News & Views of the Week

 

Greetings from all of us at GATEWAY CRUISES 'N TOURS:

This week the state of Florida aong with various other entities and parties have decided that enough is enough and have filed an action asking for the CDC to immediately open up cruising to American ports and in particular Florida.

The link below will allow you to see exactly what they are asking for and in their opinions what the problems are.

We do provide this to you as a public service and in our opinion we fell crusing in genreal is very safe and that the cruise lines have done what they can to reasure the traveling public that to return to the open seas is still safe and fun.

Here is the link you can use to read the legal brief filed this past week.

http://myfloridalegal.com/webfiles.nsf/WF/TDGT-BZVLFJ/$file/Fla+v+HHS+and+CDC+complaint.pdf

 

Changes in the industry are abundant and they are also constant.  

Sailings will begin in June but not from American ports.  See below the details.

A source of concern is the Alaska season.  The Candaian government will not lift a no sail order in their ports until the virsu is more under control here in America so the Alska season at this time is temporary on line but stand by for further updates on that as well.

NEWS AND VIEWS have continued during this time and we will update this section as well as the COOL POSSIBILITIES when we have the chance to do so.

Please stay safe an dhealthy and remember you will GETAWAY FROM YOUR EVERYDAY soon.

 Bill and Fred

 

 

These are the cruises open to Americans this summer

By Johanna Jainchill 

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Apr 13, 2021

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T0412CRUISESHIP_SS_HR [Credit: mariakray/Shutterstock.com]

Several cruise lines will begin operations outside the U.S. Photo Credit: mariakray/Shutterstock.com

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Starting this spring, at least eight cruise lines will launch their ships from foreign ports on cruises that will be open to North American passengers. 

Cruising is still banned in U.S. waters, due to the CDC's conditional sailing order. But Beginning in June, about 15 ships will cruise from ports in Europe and the Caribbean.

The following lines are currently scheduled to launch cruises open to either vaccinated adults or to vaccinated passengers entirely.

This list excludes sailings that are only open to residents of the country where the ship is homeported, such as in England, where many cruise lines are offering sailings for U.K. residents; Royal Caribbean's ships in Israel and Singapore; and cruises for Europeans by MSC Cruises, Costa Cruises, Tui Cruises, Aida Cruises and Hapag-Lloyd.

Updated April 13.

Celebrity Cruises

The Celebrity Millennium will launch Caribbean cruises from St. Maarten on June 5.

The Celebrity Apex will sail Mediterranean cruises from Athens, Greece, on June 19.

Vaccines: Required for adults; children under 18 must produce proof of a negative Covid test. 

Celestyal Cruises

Celestyal Cruises will launch two ships on sailings in the Greek Islands, beginning May 29th from Piraeus, Greece.

Vaccine requirements: Currently, cruisers need to either provide proof of vaccination, Covid-19 immunity or a negative PCR test taken 72 hours prior to departure from the U.S. and within 72 hours of cruise embarkation.

Crystal Cruises

The Crystal Symphony will launch 10-day cruises from Antigua on Aug. 5.

The Crystal Serenity will offer Bahamas-only itineraries from Nassau beginning July 3.

Crystal Expedition Cruises' Crystal Endeavor will offer 10-day Iceland circumnavigations starting July 17.

Vaccines: Required for all passengers.

Norwegian Cruise Line

The Norwegian Jade will launch 7-day cruises from Athens beginning July 25.

The Norwegian Joy will offer weeklong cruises from Montego Bay, Jamaica, on Aug. 7.

The Norwegian Gem will sail from Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, starting Aug. 15.

Vaccines: Required for all passengers.

Royal Caribbean International

The Adventure of the Seas will sail 7-day cruises from Nassau, Bahamas beginning June 12.

The Vision of the Seas will launch from Bermuda 7-day cruises beginning June 26.

The Jewel of the Seas will homeport from Limassol, Cyprus on 7-day cruises to the Greek islands beginning July 10.

Vaccines: Required for adults; children under 18 must produce proof of a negative Covid test.

Seabourn

The Seabourn Ovation will operate seven-day cruises in Greece and Cyprus from Athens, beginning July 3. 

Vaccines: required for all passengers. 

Silversea Cruises

The Silver Moon will launch 10-day cruises from Athens beginning June 18.

Vaccines: required for all passengers.

Viking

The Viking Orion will operate eight-day Bermuda sailings from Hamilton in June.

The Viking Sky will homeport in Reykjavik and offer eight-day Iceland cruise in June.

Vaccines: Required for all passengers. 

Windstar Cruises

The Star Breeze will sail from Philipsburg, St. Maarten and the Wind Star from Athens, both on June 19. The Wind Spirit will launch in Tahiti on July 15 and the Wind Surf on Aug. 8 from Barcelona.

Vaccines: required for all passengers.

 

Nevada Will Return To Full Capacity on June 1

DESTINATION & TOURISM  RICH THOMASELLI  APRIL 14, 2021

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Las Vegas Strip viewed from The Cosmopolitan

Las Vegas Strip viewed from The Cosmopolitan. (photo by Patrick Clarke)

Las Vegas, Reno and the rest of Nevada’s hotel casinos can begin to operate at full capacity beginning June 1, Gov. Steve Sisolak announced on Tuesday, the Las Vegas Sun reported.

It has been an announcement long in the making for businesses, especially in Las Vegas. Sin City is one of the leading tourist destinations in the world and has dramatically suffered due to the coronavirus pandemic.

At one point last year, the entire state was shut down for three months until mid-June. But even then capacity limits were in place and hotel casinos were begging to return to full capacity.

Steve Hill, president and CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, said the vaccines played a huge role.

