Travel News of the Week

Happy New Year! We are wishing you a year filled with happiness and good health.


Thank you for bearing with me as I took a hiatus from the news to travel this fall and to enjoy the holidays with my family. I will be restarting with my weekly news blog and podcast to keep you up to date with traveling around the world.


 

Theme Park News


Walt Disney World


The EPCOT International Festival of the Arts is running now through February 21st. The EPCOT International Festival of the Arts will showcase visual, culinary and performing arts from across the globe. This year, the chefs and mixologists have crafted items in 15 Food Studios that aren’t just delicious, but truly works of art.


The Festival will welcome back the incomparable DISNEY ON BROADWAY Concert Series, with three performances each evening headlined by Broadway stars performing favorite songs from more than 25 years of award-winning DISNEY ON BROADWAY stage productions.

photo credit: Disney Destinations


 

The 2022 EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival springs to life March 2 and runs through July 4. That’s 125 days to enjoy fresh cuisine, colorful gardens, playful topiaries and vibrant entertainment.


 

Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind will open summer 2022 at EPCOT as part of the Walt Disney World Resort 50th Anniversary celebration. This thrilling new family-friendly coaster matches the “grandosity” and fun of the blockbuster “Guardians of the Galaxy” films in what will be one of the longest fully enclosed coasters in the world.


 

The Grand Floridian Spa will open its doors this month on January 26th, inviting Guests to break away from the everyday with treatments that invigorate the mind and body. Advance reservations for the full range of services ranging from haircuts and nail treatments to massages and full body exfoliations are available for booking now.


 

Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort will welcome Guests back beginning March 31, 2022.



 

Disneyland Resort


The State of California strongly recommends that all Guests be fully vaccinated or obtain a negative COVID-19 test prior to entering the Disneyland Resort. All Guests (ages 2 and up) must wear face coverings when indoors, including on many attractions and in enclosed transportation vehicles, regardless of vaccination status. Face coverings are optional in outdoor common areas for all Guests.

 

Disneyland After Dark events are returning to the Disneyland Resort in 2022! We’re thrilled to bring back Sweethearts’ Nite, Villains Nite and Star Wars Nite, offering more nights than ever before of each of these awesome limited-time, after-hours events!

For Guests who might need a refresher, Disneyland After Dark events take place after regular park hours and feature unique themes, fun festivities, special nighttime entertainment, access to most attractions with reduced wait times and so much more! Guests will experience special offerings that are not typically available during a regular park visit.


With each separately ticketed Disneyland After Dark event, Guests get four hours of non-stop fun after the parks close to day Guests. Plus, they’ll get even more time to play during the three-hour pre-party mix-in at the same park as the event takes place in, which is included with each ticket!


Additionally, at each of these events, Guests receive unlimited digital downloads of Disney PhotoPass photos taken during the party, plus commemorative keepsakes including a souvenir credential and event guide map, so they’ll have lots of fun ways to remember their Disneyland After Dark experience!

  • Disneyland After Dark: Sweethearts’ Nite February 1, 3, 8, 10 and 14, 2022, at Disneyland Park

  • Disneyland After Dark: Villains Nite March 8 and 10, 2022, at Disney California Adventure Park

  • Disneyland After Dark: Star Wars Nite May 3, 4 and 27, 2022, at Disneyland Park

 

Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival is coming back. Celebrate California’s incredible bounty with vibrant cuisine, entertainment and more—scheduled to return March 4 to April 26, 2022.


During the festival, your whole family will get to experience local, celebrity and Disney chef demos and delight in a smorgasbord of delicious dishes curated by Disney chefs.

Whether you’re a seasoned home gourmet or simply eager to glean pro tips and tricks, the annual Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival serves up heaping helpings of culinary fun for all.


 

Universal Orlando Resort


Face coverings will now be required at all public indoor locations within Universal Orlando Resort for both guests and team members regardless of vaccination status - including restaurants, shops, and indoor hotel public areas. Face coverings are also required at all attractions from the moment guests enter the queue to when they exit the experience.


Here are the latest safety updates for your visit.

  • Facial coverings are required on resort bus transportation between CityWalk, the resorts, and to/from the airport.

