Tag Archives: viking river cruises

Travel News: Can Online Passport Renewal be on the Way?

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Can Online Passport Renewal Be On The Way?
Travel Market reports the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs is considering online passport renewals, according to a story in Federal News Radio. Speaking on a panel at a symposium in Washington last week, community relations officer for passport services Carl Siegmund said State is looking to roll out a limited, online renewal option in mid-2018, “along with new push notifications to help applicants stay informed on the status of their applications,” including updates via email and SMS text. “We’re trying to move from paper to digital,” Siegmund said. Fifteen percent of passport applicants have issues, the top reason being passport photos. Currently, photos are submitted to the State Department’s passport services office through a third party or directly from the applicant, and they often are of “low quality or grainy,” and this can add three or four weeks to processing time. The passport services office being more directly involved in accepting a passport would greatly reduce the issue, Siegmund said. The State Department expects 21 million Americans to apply for passports in 2017 and 20.4 million in 2018, up from 14.5 million in 2015 and 16.8 million in 2016. Siegmund also said that in 2016, the passport services call center received 1.4 million phone calls for application status checks.

Viking Creates All-Suite Design For New Nile Riverboat

A recently acquired Nile River vessel is being stripped down to the steel in a complete renovation that reflects Viking River Cruises’ Scandinavian design. Viking Ra will carry just 48 passengers on a new Egypt cruise-tour, ‘Pharaohs & Pyramids,’ set to launch in March 2018. Rebuilt as an all-suite vessel, Viking Ra’s interiors will be designed by the same team responsible for the Viking Longships. The look will mingle Scandinavian design and local influences like traditional geometric Arabic patterns and terrazzo floors. The Restaurant will serve three full meals and a selection of regional and international fare. Other rooms include a clinker-built bar, The Lounge with floor-to-ceiling glass doors and The Spa for massages and other treatments. Three accommodations categories, each 291 square feet, include 20 Veranda Suites with a full-size veranda in the living room and a French balcony in the bedroom. All suites have premium amenities such as a hotel-style bed, luxury linens, sofa, bathroom with shower, air conditioning and flat-screen televisions. In addition to two Jacuzzis, Viking Ra features a pool at the back of the ship, while a sanctuary from the sun is provided by sculptural ‘sail-shades’ inspired by local dhows and intricate mashrabiya-influenced screens surrounding the Pool and Sun Deck.

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Royal Caribbean Announces Return To New Orleans

RCI has announced Vision of the Seas will return to New Orleans with a seasonal home-based cruise ship in late 2018. The Vision of the Seas will sail seven-night itineraries to the Bahamas and Yucatan Peninsula from the Port of New Orleans’ Julia Street Cruise Terminal. The ship will sail on Saturdays. Before repositioning to New Orleans on Dec. 15, 2018, Vision of the Seas will offer two 16-night sailings through the Panama Canal from Miami to Los Angeles and from Los Angeles to New Orleans, marking the first time in three years a Royal Caribbean cruise ship will traverse the Panama Canal.

Airport installs Departure Terminal Prayer Booth
In a bid to calm the nerves of fearful flyers, a prayer booth has landed at one airport in Germany. The bright red cubicle, installed at Stuttgart Airport’s Terminal 3, features 300 prayers from various religions in 65 different languages. For no fee, travelers can enter the converted photo booth and use a touch screen to select their prayer of choice, from a Tibetan monk chant to the soothing remarks from an American TV preacher. The prayer booth is an offer by the airport’s chaplains to provide a moment of contemplation. Designed by Berlin artist Oliver Sturm, the booth offers a vast variety of prayers, including the Christian Lord’s Prayer, the Jewish Shma Israel and the Islamic muezzin’s call to prayer. The Hindu Hare Krishna chant, Buddhist sutras and prayers of Shamans from New Guinea are also available to play. In addition to the big monotheistic faiths, polytheistic religions and animist beliefs are also included. The ‘Gebetomat’, which roughly translates as ‘Pray-o-Mat’, was first designed by Sturm in 2008. Its red cabin has a gray curtain and an adjustable swivel chair inside. The booth is free of charge and will be available for three months at Stuttgart Airport’s boarding area next to Gate 310. The artist writes on his home page that ‘all prayers are real prayers of believers, gathered in worship, prayer rooms, homes’. Sturm has designed several prayer booths in recent years that have been installed at schools, universities and museums.

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Viking River Cruises: Exclusive Offer

Last week, Willamette Intl Travel office hosted a lovely evening with Viking River Cruises. We were so pumped by our partnership that we’ve once again teamed up with Viking for an exclusive offer!

