Monthly Archives: April 2023

Posted In: Top Headlines

“The Big Melt” Closes Yosemite


Yosemite Valley and other swatches of Yosemite Park have closed to visitors through at least Wednesday due to flooding, as an historic snowpack in the Sierras begins to melt.

“An extended period of very warm temperatures will cause rapid snow melt which is expected to cause flooding along waterways in Yosemite National Park,” the National Weather Service said. “This also includes locations in Yosemite Valley, such as the Merced River at Pohono Bridge.”

The closure begins at El Capitan Crossover. Reservations for lodging and campgrounds in eastern Yosemite Valley will be canceled and refunded automatically, the park said on Friday.

Western Yosemite Valley remains open for now, “but could close if traffic congestion or parking issues become unmanageable,” and no food, water or restrooms, other than a limited number of portable toilets, will be available in western Yosemite during the closure.

Hetch Hetchy, Wawona and Crane Flat also remain open, but visitors should expect congestion, strict parking enforcements, and potential closures.

Meanwhile, The National Weather Service is predicting above-average temperatures throughout the weekend, which will cause the snows to melt quickly into the Merced River. By Sunday afternoon, the river is forecast to rise more than a foot above its 10-foot flood stage.

An unusually cold February caused precipitation in the area to fall as snow, rather than rain, burying the park under 40 inches of snow and black ice and causing closures in February and March.

The current closure could be extended beyond May 3, depending on the severity of the floods, the park said.

The record amount of snow in Yosemite was just one component in the extreme precipitation that battered large swaths of California over the winter, causing floods, power outages, and evacuations.

Yosemite Valley closes whenever the Merced River at Pohono Bridge is expected to exceed 10 feet, according to the park’s website. Floods are expected on and off through the summer, which could cause the park to close again.

The coming closure could be extended beyond May 3, depending on the severity of the floods, the park said.

Posted In: Top Headlines

Viking Saturn. Image courtesy of Viking Cruises.


Viking celebrated its 25th anniversary this week with the delivery of a new ship that will sail two new itineraries, including New York to Reykjavik.

The Viking Saturn will sail this summer on two different 15-day voyages to Reykjavik, one from Bergen, Norway, and one from New York City. The Bergen itinerary includes 11 days in Norway, a two-day crossing of the Norwegian Sea and two days in Iceland. The New York itineraries include six days in Iceland, plus Greenland and Canada.

Like its identical Viking ocean ships, Viking Saturn has 465 veranda staterooms that can carry 930 guests.

The official naming will be held in New York on June 6, with godmother Ann Ziff, the philanthropist and chairman of the Metropolitan Opera, a longtime Viking cultural partner.

Viking noted that the ship arrives at a high point for the company, which in January celebrated the most successful single month of bookings in its history. Part of the growth comes from the 17 new ships added since 2020—including eight Viking Longships in Europe; new purpose-built vessels on the Mekong, Nile and Mississippi rivers; four new ocean ships; and two Polar Class expedition vessels.

Noting that Viking is “very proud of our long-standing partnerships with travel advisors, who help us share the world of Viking with curious travelers,” Michele Saegesser, vice president of sales and national accounts, said the company just launched a new version of its River Voyage Academy for travel advisors and “hopes our partners will complete the program to become Viking Certified Experts and take advantage of the numerous benefits awarded to graduates.”

Posted In: Deck Plans

Back From Back-To-Back Barge Trips

This past Thursday, I returned from France after back-to-back barge trips in Burgundy. To say that my 17 days in France was wonderful would be an understatement.

For starters, we had a fun group of people. They came from Georgia, British Columbia, Alberta, California, Colorado, Illinois and other regions throughout North America. We had lots of laughs, enjoyed long canal-side walks and bike rides, indulged in delightful dinners, sipped sumptuous wines, and so much more. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The Rosen Report

As travel advisors headed across the Atlantic to ASTA’s River Cruise Expo this year, 100 members of Gifted Travel Network already were onsite. They had been there for a week, attending their annual symposium—which GTN hosted for the first time aboard a river cruise ship it chartered for its own use.

Indeed, interest in full-ship charters is blooming this year. Travelers are back, river cruise ships are looking for partnerships, and travel advisors are coming to see the viability—and potential profits—of renting a whole ship. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Top Headlines

Carnival Tests New Restaurant Charge

Logo for Carnival Cruise Lines


Carnival Cruise Line has begun testing a new charge for some guests eating at its popular ChiBang specialty restaurant on Mardi Gras.

