News & Views of the Week

 

Like it or not summer is here and so is travel.

As most of you know the airlines are having a problem so the order of the day is patience, patience, patience.

There appears to be some finger pointing going on as to who the problem really is but unfortunately it puts all of us travelers in the middle of the argument.  

What we are suggesting is to book early flights for now.  The later n the day the more theproblems seem to be in general.  And if you do have a change ofplanes en route please allow more than an hour for the changeover since there is a very good chance your luggage will not go with you.

We'll all have to weather the storm for now and hopefully it will smooth out as the summer wears on.

 

 

NEWS AND VIEWS is back and below are articles of interest for many of you.

 

Cruise InformationA&K Travel Group Ltd.Crystal CruisesCrystal Serenity

 

Crystal Cruises' Crystal Serenity is shown docked at Port Everglades, FL

A&K Travel Group, Ltd. owned by Geoffrey Kent and Heritage (Manfredi Lefebvre d'Ovidio), has acquired both Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity, as well as the "Crystal Cruises" brand name. (Photo by Susan J. Young)

Certainly, the biggest cruise news of the week was the announcement by A&K Travel Group Ltd.—owned by Geoffrey Kent and Heritage (the industrial holding company chaired by Manfredi Lefebvre d'Ovidio)—that it has acquired both Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony.

After an extensive refurbishment, the two ships will resume sailing in 2023 under the “Crystal Cruises” brand name, also acquired by A&K Travel Group Ltd. Earlier this year, Crystal Cruises had ceased sailing and closed its U.S. offices, given parent Genting Hong Kong's financial issues. 

Separately, Carnival Cruise Line is partnering with sister Carnival Corporation brand, Costa Cruises, to create a new concept for Carnival’s North American guests. "Costa by Carnival" will debut in spring 2023 with Costa Venezia joining the Carnival fleet and sailing from New York CityCosta Firenze will arrive in spring 2024 to sail from Long Beach. CA.

Helping ease the travel journey for travelers heading overseas to board a cruise, more governments are ditching pandemic-era entry and testing requirements. For example, South Africa has ended all COVID-19 related restrictions.

Ship Developments 

The industry's fleet continues to expand. Viking’s new 930-passenger Viking Saturn was “floated out” last week. Scheduled to debut in April 2023, the ship will operate Mediterranean and Northern Europe itineraries.

Unfortunately, a metalworkers strike in Spain’s Cantabria region has disrupted the "finishing process" for The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection's first yacht, EvrimaNow the ship's inaugural cruise, according to our sister publication Luxury Travel Advisor, has been rescheduled for August 31, 2022 from Athens (Pireaus), Greece.

Also, in the continuing saga of Havila Capella, the new Norwegian coastal cruise ship, Havila Kystruten, has received the needed Norwegian Maritime Directorate certifications to operate the vessel. Havila Capella is now fully insured and can restart operations along Norway’s coast. Previously,the ship's insurers had terminated their coverage due to E.U. sanctions against GTLK Asia. The company also filed a U.K. court case to force a change in Havila Capella’s ownership.

Cruise Product News

Product-wise, Luxury Travel Advisor also reported on Silversea Cruisesnew dining options for its new ultra-luxury ship, Silver Nova, which launches in 2023. 

Quark Expeditions is adding hiking and trekking options in polar regions. 

In a nod to inclusivity, AmaWaterways will offer a new “A Soulful Epicurean Experience on the River,” paired with its “Colors of Provence” river cruise on August 24, 2023 from Arles to Lyon, France. A new three-night post-cruise land package in Paris also will commemorate the city’s Black history, heritage and culture.

With the new Tom Hanks film “Elvis” now showing in theaters,Tauck made a timely announcement last week. It added a private after-hours tour of the the late singer’s Graceland home and grounds in Memphis, TN. That's for guests booked on Tauck's “Life on the Mississippi” itinerary which includes a cruise on American Duchess, an American Queen Voyages' vessel. 

