Tag Archives: Caribbean

Travel News: Plan-A-Cruise Month!

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Celebrate Cruise Month with deals to tempt you up the gangway for a fabulous holiday at sea

Plan-A-Cruise Month is the bigger and better successor to National Cruise Week!! SALES from dozens of cruise lines have STARTED and ends Tuesday October 31. Dreaming of a cruise to Hawaii, Alaska, Caribbean, Mediterranean, Asia? Call Willamette Intl Travel for huge savings and perks on your next Cruise! 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com. 

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Starting October 26, 2017, NEW TSA rules are in effect

Some travelers INBOUND to USA may be selected for an interview at check-in counters and airport gates by TSA staff. This is aimed at tightening security at airports and for airlines and its passengers. Both American and global airlines must comply, affecting all of the 2,100 flights from around the world that enter the U.S. on any given day. This will lengthen the amount of recommended time passengers need to check in before their flights. Usually Willamette Intl Travel recommends 2 hours before domestic flights and 3 hours before international, but you may want to add 1 hour extra to ensure that you meet your flight.

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Viking Cruises Named ‘Best River Cruise Line’

Currently celebrating their 20th anniversary, Viking Cruises has been voted the Best River Cruise Line by Condé Nast Traveler in the publication’s 2017 Readers’ Choice Awards. The line has scored in the top o the list every year since the river cruise category was introduced. Also, after only two years of ocean cruises, Viking was again named one of the Best Ocean Cruise Lines. Over 300,000 readers submitted millions of ratings and more than 100,000 comments as part of the 30th annual readers’ choice survey. Acclaimed for their innovation, modern Scandinavian design, inclusive value, and destination-focused offerings, for the past 20 years Viking has amassed awards from industry experts and the travel trade.

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Airlines Bring Out the Bubbly And Ice Cream In Coach

Major US airlines are beefing up their menus in an attempt to stand out against a growing sea of low-cost carriers that advertise fares less than $100 for a flight across the Atlantic Ocean. Delta Air Lines announced earlier this month that it is serving free Prosecco on international flights in all cabins, just a few weeks after it unveiled new transatlantic routes for next year that include non-stops from Los Angeles to Paris and Amsterdam, New York to Lagos, and Atlanta to Lisbon. Delta was careful with its wording as a traveler sued a Canadian airline for advertising Champagne after he received sparkling wine. By the end of next year, Delta’s first, business and premium-economy passengers will be able to preselect their meals before boarding.

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Emirates Airlines Hires Boredom Specialist To Keep Kids Entertained

Emirates has hired a psychologist and boredom specialist to keep kids entertained on their aircrafts. Young flyers will take just 49 minutes and 47 seconds to ask the dreaded, ”are we nearly there yet?” so with parents battling the boredom threshold, Emirates has teamed up with Dr Sandi Mann, a psychologist and boredom specialist at the University of Central Lancashire to find a solution. Dr Mann has worked with the airline to create the Child Boredom Quotient (CBQ), helping parents identify the exact moment their kids will get bored so they can enjoy stress-free travel.

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First Airport Terminal Gym In Europe Opens At Estonia’s Tallinn Airport

Leading fitness club operator, MyFitness, has this month opened Europe’s very first gym situated within an airport terminal. The gym is located at Gate 6 in the Departures area of Lennart Meri Tallinn Airport with views on to the runway. The gym is fully equipped with state of the art modern equipment with internet connection, as well specialist training machines and a stretching area. The gym is equipped with a treadmill, elliptical trainer, rowing machine, exercise bicycle and a staircase trainer, all equipped with a screen and connected to the Internet. There four specialist training machines for feet, shoulders, chest and back exercises, plus a stretch area. Lennart Meri Tallinn Airport is known to be one of the most unique airports in the world in other areas too.

