Travel News of the Week

In the World News


If you are thinking of traveling abroad, you need to plan ahead if you are applying for a new passport or renewing your passport.


From the US Department of State:


What to Expect:

  • Mail delays are impacting when we receive passport applications for processing. Our processing times begin the day we receive your application, not the day you mail it.

  • Routine service can take up to 18 weeks from the day an application is submitted to the day a new passport is received. The 18-week timeframe includes up to 12 weeks for processing and up to 6 weeks for mailing times on the front and back end.

  • Expedite service (for an additional $60) can take up to 12 weeks from the day an application is submitted to the day a new passport is received. The 12-week timeframe includes up to 6 weeks for processing and up to 6 weeks for mailing times on the front and back end.

Processing times (up to 12 weeks for routine; up to 6 weeks for expedite) do not include mailing times. Mail times vary and delays have been significant. Plan ahead.

We suggest you:

  • Send your application to us via trackable mail, so you can track your application before it enters our system. This can be done whether applying at an acceptance facility or by mail.

  • Pay an extra $17.56 for 1-2 day delivery for the return of your completed passport.

More about Status Updates: It may take up to 6 weeks from the day you submit your application until your status is “In Process.” During these 6 weeks, your application is delivered to a mail facility, your payment is processed, and your application is entered into our system. Even if your passport status update says, “Not Available,” your application and supporting documents are safely on their way to us. Check online for your passport status.


Use Self-Service Tools Online: Our call center is experiencing extremely high call volumes with longer-than-usual wait times. You can get your questions answered immediately by using one of the self-service tools available on our site 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. What you see online is the same information that call center representatives can share with you by phone.


Planning to Travel? Apply Early! Apply at least six months before planned travel. Due to limited availability for urgent travel appointments, we cannot guarantee you can receive in-person service at a passport agency or center. We are prioritizing customers with life-or-death emergencies. We do not charge a fee to make an appointment. Visit our Passport Agency and Center page to learn more.


Renew By Mail: Adults with 10-year passports can renew them by mail instead of appearing in person.


Canada


The government intends to open Canada’s borders for discretionary travel by travelers from any country who have been fully vaccinated with Government of Canada-accepted vaccines at least 14 days prior to entering Canada and who meet specific entry requirements.


On August 9, 2021, at 12:01 a.m. EDT, fully vaccinated citizens and permanent residents of the United States (U.S.), currently residing in the U.S., will be permitted to enter Canada for discretionary (non-essential) travel. Entry to Canada will continue to be prohibited for U.S. travelers who are not fully vaccinated and for all other foreign nationals, unless they already meet an exemption set out in the Orders made under the Quarantine Act.

The US has made the decision to continue the border restrictions to nonessential travel for Canada and Mexico. The borders will remain closed through August 21, 2021.


Adventures by Disney


Several key venues on upcoming Southern California trips are not currently open to visitors. As a result, Adventures by Disney is suspending Disneyland Resort and Southern California Adventures and Escapes through the end of 2021. Any previously scheduled trips have been cancelled.


Guests will be given the choice of a future travel credit to be used for an Adventures by Disney trip for travel through December 31, 2022 or a full refund. Guests have until Tuesday, August 31, 2021 to reschedule their trip. If Adventures by Disney is not contacted about the reservation, the reservation will automatically cancel and a refund will be issued back to the original form of payment.


photo credit: Disney Destinations


Czech Republic


The Czech Republic has released some rules as part of their reopening.


  • The Czech Republic uses a traffic light system to determine the entry status of different countries. Low-risk (green) countries — including the United States and most of Europe — do not have to quarantine, however starting July 9th US citizens traveling from the US or another green country to Czech Republic need a negative RT-PCR test 72 hours old or less or a negative Antigen test 48 hours old or less from the start of your first flight, and to possess the filled-in the Passenger Form.

  • Once on the ground, all visitors (including green countries) will need one of the following to check into a hotel, go to a restaurant, shop, or sightsee indoors:

  • A negative PCR test less than 3 days old

  • A negative antigen test less than 24 hours old

  • Single-dose vaccines: Proof of 14 days past dose within the last 9 months

  • Double-dose vaccines: Proof of 22 days after 1st dose, within the last 90 days

  • Double-dose vaccines: Proof of 22 days after 2nd dose, within the last 9 months

  • Medical proof of recovering from COVID-19 in the last 180 days


  • All travelers should also pack some KN95 or FFP2 masks (called "respirators"). These are required to enter Czech airports, shops, all public transportation (including on platforms and stops), post offices, and taxis or ride shares. Cloth or other face masks are fine for outdoor environments where social distancing is not possible. These mask rules also apply to everyone, including low-risk (green) vaccinated travelers.

