Tag Archives: celebrity cruises

Travel News: Irish Beach reappears 33 years after vanishing into Atlantic Ocean

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Delta Passengers Can Now Check Their Bags By Scanning Their Face 

Mashable reports Delta passengers will soon be able to check their bags via a facial recognition scanner that uses biometric technology to match their passport photos to their face. The new technology is the first of its kind in the US and Delta hopes it will help both customers and airline agents save time during check-in. Launch details: Delta has invested $600,000 in 4 biometric self-service bag drop machines, which will be placed in Minneapolis-St Paul International Airport this summer, but only one will include the facial recognition software. Delta will then collect customer feedback to determine how and when it will expand it other airports. Privacy experts have urged government agencies and airlines to be cognizant of the risks involved when implementing this type of technology, “especially if it’s found that they are cross-checking facial images with law enforcement databases without permission.” Delta has insisted it will protect customer’s privacy, and will not save anyone’s information or images of their faces.

American Duchess To Launch Service In August From New Orleans

The American Queen Steamboat Company will launch service with its new American Duchess from New Orleans on Aug. 14, 2017. Inland riverboat cruising has boomed for the Port of New Orleans in recent years, growing 40 percent in 2016 compared to 2015, as the Port welcomed 21,391 passengers on three homeported paddle wheelers sailing on the Lower Mississippi River, according to a press release from the port. Other Louisiana stops on the American Duchess itinerary include the Nottoway Antebellum Mansion in White Castle, the historic district in downtown St. Francisville, and museums and attractions in Baton Rouge.

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Irish Beach reappears 33 years after vanishing into Atlantic Ocean

A beach that was swept away more than 30 years ago from a remote island off the west coast of Ireland has reappeared after thousands of tons of sand were deposited on top of the rocky coastline. Dooagh beach is now back after a storm returned sand to it, 30 years after another storm had stripped all the sand off the beach, on Achill island, County Mayo, Ireland, The 300 meter beach near the tiny village of Dooagh on Achill Island vanished in 1984 when storms stripped it of its sand, leaving nothing more than a series of rock pools. But after high spring tides last month, locals found that the Atlantic Ocean had returned the sand. The popular beach once sustained four hotels and a number of guesthouses on the west coast of the island of 2,600 people.

The island, the largest off the coast of Ireland, forms part of the Wild Atlantic Way, a tourist trail stretching from the south of the country to the north-west that has benefited from a tourist boom in the European Union’s fastest-growing economy.

Newest Celebrity Edge, will have Malala Yousafzai as godmother

Celebrity Cruises named human rights activist and Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai godmother to the line’s newest ship, Celebrity Edge, which launches in late 2018. She will christen the ship in Fort Lauderdale in December 2018. Celebrity is also partnering with Yousafzai’s nonprofit foundation, the Malala Fund, to help tell her story and raise money for the more than 130 million girls who do not have access to 12 years of schooling. “The godmother is a beacon for what we stand for and what we believe in,” said Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, president and CEO of Celebrity, adding that among the brand’s strongest commitments is a belief in gender parity, equality and diversity. As part of the partnership, Celebrity Cruises is making a “significant donation” to the Malala Fund. Additionally, the cruise line will begin showing the documentary “He Named Me Malala” on the in-cabin TVs (both passenger and crew cabins) on all of its ships. The line will also “in the very near future” start selling the book “I Am Malala,” along with Malala Fund t-shirts and a co-created Celebrity Cruises and Malala Fund piece of merchandise on all ships. All proceeds from these items will go directly to the Malala Fund. Celebrity will also provide a custom Malala Fund URL onboard its ships that cruisers and crew can use to donate to the fund.

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New Japanese luxury train even has a fireplace on board

From the BBC: The Train Suite Shiki-shima is designed to give you the ultimate luxury experience: tickets range from $2,860 to around $10,000 and you can choose between a two- or four-day trip. The Shiki-shima had its maiden journey on 1 May. The train was built to the plans of designer Ken Kiyoyuki Okuyama and is being advertised as using only the best of materials, many linked to traditional Japanese craftsmanship. The train will take you from Tokyo to the northernmost island Hokkaido, and carries 34 passengers. There are trips with one or three nights on board to choose from. The plans for the train were announced by the East Japan Railway Company in 2014 and there has been crazy demand now the train is finally here. A lottery for seats on launch day was said to have been over-subscribed by a factor of 76. Tickets for the 10-car train are sold out until March 2018. The food will be prepared by Michelin star chefs and presented by uniformed butlers. Everything on board aims to rival the experience of a top-end luxury hotel. 