 

What’s New in the US Virgin Islands

DESTINATION & TOURISM  RICH THOMASELLI  JUNE 26, 2022

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U.S. Virgin Islands

The U.S. Virgin Islands. (USVI Tourism)

With COVID restrictions eliminated earlier this month, and with U.S. citizens able to travel freely without passports to the U.S. territories of St. Croix, St. John, and St. Thomas, the U.S. Virgin Islands has big plans for the expected influx of tourists.

“Travelers from around the world can return to our beautiful and intriguing islands without any additional paperwork or requirements. We’ve been aggressively pushing our marketing strategy to focus on the overnight traveler,” USVI Commissioner of Tourism Joseph Boschulte said. “Additionally, we’ve seen a growing trend of extended stays since the pandemic, and with summer travel in season our international travelers can expect a collection of short-term to extended-stay accommodations across all three islands of St. Croix, St. John, and St. Thomas.”

To that end, USVI tourism recently unveiled a series of new experiences taking place in the Caribbean nation.

 

St. John USVI

St. John USVI (Photo via Noreen Kompanik)

Among the key news to share:

Two new properties will be arriving in St. Thomas this fall following a $350 Million dollar renovation – the Westin Beach Resort and Spa at Frenchman’s Reef and The Seaborn at Frenchman’s Reef, an Autograph Collection.

Carnival will again be held in the U.S. Virgin Islands with the 68th Celebration of St. John Carnival taking place through July 4. That will be followed by 70th Annual St. Croix Carnival, known as the Crucian Christmas Festival this December.

In November, the islands will host the USVI Charter Yacht Show.

And, of course, there’s the food.

“We have been increasing our culinary output,” Boschulte said. “We recognize foodie travel is big. What I like to tell people is, in the same day you can experience a five-star dinner and one of the best dive bar experiences you can have. It’s up to you. It’s your choice.”

But the U.S. Virgin Islands is also eager to spread awareness of the destination as more than just a stop on Caribbean cruises. Boschulte would like to see more overnight ship stays.

“We still encourage cruises but the cruise business has moved on from destination (centric). Everything you want is on board. The same stores that people used to run to buy the watches and the alcohol, you can buy on the ship,” he said. “The cruise lines have also figured out they can own their own islands. Now, St. Thomas for instance will always be a destination for cruises. What we have to figure out is how to get the ships to stop at St. Thomas and stop early in their itinerary in St. Thomas and stay longer.”

Officials are hoping the USVI has a full return to what cruising was like in the pre-pandemic days by 2024.

 

5 Reasons to Visit Whittier, Alaska

Jun 22, 2022

Adventure Travel  Alaska  

 

Whittier was formerly a military base in World War II. // © 2015 iStock 3

Whittier was formerly a military base in World War II.
Credit: 2015 iStock 3

The seaport of Whittier is a bit hard to find, and for good reason.

Protected by towering mountains and glaciers, the city, with a local population of less than 300, began as a military supply port to defend against a possible World War II Japanese invasion through Alaska.

Today, however, there is nothing war-like about this hidden portal. In fact, it is continuing to grow in popularity, with an annual visiting population of more than 700,000.

Whittier is a quick-and-easy destination for visitors who only have a limited time to take in some of the state’s finest coastal mountain glaciers and tidewater scenery. I visit Whittier at least once a year, and, for these five reasons, I’ll keep coming back.

1. Visitors Can Quickly Access Whittier

Whittier is located approximately 60 miles southeast of Anchorage via the Seward Highway and Portage Glacier Road. Visitors take the 2.5-mile Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel — North America’s longest vehicle tunnel — that bores through a mountain of solid rock to reach the seaport. Before the tunnel, check out the Begich, Boggs Visitor Center in Portage Valley or watch the salmon spawning in nearby creeks.