  • Lastly, many airlines may have different rules than the Czech government. When booking flights (or trains or any transport) double check whether you'll need a negative test, a specific mask, or any other proof to keep your travels smooth.



As vaccination rates increase, the State of Hawaii plans to update its travel policy accordingly. Travelers entering the state from the U.S. and its Territories who have been fully vaccinated in the United States (including its Territories) may bypass quarantine without a pre-travel test. The vaccination record document must be uploaded to Safe Travels or printed out prior to departure and hard copy in hand when arriving in Hawaii. When the Hawaii population reaches a 70 percent vaccination rate, all restrictions on travel will be lifted. For the latest updates, visit hawaiicovid19.com/travel.


Currently, Hawaii reached a 60 percent vaccination rate and Oahu has entered the City & County of Honolulu’s Tier 5 of its COVID-19 Reopening Strategy. Social gatherings now permit up to 25 people outdoors and 10 people indoors. Also, mask wearing is no longer required while outdoors, but is encouraged if in a large group. The mask mandate is still in effect when indoors. Businesses, operations, residents and visitors must still comply with other requirements outlined in the governor’s emergency order. For more information, visit www.oneoahu.org.


Turks & Caicos


Turks & Caicos has updated their Covid testing requirements. Effective July 28, 2021, test requirements for entry will change. The testing window will also change from 5 days to 3 days, and antigen tests will be accepted.


Acceptable tests will be:

  • Professionally administered Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction Tests (RT-PCR).

  • Nucleic Acid Amplification tests (NAA).

  • RNA or molecular tests.

  • Antigen tests.

Antibody and home-test kits are not accepted for entry into the Turks and Caicos Islands.


Beaches Turks & Caicos, photo credit: Beaches Resorts


Theme Park News


Walt Disney World


It’s been really great this summer to once again gather in the Harambe Theatre at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park for “A Celebration of Festival of the Lion King” and to feel our hearts soar with the sight of fireworks in the skies over Magic Kingdom Park and EPCOT. Walt Disney World is continuing to work on bringing even more entertainment experiences back to Walt Disney World Resort, and today they're thrilled to let you know about four other favorites returning soon.


Starting August 1, they will be lighting up the night at Disney’s Hollywood Studios with the return of “Wonderful World of Animation.” This cinematic nighttime experience leverages projection mapping technology to transform the park’s iconic Chinese Theater on a magical journey through more than 90 years of Disney animation.


On August 15, a tale as old as time will return to Theater of the Stars on Sunset Boulevard with “Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage.” The heartwarming tale of Belle and Beast will once again swirl to life in this lush stage performance, with colorful costumes, gorgeous scenery and the songs Guests know and love.


Guests will soon be able to visit those monsters of comedy in Monstropolis and chat with a certain sea turtle at The Seas with Nemo & Friends. Mike Wazowski will begin welcoming humans to the Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor at Magic Kingdom Park on August 8. And beginning August 21, Guests can get their most pressing questions answered during Turtle Talk with Crush at EPCOT. Duuuude!


Disney recently announced that all-new nighttime spectaculars “Disney Enchantment” and “Harmonious” would be debuting October 1 as part of The World’s Most Magical Celebration. That means this summer is also the last chance to come out and catch the current fireworks shows before they sparkle into Disney history. “EPCOT Forever” will conclude its limited-time run on September 28, and Guests have until September 29 to take in the spectacle of “Happily Ever After” at Magic Kingdom Park.


SeaWorld Orlando & Busch Gardens Tampa Bay


Park reservations are no longer required at SeaWorld Orlando! Now when you're ready for adventure, incredible rides, and amazing animals, you can simply drop by.


Aquatica Orlando and Adventure Island in Tampa has also removed the need to request park reservations in advance of visiting.


Busch Gardens Tampa Bay has revealed another Haunted House debuting during their Howl-O-Scream. Cell Block Zombies will welcome to Purgatory Penitentiary, where afterlife sentences are served with a vengeance. Incarceration is just the beginning, as maniacal guards shuffle fresh meat down dark and lawless paths for processing. Surviving the prison yard leads to maximum security and confinement that is anything but solitary. There are only two options for inmates here: breakout alive or be devoured in detention.

