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Travel News: Cruise calls on D.C. for the first time in half a century

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American Constitution Makes History During Maiden Voyage

American Cruise Lines’ new American Constitution has successfully completed her maiden voyage, making history by becoming the first cruise ship to dock at Washington D.C.’s Southwest Waterfront in more than 60 years. Delivered by Chesapeake Shipbuilding in Salisbury, Maryland earlier this spring, the 175-guest American Constitution departed Baltimore on 18 April and took guests on an 11-day ‘American Revolution’ itinerary. In addition to taking tours in Washington DC, guests were able to visit Williamsburg, Yorktown and Jamestown, the three cities of Virginia’s Historic Triangle, which were the sites of major events in colonial America. Harold Cones, emeritus Professor of Biology at Christopher Newport University in Virginia, US, also joined the cruise to lead talks on American history and the significance of the historical sites the guests visited. American Constitution will continue to sail ‘American Revolution’ cruises until late May, before heading north to offer the cruise line’s popular ‘Grand New England Lobsterbake’ itineraries throughout the summer. The vessel will then sail ‘Hudson River Fall Foliage’ cruises in the autumn and then return to Chesapeake Bay in late October to sail several more ‘American Revolution’ voyages and a ‘Colonial Holiday’ cruise that depart son 23 December. American Constitution will sail a series of ‘American Revolution’ itineraries in 2018. 

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Venice Installs Barriers To Manage Mass Tourism

The Telegraph reports Capri could follow the example of Venice as lagoon city installs barriers to manage mass tourism. The island of Capri wants to bring in crowd control measures to man the mass tourism, as Venice installed checkpoints capable of blocking off the most congested parts of the World Heritage city. The limestone outcrop in the Bay of Naples is inundated with two million tourists a year, with the mayor telling The Telegraph that the island could “explode” from a social point of view under the sheer weight of visitors. Venice introduced radical new measures for the bank holiday long weekend, installing metal barriers that can divert tourists down less frequented alleyways so that locals and workers can go about their business without constantly dodging tour groups and visitors trundling wheeled suitcases. The barriers edged Venice closer to the long-debated, highly controversial idea of limiting the number of tourists allowed to enter the lagoon city, as it buckles under the strain of around 25 million visitors a year. 

Antarctica Tourism Numbers Surge 

Cruise Industry News reports The International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) has reported its visitor numbers for the 2017-2018 Antarctic season at the start of its annual meeting in Newport, Rhode Island. The upward trend in visitor numbers recorded since 2011-2012 continued in 2017-2018, the group said. Overall, the total number of Antarctic visitors in 2017-2018 was 51,707, an increase of 17% compared to the previous season. All visitor activities follow strict codes of conduct developed by IAATO and through the Antarctic Treaty System. The majority, 41,996, of visitors travelled by sea to Antarctica on vessels offering excursions ashore, representing a 16% increase compared to the previous year. Of these, 3,408 flew to the South Shetland Islands on the Antarctic Peninsula where they immediately boarded a vessel for onward travel. In addition, 9,131 visitors experienced Antarctica on one of four cruise-only vessels that do not make landings, an increase of 22% since 2016-2017. 

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Dublin and Cork will have more arrivals this year than Nice and Venice

Irish ports are going to have a busy year, with more than 400 cruise ships scheduled to dock across the country. Dublin will have almost 150 visiting ships, some capable of accommodating up to 6,000 passengers. So many ships are coming to Ireland that Dublin and Cork will have more liners visiting than the traditional big draws of Nice and Venice. On August 8th, four large ships will juggle for space in Dublin Port – not to mention the 4,000-plus visitors landing in the city. Dublin will also celebrate for the first-time arrivals and departures for Celebrity Cruises, which will see 15,000 passengers embarking and debarking in the city during five journeys. Most of the best-known operators have Dublin on their itineraries: Cunard, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Viking, MSC, Seabourn, Silversea, and Norwegian all have ships stopping off. The city will also see the biannual visit from The World – the cruise ship where the suites have individual owners. So popular are Cork and Dublin becoming that four major liners berthed in them over Christmas, bringing 6,000 passengers. On the west coast, Galway is expecting 24 ships this year, and even little Killybegs in Co Donegal, population under 1500, will see some of the world’s greatest liners stopping off: the Queen Elizabeth – the QE2 – and Queen Victoria, as well as the Silver Cloud and Silver Wind from the Silversea brand, will spend nights in the harbour. There will be 20,000 visitors to Killybegs, spending an average of €100 per person.

