As we celebrate new beginnings, let’s take a look back at some of the events that shaped the past 12 months. Normally a new year rides on a crest of resolutions based of course on a review of past performance. An analysis of past performance changes future prediction from any traditional consideration.
The first day of Spring entered on the fourth winter storm in one month. Careful reflection shows that provision should be made for what could be considered new year revolutions in climate change as well as well as other factors that make a vacation enjoyable. Actually, goals have to be set in very different molds both within and outside travel.
Minerva Travel looks forward to a bright 2018 full of fun, love, peace by providing pleasant memories showing the most profitable opportunities on the horizon. As we consider ways to improve our performance and develop the skills required to navigate the revolutionary environment, we have to be fully prepared based on what’s trending. This Newsletter is a reminder and an update of some tips that could assist in the preparation for upcoming trips.
There is no doubt that in the past year, travelers have been confronted with extraordinary challenges. Travel is not limited to any time of the year but traditional climate patterns have seen unprecedented divergences. In addition, technology at various airports have failed leading to major power outages in airports in different parts of the world. Recently, a water main leak at JFK prevented airlines from unloading baggage due to a waterlogged carrousel causing massive luggage pile up. . Cruise lines were caught in flash storms. A general increase in travel has in some cases led to such heavy road traffic, travelers abandoned their road transport to the airport and set out on foot.
Travel insurance is a valuable way to limit risks associated with travel but the complexity of travel insurance plans and its inability to prepare for all worst-case scenarios prevents travelers from having ,at least, some of the benefits. Insurance companies, aware of claims for previously non specific conditions are currently working on enhancing current plans but this needs approval by various governing bodies. Should you decide to apply for coverage, this should normally be done within 14 days of making a deposit on a vacation.
Accessible Travel Trends
While the United States has laws requiring private and public entities make places accessible to anyone with special needs; such laws are not mandatory in many countries. Some hotel/resort chains do have a number of rooms with limited or full modification as do all cruise lines.
Fortunately there is an attitudinal shift with Baby Boomers who previously tried to hide disabilities and would not even request wheelchairs, for example. Today’s active Boomers “say ‘let’s go,’ Also the growing number of families travelling with members on the autism spectrum requiring travel support has now emboldened them to take advantage of the different services travel suppliers are offering. Minerva Travel s now a Certified Autism Travel Professional.
This revolution has led to more trained travel agents in eligibility requirements helping navigate the options of there clients
Calling for help without making a call
Sometimes in an emergency, a voice call to 911 just won't work: such as for the hearing impaired, in certain domestic violence cases or if caught in an untenable situation when it is not safe to speak. In a
big step toward moving the nation's emergency dispatch system out of voice-only technology that dates to the 1960s, four major wireless phone companies are providing this service to local governments that want it and have the capability to use it- Sprint, Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile and AT&T. According to the Federal Communications Commission, it is currently available in 16 states. Check with your service provider for text-to-911 to avoid any bounce back messages in time of need in and out of your State of residence.
ScripTalk: Talking Prescription Labels
A number of pharmacies in the U.S. and Canada are now offering accessible medication labels, specifically for their blind and visually-impaired patients, including Talking Labels, Large Print, and Braille.
Located in Normal, Illinois, EnVision America has successfully introduced several voice-enabled products like the talking bar code reader, and Scrip Talk, the talking pharmaceutical reader. Originally founded in 1996, the cornerstone of the company was based upon one single premise: To provide customers with greater independence through technology.
ScripTalk Station uses RFID and text-to-speech technology. A thin antennae and microchip embedded within the label which is programmed with all the printed information such as drug name, dosage, instructions, refill information, warnings and more. Because the data is stored in the label itself, it can be
used on any size bottle, box, vial, tube or other prescription container. For a complete list of already established pharmacies check: www.envisionamerica.com/ourpharmacies
The Trump Administration has not made it easy to keep up to date with travel requirements from and to various countries. Unfortunately, it doesn't appear that the administration has fully seized the opportunity to differentiate between the potential security risks targeted by its various executive orders and the legitimate business and leisure travel by visitors from abroad. Confident that administration officials have adequately prioritized national security, we hope final adjustment will address economic objectives as well. What remains to be seen is whether the continually revised orders are doing enough to mollify prospective travelers from Canada, Europe, or elsewhere around the world who may have been put off by the initial travel bans.