Disney Wonder is the first ship through the expanded Panama Canal locks

Although passenger ships first made their way down the Panama Canal back in 1914, and millions have done so in the last century, the world’s most famous man-made waterway saw the beginning of a new era this weekend when a cruise ship crossed the recently expanded locks for the first time. The Disney Wonder, a 2,713-passenger ship, passed through the canal’s new locks on April 29 as part of its 14-day trip from Florida to San Diego. As USA Today reports, the 83,308-ton ship had used the canal in the past, but it was too wide to travel the old route after the ship was expanded in 2016. On April 1, the Panama Canal began accepting booking requests for passenger vessels in the new locks. So far, 18 reservations have already been made for passenger vessels to transit the Expanded Canal for the 2017-2018 season, a number which is expected to increase in the coming months. To put things in perspective: The old locks measured 1,000 feet by 110 feet by 42 feet; the new locks are 1,400 feet by 180 feet by 60 feet. The ten-deck Wonder is 106 feet wide, leaving about 35 feet of water on either side of the boat in the new locks. It’s cozy, but it does the job. The canal upgrade began in 2007 but encountered a number of problems along the way; it finally opened in 2016, two years behind schedule and about $1 billion dollars over budget, for a total cost of $5 billion, according to NPR. But it came about to keep up with recently expanded Suez Canal, and to allow larger cargo ships to transit the isthmus, rather than having to circumnavigate the southern cone of South America, which adds 8,000 miles to a journey.

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This Week in Travel News

Delta begins flights Portland to London nonstop next May!

Starting May 26, Delta Airlines will operate a Portland to London nonstop flight! The PDX-LHR will fly Friday, Saturday, Monday and Wednesday, departing 5pm arriving at 10:50am the next day. The return London to Portland operates Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Monday, departing 12:30pm arriving at 3:15pm. Airplanes will land at Terminal 4 in Heathrow.

Alaska Airlines launches new nonstop Portland to Newark from November

From November 10 Alaska will fly a daily nonstop Portland to Newark flight.This new PDX to EWR route continues the airline’s expansion of its Portland hub which includes other recently added destinations such as Minneapolis; Kansas City, Missouri; Orlando; Omaha, Nebraska; and Atlanta. “We thank the Federal Aviation Administration, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for their efforts to increase competition in the New York metro area,” said John Kirby, Alaska Airlines’ vice president of capacity planning. “Since 2015, Alaska has launched 28 new routes from our West Coast hubs and focus cities. With our new expanded service to Newark, we continue to grow our West Coast footprint by offering our valued customers more nonstop flights to popular business and leisure destinations.” 

Travel + Leisure Says Paul Gauguin Cruises The #1 Midsize-Ship Ocean Cruise Line”

Paul Gauguin Cruises, operator of the highest-rated and longest continually sailing luxury cruise ship in the South Pacific, the m/s Paul Gauguin, is pleased to announce that the line was awarded “#1 Midsize-Ship Ocean Cruise Line” by readers in the Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards 2016. The annual readers’ survey reveals favorite cities, hotels, islands, cruise lines, spas, airlines, airports, and more. Cruise ships are rated in categories of cabins/facilities, restaurants/food, service, itineraries/destinations, excursions/activities, and value. In 2015, Paul Gauguin Cruises was voted by readers “#2 Small-Ship Ocean Cruise Line” in the Travel + Leisure 2015 World’s Best Awards. The line was also voted “#1 Small-Ship Cruise Line” and “#1 Small-Ship Cruise Line for Families” by readers in the Travel + Leisure 2014 World’s Best Awards. More recently, Paul Gauguin Cruises was awarded #2 in the category of “Top Small Cruise Lines” in the Condé Nast Traveler 2015 Readers’ Choice Awards and recognized on the publication’s 2016 “Gold List.” 

