Travel News of the Week

Cruise News


Royal Caribbean Cruise Line


Royal Caribbean marked the official start of construction for its first Icon Class ship at a steel-cutting ceremony in Turku, Finland. Set to introduce a new, revolutionary era of cruising, the state-of-the-art ship will be named Icon of the Seas and debut in fall 2023 as the cruise line’s first of three ships to be powered by LNG (liquefied natural gas).


“We made our commitment to making clean power at sea a reality – and soon the norm – when Icon Class was first announced in 2016, and we’re excited to see construction underway on what will truly be a ship unlike any other,” said Michael Bayley, president and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. “Our decades of work in ocean conservation, energy efficiency and continuous improvement will be evident all throughout Icon. We look forward to revealing more of the game-changing features our guests and crew have in store as she begins to take shape.”


Royal Caribbean is already known for its decades of work in making strides on energy efficiency and reduced emissions through such technologies as air lubrication, which sends billions of microscopic bubbles along the hull of a ship to reduce friction, and advanced waste heat recovery systems that turn waste heat into extra energy, up to 3 megawatts, to help power the ship’s operations. Use of such technologies, including LNG, will result in further reduced emissions overall, virtually zero sulfur dioxides and particulates, and a significant reduction in the production of nitrogen oxides.

photo credit: Royal Caribbean Cruise Line


Carnival Cruise Line


Carnival Cruise Line announced plans today to grow its fleet by two additional ships by 2023, taking the delivery position of an Excel-class ship that had previously been assigned to sister line AIDA Cruises that will arrive in late 2023, as well as taking ownership of Costa Magica from another of its European sister lines, with that ship going through a dry dock, renaming and Carnival-branded conversion and joining the fleet by mid-2022.


These two ships are in addition to the new capacity growth represented by Mardi Gras, Carnival’s first Excel-class, liquefied natural gas (LNG)-powered ship which starts sailing from Port Canaveral on July 31 and her sister ship, Carnival Celebration, which will be delivered and sail from Miami starting in late 2022, as part of Carnival’s 50th birthday festivities.


The addition of these four ships will bring the Carnival fleet to 27 by year-end 2023, and these ships bring many new amenities and features for guests, as well as environmental benefits and enhancements as Carnival continues to exceed and expand targets for emissions efficiencies.


“We are excited about these additions to our fleet which reflect the strong position that Carnival has established in the U.S., the pent-up demand we continue to see for cruise vacations, and the overall plans by Carnival Corporation to optimize capacity and growth in key markets,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line. “While our immediate focus is on our restart of guest operations this summer, this is another cause for excitement at Carnival, and we will be announcing more detailed plans about homeports, itineraries and ship names very soon.”


Regent Seven Seas Cruises


Regent Seven Seas Cruises® announced the name of its highly anticipated new ship as Seven Seas Grandeur™. Embodying a 30-year legacy of perfecting luxury travel, the sixth member of the Regent fleet is scheduled for delivery in the fourth quarter of 2023. Jason Montague, president & CEO of Regent Seven Seas Cruises, revealed the name in an exciting video, which also unveiled the ship’s beautifully reimagined design of Compass Rose, the cruise line’s signature restaurant.


“The culmination of a 30-year heritage of perfection, Seven Seas Grandeur is the latest evolution in luxury cruising. Her refined style, matchless elegance and breath-taking beauty will exceed all expectations of our discerning guests,” said Jason Montague, president and chief executive officer, Regent Seven Seas Cruises. “We are immensely proud that by the end of 2023 we will have welcomed a sixth member to the world’s most luxurious fleet. It’s a testament to the expanding demand for luxury cruising that the Regent brand is driving thanks to our perfectly sized ships offering unrivaled space at sea.”


Seven Seas Grandeur will host only 750 guests and have a gross tonnage of 55,254, providing among the highest space ratios and staff to guest ratios in the industry. She is a sister ship to Seven Seas Explorer®, the most luxurious ship ever built and Seven Seas Splendor.


