Tag Archives: antigua

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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Filed under Disney, Europe

Our Top 4 Reasons why you should head to Guatemala this Winter

It’s that time of the year to start thinking about winter vacation — and where else to go for a fun blend of culture and sun but Central America? Peak season is December to May, before the rain starts and school’s out, especially during the holidays—Christmas, New Year and Easter. Why not try Guatemala for a change?

Guatemala, home to fertile lowlands and dynamic volcanoes, has been occupied for millennia. It was the birthplace of the magnificent Mayan empire, culminating in splendid cities, healthy population and countless temples and palaces when Europe was still in its Dark Ages. Its rich Mayan and successive Columbian heritage have made for a unique blend of architecture, markets, food and language. Here are our top five places to visit in Guatemala:

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CC (c) Dennis Jarvis

1. Tikal. Tikal is a large archaeological site in Petén, and once one of the largest Mayan cities. Designated a UNESCO site in 1979, the area has been painstakingly restored. The stone temples and pyramids, lying deep in remote jungles, are marvelous testaments of architectural majesty. Tikal has been ranked in Lonely Planet’s Ultimate Travelers’ Bucket List.

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CC (c) John Fitzpatrick

2. Antigua. Artsy Antigua is a charming city and great place to practice your Spanish. The coffee industry fuels a sophisticated cultural scene. Visitors are sure to spend a few afternoons here exploring sweet shops, admiring the city’s parks or delving into the ruins of an old convent.

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CC (c) Adam Baker

3. Lake Atitlan. Atitlan means “where the rainbow gets its color” in Mayan. This stunning lake covers 50 square miles and is renowned for its beauty—surrounded by volcanoes and many thriving villages. Here you can ease into adventure slowly by hiking one for the many lakeshore trails, or dive right in by paragliding, zip lining, or scuba diving.

4. Chichicastenango. At this famous market you can find an array of colorful wares: everything from handicrafts and textiles to food, pottery, candles, herb, limestones, machetes and incense. Operating on Thursdays and Sundays, the market is also where you’ll stumble on traditional masks used in traditional events like the Dance of the Conquest. Next to the market visitors can wander into the 400-year old Church of Santo Tomas.

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CC (c) Adam Baker

Our longterm partners at Avanti Destinations organize custom packages in Central and Latin America—give Willamette Intl Travel a ring to learn more about options to Guatemala.

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Filed under Central America

Final Ports: Star Clipper

This week the WIT blog is following our agent Nancy as she sails around the Caribbean on the Star Clipper on an educational trip to check out the ships and the stops! Today’s the last day of our sailing tour, so we’re taking a look at the final ports on her journey. Nancy will be back in the office on Monday, to give her a call if you want to hear firsthand how it went!Past_Pax_cocktail_Party_RC

Îles de Saintes, Guadeloupe

These eight tiny islands lie seven miles south of Guadeloupe. Though under most tourists’ radar, the Îles de Saintes offer all the delights of the Caribbean—from gorgeous beaches, crystal-clear water, and delicious food with French influence. Visit Terre-de-Haut, the main town that houses most of the restaurants and hotels in Les Saintes. Shopping covers French and island goods: bamboo hats, local handicrafts, madras cotton crafts, African dresses, etc. While you’re there, try to mingle with some of the native creole population, known for their hospitality—and enjoy their unique patois of English, French, Spanish, Portuguese and African. Photographers should head to Le Bourg, the incredibly picturesque harbor, and to La Chameau, the highest point on the island with its 360 spectacular view of Terre-de-Haut and the seven other islands.

Antigua, Antigua and Barbuda

The Star Clipper will dock at Saint John, the only city on the island. Visitors typically walk through Heritage Quay up to the town, where they can enjoy duty-free shopping and tasty restaurants. Antigua food is tropical with many African influences, with dishes such as saltfish, grated sweet potato, coconut and cornmeal. Try a cup of delicious “fever grass” (lemongrass) bush tea. Scuba diving is fair, with many reefs just off the eastern coastline. If you have time, you can hire dinghies or catamarans to explore the plethora of coves and natural harbors around the island. There are more than 60 registered shipwrecks on and around Palaster Reef in the nearby isle of Barbuda. Other sightseeing includes Nelson’s Dockyard National Park, the public market, steel-pan bands at Shirley Heights, Betty’s Hope Sugar Estate, and St. Peter’s Church in Parham. Traveling with kids? Go bird-watching near the lagoon at Darkwood Beach or try some delicious tamarind or sea-grapes.

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Gustavia, St. Barts

Gustavia is the capital of Saint Barthelemy (or St. Barts as it’s been Anglicized). In the past decade, French immigrants have doubled the population and tourism has flourished. There are now many high-end boutiques and luxury hotels available in the town. For an excursion, you can hike up to Fort Karl and Fort Gustav, or check out the Gendarmerie at Fort Oscar. Grand Galet Beach can be reached on foot from town and is a prime location for shell seekers. If you’re into surfing, hit the waves at Pointe Milou, on the north coast.

Did you know?

–         Guadeloupe produces two-thirds of bananas eaten in France.

–         Les Saintes is the only region in the world where two species of iguana occupy the same area.

–         Many of the streets outside of Saint John, Antigua, don’t have names. The mail is delivered door-to-door by carriers who know exactly who lives where.

–         Volleyball is the most popular sport on St. Barts, with hundreds of tournaments annually that draw crowds of 500 or more.

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Star Clipper: Disembarkation Day

As we in the office know, Nancy loves cruises and is excited to contrast her smaller ship experience against her vast repertoire of large cruise lines. She has anticipated that Disembarkation Day in particular will be truly different:

 “The Star Clipper experience is all about relaxation and rejuvenation, not sticking to a script. This will sound weird but I’m especially excited about my last night onboard! Why? I can enjoy dinner, socializing with my new friends, and savoring the wonderful week I’ve had and NOT race to meet the deadline to have my luggage outside my cabin! Nor do I have weave between masses of bags littering the hallways. Cruising on Star Clipper really means that the vacation fun doesn’t shrink on the last night; it rolls through breakfast.”

blue-sidelogoInterested in sailing with Star Clipper? Willamette Intl Travel regularly books these boats and would love to tell you more! Call us at 503.224.0180 or info@wittravel.com. For a firsthand review, ask to speak with Linda, or by next week, Nancy!

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Filed under Antigua and Barbuda, Caribbean, Guadeloupe, Our Travel Agents, St. Barthelemy, Star Clipper, Travel by Ship, Where in the World is the WIT Agent?