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Cunard To Offer Short Alaska Season In 2019

In 2019, Cunard Line will sail in Alaska, offering a handful of departures in May and June aboard the Queen Elizabeth from Vancouver. The ship will then transport passengers down the West Coast of the United States, through the Panama Canal to New York, on to Iceland and the British Isles, the company said. Cunard will offer four 10-night round-trip Vancouver sailings with more time in port and opportunities to visit the natural wonders of Tracy Arm Fjord and Hubbard Glacier.” Departures from Vancouver will be departing May 21, 31, June 10 and 20, 2019. Itineraries feature scenic cruising through the Inside Passage as well as full days in several of the region’s ports, including Skagway, Juneau, Ketchikan and Sitka. The itinerary also includes the Tracy Arm Fjord or Endicott Arm, Icy Strait Point, Hubbard Glacier and Victoria.

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Filed under Alaska, Caribbean, Cruises, Europe, Hawaii

Travel News: Pilotless Planes on the Horizon?

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Disney Cruise Lines Is Rumored To Be Buying Jack Sparrow Island For Their Own Caribbean island 

With three new ships in the works for Disney Cruise Lines, bringing the fleet up to seven ships, it comes as no surprise that Disney is reportedly looking for a second Caribbean island. Disney Cruise Lines has been expanding its non-Florida itineraries in recent years, adding a number of West Coast and Mediterranean tours, while Asian itineraries have been strongly rumored for some time, but the bread and butter of the award-winning cruise line are its Florida-based cruises. Disney Cruise Lines already owns one private island, Castaway Cay. This island, formerly known as Gorda Cay, just won Best Cruise Line Private Island by Cruise Critic for the second year in a row. Cruise Critic noted that the island is “easy to navigate, offers large swaths of pristine beach and free buffet lunch, as well as dedicated areas for kids and adults.” Some cruise itineraries include two stops at Castaway Cay and things could get crowded when the larger ships visit. 
 

The Next Frontier In Automation: Self-Driving Wheelchairs

The Daily Mail reports Canadian researchers have developed the technology for self-driving wheelchairs. Trials will begin in Tokyo for the self driving wheelchairs to ferry passengers around airports during the 2020 Olympic Games. Autonomous wheel chairs are being tested in a Japan airport for disabled flyers. Using sensors, they can navigate to a gate or shop via a destination input. They can also connect to luggage carts and other wheel chairs for group travel. Air travelers with disabilities will have a much easier time navigating one of Japan’s main airports, thanks to new smart wheel chairs. Haneda Airport outside Tokyo is beginning tests of the WHILL NEXT, an app-controlled self-driving wheel chair that can take users around the airport and even bring their luggage in a separate wireless vehicle behind them. It is hoped the system will be in place, alongside new smart billboards and navigation apps, in time for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
 
 

US Airlines Bump Fewer Passengers After United’s Dragging Incident

Following widespread outrage over a passenger who was violently dragged off an overbooked plane, U.S. airlines are bumping customers at the lowest rate in at least two decades. The Transportation Department said yesterday that just one in every 19,000 passengers was kicked off an overbooked flight in the first six months of this year. That’s the lowest rate since the government started keeping track in 1995. The biggest decline took place between April and June, partly because airlines began paying many more passengers to give up their seats. Airlines have routinely overbooked flights for years in the expectation that some passengers won’t show up. When a flight is overbooked, airlines typically offer travel vouchers to encourage a few passengers to take a later flight. Since then, United and other large U.S. airlines have introduced new measures to reduce overbooking, and raised the maximum amount that passengers can be offered to give up a seat. 
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New Italian Motorway Links Italy’s Tourist Destinations From Top To Boot Toe

The new A2, the former A3 Salerno-Reggio Calabria Italian motorway, has been renamed to the Autostrada del Mediterraneo (Mediterranean motorway). It is a completely different way of thinking about motorways: not just the infrastructure and a comfortable road, but also a work through which to arrive in so many territories of southern Italy, crossed by its route. The Autostrada A1, or Autostrada del Sole, literally “Sun Motorway” or Autosole, is an Italian motorway that connects Milan with Naples via Bologna, Florence, and Rome. At 754 km, it is the longest Italian motorway and is considered the spinal cord of the country’s road network. 
 

