Tag Archives: Caribbean

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.

Image from Cruisingpower

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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Filed under Celebrity Cruises, Cruises, Features, St. Maarten/St. Martin

Where in the World is the WIT Agent? San Juan, Puerto Rico

This week, our blog is following the Celebrity Eclipse, as it sails across the Western Caribbean, and our rep onboard, Nancy. Today Nancy finds herself on a shore excursion in San Juan, the colorful capital of Puerto Rico.

The port of San Juan is the third busiest cruise port in the world, and as such enjoys a flux of tourists and travelers every year. Founded in 1521 by Spaniards, the city is known for its vivid colors, galleries, Colonial-era architecture, and historical sites in and around the port district of Old San Juan.

The town has a decidedly antiquated feel, with timeworn but vibrant architecture. Don’t miss the Castillo San Cristobal, one of the largest Spanish fortresses in the new world, or the impressive Castillo San Felipe del Morro overlooking San Juan Harbor.

The history buff can also explore the Casino built pre-WWI and the Teatro Tapia, one of the oldest theaters (1832) in the Western Hemisphere, and which is still in operation. Other major attractions include Casa Blanca, La Fortaleza, San Juan Church, San Juan National Historic Site, Ballaja Barracks, and La Casa del Libro, a collection of books spanning five centuries. For a relaxing experience, check out the La Marquesa Forest Reserve and its canopy zip line. For the liquor connoisseurs, don’t miss the 127-acre Bacardi Rum Factory, informally dubbed the Cathedral of Rum.

Image from Cruisingpower

San Juan is the hometown of many artists and musicians who have influenced art and culture throughout the world. Grammy Award winner Ricky Martin, Academy Award winner Benicio del Toro, and José Enrique Pedreira, renowned composer of the very Puerto Rican and passionate dancing style Danza, were all born here.

For travelers who wish simply to relax and recline, head over to Isla Verde or the more upscale El Condado districts for their beautiful beaches and parks.

Side Bar: Travelers’ Tips

Be aware: sunscreen and good walking shoes are imperative when exploring the city.

As the streets are often cobblestoned in the old town, it’s best to get around on foot or via the free trolley marked with yellow banners.

The stormy season runs from July to November, so it’s best to travel in the late winter or early spring, when temperates range from low 80s during the day and low 70s at night. If festivities draw your attention, head over in January, during the popular San Sebastian Festival.

Today’s forecast reads 86 degrees Fahrenheit, so hope you’re staying cool, Nancy!

Join us this week as we follow Nancy and take a closer look at the ports she’ll be sailing into. Tomorrow: Philipsburg, St. Maarten.

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

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Filed under Celebrity Cruises, Cruises, Puerto Rico