What’s New

Lois Farley

North Atlantic Saga – Scotland, Faroe Islands & Iceland: Save 10% of the berth costs on this cruise for reservations made by December 15, 2017. The cruise sets sail June 21, 2018 from Aberdeen, Scotland. The Save 10% offer may be combined with the Pay in Full offer for new reservations made and paid in full by November 30, 2017, which offers a further US$250 per person saving, based on a twin-share cabin. 
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Quark Expeditions Flash Sale – for new bookings made between October 2-6, save up to 50% on the cruise price (or have the single supplement waived for solo travellers) and receive US$1,000 flight credit. Valid on specific Antarctic cruises with departures between November 5, 2017 and March 2, 2018.
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Polar Bear Tours, Churchill – CA$100 Buggy Bucks per person for new bookings made on our 2017 fall Churchill polar bear tours (excluding the day trips). Your Buggy Bucks can be used at the 58° North shop, right in the town centre. Booking deadline: September 29, 2017.
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Watching Katla: Icelanders plan for next volcanic eruption.  VIK, Iceland – Icelanders are obsessing over the smallest sign of eruption at Iceland’s most closely watched volcano after a summer of increased seismic activity. Katla last erupted in 1918. Never before in recorded history, dating back to the 12th century, have 99 years passed without an eruption from the volcano.  Of Katla’s previous eruptions, eight out of 10 have occurred between September and November, when the glacial seasonal melting is believed to create conditions for the magma to burst out. Vik, a coastal hamlet near the volcano, is prepared for the worst. In the event of an eruption, a text message will be sent to every mobile phone connected to the regional network.  A plan has to be drawn up for tourists.  
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The first flights out of Houston’s airports are set to resume Wednesday afternoon, following days of torrential rains and flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey. A limited amount of domestic service will resume at Houston’s Hobby Airport and George Bush Intercontinental Airport starting at 4 p.m. Wednesday, according to a news release posted on the Facebook page for George Bush Intercontinental Airport. Full service, including international flights, is expected to resume by the weekend. The post warned that many of the roads around the airport continue to be impassable because of flood waters and advised all passengers to add extra travel time. Airlines cancelled several thousand flights over the weekend, and both airports had fully shuttered by Sunday afternoon. The storm has been battering the city for days, destroying 30,000-40,000 homes and killing 30 people. The storm moved into Louisiana, making another landfall early Wednesday morning,
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Total solar eclipse, 21 August, 2017 (NASA, Madras, Oregon)
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European river cruise promotion – travel this fall or for the Christmas markets.  Book now, while cabins are still available, on a selection of AMA Waterways and save up to $1,500 per cabin or up to $3,000 per cabin on Christmas market departures. Or, book as a single and pay no single supplement. Contact our river cruise specialist, Charlene Underhill by emailing charlene@gctravel.ca and get your space confirmed on one of these great promotions!
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The 2017 Canada Summer Games kick off tomorrow, July 28, in our fair city of Winnipeg. Water events will be held in Gimli, on the shores of Lake Manitoba and Kenora, Ontario, situated in the beautiful Lake of the Woods area. We wish a hearty Welcome! to all the athletes, coaches, family and friends coming to the games and good luck to all participants!
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The wildfires raging in our beautiful province of British Columbia are heartbreaking to witness and a devastating situation to all of those affected. Our thoughts are with all of the people who have lost their homes, the thousands who have been evacuated and are facing the possibility of losing their homes or businesses, and all of the firefighters and support staff battling the flames.  Air Canada, Westjet and Pacific Coastal Airlines have all announced special policies for travellers affected by the fires and airport closures.  These provisions include special discounted fares to allow an affordable way to evacuate safely; ticket flexibility such as waiving of flight change fees, the ability to travel to an alternate destination than ticketed, or the waiving of cancellation fees on fares that are usually non-refundable.
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Canada is turning 150 on July 1st!  Have a great Canada Day long weekend everyone!
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Air Canada is staying decidedly “cool” this summer with its newest destination of Reykjavik, Iceland! Flight will depart from Toronto four days a week and from Montreal three days a week. Benjamin Smith, President of Passenger Sales at Air Canada said “Iceland’s rugged beauty and intriguing cultural attractions are making it a prime destination for travellers seeking new adventures and Air Canada…” We couldn’t agree more!  Air Canada is the only Canadian and Star Alliance carrier in North America to serve the island.  
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Our thoughts are with the people of Nuugaatsiaq, Greenland, after a tsunami hit their community on the 18 June. It is believed the tsunami was caused by an underwater landslide when a large part of a mountain broke away, in the waters off the west coast of the island of Uummannaq. The latest report is that 4 people are missing, 2 people seriously injured, several other with minor injuries, 11 homes swept out to sea and residents have been evacuated from the hard-hit village of Nuugaatsiaq, only 30 kilometres from the epicentre.  Due to the possibility of aftershocks and waves, evacuations by helicopter and ship have relocated all the residents of the nearby villages of Illorsuit and Niaqornat. Our hope is that those missing are found and that the community rebounds quickly.