Call us and book a cabin on a Viking ship and receive $100 per cabin onboard credit!

This offer expires Thursday, April 30. So be sure to call your WIT agent for more details or to confirm your space on a sailing. 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com. 

Calling to inquire about Russia? Last August our agent Nancy went on Viking’s Waterways of the Tsars (read about it here). Call her up for a chat about this unique and colorful country. Russia bookings can be cancelled for any reason up to date of departure, and any payments made will be reimbursed in the form of future credit with Viking.

Viking offers many excellent cruises all over the world on dozens of rivers in Europe and Asia. Cruise down the scenic Saone and Rhone rivers in France for a taste of wine country and lavender-strewn Provence. A few years ago, our agent Pam sailed with Viking on the Yangtze River. (Read more about her journey here.) Join their 13-day sailing and explore bustling Shanghai, historical Xian, and the beautiful Three Gorges. Looking for a unique destination? Viking even sails through Myanmar along the verdant Irrawaddy River. Visit this timeless country and its waterside villages, ornate pagodas, and iridescent Inle Lake.

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Where in the World is the WIT Agent? – Viking Cruises, Russia

WIT Agent Nancy Fowler is currently escorting a group of 70+ passengers on a Viking River Cruise through Russia! From August 24 to Sept 5, Viking’s ship Helgi sails from Moscow to St. Petersburg on the Volga-Baltic Waterway.

Nancy will return next week with some firsthand feedback, but in the meantime here are some of the highlights they will experience on their journey (excerpts from VRC’s At a Glance):

Creative Commons (c) Adam Jones

Creative Commons (c) Adam Jones

The World’s Largest Art Museum

Over the span of 250 years, the collection of the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russi has grown to over 3 million items including works from noted artists such as da Vinci, Michelangelo, Matisse, Rubens, Cezanne, van Gogh and Picasso. These treasures are housed along the embankment of the Neva River, in the heart of St. Petersburg. The highlight in this architectural ensemble is the Winter Palace, former residence of Russian Tsars including Catherine the Great.

Creative Commons (c) ninara

Kizhi, Creative Commons (c) ninara

An Architectural Feat

On the island village of Kizhi, walk through the Open Air Museum of Architecture. Kizhi contains ancient wooden houses, windmills and churches, the most stunning of which is the three-tiered Preobranzhenskaya (Transfiguration) Church. This fairytale structure was built in 1714 without the use of a single nail.

Creative Commons (c) flowcomm

Kremlin, Creative Commons (c) flowcomm

The Heart of Moscow

In Russian, the word kremlin refers to any major fortified complex. But in Moscow there is one very special Kremlin, adjacent to the Red Square. Inside its crenellated red brick walls are four palaces and an array of churches and monasteries—as well as one enormous bell. The Kremlin also serves as the official residence of Russia’s President.

Creative Commons (c) Dennis Jarvis

Amber Room, Creative Commons (c) Dennis Jarvis

A Legend Restored

Constructed of amber panels backed with gold leaf and mirrors, the Amber Room was given to Peter the Great by a Prussian King in 1716. Installed at Catherine’s Palace in Pushkin, it was later exnteded to cover nearly 600 square feet with over six tons of amber. During WWII, German soldiers disassembled the room and it was never seen again. In 2003, a painstaking reconstruction was completed, enabling visitors to once again enjoy its brilliance.

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Pirozhki, Creative Commons (c) malan10

Russian Specialties

A large country, Russia has quite a varied cuisine—but some things everyone loves. A staple of the Russian diet is pirozhki, small pastries stuffed with fish, meat, eggs, potatoes, cabbage or mushrooms and either baked or quick-fried. Another traditional dish is blini, thin crepe-like pancakes served with butter, sour cream, fruit preserves and/or caviar. Vikings’ guests will taste these local delicacies on board.

Willamette Intl Travel has years of expertise with river cruises in Europe and Asia. Our agents are well versed with Viking and many other cruise lines. Please call us for more information.

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Filed under Cruises, Europe, Our Travel Agents, Russia, Travel by Ship, Viking Cruises, Where in the World is the WIT Agent?

Where in the World is the WIT Agent? – Viking Cruises, Russia

WIT Agent Nancy Fowler is currently escorting a group of 70+ passengers on a Viking River Cruise through Russia! From August 24 to Sept 5, Viking’s ship Helgi sails from Moscow to St. Petersburg on the Volga-Baltic Waterway.

