Tag Archives: galapagos

Travel News This Week

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Royal Caribbean Tightens Cruise Cancellation Policy
Royal Caribbean International is tightening its cruise cancellation policy, making passengers more on the hook for a larger portion of the fare if they decide not to go before sailing. The policy has multiple changes. Chief among them: the cancellation window during which you would only lose a deposit is gone. For full cancellation details, be sure to contact your Willamette Intl travel agent! 
 
NASA To Develop Supersonic Airplane
CNN reports NASA to develop ‘quiet’ supersonic airplane for those who still hanker after the supersonic air travel offered by Concorde. NASA has announced it’s going ahead with plans to develop an aircraft that can break the sound barrier, but quietly. Without the sonic boom the plane could operate commercial routes over land. NASA has awarded Lockheed Martin a $247.5 million contract to build the supersonic aircraft. It wants the aerospace company to refine, build and test the experimental aircraft, known as the X-plane or “Low-Boom Flight Demonstrator,” and deliver it to NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center by the end of 2021. 
 
American Airlines Lifts Curtain On Chicago-New York Shuttle Today
Chicago Business Journal reports American Airlines will debut its branded Chicago-New York shuttle service Wednesday. The shuttle launch is sure to spark yet another heated operational rivalry between AA and United Airlines, both of which have major hubs at O’Hare International Airport and both have extensive flights between two of the nation’s principal business markets. 
 
Travel Fraud Is Exploding, and It’s Hurting Travelers
Travelwirenews reports Travel fraud is on the rise, and it’s quickly becoming everybody’s problem. The rise of online travel has created a wealth of convenience and opportunity for users, who can now access last minute and discount fares to a degree unheard of even 20 years ago. However, says the digital security firm Sift Science, this has also created a broad platform for thieves and con artists. Travelers, hosts and even huge companies are vulnerable. Thieves steal, on average, between $283 and $588 per fraudulent transaction. In total, fraud costs billions of dollars per year. Airlines alone lose from $2.4 billion to $4.8 billion to credit card fraud annually, and it happens at virtually every point in the industry. For many travelers, it can represent a very real problem. For researchers and industry, “fraud” defines any purchase made under false pretenses. The trouble is that in travel there are many points of contact where this can go wrong. Thieves can often book travel using stolen credit cards or financial information, effectively stealing a high-value airline ticket or hotel room in the process. For hotels especially, same-day bookings are up to 4.3 times more likely to be fraudulent because the short time frame makes it far harder for the hotel or authorities to detect anything wrong. By the time a consumer has noticed the charge on his or her credit card statement, the criminal is often long gone. 
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India Limits Visits To Taj Mahal To 3 Hours Per Person
CNN reports the enormous white marble tomb, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, can attract at least 50,000 visitors a day on the weekend, according to a spokesman for the Archaeological Survey of India, which oversees the Taj Mahal. “Sometimes people end up spending a whole day at the Taj. This creates a situation where there are too many people,” the spokesman D N Dimri told CNN. “It is being implemented so that the movement of visitors can be regulated. Day by day, the number of visitors are increasing. This is to ensure no untoward incidents or accidents occur.” He added there had been no incidents due to overcrowding at the site. 
 
China To Unveil World’s Longest Sea Bridge
Travelwirenews reports it is billed as the world’s longest cross-sea bridge. After seven years of construction, the new link between Hong Kong, Macau and mainland China is finally complete. Beijing says the $20bn project will cut travel time in half, bringing China and its two territories closer together.
 
New Whale Protection Strategy In Gulf Of St. Lawrence
Canada has developed a more nuanced approach to protecting North Atlantic right whales from vessel strikes in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The 10-knot speed cap applies in certain areas, but ships will be allowed to travel at normal speeds in two set shipping lanes when no whales are observed. 2018 sees a fixed speed restriction in a large area of the Gulf where the whales aggregated in 2017 and a dynamic management approach for the shipping lanes north and south of Anticosti Island where temporary mandatory speed caps will be activated should a right whale be observed. 
 
