Tag Archives: cruise

Travel News: TSA ramping up for Spring Break

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TSA getting ready for Spring Break Travelers

The Transportation Security Administration is gearing up for the Spring Break travel period, which usually begins around the end of February and continues into April. According to a release, the TSA expects to screen about 62 million travelers at airports across the country in March alone, and it expects to hit a ten-year high traffic volume. “As we approach the Spring Break travel period, security remains our top priority, and we are taking every measure, both seen and unseen, to protect the millions of air travelers,” said TSA Acting Administrator Huban A. Gowadia. The agency is also collaborating with vendors, airlines and airports to open automated screening lanes in the coming months. Such lanes are designed to improve the screening process by automating many of the functions and allowing passengers to move more quickly through a security checkpoint. Automated screening lanes are currently available at Newark Liberty International Airport, Chicago O’Hare International Airport and Los Angeles International.

Record Number of Cruise Ships On Order 

When 2017 opened, there were a record 73 cruise ships on order, and now, according to the 2017-2018 Cruise Industry News Annual Report, that number has surged to 82 with recent orders from Carnival Corporation, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, and a small unnamed luxury brand. The orderbook now totals at least 82 ships, not including a number of known options, meaning the cruise industry is looking a decade of solid growth even as older, smaller vessels are retired. The orderbook is well up from another previous record of 70 ships on order, set in 2016, which eclipsed the year 2000, which saw some 67 ships on order early in the year, according to data from Cruise Industry News. While ship volume is a record, the average size of ships is staying put at approximately 3,000 passengers, offset by smaller luxury and expedition ships. The average tonnage of ships on order is approximately 117,256. 

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One For The Record Book: Holland America Line’s Eurodam’s 11th Perfect USPH Score

Kudos to Holland America Line’s Eurodam as it earned its 11th consecutive 100 score on a routine US Public Health inspection, a run that’s unprecedented both for the company and the cruise industry. The inspection was held Jan. 14 during a turnaround at Port Everglades at the start of a seven-day Caribbean cruise. This follows on the heels of sister ship Koningsdam achieving a perfect score on its first USPH inspection in December. In 2016 five additional HAL ships aced USPH: Eurodam, Maasdam, Veendam, Noordam and Westerdam. The year before 10 perfect scores were received by seven HAL ships: Eurodam, Noordam, Veendam, Zuiderdam, Nieuw Amsterdam, Ryndam and Statendam.

British Airways strike for 7 days

Unite, the trade union of British Airways’s cabin crew, has announced another strike for seven consecutive days from March 3. The mixed fleet crew, who make up around 15 percent of the total BA cabin staff, have been in a long-running dispute over pay and Unite said that the solid results announced earlier on Friday by BA’s owner IAG meant they could meet the union’s demands. If you’re booked on British Airways, please check their website for updates before your flight. 

American Airlines boards passengers based on ticket cost

American has announced an update to its boarding process that will take the new fare into account. The company says that starting March 1, boarding groups will no longer be called by their current name. Instead, travelers will now board as part of a group ranging from Group 1 to Group 9. The changes may spark some confusion amongst travelers, who are used to the airline only using four groups to designate main boarding lanes. Now, however, groups 1-4 designate priority boarding lanes, while groups 5-9 represent main boarding lanes. Basic Economy travelers will be the last to board. Other airlines are likely to follow if this boarding method proves effective. Read more here: https://www.consumeraffairs.com/news/american-airlines-announces-new-boarding-process-022717.html

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Jimmy Fallon Loves Travel Agents

What better spokesman could there be for the new Jimmy Fallon ride at Universal Orlando than Jimmy Fallon himself? Jimmy turned up in person at a reception for members of the travel press to showcase the new ride and Universal Orlando Resort’s new water theme park, Volcano Bay, coming in April and May, respectively. And there was even a nod to travel agents. “Of course I use a travel agent. Travel agents get you the best rooms and the best rates,” Jimmy said when asked by TMR. “I was friends with a travel agent growing up in Saugerties, NY; I’ve used a travel agent my whole life. I don’t even know how to book my own trip.”

