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Movin’ on Up: Princess Rolls Out Upgrade Bid Program

What’s a cruise line to do when it has a few empty suites lying around? Like many others, Princess is trying out a new program that offers them to the highest bidder—and pays commission to travel advisors too. (more…)
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Discovering Mexico’s Most Enchanting Magic Towns

Most visitors to Mexico head straight to the country’s stunning beaches, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that. However, there is an abundance of delights in store for those who venture beyond the beaches to Mexico’s beguiling magic towns. The Mexican tourist board has selected 132 pueblos to be included...
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Top Ten Things to Know About Emerald Azzurra

I was invited by Emerald Cruises to experience the brand new Emerald Azzurra yacht that debuted 3-months ago. I spent a glorious two weeks sailing her from Dubrovnik to Athens, with port stops in Montenegro, Albania, Greece, and Turkey. It was a perfect mix of well-known ports and off-the-beaten-path destinations...
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Disney Cruise Line eliminates vaccination requirement for children ages 5 to 11

Disney Cruise Line is dropping its requirement for children over the age of 5 to be fully vaccinated before sailing. The cruise line’s website reads: (more…)
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Heathrow extends passenger cap into late October

In a move aimed at reducing the ongoing disruptions caused by the surge in post-pandemic travel and staff shortages, London's Heathrow Airport has extended the cap on the number of daily passengers through late October to 100,000 passengers per day. Originally, the limit on the number of daily passengers was...
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FAA issues and then cancels NYC air traffic delay warning

In an unusual move, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a flight delay warning for the New York City area airports via a Twitter message late Monday afternoon, only to cancel the warning four hours later. Due to unexpected staff availability tonight, the FAA must reduce the flow of aircraft...
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Renew Your U.S. Passport Online in August

The U.S. Department of State is permitting an initial test of online passport renewal for 25,000 individuals. The pilot program is part of a Biden administration effort to make travel and passport acquisition easier to accomplish. (more…)
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Ireland’s Puck Fair- No Kidding, the Goat is King

King Puck Statue (Photo Wikimedia contributor User:Itub) For three days each year in August, more than 20,000 people converge on Killorglin in Kerry in Southwest Ireland for the coronation of a goat. But not just any goat. (more…)
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Sailing on Adventure of the Seas to Bermuda, my family of 10—like most customers—has been confused over the testing requirements. We were at first relieved to hear that Royal Caribbean no longer requires pre-trip Covid testing. But then we received an email noting that Bermuda does require it, and so we must test before boarding. Then we filled out our Bermuda Travel Authorization forms, which clearly stated at the time that pre-cruise testing was required within four days of departure (and required $40). When my daughter tested for our Saturday cruise on Wednesday, though, we said RCCL still requires testing within 48 hours. So she and the kids tested again. (Today, meanwhile, I see that the Travel Authorization form has been changed; it now says testing is required within two days for vaccinated travelers. And vaccines are no longer required, though unvaccinated travelers must test within four days. Applying for a Bermuda Travel Authorization | Government of Bermuda (

I share my story just to underscore what we all know: the steady beat of changes to the Health and Safety policies is a major source of confusion to customers—and, therefore, a good thing for the travel advisor community.

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Here Comes USTOA 2022

Ah, it’s mid-August! How did that happen? It’s still beautiful summer holiday time, but it’s slipping away by the moment, and attention is turning toward the fall season. That’s typically when the students go back to school and the adults get down to business, nicely refreshed from at least some easing up in summer, if not an actual vacation.

It’s time to bear down on all the things that have to get done in the fall. In earlier times for most people, fall was the time of harvest—time to put up stores for the winter. For people in the travel industry, it’s conference season. And for some, a number in which I include myself, the highlight and the grand finale of the fall conference season is the USTOA Annual Conference and Marketplace, held around the end of November and the beginning of December. This year will be the association’s 50th anniversary, a huge milestone by any measure.

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Travel trade insurance company Trawick International provided a useful snapshot of each major cruise line’s pre-trip health and safety requirements in a TRO webinar last week.  The webinar provided information current as of last week, though fast-moving protocols may potentially change tomorrow. The webinar will be posted on TRO’s Webinar Page on Monday afternoon, August 8th. Read the rest of this entry »

New Viking Saigon Begins Season In Southeast Asia

Viking announced that its newest river ship, the Viking Saigon, has begun its inaugural season in Southeast Asia. Purpose-built for the Mekong River, the 80-guest ship sails between Kampong Cham, Cambodia and Mỹ Tho, Vietnam as part of Viking’s popular 15-day Magnificent Mekong itinerary. With the 2022-2023 season now underway, regular sailing dates are available through March 2023; the 2023-2024 season begins in July 2023.

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Incoming Success Strategy

Here is some food for thought that is designed to take much, if not all, of the stress out of your sales responsibilities.

I will use two examples to deliver my point. The first involves a house visit while the second involves a telephone.

If you invited me to your home, I would enter looking for directional cues coming from you. You would tell me when it is time to sit and where to sit. You would tell me when it is time for a drink and when we will be eating. You would be in control. I would be on my best behavior and wait for instructions.