Meanwhile, the State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs is considering making online passport renewals possible, starting with a pilot program possible mid-2018. Going digital could reduce problems with applications such as low-quality photos, and provide applicants with status updates.You will not be asked to provide credit card information on this site as the Department of State does not currently have the option to pay online for passport services.
Passports will cost $10 more as of April 02, 2018. Adult passport books will ow cost $145 up from $135 and child passports (aged 16 years old and younger) will cost $115, up from $105. Passport cards from travel to Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the Caribbean now cost $65 for adults and $50 for children.
The U.S. Department of Statehas changed the way it will communicate with U.S. citizens abroad with the launch of Travel Advisories and Alerts to replace the previously used Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, Emergency Messages and Security Messages. Effective January, 2018, the recently redesigned Department of State website, travel.state.gov, now features Travel Advisories for each individual country, which provides levels of advice to visitors ranging from level one to four. Levels of advice may also vary for specific locations or areas within the country. To receive security and other important updates while traveling, U.S. citizens can enroll their travel plans through the Smart Traveler Enrollment Programand follow the social media channels of the Department of State.
Travelling within the US
If your driver’s license comes from a state with a Real ID extension, you currently have only until October 11, 2018, to use it. After that, you’ll need to use a Real ID- compliant driver’s license to fly domestically, as their extension requests are still under review. Passengers from compliant states can use their IDs [state issued driver’s licenses] until Oct 2020, regardless of whether or not their IDs are the new ‘real IDs’. The states with extensions can only use their currently issued IDs until October 11, 2018.” Real ID compliance for Louisiana, Michigan, New York and the territories of American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands is under review. if you are a resident of one of the states or territories under Real ID review and need to fly within the US, you might wish to consider applying for a passport.
Some countries require entry visas for travelers from the US. Hereunder are updates from some countries in efforts to simplify the process to encourage tourism in their countries.
Abu Dhabiintroduced a visa on arrival tourist visa within 30 minutes At the Abu Dhabi International Airport a new visa counter has been installed at the Terminal 3 transit area to facilitate applications for both transit and arriving passengers to the UAE capital. The authorities have announced that tourist visas can be available within 15 to 30 minutes from this counter. This new entry visa system strengthens the country’s efforts to maintain its regional leadership and position on the global map in the fields of tourism, economy and education.
Brazilhas launched an electronic visa program for American and Canadian passport holders offering a dramatically less expensive and more efficient way of obtaining a travel visa to the country. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Brazil launched the "Electronic Visitor Visa Program - E-VISA” for citizens of Australia, Canada, the U.S. and Japan available from January 2018 at a cost of US $40 (non-refundable) It is a quarter of the fee charged for US passport holders applying for the traditional visa through a consulate and will be valid for up to two years for a maximum of 90 days per year.
Travelers will need to present a printed or digital image of the Brazilian e-visa to their airline in order to board a flight to Brazil. The Ministry said that there is a chance, in future, that e-visa holders will be able to utilize the e-Gates at Brazilian airports, currently only available to Brazilian citizens.
Canada. Most people need a visa or an Electronic Travel Authorization to travel to Canada. Some travelers may only need a valid passport. By answering a few questions on their website you can find out what you need to travel to, or transit through, Canada.
Ethiopia: The e- visa is processed and issued online on a single Web page where applicants apply, pay and secure their entry visa. Once approved, applicants will receive an email authorizing them to travel to Ethiopia and passports will be stamped with the visa upon arrival in Addis Ababa.
East Africa- an East African Tourist E- Visa can be obtained online from the Embassy of the first country you intend to visit and is valid for Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda, Although the E-Visa system is operational you can still get a Visa on arrival at the airports. However, this service is scheduled to be discontinued in future, so please check well in advance of travel.
