Tag Archives: cruises

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

Client Trip Report: Why Antarctica continues to be the most Awe-Inspiring Destination

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Willamette Intl Travel booked an amazing trip for our long-time clients Doug and Diane. They sailed on an unforgettable voyage to Antarctica last December. So in the interest of sharing it with our readers, we’ve made up a presentation that we think you’ll love—chock-full of firsthand feedback, quotes, tips, and gorgeous photos. We hope you enjoy it!

Take Me on a Virtual Voyage to Antarctica!

 

Thinking about a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Antarctica?

Let us advise you!

We’ve sent dozens of clients to explore the lonely continent. Nothing prepares you for the sheer beauty of its nature. Call us for a consultation now: 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com.

I had no idea that ice, mountains, icebergs, clouds, flat water, sky, and sun could work together to make such beautiful scenes.  I was in awe the whole trip.

–Doug D.

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Filed under Antarctica, Argentina, Cruises, G Adventures, South America

6 Travel News Tidbits

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1. Viking Cruises partners with National Geographic

Viking Cruises will sponsor National Geographic’s first fully scripted global anthology series, “Genius,” which will tell the story of Albert Einstein. During the global premiere of Genius — April 25 at 9PM ET/PT on National Geographic — Viking will showcase their brand campaign “Time.” The Founder of Viking, Torstein Hagen, is a lifelong admirer of Einstein and a physicist himself. Read more on their website.

2. Hilton rapidly expanding

In 2016, Hilton opened a whopping 354 properties — that’s nearly one per day! Hilton is especially progressing in China, with 328 properties open or to open. In total, Hilton has 4875 hotels open worldwide.  

3. More attention to flying needs for children with neurological issues

Wings for Autism®/Wings for All® are sponsoring airport “rehearsals” specially designed for individuals with autism spectrum disorders and individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities. The programs are designed to alleviate the stress that families who have a child with autism or intellectual/developmental disabilities experience when flying. It provides families the opportunity to practice entering the airport, obtaining boarding passes, going through security and boarding a plane. Learn more here at The Arc’s website

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4. What’s NEW for the 72-Hour Visa Free Transit in Beijing

Beijing has introduced new regulations concerning the 72-hour transit without visa. Travelers must now fill in an application and wait for clearance. An application form and background check are required for stays over 24 hours. So travelers need: 1) onward ticket, 2) application form, 3) background check. This system doesn’t necessarily exist in other Chinese cities as they can be different. In Shanghai, for instance, you can stay double the time (6 days / 144 hours) without a visa. Ask your WIT Travel Agent to Learn More.

5. Avalon Waterways Announces A New Ship

Avalon Waterways is expanding in 2018 with a new ship for the Mekong River, adding new active and themed cruises and cutting the single supplement for all European river cruises. The line’s next new ship will be based on the Mekong River in Southeast Asia, sailing between Ho Chi Minh City and Siem Reap. The 36-passenger vessel will be called Avalon Saigon and will launch in September 2018. The cabins will be slightly bigger, at 245 square feet, with sliding French balcony doors that extend 9 feet. The 14-foot windows have screens to keep out insects. Ask your WIT Travel Agent about available cruises, itineraries, and pre- and post-cruise land tours. 

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6. Did You Know? Two-thirds Of Travel Websites In EU Mislead On Prices

According to a European Commission report, 2/3 of EU websites display misleading prices. Of the 352 price comparison and travel booking websites checked in October 2016, the Commission found 235 gave prices that were not reliable. The sweep of websites, conducted with consumer protection authorities, found that in 1/3 of cases, the final price was not the same as the first price shown. In 1/5 of cases, promotional prices were not available at all. Additionally, in 1/3 of cases, the final price or the way it was calculated was not clear. In a quarter of instances, websites did not make it clear that room availability applied just to that site, and rooms might be available through other channels. The Commission said the 235 websites will have to correct the irregularities and it will ensure sites comply with national enforcement procedures.

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Filed under Avalon Waterway, China, Cruises, Europe, Travel by Ship, Viking Cruises

Hurtigruten: Exclusive Norway Voyage with NASA Astronaut Dr. Thagard

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Hurtigruten cruise line is offering a once-in-a-lifetime cruise on their ship Astronaut next March! Join a NASA astronaut exploring the skies above Norway’s west coast! This season is a wonderful time to visit—not as cold as midwinter, but still crisp and clear. Get a chance to glimpse the brilliant and beautiful Northern Lights — a Hurtigruten Promise.