"The wide availability and rapid administration of vaccines will allow our valued events industry to reconvene with confidence and in its entirety," Hill said in a statement. "Las Vegas will continue providing the gold standard for health, wellness and safety precautions for the benefit of its workforce, the community and our visitors.”

Caesars Entertainment also released a statement saying: "We are grateful for Governor Sisolak’s continued, thoughtful leadership and are heartened by his goal to reopen Nevada at 100% capacity by June 1. We strongly encourage all Caesars Entertainment Team Members to get vaccinated and are continuing to provide free and convenient COVD-19 vaccines.”

Sisolak finally relented in the wake of decreasing COVID-19 cases combined with more than three months of successful vaccinations going on.

Nevada is currently at 50% capacity, although some of the resort corridors have featured shoulder-to-shoulder traffic on recent weekends.

"Nevada, we are closer to the end than the beginning," Sisolak said.

Sisolak also said the state would transition the social distancing mandate to individual counties beginning May 1 because “each county in Nevada is unique and has different factors to consider: rural or urban settings, community transmission rates in the area, and vaccine administration, among a few. This is one of the best measures I can take as your governor to increase flexibility and remove roadblocks for local authorities as they take over authority of mitigation measures.”

Sisolak said the introduction of the vaccines “changed the game,” and led to his decision after months of being conservative and erring on the side of caution.

 

Senate bill demands the CDC lift its Conditional Sailing Order by July 4

By Johanna Jainchill 

By Jeri Clausing 

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Apr 13, 2021

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Congress [Credit: Andrea Izzotti/Shutterstock.com]

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Legislation introduced Tuesday in the U.S. Senate would revoke the CDC's current Conditional Sailing Order (CSO) and require the CDC to provide Covid-19 mitigation guidance for cruise lines in order to resume domestic operations.

The Careful Resumption Under Improved Safety Enhancements (Cruise) Act was introduced by Republican Sens. Rick Scott and Marco Rubio of Florida and Dan Sullivan of Alaska.

The legislation demands that the CDC revoke the CSO by July 4 and "any other order or regulation that prohibits the operation of all cruise ships in United States waters." By June 1, it says the CDC must issue recommendations for "how to mitigate the risks of Covid-19 introduction, transmission and spread among passengers and crew onboard cruise ships and ashore to communities."

During the first hearing Tuesday of the newly formed Senate Subcommittee on Tourism, Trade and Export Promotion, travel industry executives called for passage of the bill along with a roadmap for reopening all travel.

"We really believe no sector of the travel industry should be unable to reopen," said Tori Barnes, executive vice president of public affairs and policy for the U.S. Travel Association. She said cruise ships in a normal year bring 13 million travelers to U.S. ports, and that one job is created by every 30 cruise ship passengers. "That's a significant contribution to the U.S. economy. We need there to be clear guidelines so we can reopen [cruising] again this summer."

In Florida alone, Carol Dover, CEO of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, said 115,000 jobs that rely on the cruise industry have been lost, and those losses have trickled down to hotels, restaurants and retail.

"Everything is suffering in those areas of Florida that rely so heavily on cruise," she said.

The bill states that the cruise industry is the only segment of the U.S. economy that is "completely prohibited from operations by the CDC due to Covid-19. For every other sector of the economy, CDC provides recommendations for how to mitigate the spread of Covid-19 without issuing orders to prohibit operations."

"The CDC's refusal to properly address this shutdown is wrong, and it's time to get the cruise lines open safely," said senator Rick Scott in a statement. "Our bill, the Cruise Act, says we're not waiting on the CDC any longer. Cruises can and should resume, and we're going to do everything we can to bring back our cruise industry safely."

Sullivan noted that "unlike the airlines, rail and other modes of transportation -- and all other sectors of the hospitality industry, for that matter -- the cruise lines have been denied clear direction from the CDC on how to resume operations. The foot-dragging, mixed messages and unresponsiveness of CDC leaders is totally unacceptable and ultimately endangering the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of Americans and the hundreds of small businesses across Alaska that rely on the tourism sector."

It is the second time that Rubio and Scott have teamed up on legislation to try to jump-start the cruise industry. Last September, they introduced the Set Sail Safely Act that would have established a Maritime Task Force to address what was needed to allow cruise lines and ports to resume operations.

 

Puerto Vallarta Welcomes New Flights, Hotel Expansions, Return Of Royal Caribbean

by Matt Turner

Apr 8, 2021 10:50am

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Photo courtesy of Puerto Vallarta Tourism Board

After a year of pent-up wanderlust and limited opportunities to travel, Americans can now enjoy multiple new flight routes, expanded accommodation options, and a brand-new cruise itinerary to Puerto Vallarta, a perennially popular destination on Mexico’s Pacific coast. 

“We are delighted to see an uptick in visitors from the United States with our hospitality providers and travel operators reporting significant increases in short-term and future travel bookings,” said Luis Villaseñor, managing director of Puerto Vallarta Tourism Board, in a press statement. “Not only have hotels, restaurants and attractions maintained the highest safety and hygiene protocols, for which Puerto Vallarta was recognized with a “Safe Travels” stamp [from the World Travel and Tourism Council], they have also taken advantage of the previously low demand and occupancy to upgrade facilities and make improvements to on-property social distancing measures and services.” 

Thanks to easy-to-follow entry and exit requirements and increased connectivity, a Puerto Vallarta vacation is now within reach to U.S. travelers. New and resumed air routes include: 

  • American Airlines will double its flights to Puerto Vallarta from PhoenixLos Angeles and Chicago in March
  • Southwest Airlines resumed daily flights from Denver and added daily flights from Santa Ana on March 11
  • Frontier Airlines resumed two weekly flights from Denver and a launched new twice-weekly non-stop route from Las Vegas on March 25
  • Sun Country Airlines is launching twice-weekly non-stop service from Dallas-Fort Worth to Puerto Vallarta on May 28
  • Spirit Airlines will offer daily flights from Los Angeles and three times weekly services from Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays starting July 1
  • United Airlines has added 28 flights into Puerto Vallarta from multiple U.S. cities, including Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Newark and San Francisco, as part of its increased presence in Mexico.