  • Guests are expected to bring a face covering with them for their visit

  • They do not require proof of vaccinations

  • They will remain focused on maintaining the highest cleanliness and sanitization standards

 

Universal's Mardi Gras will be February 5 through April 24. Forget about your inhibitions. Forget about who’s watching. It’s time to let loose at Universal’s Mardi Gras. This ain’t no fancy tea party. The beads are back. The parade and concerts are back. And every day and night you can enjoy food from New Orleans and dishes inspired by diverse tastes and flavors from around the world available for purchase. It’s Florida’s Biggest Party, and it’s the loudest, wildest blowout this side of the Bayou.


At Universal’s Mardi Gras you’ll enjoy a glittering parade and some of the biggest names in music live in concert (both select nights only).


Prices, times, dates, entertainment, event and/or experience details are subject to changes and/or cancellation without notice.


 

SeaWorld Orlando


SeaWorld Orlando has announced the much-anticipated opening date for their newest attraction. Named after the icy Arctic summits, Ice Breaker will feature four airtime filled launches, both backwards and forwards, culminating in a reverse launch into the steepest beyond vertical drop in Florida - a 93 feet tall spike with 100 degree angle. The thrills continue as riders fly over a near vertical tophat maneuver into a series of exciting twists, turns, and airtime hills. The brand-new coaster will be located across from Wild Arctic and opens February 18, 2022.


photo credit: SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment


 

SeaWorld Seven Seas Food Festival will run from February 4 to May 8. The event is included with park admission and will happen on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Guests can sip and sample their way around the world with exciting flavors and local craft beers plus live performances. Food and beverage options are at an additional cost.

 

SeaWorld Mardi Gras is February 25 to March 6. Let the good times roll with limited time food, cocktails, entertainment, and live music - Mardi Gras style. Mardi Gras is included with park admission however food and beverage options have an additional cost.


 

In the World News


Antigua and Barbuda


Antigua and Barbuda have updated their travel protocols. All arriving passengers including returning nationals and residents are required to present verifiable documentation of full vaccination using the World Health Organization (WHO) or the Ministry of Health Wellness and the Environment (MOHWE) approved 2-dose COVID 19 vaccine or a single dose vaccine to be permitted entry into Antigua and Barbuda. Children below the age of eighteen (18) years arriving at a port of entry are exempted from this requirement.


Fully vaccinated arriving passengers can present an RT PCR test negative result of four (4) days or fewer from date of testing, OR an approved Rapid Antigen test negative result of four (4) days or fewer from date of testing to be permitted entry into Antigua and Barbuda. This includes transiting passengers. Only tests using nasopharyngeal or oropharyngeal specimens/swabs are accepted. Home tests, self-administered tests and those using saliva samples are not accepted.


Unvaccinated minors between the ages of five and eighteen years old must present a negative RT PCR test/ Rapid Antigen test of four (4) days or fewer from the date of testing. Unvaccinated minors who are not staying at a certified resort/accommodation (Airbnb)) will be required to quarantine at home for a period of fourteen (14) days.


Children below the age of five (5) years entering Antigua and Barbuda, DO NOT REQUIRE a COVID -19 RT-PCR test.


 

Czech Republic


To travel to the Czech Republic, it is recommended fully vaccinated travelers only. Fully vaccinated travelers require proof of vaccination and a completed Passenger Locator Form. Full vaccination (2 shots) plus either booster or negative PCR test (no older than 72 hours) required for entry. No restrictions for children under 12, and people aged 12-18 may enter with 2 vaccine shots (no booster or test required). The 10:00pm curfew on bars and restaurants has been lifted.


 

Guatemala


Guatemala is open to fully vaccinated travelers with proof of vaccination and a negative Covid-19 PCR or Antigen test taken within 72 hours prior to arrival.


 

Hawaii


As of January 3rd, Safe Travels Mandatory Quarantine period will be reduced from 10 days to 5 days.

  • Travelers who arrive on January 3 and don’t have a pre-travel test result or aren’t fully vaccinated, their quarantine period is five days.

