Monthly Archives: September 2022

Posted In: Publishers Corner

The Summer of Chaos Turns Autumn

Just before the “Summer of Chaos” began in June, I wrote an article suggesting we all anticipate the problems that would occur as travel returned and the need to practice patient generosity. Yesterday, returning to Tallahassee from Dallas, I arrived in Atlanta to learn my 10:30 PM flight, the last of the night, had been canceled due to “unexpected crew complications,” and I needed to see a Delta Agent to rebook my flight. Having also written an article on the new DOT Dashboard, I sought out my Delta Agent armed with a new set of rights. As it turned out, Delta had beaten me to the punch Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Deck Plans

Reservations are now open for AmaWaterways’ 2024 Seven River Journey – Spring and Summer Editions. AmaWaterways is introducing its longest journey yet with the complete 49-night itinerary spent on board one ship, the AmaMora, and the first-time experience of sailing the complete length of the Rhine and Danube rivers including the seldom visited Danube Delta region leading to the Black Sea.

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Posted In: Preview

Online Passport Renewal Has a Successful Test Run

On Friday, September 16th, the US State Department began the test run of their online passport renewal program. Almost 24 hours later, the program met its monthly quota of 25,000 participants and shut down temporarily. Stated in a post on their website, “We are temporarily closing down the online renewal service to new customers and plan to reopen it again in October.”

Almost every traveler knows the pain of updating travel documents, whether it be a visa or passport. So, it’s understandable that some would be dismayed at not being included, or perhaps that they won’t be in the near future.

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Posted In: Point-to-Point

I thought it would be interesting to see how some destinations and cruise lines have changed since 2021. The pandemic has been the worst period for the cruise industry since World War II. While the number of cruises is rebounding sharply, some destinations are facing a cloudy future as cruise destinations and many cruise lines are contending with daunting debt in ways that may affect how they treat their guests.

At the same time, there are some winners on which travel advisors can focus, if they want to benefit clients and themselves, as well as some question marks that can go either way.

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Posted In: 60-Second Geography

Northern Lights and Untouched Nature in Alaska

Alaska has become a bucket list destination for many travelers, and the reasons why are pretty clear. The 49th state is home to awe-inspiring natural beauty, flora and fauna, the northern lights, a rich culture and history, and welcoming locals. With 39 mountain ranges, millions of lakes, and a surface area of nearly 600,000 miles, there’s much to see when you head “North to the Future,” per Alaska’s state motto.

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Posted In: Spotlight

Earth from space on black background showing Antarctica.

There are a lot of firsts in a unique Antarctica sailing in the works for tennis enthusiasts this February—including the chance to play doubles with John and Patrick McEnroe, for those willing to go for the $85,000-per-person Player’s Suite. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Top Headlines

Photo of Hurricane Fiona taken from satellite

As winds slammed Puerto Rico at over 100 miles per hour, the National Hurricane Center warned of ‘catastrophic’ flooding. Hurricane conditions were spreading across portions of the Dominican Republic, with heavy rainfall and flooding continuing across much of Puerto Rico. At 9:00 UTC (Coordinated Universal Time/GMT) the center of Fiona was located near 18.5, -68.6 with movement NW at 8 mph. The minimum central pressure was 977 mb with maximum sustained winds of about 90 mph.

The storm center has now passed over Puerto Rico. Double-digit rainfall, as much as 20 inches in some places, has been reported. The center of Fiona is now between western Puerto Rico and the eastern side of the Dominican Republic at 9:00  UTC Monday. It is likely the storm will be close to Punta Cana during the early Monday morning hours with heavy rainfall projected. 

The National Hurricane Center projects Fiona to turn sharply northward up the eastern coast of the United States over the next few days.

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for...
* Puerto Rico, including Vieques and Culebra
* North coast of the Dominican Republic from Cabo Frances Viejo
westward to Puerto Plata
* Southeastern Bahamas, including the Acklins, Crooked Island, Long
Cay, the Inaguas, Mayaguana, and the Ragged Islands

A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for...
* South coast of the Dominican Republic west of Cabo Caucedo to
Barahona

A Hurricane Warning means that hurricane conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area. Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion. A Hurricane Watch means that hurricane conditions are possible within the watch area, in this case, within the next 12 to 24 hours. A Tropical Storm Warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area within 36 hours. A Tropical Storm Watch means that tropical storm conditions are possible within the watch area, generally within 48 hours.

 

Posted In: Top Headlines

Waipio Valley Road, pictured here prior to repairs, is the steepest road in the USA Restricted to 4×4 vehicles and foot traffic

In February of this year, Hawaii County Mayor Mitch Roth closed the Waipio Valley Road to both pedestrian and vehicular traffic, for all but residents. Access is now being restored with the partial reopening of the road to more traffic effective September 19th.

Officials cited the hazardous conditions present due to the deterioration of the steep roadway. Since that time, road crews have been working on safety improvements for the only vehicle entrance into the popular tourist area, held sacred by many native Hawaiians.