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Top 60 Canadian Travel Blogger sites: Great Canadian Travel was just named as one of the top 60 travel blog sites in Canada by Feedspot.com. Blog sites are judged by their search engine ranking, social media influence, social media buzz, Alexa ranking (a division of Amazon that measures web searches and visitors), post frequency and quality scores. We try hard to keep providing interesting and relevant content and it’s nice to see that our effort is being noticed. So, if we keep blogging, will you keep reading?
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England Stays Defiant in the Face of Latest Attack: Our thoughts go out to all of those affected by the recent militant attacks in England over the last three months, especially to those who lost loved ones in the Westminster Bridge attack in March, the concert attack in Manchester in May and the latest incident on London Bridge. History tells us that the British people are resilient and remain strong in the face of adversity – these latest attacks are no different.  In the words of British Prime Minister Theresa May, “It is time to say enough is enough! We cannot and must not pretend that things can continue as they are.” We hope that travellers will keep visiting this amazing destination – Canadian visitor numbers increased by 17% in 2016 over 2015, and projections were for a similar increase for 2017 over 2016. 
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Early Booking Bonuses abound! Many companies currently have early booking bonuses in place for winter 2017-18 and 2018 travel, for reservations made by 30 June, 2017. Some offers include Transat for winter sun holidays, Adventure Canada for 2018 summer expedition cruises, Quark Expeditions to Antarctica; G Adventures tours to Asia and Latin America for travel up to December 15, 2017. If you’re planning on travelling this winter or in 2018 now’s the time to be booking to get in on some of the early booking offers as well as guaranteeing you get space on the program you want.
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Believe It or Not:  Airline Customer Satisfaction Improving – Despite plenty of recent bad publicity, it seems lower fares, better on-time performance, fewer lost bags and the lowest bump rate ever recorded have contributed to steady improvement in customer satisfaction with North American airlines, according to a J.D. Power 2017 North America Airline Satisfaction Study.  In fact, according to the survey, overall customer satisfaction with airlines has reached its highest level ever, continuing a trend that now stretches five consecutive years.  Travel Press, 12 May 2017
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Toronto Pearson Update on Runway Construction – if you, like many of us and our clients, have recently flown into or out of Canada’s largest and busiest airport, Toronto Pearson (YYZ), you’ve probably been adversely affected by the major runway construction project.  This situation has left the travelling public and airlines alike less than thrilled with their travel experience!  Since March 28th and through to May 16th, runway and taxiway construction has been underway on the most utilized runway (05/23) to ensure continued safe operations. Despite initial projections by Nav Canada that there would be minimal impact, it has proven to be extremely disruptive with frustrating flight delays and outright cancellations. Some airlines are making adjustments to their schedules to try and reduce the load on YYZ operations during peak times.  Unfortunately, some adverse weather systems have compounded the issues. If you have a connection at Pearson, especially from an international arrival, you may think you’re going to miss your onward flight. And the truth is you may.  However, it’s also possible that you may not. All flights are being delayed, so your onward flight may be leaving late, giving you time to make it.  If you do miss your onward flight you’ll be re-booked on the next available flight by the airline involved.  If your onward flight is departing soon you can ask an agent at the “Connections desk” for advice on whether you can make that flight or if you’ve been re-booked.  You can also ask to use the express lines at security – just show your boarding pass with your boarding and departure time. If Murphy’s Law holds true, you’ll probably be at the furthest possible gate!  So, make your way as quickly and directly as you can to your assigned gate. If you have mobility issues, request a ride on one of the carts that shuttle travellers to/from the gates.  Because of all the disruptions the airlines are paging several times for passengers that have not yet boarded their flight. The best advice we can give? “Be prepared, be patient, don’t panic and this too shall pass!” It will soon be May 16th and all of this will just be a bad memory!
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Tuscany Villas – Live Like a Local
We’re excited to introduce our latest offering in Europe, the Tuscany area of Italy to be precise.  And what a fantastic area it is!  Take a look at the four villas on offer and start planning your trip to beautiful Tuscany, where you can live like a local!
http://greatcanadiantravel.com/tuscany-villas-live-like-a-local/
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Countryside Hotels in Sweden is going above and beyond the usual room amenities like bottled water and salty snacks and is offering a “relationship guarantee”.  Yep, you read that right!  Married couples who check in to one of their hotels on a last-ditch effort to save their marriage will get a refund of a 2-night stay if they end up divorcing within a year.  The couple must, rather predictably, share the same room during their stay and provide a copy of the divorce decree for the “relationship guarantee” refund to be paid out. Makes you wonder what’s next?!?