Airport Pays $7,500 For Dog To Chase Birds From Runway
Fox News reports Yeager Airport, located in West Virginia, has purchased an 18 month border collie named Hercules to help protect public safety. The pup has been hired to chase birds and other animals off the runway, a problem that has been a concern for the Charlestown, W.Va., airport. “Every airport has problems with bird strikes and wildlife on the airfield. It’s a big safety hazard, so a dog can be a real predator,” Nick Keller, assistant director at Yeager, said. “It will keep birds, deer, coyotes, rabbits away from the airfield.” Hercules will have a reflective vest, safety goggles and ear protection to wear while he is at work. Keller said the dog could potentially reduce deadly animal collisions once trained. Hercules is currently being trained in North Carolina on a range of verbal and whistle commands. Yeager staff must also be trained to handle Hercules while he is at work. While on the clock, Hercules will be outfitted with a reflective vest, safety glasses and ear protection.
 
Scenic Expands To Northwest Passage, White Sea
With Scenic adding a second ‘discovery yacht’ in May 2020, the company is expanding itineraries. New are a 21-day Northwest Passage exploration, a 13-day adventure through Russia’s White Sea and, in late 2019, two opportunities to visit North America’s Eastern Seaboard, from New York City or Halifax. Scenic new Northwest Passage cruise will embark in Copenhagen and skirt the coast of Greenland before transiting the Canadian Arctic to end at Nome, Alaska. Limited to just 200 passengers and departing Aug. 15, 2020, ‘Across the Northwest Passage’ is a once-in-a-lifetime journey and a pinnacle of polar exploration. With the highest ice class rating of any luxury ship (Polar Class 6), Scenic Eclipse will make its way from Copenhagen along the coast of Greenland and through the Canadian Arctic until reaching Nome, Alaska. Travelers will get to visit Inuit communities and learn from the shipboard expert discovery team. There will be opportunities for kayaking amid icebergs, viewing polar bears and Arctic foxes and hiking across the frozen tundra. Russia’s White Sea is another seldom-visited area Scenic will explore. 
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Lindblad Expeditions Unveils Short Galapagos Cruises
Lindblad Expeditions’ National Geographic Islander will sail a series of short one-week Galapagos cruises in 2018 and 2019, giving vacationally-challenged people the opportunity to see the bucket list destination without spending too much time away from home or work. Dubbed the “Wild Galapagos Escape,” the one-week journey is onboard the recently refurbished, 48-passenger National Geographic Islander and features five days in the archipelago, plus a one night pre-voyage stay in Guayaquil and the option of another night post voyage at no additional charge. All sailings include multiple shore excursions each day from walks and hikes to kayaking, snorkeling and paddle-boarding. New in 2019, passengers on any Lindblad sailing in the Galapagos receive complimentary drinks (excluding certain premium brands) and an hour of free Wi-Fi per person, per day. Dates for the Wild Galapagos Escape sailings are: 2018: November 24 and 29; 2019: April 27; May 2, 11 and 16; August 31; September 5, 14 and 19; and October 31. For those who have a little bit longer and also want to see Machu Picchu, the eight night Wild Galapagos & Peru Escape trip includes a night in Lima, two nights in Peru’s Sacred Valley and five nights on National Geographic Islander in the Galapagos. Departures for this tour are December 1, 2018; May 4 and 18, September 7 and 14, and November 2, 2019. Both trips include roundtrip charter flights from Ecuador to the Galapagos.
 
Air New Zealand And Virgin Australia To Terminate Alliance
Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia are set to end their seven-year-long trans-Tasman alliance in October. The termination will impact the strategic alliance launched by the airlines at the end of 2010 to partner on various services between New Zealand and Australia. Both carriers decided not to renew their existing regulatory approval for the alliance, which expires on 28 October. 

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Un-Cruise Adventures: Not Your Typical Cruise

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Are you an adventurer by heart? Sailed with a large cruise line and on the lookout for something a bit different? Try Un-Cruise! We recommend Un-Cruise Adventures to travelers seeking an entirely unique trip experience.

Our clients who have sailed with Un-Cruise have raved about their small ships and the cozy, casual vibe onboard. The cruise line stations seven boats in Alaska, Hawaii, the Sea of Cortez, the Columbia River and British Columbia–each of which invites fewer than 90 guests at any one time.

