Tag Archives: silversea

Travel News! The Planetarium Aboard the Viking Ship

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Big Sur Road Is Coming Back

LA Times reports Big Sur road coming back: Highway 1, closed for a year and a half because of massive slide, to reopen by July 20 (that’s today!). Travelers soon will be able to do something they haven’t in a year and a half: drive the 650-plus miles of California’s Highway 1 between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Caltrans announced Tuesday that full access to the blocked area south of Gorda would reopen by 11 a.m. July 20. The new stretch of road could open to traffic a few days sooner, depending on when work is completed, according to Caltrans.

The Mud Creek Slide, which rained debris in one of the state’s largest landslides, destroyed a quarter-mile section of roadway on May 20, 2017. The road will be open to traffic in both directions, meaning there’s still time to take an uninterrupted summer road trip along the Big Sur coast. Last year, heavy rains led to slides and debris flow that wiped out a bridge and closed several points on Highway 1, including Paul’s Slide, roughly at Post Mile 21. The road is now open with a single lane and a traffic signal to direct drivers, which may cause some slowing. Construction crews worked round the clock seven days a week to complete the $54-million emergency repairs. They built new roadway across the slide, fortifying with embankments and other support features such as berms, rocks, netting and other materials.

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Courtesy of Silversea

Luxury Line Silversea To Cruise The Northeast Passage 

Silver Explorer will become the most luxurious cruise ship to sail the Northeast Passage through the Arctic when it sets sail from Nome, Alaska, to Tromso, Norway, on August 10, 2019. To celebrate the 10th anniversary of Silversea’s expedition arm, the line is offering a rare cruise ship itinerary to the far northern reaches of the globe. The 25-night cruise will take in destinations in Alaska, Russia and Norway, including Wrangel Island, a UNESCO site where polar bears and walruses live; the otherworldly Champ Island with its mysterious stone spheres; Murmansk, a Russian city that dates to the early 20th century; and coastal villages like Chukotka’s Uelen, where passengers can interact with and learn about the native Chukchi and Yupik people who live there. A highlight will be the day Silver Explorer spends sailing as far north as it can toward the edge of the polar ice cap. The expedition team will be in search of seals, walruses and polar bears hanging out on the ice floes. Its onboard expedition leaders will offer lectures and workshops, and lead Zodiac trips and other shore excursions to educate passengers on the itinerary’s remote destinations. The ship carries a mere 144 passengers, and pampers them, even in rugged climates, with suite accommodations, butler service and all-inclusive fares that cover all drinks, gratuities and unlimited Wi-Fi. Fares for this sailing start at $37,260 per person, based on double occupancy. Note that all suite categories but the lowest three are currently showing waitlist status.

EU Gets Tough With AirBnB On Pricing and Policy

the European Commission and EU consumer authorities are calling on Airbnb to be more transparent with its pricing. They say Airbnb’s current pricing and some of its terms do not comply with EU rules and it has given the homeshare giant until the end of August to fall into line. Consumers must easily understand what for and how much they are expected to pay for the services and have fair rules e.g. on cancellation of the accommodation by the owner. Airbnb has been told to show all fees and charges from the initial search or, where that’s not possible, clearly inform customers that additional fees might apply. It must also clearly identify if the accommodation offer is made by a private host or a professional, as consumer protection rules differ.

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American Airlines To Eliminate Plastic Straws From Cabins, Lounges

Reuters reports American Airlines on Tuesday said it plans to no longer offer plastic straws and stir sticks in its lounges and onboard its flights, amid a broader global push to abandon one-time use plastics. Starting this month, American said drinks in its airport lounges will no longer come with plastic utensils and will instead feature biodegradable straws and wooden stir sticks. The phase-out onboard its planes will begin in November, with plastic straws and stirrers to be replaced by environmentally friendly bamboo. The carrier will also transition to “eco-friendly” flatware in its lounges. American said that the move will eliminate more than 71,000 pounds (32,200 kg) of plastic each year. On Monday, Starbucks Corp, the world’s largest coffee chain, said it would no longer offer plastic straws at its 28,000 locations by 2020.

Disneyland Just Experienced The Hottest Day Ever At A Disney Park 

Travel + Leisure reports Disneyland just had its hottest day ever. While southern California experienced a heat wave temperatures in Anaheim (home of Disneyland) soared to 113°F on July 6. It is not only the hottest temperature on record since the park opened in 1955, it is the hottest temperature recorded at any of the Disney parks around the world (including Orlando, Paris, Shanghai, Tokyo and Hong Kong), according to Theme Park Insider. Because of the oppressive heat, park officials closed all outdoor rides, including Big Thunder and Mountain Railroad – several food vendors also shut down because of the heat. Those who went to the park on that day said that lines for rides were short, as the park was practically empty. Disney first aid staff were on call to help guests experiencing dehydration. “There was one medic run right after the other,” one park cast member said. Wait times for many popular attractions dropped to the point where it was basically possible to walk right on.

