by our agents:

LINDBLAD

Lars-Eric Lindblad founded Lindblad Expeditions in the late 1950’s, combining his passion for uncharted travel and eco-tourism. The company is dedicated to finding creative ways to explore areas already mapped. Trained naturalists onboard strive to connect their guests with amazing and incredible places through adventure and education. Their partnership with like-minded National Geographic experts on the top of their field allows them to lead the most experienced Ice Team on the National Geographic Explorer. Your ship will be escorted by a team of veteran Naturalists, who will take you on hikes through the icy wild, kayaking in coves and around ice floes, and zodiac cruising among icebergs. Travelers choose Lindblad because of the on-ship innovative technology, all-inclusive rates, up close and personal experiences, informal atmosphere, hand-crafted itineraries and ecologically minded experts. Their partnership with like-minded National Geographic experts in the peak of their field certainly doesn’t hurt!

photo by 23am.com, Creative Commons

HURTIGRUTEN

Hurtigruten offers a step up in exploration travel, combining luxury and expedition. Sail in the wake of historical explorers in the technologically advanced ship MS Fram, and spot the millions of penguins, thousands of seals, and pods of whales that inhabit the waters and shores during the austral summer. The ship’s expedition team will give a series of lectures as you cross the Drake Passage. Each voyage is unique, and the final choice of landings will be made in the course of the sailing. Included with each booking are the cabin, full board meals, flights between Ushuaia and Buenos Aires, and the excursion to Ushuaia National Park.

photo by tonyforster2, Creative Commons

G ADVENTURES

G Adventures has a number of itineraries that delve into the heart of Antarctica’s wilderness and history. They have expeditions from 11-days to intensive 23-days, all of which include: meals, zodiac excursions with expert expedition teams, educational programs, transfers, expert guides and accommodation on board the MS Expedition. Venture out to Shackleton’s final resting place, and sail through the penguin rookeries and seal colonies of Antarctica. Some itineraries even include South Georgia and the Falkland Islands in the sailing, and you can even add on Buenos Aires or Iguassu Falls bookends to your itinerary. G Adventures also supplies waterproof boots for all passengers, and a special Canada Goose expedition jacket for each guest in a Category 5 suite!

Photo by winky in the uk, Creative Commons

GENERAL TOURS

General Tours offers a 15-day itinerary for small, intimate groups venturing deep through Antarctica. The ship’s unique open bridge policy allows passengers to join the ship’s officers on the bridge and learn about navigation, whale watching, enjoying a front-row-seat view of icebergs and snow-capped mountains. Trace the 1901-1903 route of the Swedish Antarctic Expedition, visit Hope Bay and Snow Hill Island, and sail across the peninsula’s remote eastern coast into the remote Weddell Sea. Enrich your sail with insightful lectures on the on board Ship Naturalist. This itinerary includes nights in Buenos Aires and Tierra del Fuego.

photo by Liam Quinn, Creative Commons

SILVERSEA

The medium-sized Silver Explorer was especially designed by Silversea Cruises to navigate the waters of remote destinations. A strengthened hull with an ice-class notation for passenger vessels allows the ship to push through ice floes with ease. An expert Expedition Team will accompany passengers via zodiac ships on to the dramatic continent of Antarctica. Itineraries run from 10 to 22 days, and explore Antarctica as well as the Falkland Islands, South Georgia, South Shetlands, and Tristan da Cunha.

QUARK

Quark Expeditions is based in Seattle. Since 1991 Quark has specialized in polar expeditions, and their ships are specially designed ice-strengthened vessels made for high latitude cruising. They are unique in that they have the largest and most diverse fleet of passenger ships, and deliver more departures and itineraries than any other company. They have itineraries that run from 8 days to as long as a month! Explore the Antarctic Peninsula, visit research stations on Adelaide Island, hike up glaciers and visit penguin rookeries; or see the incredible wildlife of South Georgia, often referred to as “the Galapagos of the South.” Learn about the continent’s unique geology, history and wildlife from an expert team.

It’s never too early to book a sail to Antarctica. Ships and space are limited. Call us now to find out more about a particular sailing or vendor that has one on offer. WIT Agent Christina has traveled to Antarctica and can give you a firsthand account. Call us at 503.224.0180 or email info@wittravel.com.

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Filed under Antarctica, Cruises, G Adventures, General Tours, Hurtigruten, Lindblad Expeditions, Quark, Silversea, Travel by Ship