Enhancements to Puerto Vallarta’s resort and boutique hotel offering include Sunset Plaza Hotel, which added 100 guestrooms and suites with chic, modern décor and ocean views in December 2020; the launch of the 72-room South Tower at Hotel Mousai, which includes new dining, spa and outdoor wellness amenities, and the newly launched 50-room Mantamar Tower at the Almar Resort Luxury LGBT Beach Front Experience located in the Romantic Zone. The resort is currently booking guests into 16 of the new tower guestrooms and suites and will unveil Eden Pool & Lounge Garden later in April.

Lastly, after a 10-year hiatus, Royal Caribbean has announced its return to the West Coast with a new homeport at Los Angeles World Cruise Center for its Navigator of the Seas cruise ship. Offering seven-night sailings with a stop in Puerto Vallarta, travelers will soon be able to book the year-round cruise for departures from Summer 2022. Recently, the cruise line gave the ship a $115 million tropical-themed makeover, which comprises three pools, two water slides, pool deck, sports bar, three-level bar and an intimate New England-style raw bar and seafood restaurant.

 

All the Latest Los Cabos Travel Updates

Apr 12, 2021

All the Latest Los Cabos Travel Updates

Los Cabos continues to focus on the health and safety of travelers.
Credit: 2021 Los Cabos Tourism Board

As the number of international visitors to Mexico continues to grow, the Los Cabos Tourism Board has created A Safer Way to Get Away, an initiative that uses the hashtag #LosCabosWithCare to highlight its health-minded efforts.

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Following recommendations from Intertek Cristal’s Protek Destination Assurance program, the tourism board has created guidelines and certifications for partners in the region. In fact, Los Cabos has become the first destination to achieve “Verified” status from Sharecare Health Security Verified with Forbes Travel Guide, considered a gold standard across the travel industry.

Los Cabos Hotel News

Hoteliers are following state guidelines regarding capacity, which at press time was 50% — and every property also follows a variety of hygiene protocols, as dictated by local government and corporate directives. The Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos, for instance, provides a good example of the strategies in place to protect guests and staff. Sanitizing door mats, hand sanitizer, facial masks and venues arranged for safe social distancing are par for the course at the property. Plus, the restaurants and the theater have reduced capacity, with spaced-out seating.

One of the destination’s newest hotels, Vista Encantada Spa Resort & Residences, follows an especially extensive hygiene protocol, with a disinfecting misting cabin at the entrance. Part of the Hacienda Encantada complex, the new hotel features a swanky rooftop pool and a luxurious new spa that serves the entire resort development.

Los Cabos has become the first destination to achieve 'Verified' status from Sharecare Health Security Verified with Forbes Travel Guide, considered a gold standard across the travel industry.

Vista Encantada is one of several hotels that debuted in 2019, closed during the initial months of the pandemic and celebrated a second opening this year. Additional new luxury properties include the 115-room Zadun, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve; the 141-room Four Seasons Resort Los Cabos at Costa Palmas; and the 118-room Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal.

Other hotels, meanwhile, have used the recent downtime to improve their offerings. Hilton Los Cabos Beach & Golf Resort, for example, has refreshed its decor to offer a stylishly redecorated lobby, new beach cabanas and Plunge Pool Suites with terraces that open onto — you guessed it — private plunge pools. Even the fitness center has been revamped, with a location that features both indoor and outdoor exercise areas — a perfect layout for today’s health-conscious and socially distanced travelers.

Several properties have also introduced packages that target the evolving interests of vacationers. Montage Los Cabos has launched Montage Academy, a program that allows children to expand their education with activities such as Spanish lessons, physical education and Baja California history classes. Also focused on productive getaways is Hard Rock Hotel Los Cabos, where the Office With a View program includes sanitized workstations and dedicated office space for adults working remotely, as well as sports training, after-school care and online classrooms.

 

Hilton Los Cabos Beach & Golf Resort has added new swim-up suites.

Hilton Los Cabos Beach & Golf Resort has added new swim-up suites.
Credit: 2021 Mark Chesnut

Updates to Activities and Attractions

Tour programs have also changed with the times in Los Cabos. Ground transportation currently operates at limited capacity, making it easier for travelers to stay safely apart. Cabo Adventures has markers at its main facility in Cabo San Lucas to encourage social distancing, and its yachts are also operating at reduced capacity, with masks required everywhere except in the open-air parts of the vessels, where it is easy to maintain distance.

RELATED: Private Jet Company Set Jet Introduces New Route From Los Angeles to Los Cabos

Cactus Tours, which offers an array of horseback, ATV and camel riding experiences, opened a VIP lounge away from the crowds in the main check-in area. The company is also promoting what it calls “crowd escapers,” which include private tours, helicopter outings and marriage proposal tours, all designed for ultimate privacy.

Some business endeavors, meanwhile, are focused on expanding the destination’s niche markets. Last October, Cabo San Lucas welcomed what is currently the region’s only LGBTQ bar and restaurant, Space Ultra Lounge, a hip venue with an extensive menu and a weekly schedule of events. The new nightspot is among the offerings being promoted by Gay Cabo, a local tour operator and website that focuses on LGBTQ-friendly businesses, activities and vacation packages.

 

USVI rolls out the welcome mat for vaccine tourism

By Gay Nagle Myers 

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Apr 13, 2021

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Gay Nagle Myers

Gay Nagle Myers

U.S. visitors flocking to the U.S. Virgin Islands these days are getting more than just fun in the sun.