Now we know what you’re wondering—so where is the ship sailing? Read on for more details:

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Day 1-4: Moscow

Moscow is Russia’s bustling capital on August 24. The city is famous for its iconic architecture—from the tsarist palaces of the Kremlin to the onion domes of St. Basil’s Cathedral. The heart of Moscow is the Red Square, where you can also find Lenin’s Mausoleum and the State History Museum. The city combines the best of Eastern frenetic energy and Western cosmopolitan air, and you see this odd dichotomy everywhere in the city. From the Old Arbat Street of kitschy souvenirs to the grandiose Bolshoi Theatre.

Day 5: Uglich

Uglich was founded in 937 as a border fortress. The Romanov dynasty originally heralded from this town, and it is one of the few towns in western Russia that still maintains a remarkable number of old architecture. Among these pre-Soviet jewels are the former Kremlin, several monasteries, the palace (1480) and the Church of St. Dmitry on the Blood (1690). Constructed by Peter the Great, the church commemorates the mysterious death of Dmitry, son of Ivan the Terrible.

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Day 6: Yaroslavl

Yaroslavl is famous for its 17th century churches and covered food market. The town’s center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is located at the river confluence. The town was renovated under the order of Empress Catherine the Great during her urban reforms of the 17th century.

Day 7: Kuzino

The main site in Kuzino is the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery. The largest monastery in Northern Russia, it was founded in 1397 on the bakes of Lake Siverskoye by St. Cyril of Beloozero. In the 16th century, the monastery was the second richest landowner. Ivan the Terrible had his own cell and even planned to take monastic vows there. The monastery comprises two priories with eleven church, most of them dating to the 16th century.

Day 8: Kizhi

Kizhi is an island near the center of Lake Onega, and stretches about 6km north to south. Its famous attraction is the Kizhi Pogost, a historical open-air museum and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The museum contains over 80 historical wooden buildings that were built chiefly during the 18th century.

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Day 9: Mandrogy

Mandrogy is a museum village and the last stop before St. Petersburg. The original town was ruined during World War One, but in 1996 a local entrepreneur, Sergei Gutzeit, reconstructed it as an open air museum. Here you can learn about Russian culture and traditions firsthand—from the vodka museum to handmade craft shops. You can opt in and visit a banya, a traditional Russian bath house, or participate in the art of Matryoshka doll making.

Day 10-13: St. Petersburg

Peter the Great made St. Petersburg his centerpiece to transform Russia into a major and modern European power, his “window in the West.” The architecture reflects the best of Western European elegance and sophistication. No other city is the emblem of the Russian spirit. St. Petersburg’s heritage is deep and profound: throughout its history it has been the capital of the tsarist empire, the cradle of the Communist Revolution, and the focal point of the three-year Siege of Leningrad during World War II.
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Willamette Intl Travel has years of expertise with river cruises in Europe and Asia. Our agents are well versed with Viking and many other cruise lines. Please call us for more information.

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Filed under Cruises, Europe, Russia, Travel by Ship, Viking Cruises, Where in the World is the WIT Agent?

Where in the World is the WIT Agent? – Viking Cruises, Russia

Now it’s time for your favorite game: “Where in the World is the WIT Agent?”

WIT Agent Nancy Fowler is currently escorting a group of 70+ passengers on a Viking River Cruise through Russia! From August 24 to Sept 5, Viking’s ship Helgi sails from Moscow to St. Petersburg on the Volga-Baltic Waterway. This is a special partial charter that Willamette Intl Travel has organized with the Portland-based foundation, the Royal Rosarians.

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Itinerary: 13 Days Waterways of the Tsars, 24 August to 5 September

Viking’s Russia itinerary includes ample time in both the capital of Moscow and the gleaming jewel of St. Petersburg. Passengers will discover luxurious palaces, medieval monasteries and beautiful cathedrals.

Day 1-4: Moscow
Day 5: Uglich
Day 6: Yaroslavl
Day 7: Kuzino
Day 8: Kizhi
Day 9: Mandrogy
Day 10-13: St. Petersburg

Includes: 13-day cruise with river-view stateroom, 11 guided tours with audio headset, all meals (12 breakfasts, 11 lunches, 12 dinners), Welcome Cocktail Reception & Dinner, Captain’s Farewell Dinner, 4 UNESCO Heritage Sites, and a Culture Curriculum that includes music, dance, lectures and workshops.

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Ship: Viking Helgi

The Viking Helgi was recently refurbished in 2013. It offers two 400-square-foot suites and 104 spacious staterooms, accommodating up to 210 guests. All upper and middle deck staterooms have private verandas, and all main deck staterooms have picture windows. The Viking fleet is world-renowned for its European high standards of comfort and elegance, complete with hotel-style beds and amenities like 26-inch flat-panel TVs and in-rooms refrigerators.

