Tag Archives: cruise

Star Clippers Family Trips

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Had enough of the cold?

Why not suggest a family sailing trip over the holidays?

Build family memories with Star Clippers’ “Authentic Sailing Adventures” – NEW Kids & Teens Sail FREE.

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Star Clippers’ open decks and discovery excursions are optimal for ages 7 and up. 

Ask your WIT travel agent more about Star Clippers’ incredible and unique sailing ships. 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com.

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Available on select sailings for children between 3 and 17 at time of sailing, when traveling with 1-2 adults. Transfers, port charges and gratuities are additional.

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Travel News: Hurtigruten Going Big in the Arctic in 2019

Hurtigruten Going Big in Arctic in 2019

Hurtigruten has announced an expanded Arctic deployment for 2019, not only sailing from Tromso to Russia, but offering expedition cruises in Svalbard with five ships, and a Northwest Passage transit on the new Roald Amundsen. It will be the first time a hybrid ship has sailed the Northwest Passage. In addition, the company announced that both the Roald Amundsen and Fridtjof Nansen will offer expedition sailings along Norway’s coast in 2019. Among new expedition offerings are departures from Tromso calling at Murmansk and Frans Josef Land. “Frans Josefs Land is one of the world’s most spectacular, yet at least visited destinations. The Arctic regions of Russia have enormous potential and are perfect for Hurtigruten expeditions,” added Skjeldam. A 15-day expedition departure on the Spitsbergen will cross into Russian waters and Murmansk before sailing the Barents Sea to Franz Josef Land for five days of expedition landings.

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Some NYC Hotels Turn To Urban Destination Fees

The Independent reports in New York City, hotels have found the perfect solution with the introduction of “urban destination fees,” which are similarly hovering around $25 per night on top of the regular room rate. In many cases, the fee also includes extras like free local telephone calls, an F&B credit and Wi-Fi, but in other cases, it is strictly an add-on to reflect “the hotels’ proximity to a ‘tourist attraction,'” A spokesperson for Marriott Hotels and Resorts told The Independent, “The Destination Fee was created as a way to lift the guest experience by providing added value to a hotel stay. Each hotel may offer a combination of hotel services (such as dry-cleaning, pressing or a food & beverage credit); local experience vouchers for free/discounted events and attractions (such as city tours), and/or access to fitness programs (such as yoga or cycling) in nearby studios.” “All participating hotels will include enhanced internet, as well as local, long distance and international phone calls. The implementation of the Destination Fee gives us the opportunity to test how a bundle of benefits that our research shows are valuable to guests might enhance the stay.

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Holland America’s Nieuw Statendam Celebrates Cruise Ship Milestone

The AP reports a coin ceremony was held Wednesday for Holland America’s Nieuw Statendam at Fincantieri’s Marghera shipyard in Italy, taking the new-build one step closer to its November 2018 launch. During the event, a Dutch guilder was welded to the front of the 2,660-passenger, Pinnacle-class ship to mark the line’s Dutch heritage. Anne Marie Bartels, a member of Holland America’s President’s Club loyalty program who’s sailed on more than 79 of the line’s voyages, served as the ship’s madrina, an honorary ceremony guest similar to a godmother. Nieuw Statendam, which officially will be floated out December 21, is the second ship in Holland America’s Pinnacle Class; Koningsdam was first in class when it debuted in April 2016. A third Pinnacle-class ship is scheduled to launch in 2021. Much of the new ship’s design will be similar to Koningsdam, but it will have exclusive public spaces and differentiating style elements created by designer Adam D. Tihany and designer and architect Bjorn Storbraaten. Holland America Line’s first ship to be called Statendam sailed in 1898; this will be the sixth vessel in the company’s history to carry the name.

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Marriott Tops J.D. Power Hotel Loyalty Survey

Marriott International’s loyalty program Marriott Rewards edged out Hyatt Hotels Corp.’s World of Hyatt to win J.D. Power’s 2017 Hotel Loyalty Program Satisfaction Study. Marriott Rewards earned a score of 806 on a 1,000-point scale and World of Hyatt received a score of 805. Hilton’s Hilton Rewards finished third with a score of 793 and InterContinental’s IHG Rewards placed fourth with a score of 789. Finishing at the bottom of the study were Wyndham Worldwide’s Wyndham Rewards, 742, and Choice Hotels International’s Choice Privileges, 743. The annual study, which measures member satisfaction with hotel rewards and loyalty programs, found this year that members who redeemed rewards points for dining, car rentals, product purchases and special events exhibited greater satisfaction than those who redeemed only for hotel stays. That finding could spell trouble for some hoteliers but prove a boon for others as many of the industry’s top players expand their rewards programs offerings to include experiences, as well as a wider array of redemption opportunities. The study is based on 4,682 responses from rewards program members who experienced five or more trips during the past 12 months and was fielded in September and October of 2017.