Many of them are also getting a shot in the arm.

Joseph Boschulte, commissioner of tourism, confirmed that "although we're not actively promoting or marketing vaccine tourism, nonresident vaccinations appear to be a benefit of the vacation experience for some of our visitors. We're not stopping them or preventing them from getting the vaccine."

All USVI residents 16 and over have been eligible for the jabs since March 1, and by the end of March the territory had administered more than 33,000 Covid-19 vaccines and 10,600 residents had received two shots, according to the New York Times.

"Information had circulated that visitors could get vaccinated here. Appointments are available at our two centers in St. Thomas or St. Croix through the Department of Health's website after a visitor arrives or online before travelers head south," Boschulte said.

"We have enough vaccine supply, and the rule is that you have to use up your allotment before you can be resupplied with more doses."

The USVI does not track the numbers of visitors inoculated but rather places the emphasis on the local government's self-imposed deadline of having 50% of the population of 106,000 residents vaccinated by July 1.

Depending upon which vaccine is administered, there's a wait time of three or four weeks between the first shot and the second.

Visitors who have received the first shot either return home to the U.S. mainland and then fly back for the second jab "or they stay here for three or four weeks," the commissioner said.

"This checks a lot of boxes for us. Our economy benefits from those who stay several weeks, eat in our restaurants, stay at hotels, charter boats for day trips and shop while waiting for the second shot," Boschulte said.

"The airlines get the passengers who return a second time, and our visitor numbers increase. Our airlift right now is ahead of both the prepandemic lift and the pre-2017 hurricane flight operations."

Boschulte attributed the current surge in visitors to the entry regulation that requires travelers to fill out the online Travel Portal to receive certification prior to travel. A negative Covid-19 test result taken within five days of travel also is required.

"Visitors are confident about our health and safety protocols. Right now we're averaging 3,000 arrivals a day into St. Thomas and 800 into St. Croix," he said.

Boschulte is "thankful and grateful" for the uptick in arrivals and feels that the numbers are sustainable.
He described the summer forecast as strong. "The expectation that all kids will be back in the classroom in the fall bodes well for family vacation travel this summer," he said.

 

 

 

 

Which Caribbean islands are open for travel: The latest entry rules and protocols

By Gay Nagle Myers 

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Mar 05, 2021

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This map of the Caribbean shows which islands are open for U.S. tourism. Updated regularly with new information.

This map of the Caribbean shows which islands are open for U.S. tourism. Updated regularly with new information. Credit: Jennifer Martins

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Most Caribbean islands have reopened to international tourism, with protocols in place to protect visitors and residents against Covid-19. Here are the latest developments for travel from the U.S. to each Caribbean country.

Starting Jan. 26, all international passengers flying into the U.S. from the Caribbean will need to provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test received no more than 72 hours prior to boarding the flight to the U.S. Airlines will deny boarding to those passengers who do not produce a test result. Since the rule was announced many hotels in the Caribbean region have stepped up to offer their guests pre-travel testing; see our report.

In addition, the CDC recommends that travelers get tested again three to five days after arrival and stay home for seven days after travel. 

Updated March 5.

•Anguilla: U.S. travelers must apply through the visitor portal, www.ivisitanguilla.com and applications are considered on a case-by-case basis. Applicants must submit a negative Covid-19 test result obtained three to five days prior to arrival as well as proof of travel insurance that covers Covid-19-related treatment. All visitors will be given a PCR test on arrival. A second test will be administered on day 14 of their visit. Visitors must stay in place until a negative result is obtained, and they are then free to explore the island. For visitors staying at a pre-approved property for five days or less, the fee is $300 per individual traveler and $500 for a couple. Families pay $300 for the main applicant and $250 per additional family member. Stays of six days to 90 days are priced at $400 per individual, $600 per couple and, for families, $400 for the main applicant and $250 per additional family member. For stays of three months to 12 months, the fees are $2,000 for individuals and from $3,000 for a family of four. The fee covers two tests per person, surveillance and costs for the additional public health presence, cost of extended immigration time/entry and a digital work permit. Updated Feb. 8.

•Antigua and Barbuda: Open to U.S. travelers. U.S. travelers must submit proof of a negative PCR test taken seven days before boarding and complete the Traveler Accommodation form upon arrival in Antigua. Visitors who complete a successful screening (temperature check) by health officials are not required to quarantine once booked at a certified accommodations (at least 160 hotels and villa properties are certified) and can participate in certified tours/activities, including destination weddings, dining out and certain land and sea activities. More information: www.visitantiguabarbuda.com.  Updated March 5.

• Aruba: Open to U.S. visitors. All travelers are required to fill out an Embarkation/Disembarkation card between 72 and four hours prior to travel. U.S. visitors have the option of taking the PCR test at their own expense upon arrival at the airport in Aruba ($75) or can upload a negative test result from a test taken at within 72 hours at least 12 hours prior to departure. If they opt for a test upon arrival they must quarantine at their hotel until the test results are received. All visitors must purchase and pay for the Aruba Travel Insurance within 72 hours prior to departure; they can use their existing medical insurance to supplement the Aruba policy, but it cannot replace the Aruba Travel Insurance, which is $30 per person for those 15 and older, and $10 for those under 15. More information: visitaruba.comUpdated: Feb. 22.