All guests still can eat at the venue for free at lunchtime or once for dinner. Though they now will incur an $8 per person surcharge if they return to eat dinner in the restaurant a second time.

There is also a ChiBang restaurant on the second Excel-class ship, Carnival Celebration, and there will be one on Carnival Jubilee as well. For now, the fee is only being charged on Mardi Gras, however.

Carnival Cruise Line brand ambassador John Heald, on his Facebook page, called the move a pilot project designed “to give everyone an opportunity to dine in this unique venue” on a ship that holds about 6,000 passengers.

The popular ChiBang offers both a Chinese and a Mexican menu, neither of which are available elsewhere on the ship, as well as specialty desserts.

Posted In: Point-to-Point

The changes in technologies that have surfaced this year will radically change how travel is sold before many realize what is happening. During the next two years, there will likely be changes that most industry travel industry experts haven’t imagined, because they have emerged from the little-known labs that develop natural language processing (NLP) computer software products rather than within the travel industry. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Supplier Profile is proud to announce their 36th anniversary this year. For over three decades, they have been providing travel agents with excellent service and superior seating for both Broadway and London Theatre. In addition to theatre tickets, they also offer tickets for nationwide events, local concerts, and sporting events. Read the rest of this entry »

Overcoming Objections

I have been known to suggest that when somebody crosses your mind for no apparent reason, it would be in your (and their) best interest to contact them… sooner rather than later.

The mysticism in this advice escapes me, but I hold firm in my belief the effectiveness behind this practice. This past week, I was the recipient of such a contact when an agent from the west coast sent me an email with an article of supposed interest attached. In this case, the agent thought I might want to discuss the topic at one of my future workshops or podcasts. I opened. I read. I agreed. And here it is.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

The ABCs of Travel

ABC. In grade school, it was the alphabet. But, as relatively mature adults in the travel industry, it takes on a new meaning. And you know how we all love acronyms, so here is one more to add to your dictionary. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Publishers Corner

Earth Day, the Travel Industry and Canaries

Saturday, April 22, is Earth Day. As late as 1986, coal miners in the UK still carried canaries to detect carbon monoxide fumes in the mines. If the canary died, trouble was afoot. These days, the World Wildlife Federation publishes a “species directory” – a list of endangered, vulnerable, and threatened animals and I find it ironic that the list has not been expanded to include humans. Perhaps it would be wrong to list humans under both threatened species and causation because no doubt there is a self-destructive gene somewhere in the human DNA spiral, and it seems to be expressing itself with increasing regularity. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Spotlight

If you’re a travel advisor or know someone who is, then you may have heard of HAR’s Travel Advisor Survey. For those who are unfamiliar, this survey is the only one of its kind that profiles different advisor segments, including income, fees, business operations, demographics, and career satisfaction. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Deck Plans

One year from this week (in 2024), Avalon Waterways will make its Portugal debut on the Douro River with a new itinerary and Suite Ship – the Avalon Alegria.


Hillside vineyards and historic villages await guests as they sail through Portugal’s postcard-perfect views on Avalon’s all-new, eight-day Vida Portugal: Vineyards & Villages Along the Douro which begins and ends in Porto and is filled with Avalon’s signature, included “Classic,” “Discovery” and “Active” excursion choices. Featuring everything from ancient Amarante – in the picturesque Minho region, known for its golden church that dates back to 1530 – to the sandstone architecture in Salamanca Spain; rock art to riding bikes from Porto to the sea, this new cruise promises countless ways to soak up splendor – from medieval castles to cinematic scenery and all the vinho, baked bread, olives and cheese your soul desires. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The Rosen Report

As the busy cruise seasons in Europe and Alaska begin, TRO met with a number of executives to talk about what’s new and exciting for 2023 and beyond.

AMAWaterways’ Janet Bava said the 2023 river cruise season is “going to be phenomenal,” and much of her focus will be on “the relationship with travel advisors, making sure they have the tools they need.”

Most exciting is the new destination of Colombia, where AMA ships will sail the Magdalena for the first time. Read the rest of this entry »

Indaba Time: A Rhapsody of South Africa

“The wind is in from Africa, last night I couldn’t sleep.”

–from Carey by Joni Mitchell

It’s almost time for Indaba. South Africa’s Travel Indaba will take place this year May 9-11 at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Convention Centre in Durban, South Africa. The return of Indaba every May reminds me of all the reasons I love South Africa and am constantly trying to get my American friends to go there and experience it. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Supplier Profile

When it comes to travel, we often think about the sights we’ll see, the food we’ll eat, and the experiences we’ll have. But what if we could travel in a way that not only benefits us, but also the communities we visit? That’s where G Adventures comes in. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Top Headlines

Symphonic concert at Palais Pallavicini. Image courtesy of Tauck.