The crew are dedicated to providing an exceptional vacation, and onboard you may be joined by wildlife rangers, historians, actors, or lecturers that bring the destination to life. There are ample opportunities for kayaking, hiking, snorkeling, paddle boarding and cultural encounters.

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Call Wittravel at 503-224-0180 to find out more on any one of Un-Cruise’s amazing trips:

Alaska: Explore Alaska’s Inside Passage and Glacier Bay on an unforgettable expedition.

Hawaii: Cruise among the islands of Moloka’i, Lana’i, Maui and Hawai’i on a 36-guest yacht.

Columbia River: Visit the Columbia river gorge and discover pioneer history roundtrip from Portland Oregon.

Sea of Cortes: Sail into a world of wildlife: whales, manta rays, sea turtles, pelicans and more roundtrip from San Jose del Cabo.

Galapagos: Venture out into the famed Galapagos Islands on a 9-night journey to eight islands and islets.

Last year, WIT Agent Linda sailed on an Un-cruise ship around Baja:

We stopped at 5 different deserted islands where we would snorkel, hike or enjoy water sports such as kayaking and paddle boarding. Out of La Paz, we were taken out to see the whale sharks…the world’s largest fish species with lengths of up to 46 feet and weighing up to 66,000 pounds! There is such a wonderful ambiance onboard and the crew will do anything for you. One guide tried to get me standing up on the paddle board one day – I couldn’t quite do it, due to the swells being too high, so enjoyed paddling on my knees, but she was so supportive and kind. Honestly, the entire crew was phenomenal and I felt so at home with all of them. I highly recommend Un-Cruise Expeditions.

Click here to read her whole trip report!

Or call 503-224-0180 to talk to Linda directly about her incredible trip!

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Agent Profile: Nancy Fowler

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How did you get into travel?

I grew up in the country near the Oregon coast, on a dead end road, with few neighbors.  Books were my escape to exotic places. I really didn’t know what I wanted to do when I grew up, so I attended a business school for a travel and accounting course. My first job in a travel agency was in 1978, handwriting Pan Am tickets for their Hawaii tours.  Next up was a full time position, selling air tickets (only 3 fares –remember Continental’s Chickenfeed fare?) all done via the phone, as there weren’t computers yet.  Soon I was trusted to discuss Hawaii, Mexico, some cruises with clients.  My first work trip was Amtrak to San Francisco, followed by a trip to Hawaii.  I was hooked!

What’s your favorite trip/memories of travel?

I’ve been fortunate to have so many wonderful trips over the years, and there hasn’t been a destination that didn’t become my new favorite.  Call me fickle!  A travel consultant is ALWAYS on the job, so a favorite personal escape is Hawaii.  It is exotic, only 5 hours away, and very welcoming. Memories?  Galapagos and the crazy marine iguanas!  Snorkeling in Fiji, Cook Islands, Tahiti, Great Barrier Reef, Hawaii, Turks and Caicos.  Holding a young wombat and rubbing her tummy. Driving in Western Australia while a lizard races me (and wins).  Watching cattle dogs work in New Zealand. A cooking class in Vietnam. Getting lost in Provence and missing our train to Paris. A walking tour in Regensburg while on a Xmas Markets cruise with my daughter. Visiting New Orleans post-Katrina.  Attending a party on the heli-pad of the Celebrity Eclipse.  Fur Rendezvous in Anchorage.

What’s still on your bucket list?  

Norwegian fjords in the winter,  Argentina, safari somewhere in Africa, Kangaroo Island, Arctic, Myanmar, Black Sea, Ireland, Molokai.   And if time,  return visits to Galapagos, Alaska, Australia, Scotland, Fiji, and Panama Canal.

What’s one tip you always tell your clients? 

Be sure to take your brain and your common sense on every trip, along with an open mind for impromptu new adventures!

