Tag Archives: disney

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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Filed under Disney, Disney Cruises, Europe, Ireland, Japan, USA

4 Family-Friendly Cruise Lines (you wouldn’t expect!)

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Today is the International Day of Families! The theme of this year? Education and Well-being. In celebration of the day, we’re taking look at a couple cruise lines that, at first glance, you wouldn’t think are family-friendly—but actually are.

A good kids’ program can transform a “week stuck with Mom & Dad” into an awesome summer break! Why not make it fun for everyone?

Of course, number one on the list is naturally Disney. But Disney’s ships were kind of made for kids—what about those cruise lines that cater mostly to adults, AND have a fantastic kids’ program on top of it? You might be surprised at the results. Here are our Top 5 Family-Friendly Cruise Lines that you wouldn’t expect!

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Uniworld

Uniworld was named #1 River Cruise Line for Families by Travel + Leisure readers four years in a row! This is thanks to their Uniworld Generations Family Cruise program, where kids cruise for half-price! For every accompanying adult, a child between 4 and 18, qualifies for 50% savings. Set your kids on a firsthand experiential course into history, culture and geography. In 2017 they offer nine itineraries in Europe: Danube, Rhine, Paris, Normandy, German Christmas markets, Italy and more! Includes onshore excursions for curious minds and kid-friendly menus.

Crystal Cruises

Kids transform into world explorers aboard Crystal Cruises. On select itineraries, they even sail Free! Junior Cruisers can enjoy scavenger hunts, cookie decorating, team games, karaoke, and video games. What’s cool about these Kids Sail Free Voyages, they also come with added perks for the parents, including 2-for-1 cruise-only fares, complimentary select alcohols, complimentary gratuities, complimentary computer and fitness programs and a free evening of specialty dining.

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Princess Cruises

Princess Cruises offers a really cool youth program, each uniquely designed by age group: toddlers, kids, teens and young adults. Science, arts and crafts, air hockey–whatever your kid’s into lately, it seems like they’ve got it in stock. And the fun isn’t even confined to the ship. For example, on an Alaska cruise excursion, preteens can sign up for the National Park Service Junior Ranger Program and learn all about Alaska’s animals and rugged terrain.

Royal Caribbean

RC does it in style, with rock-climbing walls, zippiness, ice rinks and bumper cars! The DreamWorks experience is a unique Royal Caribbean option where you can meet, dine and go on a scavenger hunt with your favorite characters from Shrek, Kung Fu Panda, Madagascar and How to Train Your Dragon.  

And as always, ask your WIT travel agent for details on which itineraries are best for your family, and how can you get that sweet cruise deal you’ve been looking for! Call 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com.

THIS WEEK: We welcome back Nancy, WIT Agent Extraordinaire, who was recently in Europe on a Barcelona-Windstar Cruise-Amalfi Coast Extravaganza! We look forward to her feedback and photos soon! ALSO: WIT Agent Rachael is in Puerto Vallarta this week! What great photos those will be. Stay tuned!

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Filed under Caribbean, Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Disney Cruises, Europe, Princess Cruises, UniWorld, Windstar Cruises

Join Disney on an Unforgettable Adventure!

Adventures by Disney® provides group-guided family vacations all over the world. Immerse yourself and your loved ones in the cultures and stories of people around the globe.

With Adventures by Disney®, you are treated to the VIP Experience—whether it’s a private tour of the Vatican museum or a dinner party at the Vienna Zoo. All tickets and admissions are included, guaranteeing that you can sit back and enjoy your hassle-free vacation. Join two Disney-trained Adventure Guides and a group of no more than 44 guests to the Americas, Europe, Asia, or Australia.

Watch what one of these Adventures by Disney® may be like for you and your family:

Adventures by Disney® in Norway: Begin your adventure with a visit to the storybook village of Bergen, the inspiration for the kingdom of Arendelle, home to Anna and her sister Elsa in Disney’s animated adventure, Frozen. Journey through western Norway’s naturally beautiful fjords and other awe-inspiring landscapes, learn traditional folk dancing, and try your hand at trout fishing and river rafting.

Watch the Video Here:

Did You Know? Disney has recently announced plans for a “Frozen” attraction at the Norway Pavilion in Walt Disney World’s Epcot park in Florida. The recreation of Arendelle is slated to open in early 2016.