2. There's No Need to Drive

The Alaska Railroad offers daily summer service from Anchorage to Whittier. The Alaska Marine Ferry also docks at this port on a daily basis throughout the summer. For further exploration, the ferry offers transportation to the coastal cities of Valdez and Cordova, where visitors can spend the night and return by ferry the next day. Whittier has also become a popular port for cruise ships arriving or departing from Alaska.

3. A Walkable Area With Top Restaurants and Shops

For the best seaport eateries, spend a few hours taking in the quaint minihut shops along the city boat dock. Expect everything from fresh fish tacos to Alaska espresso. The area is packed with young commercial fishermen and grizzled old timers who call this Alaska seaport home.

4. Nearby Glacier Day Trips and Attractions

Three of North America’s largest ice fields feed the glaciers around Whittier. According to Lisa Kruse, director of sales and marketing for Phillips Cruises, Whittier’s main attraction is its glacier day cruises, which attract about 55,000 visitors a year. The “26 Glaciers” cruise is my favorite Whittier tour for wildlife, spectacular tidewater glaciers and its “no seasickness guarantee.”

5. Top-Notch Kayaking and Fishing

Halibut and salmon fishing derbies run during the summer in Whittier, and numerous protected coves makes it one of my favorite kayak destinations. Birders also enjoy the nearby Kittiwake Rookery, one of the largest in Prince William Sound.

Carnival Cruise Line Updates Protocols for Unvaccinated Passengers

CRUISE LINE & CRUISE SHIP  CARNIVAL CRUISE LINE  DONALD WOOD  JUNE 23, 2022

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Carnival Paradise.

Carnival Paradise. (photo via Carnival Cruise Line Media)

Carnival Cruise Line announced updated rules and protocols for unvaccinated passengers sailing on its ships through the end of December.

The most notable changes include unvaccinated guests now being permitted to go ashore to enjoy one of Carnival’s tours or independent sightseeing events. Several destinations still do not welcome unvaccinated travelers, as the cruise line revealed on its official website:

—San Juan - age 12 and older will have to remain on board

—Bonaire - age 12 and older will have to remain on board

—Grand Cayman - age 12 and older will have to remain on board

—St. Kitts - age 12 and older will have to remain on board

—Tortola - age 12 and older will have to remain on board

—Grand Turk - age 16 and older will have to remain on board

—Cartagena, Colombia - age 18 and older will have to remain on board

The cruise line revealed certain destinations have continued to impose restrictions for unvaccinated passengers and cannot guarantee that more will not be added. All unvaccinated guests aged two and older must present a negative coronavirus test taken within 72 and 24 hours before the sailing date.

Regardless of the cruise length, antigen testing will be provided on a complimentary basis to children ages 2-4. Children ages 5-11 will be charged $60 per person and guests ages 12 and older will be charged $150 per person.

As for vaccine exemptions, they will be available to a small number of guests and are capacity-controlled based on the total number of vaccinated guests projected to be onboard. Requests are not guaranteed and will be processed after the booking is paid in full, in sailing date order and once the estimated vaccinated guest count has been finalized.

Requirements for cruise ships to enter ports outside the U.S. continue to evolve and Carnival officials said they would approve exemptions in compliance with these regulations.

Children under five are not required to apply for a vaccine exemption but must follow requirements for unvaccinated guests, including pre-cruise and embarkation day testing.

Last week, Carnival announced guests booked on Caribbean itineraries seeking a medical exemption from the cruise line's vaccination requirement would not be required to obtain a doctor's note for approval, as of June 15.

“As we continue to work with our destination partners, protocols continue to evolve and we are pleased to share that your clients are no longer required to provide a doctor’s note at embarkation on cruises going to the Caribbean,” Carnival said in a recent letter to travel partners. “All other requirements for unvaccinated guests remain in place.”

