In the World News
Airline passengers traveling to Canada will now have to take a COVID-19 test after landing in Canada and spend up to three days of their 14-day quarantine period in a designated hotel to await their test results. There are 18 government-approved quarantine hotels to choose from, and the stay must be pre-booked prior to arriving in Canada. Unfortunately, there is no option to make reservations online, so travelers must call a dedicated phone line to make arrangements. If someone is unable to reach a person to make a booking, government officials are stationed at the airports to assist with reservations. The Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Dominic LeBlanc, said that it would be up to the discretion of border officers whether to fine people who arrive in Canada with no hotel booking. Passengers who successfully get through on the phone line must book a room for three nights even though they only have to stay at the hotel for as long as it takes to get their test results.
Travelers who test negative can leave immediately and finish the rest of their 14-day quarantine at home. Those who need to take a connecting domestic flight can book it at this point and fly home.
Prince Edward Island, Canada
The US government announced land borders with Canada and Mexico would remain closed to non-essential travel until at least March 21, 2021. President Biden is also working with government officials in Canada and Mexico regarding the public health protocol for the countries.
Several major airlines announced they would begin collecting contact tracing data from international passengers arriving in the United States. Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines stated they would collect the data and share it with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to further protect the traveling public. The carriers will ask passengers to voluntarily provide critical information, including their legal name, two phone numbers, an email address and the address of where the travelers will be staying in the U.S. to help support local public health authorities.
US Virgin Islands
In a recent press release, the United States Virgin Islands Department of Tourism announced that it is on a mission to educate travelers on the fact that the region is an American overseas territory and as such, travel to St. John, St. Thomas, St. Croix or Water Island is within the U.S. domestic jurisdiction.
Though not part of the contiguous United States, travel to the USVI does not require a passport from U.S. citizens arriving from Puerto Rico or the U.S. mainland.
“We, too, are American,” reminded Commissioner Joseph Boschulte as he and his team work around the clock to clarify misunderstanding of recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) travel requirements related to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic for all air passengers arriving in the United States."
“The new requirements do not apply to persons traveling or returning directly from the U.S. Virgin Islands to the U.S. mainland,” he said. However, passengers traveling by air from St. Maarten or the British Virgin Islands, for example, are subject to the CDC’s three-day testing requirement “because they are coming from a foreign country and their first point of entry into the United States is either St. Thomas or St. Croix.”
“But if you are leaving St. Thomas or St. Croix and you are heading to or returning to the U.S. mainland, the U.S. Virgin Islands does not require passengers to test,” said the Commissioner, who explained that the USVI’s testing requirements are for domestic travel to the Territory, for example, from Miami to St. Croix, or from Dallas to St. Thomas.
All travelers five years of age or older must use the Travel Screening Portal at usvitravelportal.com to submit the required COVID-19 test result prior to traveling to the Territory. Travelers are required to provide evidence of a negative a COVID-19 molecular or antigen test result taken within five days of commencement of travel to the Territory or a positive antibody result received within four months of commencement of travel to the Territory.
Therefore, the CDC COVID-19 travel requirements do not apply to citizens traveling directly from USVI to the U.S. mainland. This means that Americans do not need COVID-19 test documentation to return to the U.S. mainland.
St. John, US Virgin Islands
photo credit: Pleasant Holidays
Theme Park News
The Villas at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa is currently scheduled to welcome Disney Vacation Club Members once again beginning May 2, 2021. During this initial phase, only The Villas at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa will be open for DVC Members. The Hotels of Disneyland Resort, including the rest of Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, will remain closed at this time.
It’s time to experience some of the sights, sounds and flavors of the Disneyland Resort with A Touch of Disney, a new, limited-capacity ticketed experience that begins March 18 at Disney California Adventure park. A Touch of Disney offers some of the world-famous food and beverages from around the resort, plus a chance to see Disney characters, shop for the latest Disney merchandise, and pose at unique photo locations.
A selection of iconic food and beverage items from both Disneyland park and Disney California Adventure park will be available for guests to enjoy, from churros to the classic Monte Cristo sandwich usually found in New Orleans Square. Many items will be served snack-sized, so guests can delight in a variety of bites and sips from mid-day through the evening. These guest-favorites will be available at locations around the park, including Smokejumpers Grill, Adorable Snowman Frosted Treats, Award Wieners, Cocina Cucamonga and six seasonal and creatively themed marketplaces.
Select retail locations also will be open, selling the latest apparel, accessories and souvenirs. Pop in and out of the shops along Buena Vista Street or guests can head to Bing Bong’s Sweet Stuff along Pixar Pier for a selection of treats including themed candy apples.
While exploring the park, guests can capture photos at iconic locations and discover new photo-worthy spots – some that are available only for those who attend A Touch of Disney. Guests might catch a wave from Mickey Mouse and his pals doing some unexpected things or see Mater and Lightning McQueen in Cars Land. To help set the stage for A Touch of Disney, a new, specially curated soundtrack of reimagined Disney songs will be broadcast throughout the park, along with updates and reminders about many can’t-miss experiences. Attractions remain closed for now.