March 21, 2017 Departure — 8 days / 7 nights — Exclusive Voyage with NASA Astronaut Dr. Thagard

This special voyage follows Hurtigruten’s Classic Voyage South, and includes special lectures from Dr. Thagard, with viewings of documentaries about the 115-day Russian Mir-18 mission and Dr. Thagard’s experience as a cosmonaut on the mission. If you love space, there’s no excuse to miss this opportunity!

Dr. Thagard is a decorated Marine Corps veteran, and has logged over 140 days in space on 5 space flights. He performed many NASA ‘firsts’ including deployment and retrieval exercises, conducting medical tests, and launching the first planetary probe from the Shuttle.

Book with your agent at Willamette Intl Travel — we’ve sent many clients on Hurtigruten’s ships and can confidently say that they are one of the best for expeditions in the Arctic and Antarctica.

Explore the Arctic Sky with a NASA Astronaut

Travel the Norwegian coast with former astronaut Dr. Norm Thagard, veteran of 5 space flights and 140 days in space, and hear his stories about life in the sky.

Northern Lights Promise

Hurtigruten is confident you will witness the elusive and  hauntingly beautiful northern lights on your 12-day winter Coastal Voyage with them.

A Stargazer’s Journey

These special astronomy winter voyages in Norway include long polar nights for stargazing, astronomy talks from experts, a visit to the Northern Lights Planetarium, plus their Northern Lights Promise.

Seeking Northern Lights

Get a front row seat to the northern lights on a 6-day winter Coastal Voyage, plus exhilarating, exclusive excursions across the snowy terrain, and sparkling winter views.

Winner of Multiple Awards

More than 5,500 travel agents voted Hurtigruten the ‘Best  Expedition Cruise Line’ in the 2016 WAVE Awards.

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Itinerary

  • Day 1: Kirkenes – Berlevåg
  • Day 2: Mehamn – Tromsø
  • Day 3: Tromsø – Stamsund
  • Day 4: Bodø to Rørvik
  • Day 5: Trondheim – Ålesund
  • Day 6: Ålesund – Bergen

Includes

  • Transfers
  • 1 Night in Kirkenes before your voyage, incl. breakfast
  • Aurora Safari private tour in Kirkenes, with a visit to the SnowHotel
  • Kirkenes to Bergen voyage, with full-board
  • Cocktail reception with Dr. Thagard and Hurtigruten ship captain
  • Hammerfest City Tour & Excursion to Meridian Monument
  • 2 lectures and film screenings
  • 3-hour city tour in Bergen, transfer to hotel
  • 1 Night in Bergen after your voyage, incl. breakfast

Check out Hurtigruten’s gorgeous Instagram page!

Call Willamette Intl Travel for more details and to find out if there’s still “space.” 😉 Call 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com. 

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Filed under Cruises, Europe, Hurtigruten, News, Norway

Client Report: Viking Ocean’s Star in the Mediterranean

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Our agents at Willamette Intl Travel booked a cruise with Viking Ocean for long-time client Nancy T. Now Nancy’s come back from her amazing trip through the Mediterranean. Hear what she has to say about the voyage:

How was the Ship?

The Viking Star is absolutely stunning. It is very well thought out. Even though there were over 900 people on the ship, you never felt crowded. Our room was quite large and the bathroom was exceptional – full size shower and heated floor! The food was amazing. We loved the sauna and snow grotto room. Because we took an extensive excursion every day, we really didn’t have time to try out all the amenities on the ship. You could spend your entire trip onboard! There are so many beautiful places on the ship.

You did the pre-cruise extension, Two Nights in Istanbul, with Viking. How was the hotel?

Istanbul was beautiful. A side note to Viking—the Conrad hotel is not well placed for visitors. I know Viking will be getting a lot of feedback regarding that. It’s a beautiful hotel but not situated well for those wanting to explore Istanbul. Lots of business people and conferences being held there. It’s  a 30 – 40 minute walk to the nearest transit station and then another 20 minute ride to the old section. Taxis from the hotel to the old section are expensive because of where the hotel is placed and all the traffic.

(Note from Wittravel: The Conrad is a superb hotel, but indeed may be suitable for those travelers who wish to relax before their voyage. For those who want quicker access to the sights and smells of Istanbul, we can arrange nights in many excellent hotels closer to the city center. Call us for a one-on-one consultation.) 

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Tell us about the Excursions — how was Istanbul?

We did the guided tour provided by Viking on the first day – well thought out. The second day, we walked and took the light rail to see the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia. Also went to a small bazar. The next day was spent entirely at The Topkapi Palace which is huge. We were too tired to get to the Grand Bazaar or go to the recommended spice market. It was good we had done the smaller bazaar since it had spice stores there.