The Waipi’o Valley Road is one of the steepest roads in the United States, with a 45% grade and hairpin turns on the 1.5 mile stretch. Cars can barely pass each other in differing directions on the narrow road, and a four-wheel-drive vehicle is a necessity.  Reaction to the closure was mixed, with some applauding the effort to reduce traffic into the secluded valley and others protesting the closure on cultural grounds. Security guards were posted at the entrance to the road to check for proof of land ownership or residence.

The black sand beach at the bottom of the road is popular with surfers. Waipi’o Valley, (meaning “curved water” in Hawaiian), now hosts fewer than 100 actual residents, but traffic in and out by surfers, locals, and tourists on any given day can be quite heavy.

This recent story saddened me. It could easily be equated to a number of similar situations in the travel industry. In this case, it involved a wedding planner and a bubbly, well-intentioned bride to be. A wedding is an important event. A vacation is also an important event. I am confident you can make the connection.

Due to the rush to the alter following a year of postponements, thanks to the Covid pandemic, this particular couple finally found a venue that would serve their purpose to a “t.” Unfortunately, the space available was a full year away… not until July of 2023.

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Posted In: Editorial Musings

I usually do not get terribly excited about software updates. For the most part, they are mundane and usually are just tweaks under the hood.  But this time, it is different. Last week, Apple released their new iOS 16 for the iPhones (iPhone 8 and later), and it has some great features like editing text messages and even un-sending them. But one feature added to photos can be a game changer in terms of saving time. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Publishers Corner

Listing your business with Google Local Search

We sometimes exhibit auto-magical thinking about websites much like Field of Dreams. We believe if we build a site, then people will just come to it, and “Sales” will happen.  I hate to break it to you, but that is not the way it works. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Soundings

Southwest Airlines offers $59 Flights for Fall

Southwest Airlines airplane

Southwest Airlines is offering fares as low as $59  available for departures through February 2023. The deep discount applies to select domestic and international flights.   Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Crossings

Banner ad advertising Eclipse Cruise

UnCruise Adventures launches an extended specialty sailing perfectly positioned for the viewing of the annular eclipse in 2023. The one-time 9-Day cruise will offer magnificent landscapes, natural surroundings, and ocean viewing from a private vessel for the atmospheric event. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Deck Plans

Earlier this week, we heard from a reader who was “stuck” in Passau on Uniworld’s River Duchess. Underway now, the ship had been stationary since September 3 due to low water levels on the Danube. “The River Duchess has been impacted by the low water near Passau,” Uniworld’s CEO Ellen Bettridge told us on Wednesday. “Good news is that it is raining.”

The stretch of river between Passau and Regensburg had been impassable until Thursday of this week. This afternoon (Saturday), River Duchess was heading toward Bamberg, doing six knots per hour (~7 mph), according to cruisemapper.com.

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Posted In: The Rosen Report

To understand the new Norwegian Prima, it helps to keep in mind that for Norwegian Cruise Line—and on a personal level, for Norwegian Holdings CEO Frank Del Rio—Prima is not just the newest ship in the fleet. From the curves in the stateroom dressers to the floor-to-ceiling chandeliers in the Orca dining room; from her intimate and upscale little nooks to her seven-deck, 107-suite Haven complex; from the $10,000 painting on the wall to the $12,000 bottle of wine, Prima was designed to usher in a new luxurious vacation experience that will guide its growth over the next six years.

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Posted In: Top Headlines

Deck plan of AVALON ALEGRIA

It’s a new ship on a new itinerary, sailing with Avalon Waterways’ first onboard pool. And Pam Hoffee is excited about all three elements.

The new all-suite Avalon Alegria will join the fleet in 2024, sailing the line’s first-ever itineraries on the Douro River in Portugal. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Press Releases

Rental Escapes luxury villa rental

Rental Escapes, a full-service luxury villa company specializing in providing unparalleled private villa rentals worldwide, today announced the launch of a new series of bonus commission rewards for travel advisors. In anticipation of the company’s 10-year anniversary taking place in December, Rental Escapes will offer a new travel advisor promotion each month, commending the important role that the constant support and dedication of travel advisors have played throughout its history.

This September, travel advisors can now take advantage of a bonus commission of up to $2,500 on every booking made throughout the month. The commission is valid on bookings made through the end of September for stays between October 1, 2022, and December 31, 2023. Bonus commissions will be paid out and included with the travel advisor commission check upon the guest’s departure.

“Travel advisors remain our most valued partners, and we feel it is important to express our gratitude with a series of celebratory offerings designed to benefit these advisors,” says Willie Fernandez, chief marketing officer of Rental Escapes. “Over the next four months, we will introduce new, month-long offerings that travel advisors can take advantage of to convey our immense appreciation for their support.”

