Travel News of the Week

Theme Park News


Walt Disney World


Walt Disney World has opened up packages for 2022. Dates are open up to 500 days ahead so the available dates will increase every day on a rolling release schedule. Disney Vacation Club resorts are available for booking on a rolling 11-month schedule. There are some resort hotels that are not, as of this time, scheduled for reopening yet. Disney Dining packages remain unavailable at this time. Normal terms and conditions for final payments, cancelations and change fees will apply for all 2022 vacation bookings.

Booking a 2022 package does not guarantee theme park availability, and you will still need to make park reservations for arrivals starting in 2022. You should book your park reservations immediately after linking your 2022 vacation package in the My Disney Experience app.


Disney’s Magical Express service for airport transportation will no longer be available for arrivals beginning Jan. 1, 2022. Complimentary transportation options – such as buses, monorails and Disney Skyliner – will continue to be available within Walt Disney World Resort for Disney Resort hotel guests, including to and from all four theme parks.


Beginning October 1, 2021, Walt Disney World Resort will throw “The World’s Most Magical Celebration” in honor of their 50th anniversary, bringing new experiences to the four theme parks and beyond. This milestone is such a big deal, they’ve even coined a new word – “EARidescence” – to describe what guests will see when they visit. Disney teams are creating all sorts of new decorations that will shimmer and sparkle all day and into the night.


As part of the celebration, Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom Park will add to its royal makeover from last year. The castle will feature golden bunting and a 50th anniversary crest as part of its festive new look.


The castle will add even more magic at night, joined by icons at each of the other three theme parks as they transform into Beacons of Magic, including pixie dust on Cinderella Castle, magical fireflies inhabiting the Tree of Life at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, and special new touches coming to life on the Hollywood Tower Hotel at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.


And at EPCOT, new lights will shine across the reflective panels of Spaceship Earth, connecting to one another and resembling stars in a nighttime sky. This permanent new lighting will continue beyond “The World’s Most Magical Celebration” as a defining feature of the park.



Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse will have sparkling new looks for the celebration. As hosts of the event, they’ll be dressed for the occasion in custom-made fashions of EARidescent fabric with gold highlights.


The magical celebration last for 18 months as of October 1st so guests will have time to visit and celebrate with the parks.


Universal Orlando Resort


The Universal Orlando app had a recent update which enables guests to use "Universal Pay." This allows for guests to make contactless payments in stores in the parks. In order to use the new Universal Pay, guests must enter a payment method in the app's wallet. If a guest chooses to use Universal Pay, a QR code will be created that a Universal Team Member can scan, and the purchase amount will be charged to the linked card in the wallet. Guests are able to set up a daily speeding limit to control their budget.

There were several days in the past week that Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure reached attendance capacity. When the parks reach capacity, no additional guests are allowed to enter the parks until attendance changes. There is a capacity hotline number that guests may call to check on attendance status, which is 407-817-8317. In previous occurrences, guests have been able to enter the parks later in the day so it is recommended to check back.


In the World News


Recently there were regulations proposed that would require anyone taking a domestic flight to have to have a negative COVID test prior to flight. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated that it will not recommend that fliers have a required negative COVID test before flying domestically. The CDC is still recommending that anyone that is traveling should get a viral test 1-3 days prior to a trip and 3-5 days after a trip as well as to stay home and self-quarantine for 7 days regardless if the test results are negative.

Alaska


Alaska will no longer require a negative COVID-19 test to visit the state. Testing is still available at Alaskan airports if people would like to be tested. The change came into affect on February 14th when the emergency declaration expired.


Photo credit: Juno Kim | Visit Anchorage


Greece


Greek Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis stated that Greece this year will be open to all visitors holding either a negative molecular Covid-19 test or a vaccination certificate when entering the country. “The prerequisite for someone to travel to our country (and stay) will be the negative molecular test or the certificate of vaccination,” Theoharis said, adding that if someone does not want to show their vaccination certificate when entering Greece, they can present a negative coronavirus test.


Greece has not set a date yet as of when vaccination certificates will be accepted for entry so travel restrictions from the U.S. still apply. The current restrictions expire Monday, February 22 at midnight. The temporary ban on entry into Greece from outside the EU has been updated. Citizens from the following countries are excluded from the ban: United Kingdom, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Rwanda, South Korea, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, Russian Federation and Israel.

AMResorts


As planning around AMResorts® branded properties re-openings continues, some adjustments have been made in association with destination government guidelines and accessibility. Due to continued surrounding border restrictions, Secrets® St. Martin Resort & Spa and Dreams® Playa Bonita Panama will remain closed. The new, planned reopening dates are April 1, 2021 for Secrets® St. Martin Resort & Spa and May 15, 2021 for Dreams® Playa Bonita Panama.

Las Vegas


MGM Resorts International has announced it will resume 24/7 hotel operations at Mandalay Bay, Park MGM and the Mirage Resorts effective March 3, 2021. In accordance with state guidelines, MGM Resorts also recently announced several of its live entertainment shows will return to the stage in February and early March. Days and hours of operation at all venues will vary. The MGM Resorts' team worked with medical experts to develop a plan to allow guests back to their resorts. Their “Seven-Point Safety Plan,” puts health and safety of their guests as a top priority. It is a comprehensive, multi-layered approach with guidance from public health experts.