  • Day 1 is counted from day of arrival, i.e., arrives on January 3 -> quarantine through January 7; released on January 8.

  • This effects only domestic travel from the U.S. and its Territories. (Direct international travelers fall under Federal CDC guidelines.)

As of January 4th, the completion of the Health Questionnaire prior to departure will no longer be required. Travelers who wish to be exempt from the 5-day mandatory quarantine must submit the same documentation as is currently required. Once their exemption documentation has been accepted, their QR code will turn green. The traveler must still be screened and a green check mark will appear next to “Screened: Yes” after the screening process is completed. If traveler has minors on their Safe Travels trip, those minors must also be exempt in order for the QR code to turn green.


 

Barbados


As of January 7th, visitors to Barbados must present proof of a negative rapid COVID-19 PCR test result obtained from an accredited or recognized laboratory or healthcare provider within one day of arrival, or a negative RT-PCR test result obtained within three days of arrival.


 

Puerto Rico


Puerto Rico has also updated their Covid protocols due to the new variant.

  • Those attending mass events (both indoors and outdoors taking place at theaters, amphitheaters, coliseums, stadiums, and convention centers) will be required to present proof of vaccination with an FDA or WHO-approved vaccine and also a negative COVID-19 test (either antigen or PCR performed by an authorized health provider) taken in the 48 hours prior to the event.

  • All establishments serving food or drinks must require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test (either antigen or PCR performed by an authorized health provider) taken 48 hours prior to arrival.

  • All passengers arriving on domestic flights are required to show a negative COVID-19 test (either antigen or PCR performed by an authorized health provider) result taken within 48 hours before arrival time, regardless of vaccination status. Passengers arriving without a test will have 48 hours to take one upon arrival or be subject to a fine. Unvaccinated travelers must quarantine for 7 days after arriving, regardless of whether they have a negative test result.

  • Until January 31st, 2022, those between 5 and 11 years old will be allowed to attend large indoor events by providing negative COVID-19 test results (either antigen or PCR performed by an authorized health provider) taken no more than 48 hours prior to the event. Starting February 1, 2022, this age range will be subject to the same guidelines as adults, requiring proof of vaccination and negative test results taken within 48 hours prior to the event upon entry. Children under 5 years of age will not be allowed to attend large-scale events, even with negative results, except when permitted by the Department of Health.

  • All restaurants, bars, theaters, stadiums, coliseums, convention centers, casinos, and any establishment that serves prepared food or drinks will limit capacity to 50% for indoor events/operations, and 75% for outdoor events/operations. All events, both indoor and outdoor, will have a maximum capacity of 250 people as long as that number is equal to or lower than their 50% capacity (if indoors) or 75% (if outdoors).


 

Costa Rica


Beginning January 8, 2022, the Costa Rican government will implement a new regulation mandating that all hotel guests must be fully vaccinated. As of January 8, 2022, resorts are pleased to continue to welcome fully vaccinated guests to all properties in Costa Rica. Both international and national guests visiting Costa Rica who are not fully vaccinated as of January 8, 2022, are welcome to enter the country, but will not be allowed at restaurants or on hotel property.


Planet Hollywood Costa Rica


 

Jamaica


Along with an approved Travel Authorization form prior to boarding a flight to Jamaica, ALL travelers ages 12 and up regardless of nationality, are required to show proof of a negative COVID-19 Antigen or molecular (PCR, NAA, RNA) test performed by an accredited lab for which the sample was collected within 3 days of the travel date. Know that we are well-equipped to accommodate on-island testing prior to your return flight, as well.


Fully vaccinated travelers who have a negative PCR test taken within 3 days of departure to Jamaica will not be required to quarantine on arrival.


Travel Authorization applications must be submitted within seven (7) days of the intended travel date.


 

Spain


Starting February 1st, U.S. travelers visiting Spain must be fully vaccinated and must have received the last required dose of their COVID vaccine no less than 14 days and no more than 270 days prior to arrival in Spain. If more than 270 days have passed since the last required dose, travelers must show proof of having received a booster shot at least 14 days prior to arrival.


Spain accepts those vaccines approved by the World Health Organization, namely: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Astra-Zeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Sinovac, and Sinopharm.