After 10 years in the business, Rental Escapes has continued to prioritize its partnerships with the travel advisor community, evidenced through its various tools to help advisors grow their business, as well as their absence of booking fees. In addition, advisors have the ideal opportunity to work alongside Rental Escapes’ dedicated villa specialists and concierge team to provide around-the-clock care for guests. Rental Escapes even offers the opportunity for advisors to earn commission on customized concierge packages when working with the concierge team. When banded together, advisors and Rental Escapes are able to deliver unparalleled support to guests, ensuring the ultimate vacation.

“Over the last 10 years, we have rapidly expanded our unforgettable product offerings, our first-in-class team, and our network of loyal travel advisors who have played an essential role in our business,” says Brian Schwimmer, chief executive officer of Rental Escapes. “When creating Rental Escapes, we sought to establish a customer-centric culture, where exceeding travelers’ expectations is the goal. This philosophy has helped forge our relationship with advisors and made Rental Escapes one of the leading luxury villa rental companies in the world today.”

For more information on Rental Escapes, visit RentalEscapes.com. Stay up-to-date on the latest news by following Rental Escapes on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Bruce Hodge, an Australian who met his South African wife in Europe, settled in Canada, and started a global tour operation in 1970, was not about to sit around twiddling his thumbs when the COVID lockdown paralyzed the travel industry. For Bruce, it was a chance to launch Goway 2.0.

“Goway 2.0 was Bruce’s vision of re-engineering the business from top to bottom,” said Craig Canvin, Goway’s senior vice president, in a conversation last week.

“Bruce’s plans for growth of the company are exceptional,” said Canvin. “It’s hard to keep up with them.”

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Posted In: Top Headlines

Viking cruise ship collides with cargo ship

Viking Cruise Line Building in Woodland Hills, California

The Viking Kvasir. a 443-foot long vessel accommodating as many as  190 passengers, collided with a large cargo ship near Wesel, Germany, on the Rhine in heavy fog last weekend.  Though several crew and passengers reported cuts and bruises, there were no serious injuries. In May of this year, The Viking Aegir, ran into a pillar of a bridge on the Danube near Slovakia, injuring eleven people.

In May of 2019, the Viking Sigyn collided with a sightseeing boat near Hungary, hitting the small boat from behind. The sightseeing boat sank in just 7 seconds. The Viking Sigyn accident resulted in the deaths of 26 Korean tourists and 2 crew members from the sightseeing boat.

Posted In: Spotlight

The news was announced by Josh D’Amaro, Disney Parks chair, at Disney’s D23 Expo that their cruise line division would be unveiling a new ship, Disney Treasure. This new ship will be styled like the setting of the Disney movie Aladdin, including a statue of Aladdin and Jasmine riding the magic carpet character and an opulent interior similar to the grand palace of Agrobah (also featured in Aladdin).

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Posted In: Top Headlines

Hilton_Tulum Envlave Room

Norwegian Cruise Line has its Haven; Royal Caribbean’s CocoCay has its CocoBeach Club. And now Hilton Hotels is rolling out a new high-end room category that promises privacy, exclusivity, and special amenities.

Now available to book at the Hilton Tulum Riviera Maya All-Inclusive Resort but planned to expand shortly, the new Hilton Enclave offers discerning travelers a private lounge serving three meals a day, a private beach, a separate pool with lounge chairs, private check-in, exclusive amenities and benefits, and “dedicated wellness and fitness activities.” Rates start at $344.

Hilton currently has 14 all-inclusive resorts in Mexico, South America, Europe, and Africa, and by year-end 2024 “with the current pipeline, HLT is expected to grow its All-Inclusive Supply in the Caribbean and Latin America by a further 22%,” a Hilton spokesperson told TRO. In the Caribbean and Latin America, the all-inclusive room supply grew by nearly 75% in 2021.

“With Enclave, Hilton has taken the next step to redefine the all-inclusive stay with an exclusive and premium experience, offering guests even more privacy, exclusivity, and elevated offerings not available with other all-inclusive experiences,” she said. “The plan is to roll Enclave out to both existing and new all-inclusive resorts,” though she declined to share an exact timeline at this time.

Travel advisors with whom we spoke liked the idea. “I love the Enclave concept,” says Lisa Zwissler at Beach Bum Vacations in Floyds Knobs, IN. “So many guests love an exclusive getaway but still want the amenities of a luxury all-inclusive. The Enclave captures that desire!

Grace DeVita, the owner of Post Haste Travel, is already looking at the property for a “huge group” in 2023. And Sarah Kline, at Time for Travel in Davidsonville, MD, “It just helped me close a 40-room wedding group. The bride and groom wanted the option of slipping away from guests for privacy at the exclusive pool and beach area, and the priority dinner reservations also were a key factor, as they plan to stay and honeymoon there.”

Hilton’s largest resort in the Caribbean and Latin America, the 735-room resort opened in May sharing a campus with the Conrad Tulum Riviera Maya. Thirty additional Hilton-branded properties are scheduled to open in Mexico in the next few years, the company said.