• Bahamas: Open to U.S. visitors. All travelers must submit a negative PCR test taken five days prior to arrival, submit a Bahamas Health Travel Visa and take a Covid-19 rapid antigen test on day five of their visit. Visitors must also complete a daily health questionnaire during their stay. Beginning Nov. 14, travelers must opt in to the mandatory health insurance plan when applying for the health visa at travel.gov.bs. Once the Covid test taken on Day 5 is returned with a negative result visitors can move beyond their accommodations. Visitors traveling to any of the 16 islands available to visitors must check the status of the island they want to visit, since conditions and instances of Covid can differ. More information: www.bahamas.com/travelupdates

• Barbados: Open to U.S. visitors. All incoming U.S. travelers over the age of 5 years must complete the online Immigration and Customs form 24 hours prior to arrival in Barbados at travel form.gov.bb and submit proof of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival. U.S. travelers also have the option of in-home Covid testing through Stage Zero Life Sciences; the company will send a healthcare professional to draw nasal swabs, ship the samples to a lab and provide results within 48 hours, for $265 per person or $166 per person for a family of four. Visitors will be required to take a rapid antigen test upon arrival, quarantine for five nights at an approved hotel, villa or guesthouse and take a second PCR test during that time. If the test result is negative, travelers are free to move about, but a lockdown period in effect through Feb. 17 includes tighter curfew and closures of certain stores, bars and restaurants. More information: www.visitbarbados.orgUpdated Feb. 2.

• Bermuda: Open to U.S. visitors. Travelers are required to complete the Bermuda Travel Authorization process online within 48 hours of departure. The fee is $75, which includes the cost of all Covid testing in Bermuda. Children nine and younger do not have to be tested at any point, and their Travel Authorization fee is $30. Visitors ages 10 and up must submit proof of a negative Covid test taken no more than five days before departure. Visitors must take a Covid test upon arrival and quarantine in hotel room until results are obtained (usually six to eight hours). Visitors are required to wear a Traveler Wristband for the first 14 days of their stay; the wristbands will be distributed during testing at arrival. Tests also are required on day 4, on day 8 and on day 14 of their trip at pop-up testing centers, with immediate results. More information: www.gotobermuda.com

 Bonaire: Open to U.S. visitors. As there are no direct flights until February, U.S. travelers must exit in Curacao and follow Curacao's entry protocols before connecting to Bonaire. In addition, Bonaire travelers must fill out an online health declaration form no earlier than 72 hours nor later than 48 hours prior to departure and show proof of a PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure. All travelers must have health insurance that covers the costs of medical care while on Bonaire, including care related to Covid-19. More inofmation: tourismbonaire.comUpdated Jan. 26.

 British Virgin Islands: Open to U.S. travelers. Travelers are required to register on the online BVI Gateway portal at bvigateway.bviaa.com at least 48 hours prior to departure to obtain the Traveller Authorization Certificate and submit proof of a negative PCR test taken within three days of departure and medical insurance that includes coverage for Covid-19. At the Welcome Center at the Terrance Lettsome airport, visitors will have a health screening, take a PCR test and download a contact tracing app. Approved transportation will shuttle visitors to certified accommodations, where they will quarantine for four days, take another PCR test and, if negative, be allowed to visit designated locations. Visitors will pay $175 per person for two PCR tests, a contact-tracing bracelet and the Covid monitoring app. If visitors need a test to exit the BVI, the government will charge $70 per test. More information: bvitourism.com.

• Cayman Islands: Not currently open to U.S. visitors. The borders continue to reopen in phases. When U.S. visitors  are allowed to enter they must apply via Travel Cayman Portal at www.exploregov.ky/traveltime to receive pre-travel approval, produce proof of medical insurance that includes Covid-19 coverage, show proof of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure, wear a Stay Safe Cayman monitoring wristband while in quarantine for 14 days and on day 15 be retested. Updated Jan. 15.

• Cuba: Open to U.S. visitors. All arriving passengers must submit a health declaration, produce a Cuba Tourist Card (available from the airlines) and produce a negative PCR test result taken within 72 hours prior to arrival and take another PCR test upon arrival, with results available within 24 hours. The test upon arrival is free. All incoming travelers must have travel insurance that covers Covid-19 during their stay. Visitors must quarantine in accommodations until results arrive and be PCR tested at their own expense on Day 5. American visitors are barred from strictly tourist vacations to the all-inclusive resorts on the north coast but can travel to Cuba under 12 specific categories, the most popular of which is Support for the Cuban People. All regulations are detailed at https://cu.embassy.gov/covid-19-information

• Curacao: Open to U.S. visitors. Visitors must complete a Digital Immigration Card, fill out and upload a Passenger Locator Card within 48 hours of departure (carry a printed copy as proof upon arrival) and upload proof of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure (carry a printed copy, as well). Children six and under are exempt from the test requirement. Updated Jan. 15.

• Dominica: Open to U.S. visitors. Visitors must upload an online health questionnaire at least 24 hours prior to arrival; submit a negative PCR test result taken between 24 and 72 hours before arrival, and receive an email notification from Dominica of clearance to travel. Once on the ground in Dominica, visitors have a temperature check and undergo rapid test screening at no charge, with results available in 15 to 20 minutes. If test result is negative, guests go through immigration and customs and are transferred to a property that has been certified safe by the Environmental Health Department. and quarantine for five days. A PCR test ($40) will be administered on day five; if negative, the traveler is free to move about the island. All entry requirements are at http://domcovid19.dominica.gov.dm. Dominica has no nonstop flights from the U.S.; Visitors who transit in the following islands (Antigua, Barbados, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and St. Lucia) to connect on a regional carrier to Dominica must follow the entry regulations of that island as well as adhere to the entry requirements for Dominica. U.S. visitors who transit in Antigua must quarantine up to seven days in Dominica and wear a color-coded wristband until the visitor has had a PCR test on day five and been medically cleared. Updated Feb. 22.

