All travel news.

ROUND-UP:Jan. 18-22, 2021

The Canada-US border will stay closed for at least another month; Royal Caribbean is selling Azamara; and the 737 Max is finally on the move.

NEWS

Current Canada-US border restrictions have been extended at least another month until Feb. 21.

A mandate by new president Joe Biden requires all travellers in the US to mask up on airports, planes, ships, intercity buses, trains, and public transportation, as well as on federal property. Travellers from abroad must also furnish a negative COVID-19 test before departing for the US and quarantine upon arrival. Although airlines, Amtrak and other transport providers already require masks, the order makes it a federal mandate, leaving little recourse for passengers tempted to argue about their rights.

RE-OPENING/RE-START

Effective, Feb. 1, the Grand Lucayan on Grand Bahama will re-open Lighthouse Pointe after 11 months of Coronavirus-induced closure. The all-inclusive features 196 guestrooms, four restaurants, fitness facilities, and spa. Additionally, the Convention Centre and wedding gazebos will be fully functional and ready to host weddings and small groups. Guests also have access to the top-rated 18-hole Reef Course. Port Lucaya Marketplace is a short walk away. Full health and safety protocols are in effect.

DELAYED/CANCELLED

Carnival Cruise Line is notifying guests and agents of additional cruise cancellations, extending its pause in US departures through April 30, 2021, and cancelling Australian operations through May 19, 2021. In addition, Carnival has cancelled the European itineraries for Carnival Legend, which were to begin this May, through Oct. 31, 2021, and moved the start date for Mardi Gras from Port Canaveral, with the first cruise now set for May 29, 2021.

Due to the resurgence of the coronavirus, Disneyland Paris has pushed back its reopening from Feb. 14 to April 2.

AIR

Following the “ungrounding” of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft by Transport Canada, Air Canada will resume flights with the equipment on Feb. 1. WestJet began using the aircraft again on Thursday.

Blaming “devastating declines in travel,” Central Mountain Air (CMA) will suspend service on three regional routes from Feb. 3 – Fort George-Prince George (to May 3 earliest), Kamloops-PG (April 5), and Edmonton-High Level, Alta. (to May 3). Vancouver-Kamloops will start April 5, twice weekly.

IATA has launched its Travel Pass with two UAE airlines – Emirates and Etihad. The digital “passport” is a mobile app designed to help passengers easily and securely manage and verify their travel in line with any government requirements for COVID-19 testing or vaccine information. Emirates expects to roll out the Pass in April for passengers flying from its Dubai hub, while Etihad passengers flying from Abu Dhabi on select routes can also expect the amenity sometime in Q1.

BY THE NUMBERS

United Airlines says it finished one of the worst years in its history by losing US$1.9 billion in the last three months of 2020. United lost $7.1 billion in 2020, an amount exceeded only in 2005, when bankruptcy-related costs pushed the company to a $21-billion loss. Including debt and severance payments, the airline burned through $33 million in cash per day.

DEALS

Luxury hotel barge cruising specialist European Waterways is rewarding travellers who are ready “to venture out again” with up to 20% off on some of its most popular cruises in France and Italy, valid when booked by Feb 22. The specials represent savings of up to US$17,000 on whole barge charters and $1,318 p.p., based on double occupancy.

TOURS

Red Square Moscow

A new rail-only itinerary plus more “Cruise and Rail” itineraries will be available from Uniworld Boutique River Cruises in 2022 as the company continues to expand its offerings. Featured will be a new Trans-Siberian rail-only journey on the Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express from Moscow to Vladivostok, with highlights including the Ural Mountains and Lake Baikal. The journey will be escorted by an Uniworld rep and Uniworld guests will have an exclusive dining car. Departure dates are July 27, Aug. 6, and Aug. 21, 2022.

In a bid to simplify the process for travel agents and their clients to determine the hotels in its portfolio that offer or facilitate COVID testing services for Canadians, Transat has listed details on its web site that include price, appointment scheduling, processing time, etc. Furthermore, a clearly marked logo has been added to each resort’s information PAGE.

HOTELS

Newly renovated guest rooms, luxury pool and Club Lounge are part of a US$30-million renovation at The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grand Lakes, set to completed by March. The 582 guest rooms will feature nature-driven design inspired by the natural beauty of the Florida property’s lushly landscaped 200-hectacre grounds, which includes wildlife-filled water and surrounding habitats.