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This High-Tech Planetarium Is On A New VIKING Cruise Ship

The Explorers’ Dome is located on the second level of the Viking Orion’s Explorers’ Lounge. The newest Viking Ocean Cruise ship, made its debut in Italy on June 14, revealing a unique high-tech feature: a planetarium at sea. The ship is named after the constellation Orion (the hunter) and NASA’s Orion spacecraft, the first crewed capsule designed to carry astronauts beyond low Earth orbit. The ship’s name also honors retired NASA astronaut Anna Fisher, who is the “godmother” of Viking Orion and worked on the Orion spacecraft before retiring in May 2017.

The planetarium, called the Explorers’ Dome, features shows about space and exploration, including two 3D films: “Journey to Space” and “Under the Arctic Sky.” “The Explorers’ Dome onboard Viking Orion is currently the highest-definition 7K planetarium in the world,” Ralph de Klijn, Viking’s executive director of ocean operations, told Space.com. “The Explorers’ Dome is a versatile space that can operate as a high-tech planetarium, as well as show films and other programming in 2D or 3D.” Viking Orion is only the second cruise ship in the world to have a planetarium; the other is the Queen Mary 2.

Although Viking Orion is not the first cruise ship to offer a planetarium, the company says this one is the most advanced, with:

– Digistar 6 display system, five projectors and studio speakers.

– Viking resident astronomer. Howard Parkin, a Royal Astronomical Society fellow and founding member of the Isle of Man Astronomical Society

– lectures on the wonders of the cosmos

– offer guided tours of the night sky during stargazing sessions using Viking’s portable telescope.

While other Viking ships have resident historians, Orion is the only one with a resident astronomer and historian. Parkin will continue to offer lectures through the ship’s 2018 maiden season, de Klijn said.

Read more on Space.com: https://www.space.com/41145-space-cruise-vacation-viking-orion-reflections.html

Club Med Cancún Yucatán Introduces Expanded Family Area 

Club Med Cancún Yucatán has doubled the size of its Aguamarina family area, adding 60 rooms and a new pool. The Aguamarina family area now offers an additional 30 Club Rooms and 30 Deluxe Rooms. Both of the two-bedroom accommodation options provide oceanfront views. This expansion doubles the Aguamarina area’s capacity to 120 families. Club Med Cancún Yucatán also introduced a new Aguamarina reception area and concierge service. The resort also added a new family pool, offering water games, lounge areas and outdoor activities. After a long day in the water, guests can dine at the pool area’s new family bar La Marina. Here kids can visit the restaurant’s kids’ corner and the whole family can order special treats that change from day to day. Guests of the Aguamarina area receive all the benefits featured in a stay at Club Med Cancún Yucatán. This includes dining at the resort’s three restaurants, water and land sports such as snorkeling and flying trapeze, kids’ and teens’ clubs and nightly entertainment. The additions to the Aguamarina area follow a full renovation the resort completed at the end of 2017. The work included improvements to all the resort’s rooms, its meetings and events spaces and the 5-Trident Jade area. The property also introduced new wellness opportunities as well as new and improved dining options.

More glimpses of the family area here: https://www.clubmed.us/r/Cancun-Yucatan/y

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Paris Métro Ditches Paper Tickets, Moves to London-Like System 

Cntraveler reports Paris’s more-than-a-century-old, white paper Métro tickets are on their way out. Starting in 2019, entry to Paris’s efficient public transport system, including buses and express RER trains, will be done through contactless Navigo cards. The city’s transport agency, Ile-de-France Mobilités, announced Wednesday that it would be rolling out two different travel cards, in addition to the unlimited Navigo card for residents already available, over the next year for all sorts of travelers and commuters. If you’re visiting the city for a short time, you’ll need the Navigo Easy pass, available starting in April 2019. Almost identical to London’s Oyster card, the Easy pass costs €2 ($2.34) to buy. Then, you’ll load up the card with T+ rides, what the paper tickets represent now, which will cost the same in 2019 as they do today: €1.90 ($2.22) per ride or €14.90 ($17.39) for a pack of 10 rides. That’s a more than 20% discount, and will cover one-way Métro rides, RER trains in Zone 1 (central Paris), and bus trips. Much like the Oyster card in London, you can top the card up as needed at all transit stations so be sure not to throw yours away. There will be no time limit on them and the card is not nominative, meaning it can be given to a friend. You can also load Orlybus (to Paris Orly Airport) or Roissybus (to Charles de Gaulle Airport) tickets on the Easy pass as well.