Here’s what you need to know:
Dates: Beginning Mar. 18; offered Thursdays – Mondays from noon to 8 p.m.
Pricing: The introductory $75 ticket includes admission, parking for the experience at Mickey & Friends parking structure, unlimited downloads of Disney PhotoPass photos taken during the day of the experience, and a $25 A Touch of Disney dining card valid towards the purchase of food and non-alcoholic beverages (subject to restrictions including not being valid for alcohol).
Tickets: A Touch of Disney tickets will be available only on Disneyland.com beginning March 4, for select days from March 18 through April 5, 2021. Tickets for this experience will then be released for dates on a rolling basis until the experience ends. Tickets must be purchased in advance and online at Disneyland.com for a specific date (subject to availability). Ticket prices are subject to change.
Dining: Beginning March 11th, table reservations for Lamplight Lounge and Carthay Circle Lounge – Alfresco Dining will be made available for A Touch of Disney. Table reservations do not provide admission to A Touch of Disney and dining at those locations requires A Touch of Disney ticket that is valid on the same day as the table reservation. Reservations are recommended, and additional details are coming soon.
Downtown Disney District will remain open seven days a week with unique dining and shopping that includes Black Tap Craft Burgers and Shakes, Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen, Naples Ristorante e Bar, World of Disney and Star Wars Trading Post, which recently opened in a new location. Buena Vista Street will remain open as an extension of the Downtown Disney District through March 14, and will be closed beginning March 15. Beginning March 18, Buena Vista Street will become part of A Touch of Disney.
With the health and safety of everyone in mind, A Touch of Disney will operate with limited capacity and enhanced health and safety measures in place based on guidance from health authorities, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and appropriate government agencies.
Tickets for the experience will not be available at the Resort, are non-refundable, and may not be resold or transferred for commercial use. The number of tickets available are limited and no discounts apply. Each guest may purchase up to eight tickets. Tickets not required for Guests ages 2 and under. Disney PhotoPass is subject to the Disney PhotoPass terms and conditions. Online registration required. Experience elements and information including, but not limited to, offerings, menu items, merchandise, and services, are subject to restrictions, change or cancellation without notice. No refunds given for any such changes or cancellations whether due to inclement weather or otherwise.
Walt Disney World
EPCOT is continuing work in preparation for their new nighttime spectacular, "Harmonious." EPCOT has always been a special place where the world comes together to celebrate human achievement. Nothing has embodied this spirit more over the years than the park’s lineup of original nighttime spectaculars.
Although it is not yet determined when the next spectacular will debut, Walt Disney Imagineering and Disney Live Entertainment teams are hard at work building on that legacy with “Harmonious.” Early in the plans for the transformation of EPCOT, they recognized the power and potential this new show has to tell a story of global connection and celebration. This grand, original spectacular is a tribute to the power of story and song that unite us, leveraging music and visuals from across Disney and artists around the world.
photo credit: Disney destinations
“Harmonious” is a global effort, truly embracing the magic of possibility. In recent weeks, Disney Live Entertainment technical designers across the country have been programming various elements of the show, from media and fountains to lighting and pyrotechnics, working in a completely virtual environment. The music producers at Walt Disney Imagineering have been remotely directing recording sessions with an incredibly diverse array of musical artists, performing in studios around the world.
Once complete, “Harmonious” will be one of the largest nighttime spectaculars Disney has ever produced. Disney Imagineers are busy setting the stage of this innovative toolkit, preparing each of the show’s five floating platforms to take its place on World Showcase Lagoon. Positioned like a compass, these platforms house the primary show equipment for “Harmonious,” and on the recently-placed center platform stands an iconic six-story-tall central ring structure, supporting a high-density water curtain, moving lights, fountains and more.
The Mad Tea Party attraction in Magic Kingdom is closed for a brief refurbishment. It is expected to reopen on March 5th. Also in the Magic Kingdom, the Swiss Family Treehouse will be closing on March 12th through March 25, 2021 for refurbishment
In Disney's Animal Kingdom, It's Tough to Be a Bug will be closed from March 8th through March 11th for a brief refurbishment.
The Rose and Crown Dining Room, in the United Kingdom in EPCOT, has closed for refurbishment. It is expected to reopen in early spring. The Yorkshire County Fish Shop and the Rose and Crown Pub are still open at this time.
There has been an update to the facial covering policy at a Walt Disney World restaurant.
Before you dine at Walt Disney World Resort, please be aware that you’ll need:
Face coverings for each Guest age 2 and up, which must be worn in all public areas and can only be removed while actively eating or drinking. Face coverings must be worn while standing, waiting or sitting in dining locations.
Dining reservations are highly recommended—and are required in some locations.
Previously, guests were allowed to remove their facial covering once they were seated at a table. But this change means that masks must remain in place until actively eating or drinking at the table.