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Ship Inspection Report: Disney Wonder

This week we are reporting on WIT agent Wailana’s trip up to Seattle mid-July to view Celebrity and Disney cruise ships. Today we take a look at her account of Disney’s Wonder.

Ship Inspection Report: By Wailana

Disney’s spectacular Wonder ship can accommodate 2,700 passengers comfortably, as well as 950 cast and crew members. It has 11 main decks, all dressed in a variety of colors and illustrations. Hanging pictures showcased familiar character prototypes such as Mickey or Goofy, yet the décor never came across as gaudy or childish. There’s an air of sophisticated nostalgia—Walt’s photos and illustrations from the 1950s decorate the walls, colors are elegantly combined. Heroic, animated music followed us wherever we stepped. The ceilings were quite low for some towering individuals—topping perhaps 8-9 feet high in most areas.

Some highlights of the tour include:

–          Animator’s Palate. This unique restaurant begins at lunch as an all black-and-white tablet, and colors creep up gradually as the evening wears on! The décor is very cartoonish, with walls covered in sketches and columns designed to look like huge paintbrushes.

–          The surface deck’s Pirates’ Party, thrown once a voyage. Pirates parade on a stage, accompanied by lively music and dance. Passengers are of course encouraged to dress up themselves!

–          Oceaneer Club is a playroom for children who wish to explore their artistic side, and the adjoining Oceaneer Science Lab is for the computer-obsessed and the scientist in every child. They do have an Open House hour, when all ages can join.

–          The spacious handicapped suites, which were very handsome with plenty of hall space. Quite the luxury accommodation! (Un)fortunately you must prove your handicap status before voyage.

–          All rooms come with a “wave” phone, or ship phone, that allows family members to keep track of each other.

Afterwards, we enjoyed a relaxing lunch in Parrot Cay—dill mashed potatoes, shrimp cocktail, moist chocolate cake. A high quality of ingredients, and most importantly, delicious!

Tune in next time when I report on the King Tut exhibit at Seattle’s Pacific Science Center. In the meantime, check out my trip photos here.

Willamette Intl Travel arranges all sorts of cruises customizable to our clients! Interested in cruising with Disney? Call us for more info at 800.821.0401 or email Wailana at wailanak@wittravel.com.

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Filed under Cruises, Disney Cruises, North America, Our Travel Agents, The Pacific Northwest, USA, Washington, Where in the World is the WIT Agent?

Seattle Trip Report

This week we are reporting on WIT agent Wailana’s trip up to Seattle mid-July to view Celebrity and Disney cruise ships. Today we take a look at her impressions of Seatown herself.

Seattle Trip Report: By Wailana

Seattle seems to thrive on its tourism—Pike Place, the main shopping area, feels like your wandering through a carnival. You can find gourmet marmalade, freshly fried fish, bubble tea, piroshky and 1930s art deco advertisements of Morocco. On hot days, expect to see DVD-tooting magicians and jugglers spinning plates.

photo by Rafael Amado Deras

I departed from Salmon and 6th, downtown Portland, on the Bolt Bus. I rate the quality of ride similar to Amtrak’s—leather seats, electrical outlets, free wi-fi. A month in advance ticket cost around 8$, a week in advance $14. Purchase when boarding was $25. Future expansion of routes expect this Fall—to Bellingham and Eugene. Took about 3h30 to arrive in Chinatown, Seattle—just next to Union train station.

I arrived around seven o’clock in Chinatown, hungry. I checked in at the Belltown Inn, great location on Third, decent rooms for a brief stay. The free bike rental was a plus. Ask for a courtyard room, because it can get quite loud due to all the buses. Why Seattle insists having most of its buses on just one street I will never know.

Transport is pretty manageable downtown—if you are keeping to the main sights, the downtown bus is free 6am to 7pm or you can walk everywhere.

I first hit up Pike Brewery, the downstairs brewery just off of the market, with glossy, wooden counters. They had a sweet raspberry lambic served in a traditional flute glass and an IPA. The crowd here was mostly businessmen and tourists. Colors were bold and gaudy, hops were stuffed in glass cases—it was like drinking in a Planet Hollywood.