United Airlines, TSA To Modernize Airport Screening Experience At Hub Cities

As part of a joint initiative with TSA to improve the overall screening experience for customers, United will install state-of-the-art, automated security lanes, add permanent TSA Precheck® enrollment centers at convenient locations and redesign security checkpoints at several of the airline’s most-frequented hub airports. United will debut the automated lanes at Newark Liberty International Airport this fall. When United, in collaboration with the TSA, completes the installation, the entire centralized security checkpoint at Terminal C in Newark Liberty will feature 17 automated lanes.

Seabourn Launches South Pole Treks

Seabourn is introducing pre-cruise excursions to the South Pole with select ‘Antarctica & Patagonia’ itineraries during the 2016/17 season. Travelers bound for the White Continent aboard Seabourn Quest can extend their adventure with two new packages that also travel to UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The packages are ‘Polar Quest & Patagonia’ and ‘Polar Quest, Tierra del Fuego & Iguazu Falls.’ Both include stays at Union Glacier Camp in the southern Ellsworth Mountains, one of a few private seasonally occupied camps in Antarctica. Operated by land-based tour operator Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions, the full-service camp offers spacious, double-occupancy sleeping tents; freshly prepared gourmet cuisine; and a spectacular setting for activities from scenic excursions to technical climbs and ski tours. The 14-night ‘Polar Quest & Patagonia’ includes a trans-Antarctic flight and landing at the South Pole and an exploration of UNESCO World Heritage Site Torres del Paine National Park in southernmost Chile. Participants can choose from a variety of included excursions providing daily opportunities to explore the various environments, including blue ice pools, raw glacial moraines and abundant wildlife, from guanacos to Andean condors. Departures in December and January. 

Celebrity Equinox To Leave The Med In 2017

Celebrity Cruises will enter a competitive year-round Caribbean market in 2017 as the company has pulled the 2,850-passenger Celebrity Equinox out of the Western Mediterranean for the 2017 summer. Instead, the ship will sail a variety of itineraries from Miami, including seven-night cruises in June, July and August with Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries offered. Beginning next April, the 2,850-passenger ship will offer a total of 24 cruises from its new homeport, including seven-night itineraries between June and August, and 10- and 11-night itineraries throughout the rest of the year. In addition to a year-round presence in the Caribbean, Celebrity will debut a new family program with an array of new enrichment options for kids. “Summer Camp at Sea” will include activities such as video creation, cooking classes and marine biology lessons. The new “Taste of the Caribbean” program will feature complimentary activities like cooking and mixology demos, rum and reggae parties on the Lawn Club, and brunch and bubbles. Foodies can even splurge on more exclusive experiences such as a fresh pasta and mozzarella making class with lunch in Tuscan Grille, and a five-course tasting dinner with Celebrity chefs.

Port Everglades Cruise Terminal Adds BorderXpress Kiosks

Port Everglades and its cruise line partners have announced the opening of two BorderXpress Automated Passport Control kiosks at the Florida cruise terminal. As part of a three-month pilot program, officials from Port Everglades, the United States Customs and Border Protection agency and the Vancouver Airport Authority have added the BorderXpress kiosks to increase passenger processing rates following cruises. The self-service BorderXpress kiosks will be available to users at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection processing area at Port Everglades, and will feature on-screen instructions to speed up the customs declaration process. 

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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?

123 Go! Discount with Celebrity Cruises is Back!

Yes! Back again by popular demand, Celebrity Cruises is excited to feature its 123Go! sale–and better than ever!

Book ONE of 450 cruises sailing from February 2014 to March 2015, and choose from three options:

  1. Free Classic Beverage Packages: Pair your meals with the perfect beverage by choosing the Beverage Package Offer–a value of $88* per day, gratuities covered. Receive Classic Beverage Packages for two, including water, soda, coffee, wine, and spirits.
  2. Free Gratuities: Relax knowing your tips are covered when you choose the Free Gratuities Offer–a value of up to $30* per day. Receive pre-paid gratuities for two.
  3. Onboard Credit Offer: Receive up to $300* to spend almost any way you like—specialty dining reservations, spa treatments, shore excursions, etc. The choice is yours! Receive $100 for 3- to 5-night sailings, $200 for 6- to 9-night sailings, and $300 for 10-night or more sailings.