 

CaribbeanBahamasFederal Travel RegulationsDestination Information

 

Nassau Bahamas

(Nassau, Bahamas)

The Government of The Bahamas is removing another COVID requirement for international visitors: Effective at 12:01 a.m. on Sunday, June 19, 2022, travelers will no longer need to apply for a Bahamas Travel Health Visa in order to enter the country.

That said, all unvaccinated travelers ages two and older will be required to obtain a negative COVID-19 test—either a negative RT-PCR test or a rapid antigen test—taken no more than three days (72 hours) prior to travel and present the negative test results at check-in before travel to The Bahamas.

“The discontinuation of the Travel Health Visa is yet another signal to the international community that we are open for business,” said the Honorable I. Chester Cooper, deputy prime minister and minister of tourism, investments and aviation, in a press statement. “Throughout the pandemic, we have remained committed to evaluating protocols and adjusting requirements to reflect the current environment. We acknowledge that the Travel Health Visa was a burden for travelers, and we are pleased to be able to eliminate it.”

While the streamlined entry protocols are a welcome change, the health and safety of all citizens, residents and visitors remain the priority. All travelers must follow on-island guidelines for mask wearing and social distancing. Among these: For all travelers, they are no longer required to test for COVID when traveling between islands.

For full details on the Bahamas’ current COVID-19 protocols for travelers, visit www.bahamas.com/travelupdates.

With Covid entry test abolished, a bookings surge is expected

By Robert Silk 

By Nicole Edenedo 

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Jun 17, 2022

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The terminal at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport. Europe bookings are expected to spike with the U.S.'s inbound Covid testing rule lifted.

The terminal at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport. Europe bookings are expected to spike with the U.S.'s inbound Covid testing rule lifted. Photo Credit: Nancy Beijersbergen/Shutterstock

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Travel companies are readying for another surge of travel bookings after the U.S. dropped its requirement that arriving travelers present a negative Covid test.

It's not clear yet how big the surge will be. But early data suggest that the end of the testing requirement appears to have boosted international demand from both domestic and foreign points of sale.

United reported that during the first three days after the change was announced, searches for international travel were up 7% week over week, with the total number of searches coming in at more than 2.4 million. 

U.S. point-of-origin searches were up 7.6%, while searches for travel to the U.S. from abroad were up 6.9%, United said. The majority of searches by U.S. travelers were for trips this summer to Mexico, the Caribbean and Europe.

Similarly, Expedia reported that in the first two-and-a-half days after the mandate was dropped on June 12, more than half of the international flight searches undertaken for U.S. points of origin were for travel within the next month and a half. Top search destinations included cities in the Dominican Republic and Mexico as well as London, Paris, Rome and Toronto.

Expedia said U.K. point-of-origin searches for U.S. travel increased by more than 10% in that same period. 

Delta said June 15 that it saw an increase in searches and bookings for international destinations, but it declined to share specifics. Hopper, meanwhile, said that bookings to international destinations from the U.S. increased 8% on June 10, which was the day that the rule change was announced.

Tour operators see an uptick

Tour and river cruise operators said that it was a little early to tell how much business would come in as a result of the relaxed policy. But some suppliers said they were already noticing a difference. 

"We were beginning to see a slight uptick in bookings before the announcement, and business has been steadily picking up since then," said Stefanie Schmudde, vice president of product development and operations at Abercrombie & Kent. "We continue to receive many questions from travel advisors and their clients, but fear of traveling internationally and not being able to return home has certainly eased since the recent announcement."

Melissa Da Silva, president of TTC Tour Brands, the tour operator arm of the Travel Corporation, said the company was "confident" that it would see an uptick in interest in the coming days and weeks.

"We know testing to return home was a barrier and concern for so many travelers to book that international ticket," she said. "We're ready to meet the demand."

Jeff Roy, executive vice president of Collette, said that the company anticipated a significant reduction in another Covid-era booking trend: last-minute cancellations due to testing and quarantine requirements. 