Willamette Intl Travel has years of expertise with river cruises in Europe and Asia. Our agents are well versed with Viking and many other cruise lines. Please call us for more information.

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Early Booking Discount with Viking River Cruises in 2015!

Give yourself or your family the gift of a lifetime! Viking River Cruises for 2015 are OPEN for booking with an Early Booking Discount! Get 2-for-1 cruise pricing plus air discounts where applicable! Offer expires December 18, 2013.

Call Willamette Intl Travel at 503-224-0180 to inquire for more info or check availability on any one of these amazing river cruises:

Rhine Getaway – 8 days, Amsterdam to Basel
Danube Waltz – 8 days, Passau to Budapest
Romantic Danube – 8 days, Budapest to Nuremberg
Paris & the Heart of Normandy – 8 days – Paris to Rouen to Paris
Portraits of Southern France – 8 days, Avignon to Chalon-sur-Saône
Grand European Tour – 15 days – Amsterdam to Budapest

A $500 per person deposit is required by December 18, 2013, balance due in full by May 31, 2014.

 

Did you know Viking Cruises sail worldwide, through China and Southeast Asia? Willamette Intl Travel agents have cruised all over the world with Viking Cruises. Call us for more info or email info@wittravel.com.

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Viking Ocean Cruises

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Did you know that Viking Cruises is launching its first-ever Ocean itineraries? Yes!

Since 1997, the world-renown cruise line has provided unique sails on its 35 ships around Europe and Asia, top-ranking multiple years on Conde Nast Traveler’s Gold List, Travel + Leisure World’s List, Travel Weekly Readers’ Choice Awards, and National Geographic’s The 10 Best of Everything.

In May 2015, the ocean-going Viking Star will join the fleet and set sail on her maiden voyage. She is an all-veranda ship, accommodating only 928 passengers. We’ve already started booking clients on these new and exciting sailings!

Combining Viking world-class standards with refreshing itineraries, the Ocean Cruise is designed to be the ultimate luxury voyage that enhances each destination port. The Star will have several stateroom categories to choose from, able to suit any guest and each with its own veranda. From the lavish 270-square-foot veranda to the premium Owner’s Suite spanning a whopping 1448 square feet, there’s something for everyone. She will be equipped with multiple restaurants, serene Wintergarden lanai, Piano Bar, Explorer’s Lounge, and a Nordic Spa. The Star will also have as its token jewel an Infinity Pool, unique among cruise ships in that is cantilevered over the ocean.

The cruises will continue the Viking tradition of an all-inclusive experience, from all onboard meals, cultural enrichment, complimentary room service, to shore excursions, wifi, self-service laundry, wine, beer & soft drinks, and all port charges and government taxes.

Pre- and post-cruise land extensions are available on every itinerary as an addition.

Did you know? You can save money on your cruise if you pay via e-check. Ask Willamette Intl Travel how! Call now and take advantage of Early Booking 2-for-1 Fares for 2015 (expires August 31, 2013). Call us to find out more information at 800-821-0401 or email us at info@wittravel.com.

With Star, Viking will continue its practice of destination-focused itineraries. Here are the ones on the list for 2015. Please note that across the board, veranda categories (V) are sold out for that year.

15 Days Stockholm <-> Bergen, May 16, May 30, Jun 13, Jun 27, Jul 11, Jul 25

15 Days Bergen <–> Barcelona, May 2, Aug 8

13 Days Barcelona <–> Venice, Apr 20, Aug 22, Sep 3, Sep 15, Oct 15, Oct 27

10 Days Venice <–> Istanbul, Apr 11, Sep 27, Oct 6, Nov 8

22 Days Barcelona <–> Istanbul, Apr 11 (sold out), Sep 15, Oct 6

29 Days Stockholm <–> Barcelona, May 2 (only deluxe veranda), July 25

36 Days Istanbul <–> Bergen, April 11 (sold out)

50 Days Istanbul <–> Stockholm, April 11 (sold out)

Viking is also planning to debut into the Mississippi River market beginning 2015. The cruise will be onboard a new ship similar to their European longships, foregoing the traditional paddle wheeler.

Call Willamette Intl Travel to book your cruise and pre-/post-cruise travel arrangements.

Infinity Pool, artist's rendering, image provided by Viking Cruises

Infinity Pool, artist’s rendering, image provided by Viking Cruises

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