Adding to Halifax’s hotel scene in 2021 will be Marriott International’s first Autograph Collection hotel in Atlantic Canada and Halifax’s first five-star property, Muir. The 110-room hotel is slated to open as part of Queen’s Marque, a $200-million mixed-use development in Halifax’s historic waterfront area.

RESORTS

“Move the Date, Keep the Rate” Program, + a FREE night

For guests wishing to make adjustments to existing reservations, AMResorts has extended its “Move the Date, Keep the Rate + a free night policy” through April 30, 2021. Guests may change the date of their current booking to a future travel date, up to a year from the original travel date, with no additional fee or cancellation penalty. In addition, when rebooking for a future travel date, AMResorts will extend one additional night complimentary to all vacationers. The policy was to expire Feb. 28.

Canadians will receive complimentary COVID-19 testing through March 31 at all Sandals/Beaches resorts in the Caribbean in the comfort of the resort. Tests will be conducted by approved medical professionals and staff will assist guests in making all arrangements necessary to take the test at least 72 hours before departure. Results will be available within 24 hours.

CRUISE

Royal Caribbean Group has entered into a definitive agreement to sell its Azamara brand to a private equity firm for US$201 million, subject to certain closing conditions. Included is Azamara’s three-ship fleet and associated intellectual property. The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2021.

The MSC Grandiosa returned to sea on Jan. 24 following the end of enforced pause over the holidays. MSC Cruises says that following the latest ministerial decree issued by the Italian government and related updated health measures, the company’s flagship has resumed planned weekly cruises leaving every Sunday from Genoa and calling the other Italian ports of Civitavecchia, Naples, Palermo as well as Valetta in Malta.

ATTRACTIONS & THEME PARKS

Guests who purchase a Walt Disney World ticket or annual pass with Park Hopper benefits can now visit more than one park per day (with some new modifications). And guests buying non-discounted four-night/three-day room and ticket packages at select Disney Resort hotels for arrivals most nights until Sept. 25 will receive an additional two days of theme park tickets.

EVENTS

Jan. 27: For agents interested in learning more about community tourism, G Adventures is hosting the latest in its series of Retravel Live events on Jan. at noon EST. During the “Retravel Live: The Power of Community Tourism” virtual event, G Adventures’ founder Bruce Poon Tip will host responsible travel experts Audrey Scott (co-founder, Uncornered Market), Judy Kepher Gona (director, Sustainable Travel & Tourism Agenda), and Jamie Sweeting (president, Planeterra) for an online conversation about the positive impact of community tourism, and the power travel plans have to help change the world. Register HERE.

Travel Professionals International (TPI) has teamed up with Sandra McLemore from Travel Marketing & Media to launch a 12-month program designed to complement TPI’s business offerings. The marketing training workshops for TPI agents will take place monthly, streamed through the TPI Re•Ignite 2021 Facebook group.

PEOPLE/APPOINTMENTS

Sandals Resorts International has announced Adam Stewart’s appointment as the resort company’s executive chairman. Stewart becomes just the second chairman in the company’s 40-year history following his late father, the Hon. Gordon “Butch” Stewart. Adam assumes the role after working alongside his father for more than two decades, serving as CEO and most recently deputy Chairman.

Pierfrancesco Vago, Executive Chairman of MSC Cruises, has been appointed to a two-year term as Global Chairman of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).

DESTINATIONS

Belfast’s planned reefLIVE aquarium

A significant new addition to Belfast’s Titanic Quarter, the reefLIVE aquarium, will be located on the Queen’s Road opposite the Titanic Hotel, a short distance from Titanic Belfast. Featuring an immersive, fully engaged visitor experience with live displays and cutting-edge narrative technology, the aquarium will be the largest ocean visitor attraction on the island of Ireland upon opening in 2022.

The Ministry of Tourism and the Grenada Tourism Authority (GTA) have launched a new hotline which will specifically deal with travel-related inquiries. The hotline is designed to assist travel agents, tour operators, visitors or returning nationals with general inquiries about entry protocols, guidance on where to stay or where to go during a visit to Grenada, Carriacou & Petit Martinique. The international number is 1-213-283-0754 (8 a.m.-10 p.m. Atlantic Standard Time), or 440-0670 on- island (8 a.m.-4 p.m.)

Send info to baginski@travelindustrytoday.com

First published at Travel Industry Today

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