At the Travel Leaders Edge conference in Aurora, Colo., this week, Travel Leaders Group president John Lovell said it anticipated that European travel would "really kick in" as a result. 

"People just want to get back to Europe. That's what we're seeing, that's what we're hearing," he said. "So hopefully in the next two, three weeks we'll see that demand start to work its way through the funnel."

Removing 'the biggest hurdle' to travel recovery

The decision to repeal the requirement came just days after travel and tourism associations, which had been lobbying the Biden administration for a repeal for months, vowed to get "aggressive." Leaders from hospitality and travel advisors had openly criticized the policy, saying it was repressing travel demand and negatively impacting job growth.

Many travel sellers attributed their optimism about future sales based on what their clients have told them over the past few months: If there's a chance they can't return to the U.S. because of a positive Covid test, they're not traveling. 

"Being stuck in-destination in fear of testing positive was one of the biggest hurdles that we faced," said Helen Giontsis, president of Kensington Tours. 

"My European business for this summer was way down because of the inbound testing rule," said Toni Lanotte-Day, a river cruise travel advisor and owner of Toni Tours. "All of my river cruise bookings for this year are from September onward. My clients were all concerned about testing positive and getting stuck."

In its statement rescinding the order, the CDC recommended that travelers voluntarily test themselves no more than three days ahead of travel. 

It added that it would continue to monitor the state of the pandemic and would "reassess the need for a testing requirement if the situation changes."

The hassle of airport delays, cancellations

But a number of travel-related issues that have little to do with Covid and more to do with soaring demand and staffing shortages will test the optimism that suppliers and advisors have for a speedy period of travel recovery.

"Airport delays and flight cancellations remain a concern," A&K's Schmudde said, adding that space availability has also been an issue for months prior to the testing requirement expiration.

"There were already availability issues in North America and Europe, not just with accommodations but also A&K-quality guides and appropriate vehicles. Some regions are completely sold out for summer, and fall dates are quickly filling up. We are seeing unprecedented global demand for travel into 2023."

 

Dispatch, Viking Octantis: Put the Viking spa on your 'bucket list'

By Andrea Zelinski 

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Jun 27, 2022

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After spending time in the steam room, an ice-cold bucket shower beckons.

After spending time in the steam room, an ice-cold bucket shower beckons. Photo Credit: Andrea Zelinski

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ABOARD THE VIKING OCTANTIS -- I was in a square shower room. A wooden bucket loomed over my head. I was daunted. 

The bucket was filled with cold water and I imagined how cold it might be. I overimagined. A silver chain hung nearby and I knew that I was supposed to pull it -- if brave enough. 

The Viking Octantis, Viking's first expedition ship, is full of toys for adventurers -- kayaks, speedy special operations boats and even a pair of submarines. But as I was standing under this bucket in the ship's spa, this felt like the most intimidating adventure of all. 

I pulled the chain. 

 

Snow falling down in the Snow Grotto.

Snow falling down in the Snow Grotto. Photo Credit: Andrea Zelinski

The water was just as cold as I imagined. I did everything I could not to yelp in surprise like this was the Ice Bucket Challenge of 2014. But unlike then, this bucket drenching followed 10 to 15 minutes in the steam room, and I was now refreshed and willing to do it again. 

This feature on the Octantis is also found on the line's seven oceangoing ships. Tapping the Scandinavian heritage of the line's founder, Torstein Hagen, the practices of contrasting hot and cold experiences are meant to bring people more in tune with nature. 

I returned to the steam room refreshed and stayed there another 10 minutes or so before my next adventure: the Snow Grotto. Here, I stood in the center of the room and snow fell from above my head, sometimes in flakes, sometimes in clumps like snow plopping off a tree.

I suddenly realized that I've never gotten snowed on in a bathing suit, which makes the whole experience more novel and cold.

After a session in the dry sauna, complete with round wooden paddles, I headed for the Experience Shower. This felt like an adult shower game: mix and match any combo of five shower options and temperatures.