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Abandoned Air Traffic Control Tower In Denver Becomes A Restaurant

An abandoned air traffic control tower which has lain empty for 22 years has been turned into a trendy restaurant. In addition to a dining venue and bar, the Punch Bowl Social will bring arcade games, karaoke and bowling to the disused building at the long-gone Stapleton International Airport in Denver. The plans were revealed earlier this year, but the “entertainment” establishment, has opened this month, retaining the original tower and using much of the former exterior of the building on the inside. The former airport was used to handle hundreds of flights a day between 1929 and 1995, and its tower now offers sterling views over the city. Stapleton, which at its prime welcomed major airlines including United and Continental to its six runways, was decommissioned in 1995 and replaced by Denver International after suffering from a number of problems including lack of room for new airlines, a lawsuit over noise and inadequate separation between runways. Its last flight was a Continental service to London Gatwick. All of the airport’s infrastructure has been removed except for the control tower. The Punch Bowl Social has been designed with its aviation heritage in mind. The interior’s design is intended to hark back to the “golden age of air travel”, while an aviation-themed cocktail menu will remind visitors of the building’s heritage.

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Travel News: 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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Solo Traveler? Why not try a Solo Cruise in Europe this Fall?

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Calling all Solo Travelers!

Solo Traveling is on the Rise. AmaWaterways is offering independent travelers exceptional savings on 2017 river cruises. Plus special services tailored to your solo adventure.

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Cruises Include:

  • No additional single supplements
  • No baggage hauling
  • Inclusive meals
  • Group excursions
  • Service of an attentive crew that heeds your preferences
  • An invitation to an exclusive Welcome Cocktail Reception
  • A welcoming dining environment made possible by the restaurant’s seating plan
  • An invitation to dine at the Captain’s Table
  • Assistance with planning your ideal shore excursion program during the cruise
  • Safe, convenient and rewarding river cruises the classic rivers of Europe
  • Ships that carry no more than 164 passengers

So what is a single supplement?

This is the cost of traveling single on any tour or cruise. On cruises, the single supplmeent can be up to 200% of the per person cost for two! Throughout the year, we receive notifications from cruise lines and tour operators who offer a special single rate on select trips and departure dates. We’ve seen these as low as 20% higher than the per person cost — and sometimes, as in AmaWaterways, they’re even waived altogether!

If you’re thinking of traveling solo, book select 2017 sailings in Europe or Asia and pay NO single supplement on your cruise fare.

Need more ideas for Solo Travel? Sign up for Willamette Intl Travel’s Solo Adventurer email list today and get discounts in your inbox as they come!

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Sample Cruises

Taste of Bordeaux

Bordeaux to Bordeaux
7-night deluxe cruise accommodation
Outside stateroom (most with French balconies)
Dates of Departure: Oct 26, Nov 2, Nov 9, Nov 16 (wine cruise)

Your cruise begins in Bordeaux, the capital of Aquitaine in Southwestern France and one of the world’s undisputed wine capitals. You’ll discover stately chateaux, abundant vineyards and stunning scenery as you sail along the Garonne River and its surrounding estuaries, calling upon port cities like Cadillac, Bourg and Libourne. Enjoy tastings of some of the region’s most distinguished wines and visit notable sights before concluding your journey.

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Paris & Normandy

Paris to Paris
7-night deluxe cruise accommodation
Outside stateroom (most with French balconies)
Dates of Departure: Oct 5, Oct 12, Oct 26, Nov 2 (wine cruise), Nov 9

Begin your journey in magical Paris, the “City of Light,” where you will embark your luxurious river cruise ship. Visit the village of Giverny, where Monet lived and worked for 43 years, and Honfleur, a charming French harbor town immortalized by generations of artists. Stroll through Rouen, the historic capital of Normandy, then take an unforgettable excursion to the famous Normandy beaches of WWII. Visit Les Andelys, home of Château Gaillard before concluding your trip back in Paris.