Have you sailed with Celebrity before? No matter which offer you choose, Captain’s Club members enjoy 50% reduced deposits* AND 25 bonus Club Points if booked by Dec 31, 2013. *Prices are per person, cruise only, for stateroom category 08 and based on double occupancy. Special limits do apply.

Traveling with your kids in one cabin? The third and fourth guest in your stateroom gets two additional benefits:

– Free Beverage Package: receive a classic non-alcoholic beverage package, valued at $16.10 per day per person, beverage gratuities included. A 12-night sailing has a total value of more than $193 per person. This package is upgradeable to include spirits & wine for a fee.

– Free Internet Package: receive a 38-minute internet package for each additional guest in your stateroom, a value of $24.95 per person

PLUS when you book a 2014 Europe sailing, you can choose TWO of these three offers for an even more amazing vacation value.

Available for a limited time only: book by February 28, 2014! Call Willamette Intl Travel to book your cruise 1-800-821-0401 or to inquire. Several of our agents have sailed with Celebrity and are happy to share their insider tips!

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Want to check out the cruise line? For some interactive videos on Celebrity Cruises, check out our Celebrity webpage.

Willamette Intl Travel can also handle your airfare, transfers, pre- and post-cruise hotels/travel, and shore excursions!

Sailed with Celebrity Cruises before? Captain’s Club members earn an additional $500 onboard credit when booking a suite on any sailing departing June-September 2013.

courtesy of Celebrity Cruises

courtesy of Celebrity Cruises

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Cruise Ship Debut: Celebrity Reflection

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This past season we saw the debut of the Celebrity Reflection, the last of five solstice class ships built for the Celebrity cruise line fleet. At nearly 126,000 gross tons, the ship is larger than any other solstice ships— with an additional deck that allows for 72 extra cabins.

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The vessel is equipped with a number of new and improved facilities, including an expansive library, a half-acre lawn, and the Hideaway, a quiet area for relaxation and reading. The Alcove, a cabana-style private retreat, is available for rent and can accommodate up to four guests. The Reflection maintains its famous specialty restaurants, Murano, Tuscan Grille and Qsine, and introduces the new and unique Lawn Club Grill, an outdoor interactive grill venue with high-end burgers and pizzas. Other additions include the Kasbah-themed Sunset Bar and the Molecular Bar, offering tasty artisanal cocktails chilled with liquid nitrogen.

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The Reflection has thirty-four new AquaClass suites, complete with your favorite spa and suite amenities, 79-square-foot verandas, and access to the exclusive restaurant Blu. The ship is home to the fleet’s first 2-bedroom suite, a whopping 1636 square foot apartment. The Reflection Suite is located in an exclusive area accessible only to those guests possessing a special SeaPass card. The room comes with European-style butler service, a bathroom with a sea view, and a special customizable mattress.

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The Reflection made its debut on a 9-night inaugural cruise through Northern Europe in the Fall. Western Hemisphere sailings from Miami will begin in January in time for the winter season.

For a terrific virtual photo tour throughout the ship, click here.

Did you know? Jovanka Goronjic, who joined Celebrity Cruises’ AquaSpa staff in 2009 as a massage therapist, was recently named one of the ship’s four godmothers. With support from the cruise line, Jovanka arranged time off to help her mother fight breast cancer. In tribute to the cause, Jovanka donated her hair for wigs for cancer patients. She will soon be transferring to the Reflection as the ship’s AquaSpa Manager. Said Jovanka when she found out about her new godmotherly status: “I was delighted, thrilled, emotional, and proud, all at the same time.”

CELEBRITY SALE: Celebrity and Willamette Intl Travel are partnering up for a sale! Book a select sailing between Jan 7-27 and you could receive a number of special offers. Email now if you’re interested and we’ll send you the full details when they come in!

Eager to take a closer look at the new Celebrity Reflection? We can book a vacation for you and your family! Several of our agents have sailed with Celebrity Cruises and would love to share our tips and tricks with you. Call us at 503.224.0180.