 Dominican Republic: Open to U.S. visitors. The Dominican Republic eliminated the entry requirement for proof of a negative Covid-19 test result on Sept.15. All travelers are still required to fill out a Traveler's Health Affidavit. The forms can be accessed at https://eticket.migracion.gob.do. Travelers will get a temperature check upon arrival. In place of the test result is a rapid Breathalyzer-style test that will be performed on randomly selected travelers upon arrival. The test takes five minutes and detects if a traveler was exposed or infected within the last four hours. If positive, the traveler quarantines in a designated area within his hotel and is regularly tested until symptoms are gone. The rapid test is part of the government's initiative called The Plan for the Responsible Recovery of Tourism and includes free health and travel insurance coverage through March 31 that covers hospitalization for coronavirus in the DR, telemedicine services, costs for extended hotel stays and airline ticket changes. The insurance is paid for by the DR. More information: godominicanrepublic.com

 Grenada: Open to U.S. visitors. All pre-arrival documents must be entered digitally no later than 48 hours prior to the date of travel. The documents include a negative PCR test result from anyone aged 5 and over taken within 72 hours of travel; proof of a minimum five-day reservation from one of the Pure Safe travel accommodations of more than 60 hotels, inns, apartments and resorts; health declaration forms and waivers and download the Ronatrac mobile app for contact tracing. Visitors must quarantine at their hotel for the first four days of their visit; on day four visitors have the option to get a PCR test and, if negative, can then move about the island. All forms and information are at https://covid19.gov.gd. The list of approved safe accommodations is at puregrenada.com/travel

 Guadeloupe: The borders are not currently open to U.S. visitors.

• Haiti: Open to U.S. visitors. All visitors must produce a negative Covid-19 antigen or PCR test result taken no more than 72 hours prior to boarding a flight to Haiti. Passengers who have previously had Covid may present a positive test together with documentation from their attending physician as evidence of their recovery. For passengers traveling to the U.S., the departure terminal at Toussaint Louverture Airport offers the Covid-19 rapid test that meets CDC criteria for all airline passenger two years and older. Updated March 4.

• Jamaica: Open to U.S. visitors. Beginning March 10, travelers from the U.S. must get a negative Covid-19 PCR or antigen test taken within three days of travel; up until March 10, that requirement is for a test within 10 days. Arriving passengers are required to complete and submit the online Travel Authorization between two and five days prior to their planned arrival in Jamaica. Once travelers are approved, they receive a certificate that must be submitted during the airline check-in process. Once on the island, visitors must remain in the Resilient Corridors on the north and south coasts and must stay at Covid-19 Protocol Compliant Approved accommodations, which are listed on the www.visitjamaica.com website. The Jamaica Cares program, which provides travel protection and emergency services for travelers, is mandatory for every non-Jamaican passport holder and costs $40 per person, payable at the time the Travel Authorization is approved. Updated March 3.

• Martinique: Borders have not reopened to U.S. travelers.

• Monserrat: Borders have not reopened to U.S. travelers.

 Puerto Rico: Open to U.S. visitors. A negative Covid test, taken 72 hours prior to arriving, is required. Travelers are required to fill out a Travel Declaration Form through the Puerto Rico Health Department's online portal at https://travelsafe.pr.gov and obtain an Airport Exit Confirmation number and QR code, which travelers will automatically receive when uploading proof of their negative Covid result to the portal. Without the test result, arriving visitors must quarantine for 14 days at their lodging or the length of the stay, whichever is shorter, or until negative test results are provided. Since Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, a negative Covid test is not required for Americans on the return flight. Updated Jan. 26.

• St. Barts: Closed to most U.S. visitors as per an order from the French government. Updated Feb. 2.

• St. Kitts and Nevis: Open to U.S. travelers. Visitors must complete the entry form at and submit a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival to knatravelform.kn. They must undergo a health screening at the airport on arrival, which includes a temperature check and a health questionnaire, and download the SKN Covid-19 contract tracing app (to be used for the first 14 days of travel). Visitors staying less than seven days must take a PCR test 72 hours before leaving the island ($150). Visitors must stay in one of the islands' approved hotels for the first seven days, where they are free to move about the property, interact with other guests and take part in hotel activities. On Day 7 travelers are required to take a PCR test ($150); if negative, travelers can book select excursions and access select destination sites booked through the hotel's tour desk. On Day 14, travelers must take another PCR test ($150); if negative, they can move freely around St. Kitts and Nevis. More information:  www.stkittstourism.kn/travel-advisory-update and www.nevisisland.com

• St. Lucia: Open to U.S. visitors. Travelers must provide proof of a negative Covid test done within five days of travel and must complete a pre-arrival registration form. They must also indicate which Covid-19-certified hotel they will be staying in. All passengers will be screened at the airport. Symptomatic passengers will be tested and then quarantined at their hotel until the result is received. If positive, they will be in isolation at one of two hospitals. Mask wearing is mandatory in public spaces. More information: www.stlucia.org/covid-19Updated Feb. 8.

 St. Maarten/St. Martin: The Dutch side of the island is open to U.S. visitors; the French side is closed per a mandate from the French government. For visitors: A completed health declaration must be uploaded at stmaartenentry.com before departing; U.S. visitors must submit proof of a negative Covid test result taken within five days before arrival or an FDA-approved rapid test taken within 48 hours of departure. The St. Maarten SXM Protection Plan is mandatory health coverage for visitors. The plan covers hospital costs, ICU costs, doctor consultations, Covid-19 tests and, if necessary, medical evacuation. For those 15 and up, the cost is $30 for visits up to 180 days; it's $10 for those under 15 years of age. Updated Feb. 22. 

 St. Vincent and the Grenadines: Open to U.S. visitors. Travelers from the U.S. must complete a pre-arrival form, arrive with a negative Covid-19 test done no more than seven days prior to arrival, must be retested upon arrival in St. Vincent and quarantine for five days in a Tourism Authority-approved quarantine hotel at their own expense (must arrive with proof of a fully-paid reservation), must be retested on day four and day five of quarantine and continue to quarantine for nine to 16 days or until test result is negative. Forms and a list of approved accommodations for quarantine are found here.