All travelers are required to fill out a health control form prior to departure. The form can be found here: https://www.spth.gob.es/.


 

Dominican Republic


Margaritaville Island Reserve Cap Cana is now open. When it comes to tropical vacation destinations, there’s nothing like Cap Cana in the Dominican Republic. Located on a world-famous stretch of shoreline —Juanillo Beach —this five-star, Gourmet Inclusive hideaway offers endless opportunities to maximize every moment. Like beach bonfires paired with delicious cocktails and BBQ, live performances every day and night, and endless ways to use your license to chill. All while giving you prime access to Cap Cana’s many highlights, from yacht sailings at the Cap Cana Marina to tee-off sessions at the award-winning Punta Espada golf course nearby.



photo credit: Karisma Hotels


 

Curaçao

Sandals Royal Curaçao will be opening April 14, 2022. Nestled in the Southern Caribbean, on the coast of a tiny, beautiful island where natural and cultural wonders connect to create a beautiful mélange unseen anywhere else. Here is where the natural romance of our intimate island comes alive. You’ll see it in the line where the desert landscape gently slopes into the azure ocean. Waters that invite you to dive in and explore what’s beneath.

You’ll experience it in the way the expansive pool extends into the endless Spanish Water, encouraging you to imagine forever. In the place where Tafelberg Mountain meets the horizon, inspiring peaks that beckon you to climb to new heights and absorb stunning sunsets. And how the wind catches a sail, propelling adventures yet to come. You’ll taste it in the quintessential flavors of Dutch, Caribbean, Latin and Creole cuisine, simmered low and slow, melding into a stobá stew. And hear it when you learn to say “I love you” in four different languages, with a true sense of warmth only Sandals can teach you. You’ll put it all into the memories you’ll create, with the person you love, here at Sandals Royal Curaçao. We invite you to see, taste, smell, hear, and feel it for yourself.


Photo credit: Sandals, artist rendering


 

Cruise News



The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) COVID-19 guidance will be now optional for many cruise ships. The extended conditional sailing order has expired, and the agency is transitioning to a voluntary program for foreign-flagged cruise ships operating in US waters.


The conditional sail order organized ships by green, yellow, orange, and red color coding as determined by reported Covid-19 cases. Ships that are choosing not to participate in the CDC's guidance will be designated gray.


Cruise industry COVID-19 protocols incorporate testing, vaccination, screening, sanitation, enhanced ventilation, mask-wearing, physical distancing, and other proven public health measures that are facilitating a responsible return to sailing.


Cruise lines are encouraged to continue to follow all CDC public health measures, including reporting, testing, and infection prevention and control.


 

Disney Cruise Line


Disney Cruise Line posted a reminder regarding safety protocols for upcoming sailings. All Guests 12 and over must be fully vaccinated to sail and beginning January 13, this will be expanded to all guests ages 5 and over. Guests who are not vaccine-eligible because of age must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test result taken between 3 days and 24 hours before their sail date. All Guests (regardless of age and vaccination status) are required to take a COVID-19 PCR test at the terminal before boarding. Guests with positive COVID-19 test results—as well as those sharing the same stateroom and their close contacts—will be denied boarding. All Guests are required to complete a health questionnaire prior to arriving at the terminal.


Crew Members are fully vaccinated, and Disney Cruise Line will continue to provide eligible Crew with booster shots. Crew are tested for COVID-19 multiple times per week.


All Guests (ages 2 and up, including those who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19) are required to wear face coverings indoors. Exceptions include when Guests are in their staterooms or actively eating or drinking. Face coverings may be required in ports of call based on local government requirements.


Fully vaccinated Guests who wish to disembark the ship while in a port of call can do so on their own. Guests who are vaccinated and wish to disembark the ship with unvaccinated children, in any port of call other than Disney Castaway Cay, will need to purchase a Disney Cruise Line Port Adventure for their party.


The Cruise Date Flexibility option has been extended. For any sailings scheduled on or before May 31, 2022, Guests can change their sail date up to 15 days prior to departure.