Pilotless Planes Could Save Airlines $35 Billion, UBS Says 

CNBC reports a UBS note said “Reducing the intervention of human pilots on aircraft could bring material economic benefits and improve safety.” The bank stated that there could be a material profit opportunity of over $35 billion per year for the aerospace and aviation industry. A recent UBS Evidence Lab Survey of 8,000 people however showed that 54% of participants were reluctant to take a pilotless flight. Pilotless planes could not only be a future method of transport, but an economically-beneficial one too, according to new research by Swiss bank UBS which claims that they could save airlines billions of dollars. 

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Travel News: New Harry Potter Exhibit

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FCC To Return To Banning In-Flight Phone Calls
Federal Communications Commission head Ajit Pai says he’s doing something many consumers may actually agree with for a change: making it harder to talk on the phone while on an airplane. The FCC yesterday announced that it’s killing an FCC proceeding that would have opened the door to allowing phone calls during commercial flights. In late 2013 the FAA lifted restrictions on in-flight electronics use during take offs and landing, and in 2014 the FCC lifted restrictions on in-flight phone calls over WiFi (but not yet cellular) with an ongoing eye on removing the restrictions entirely. The move wasn’t a popular one among consumers, and former FCC boss Tom Wheeler took a lot of heat for the decision. “I stand with airline pilots, flight attendants, and America’s flying public against the FCC’s ill-conceived 2013 plan to allow people to make cellphone calls on planes,” said FCC boss Ajit Pai in a statement. “I do not believe that moving forward with this plan is in the public interest. Taking it off the table permanently will be a victory for Americans across the country who, like me, value a moment of quiet at 30,000 feet.”

Delta Changes Partner Award Mileage Requirements Without Notice 
John Ollila of Loyalty Lobby.ccom reports Delta Air Lines has been tinkering with the number of SkyMiles required for partner awards that seems to have gone up anywhere from 15% to 20% without any prior warning from the airline. Delta Changes Partner Award Mileage Requirements Without Any Prior Notice On April 7, 2017. This change was first noted on a FlyerTalk post where a member noticed that the number of SkyMiles required for an award had changed from 70,000 to 85,000 (transatlantic partner award in business class).
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New Harry Potter Exhibit Will Feature Never-before-Seen Manuscripts and Drawings
A new exhibition at the British Library later this year will offer never-before-seen pieces from author J.K. Rowling. The exhibition, titled “Harry Potter: A History of Magic,” will open at the library in October, taking visitors through a fascinating collection of wizardry books, manuscripts, magical objects, and original materials from the Rowling archives. The exhibition will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the publication of “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” (“Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” in the US), delving into the origins of the story. The display will take magic lovers through medieval manuscripts covering everything from potions and herbology to caring for magical creatures. Visitors will also be able to gaze at original drafts and drawings by both Rowling and illustrator Jim Kay, ranging from drawings of a mandrake for the illustrated edition of “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” to an early handwritten draft of Rowling’s “Sorting Hat” song, according to Pottermore. There will also be original manuscripts and editorial notes from the series’ publisher, Bloomsbury. The exhibit runs from October 20, 2017 through February 28, 2018, though tickets are already for sale on the library’s website.
 
BA May Drop Free Meals On Long Haul Flights 
The Sunday Times reports that British Airways is apparently mulling bringing paid food and beverages for long-haul coach as well as short haul coach flights. British Airways recently enhanced away complimentary snacks, food, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages in short and medium haul economy and introduced paid products. Now long-haul British Airways passengers are in line for the “improvement” to services known as paying for your own food and drink. The airline could start charging long-distance flyers for a menu drawn from the aisles of Mark & Spencer, BA’s boss, has revealed. In an interview with The Sunday Times, Cruz said that after “a rough start” customers now welcomed the chance to pay for M&S food on European flights. 
 