• Turks and Caicos: Open to U.S. visitors. International travelers will be required to obtain certification using TCI Assured, an online portal at www.turksandcaicostourism.com. The portal will require travelers to submit the following information: a negative Covid-19 PCR test result taken within five days of travel; proof of medical/travel insurance that covers medical evacuation, costs related to quarantine, ambulance care or care at a local hospital; and a completed online health screening questionnaire. Once uploaded, the documents will be verified and a TCI Assured certification issued. The TCI Assured travel authorization must be presented at time of check-in.

 U.S. Virgin Islands: Open to U.S. visitors. Every U.S. traveler 5 and older is required to use the USVI travel portal and submit a negative Covid-19 test result received within five days of travel. Upon arrival travelers must submit the original test result and travel certification received from the portal. Travelers unable to produce the required test result are subject to a 14-day self-quarantine in their booked accommodations or until they a receive negative test result. Since the USVI is a U.S. territory, Americans returning from the islands do not have to produce proof of a Covid test as per the new CDC guidelines. More information: www.usviupdate.comUpdated Jan. 19.

 

Conde Nast advises that long flights have now returned.

 

 

 

Celebrity to Return to Mexican Riviera From Los Angeles

Jan 21, 2021

CelebrityMexicanRiviera_Hero

Celebrity Millennium offers new amenities following a recent enhancement.
Credit: 2021 Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Cruises is set to resume sailings in 2021, and the brand is already looking to 2022 for a triumphant return to the Mexican Riviera from Los Angeles. New seven- and eight-night itineraries onboard Celebrity Millennium will be the first from the line after eight years away from the region. A total of 12 sailings are scheduled from late September through mid-December.

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“With Celebrity Millennium sailing the summer 2022 Alaska season, we saw an opportunity to then head south and bring our stunning ship to the L.A. region,” said Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, president and CEO of Celebrity, in a press release. “As the ship has just completed a voyage of transformation, she will provide the perfect surroundings for West Coasters ready for their own exciting transformative getaway in 2022.”

The pair of Mexican Riviera routes will feature a combination of Cabo San Lucas (sometimes overnighting), Ensenada, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta. Scenic tours will showcase everything from beautiful Pacific Pearl beaches to Guadalupe Valley wine tastings.

Following the season in Mexico, Celebrity will sail a special 15-night Panama Canal transit over Christmas and New Year’s Day between Los Angeles and Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The cruise will have seven relaxing sea days and call on Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta, as well as Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala; Puntarenas, Costa Rica; Colon, Panama; and Cartagena, Colombia.

The Celebrity Millennium itself was recently enhanced as part of the multimillion-dollar Celebrity Revolution refurbishment program. Onboard, guests will now find new Exhale bedding and Cashmere Mattresses, as well as The Retreat, which encompasses an exclusive sundeck, a lounge and Luminae restaurant just for suite guests. Also redesigned are the ship’s signature spa and Sunset Bar.

What’s more, as part of its new Always Included approach, Wi-Fi access, drinks and tips are complimentary on Celebrity Cruises.

The Details
Celebrity Cruises
www.celebritycruises.com

 

 

 

 

 

What to Know If Your Passport Expires in the Next Year

The government is catching up with the backlog during the pandemic, but there are still hiccups.

BY KELSEY OGLETREE

September 28, 2020

All Your Passport Renewal Questions

 

Have you checked your U.S. passport lately? Even if you’re not considering international travel any time soon, you may want to take a look at the expiration date. Though travel agents typically recommend giving the government a few months to process a passport renewal, the timeline has, unsurprisingly, become a bit more complicated during the coronavirus pandemic.

Currently there's a major backlog at the U.S. Department of State, meaning travelers who need to renew will have to allow more time than usual, especially since international destinations require your passport to be valid for six months from your return date to the United States. 

We tapped a few experts to answer common questions about U.S. passport renewal right now. Read on for the advice, based on when your passport is set to expire.

How long are passport renewals taking right now?

"Due to the pandemic, expect delays in the renewal process,” says John Spence, USA president for luxury tour operator Scott Dunn

The government updates this page every Thursday with passport statistics. As of September 17, there were 934,000 passports awaiting issuance. Due to the phased reopening of U.S. passport agencies and centers, which began in June, processing time for renewed or new passports may be “substantially longer than usual,” officials say. (It took between six to eight weeks to process passport renewals in 2019, according to State Department officials.)

State Department officials report that they’ve largely worked their way through the backlog created by the COVID-19 shutdown of routine processing, with 97 percent of applications received in April, May, and June completed. Most applications are now being processed and returned to applicants within 10 weeks, they report. 

However, as of September 8, only 11 passport agencies throughout the country were open in phase two—meaning services are still greatly reduced, and therefore wait times increased.

What about expedited service?

Pre-COVID, you could pay $60 to receive your passport renewal faster, within about 10 to 12 days. In March, the government temporarily suspended expedited passport processing for customers applying at acceptance facilities or renewing passports via mail. As of September 28, expedited service has resumed, with a slower turnaround time of 4-6 weeks. 

Do I have to mail my passport in to be renewed?

As of now, yes. Mailing your passport in—with uncertainty over when it may be returned—is daunting. But within seven to 10 business days of mailing it in, you should be able to track your application status through this page, upon entering your last name, date of birth, last four digits of your social security number, and a security code.

It’s smart to always take a photo of your passport before sending it in for renewal, adds Spence. “If your passport happens to get lost in the mail, you at least have a copy to refer to, and this will save you additional time and effort to renew it.”