 

Port Everglades will be Disney’s second year-round homeport. The family-favorite cruise line is bringing its magic to Broward County’s cruise port under a 15-year partnership that includes a minimum 10.6 million passenger movements, and three 5-year extension options that could add another 11.25 million passenger movements. The agreement provides for one ship to be homeported in Port Everglades year-round beginning fall 2023, joined by a second, seasonal ship in 2025.


 

National Geographic Expeditions announces new 2023 departure dates for their Signature Land, Private Expedition and River Cruise itineraries, including a reimagined trip, Costa Rica: Wildlife and Conservation. These exciting offerings will take travelers to destinations around the world along with knowledgeable National Geographic Experts or guides who will share their experiences.


National Geographic River Cruises take travelers to grand cities, forgotten villages and the endless countryside all while exploring some of Europe’s most historic waterways aboard world-class ships with AmaWaterways, a premier luxury river cruise line.


Travelers can book early and save $750 off per person on 2023 National Geographic Expeditions River cruises beginning January 10, 2022 through March 10, 2022 for all 2023 departures.

 

Norwegian Cruise Line


Norwegian Cruise Line has updated their cancellation policy. For new and existing bookings made by January 31, 2022, for any voyage with an embarkation date through and including May 31, 2022, guests are free to cancel up to and including January 31, 2022. Anyone choosing to cancel will receive a full refund in the form of a future cruise credit to be used for sailings that embark through December 31, 2022. Reservations canceled outside of final payment will receive a full refund back to the method of payment used to book. If outside final payment and an FCC was used as payment, the original FCC will be added back to the guest’s profile.


Due to ongoing travel restrictions, a select number of sailings across the fleet have been suspended, including:

  • Norwegian Pearl cruises with embarkation dates through and including January 17, 2022

  • Norwegian Dawn cruises with embarkation dates through and including January 18, 2022

  • Norwegian Getaway cruises with embarkation dates through and including January 19, 2022

  • Norwegian Escape cruises with embarkation dates through and including January 22, 2022

  • Norwegian Joy cruises with embarkation dates through and including January 22, 2022

  • Norwegian Sky cruises with embarkation dates through and including February 25, 2022

  • Pride of America cruises with embarkation dates through and including February 26, 2022

  • Norwegian Jade cruises with embarkation dates through and including March 3, 2022

  • Norwegian Star cruises with embarkation dates through and including March 19, 2022

  • Norwegian Sun cruises with embarkation dates through and including April 19, 2022

  • Norwegian Spirit cruises with embarkation dates through and including April 23, 2022


 

Royal Caribbean


As a result of the ongoing COVID-related circumstances around the world, and in abundance of caution, Royal Caribbean International is pausing operations for the following ships:

  • Vision of the Seas’ return to cruising is postponed until March 7, 2022

  • Serenade of the Seas sailings from January 8 – March 5, returning after dry dock on April 26, 2022

  • Jewel of the Seas sailings from January 9 – February 12, returning on February 20, 2022

  • Symphony of the Seas sailings from January 8 – January 22, returning on January 29, 2022


 

Carnival Cruise Line


Carnival Cruise Line resumed guest operations from Charleston, S.C., with Carnival Sunshine. To commemorate the special day, the Carnival Sunshine team greeted their first guests on board with a special welcome conveying their excitement in resuming operations from Charleston. The ship departed on a four-day cruise to Nassau, Bahamas. Carnival Sunshine is sailing year-round from Charleston, offering a variety of cruises to The Bahamas and the Caribbean.


With 19 ships already in guest operations and its remaining three U.S.-based ships scheduled to resume in March, Carnival continues to implement a rigorous set of public health protocols focused on the health, safety and well-being of its guests, crew and the communities it visits. All Carnival voyages are vaccinated cruises, all guests must show proof of a negative COVID test taken within 48 hours of boarding, masks are worn by all guests and crew in virtually all venues of the ship, as well as other enhanced health and safety measures.




 

Thank you for our sponsor, Coasters & Castles Travel, LLC. If you would like information about any destinations, please don't hesitate to contact them at info@travelcnc.com or 844-422-8785. Check out their website at https://www.travelcnc.com. They would love to help you plan your next memorable vacation.








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