Caribbean Princess Added Family Areas, Connecting Rooms, New Mini-Suite Category
New offerings for families, including the Camp Discovery Youth & Teen Center, upgraded Movies Under the Stars, Princess Luxury Bed and connecting staterooms have been added to Caribbean Princess during a two-week drydock at Grand Bahama Shipyard, just ahead of the vessel’s summer Europe and fall Caribbean seasons. The ship has also been wired for the Ocean Medallion Class cruising that will be available starting with its 2018 summer Caribbean season. Camp Discovery, the reimagined youth center created in partnership with the consumer products arm of Discovery Communications, joins the line’s Discovery at Sea program. For ages 3-17, this caters to specific age groups with three center themes. The Treehouse, formerly Pelicans, is for ages 3-7 and offers a bright, whimsical forest and animal-themed area including hands-on activities. The Lodge, formerly Shockwaves, for ages 8-12, is inspired by the great outdoors, and offers sports activities and places for kids to explore, hang out and lounge. The Beach House, previously Remix, for ages 13-17, is a contemporary surf-themed lounge. New youth and teen center programming includes ‘MythBusters’ science activities with hands-on challenges, featuring show star Tory Belleci. In addition, new Camp Discovery destination-themed programs focusing on Europe and the Caribbean to immerse young cruisers into the culture, nature, and customs of this region. Eighty-seven connecting staterooms catering to family travelers have also been added. A new HD Movies Under the Stars outdoor movie screen will offer a higher resolution picture with double the image quality of previous systems. This will give concerts and movies more sound power, truer color, extreme wide angle viewing and smart contrast/brightness for optimal viewing any time of day. 3,200 new Princess Luxury beds and luxurious linens have been installed. In addition, Caribbean Princess will introduce Club Class Mini-Suites, the new premium stateroom category featuring VIP amenities and exclusive dining. This elevated mini-suite category offers perks including new Club Class Dining, a reserved dining area with expedited seating and expanded menu options as well as priority embarkation and disembarkation.
 
TripAdvisor Users Vote Emirates World’s Best Airline
Users of the online travel site TripAdvisor have voted Emirates airline their favorite carrier on a top 10 list that’s dominated by Asian airlines. In the 2017 edition of their Travelers’ Choice Awards for Airlines, Emirates received high marks as the best overall carrier in the world, taking the title of both Best First Class experience, and Best Economy Class. After Emirates, Singapore Airlines, Brazil’s Azul airline, JetBlue and Air New Zealand round out the top five spots on the list. The top-ranked major airline for North America is Delta Air Lines. 
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Belgium And Italy Have The Highest Taxes For Tourists
According to statistics gathered by Kayak, Belgium and Italy are the tourist destinations with the highest tourist taxes. Travelers who decide to visit Brussels are required to pay approximately 42, 56 or 70 euros for a seven-night stay in a 3, 4, or 5-star hotel respectively. In the case of Italy, Rome is in the lead with a maximum tax of 49 euros for the same seven-night stay. Next in line is Florence, Venice and Milan with an average of 35 euros. Except in the case of Venice, where only the first 5 days are charged for, in the rest of Italy’s cities, the tax is charged for the first ten days. The lowest taxes are found in Lisbon. Other European capitals, such as Amsterdam, Berlin, and Vienna, calculate the tax according to the cost of the room and not according to the category of the establishment. In these cities, the percentages reach 6%, 5% and 3.2%, respectively. 
Malibu’s New Ryokan Opening
You don’t need to travel to Japan for an awesome night at a Japanese-style inn. Nobu Ryokan Malibu, the first in Nobu Hospitality’s Ryokan Collection, will open on April 28, 2017. Located next to Nobu Restaurant Malibu, Nobu Ryokan Malibu will combine modern comforts with a Ryokan-inspired building. Read more here. 