Egypt’s Visa Fee To More Than Double

Egypt is increasing fees for entry visas from $25 to $60 for incoming tourists starting 1 March. The foreign ministry informed airport security officials about the fee increase earlier this week. Egypt last raised the fee for its visa in April 2014, when it was increased from $15 to $25. Several tour operators have said that the decision would cause problems for tourists who booked trips based on the old rate. Some in the tourism sector say the decision should have been announced several months beforehand, expressing fears that the move might affect the country’s efforts to revive tourism, a pillar of the economy and a key source of foreign currency. 

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Pisa Is Adding A Ferris Wheel To Attract Tourists

Pisa, Italy, known for its leaning tower, is adding a Ferris wheel to attract tourists. Andrea Ferrante, Pisa’s culture commissioner, announced details about the wheel on state television, the Associated Press reported. The wheel will be more than 165-feet tall. (The tower is about 183-feet tall.) Italia Nostra, an organization dedicated to preserving Italy’s history, has come out against the ride, saying it will “clash” with Pisa’s Medieval architecture, AP reported. Controversial or not, the attraction is set to rise in a parking lot this summer to test if tourists like it. In addition to getting a bird’s eye view of the leaning tower, riders will also be able to see the Mediterranean. Pisa is on Italy’s western coast, about an hour’s drive from Florence. Ferris wheels have become popular as tourist attractions in several cities around the world. The London Eye may be the most well-known.

Elvis still a star

Nearly four decades after Elvis sang his last tune, his legacy got a US $45 million boost with the Thursday opening of a major new attraction at his Graceland estate – an entertainment complex that Priscilla Presley says gives “the full gamut” of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. About 200 people streamed into “Elvis Presley’s Memphis” after the late singer’s wife cut a ribbon and allowed fans to see the complex for the first time. Resembling an outdoor mall, the 200,000-square-foot campus sits across the street from Graceland, Presley’s longtime home-turned-museum. The complex features a comprehensive Presley exhibit with clothing he wore on stage and guitars he played, a showcase of the cars he owned and used, a soundstage, a theatre, two restaurants and retail stores.

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Join the Whales with UnCruise Adventures!

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Join Bruce & Mary Lou Mate Aboard The Safari Endeavour with Un-Cruise Adventures!

Departure: February 24, 2018 > Just 9 more cabins available on this sailing!

Where: Baja California

Willamette Intl Travel is holding 25 cabins, but we’ve already booked 15 on this 2018 sailing to Baja California! This means there are just 9 more left! 

  • 4 commander cabins

  • 4 captain cabins

  • 1 admiral cabin

After March 24, we will have to give our unsold cabins back to Un-Cruise. So don’t wait! Secure your cabin with a deposit today. 

Last December, WIT Agents Barb and Racheal joined UnCruise Adventures to Baja California. Click here to read what they thought!

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Our longtime client Bruce Mate has been involved in whale research for over 47 years, mostly at the Marine Mammal Institute in Newport. He’s served on the International Whaling Commission for over 30 years and was sent by Exxon to track whales in Siberia. Join him and his wife Mary Lou Mate on this wonderful cruise, which will also be a fundraiser for the MMI foundation and provide scholarships to students.

Call 503-224-0180 and ask for Barb or Racheal to secure your cabin today!

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Travel News: Delta and Alaska Airlines Will End Partnership in May 2017

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Delta and Alaska Airlines Will End Partnership in May 2017
Effective May 1, 2017, Delta and Alaska will no longer have a codeshare agreement, and sales of flights under DL- and AS-coded flight numbers flown on Alaska and Delta aircraft respectively will cease. Additionally, customers of each airline will no longer be able to earn and redeem Delta miles or Mileage Plan miles on flights operated by the other carrier. The carriers will retain an interline agreement, allowing them to continue offering customers ticketing and baggage connectivity.