The first option gave me the feeling of standing in the rain, and a second one made me feel like I was in a downpour. 

 

The dry sauna on the Viking Octantis.

The dry sauna on the Viking Octantis. Photo Credit: Andrea Zelinski

A third option featured a single, smooth stream of water as if a soda stream opened over my head. A fourth feature had three showerheads diagonally cross-spray me from my left and right sides. A fifth option was a handheld showerhead. 

The Experience Shower was the most popular place to rinse off in the spa. 

The Octantis doubles down on this transition from hot to cold waters in the aft of the ship at the Aquavit Terrace, a bar and pool area with a retracting roof.

There are three pools here. A Tepidarium infinity pool is accessible from both inside and outside. Outside, there is a Caldarium with hot water and the Frigidarium filled with cold water. Guests can climb pool ladders between the three tubs.

 

The Aquavit Terrace features the Tepidarium, Caldarium and Frigidarium pools.

The Aquavit Terrace features the Tepidarium, Caldarium and Frigidarium pools. Photo Credit: Andrea Zelinski

Back in the spa is the Badestamp, aka hot tub. What's novel about the Badestamp on the Octantis is it sits behind a permanently half-open window, allowing the cool air and snow in the Antarctic to waft in and even pile up on the ledge of the tub. When it's that cold, there is a basket of almost beanie-like hats to choose from to keep the head warm. 

The spa on the Octantis builds on the experiences found on other oceangoing ships but makes improvements. In addition to the standard spa and sauna experiences, the Octantis' mineral pool faces the windows on the port side. On ocean ships, the pool has no window view. 

Another new element on this ship is the Hygge massage, which translates to cozy and comforting. It was performed on a warm bed of small quartz stones. I opted for a 50-minute upper body massage. 

 

Relaxing in the Badestamp.

Relaxing in the Badestamp. Photo Credit: Andrea Zelinski

My masseuse started by piling the stones against my legs to warm them and loosen the muscles. The heat is said to be good for arthritis, muscular aches and pains because the heat increases circulation in conjunction with the massage. It felt almost like she was packing sand against my calves on the beach, except these stones were warm and comforting. The Hygge is also offered as an 80-minute full-body massage. 

As refreshing as the massage was, I'll go home remembering how it felt to stand under that cold bucket.

American AirlinesAir TravelAirline InformationTravel Technology

 

American Airlines edit only

(American Airlines )

American Airlines has teamed up with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to launch TSA PreCheck, a mobile identity verification process that allows passengers to breeze through the airport.

The process has been rolled out at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) and American Airlines AAdvantage members who are enrolled in TSA PreCheck can use their American Airlines Mobile ID at TSA PreCheck checkpoints for identity verification. There are plans to deploy at select TSA PreCheck checkpoints at Miami International Airport (MIA), Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX), Washington Reagan National Airport (DCA) and more later this year.

Creating and storing the American Airlines Mobile ID is simple. Prior to travel, American Airlines customers with TSA PreCheck who choose to participate in this program need to download the Airside Digital Identity App on an iOS or Android device and take a photo of their face. They will then scan their driver’s license or passport with the app. Drivers licenses from states that are part of the AAMVA DLDV program and U.S. passports are eligible. They will then enter their American Airlines AAdvantage number.

The app will verify the customers’ information using mobile ID technology powered by Thales to compare against each state’s Department of Motor Vehicles records or the passport’s embedded NFC chip. It will store the customer’s American Airlines Mobile ID on their mobile device until they choose where and when to share it. As they go through security, customers will present a QR code on their phone and consent to share their American Airlines Mobile ID with TSA. After sharing their Mobile ID, customers are required to look into a camera at the TSA PreCheck checkpoint. TSA’s computer system will match the customer’s encrypted image against their American Airlines Mobile ID. The entire process at the airport typically takes less than five seconds.