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Filed under California, Club Med, Disneyland, Europe, France, News, USA, Viking Cruises

Cruise to Antarctica

Antarctica is a land like no other. Covering almost one-tenth of the Earth’s surface, it’s one bucket-list destination never to be missed. Nowhere else on Earth has what Antarctica can offer—the largest concentration of marine wildlife in the world, dramatic scenery, massive icebergs and glaciers. Since you are venturing where few ever do (30,000 tourists per year), you will want to make sure your experience is well-planned and well-suited to your travel preferences. Our agents are careful in ensuring that we match client with company, taking close looks at crew expertise, ship features, expedition activity, and overall quality of experience.

photo by John Lester, Creative Commons

It’s important to be familiar with the ships and routes. Antarctica ships tend to fall in three main categories: small expedition ships with ice-hardened hulls, medium-sized ships and large cruise ships. Smaller ships carry inflatable landing craft (zodiacs) so passengers can venture off the ship and onto land. Itineraries typically sail from Ushuaia across the Drake Passage, and a sailing often includes the South Shetland Islands, South Georgia, around Cape Horn, and the Falklands (though recently some cruise lines have pulled from the Falklands due to territorial disputes). Here are some companies who offer expedition travel to Antarctica, used and approved by our agents:

LINDBLAD

Lars-Eric Lindblad founded Lindblad Expeditions in the late 1950’s, combining his passion for uncharted travel and eco-tourism. 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. Their partnership with like-minded National Geographic experts on the top of their field allows them to lead the most experienced Ice Team on the National Geographic Explorer. Your ship will be escorted by a team of veteran Naturalists, who will take you on hikes through the icy wild, kayaking in coves and around ice floes, and zodiac cruising among icebergs. 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. Their partnership with like-minded National Geographic experts in the peak of their field certainly doesn’t hurt!

photo by 23am.com, Creative Commons

HURTIGRUTEN

Hurtigruten offers a step up in exploration travel, combining luxury and expedition. Sail in the wake of historical explorers in the technologically advanced ship MS Fram, and spot the millions of penguins, thousands of seals, and pods of whales that inhabit the waters and shores during the austral summer. The ship’s expedition team will give a series of lectures as you cross the Drake Passage. Each voyage is unique, and the final choice of landings will be made in the course of the sailing. Included with each booking are the cabin, full board meals, flights between Ushuaia and Buenos Aires, and the excursion to Ushuaia National Park.

photo by tonyforster2, Creative Commons

G ADVENTURES

G Adventures has a number of itineraries that delve into the heart of Antarctica’s wilderness and history. They have expeditions from 11-days to intensive 23-days, all of which include: meals, zodiac excursions with expert expedition teams, educational programs, transfers, expert guides and accommodation on board the MS Expedition. Venture out to Shackleton’s final resting place, and sail through the penguin rookeries and seal colonies of Antarctica. Some itineraries even include South Georgia and the Falkland Islands in the sailing, and you can even add on Buenos Aires or Iguassu Falls bookends to your itinerary. G Adventures also supplies waterproof boots for all passengers, and a special Canada Goose expedition jacket for each guest in a Category 5 suite!

Photo by winky in the uk, Creative Commons

GENERAL TOURS

General Tours offers a 15-day itinerary for small, intimate groups venturing deep through Antarctica. The ship’s unique open bridge policy allows passengers to join the ship’s officers on the bridge and learn about navigation, whale watching, enjoying a front-row-seat view of icebergs and snow-capped mountains. Trace the 1901-1903 route of the Swedish Antarctic Expedition, visit Hope Bay and Snow Hill Island, and sail across the peninsula’s remote eastern coast into the remote Weddell Sea. Enrich your sail with insightful lectures on the on board Ship Naturalist. This itinerary includes nights in Buenos Aires and Tierra del Fuego.

photo by Liam Quinn, Creative Commons

SILVERSEA

The medium-sized Silver Explorer was especially designed by Silversea Cruises to navigate the waters of remote destinations. A strengthened hull with an ice-class notation for passenger vessels allows the ship to push through ice floes with ease. An expert Expedition Team will accompany passengers via zodiac ships on to the dramatic continent of Antarctica. Itineraries run from 10 to 22 days, and explore Antarctica as well as the Falkland Islands, South Georgia, South Shetlands, and Tristan da Cunha.

QUARK

Quark Expeditions is based in Seattle. Since 1991 Quark has specialized in polar expeditions, and their ships are specially designed ice-strengthened vessels made for high latitude cruising. They are unique in that they have the largest and most diverse fleet of passenger ships, and deliver more departures and itineraries than any other company. They have itineraries that run from 8 days to as long as a month! Explore the Antarctic Peninsula, visit research stations on Adelaide Island, hike up glaciers and visit penguin rookeries; or see the incredible wildlife of South Georgia, often referred to as “the Galapagos of the South.” Learn about the continent’s unique geology, history and wildlife from an expert team.

It’s never too early to book a sail to Antarctica. Ships and space are limited. Call us now to find out more about a particular sailing or vendor that has one on offer. WIT Agent Christina has traveled to Antarctica and can give you a firsthand account. Call us at 503.224.0180 or email info@wittravel.com.

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Filed under Antarctica, Cruises, G Adventures, General Tours, Hurtigruten, Lindblad Expeditions, Quark, Silversea, Travel by Ship