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Our “What’s New” section wasn’t so “new” anymore for the past couple of weeks – sorry about that!  I was kidnapped by leprechauns while in Ireland and just recently escaped and returned home. Speaking of Ireland, did you know that Arthur Guinness began brewing ale in Co. Kildare, Ireland in 1752? And he had the foresight on December 31, 1759 to sign a 9,000 year lease on the property in St. James’ Gate where the famous Guinness brewery sits today ?  Wow, wonder how much the rent has gone up?!
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Exodus Travels offer the best trips you’ve never heard of! They have hundreds of adventures to more than 90 countries at a pace to suit everyone.  They are offering $200 off on all new tour reservations made and under deposit by the 15 March, 2017 for tour departures up to the 30 September, 2017. So, just one week to take advantage of this special offer – your next adventure awaits!
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And the Michelin Stars keep coming to our favourite places! Dill has been named the best Icelandic restaurant on numerous occasions and can now boast a Michelin Star, the first every awarded in Iceland – way to go, Dill!  “Dill builds on Icelandic traditions and Icelandic and Nordic ideology, and we use only the best and purest of Icelandic ingredients in our cooking,” said Head Chef of Dill, Ragnar Eiríksson. “It’s an enormous honor for all of my fantastic coworkers.” Dill is a small restaurant that sits between 20-30 people, so book your reservation today before the rest of the world hears about one of Iceland’s (and the world’s) best restaurants!
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Happy International Polar Bear Day, 27 February 2017!  A newsletter featuring the iconic and oh so interesting polar bear was sent out today. Read about these fascinating creatures and let’s all pledge to do our part to reduce the global warming that is threatening their existence.
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Congratulations to KOKS restaurant, Kirkjubøur, Faroe Islands on winning your first Michelin star, the first restaurant in the Faroe Islands to do so!  Makes the short drive to this stunning seaside town even more worthwhile (like we needed another reason)!  Run by 26 year-old Faroese chef Poul Andrias Ziska, the young avant-garde team at KOKS use Faroese produce, focusing on innovative, but at the same time, traditional cuisine.  The menu is determined by the season and what they have to offer, transforming the food by using ancient culinary traditions such as drying, fermenting, salting and smoking, into modern delicacies.  Way to go, Poul and your fabulous team at KOKS!  http://www.koks.fo/koksen.html
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Our office will be closed on Monday, 20 February in celebration of Louis Riel Day.  We will re-open Tuesday, 21 February at 9:00am CT.
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Valentine’s Sales – some tour companies are offering discounts on select programs on their Valentine’s Specials. For example, Collette is offering a $400 or $600 savings per couple for new bookings made on Europe tours with travel dates to November 2017.  Trafalgar Tours are offering a 12% discount on their selected romance tours including destinations of Hawaii, Paris, Italy, Eastern Europe and India. Ask us for details on these and other specials.
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Last day of January already? How did that happen!?  Starting tomorrow Frontiers North will be offering a free Winnipeg Add-in bonus stay on all new bookings made between February 1st and March 31st on their 2017 Churchill Adventures. The bonus offer includes a night of accommodation at the Four Points Sheraton Winnipeg Airport and admission to one attraction in Winnipeg*, such as the Manitoba Museum; the Canadian Museum for Human Rights; the Assiniboine Park Zoo; Thermea by Nordik spa; the Winnipeg Art Gallery; the Hermetic Code Tour of the Manitoba Legislative Building; a city tour with the Winnipeg Trolley Company or Folklorama, Winnipeg’s largest cultural event. *Some attractions are only available seasonally.  Call us for details on available tours and the bonus Winnipeg Add-in.
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Early bird booking prices with Iceland ProCruises end the 31 January, 2017.  Book now to take advantage of these great offers!
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Our January newsletter was sent out on the 10th and features a variety of interesting travel ideas. Don’t see what you’re looking for?  Please just ask and we’ll source other options for you.  Our website features a very small percentage of the programs we offer.
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Happy New Year! May 2017 be a year filled with happiness, good health and success!  January 27, 2017 is the last day of the current Year of the Monkey under the Chinese zodiac. The Monkey is the ninth of 12 animals in the recurring 12-year Chinese zodiac cycle. The next Monkey year will be 2028. Lucky things for Monkeys: numbers 4 and 9; 14th and 28th of any Chinese lunar calendar month; months of 8 and 12; colours of white, blue and gold; directions of north, northwest and west.  People born in a year of the Monkey have magnetic personalities and are witty and intelligent. Personality traits like mischievousness, curiosity, and cleverness, make them very naughty. Monkeys are masters of practical jokes, because they like playing most of the time. Though they don’t have bad intentions, their pranks sometimes hurt the feelings of others. Monkeys are fast learners and crafty opportunists. They have many interests and need partners who are capable of stimulating them. While some like the eccentric nature of Monkeys, others don’t trust their sly, restless, and inquisitive nature. Although they are clever and creative, Monkeys can’t always exhibit their talents properly. They like to accept challenges and prefer urban life to rural.