Port Everglades Receives Federal Authorization to Deepen and Widen Channels
The Port Everglades Navigation Improvements Project has received federal authorization for the US Army Corps of Engineers to move forward with deepening and widening the port’s navigation channels as part of the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act signed into law December 16, 2016. The project is currently in the pre-construction engineering and design phase, and can now proceed through the permitting and federal funding processes. The project is anticipated to create an estimated 2,200 construction jobs and nearly 1,500 permanent direct jobs locally resulting from additional cargo capacity. The project could not come at a more crucial time to support the new, larger post Panamax ships now traversing the recently widened Panama Canal. The ability to accommodate larger cruise and cargo ships means the Port will remain a dynamic economic engine in the region.”

Shifting Visa Fees to Vietnam Can Be Confusing
The Chicago Tribune reports a State Department official, the US and Vietnam ratified an agreement last April that permitted Vietnam to issue 12-month, multiple-entry visas to US citizens. The US similarly allows Vietnamese citizens multiple-entry, 12-month visas for short-term business or tourism. It appears though, that the 12-month visas are the only ones available, instead of the former 30-day visa option. And the fee had skyrocketed. The Vietnam Embassy’s website (www.vietnamembassy.us) doesn’t list prices. It simply directs people to an email address and a phone number with multiple extensions. Depending on the embassy the price may range from $80 to $220. Because fees appear to be flexible, it’s a good idea to check with multiple consulates and the embassy for the lowest price. You’ll need to mail your passport and include a prepaid return envelope. Passports must be valid for at least six months beyond your planned stay. Must also have a minimum of 2 empty visa pages. We recommend that you pay the extra fee to work through a reliable Visa Service company. 

British Airways will charge for hot water
BusinessTraveller reports British Airways has confirmed that when the new Buy on Board short-haul service begins in January, “the airline will only provide cups for beverages purchased in flight”. The statement is in line with instructions to crew which state that only “potable water” will be available on request. All food and drink, including soft drinks and tea and coffee will be chargeable, and passengers will not be able to avoid paying simply by requesting hot water, then using their own coffee granules or tea bags. If customers do request a tea cup, then this will be charged “at the retail price regardless of whether a tea bag is required.”

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Royal Caribbean Cruises To Hire Lifeguards
Cruiselawnews reports that RCCL is now advertising that it is hiring lifeguards on its cruise ships. The cruise line posted the availability of the lifeguard position as of December 21, 2016. The posting (below) indicates that the lifeguard “will need to perform rescue of Guests in danger of drowning and be vigilant to potential accidents. Will be trained to administer first aid, CPR, Oxygen & AED as required. This position will open, close, monitor and operate aquatic recreational spaces including but not limited to Swimming Pools, H2O Zones / Splashaway Bay and other designated water attractions . . . ” This reflects a change of position with this cruise line which previously did not employ lifeguards on its cruise ships. Most cruise lines, with the exception of Disney Cruises, do not employ lifeguards on their ships.

App Reveals Wi-Fi Passwords For Airports Worldwide

A handy Google Map created by travel blogger and computer security engineer Anil Polat reveals wifi passwords from airports all around the world and is constantly updated with tips from travelers. As the list has grown in popularity, Polat has turned it into an app called WiFox. By clicking on the planes on the map, you’ll discover that the passwords for various airline lounges are revealed. And if you’re feeling like sharing the knowledge the next time you’re traveling, send on that password. Polat’s WiFox map is updated regularly, based on verified information submitted by travelers. It’s available in iOS, Android, and Google Play.

Bookings Up For New American Duchess Riverboat

American Queen Steamboat Co. reports heavy demand for the inaugural season of American Duchess, its new all-suite paddle-wheeler scheduled to debut on the Mississippi in June. American Duchess offers three 550-square-foot owner’s suites, four 550-square-foot loft suites (a first on the US rivers), two 450-square-foot deluxe suites and spacious veranda and interior suites. American Queen Steamboat Co. said the new vessel will deliver same high standards of service, entertainment and shore excursions that customers have come to expect from a line that also operates American Queen in the US heartland and American Empress in the Pacific Northwest. American Duchess fares include a pre-cruise hotel night at iconic boutique properties.