On the main corner of the market, I can recommend two places everyone must hit up—the crumpet shop and the piroshky shop. Crumpets are warm biscuits served with everything from pesto to honey butter to nutella. There were dozens of kinds of piroshkies, onion and beef, Bavarian custard, grilled chicken, polish sausage—all stuffed into crispy phyllo dough.

photo by WK

I felt more at home on Capitol Hill; though it has grown up a bit, it still maintains of laid-back, comfortable atmosphere. Streets are lined with thrift shops, eateries with gray and weathered window shutters, hipster-run cafes and bookshops. I spent one morning in Elliot Bay Books, nibbling at my latte and lemon curd muffin while buried in a Jan Morris travelogue. Not far walk from here is Elysian brewing—Greek pantheon-themed beer in love with its hops. I had the Perseus Porter.

Saturday was Bastille Day, and that evening down in one of the postalleys Café Campagne dressed up in all her tricolor finest. There were French jazz musicians—bassists, guitarists, accordionists—and two costumed ladies who danced the high-step to Piaf’s La Vie En Rose. A young Japanese-American girl was passing out brie and pear baguettes in a sailor dress and beret, and tightly vested hostesses were dispersing rosés and cabernets.

Of course, I was in Seattle to tour both Celebrity’s Infinity and Disney’s Wonder, two impressive cruise ships, and the Pacific Science Center’s exhibition on King Tut. Tune in next time to hear about them! In the meantime, check out my trip photos here.

Willamette Intl Travel can recommend great hotels, activities, and sights for your trip to Seattle. Call us for details at 800.821.0401 or email wailanak@wittravel.com.

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Filed under North America, The Pacific Northwest, Travel by Bus, USA, Washington, Where in the World is the WIT Agent?

WIT News: Newsletter and Upcoming Seattle & Cruises Report

NEWSLETTER RELEASE: This week Willamette Intl Travel is releasing our midsummer newsletter! It holds information on tours, opportunities at home and abroad,  travel tips and gadgets, client and agent trip reports, travel news, cruises, and our invitation to an Australia & South Pacific Evening on November 14 here at the Portland office, sponsored by Qantas Vacation. If you would like to read or receive this fantastic source of all your travel info, call us at 503.224.0180 or email info@wittravel.com.

SEATTLE CRUISES: This past weekend, our main blogger Wailana headed up to Seattle to check out two cruise ships docked in the harbor: Celebrity’s Infinity and Disney’s Wonder. Willamette Intl Travel has booked clients on these lines before, so it was great to see the gorgeous specimens at port! The Infinity has newly been renovated into Celebrity’s “Solstice” class, a dramatic upgrade with state-of-the-art specialty restaurants and spa-inspired staterooms.

Nancy Fowler also talks about her Spring 2012 experience on the Celebrity Eclipse in our midsummer newsletter!

KING TUT EXHIBIT: Wailana also had the opportunity to check out Seattle’s incredible King Tut exhibition at the Pacific Science Center. Over the next week or so, she will be posting impressions of her trip, so be sure to tune in. With luck there will also be some photos of Seatown, some stellar restaurants, and ancient artifacts!

Interested in signing up for our newsletter? Want to hear more about Seattle, Celebrity Cruises, or Disney Cruises? Email us at info@wittravel.com or call us at 800.821.0401 for a chat!

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Cars Land: A Client’s First Hand Report on the Grand Opening

Our client Larry Cerotsky celebrated his 60th birthday ago by heading to Disney’s California Adventure® Park with his wife, 2 children and 4 grandkids. They stayed at the Disneyland® Hotel and were there for the grand opening of Cars Land! Inspired by the 2006 Pixar film, Cars, Cars Land is 12 acres and includes rides like Radiator Springs Racers, Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree, Luigi’s FlyingTires, as well as a number of restaurants. See what Larry’s daughter Darci had to say:

“We had a great time in Disneyland.  Everyone had a blast!!  The crowds were not bad in Disneyland until the day that we left.  It was definitely much more crowded than the other days.  It was nice though because the crowds made it much easier to leave.  Cars Land was really cute.  It looks exactly like the movie.  The radiator springs racer ride was fun.  We only went on it once…….we stood in line for 2 hours & 15 minutes.  We also went on the tractor ride….that was fun as well.  The wait for that was about 40 minutes.  Every so often Mater and Lightning Mcqueen would drive thru the streets. Yeah……Dad was definitely surprised by the limo.  It was fun……..it was a great way to end the vacation!!”

Interested in booking a vacation at any of the Disneyland® Parks? Come check out the new Cars Land in California! Email us at info@wittravel.com or call toll-free at 800.821.0401.

 

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