Tag Archives: arctic

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: Chinese Gov’t Requiring Strict Photos for China Visa

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Chinese Gov’t Requires Strict Photo Regulations for China Visa

Lately the Chinese government has gotten very particular on their acceptance of photos on the China visa application. Applicants must adhere to the visa requirements to the letter or risk rejections. Please double check with your passport photo photographer that they are up-to-date with recent regulations. Full details on requirements in the attached PDF here. 

Biggest-Ever Airplane Poised For Test Flights Into Orbit

The world’s largest airplane, designed to reshape space travel by launching rockets mid-air into orbit from 30,000 ft, rolled out of its hangar for the first time last Wednesday at the Mojave Air and Space Port. The groundbreaking plane, which looks like two aircraft joined together, is the brainchild of billionaire Microsoft Co-Founder Paul Allen and his private spaceflight company Stratolaunch. Allen founded the company in 2011 with the goal of making access to low-Earth orbit more “convenient, reliable and routine.” It has the biggest wingspan of any aircraft ever built, coming in 385 ft, longer than an NFL field which is 360 ft in length. The aircraft is 238 ft from nose to tail and stands 50 ft high on its 28 wheels. This is the first time the public has got a look at the spaceplane and now work must begin on testing before its predicted maiden voyage in 2019.

Montreal Ferris Wheel Set For July Opening

Montreal’s new La Grande Roue Ferris wheel will start operating in the Old Port in mid-July. The ride will offer panoramic 60-metre-high views of the river, Old Montreal, downtown and the mountain. The Ferris wheel will operate year-round from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., giving visitors a chance to enjoy a day or evening view from an air-conditioned cabin (heated in winter). There will also be a bar, bistro and coffee shop on site

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Record Number Of Climbers On Mount Everest

Safety concerns are on high alert this year as Mount Qomolangma, more commonly known as Mount Everest, is expected to see its highest number of climbers this year. The mountain is located on the border between Nepal and China and in order to climb it, interested climbers need to apply for a permit from either the Nepalese or Chinese government depending on which side the ascent begins. Unlike previous years, the world’s highest peak which sits at 8,848 meters above sea level, is estimated to receive more than 1000 people this year during the peak season, which is the highest number of climbers ever. The cause of the increasing number of climbers is varied but a lot of it has to do with the increasing popularity of the climb ever since it was opened to the public over 60 years ago. This year alone, the Nepalese government has granted 371 permits, the most it’s ever issued in a single year. A key factor which has caused the growth of the number of climbers may be the portrayal of Mount Everest in popular media. Experienced climbers have noted that the climb is promoted as a fashionable activity rather than what it truly is; a challenging extreme sport which should only be limited to climbers who have had experiences with similar conditions such as the 5,895 meters tall Mount Kilimanjaro. In order to handle the increase of applications, the Nepalese government has imposed more stringent conditions such as instigating a ban on climbers who are younger than 18 or older than 75.

Royal Caribbean Reinstates Corkage Fee for Wine Brought Onboard

Cruise Critic reports Royal Caribbean has reinstated its corkage fee for wine brought onboard by passengers. The $15 per bottle fee will be charged for the opening of any bottle brought onboard by passengers on embarkation day. Wine purchased from the onboard menus or through the line’s Gifts and Gear program and consumed in a public space does not bear an extra charge. Passengers are permitted to bring onto their cruise ship, on embarkation day only, two bottles of wine or Champagne per cabin, up to 750 ml each for consumption during the cruise. Any bottles brought onboard during the length of the sailing will be stored for the duration of the cruise and returned to passengers the night before disembarkation. Royal Caribbean declined to comment on why the line brought back the fee, which it had removed back in 2014.

President Trump To Reverse Cuba Policy

There are many reports circulating that the President plans to reverse the previous administration’s Cuba policy. Business Travel News reports US cruise operators and airlines could lose $712 million in annual revenues if restrictions are reinstated. President Trump is poised to void the re-normalization of US relations with Cuba, according to multiple congressional and advocacy organization sources with direct knowledge of the administration’s intentions reported by numerous news media yesterday. Possible changes Pres. Trump is considering include “reconfirming the licensing structure that would rescind the system that has allowed for easier travel to the country,” many news media outlets report, as well as new regulations for businesses interested in working in the Cuban market; reinstating caps or outright banning imports from the country; and redefining the what it means to be a part of the Cuban government or military, which could affect contracts with the Cuban government. The sources say some of the changes could take effect this month. US businesses have established 26 agreements with the Cuban government from 2015 to 2017, according to ABC News, including airlines and cruise lines as well as telecommunications companies and Google, which hoped to expand internet access in Cuba. The number of US citizens visiting Cuba increased 74% from 2015 to 2016, according to the Cuban Ministry. Trump’s administration is reviewing US policy toward the country’s former Cold War foe.

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Arctic Tourism Groups Forge Guidelines For Community Visits

Five Arctic tourism organizations have joined forces to develop guidelines for tourists visiting Arctic communities. In addition to general advice on how to behave, the organizations presented a template that helps communities to create their own tailored guidelines. The guidelines, which provide travelers with useful dos and don’ts when visiting Arctic communities, were developed with the input of local stakeholders. Included are pointers on everything from cultural considerations to recommendations on what kind of souvenirs to buy. For example, visitors are encouraged to talk to, and not about, the people they meet and to ask before taking photographs of people (‘a hesitation means “no”‘). ‘Think of yourself as an ambassador for your country and your culture, as the locals are for theirs. Politeness and good manners are always appreciated,’ one guideline states. Visitors are advised to respect privacy and private property, and places of religious or cultural significance. Children shouldn’t be photographed or given gifts without their superiors’ permission. Religious or cultural ceremonies shouldn’t be disturbed or photographed without permission. People should avoid walking on graves. The groups that teamed on the guidelines are the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO), Visit Greenland, Cruise Iceland, Visit Svalbard and the Northern Norway Tourist Board.

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