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No Vax Cruising—I Think This Is A Bad Idea

With mixed emotions, I read story after story about all the cruise lines that are dropping the COVID-19 vaccination requirements as the Centers for Disease Control relaxes their advice concerning the disease.  One half of me says, “fantastic; finally, we can get back to normal!” And the other half says, “we are still very far from normal.” Read the rest of this entry »

Everything Old is New Again

The ancient Romans were known for many achievements—Roman numerals certainly come to mind—but did you know they were responsible for the creation of the tourist industry? They created the original Grand Tour, an itinerary from the lost city of Troy to the Acropolis, from the Colossus of Rhodes to Egypt, where the inaugural Nile cruise took them to the remotest parts of the empire.

Fast forward to the middle of the eighteenth century to the start of World War I, where we witness remarkable changes in leisure travel—the sheer volume of travelers, technology, choices of destinations, and even the opinions of what was considered worth seeing (TRAVEL SNOBBERY).

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Growing Up and Onward, with KHM Travel

KHM Travel Group started as a small, family-owned business in Brunswick, Ohio. Now, 17 years later, they have grown to be a powerhouse in the independent travel agent community with a focus on caring for each agent—and a multi-suite complex to house their growing employee base (70+). With a first-class listing over at Host Agency Reviews and 4,500+ independent agents around the US, they must be doing something right.

KHM knows the position of agents is to provide the traveler with the best travel experience possible, and has made it a goal to provide the tools and training to facilitate this.

“Education has always been the hallmark of who we are. Part of the education process is really getting to know our travel advisors. Every advisor has the unique ability to reach different people and create travel experiences for them,” said President and CEO Rick Zimmerman.

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I had to admit to myself that I was a bit nervous about interviewing Laurie McAndish King. As the accomplished writer of An Elephant Ate My Arm: More True Stories from a Curious Traveler, published last year, she’s seen a rise in popularity. This book has won first place in the Paris Book Festival, with individual stories in the collection winning multiple other awards. Her writing voice is clearly her own, a daunting task most writers struggle with on a daily basis. So, yeah, I was clearly nervous that my questions wouldn’t grab her attention. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

From the starting conversation about our video backgrounds, there was a curiosity radiating from the image on the computer. Three minutes in, she’d asked more questions than me. When it naturally came around to a starting point, I launched in with the biggest question first: did you start this collection of stories during the primary part of the pandemic?

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American Cruise Lines vessel

The newest riverboat for the Mississippi River passed sea trials late last week and is on its way to New Orleans for an on-time start to its inaugural season on the Mighty Mississippi. American Cruise Lines announced that it has accepted delivery of the American Symphony from Chesapeake Shipbuilding as scheduled. American Symphony is the 5th riverboat in the Line’s ground-breaking new series and the 15thsmall ship built by Chesapeake for American. The 175-passenger new boat will immediately join the company’s expanding Mississippi River fleet. American Symphony’s first cruise is set to depart on August 27th from New Orleans, and American Cruise Lines plans to christen the riverboat during its inaugural cruise on August 30th in Natchez, Mississippi.

American Symphony is part of our ongoing commitment to leading the U.S. River Cruise market by introducing innovative small ships every year,” said Charles B. Robertson, President & CEO of American Cruise Lines. “Smaller is better on the rivers. We look forward to American Symphony’s first season on the Mississippi, as well as the introduction of sister ship American Serenade early next year.” Read the rest of this entry »

Dr. Carol Dimopoulos has a unique background that bridges the educational tourism sector and academia. In her industry role she serves as CEO and founder of Learning Journeys, a company focused on global transformational journeys which encourages participants to immerse in their interests and passions. The organization focuses on incorporating education into the global travel platform as well as creating social exchanges which initiate economic opportunities for developing societies. Through her global exposure, she discovered what drives human empowerment at a core level. She is a well-respected assistant professor of entrepreneurship, speaker, published researcher and scholar on the subjects of DEI, social entrepreneurship, and responsible tourism. She also holds an MBA in strategic management from Sage Graduate School and a doctorate from The University of Illinois Urbana Champaign in Global Education and Leadership and earned a SUNY Fellowship in DEI-teaching and learning certification.

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With almost perfect temperatures the whole year, the Canary Islands are a popular getaway for travelers. Particularly Tenerife, the most populous island in the chain. Picturesque sand beaches stretch along the coasts surrounding cloud-covered mountains, and small villages once lost to volcanic explosions have been born anew. A flourishing culture with art, delectable food, and tasty wine… the Tenerife life is rest and relaxation immersed in naturally stunning views with a healthy helping of adventurous views and perfect beaches.

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Most visitors to Mexico head straight to the country’s stunning beaches, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that. However, there is an abundance of delights in store for those who venture beyond the beaches to Mexico’s beguiling magic towns. The Mexican tourist board has selected 132 pueblos to be included on a list of so-called ‘magic towns.’ Read the rest of this entry »