Once verified, TSA erases the encrypted digital ID from its checkpoint readers and customers retain their digital ID on their device until they are ready to use it at another waypoint, such as an airport lounge.

In the near future, the airline will roll out similar technology to additional kiosks, bag check and domestic boarding gates. Customers can already verify their identities through facial matching provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection at several international boarding gates.

For more information, visit www.aa.com.

 

 

CDC relaxes 'highly vaccinated' cruise threshold

By Andrea Zelinski 

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May 05, 2022

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The CDC now requires only 90% of cruise ship passengers to be vaccinated for a ship sailing to be considered "highly vaccinated," down from 95%.

The CDC now requires only 90% of cruise ship passengers to be vaccinated for a ship sailing to be considered "highly vaccinated," down from 95%. Photo Credit: Jo Panuwat D/Shutterstock.com

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The CDC relaxed a key pandemic-era cruise regulation Thursday, allowing more unvaccinated adults and children to cruise on ships designated as "highly vaccinated." 

The regulation now requires 90% of cruise ship passengers to be vaccinated for a sailing to be considered "highly vaccinated." That's down from 95%, according to the CDC's Covid-19 Program for Cruise Ships Operating in U.S. Waters. 

That 90% threshold applies to passengers who are 5 years of age and older. Crew vaccination requirements remain unchanged at a 95% threshold. 

CLIA said the decision recognizes protective measures cruise ships have taken during the pandemic. A spokeswoman said the change is particularly notable because it will allow for a cruise line to carry more families traveling with children who are not vaccinated. 

The change came two days after the Carnival Spirit experienced a Covid outbreak during a 16-day Panama Canal sailing from Miami to Seattle. The cruise line said most cases were asymptomatic and there were no serious health issues. 

While the CDC recommends all people 2 years old and older wear masks on public transportation, such as at cruise terminals, the Federal Mask Mandate is no longer in effect. However, port authorities and local health officials may require masks to be worn.

 

 

Atlantis Paradise Island is renovating guestrooms in the Royal towers

By Christina Jelski 

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Apr 22, 2022

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Renovation of the Royal East Tower is due to be completed by this summer, with a refresh of accommodations in the Royal West Tower to follow shortly after.

Renovation of the Royal East Tower is due to be completed by this summer, with a refresh of accommodations in the Royal West Tower to follow shortly after. Photo Credit: Atlantis Paradise Island

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Atlantis Paradise Island in the Bahamas is set to embark on a multimillion-dollar renovation, which will include a top-to-bottom revamp of its guestrooms and suites in the Royal towers and a reimagined Atlantis Casino.

Renovation of the property's Royal East Tower is due to be completed by this summer, with a refresh of accommodations in the Royal West Tower to follow shortly after. Both towers will feature new "soothing" design elements that draw inspiration from natural surroundings, including aqua-hued waters, white-sand beaches and coral reefs, Atlantis said.

Included in the overhaul will be the Royal's 4,740-square-foot Bridge Suite, which is on track for completion next year.

The Atlantis Casino, meanwhile, will be receiving various improvements, including more modern finishes and an expansion of its two on-site lounges, which include a high-limit slots lounge and a gaming salon.

The complex is also updating its restaurant offerings, adding renowned chef Michael White to its roster of Michelin-starred culinary partners. (Atlantis Paradise Island has existing fine-dining concepts from Michelin-starred chefs Nobu Matsuhisa and Jose Andres.)

White will spearhead the opening of Italian restaurant Paranza at The Cove, which is expected to debut later this year.

On the casual end, a new Mediterranean-style beachside concession stand, Pita, will be joining the mix. Located near Atlantis' Aquaventure waterpark, Pita will serve shawarma and falafel among other dishes.