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Hurtigruten making significant effort to cut plastic pollution

Hurtigruten has announced its plans to become the world’s first plastic-free cruise company as it kicks off new efforts immediately. The cruise line has revealed that all unnecessary single-use plastic will be banned across its entire fleet, aiming for the measures to be in place as soon as July 2018. This will include the plastic straws, drink mixers, plastic cups, coffee lids and bags, all of which will be removed from each and every Hurtigruten ship.The company revealed some of the plastic it currently uses including approximately 6200lbs of plastic straws, 11,000lbs of plastic glasses and 9,500lbs of plastic aprons. It’s not just the cruise ships where the single-use plastic ban will be imposed. Hotels and restaurants in the company’s land-based operations on Svalbard will be included too.

Cruise ship calls on DC for the first time in over half a century

For the first time since the 1950s a cruise ship has called on Washington, D.C. The brand-new, 175-passenger American Constitution made The Wharf a stop on its current 11-day voyage out of Baltimore. The Wharf’s largest dock can handle cruise ships up to 400 feet in length – a good-sized ship, but not big enough for megaships. Welcoming smaller cruise ships will likely be an infrequent thing for The Wharf, though. Monty Hoffman, with The Wharf development team Hoffman-Madison, has said that he wouldn’t call cruise-ship destination “a primary use” of The Wharf – “I don’t want too much of a good thing, if you will. We like having them come in, but I’m not pushing it too hard either.” While it has been more than 60 years since cruise ship passengers embarked and disembarked along the D.C. waterfront, that kind of commerce is part of D.C.’s history. “There were ships that came in here quite regularly up until the Civil War,” Hoffman said. “Then there was a steamship group that came in here up until the mid-1950s. And there were regular routes to Hampton Roads and to Bermuda actually.” The American Constitution is the newest ship for American Cruise Lines.

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Filed under Cruises, Europe, North America, USA

2018 Travel Trends: Walking Tours in and out of Town

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We know that many of our clients are revving up and ready to hit the road this year. Stay active and keep on adventurin’, that’s what we always say.

One of the coolest experiences you can have on a trip is a walking tour – it’s simple, doesn’t take too much time and effort, keeps your blood pumping, makes you feel energetic, and is a fantastic way to tour the city or countryside the way the locals do every day. Plus, you often get to see a side of the destination that many tourists don’t.

Here are some of our favorite walking tour companies – call Willamette Intl Travel to book yours today. 503-224-0180 or email inquiry@wittravel.com.

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Walking in Venice: luxury tours focusing on history, art and photography with art aficionados to the Accademia, or the Ca’Rezzonico, or the Ca’Pesaro and Fortuny Museum. Discover Renaissance Venice at the height of its power.

Spanish Trails: our in-country supplier for tours of Barcelona, Madrid and the Catalonian Coast. They offer small group walking tours in the city, wine tours in La Rioja region, or succulent food-tasting tours.

 

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Photo from Context Travel

 

Context Travel: Small group tours and private tours in many cities around the world, from Edinburgh, Budapest and Istanbul to Philadelphia, Shanghai and Rio de Janeiro. Spend the day with a local historian or scholar who will enchant you with their in-depth knowledge.

Chocolatine: How can we forget lovely France. Chocolatine provides a wealth of fun private walking tours (including those hard-to-find tickets to exclusive Parisian events!) all around Paris, Provence, Normandy and throughout.

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Adrienne & Renato: Adrienne & Renato are a husband-wife team, she from Portland and he from Naples. With their team of local guides they can arrange everything from private Pompeii tours to dinners in the Tuscan countryside. Their services include close, personal attention illuminated by a background in art history and mythology.

Art Tours by Amy / Mountain Hiking Holidays: It seems every time we check in with these folks, Amy and John Osaki have something new and exciting up their sleeves. Amy organizes the art tours in Europe and Asia, and John heads the mountain hiking trips all across the globe. Look for the next trip to explore the heritage of Japan, November 2018.

Marissa: Marissa is a one-of-a-kind one-woman operation in Buenos Aires. She’s organized tailor-made tours in and around the city for more than a decade — we highly recommend her if you’re in town!