Another haunted house has been announced for SeaWorld Orlando's first Howl-O-Scream Event. See if you can brave Beneath the Ice. "In the icy wilderness above the Arctic Circle, a research facility was lost…buried under snow and cut off from the outside world. Something compelled you to join the rescue party, but doubt is creeping in. Was that laughter, or the wind? That shiver you feel isn’t just from the cold. These chambers aren’t just frozen tombs. They’re pulsing with unspeakable horrors, and you’ll have to stay frosty and alert to survive."


photo credit: SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment


Cruise News


Carnival Cruise Line


Carnival Cruise Line announced that three more ships will resume guest operations in September, and another four in October – bringing the total number of ships to 15 – as the line's successful restart of operations continues to ramp up. Based on the success of its initial resumption of service and the guest response to the onboard experience and health and safety protocols that have been implemented, Carnival will continue to operate all its ships as vaccinated cruises through at least October.


The three ships for September are Carnival Glory from New Orleans, starting September 5, Carnival Pride from Baltimore, starting September 12, and Carnival Dream from Galveston, starting September 19.


Turning to October, the four additional ships to restart will be Carnival Conquest from Miami, effective October 8, Carnival Freedom from Miami, effective October 9, Carnival Elation from Port Canaveral, effective October 11, and Carnival Sensation from Mobile, effective October 21.


Carnival will continue to welcome unvaccinated guests on board, but all unvaccinated guests including children under the age of 12, will be subject to pre-cruise and pre-embarkation testing and testing again prior to debarkation (on cruises longer than four days) along with a $150 per person charge to cover the costs of testing, reporting and health and safety screenings. At this time, Carnival is limiting operation of its supervised youth programs to vaccinated children and youth 12 years and older. Unvaccinated guests departing from Florida (effective July 31) and Texas (effective Aug. 2) will also need to show proof of travel insurance coverage, based on the itineraries being sailed and the requirements of ports and destinations visited. These additional measures will be in place through at least October but may be extended based on guidance from public health and medical advisors and the requirements of destination partners.

Updates on Vaccination Exemptions:

  • For guests seeking vaccination exemption, they are now taking them for sailings through October 31, 2021 on bookings paid in full and should be submitted ASAP!

  • Submissions will close 6 days prior to sail date and additional exemptions will not be accepted for review.

  • Exemptions will not be approved or denied until the sailing is within 2 weeks of departure.

  • Sailings departing from Texas beginning 8/2/21 through at least 10/31/21 will require Travel Insurance. Sailings departing from Florida beginning 7/31/21 through at least 10/31/21 will continue to require Travel Insurance.

Unvaccinated Guests:


For health safety reasons, unvaccinated guests are required to abide by certain requirements and protocols including mask wearing, pre-cruise and embarkation testing, and testing again prior to debarkation (on cruises longer than 4 days). A $150 per person charge covers the costs of testing, reporting, and health and safety screenings. Unvaccinated guests departing from Florida (effective July 31) and Texas (effective Aug 2) also need to show proof of travel insurance coverage, based on the itineraries and the requirements of ports and destinations visited.


These additional measures will be in place through at least October 2021 and will be reviewed at a later time. They recognize that unvaccinated guests will face temporary restrictions during the initial phase of our restart, along with additional costs for testing and insurance, and are optimistic these protocols will continue to evolve over time.

Carnival must continue to take a phased approach as we staff ships, train their crew on new operating protocols, and work with home ports and destinations on issues related to the resumption of service. Regrettably, additional sailings must be cancelled for the month of September and October, and they apologize for the disappointment this causes our guests. Guests can select from our rebooking offer of future cruise credit and on-board credit or full refund and make their selection on line. Please see the list of cancelled sailings below:

  • Carnival Pride® Baltimore September 5, 2021

  • Carnival Dream® Galveston September 5 through and including September 11, 2021

  • Carnival Miracle® Long Beach September 24, 2021

  • Carnival Conquest® Miami September 3 through and including October 4, 2021

  • Carnival Sensation® Mobile September 4 though and including October 16, 2021

  • Carnival Sunshine® Charleston September 1 through and including October 31, 2021

  • Carnival Ecstasy® Jacksonville September 1 through and including October 31, 2021

  • Carnival Liberty® Port Canaveral September 1 through and including October 31, 2021


Carnival Mardi Gras, photo credit: Carnival Cruise Line

Royal Caribbean Cruise Line


The great Alaska adventure is now underway – Royal Caribbean is back and bolder than ever as the first cruise line to sail to the Last Frontier since September 2019. Serenade of the Seas kicked off the highly anticipated comeback of the summer season when it departed on the first of a series of 7-night cruises from Seattle. The sailing marks a celebratory moment for the cruise industry, local workforce, regional suppliers and Alaska’s beloved communities that were significantly impacted by the absence of all cruise tourism, which normally represents more than 60% of the state’s visitors and generates upwards of $3 billion for its economy each year. Ninety-seven percent of the entire onboard community on Serenade is fully vaccinated.