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Top 6 Fun Activities to Check Out in Negril


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Time to start planning for winter vacation! The wet and the cold tend to hit the Pacific Northwest December to March, which makes it a perfect time for you to hit the waves!

Jamaica is the island of suntans and warm seas, and the natural heat is balanced well with cool Caribbean waters and occasional light showers. In the 1950s the town began to see major development as a resort destination, and today there is everything from scuba facilities to nightclubs and classy restaurants. The so-called “Seven Mile Beach” of Negril is the centerpoint of all the action,  ripe with sunbathing spots, snack sellers and miles of pristine sand.

Check out our Top 6 Fun Activities in Negril, Jamaica:

1. Deep Sea Fishing

Experts will take you on their boats and fish alongside you in the beautiful Caribbean waters. Trips can last up to a full day and at the end, they’ll take you to a local eatery to have your fresh catch cooked up and served.

2. Scuba Diving

Diving enthusiasts should definitely find a home in Negril, home to some of the best coral reefs and shipwrecks the Caribbean can offer. Specialists have decades of experience and can show you the best sites to dive with dolphins and seahorses. Don’t have experience? No problem! Get your certification on your vacation.

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3. Biking

Adventurers can rent a bike for the day or join a small group biking along the beach and into the subtropical forests that surround Negril. Guides always put safety and fun first, and can show you the best secret spots to explore. There are several routes available that cater to biking fans of all levels, from kid-friendly to outright hardcore.

4. Water Parks

Families should visit Kool Runnings Water Park, the area’s best slip and slide. With waters and a plethora of slides and pools of all sizes, Kool Runnings is a great place to take the family. It has everything from bobsled rides to trampolines, and tons of state-of-the-art slides.

5. Negril Lighthouse

Looking for a romantic escape? The local lighthouse is a signature landmark and a bona fide romantic spot. Located on the westernmost tip of Jamaica, it’s great for a picnic or a panoramic view from the top.

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6. Blue Cave Castle

An exciting resort named for the extensive cave system that lies beneath. A daring and magical adventure for all who enter, the caves as a snorkeler’s paradise with hidden corners aplenty.

It’s never too early to start planning your family Caribbean vacation! Call us up at 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com to speak to one of our top agents today.

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Filed under Accommodation, Caribbean, Jamaica, News

Where in the World is your WIT Agent? Caribbean on Celebrity

Where in the World is your WIT Agent? Why, sailing on a Celebrity Cruise, of course! WIT Agent Nancy has hit the high seas once again, this time returning to the lovely Caribbean!

Yesterday she boarded the Celebrity Silhouette in Fort Lauderdale, heading to San Juan, Puerto Rico. On Thursday she’ll be in Basseterre, St. Kitts, and the day after in Philipsburg, St. Maarten, retracing her steps on the research trip she took in 2012. But this time she’ll be sailing with her husband and two other couples. Nancy just couldn’t wait to share the Caribbean with friends and family!

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For a complete overview of San Juan, click here for our previous post.

The Celebrity Silhouette was launched in 2011 as part of Celebrity’s exclusive Solstice-class fleet. The ship sails the Mediterranean in the summer months and offer weekly cruises from Fort Lauderdale in the winter. These premium ships are the largest of the cruise line, with elegant, modern lines and uncomplicated colors. The Silhouette boasts 13 passenger decks, 3 pools, 11 bars and 4 specialty restaurants, just some among an extensive list of entertainment and dining options. The ship also hosts a unique Lawn Club, a half-acre of grass on the ship stern, topped with private cabanas that are available for rental.

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Ship Stats

Crew Members = 1,253

Entered Service = 2011

Gross Tons = 122,000

Length = 1,033 feet

Number of Cabins = 1,425

Passenger Capacity = 2,850

Width = 121 feet

Did you Know?

The letter “X” on Celebrity Cruises ships is the Greek letter “Chi,” which stands for Chandris, the group who founded the cruiseline in 1988.