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Romantic Danube

Vilshofen to Budapest
7-night deluxe cruise accommodation
Outside stateroom (most with twin balconies)
Dates of Departure: Oct 25, Nov 1, Nov 6, Nov 8, Nov 13 (wine cruise), Nov 15 (wine cruise), Nov 20 (wine cruise), Nov 22

Framed by rolling hillsides, lush vineyards, and medieval castles, the Danube River has captivated musicians, artists and poets throughout the centuries. Travel to legendary destinations on a 7-night cruise from Vilshofen to Budapest. Explore a 2,000 year-old city, savor Wachau Valley wines, and experience the timeless beauty and fascinating history of Vienna and Budapest.

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Enchanting Rhine

Amsterdam to Basel or Basel to Amsterdam
7-night deluxe cruise accommodation
Outside stateroom (most with twin balconies)
From Basel: Oct 14, Oct 28, Nov 4, Nov 9 (wine cruise), Nov 18.
From Amsterdam: Oct 21, Oct 28, Nov 2, Nov 4, Nov 16, Nov 18 (wine cruise)

Begin in Amsterdam, with its legendary canals and distinctive architecture. Visit the majestic cathedral in Cologne, the university town of Heidelberg, medieval Strasbourg and the Black Forest region before concluding your cruise in Basel, Switzerland.

Call your WIT Agent today to arrange your cruise vacation and your solo trip! 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com. 

Need more ideas for Solo Travel? Sign up for Willamette Intl Travel’s Solo Adventurer email list today and get discounts in your inbox as they come!

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Adriatic Cruises 2017-18

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Yesterday was Croatia’s birthday, so in celebration, we’re taking a closer look into cruising the Adriatic Sea!

Choosing an Adriatic Cruise depends on a lot of factors: sailing date, ports of call, price, length and itinerary. We’ve written up a few cruise lines who sail along the Dalmatian Cruise. To learn more, give us a call — We can advise the best cruise to fit your travel style and budget, and even find special discounts exclusive to travel agencies. 

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Crystal Cruises

Crystal offers Adriatic cruises on its lovely yacht, the Crystal Esprit. The yacht is a “boutique hotel on water,” accommodating up to 62 adventurers in butler-serviced suites. You feel more like you’ve joined a private, exclusive voyage than an official cruise! Voyages sail from Croatia to Athens by way of Greece and Montenegro, or from Athens to Venice by way of the Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast. Choose from 7 days or 14 days. Prices start in the $6,000 per person range.

Royal Caribbean

All Aboard the 2076-passenger Rhapsody of the Seas, which offers roundtrip Venice cruises stopping in Dubrovnik, Kotor Montenegro, Santorini and Katakolon, Greece. Or head west from Venice down through the Adriatic to Capri, Rome, Florence and Barcelona. Itineraries of 7-8 nights start in the $900 per person range.

Windstar

Windstar’s small, intimate ships are perfect for those looking to sail the Croatian Riviera in privacy. Discover the timeless charms of Croatia on the 8-day Venice roundtrip Quintessential Croatia, which takes you through the Plitvice Lakes and Diocletian Palace. Or expand your itinerary to the 12-day Athens to Venice voyage. Itineraries start in the $3,400 per person range.

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Star Clippers

The iconic winged sails of Star Clippers will sail there way through the Adriatic Sea on the Star Flyer. Get to know the Eastern Mediterranean intimately in Corfu, Santorini, Kotor, Dubrovnik, Hvar and Korcula. Or hug the Dalmatian coast and keep to Croatia, Montenegro and Slovenia on the Venice roundtrip. Prices for 7-11 itineraries start in the $2000 per person range.

Princess Cruises

Princess’ larger vessels promise luxury in magnitude. Explore the highlights of the Eastern Mediterranean on the 12-Day Adriatic & Aegean Connoisseur, or the 12-day Venetian Connoisseur. Prices start at 2400 per person.

Find out more by chatting with our agents today! Our staff has sailed with all of these cruise lines and would love to discuss the ideal Adriatic cruise for you and your family. Call now! 2017 and 2018 Seasons are open for booking. Ask us about special offers like reduced deposits, no single supplements, and last-minute discounts.