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Agent Picks: Our Top 2012 Destinations

This week we asked around the office for our agents’ top destinations for 2012, and here are some of our awesome picks:

photo by Hector Garcia

Cook Islands

The Cook Islands are situated between French Polynesia and Tonga, comprised of 15 islands. Summers (Nov-Apr) are warm with afternoon rains, and winters are cooler and dry. It is largely unspoiled, with pristine beaches, coral atolls, blue lagoons and white sands. With no high rise hotels and a culture firmly based in its roots—each island offers unique ways to relax and enjoy Polynesia. The visitor can enjoy a variety of activities, including swimming in resorts, visiting the famous Aitutaki Lagoon, snorkeling, scuba diving, mountain hiking or stopping for a shore excursion at Palmerston Atoll.

photo by Arian Zwegers

Baltics

Since the fall of Soviet communism, the Baltic states—namely Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia—have slowly emerged as a major travel hub. Still under the American traveler’s radar, the capitals of Vilnius, Riga and Talinn still retain their refreshing and unspoiled vibe. With old world architecture, pastel colors, and rich cultural backgrounds, the people have been called welcoming and yet still an enigma. The Baltics are also relatively inexpensive for Europe, with boutique hotels running less than 150 USD per night and private tours available for a third of the price of their Western European equivalents. From the lively cities to the icy resorts on the Baltic Sea, there’s something for nature and culture lovers alike.

photo by xiquinhosilva

 Turkey

Turkey is a less expensive option to neighboring and popular Greece—but as equally worth your time due to its rich cultural heritage and diverse landscapes—from mountains to beaches to ancient monuments and ruins. Depending on your travel tastes, spend your vacation wandering through bipolar cosmopolitan Istanbul, sunbathing on the Bodrum Peninsula, touring the fairy chimneys in Cappadocia, or unwinding in a steamy hamam. If you’re feeling more adventurous, we recommend exploring the uncharted deserts of Eastern Turkey, trekking through the Ottoman and Greek ruins, or hiking through Nemrut Dagi National Park. Above all, don’t miss the food—mouthwatering mezes, olives, kebabs, anchovies, baklava, and kanafeh (a sweet and delicious pastry). WIT works with a fantastic tour guide named Meli who provides fully escorted tours through incredible historical sites, hot springs, monasteries, and the gorgeous architectural wonders of the Aya Sophia and Topkapi Palace.

photo by Maurizio Costanzo

Ecuador/Galapagos

Ecuador is one of the smallest countries in South America, but features a biodiversity unparalleled in the Western Hemisphere. For decades a top destination for nature lovers, the country features volcanoes, tropical forests, Pacific coast, indigenous markets, and unique wildlife. Most popular are the Galapagos Islands, barren but beautiful landscapes ripe with giant tortoises, penguins, marine iguanas and sea lions. Due to the fragility of the islands, tourists’ access is limited and must be accompanied by a park-certified tour guide.

photo courtesy of Viking River Cruises

 European River Cruises

The European river cruise is a massively growing industry—not a destination, but a worthy travel experience in of itself. These cruises are often all-inclusive, allowing Americans to avoid high exchange rates by locking fares in dollars, and can include accommodations, remarkable scenery, meals from stellar chefs and occasionally shore excursions. The most popular routes are on the Douro River, the Rhone, the Rhine and the Danube. River boats travel at a leisurely pace of 5 mph, allowing travelers spectacular views of the countryside, vineyards, castles, and villages. They can accommodate from 200-300 passengers, and the tiniest barges as few as four—intimate yet never feeling claustrophobic Many ships offer deluxe cabins, or suites with balconies, and there is a small number of public rooms and plenty of deck space. Fall is a popular time to go—the time for grape harvesting, Oktoberfest brewing, and the polychromatic turning of the seasons.

photo by @Michael

USA National Parks

Summer is a time for parks, and no better place to check out wildlife than in America’s diverse and breathtaking national parks. The National Park Service protects 58 areas across America, so there’s no excuse not to find one for a hike! Lodges are already selling out in well-known destinations such as Bryce Canyon or Montana’s Glacier Park. In Oregon, check out Crater Lake, Fort Clatsop, John Day Fossil Beds, or the Oregon Caves—or hike a historical trail, such as the Lewis & Clark or Pacific Crest trails. Some of the tours WIT works with offer escorted park tours, like Tauck’s Southwestern canyon vacation or their Yosemite trail, both crafted by filmmaker Ken Burns.

Interested in traveling this year to a top destination? Email info@wittravel.com or call us at 503.224.0180.

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