South Africa-all children and young adults under 18 years old travelling to and from South Africa are required to carry an Unabridged Birth Certificate in addition to their passports. This requirement is introduced regardless of nationality of the child and regardless of whether the child is traveling with parents, with other adults or unaccompanied.Failure to provide the above documents will result in being denied entry to the Republic of South Africa
Some revolutionary changes to Cruise line services.
Carnival Cruise Lines will no longer offer complimentary room service 24-hours a day. Guests ordering room service between 10 pm and 6 am during their sailing will now be charged between $2 and $6 per menu item and have rolled out a new menu options. Carnival will continue to give guests free room service during the rest of the day, though it will now no longer offer breakfast room service on disembarkation day. Guests will still be able to eat at the Lido deck restaurants and in the main dining room. This change will help “alleviate” the food waste that tends to happen more often during the late night period Carnival has no plans to add a fee during the rest of the day and is proud that it is one of the only cruise lines among its competitors offering a daily and evening complimentary room service menu.”
Royal Caribbeanannounced it would start charging $7.95 room service, plus an 18 percent gratuity charge.
Beverage Package Options
Starting January 2018, Carnival Cruise Lines will increase its Cheers! beverage package. The package, which includes higher-priced liquor, mixed drinks, beer , wine and spirits — will now cost $51.95 per person per day when purchased pre-cruise; and $56.95 per person per day when purchased onboard. The prices do not include a 15 percent gratuity fee. Previously the package was $49.95 per person per day pre-cruise and $54.95 per person per day onboard.
In short, a party of two sailing a seven-night Caribbean cruise can pay above $835 total for two Cheers! beverage packages if purchased before departure. A party of two sailing a seven-night cruise in Europe, where a value added tax of 10 percent will be added to the bill, can pay above $900 if purchased before departure.
The Holland American Lineis giving guests more beverage package choices. The new Elite Beverage Package lets guests enjoy any premium spirits, cocktails, wines, beers, coffees, nonalcoholic beverages, bottled water and sodas up to $15 each for the duration of their cruise. Guests who purchase the package for a sailing on MS Koningsdam will get Holland America’s Coca-Cola Freestyle program, which offers more than 100 unique Coca-Cola flavors.
The Elite Beverage Package costs $54.95 per person, per day or $385 per person for a 7-night sailing.
Holland America also introduced new pricing for its existing Signature Beverage Package. Guests can save $5 when they purchase the package online before the cruise; instead of paying $49.95 per person, per day, guests will be able to get it for $44.95 per person, per day. This package includes wine, beer, spirits, sodas, coffees and cocktails up to a value of $8 each.
Guests who want a package not including alcohol can opt for the Quench Beverage Package, which features unlimited nonalcoholic beverages for $17.95 per person, per day, or the Coca-Cola Package, which features unlimited soda for $8 per person, per day.
There is also Holland America’s Water Package, which gives guests 12 liter bottles of water for $32.
Norwegian Cruise Lines will start charging $89 per person, per day for its Ultimate Beverage Package, up from the $79 it had previously charged bringing the cost of the Ultimate Beverage Package for two people in the same cabin sailing a seven-day cruise to more than $1,200, not including an 18 percent gratuity. Norwegian does not allow guests over the age of 21 to abstain from purchasing the package when sharing a stateroom with someone who purchases the Unlimited Drink Package. The cost of Norwegian’s standard soda package, the Corks and Caps package, remains the same.
Royal Caribbeanalso announced changes to tis International’s Deluxe Beverage package, which features beers, wine, cocktails, soft drinks as well as bottled and still water, costing $55 per person, per day plus gratuity for its Deluxe package, which allows for unlimited beer, wine, and cocktails up to $12.
Royal Caribbean was once one of the only lines in the industry to not enforce an all-or-none rule, but announced that it would start testing itthis summer.
A vacation is a major investment, not just of money but of vacation time, something Americans never have enough of. An option may embrace the direct sales route because it looks more cost-effective than going through retailers, but as many travelers have learned, using a great travel agent doesn’t just save time and money, it means getting the vacation that’s right based on individual interest.
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