Universal Orlando Resort
Volcano Bay has reopened in the Universal Orlando Resort. Volcano Bay is a water theme park like no other. Here, you’ll discover the wonders of the TapuTapu wearable and a new way to wait with the Virtual Line. During the month of March, Volcano Bay will be open from 10:00am to 5:00pm. Resort guests may enjoy one hour early admission to the park. Due to increased demand, attendance may be limited as part of enhanced safety procedures. Parks may reach capacity more quickly at times throughout the year and entry to the parks may be limited or unavailable for the day of visit at times throughout the year.
Disney Cruise Line
Disney Cruise Line made a recent announcement, “Our team at Disney Cruise Line remains focused on the health and well-being of our Guests and team members. We are carefully preparing for a return to service following the guidelines issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As we continue to refine our protocols and await further technical guidance from the CDC, we are cancelling all sailings departing through May 31, 2021.
Given the likelihood of international borders remaining closed for an extended period of time, we have also made the decision to cancel Disney Magic sailings through Aug. 10, 2021.”
They also sent out emails to guests with Covid impacted sailings.
When your sailing was cancelled due to the pandemic, you were offered the choice of
either a future cruise credit* equal to 125% of your original voyage fare or a full refund.
We are now extending the use of your future cruise credit from sailings commencing
prior to May 31, 2022 to sailings that depart by September 30, 2022.
Your credit has been automatically updated. If you have not done so already, your travel agent may place a reservation on hold by applying it as a payment option when booking a new reservation. Once your modified reservation is paid in full, any remaining future cruise credit will be applied to your shipboard account as a non-refundable onboard credit.
Princess Cruises has responded to the extension of the closure of Canadian waters to passengers vessels, so they have cancelled the following sailings.
· Alaska 7-day Voyage of the Glaciers cruises, sailing between Vancouver, B.C. and Anchorage (Whittier)
· Pacific Coastal cruises that start or end in Vancouver, B.C.
· Canadian Adventure 24-day sailing roundtrip from Southampton, UK
photo credit: Princess Cruise
Carnival Cruise Line
Carnival Cruise sent out an updated announcement, "With no firm date established for when cruise operations in the U.S. can resume, we are now extending our pause through May 31, 2021." This continued suspension does apply to all sailings.
Guests on Alaska sailings from Seattle for June 1 – 30, 2021 are being given two options.
Maintain the reservation and automatically receive a US$100, per stateroom, On Board Credit (OBC) should the cruise operate (addition to any other OBC currently on the booking). If the cruise is eventually cancelled, and the guest has yet to receive their enhanced value offer, they can receive what we have provided guests throughout this extended pause or a full refund. Guests are responsible for making any final payments due. No further action is needed from them.
Cancel any time between now and March 31, 2021, and receive a full refund. Guest who booked with an Future Cruise Credit (FCC) will receive a refund for any amount paid above the FCC. They will retain the FCC (and the accompanying OBC) as long as the next cruise is booked within the given deadline. If the sailing is eventually cancelled and the booking did not already have an FCC/OBC, guests will NOT be eligible for any other rebooking offer made to guests who remained on the sailing.
If you love to travel, are missing Broadway performances, and maybe even enjoy performing yourself, then a cruise with Big Fat Broadway Vacations in 2022 is for you. Seth Rudetsky will be hosting his Big Fat Broadway Vacations with four cruises next year. The Broadway-themed sailings are scheduled in the Western Caribbean, Mediterranean, Norwegian Fjords and Transatlantic, and will include entertainers who will perform for guests but who will also lead master classes and workshops on Broadway performance, choreography, and singing. The daily programming includes interviews and intimate concerts along with a schedule of relative shore excursions. The end of the cruise will feature a final production of guests performing with the Broadway stars.
The cruise lines hosting this event is Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, and Cunard Line, and the cruise dates are January 8, April 19, July 16 and October 7.
Here is the initial line-up for next year. Celebrities are subject to change.
Western Caribbean: Sails Jan. 8, 2022 for seven nights on Celebrity Apex from Fort Lauderdale, porting in Key West, Belize City, Cozumel, and Grand Cayman, with special guests Jason Danieley (The Full Monty, Pretty Woman), Beth Leavel (The Prom!, The Drowsy Chaperone) and possibly more.
Mediterranean “Ode to Italia:” Sails April 19, 2022 for seven nights on Seven Seas Splendor from Barcelona, porting in Monte Carlo, Rome, Sorrento/Capri, Messina, Zadar, and Venice with Celia Rose Gooding (Jagged Little Pill), LaChanze (The Color Purple, Once on This Island), Audra McDonald (Carousel, Ragtime, Lady Day) and Will Swenson (Hair, Les Misérables).
Explore Norway’s Fjords: Sails July 16, 2022 for seven nights on Celebrity Silhouette from Southampton, porting in Kristiansand, Alesund, Molde, and Stavanger with Colin Donnell (Almost Famous, Anything Goes), James Monroe Iglehart (Aladdin, Memphis), and Patti Murin (Frozen, Wicked).
Trans-Atlantic Broadway: Sails Oct. 7, 2022 for seven nights on Queen Mary 2 from New York to Southampton, U.K. with Andréa Burns (In the Heights, On your Feet), Peter Flynn (Our Town), and Victoria Clark (Titanic, Light in the Piazza).