“When you spend a day with Marisa in the fabulous city of Buenos Aires, you become Argentinian!!” ~~ John @ Wittravel

Sherpa Expeditions: Looking for a multiday challenge? these folks curated self-guided walking and cycling trips throughout the United Kingdom and Europe. They supply you with the itineraries, some of the gear, and hand-picked B&Bs and inns to give you that small-town feel!

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Filed under Asia, Europe, Travel by Backpack

Diving In Iceland

Welcome to Iceland! Today we’re returning to the land of fire and ice brought to you by our own foreign correspondent in Iceland, Wailana.

Last summer she joined a fantastic group for an unforgettable experience snorkeling between tectonic plates. Established in 1997, Dive.is offers safe, fun snorkel and dive days not far from Reykjavik and also off the coast of Iceland. The most famous trip is through Silfra Fissure in Thingvellir, a crack in the Earth where you can swim between two continental plates.

If you are a PADI-certified diver, you can join fellow divers on a day dive in the fissure. The tour includes two dives, each of about 30-40 minutes, at a depth of 18 meters. Optional add-ons include an afternoon of spelunking or the Golden Circle.

Otherwise, you can sign up for the snorkel tour. Even in summer, the fissure tends to be quite cold, but you’re fitted with high quality equipment and the best dry suit in the business. You can easily let yourself go, floating through the twisting fissure in pristine waters and the vivacious colors of this underwater realm. The fissure widens into a large lagoon area, where sand collects at the bottom. Wailana recommends keeping your hands laying flat on your back, above the water to be warmed by the sun (if there is any!). End your chilly day with a cup of hot chocolate and cookies.

Looking for something a bit more Advanced? In Akureyri, you can sign up for the dive tour in Strytan and its underwater volcanic cones. Swim in 79C water and feed the local wolf fish. In June, divers can even boil Guillemot eggs at 24 meters depth!

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Filed under Europe, Iceland, Travel by Scuba

2015 Tauck in America

Have you seen the latest Ken Burns seven-part epic, The Roosevelts: An Intimate History? Then you’ll love the NEW Tauck New York City Event next year October 1-5, 2015.

Co-created by Tauck and Ken Burns, the Event will feature a keynote address by Ken at Lincoln Center’s New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, and guests will have a chance to meet and mingle with him. They will also visit the townhouse of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, a wedding present from Franklin’s mother, Sara Delano Roosevelt, which she had designed expressly so that she could move in with them.

Sharing the stories of America’s people, places, and history-shaping events is at the heart of every Tauck U.S. travel experience. Call Willamette Intl Travel at 503-224-0180 to learn more about any one of these unique and exclusive itineraries: 

THE TAUCK JAZZ EVENT, 5 days, March 25 – 29, 2015

1An encore celebration of this uniquely American music in New Orleans: Extraordinary live musical performances, small group themed sightseeing, exclusive experiences & a personal appearance by Ken Burns; French Quarter, Preservation Hall, Mississippi steamboat dinner cruise, 4 nights at Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans.

HIDDEN GEMS OF NEW ENGLAND, 8 days

 4NEW! A singular journey through the picturesque region that shaped America: Boston Common & Fenway Park, autumnal colors in the White Mountains, sustainable Vermont farming, Mark Twain’s home, Shaker influence, Saint-Gaudens’ sculptural legacy, New Hampshire wilds & Maine’s ocean views.

 

YOSEMITE AND SEQUOIA: JOHN MUIR’S CALIFORNIA, 8 days

Following Mui3r’s stunning path from San Francisco to the Sierra Nevada: Presidio history & the Golden Gate, incredible landscapes in Muir Woods, Sequoia & Yosemite national parks, redwoods, mountains, forests & waterfalls, 2 nights each at Wuksachi Lodge & The Ahwahnee®, 3 nights in San Francisco

 

WONDERLAND: YELLOWSTONE IN WINTER, 9 days, a Small Group Culturious trip

2The world’s first national park at a spectacular time of year: Snow-covered valleys, mud pots, hot springs, ice bridges & ionic geysers, snowcoaches, elk, sheep, bison & wolves, fantasy landscapes in Yellowstone’s Grand Canyon & the Tetons, 2 nights at award-winning historic Wort Hotel.

Call Willamette Intl Travel at 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com to speak with any of our qualified agents.

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Filed under North America, Tauck, USA