We did see some of the Syrian refugees. It broke our hearts. Turkey is trying hard to deal with them compassionately but their patience is running out. There are already over 2 million refugees and a million more are expected. I have a greater regard for Turkey and its place in our world.

We loved all the other, added-on excursions we did. I fell in love with Montenegro. Our excursion was 5 hours that day. Santorini was amazing – that was an 8-hour day. Athens was a 6-hour tour. Kusadasi ( Ephesus) was a 3.5-tour.

Final Thoughts?

It was an amazing, exciting trip. I highly recommend it to anyone wanting to explore that part of the world. Another side note – the majority of passengers on the ship had already on it for ten days before we got on it. They had combined this trip with another one which started in Barcelona.

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Viking Cruises launched its first ocean-going itinerary in May of this year. Ocean voyages have been fully booked up well into 2016! Viking’s world-renown cruise line has ranked highly on multiple travel lists, including Conde Nast Traveler’s Gold List, Travel + Leisure World’s List, Travel Weekly Readers’ Choice Awards, and National Geographic’s The 10 Best of Everything. The ocean cruises continue the Viking tradition of an all-inclusive experience, from all onboard meals, cultural enrichment, complimentary room service, to shore excursions, wifi, self-service laundry, wine, beer & soft drinks, and all port charges and government taxes.

The Viking Star is an all-veranda ship that accommodates up to 928 passengers. Combining Viking world-class standards with refreshing itineraries, the Viking Star is the ultimate luxury voyage that enhances each destination port. From the lavish 270-square-foot veranda to the premium Owner’s Suite spanning a whopping 1448 square feet, there’s something for everyone on the Star. She will be equipped with multiple restaurants, serene Wintergarden lanai, Piano Bar, Explorer’s Lounge, and a Nordic Spa. The Star will also have as its token jewel an Infinity Pool that is cantilevered over the ocean—the only one of its kind among cruise ships worldwide.

Call us for more information on Viking and their ocean and river itineraries. Contact 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com.

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Filed under Cruises, Europe, Travel by Ship, Viking Cruises

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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Filed under Cruises, Lindblad Expeditions

Embark on an Incredible Voyage on the West Coast of South America

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Looking for that adventure of a lifetime? In 2016, Canadian-based G Adventures is sending its MS Expedition to the West Coast of South America. The ship will voyage from Ushuaia up the Chilean coast to Peru, and onward to Panama and Colombia.

The Expedition carries a maximum of 134 guest passengers, not including crew, so you can expect a personalized, one-of-a-kind voyage. Trips often include pre/post nights in hotels, guided tours, land excursions, transfers, and educational programs onboard. Meals are international and provided by professional chefs.

The trip is comprised of 3 core legs. You can join any of them for a two-week expedition or embark on a longer adventure by combining two or all three.

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Leg A: 15 Days Chilean Fjords, Ushuaia to Santiago. Ushuaia – Punta Arenas – Puerto Natales – Angostura Guia – Laguna San Rafael – Puerto Chacabuco – Ancud, Isla de Chiloe – Talcahuano – Santiago/Valparaiso.

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Leg B: 15 Days Santiago to Guayaquil. Santiago – Valparaiso – Caldera – Arica – San Juan de Marcona – Callao/Lima – Trujillo – Salinas/Guayaquil. Between Lima and Trujillo, your guides take you on a 3-day included trip overland to the Sacred Valley and explore Cusco, Ollantaytambo, and Machu Picchu (local flights are additional).

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Leg C: 12 Days Guayaquil to Cartagena. Guayaquil/Salinas – Isla de La Plata – Bahia Solano – Punta Alegre – Pearl Islands – Panama Canal & Panama City – San Blas Islands – Capurgana – Cartagena.

Combos:

28 Days Ushuaia to Guayaquil. Combination of the first two trips.

25 Days Santiago to Cartagena. Combination of the last two trips.

38 Days Ushuaia to Cartagena. Combination of all three trips.

Solo Adventurers: Traveling solo but want to bunk with a fellow voyager? G Adventures will guarantee a shared cabin with one of the other guests. If you’d rather have a private cabin, G Adventures can offer one at a supplement.

Read about G Adventures in Antarctica here: https://wittravel.wordpress.com/2015/04/20/g-adventures-in-antarctica/

Departures are in March and April 2016. Call your Willamette agent at 503-224-0180 to discuss options!

In the Portland area this Fall? Drop by our office on Wednesday September 9 at 6:30pm. Join staff from Willamette Intl Travel and G Adventures for an evening of adventure travel! We’ll highlight Galapagos and Antarctica as well as G Adv’s special Arctic Cruise.

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Filed under Chile, Colombia, Panama, Peru, South America, Travel by Ship