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29 Cruise Ships Receive Perfect CDC Scores in 2016

Holland America’s Eurodam continues its streak of perfect health ratings from the Centers for Disease Control in 2016, receiving a score of 100 for the 10th consecutive time. Four other Holland America ships, Westerdam, Veendam, Noordam and Maasdam, also earned perfect scores during the year, joining the 29 total vessels that passed the unannounced inspections with no black marks. The CDC inspects all ships that sail in or out of a U.S. port twice a year. Ships must earn a score of 86 or higher to pass. In 2015, 32 cruise ships received perfect scores. Celebrity earned the most perfect scores, with six ships receiving 100. Royal Caribbean had four ships with perfect scores; Carnival Cruises had three, as did Princess Cruises; Both Norwegian Cruise Line and Disney Cruises had two ships that scored 100. Within the luxury category, Crystal Serenity, Oceania’s Regatta and Silverseas’ Silver Shadow all earned top scores.

Cuba Tourism Boom leads to Lack of Food
Tourism Industry News reports For a few years now, Cuba has been opening its economy. As a result, and thanks to the warmer relations with the US, the number of tourists coming to the country has been growing fast. After decades of isolation, Cuban tourism industry reported almost 3.5 million visitors in 2015. The record number of travelers however has caused a serious trouble for the locals, the lack of food. The goods that Cubans were used to have is not available any more. The food goes to the rising numbers of tourists that can afford to pay prices which the locals cannot. The reasons for the dire effects of Cuban tourism boom is, according to experts, not only the US embargo, but also the insufficient governmental planning. Fresh vegetable, for instance, are so expensive for Cubans, that it mostly goes to private restaurants serving the tourists. Thanks to the increased prices of staples like peppers and onions, as well as limes and pineapples are quite unaffordable for many. It is even hard to find any soda or beer in the shops since most of it is bought in bulk by the restaurants. The disparity between the prices of food and the salaries is astronomical. The revenues from Cuban tourism greatly benefits the growing private sector. However, most Cubans still work for the state-run companies. For them, buying a pound of onions and of tomatoes would take 10% of a standard government salary, which is about $25 a month. According to Juan Alejandro Triana, an economist at the University of Havana, the government has not invested sufficiently in the agriculture for a long time. The produce planned for 11 million people cannot feed the 3.5 million tourists as well.

US Considers Cellphones On Flights But No Calls 

The Washington Post reports the federal government on Thursday moved closer to allowing cellphone use during flights, but with a catch: Passengers won’t be able to use the devices to make calls. If approved, the new rules would mean consumers could use their data plans to surf the Web or send e-mails and texts once a plane reaches 10,000 feet but passengers could not make voice calls. Many of the details have yet to be worked out.

E-cigarette Causes Fire On American Airlines Flight
An e-cigarette has something new in common with the Samsung Galaxy Note 7. Both have smoked up airplanes. Last Thursday, an American Airlines flight from Dallas to Indianapolis was diverted to Little Rock, Arkansas, when “a passenger’s electronic cigarette in their possession malfunctioned and burst into flames. Thanks to the quick actions of our crew members, the fire was extinguished,” a spokesman for the airline said.added. The plane was an MD-80 and the airline says that none of the 137 passengers and 5 crew members were hurt. The passengers were put on another plane and the incident has been reported to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Iconic Atlantis Resort Coming To Hawaii
China Oceanwide entered into a management agreement today with subsidiaries of Kerzner International Holdings Limited, a leading international developer and operator of destination resorts and ultra-luxury hotels, for a new, Atlantis resort in Ko Olina, a 642 acre development on Oahu beaches in Hawaii. This will be the first Atlantis resort in the United States, along with the brand’s flagship in Dubai, Atlantis, The Palm and the new icon in China, Atlantis, Sanya Hainan which will open in 2017, as well as The Royal Atlantis Resort & Residences in Dubai.