US-based Tauck this week grew its presence in Europe, kicking off the 2024 river cruise season with six new itineraries, the most it has ever added in a single year. All the cruises include pre and post trips, including some new cities in Germany and Switzerland.

Tauck CEO Dan Mahar noted that dinners ashore will be at beautiful and unique settings such as the Palais Pallavicini in Vienna, a Dutch castle on its own private island, or an Italian Renaissance-style mansion in a small commune in northern France. Guests will overnight at properties like the Fairmont Montreux Palace, the Riessersee Hotel in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, and the InterContinental Geneve in Geneva.

Also on the agendas are wine tastings in Frankfurt, Strasbourg, and Chalon-Sur-Saône, France; a craft beer tour in Dusseldorf; a brewery tour in Antwerp; and a tasting of local brandies and apple ciders in Normandy. All dinners and excursions are included in the tour price.

The new cruises are:

Danube Kingdoms: Bavaria, Austria & Hungary: Munich to Budapest, 12 days from $6,990 per person plus airfare

  1. Itinerary: Includes a four-night, land-based exploration of Bavaria with hotel stays in Munich and Partenkirchen, plus a seven-night cruise along the Danube visiting Passau, Linz, Salzkammergut, Cesky Krumlov, Melk, Vienna, Bratislava and Budapest.
  2. Highlight dinner: Guests will attend a Tauck Exclusive evening at a private Viennese palace, Palais Pallavicini, featuring a reception, gala dinner, and classical music performances. The palace has hosted luminaries including Ludwig van Beethoven and Franz Schubert, and it has been the home of the Pallavicini family for more than 180 years.

Three Rivers: Danube, Main & Rhine: Amsterdam to Regensburg (or reverse), 10 days from $5,990 per person plus airfare

  1. Itinerary: Ports of call include Amsterdam, Nijmegen, Köln, Bonn, Koblenz, Boppard, Frankfurt, Wertheim, Marktheidenfeld, Würzburg, Bamberg, Bayreuth, Nürnberg, and Regensburg.
  2. Highlight dinner: Guests will enjoy an evening at the opulent Schlosshotel Kronberg. The former home of German Empress Victoria Friedrich, Schlosshotel Kronberg took four years to build (1889 – 1893). Today, Schlosshotel Kronberg is operated by the royal House of Hesse as a luxury hotel, and it is set amid parklands featuring an 18-hole golf course designed by Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Rhine Connoisseur: Montreux to Brussels: Montreux to Brussels (or reverse), 11 days from $6,790 per person plus airfare

  1. Itinerary: Begins with a three-night stay at the Fairmont Montreux Palace and explorations of the Lavaux Vineyards, Montreux and Glacier 3000. A subsequent seven-night cruise visits Strasbourg, Rüdesheim, Koblenz, and Düsseldorf along the Rhine before traveling on to Gorinchem, Antwerp, and Brussels.
  2. Highlight dinner: A Tauck-exclusive reception and dinner are featured at Slot Loevestein. Set in a nature reserve on a private island open only to Tauck guests for the evening, the 14th-century castle has served as a prison, residence and toll station at the strategic confluence of the Maas and Waal rivers.

Hidden Waterways of Flanders and Holland: Brussels to Amsterdam (or reverse), 8 days from $4,690 per person plus airfare

  1. Itinerary: Ports of call along the scenic Dutch waterways include Brussels, Antwerp, Bruges, Gorinchem, Leiden, Rotterdam and Amsterdam.
  2. Highlight dinner: A Tauck-exclusive reception and dinner are featured at Slot Loevestein. Set in a nature reserve on a private island open only to Tauck guests for the evening, the 14th-century castle has served as a prison, residence and toll station at the strategic confluence of the Maas and Waal rivers.

River Seine: Châteaux, Impressionism & Normandy: Begins and ends near Paris at Le Pecq, 8 days from $4,990 per person plus airfare

  1. Itinerary: Visits Auvers-sur-Oise, Les Andelys, Tilly, Mont-Saint-Michel, Étretat, Honfleur, the D-Day Beaches of Normandy, Rouen, Giverny (where Tauck guests enjoy exclusive early-entry admission to the home and gardens of Impressionist painter Claude Monet) and Le Pecq.
  2. Highlight dinner: Tauck guests will enjoy a private evening with a tour, dinner, and music at Château du Taillis. Set on a parkland estate in Duclair, France and built in 1530, this Italian Renaissance mansion with baroque interiors is a brilliant architectural showcase.