Cruise News


Disney Cruise Line


In 2022, two epic adventures at sea return to Disney Cruise Line with limited engagements of Marvel Day at Sea (Disney Magic) and Star Wars Day at Sea (Disney Fantasy).


Marvel Day at Sea - Disney Magic

Guests can combine the excitement of a Disney cruise to the Caribbean and Bahamas with the thrills of renowned Marvel comics, films and animated series for an action-packed, day-long celebration of the Marvel Universe on the following special 5-night Disney Magic sailings out of Miami, Florida:


Sail Date Itinerary

January 8, 2022 5-Night Western Caribbean Cruise

January 17, 2022 5-Night Bahamian Cruise

January 22, 2022 5-Night Western Caribbean Cruise

January 31, 2022 5-Night Bahamian Cruise

February 5, 2022 5-Night Western Caribbean Cruise

February 14, 2022 5-Night Western Caribbean Cruise

February 19, 2022 5-Night Bahamian Cruise

February 28, 2022 5-Night Bahamian Cruise

March 5, 2022 5-Night Western Caribbean Cruise

Star Wars Day at Sea – Disney Fantasy

Guests can celebrate the legendary adventures and iconic characters from the Star Wars saga during a day at sea on the following 7-night Disney Fantasy sailings from Port Canaveral, Florida, to the Caribbean and a galaxy far, far away:


Sail Date Itinerary

January 8, 2022 7-Night Eastern Caribbean Cruise

January 15, 2022 7-Night Eastern Caribbean Cruise

January 22, 2022 7-Night Eastern Caribbean Cruise

January 29, 2022 7-Night Western Caribbean Cruise

February 5, 2022 7-Night Eastern Caribbean Cruise

February 12, 2022 7-Night Western Caribbean Cruise

February 19, 2022 7-Night Eastern Caribbean Cruise

February 26, 2022 7-Night Eastern Caribbean Cruise

March 5, 2022 7-Night Eastern Caribbean Cruise


As we mentioned, Disney’s Magical Express will no longer be available as a transportation option between the Walt Disney World Resort and the Orlando International Airport (MCO) beginning in January 2022. As a result, private transfers will be the only option available to purchase through Disney Cruise Line for guests who have added pre and/or post nights at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel to their cruise reservation. If guests are not interested in private transfers, information on alternative transportation options between the Walt Disney World Resort hotels and the Orlando International Airport can be found at https://orlandoairports.net/parking-transportation/ or their travel advisor can make a recommendation. Guests may continue to purchase ground transfers through Disney Cruise Line for travel between the Orlando International Airport and Port Canaveral (Airport to Port, Port to Airport) and/or between a Walt Disney World Resort hotel and Port Canaveral (Resort to Port, Port to Resort). As are reminder, Disney’s Magical Express service will continue to operate for arrivals through 2021, including for guests visiting as part of Walt Disney World Land and Sea Packages.


Norwegian Cruise Line


As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact communities around the globe, Norwegian cruise Line has made the decision to further suspend all voyages through and including May 31, 2021. All guests with current and active bookings affected by this suspension will receive a 100% refund of the fare paid, back to the original form of payment.


Norwegian Encore

AmaWaterways


AmaWaterways has suspended all river cruise sailings through April 30, 2021. They will review the status of each river cruise approximately 45 days before departure to ensure that the online pre-cruise health questionnaire reflects the most up-to-date information on travel regulations and to reconfirm arrangements.


They will automatically issue a Future Cruise Credit for all purchased services through AmaWaterways (i.e. cruise, hotel/land, air, etc.), redeemable on any AmaWaterways river cruise in Europe, Asia, or Africa (including Egypt) embarking through December 31, 2023. For added flexibility, they have also made these Future Cruise Credits transferrable at any time prior to December 31, 2023 with the original owner’s written authorization.

AmaWaterways has announced their 2023 sailings on the Dutch & Belgian Waterways. Garden and flower enthusiasts will enjoy seeing the region in full bloom on their 8-day/7-night Tulip Time while history buffs may prefer experiencing it in a different season on their brand new 8-day/7-night Best of Holland & Belgium. With a variety of included excursions such as guided bike tours, tastings of local delicacies and castle visits, these sought-after journeys fill quickly. It is recommended to reserve your 2023 river cruise, and any promotions are with Past Guest Benefits!



Viking Cruises


Viking Ocean and River Cruises has announced that is is suspending sailings through May 31, 2021 due to travel restrictions around the world.



Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines


Royal Caribbean debuted a new lineup of 2022-2023 adventures on three ships—Adventure of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas and Voyager of the Seas—cruising from New York and Boston. Guests can head north or south for four to 11 nights. They can explore southern Caribbean, Bermuda and the Bahamas; spend the day at Royal Caribbean’s private island destination, Perfect Day at CocoCay; or see fall foliage in New England and Canada. The new sailings from the Northeast departing from May 2022 to April 2023 are now open for sale.




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