Norwegian Cruise Line


Norwegian has made the decision to further suspend the sailing for five of their ships:

  • Pride of America through November 20, 2021

  • Norwegian Dawn through November 21, 2021

  • Norwegian Joy through November 13, 2021

  • Norwegian Sky through January 21, 2022

  • Norwegian Star through January 2, 2022

Guests who had an active reservation on a suspended cruise will automatically receive a refund of their cruise fare in the original form of payment for the amount paid by August 18th, 2021.


Theme Park News


Walt Disney World


Beginning October 1st, “The World’s Most Magical Celebration” honors the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort. To kick off the celebration, there will be a new nighttime spectacular, “Disney Enchantment,” will help kick off the 50th anniversary festivities when it debuts October 1st at Magic Kingdom Park. Created to launch with “The World’s Most Magical Celebration,” this evening extravaganza will take Guests on a journey filled with adventure, wonder and empowerment. Inspiring everyone to believe in magic, “Disney Enchantment” will feature music, enhanced lighting, stunning fireworks and, for the first time, immersive projection effects that extend from Cinderella Castle down Main Street, U.S.A.

photo credit: Disney Destinations


Joining “Disney Enchantment” on October 1st will be “Harmonious” at EPCOT, one of the largest nighttime spectaculars ever created for a Disney park. This new show will bring the globe together at World Showcase Lagoon in a celebration of Disney music that inspires people worldwide. It’s a grand, powerful tribute to the stories and songs that unite us, embracing new technical magic that incorporates pyrotechnics, choreographed moving fountains, lighting and media in new ways. “Harmonious” will invite Guests to travel the globe through new interpretations of classic Disney songs as you’ve never heard them before, reimagined in more than a dozen languages by a diverse group of 240 artists from around the world.

photo credit: Disney Destinations


There’s also new daytime entertainment stirring at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park. Check out this artist rendering of “Disney KiteTails,” which will come alive several times daily at the Discovery River Amphitheater beginning October 1st. Performers will fly windcatchers and kites of all shapes and sizes, while out on the water elaborate three-dimensional kites – some stretching to 30 feet long – will depict Disney animal friends, including Simba, Zazu, Baloo and King Louie. These colorful creations will dance through the sky to the beat of favorite Disney songs in an uplifting, vibrant experience for the whole family.

photo credit: Disney Destinations


Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse will be the hosts for “The World’s Most Magical Celebration,” and they’ll be decked out in sparkling new EARidescent fashions for the 50th anniversary. Donald Duck and Daisy Duck, Goofy and Pluto, and Chip ‘n’ Dale will be sporting their own custom-made EARidescent looks beginning October 1st. Guests will get a chance to see them when they travel through Magic Kingdom Park several times daily in the new “Mickey’s Celebration Cavalcade.”

These eight friends will also be featured in special golden character sculptures debuting October 1st at Magic Kingdom; in this artist rendering, you can see Mickey and Minnie shining in the sunlight near Cinderella Castle. There will be 50 characters total in this series of sculptures that will be displayed across all four theme parks. They’ll soon reveal more of the “Disney Fab 50” as excitement builds for the big day, as well as the surprising ways Guests will be able to interact with these beautiful sculptures as part of the 50th anniversary celebration.

photo credit: Disney Destinations

Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa lobby and porte cochere refurbishment begins June 28, 2021.


Please pardon the pixie dust as they make some updates to the guest arrival experience at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa in the following phases:

  • Phase 1: on June 28, the connecting hallway to the main lobby will close for refurbishment. Guests will continue to have access to the restrooms and The Artist’s Palette.

  • Phase 2: from July 12 through late September, the porte cochere will be closed. Disney’s Magical Express will continue to pick-up and drop-off Guests here, with a temporary walkway for Guests to reach the front desk and concierge. Guests driving personal vehicles will be directed to curbside check-in at the Disney Vacation Club Preview Center.

  • Phase 3: in early August, the connecting hallway will open and the main lobby will close. Front desk and concierge services will be available in the hallway in addition to curbside check-in at the Disney Vacation Club Preview Center.

Disney’s Old Key West lobby refurbishment begins June 28.


Please pardon the pixie dust as they update the guest check-in experience at Disney’s Old Key West Resort beginning June 28.