Want to hear more about Celebrity and the Caribbean? Call Nancy when she’s back next week! Nancy has sailed on countless cruises over the years, and many of those have been on Celebrity. She loves to talk cruise!

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Filed under Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, Cruises, Our Travel Agents, Travel by Ship, Where in the World is the WIT Agent?

Where in the World is the WIT Agent? Basseterre, St. Kitts

This week we’ve been following WIT travel agent Nancy as she travels on a Celebrity Cruise around the western Caribbean. Last on her itinerary before she returns to the mainland U.S. is Basseterre on Saint Kitts.

Founded in 1627 by the French, Basseterre is the capital of the Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis. A town of vivid colors and vibrant history, Basseterre is chock full of delights for both vacationers and history buffs.

Easy to navigate, Basseterre is the main port of entry for the country, the central hub of trains, ferries, ships, and buses. The city center, amusingly named the Circus, is a roundabout supposedly modeled after Piccadilly Circus, and is the site for the impressive Berkeley Memorial Clock. Tourists can explore the 350 year old estate Romney Manor, visit Independence Square and St. George’s Cathedral, or check out Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park for some panoramic vistas. If you’re in need for some island activity, Basseterre is also a top destination for market hunting, snorkeling, hiking, swimming or fishing.

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Side Bar

Due to its rich and diverse heritage, chefs run the gamut in culinary delights: West Indian, Creole, Indian, and French flavors manifesting in delicious dishes of papaya, breadfruit, yams, seafood, and pork.

With its tropical rainforest climate, and proximity to the equator, temperatures remain constant with an average of 80 degrees Fahrenheit year round.

Best time to go? Arguably during the early summer months, May or June, before the hurricane season hits and when the hotels are less crowded and more economical. These are also the months St. Kitts holds its annual musical festival and the Regatta sailboat race.

Fun fact: In 2007, St. Kitts and Nevis became the smallest country ever to host the World Cricket Cup.

That’s all for this week! We can’t wait for Nancy to return home with her travel stories.

Interested in Celebrity Cruises? Like to take a trip to the Caribbean? Contact us, your travel agents at info@wittravel.com or call 503.224.0180.

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Filed under Celebrity Cruises, Cruises, St. Kitts and Nevis

Where in the World is the WIT Agent? Philipsburg, St. Maarten

Image from Cruisingpower

St. Maarten is a unique island, shared between the Dutch and French. This week Nancy is docking in Philipsburg on the Dutch side.

Philipsburg is a busy port for cruise ships, yet it has managed retains much of its idyllic and pristine beauty. Though small—it takes about one and half hours to get around the island—there’s a great deal for the vacationer to do while disembarked. Take a tour around the island, go shopping at one of Philipsburg’s unique shipwreck shops, or choose from more than 500 duty-free stores. Rent a RHINO watercraft, a motor boat, or a square rigged tall ship.

Lovers of culture will enjoy a hike up to Fort Amsterdam and Fort Willem, or an excursion out to the shipwrecked HMS Proselyte, which sits a mile off the coast.

Enjoy one of the 36 gorgeous beaches, including the attractive Copecoy Bay Beach or the Simpson Bay Beach. One of the island’s most unique features is the Simpson Bay Lagoon, enclosed by a thin strip of land and ideal for water skiing.

Looking for a way to cool off? Check out the St. Maarten Zoological and Botanical Garden, home to ocelots, bush dogs, toucans, owls, boa constrictors, crabs, and snails. Or head down to a beachside bar and try the local treat, Guavaberry Liqueur.

Join us this week as we follow Nancy on her Celebrity Cruise and take a closer look at the ports she’ll be sailing into. Tomorrow: Basseterre, St. Kitts.

Interested in Celebrity Cruises? Looking to vacation on St. Maarten? Contact us, your travel agents at info@wittravel.com or call 503.224.0180.

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