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Travel News: HAL cruises to Cuba

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Holland America Becomes Latest Cruise Line to Sail for Cuba

HAL just announced it will begin sailings from Ford Lauderdale to Cuba starting December 22, 2017, with a 12-day cruise on the Veendam. HAL will begin with nine 7-day itineraries calling at Havana, with three of these also calling at Cienfuegos. Other ports on the cruises will include Cozumel and Costa Maya in Mexico, Grand Cayman, Turks and Caicos, Key West in Florida, Montego Bay in Jamaica, Belize, Dominican Republic. This follows the announcement of Royal Caribbean, Azamara Club Cruises, and Norwegian Cruise Line, who will sail Cuba as well.

Royal Caribbean Adds Chief Meteorologist To Marine Ops Team

Royal Caribbean Cruises has added what may be the first-ever full-time cruise industry Chief Meteorologist to its operations team in Jim Van Fleet, who brings a broadcasting background to the position and has degrees in climatology and broadcast meteorology. Van Fleet joined the Miami-based company in January.

Port of Lisbon Wants Homeport Calls

A new cruise terminal will be inaugurated this summer, a new state-of-the-art building located downtown in the city center as port officials have their eyes on building Lisbon into a major home port. And of those, the port is expecting quite a few with maiden visits scheduled from the Viking Sky, Freedom of the Seas, TUI Discovery 2, Columbus, Silver Muse, Variety Voyager, Caribbean Princess, Ocean Diamond, Viking Sun and the new MSC Meraviglia. Lisbon cruise season is mainly spring and fall and the city wants cruise ship to call year round. In addition, one of the main strategic goals is to increase the turnaround segment and establish Lisbon as a big national and international homeport hub, which will induce growth and eventually reduce seasonality effects.

John Travolta Donates His Famous 707

Actor John Travolta has donated his famous Qantas Boeing 707-138 to the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) based at Albion Park, approximately 90 miles south of the city of Sydney, Australia. In a statement Travolta said “The aircraft was originally delivered to Qantas Airways in 1964 and was converted for private use after it finished its life with “The Flying Kangaroo”. I was honored to have the 707 repainted in the original Qantas colors when I became the ambassador for the airline, and it’s so fitting that many of the volunteers at HARS are retired Qantas employees.  HARS is a not-for-profit organization and was formed in 1979 by a group of aviation enthusiasts interested in the preservation of Australian aviation history. It has built up an impressive collection of over both flying and static aircraft including a Lockheed Constellation and Douglas DC-3 and DC-4. It is, without doubt, the most impressive aircraft museum in the Southern Hemisphere.”

Florence Mayor Aims To Keep Polluting Tourists At Bay

The mayor of Florence has told tourists they will “get wet” if they settle down for lunch on the steps of some of the city’s prized churches as he is turning to hosepipes to restore “decorum” among visitors to the Renaissance city. Dario Nardella wants to discourage people from ‘camping out’ by hosing down steps of Basilica of Santa Croce and other sites. The steps of the Basilica of Santa Croce, the burial place of Michelangelo, will be the first to be hosed down at lunchtime, in order to stop visitors from eating on them, followed by the Chiesa di Santo Spirito. “We have nothing against tourists. We know that they are a great resource for our city,” the mayor told The Guardian. “But there is a problem with respecting decorum. The majority of visitors are respectful and elegant. But there has been an increase among those who don’t respect our cultural heritage, who sit down on church steps, eat their food and leave rubbish strewn on them.” The streets of the city’s historic center, a Unesco World Heritage site, will also be hosed down as part of what will initially be an experiment to see if tourists can be discouraged from eating lunch on the steps. Concerned about the spread of fast-food outlets catering to backpackers, he introduced regulations in January last year stipulating that restaurants in the center use products that were typical of the city and the Tuscany region. He also blocked an application by McDonald’s to open an outlet in the historic Piazza del Duomo, prompting the US chain to seek €17.8m (£15.5m) in damages.

Family-centric getaways to Mexico offer something for all ages

On Mexico’s East and West coasts, Palladium Hotels and Resorts’ all-inclusive getaways emphasize privacy and wellness in the Riviera Maya and Riviera Nayarit. All hotels have tiered kids’ clubs — baby, mini and junior clubs — where children are entertained with kid-centric programs, designed to optimize both fun and education. The resorts’ Play at Palladium with Raggs program includes a group of 5 colorful TV characters as on-site ambassadors, hosting activities, poolside events, disco parties, a pirate show and on-property water sports. For older kids, cooking, science and magic classes are also available. 

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Filed under Airlines, Caribbean, Cruises, Cuba, Europe, Holland America Line, Italy, Mexico, portugal, Royal Caribbean

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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