During the first phase of refurbishment, Guests will check-in as normal in the main lobby while the den area is closed. In the second phase, the main lobby will close and front desk and concierge will temporarily move to the den. Cast Members will have access to backstage areas throughout the refurbishment.


Once complete, Disney’s Old Key West Resort will feature an enhanced check-in experience offering an open, free-flowing layout with a variety of smaller counters to help Guests of all ages prepare for their Walt Disney World vacation.


SeaWorld Orlando


SeaWorld® is serving up an incredible party for craft beer lovers. SeaWorld’s Craft Beer Festival features more than 100 crafts brews, wines, seltzers, and cocktails. Sample an unbeatable mix of domestic, international and local Florida favorites. Plus savor more than 20 food items expertly paired to match your preferred brew. And to top it all off, festive entertainment will keep the party going all day long. This is the one craft beer celebration you won’t want to miss. The fun is brewing Fridays, Saturdays, & Sundays, plus Labor Day, August 13 – September 12 only at SeaWorld.


Festival is included with park admission. Park reservations are required to visit.


Busch Gardens Tampa Bay


Tampa’s premier Halloween event, Busch Gardens Howl-O-Scream, returns earlier than ever for 28 killer nights with scare zones and haunted houses, including two all new haunted house experiences. On select nights from September 10 through October 31, 2021, from 7:00pm -1:00am on Fridays and Saturdays, and 7:00pm-12:00am on Thursdays and Sundays, guests can embrace their fears as zombies, deranged clowns, werewolves and new surprises stalk their prey throughout eight scare zones, and unpredictable roaming hordes lurk in the darkness. Beyond the haunts, killer entertainment can be found on stage with “Fiends!” returning to the Festival Field and last year’s best-kept-secret “The Rolling Bones” performing electrifying rock covers at Dragon Fire Grill.


Howl-O-Scream is intended for a mature audience. This event contains intense adult content such as violence, gore, and blood. Howl-O-Scream 2021 is a separately-ticketed night event. No costumes are allowed.



In the World News


Spain


Effective immediately, travelers from the U.S. will be able to visit Spain regardless of their vaccination status. This applies to residents in the U.S who don't visit any other country prior to arrival in Spain (other than to connect flights without leaving the airport).


The only requirement is that travelers fill out a health questionnaire prior to departure. The questionnaire can be filled out online or downloaded at https://www.spth.gob.es/.


Germany


As of June 25th, Germany reopened its borders to fully vaccinated travelers from several non-European Union countries. Vaccinated US travelers are included in this update because the US is no longer considered high risk, and they are no longer required to register digitally for entry or quarantine on arrival in Germany.


All air travelers six years and older who are entering the Federal Republic of Germany must either show that they are fully vaccinated or fully recovered or have tested negative prior to departure.


Travelers who are neither fully vaccinated nor fully recovered must continue to present a negative COVID test prior to departure. Both PCR tests and rapid antigen tests are accepted.


Mexico


AMResorts® would like to share an important update on behalf of Dreams® Puerto Aventuras Resort & Spa.

The resort is currently undergoing an extensive renovation project in order to elevate the overall property experience and deliver the Dreams brand Unlimited-Luxury® signature concept that guests have come to know and expect.

In addition to the extensive enhancements previously announced, the decision has been made to construct a new pier and a seawall on property. This will help limit the amount of seaweed on the beach to support the guest experience while vacationing. Construction has begun, and in order to accommodate the planned completion time, the resort will reopen on September 1, 2021.

Guests currently scheduled to arrive between August 5 and August 31 will have their bookings protected at a similar AMResorts® branded property in the region. Further, guests affected will receive a complimentary return stay to Dreams Puerto Aventuras Resort & Spa to experience all enhancements.

Renovations previously announced include enhancements to the lobby, newly revamped guest rooms and the addition of swim-out suites. Other updates include, new décor across all restaurants and bars, expanded and renovated Dreams Spa by Pevonia®, new indoor and outdoor fitness center, improvements to the Explorer’s Club and Core Zone Teen’s Club, updated swimming pools, a new wedding and events space, and an extension and remodeling of the ocean view Playa meeting space.


Dolphin Dreams by Dolphin Discovery at Dreams Puerto Aventuras Resort & Spa

photo credit: AMResorts




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