La Belle Vie: The Rhône, Geneva & The Riviera: Cannes to Geneva (or reverse), 14 days from $7,990 plus airfare

  1. Itinerary: This 14-day itinerary includes a nine-night river cruise along the Rhône bookended by two, two-night hotel stays with guided Tauck sightseeing in Cannes and Geneva. Along the way, guests have the opportunity to experience Aix-en-Provence, Arles, La Camargue, Avignon, Uzès, St-Rémy, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Tain l’Hermitage, Mâcon, Cluny, Chalon-sur-Saône, Beaune, Tournus, Cormatin and Lyon.
  2. Highlight dinner: Tauck guests will enjoy an exclusive evening at Duché d’Uzès featuring a private tour, dinner, and cocktails. The family castle of the Duke of Uzès, the home was once the site of a Roman governor’s residence and the haven of an exiled 9th-century duchess.

Posted In: Outposts

Majestic Morocco

Morocco, in North Africa, is known for its fascinating blend of cultures, including Amazigh, Arab, and European influences. These influences are reflected in its cuisine, music, and architecture. Morocco is also famous for its stunning natural landscapes, including the Sahara Desert, the High Atlas Mountains—and the beautiful coastline. Its cities, such as Marrakech and Casablanca, are filled with ornate palaces, bustling markets, and UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Visitors to Morocco can expect to be charmed by the hospitality of its people, the vibrancy of its culture, and its rich history, which dates back thousands of years. Read the rest of this entry »

Learning To Say “No”

I am often asked where I get ideas for my articles. The short answer is “everywhere.” Today’s message came from a recent unexpected visit to a dentist for an emergency tooth conundrum. As my wife was settling into the chair, I was cooling my heels in the waiting room thumbing through magazines. The rag in hand was titled

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

With ownership comes power. When you own your home, you can decide on the color of the exterior. When you own your own car, you put any bumper sticker you feel fits. When you own your own travel business, you can make decisions about what to sell and to whom. So why on earth would you opt to allow someone else to make the decisions about your online presence? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Top Headlines

Sargassum seaweed on Florida’s beaches

The arrival of a record-breaking amount of sargassum seaweed on the beaches of Florida has sparked concern over its potential to impact tourism, the environment, and human health negatively. While seaweed has been known to provide valuable habitat for marine life, its excessive accumulation can lead to several adverse consequences. Cocoa Beach has been particularly hard hit this year, and the west coast Florida beaches are starting to accumulate quantities of seaweed.  South Beach in Miami is reporting sargassum piles.  Authorities say this may be the largest bloom ever recorded.

According to experts, sargassum seaweed contains arsenic, and if left uncollected, it can leach into the groundwater, posing a health hazard to humans. This is particularly concerning considering that Florida has a large tourist population that frequents the beaches, increasing their potential exposure to this toxic substance.

Moreover, extensive amounts of rotting sargassum can provide an ideal environment for the growth of fecal bacteria, posing a significant health risk to beachgoers. The presence of fecal bacteria in seawater is known to cause skin rashes, ear infections, and meningitis, among other diseases.

In addition, the rotting seaweed can emit hydrogen sulfide gas, which can cause respiratory problems and eye irritation. The problem is compounded by the fact that the seaweed emits a pungent odor, which can make it unpleasant for tourists to visit the beaches, affecting the tourism industry.

Officials are seeking to put measures in place to prevent the accumulation of sargassum seaweed on Florida’s beaches. These measures may involve training beachgoers on how to discard sargassum responsibly, providing incentives for its collection, and investing in technology to remove the seaweed mechanically.

Posted In: Publishers Corner

We need a bit more naiveté

Continuous effort, not strength or intelligence, is the key to unlocking our potential.” ~ Winston Churchill

What is the calculus of success? Is there a formula to being really good at whatever you most want to do?

One of the really great characteristics about children is their unfailing knowledge they can do anything.  Draw a picture? Hand them the crayons. Play the drums? Give them those sticks. Converse about the universe? Have a seat and lend an ear.

Somewhere along the way, we adults learn to limit ourselves.  We become convinced of our personal borders. We accept we aren’t musical, we can’t draw, we decide our intelligence has severe limitations. We circumscribe ourselves even as to activities we have never tried!  Can you sculpt a figurine out of a block of stone? How do you know? Why are you certain you cannot do something you have never tried?  And if you have tried, how many times? Read the rest of this entry »