A local favorite, Serenade sets course for classic cities and quaint towns like Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan and Icy Strait Point, Alaska, as well as the jaw-dropping Endicott Arm fjord and Dawes Glacier. The ship will be joined by Ovation of the Seas in Seattle starting August 13, rounding out Royal Caribbean’s great Alaska comeback in 2021.


Once again, families and guests of all ages can venture out to explore the untouched wilds of Alaska by sea after more than a year. The sights will be in full view on board Serenade, thanks to ocean-facing glass elevators and floor-to-ceiling windows that keep the showstopping scenery – and wildlife sightings – in focus. Plus, there is an exciting lineup of signature guest favorites, including the rock climbing wall that touts ocean views from 40 feet, poolside movie nights under the stars and dining venues inspired by a world of flavors, such as Chops Grille, Giovanni’s Table and Izumi. With impressive glaciers, an expansive coastline and mountainous landscape on display between one charming port and the next, Royal Caribbean’s cruises to the Last Frontier also offer guests firsthand experiences with local experts that uncover the region’s carefully preserved traditions and what has influenced the cultures, both past and present.


Serenade is the cruise industry’s first ship to return to Alaska and the second in Royal Caribbean’s world-class fleet to welcome back guests in the U.S. after Freedom of the Seas set sail from Miami for a celebratory Fourth of July weekend. Thirteen Royal Caribbean ships will be sailing around the world by the end of August, including Ovation of the Seas, which is set to sail on 7-night adventures to Skagway, Sitka and Juneau, Alaska and through the famed Inside Passage. The cruise line recently extended Ovation’s Alaska season into October with four additional sailings.


Disney Cruise Line


Disney Cruise Line sent out an email to guests with upcoming sailings to advise of protocols.

All of us at Disney Cruise Line hope you and your family are staying well. Today, Disney Cruise Line announced plans to resume sailing from the US beginning with the August 9, 2021, sailing of the Disney Dream from Port Canaveral.


As we welcome Guests aboard our ships, the health and safety of our Guests, Cast Members and Crew Members is a top priority. We are resuming sailing in a gradual, phased approach that emphasizes multiple layers of health and safety measures, developed in consideration of guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other medical experts.


As you prepare for your sailing, we want to share some important information about COVID-19 testing requirements and helpful information to make the most of your sailing.


COVID-19 Vaccination:

Disney Cruise Line strongly encourages all eligible Guests to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before sailing. Guests who are fully vaccinated may choose to provide proof of vaccination in order to be exempt from the pre-trip and embarkation COVID-19 testing and travel insurance requirements mentioned below.


Pre-Trip COVID-19 Testing:

Guests must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test (paid for at the Guests’ expense) taken between 5 days and 24 hours prior to the sail date. Guests who are fully vaccinated may choose to provide proof of vaccination instead of undergoing COVID19 pre-trip testing.


Embarkation COVID-19 Testing:

Guests are required to undergo a rapid PCR COVID-19 test at the terminal prior to boarding. A $65 test fee will be charged to the folio of all Guests 12 years and older. Guests who are fully vaccinated may choose to provide proof of vaccination instead of undergoing COVID-19 embarkation testing.


Safe Passage by Inspire Diagnostics Website:

In order to sail, every adult Guest must individually create an account with Inspire Diagnostics, a third-party provider, for COVID-19 testing and vaccination verification. Beginning no sooner than 33 days prior to sailing, each adult Guest must log in to the Safe Passage website, by Inspire Diagnostics and create an online account associated with their reservation. Parents and legal guardians must create accounts on behalf of minors.


It is recommended that Guests bring their negative COVID-19 PCR test result or vaccination card showing the final dose was administered at least 14 days before sailing with them for embarkation.


Travel Insurance:

For cruises departing from Florida through December 31, 2021, Guests 12 years or older must provide proof of a valid travel insurance policy that has a minimum of $10,000 per person in medical expense coverage and $30,000 coverage for emergency medical evacuation and no COVID-19 exclusions. The policy must name the Guest as the policy holder or beneficiary and may be purchased from the Guests’ preferred travel insurance provider or through the Disney Cruise Line Vacation Protection Program, which includes the requisite coverage and provides other benefits for travel protection. Guests that purchase insurance from a provider other than Disney Cruise Line will need to provide proof of the insurance policy, showing the name of each of the covered Guest(s) and a description of the coverage in the policy to Inspire prior to receiving clearance to sail. Guests who are fully vaccinated may choose to provide proof of vaccination instead of obtaining travel insurance.


photo credit: Disney Destinations




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