My passport expires in less than six months. What should I do?

Simply put: Start the renewal process immediately, says Spence. 

If a last-minute emergency trip comes up, there's an in-person option. Passport agencies and centers are only open to assist customers who need a passport in the next 72 hours for a life-or-death emergency—such as a serious illness, injury or death in your immediate family, including a parent, legal guardian, child, spouse, sibling or grandparent. You must make an appointment in advance at a facility near you for emergency service (walk-ins are not allowed).

What if my passport is good for another year?

The experts are divided on this one. Wendy Murphy-Murphy, a travel consultant with global agency Frosch, recommends waiting for the country to enter phase three before attempting to renew your passport, as this step will enable third parties to enter passport offices in person. 

On the other hand, Bahar Schmidt, founder and CEO of high-end travel resale marketplace Eluxit, says you should start the renewal process immediately if your passport expires in 2021. “If anyone has plans to travel internationally [next year], take the time and apply for one now so it is ready when [you are] ready to travel,” she says. “It’s a minimum of three months [now] to get a passport and can take up to six months in some cases.”

Should I ever let my passport expire?

“Never let them expire,” says Murphy-Murphy. Ideally, your passport should be good for a full year upon your return from any trip. Considering the status of your passport should now be the initial step before considering any travel plans, she adds.

If your passport is expired, you are eligible to renew your passport by mail for up to five years after the expiration date. After five years, you’ll be required to re-apply in person. But considering many of us will be in the skies as soon as we are able and feel safe, you might want to get moving on that renewal ASAP.

 

Paris’s Champs-Élysées Is Undergoing Massive Changes

The famed promenade is regularly choked with traffic, but a newly announced project plans to make it more pedestrian-friendly.

BY LINDSEY TRAMUTA

January 22, 2021

 

Champslyses aerial view Paris

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Ask Parisians how regularly they amble along the Champs-Élysées, often called “the most beautiful avenue in the world,” and you’re likely to be met with a shrug and the answer, “rarely, if ever.” The cinematic sheen that has long lifted up this landmark avenue has worn thin over time.

Built in the 17th century for the French royal family, the once-regal promenade stretching from the Place de la Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe now finds its sidewalks cracked and uneven, littered with forsaken Lime scooters. Nearly 64,000 cars choke the eight-lane thoroughfare each day, making the area among the city’s most polluted. And despite playing host to flagships of tony French brands like Louis Vuitton, its retail offerings have long been dominated by mass-market international brands, making it feel more like a street that could exist in LondonTokyo, or New York

“Over the last 20 years, the avenue has become a hub for luxury shops and restaurants and completely ruled by cars,” says Carlos Moreno, a scientific director and professor at the Sorbonne. “There has been no real life there; no social mixing, no permanent residents, and no harmony with the Paris Agreement,” which stipulates a commitment to reducing emissions by 2030. “It’s been an anachronism.” That’s in addition to the broader crises of recent years that have hit the avenue hard, including the gilets jaunes, or Yellow Vests, demonstrations, along with transport strikes and the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Paris's Champslyses Is Getting a Green Makeover

A rendering of what the Champs-Élysées could look like with added pedestrian walkways and sidewalks.

 Courtesy PCA Stream

But a transformation is on the horizon, one that aims to restore the avenue’s allure for Parisians and travelers alike. This month, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo approved a $305 million project to overhaul the stretch by turning it into a green, pedestrian-friendly wonderland. Under the refurbishment plans developed by architect Philippe Chiambaretta and his firm in tandem with the Comité des Champs-Élysées, a neighborhood committee, car traffic will be reduced by half as sidewalks are expanded for pedestrians, and an abundance of trees and greenery will be incorporated to create what the firm calls “planted living rooms” for lounging and relaxing. More space will be devoted to outdoor cafés, children’s playgrounds, and sports activities. Even the historic cobblestones, set during the reign of Louis XIV, may be removed to cut down on noise pollution.

While the entire project should be completed by 2030, the first phase of renovations will begin at the Place de la Concorde and be unveiled in time for the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.

“For Parisians, the Place de la Concorde is basically one big roundabout with giant billboards and is, most importantly, a nuisance to cut across,” says Emmanuel Marin, an avid cyclist and author of a biking blog. “It’s understandable that the city will start there. Given how car-centric it has always been, the pedestrianization will be a radical change.”

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Such “radical change” is a clear continuation of Mayor Hidalgo’s urban renewal program, dubbed “Reinventing Paris,” which began when she took office in 2014. The program has already brought dramatic changes to the city: the riverbank of the Seine, once a busy stretch of urban highway, is now reserved for pedestrians, and squares like the Place de la Bastille have seen extensive renovations to similar effect.

 

Paris's Champslyses Is Getting a Green Makeover

Currently, the Place de la Concorde is difficult for pedestrians and cyclists to navigate; this rendering shows how traffic might be improved.

 Courtesy PCA Stream

The unique challenges presented by the pandemic have accelerated this shift in many cities around the world, including Paris; in the last year, many sought to fast-track urban renewal projects that prioritize cyclists and pedestrians. Such solutions not only prevent crowding on public transportation—they also help to reduce air pollution, which has been found to aggravate COVID-19 symptoms.

The greenification of the city’s most iconic avenue will almost certainly be a marquee achievement in Hildago’s long-term vision. It also aligns with one of her campaign platforms—Moreno’s 15-minute city concept, which proposes that everyday services and necessities should fall within that radius from home, by foot or by bike. (In addition to his role at the Sorbonne, Moreno also serves as a Smart City special Envoy to the Mayor.)

Urban transformations are as much about sustainable solutions as they are making cities better places to live. With these initiatives, Paris could be the next European capital to top the Global Destination Sustainability Index; if the Mayor has her way, it’s only a matter of time.