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Attention Seahawks Fans!

Attention Seahawks Fans!

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Celebrate this Father’s Day with Dad and the 12s! Join Princess Cruises, the Official Cruise Line of the Seattle Seahawks on an action-packed 7-day cruise to Alaska sailing June 20, 2015.

Call Willamette Intl Travel at 503-224-0180 now for the deets!

We have some of the few cabins available at discounted group pricing! First Come First Serve~~~

Guests will enjoy the ultimate in player interactions and onboard fan activities including:

 

  • Meet and greet autograph signings and photo opportunities with Seattle Seahawks players in featured ports
  • Q&A “Chalk Talks” with alumni players
  • Seahawks “Rally at Sea”
  • Appearances by Blitz the mascot and the Sea Gals
  • On-deck Tailgate Party with game-day inspired food
  • Football inspired movie nights on the giant Movies Under the Stars poolside LED screen
  • “Spirit of the 12s” contests
  • Seahawks trivia contests
  • Chances to win signed merchandise and tickets to regular season home games

 

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South, Sunsets, Seattle!

This week WIT agent Wailana is concluding her days aboard Celebrity Cruises’ Infinity up to Alaska. Today, we take a look at Victoria and the ship herself.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012 – At Sea

Another day “at sea” is a terrific opportunity to explore the ship’ services. Besides the onboard spa, fitness center and pools, there are ample activities all around the ship, including:

–       bingo night

–       basketball h.o.r.s.e. tournament

–       watercolor art class

–       presentations by a qualified cultural historian and naturalist

–       music trivia

–       wine tasting

–       and much more

As one of the last days onboard, there was a festive air throughout the ship. The gift shop held sales and the lounges specials and events. Photographers shot scenes of impeccably dressed guests against the backdrop of a fiery sunset.

I took advantage of this day to explore Michael’s Club, the shipboard equivalent to a pub. You can sip on a beer from their worldwide selection, enjoying the lounge with its muted lighting, tasty edibles and live music. I was once again impressed with the general unpretentiousness and high standard of food and service. It was also English-themed trivia night, a hilarious event as the etymology of the word soccer came into question.

Thursday, 6 September 2012 – Victoria, BC

The morning began with a crew talent show and cooking contest. This was a great chance to see all 900+ crew members on stage at once, some of them displaying incredible feats of magic, dance, song, comedy and theatre. It was also a terrific opportunity for the passengers to show our appreciation of the hard work behind the scenes.

After, it was on to late lunch. My number one recommendation on any Celebrity ship is to try one of the specialty restaurants onboard. It’s not that the regular restaurants are inadequate–on the contrary, the main dining area Trellis is a culinary delight each seating—but the attention to detail, quality of ingredients, and presentation are up a whole new level. After the entertainment of the A.M., we headed down to the SS United States, the specialty restaurant focusing on French cuisine. The setting had a very clean and 1950’s ship interior, complete with Jazz lounge music, white polished décor, and porthole windows with wooden panels. You can order courses paired with wine or à la carte and just sample from an array of delicious and masterfully prepared appetizers. The peak of the dinner was the jaw-dropping desserts—but those, readers, I’ll let you discover for yourselves.

Specialty Restaurants: Blu (Aquaclass only), SS United States, Qsine

Disembarkation Time: 6.30 pm

Arrival into Victoria was perfectly timed for the afternoon. The sun sinks down over the harbor and bathes the waters in blue and gold. It’s a lovely 30-minute walk or brief shuttle ride into the heart of downtown. In the summer, street performers line the docks just below the capitol building—jugglers, musicians, traders. I would advise cruise passengers to spend their charming, lamp lit evening in Victoria eating out at one of the yummy restaurants in Old Town.

Embarkation Time: 11.30pm

Conclusion

In the end, cruises are luxury resorts set against beautiful backgrounds. They are opportunities to enjoy some fine entertainment, cuisine, and accommodations. Your activities are designed with a demographic in mind, which changes depending on the route. It is important to remember that, with less than 12 hours in any port of call, less focus is given to the destination and more to onboard experience.

With this in mind, Celebrity Cruises stands out as a luxury cruise line. The service is what makes this ship exceptional. The staff was friendly, amusing, approachable, relatable and accommodating. I am not surprised that the Infinity has the highest rated crew in the entire fleet.

Willamette Intl Travel regularly books clients on Celebrity and other cruises. Call WIT at 503.224.0180 or email info@wittravel.com to book a cruise today!

P.S. Wailana’s photographs from the cruise will be appearing on the blog next week, so stay tuned!

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Video: A Glimpse into the King Tut Exhibition

Now in Seattle until January 2013.

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Filed under Egypt, Features, Middle East, The Pacific Northwest, Videos, Washington

Trip Report: King Tut Exhibition

This week we are reporting on WIT agent Wailana’s trip up to Seattle mid-July to inspect cruise ships and the King Tut Exhibit. Today we take a look at her account of the exhibit at the Pacific Science Center.

King Tut Exhibit: By Wailana

Last month, Willamette Intl Travel featured a piece on the King Tut Exhibit on our blog. So having spent the better part of a day conducting research on it, I was excited to finally see the grand treasury for myself. That morning of July 14 was considerably foggy, so after first arming myself with some northwest coffee and buttered bagel, I then climbed up to the Seattle Center. Around 9.30 I collected my tickets from a kiosk and entered through the back entrance of the Pacific Science Center (entrance was closed for some unknown reason).