The latest upgrades come as Atlantis also prepares to open Somewhere Else, a new property that will replace the resort's Beach Tower. Targeted to open in 2024, the 400-room project is being developed in partnership with David Grutman of Groot Hospitality and musician Pharrell Williams

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mexico TourismLos CabosTravel Industry ResearchTravel Industry Trends and Research

 

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico (Photo by LindaYG/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

Los Cabos Tourism Board has announced a record 13 percent growth in domestic and international visitors during the first quarter of 2022, a surge fueled largely by the destination’s swift response to the pandemic and strict health and safety protocols enforced over the past two years. In 2021, Los Cabos welcomed an approximate 2.8 million travelers achieving a complete recovery of its tourism activity. In March 2022, the destination recorded nearly 325,000 tourist arrivals, with a record increase of 18 percent in arrivals when compared to 2019.

Los Cabos’ business model combining private and public funding allowed the destination to focus on the implementation of state-wide safety measures, heighten its health and security protocols, and enhance its marketing and communication strategy to keep visitors, consumers, industry partners and the local community informed throughout the destination’s phased recovery. The strategic approach led to a significant surge in demand, especially from affluent travelers, which has cemented Los Cabos’ position as Mexico’s popular travel destination.

The U.S. is Los Cabos’ top priority market and American travelers represented about 98 percent of all international travelers that visited Los Cabos in 2021, defying national trends by driving a 5.4 percent growth in visitation from the market. The growth in tourist arrivals led to an expansion of the Los Cabos International Airport, which will increase connectivity with the U.S. by 30 percent to accommodate the steady demand of American travelers. Los Cabos has over 500 weekly flights connecting 26 cities in the U.S. with the destination. A projected growth of 1.3 million seats is expected to be added during the first half of 2022.

Los Cabos Tourism Board forecasts bookings to the destination will remain strong during the spring travel season, with a projected increase of 11 percent in anticipated bookings for the month of April, 22 percent in May and 10 percent in June.

The destination welcomed over 325,000 travelers in March 2022, a record visitation representing an 18 percent increase when compared to 2019. There was 70 percent average hotel occupancy in Q1 of 2022, with an average hotel daily rate of $455, the highest in Mexico. The destination saw a 5.4 percent increase of U.S. travelers in 2021 when compared to 2019, surpassing arrivals of international travelers nationwide and leading the recovery of international travel. There was a 31.6 percent projected increase in seats to Los Cabos from the U.S. over the next six months when compared to 2019. Air connectivity is increasing mainly from Los AngelesPhoenixHoustonDallasDenver and New York.

Los Cabos witnessed close to 80 percent growth in arrivals of international travelers via private aviation in 2021 when compared to 2019, representing 26 percent of all air travel activity. Interestingly, 98 percent of all international travelers come from the U.S., Los Cabos’ priority market.

Along with this impressive growth, residents report a change for the better. In a recent report, 58 percent of Los Cabos residents believe that with the tourist growth of the past five years, there is greater awareness in the care of the environment, and 54 percent report more protection of natural resources and regulation on the subject.

This response comes as two new funding measures were announced: The Environmental Sanitation Tax and the Embrace It Contribution. The Environmental Sanitation Tax, led by the municipality of Baja California Sur, calls for approximately $1.69 daily per room, to be collected from visitors by hotels, timeshares and lodging facilities across the destinations. The funding is set to go into effect on June 1, and will support government investment on environmental infrastructure, sustainability practices, and safety and security, among other projects.

Additionally, the reinstatement of the Embrace It Contribution went into effect earlier this year. Initially launched in 2019 under the name Fund for a Sustainable Baja Sur, the program was paused in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and was reintroduced in February 2022 as the Embrace It Contribution. All international travelers visiting the state of Baja California Sur for more than 24 hours are asked to contribute approximately $20 to support key initiatives needed to support statewide infrastructure, social projects and the overall economic progress of the people that live and work in Los Cabos. Contributions can be made via the state’s website or at the kiosks installed at SJD International Airport.

For more information, go to visitloscabos.travel.