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EU To Support Pilots With Mental Health Concerns
European aviation safety regulator EASA has published proposals to improve support to pilots who have mental health concerns, and increase checks before and during employment. The European Aviation Safety Agency proposals include access by pilots to mental health programe; a requirement for airlines to carry out psychological assessments of pilots before employment; and drug and alcohol testing after incidents. Random tests would also be carried out after pilots return to work.

Viking’s Mississippi River Plans Delayed

Previously plans To cruise the Mississippi River by European cruise giant Viking now appears uncertain. The cruise line with ships gliding down rivers in Europe, China and Egypt announced plans last year to launch a fleet of cruise ships on the Mississippi, traveling from New Orleans to St. Louis and occasionally St. Paul, by 2017. Earlier this year, Viking said it was pushing its move to the Mississippi to 2018. Viking has issued this statement: “We are actively working with our partners to launch on the Mississippi River, but at this point in time we do not have any details to share regarding product specifics or a launch timeline.”

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‘Twas a day of adventure…

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Happy Thanksgiving All! Have a Great Long Weekend!

A Special Holiday Message from our friends over at Un-Cruise: 

‘Twas a day of adventure, when all thru the boat…

Many stories were shared and we all got to gloat.

Visions of kayaks and glaciers filled up our heads,

And none were too anxious to head off to bed.

Dolphins were leaping and whales were a’feeding,

Tomorrow’s adventures would go on exceeding.

You move through the world as distinctly and uniquely YOU—from day-to-day to grand adventures. Like our small ship adventure and river cruises. Unbeatable activity and culture. Up-close wilderness. Expertise, exclusivity, and personalized service. Time to experience a destination. Embark on exploration… and define your un-ness.

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Orca in the Pacific Northwest

What is UnCruise?

UnCruise Adventures is a small ship experience devoted to sharing untraditional, more intimate itineraries that really take deep in the heart of a destination. Their cruises are a great opportunity for travelers who want to explore well-known places like Mexico, Hawaii, Alaska in a different and new perspective.  Continue reading

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River Cruises in Myanmar

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Have you always wanted to visit Myanmar but not sure where to start? A River Cruise is an exceptional way to see the highlights of the country, without all the hassles. Here we share what you might expect from an Irrawaddy River Cruise.

Unsullied Waters

Myanmar (otherwise known as Burma) only recently opened its borders after a good long 50 years, making it a prime destination for any globetrotter. The country has all the charms of SE Asia while still maintaining its individuality. Even in the more popular sites like the UNESCO Valley of Bagan, Myanmar is still protected from the inevitable changes of tourism.

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A River Cruise is the best way to visit the more remote villages of the north, just 30 miles from the border of China. Cruises can start from either north or south, but the country is perhaps best explored first in the relaxing north and later in the more chaotic, bustling markets of the south.

The Irrawaddy River, also known as the Road to Mandalay, will open your eye to the ancient and unblemished cultures of rural Myanmar. Step back in time to a land full of oxcarts, monasteries, village markets, toddy palm trees, pottery masters. If you’re lucky, you may even glimpse the elusive Irrawaddy dolphin!

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When to Sail

Prime cruise season is from September to April. The driest, and coolest, season is between November and February. Starting May, Monsoon season hits SE Asia in full force, when the snow melt from the Himalayas swells the river to disturbing levels—avoid the traditional summer months.

Ship to Ship

Though ship amenities and features differ from cruise line to cruise line (and often ship to ship), guests can usually expect high standards on our renowned trips. Spacious suites, with large closets and private bathrooms, premium bar and restaurant, fascinating destination lectures, onboard entertainment, and sightseeing adventures.

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What to Expect?

Cruises typically run around 2 weeks in length, roundtrip Yangon or Bangkok to Yangon.

That’s 14 days or more to explore the Golden Land of Myanmar from top to bottom:

  • Start with a walking tour of the Shwedagon, said to be the oldest pagoda in the world
  • Fly north to Bhamo, where your boat awaits
  • Sail past ornate shrines, hillside villages and teak forests
  • Stop at island villages, learn about daily life of schoolchildren and fishermen
  • Visit a local market, and ride an elephant through a sea of teak trees
  • Pay your respects at the monastery of Kya Hnyat and learn about pottery-making in Mandalay
  • At Amarapura, enjoy a sampan ride at sunset
  • Watch a traditional puppet show
  • Sip local tea at a speciality tea boutique
  • Marvel at the 2,000+ stupas and pagodas in the Bagan Valley

Got your curiosity piqued? Call us up for a chat about possibility to cruise or otherwise explore the fascinating country of Myanmar. 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com. 