The purchase of my ticket had some notable perks that might interest the would-be Seatown Tourist. These are available with all ticket types, including students. Perks include:

–          $5 off for a combo package of Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibit and Space Needle

–          $3 off on the Space Needle

–          Exclusive discounts at participating Pharaoh’s Gold locations throughout Puget Sound

–          Access to the rest of the Pacific Science Center and its other exhibits

Winding through the lake-top maze of the museum took me to the Tut lines. Guests can purchase audio tours before or at the door. Due to the large volume of crowds, entry is divided every fifteen minutes—time is chosen with your advanced purchase—but you can stay as long as you want inside the exhibit. I was there for about 1h15. I recommend that you come a bit earlier—it was really crowded by 10.30! If you purchase a hotel package with Willamette Intl Travel, your ticket will gain you VIP access—this means you can skip the line!

After a brief wait, my group flooded a dark room and watched a quick introductory film narrated by Harrison Ford and accompanied by dramatic orchestra. It was all very theatrical and designed to galvanize us with anticipation. The exhibit itself was chilled, dimly lit, with lights carefully focused as golden spotlights on each treasure and Egyptianesque music. Each room had a theme—pharaohs, spouses and children, viziers and other important whatnots, deities, and the tomb of King Tut itself.

Treasures included notable jewelry, statues, domestic items (vases, etc), but no papyri. Three of the most interesting pieces were the collection of mustachioed scribes, the straw bed of the young pharaoh (amazingly almost fully intact!) and the tiny sarcophagus that held two fetuses, alleged daughters of King Tut. They also showed photographs from the 1922 excavation of the tomb, and how it appeared before any disturbance by the archaeologist Howard Carter.

Unfortunately there was no mummy, so my morbid fascination was not appeased. They did have an artist’s very lifelike, very impressive, replica. Tutankhamen’s body was shown with pictures of Akhenaten’s (his supposed father), and the differences between preservation were remarkable. It’s understandable—and forgivable—then why Tut’s mummy is one of the only few that has never been removed from the dry desert of Egypt.

I was fortunate to see this exhibit more than twenty years ago in Egypt. I descended into Tut’s original tomb chambers in the Valley of the Kings—though encased in its golden sarcophagus, his mummy was still there!

The exhibition makes its final stop on its multi-decade worldwide tour in Seattle. In January 2013, the exhibit will return to the hands of the finest curators in Egypt. So this is the last chance for Americans to view the ancient treasures in their own northwest backyard!

Check out my photos of Seattle and the exhibit here.

You can arrange VIP exhibit & hotel packages with Willamette Intl Travel! Call us for more info or email Wailana at wailanak@wittravel.com.

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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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Ship Inspection Report: Celebrity Infinity

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 Celebrity’s Infinity.

courtesy of Celebrity Cruises

Ship Inspection Report: By Wailana

I checked in at Pier 66 at 10am, and not long after the thunderstorm hit. It was one of Seattle’s brief “gods’ wrath and rage,” despite an impressive show of flailing winds and dramatic howls—disappeared after about half an hour. We gingerly picked our way across the pier into the crew entrance, and boarded the ship.

The Celebrity Infinity recently underwent a 40-million-dollar upgrade in style and comfort. New and improved features include the spa-inspired AquaClass accommodations, Blu restaurant, iLounge computer lab, and Qsine specialty restaurant. The AquaClass style includes spa-inspired amenities, exclusive dining options, and unlimited access to the Spa and Persian Garden.

I had the impression, as the tour winded its way through, that this ship was made for luxury. Colors were cool and blueish, spaces were open, and everywhere light played a large role. Ceilings were high, walls were often curvaceous and made of glass. Outdoor seating was ample, and in some places sheltered by a sheet of protective glass—great for those Alaskan voyages. Space felt manageable, one never felt overwhelmed or too cramped. The atmosphere was made, yes, for indulgence and comfort, but it never came across as overly pretentious or posh. (Though there were bottles of Johnny Walker Blue on the wall. J) The tour guides were very enthusiastic and well-organized, and the staff were very congenial and approachable.

Some highlights of the tour:

–          Qsine. This is a modern tapas restaurant, with hues in orange, black and white. Menus are presented on ipads—on which you can look up the dishes and email yourself the recipes. You can even create your own virtual cocktail, hit send, and in a few moments the waiters will come out with your drink!

–          The indoor solarium Thalassotherapy. High glass ceilings, with lounge seating, and lounge pools, some of which are adults only. Operatic singing and the white/blue walls made it all feel quite surreal and peaceful.

–          Blu, an exclusive restaurant with a different menu every night. Colors were subdued and classy—deep indigo and white—tables adorned in circular candleholders and haloed by circular portholes. The restaurant is available to AquaClass only.

–          Trellis is the crème-de-la-crème, a magnificent two-story dining room and the main restaurant on the ship. Warm colors contribute to a muted, calm, civilized atmosphere. Most impressive was the grand staircase adjoining the two floors.

At the end of the tour, we made our way to the luxurious Constellation Lounge for chats. Stiff-collared Dutch waiters served champagne and cosmos with strips of smoked salmon. If they wanted me to leave happy, they succeeded. J

Stay tuned next week for the Disney ship inspection. In the meantime, check out my trip photos here.

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

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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?