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Photos from the Alaskan Cruise are up!

As some of you may have followed last week, WIT agent Wailana recently set out on Celebrity Cruises’ week itinerary up to Alaska. She spent time in Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, and Victoria, and acquired firsthand experience of services and venues onboard the Infinity ship. Check out her  photos from that trip, up in the Gallery section or linked here.

Feel free to browse through the pictures and even comment! We appreciate your feedback!

Willamette Intl Travel has booked clients on countless Celebrity itineraries and other cruise lines. Interested to hear more? Email Wailana at wailanak@wittravel.com about the ship Infinity or info@wittravel.com for more information on cruises on offer.

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South, Sunsets, Seattle!

This week WIT agent Wailana is concluding her days aboard Celebrity Cruises’ Infinity up to Alaska. Today, we take a look at Victoria and the ship herself.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012 – At Sea

Another day “at sea” is a terrific opportunity to explore the ship’ services. Besides the onboard spa, fitness center and pools, there are ample activities all around the ship, including:

–       bingo night

–       basketball h.o.r.s.e. tournament

–       watercolor art class

–       presentations by a qualified cultural historian and naturalist

–       music trivia

–       wine tasting

–       and much more

As one of the last days onboard, there was a festive air throughout the ship. The gift shop held sales and the lounges specials and events. Photographers shot scenes of impeccably dressed guests against the backdrop of a fiery sunset.

I took advantage of this day to explore Michael’s Club, the shipboard equivalent to a pub. You can sip on a beer from their worldwide selection, enjoying the lounge with its muted lighting, tasty edibles and live music. I was once again impressed with the general unpretentiousness and high standard of food and service. It was also English-themed trivia night, a hilarious event as the etymology of the word soccer came into question.

Thursday, 6 September 2012 – Victoria, BC

The morning began with a crew talent show and cooking contest. This was a great chance to see all 900+ crew members on stage at once, some of them displaying incredible feats of magic, dance, song, comedy and theatre. It was also a terrific opportunity for the passengers to show our appreciation of the hard work behind the scenes.

After, it was on to late lunch. My number one recommendation on any Celebrity ship is to try one of the specialty restaurants onboard. It’s not that the regular restaurants are inadequate–on the contrary, the main dining area Trellis is a culinary delight each seating—but the attention to detail, quality of ingredients, and presentation are up a whole new level. After the entertainment of the A.M., we headed down to the SS United States, the specialty restaurant focusing on French cuisine. The setting had a very clean and 1950’s ship interior, complete with Jazz lounge music, white polished décor, and porthole windows with wooden panels. You can order courses paired with wine or à la carte and just sample from an array of delicious and masterfully prepared appetizers. The peak of the dinner was the jaw-dropping desserts—but those, readers, I’ll let you discover for yourselves.

Specialty Restaurants: Blu (Aquaclass only), SS United States, Qsine

Disembarkation Time: 6.30 pm

Arrival into Victoria was perfectly timed for the afternoon. The sun sinks down over the harbor and bathes the waters in blue and gold. It’s a lovely 30-minute walk or brief shuttle ride into the heart of downtown. In the summer, street performers line the docks just below the capitol building—jugglers, musicians, traders. I would advise cruise passengers to spend their charming, lamp lit evening in Victoria eating out at one of the yummy restaurants in Old Town.

Embarkation Time: 11.30pm

Conclusion

In the end, cruises are luxury resorts set against beautiful backgrounds. They are opportunities to enjoy some fine entertainment, cuisine, and accommodations. Your activities are designed with a demographic in mind, which changes depending on the route. It is important to remember that, with less than 12 hours in any port of call, less focus is given to the destination and more to onboard experience.

With this in mind, Celebrity Cruises stands out as a luxury cruise line. The service is what makes this ship exceptional. The staff was friendly, amusing, approachable, relatable and accommodating. I am not surprised that the Infinity has the highest rated crew in the entire fleet.

Willamette Intl Travel regularly books clients on Celebrity and other cruises. Call WIT at 503.224.0180 or email info@wittravel.com to book a cruise today!

P.S. Wailana’s photographs from the cruise will be appearing on the blog next week, so stay tuned!

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