READ MORE: Buddhas & Boats on Inle Lake

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Exciting Sail: 15-Day British/Irish Cruise with Lindblad Expeditions

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Last week we featured lesser known islands on our blog: the Shetlands, Faroes, Orkneys, and Svalbard. Hopefully that got your travel blood a-pumping, because we have a special Lindblad cruise to share with you!

Lindblad Expeditions was founded in the 1950’s and has remained a leading figure in the world of eco-tourism and small ship cruising. The company is dedicated to finding creative ways to explore areas already mapped. Trained naturalists onboard strive to connect their guests with amazing and incredible places through adventure and education. Travelers choose Lindblad because of the on-ship innovative technology, all-inclusive rates, up close and personal experiences, informal atmosphere, hand-crafted itineraries and ecologically minded experts. And their partnership with like-minded National Geographic experts in the peak of their field certainly doesn’t hurt!

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Exploring the British & Irish Isles

15-Day Itinerary

London – Portsmouth – Fowey – Isles of Scilly – Skelligs and Dingle Peninsula – Cliffs of Moher and Aran Islands – County Donegal – Iona and Staffa, Inner Hebrides – Outer Hebrides: St. Kilda and Callanish – Inverewe – Orkney Islands – Fair Isle and Mousa – Shetland Islands – Bergen, Norway

Board the 148-guest National Geographic Explorer in the heart of London to head on an expedition to discover these Isles that few have seen. See tropical gardens, sixth-century Celtic stone huts, towering cliffs thronged with puffins, and remote wild reaches only accessible by expedition ship and Zodiac. Voyage through centuries of culture and experience a magical blend of deep history and vital modernity on a thrilling and unexpected expedition.

– Former Irish Prime Minister and EU Ambassador John Bruton, who was instrumental in the Irish Peace Process, joins the expedition to share his personal insights.

Travel with and learn from acclaimed photographer Sisse Brimberg, who has shot more than 30 stories for National Geographic.

– PLUS an exclusive 7-day Extension in Wales.

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Call our WIT Agents to find out more about this amazing cruise, or to discuss similar options that may be right for you and your family. Reach us at 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com. Photos courtesy of Lindblad Expeditions. 

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New Aboard Crystal Cruises

Crystal Cruises have recently announced updates to their 2015-16 collection, complete with new itineraries, deals, air discounts, and more. For more than 20 years, Crystal Cruise line has guaranteed luxurious, all-inclusive vacations for a discerning clientele.  

  

 Here’s the latest aboard with Crystal: 

Brand New Yacht: Presenting their newest addition to the fleet, Crystal Esprit: a super-yacht hosts 62 guests and embarks on its inaugural sailing on Dec 23, 2015. 

Brand New, Shorter Itineraries: For the guest who can’t spare too much time from the office, Crystal offers 7-day cruises in the Caribbean. This year, you can enjoy two brand new getaway voyages fro just $1,985 per person—Miami to San Juan (Nov 14, 2015) and San Juan to Miami (Nov 21, 2015). 

New Guest Promo: Summer Season is in full swing with amazing promotions. New To Crystal Savings offers new guests up to $7,465 per person in savings on select voyages 2016-18. 

Guests can also enjoy these exclusive Crystal offers—call WIT at 503-224-0180 to inquire or book: 

  • Book Now Fares from as little as $1,750 per person
  • Low Single supplement fares on select cruises
  • Kids Sail Free on many departures
  • Double Crystal Society Savings for returning guests
  • Special savings on Explorer Combination cruises

Where do you dream of going for your next adventure? Pamper yourself aboard Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony. Call your WIT agent before fares increase in September!
  

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