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Getting Rid of Sticker Shock for Travel – January 01, 2017 will see the Canadian province of Ontario enact what’s being billed as an “all-in-pricing” model for travel advertising by Ontario companies. This will eliminate all the hidden charges, extra taxes and fees that get tacked on at the end of a travel purchase. So, no more $299 fares to London, England (notorious for high airport fees and taxes!) if the total price of the ticket after all these extra charges is actually $829.  Way to go, Ontario!  We hope all provinces and territories will follow suit, giving the travelling public clear and transparent pricing on travel products and an easier way to compare the end cost of different travel options.  
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Our December newsletter with Season’s Greeting was sent out mid-December. We wish all of our clients and supplier partners the very best for a joyous, holiday season and all the best for a great New Year in 2017!   
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Special Offers:

See Europe for Less:  Save 10% on the land portion of 2017 Globus Europe Vacations if booked and under deposit by January 3, 2017.  For new bookings only and not applicable to extra nights of accommodation, extensions, taxes, fees, tips, supplements or airfare.  Ask one of our consultants for availability and details.

Expedition Cruises – Discounts of up to 30%
10%, 20% and 30% off on select 2016-17 voyages.  Early Bird Booking Bonuses for 2017 and 2018 expedition cruises.  Ask us for details on these numerous special offers!
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News Archives:

Iceland tours:  Book and save!  Make your reservation and pay your deposit by the 31 December, 2016 to lock in current rates on a number of escorted tours in Iceland.  Due to the strengthening Icelandic kronur, prices will be going up as of the 01 January, 2017.

North Iceland Aurora Challenge:  10% Discount for bookings made by the 21 December, 2016 for the following departures of this tour:
February: 07, 14, 21
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Our November newsletter with the theme “Some Like it Hot” was sent out late in the month and features trips warm, sunny places like Tahiti, the Caribbean and Central America, the Galapagos, Tanzania and Zanzibar.  Getting away somewhere warm sounds like a pretty good idea right about now, especially if you live in northern climes like we do!
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Our October newsletter with the theme “Land of Fire and Ice” was sent out late in the month, featuring a range of interesting programs to one of our favourite places, Iceland!  If you didn’t receive a copy please let us know and we can send you one and make sure you’re on the list to get future issues. The next is coming up on the 23 November.
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Our September newsletter with the theme “I Dream of Africa” has gone out and we would like to give a special shout-out to our valued client, Marco Cotton. Marco is an amateur photographer who took all of the stunning images in May this year while on safari in Tanzania.  We have used several of his images on our Great Wildebeest Migration webpage and newsletter feature. We appreciate him allowing us to use some of his incredible collection of photographs!
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Iceland has had a cracker-jack of a year in 2016.  Its men’s soccer team earned fans all over the world with their gutsy performance at the Euro Cup.  And the country could cheer on some first-ever results at the recent summer Olympics in Rio.  But, what is truly remarkable about 2016 for Iceland?  It is now Europe’s fastest growing tourist destination, showing tremendous growth over last year.  This year in May, for the first time in our history, we had to put a stop-sell on our Iceland summer self-drives as there was just no available countryside accommodation to be found.  Fall, winter and spring dates are a bit less problematic.  But even so, our advice for Iceland travel, 2017?  Book now to guarantee yourself space on the dates of your choice!
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Way to go, One Ocean!  One of our valued expedition cruise partners in Canada, One Ocean, has just had their Fins and Fiddles cruise added to the list of Canadian Signature Experiences.  This enchanting Canadian based cruise sails from Louisbourg, Nova Scotia and includes visits to Sable Island, the Gaspe Peninsula, Iles-de-la-Madeleine and Charlottetown.  Welcome to the club – our very own Best of the Arctic tour is on the list, too!
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Congratulations to Australis, our expedition cruise partner based in Punta Arenas, Chile!  Australis was just named #1 in Small Ocean Cruises, Travel + Leisure Best Awards 2016.  Every year the readers of Travel + Leisure, the largest travel magazine brand in the US, vote on their travel favourites in a variety of categories.  This year saw record participation in voting by readers.  Jorge Rodriguez, sales director of North America for Australis said: “We are pleased and proud to be named #1 in the Small Ocean Cruises category for this prestigious award from Travel + Leisure.   Our cruises are more than a cruise.  They are expeditions through southern Patagonia in Chile and Argentina and appeal to travellers who look for adventure.”  Australis, with ships sailing through one of the wildest and most beautiful regions of the world, is celebrating over 25 years of cruising in the southernmost channels of Patagonia.  Dazzling experiences include majestic glaciers, Cape Horn, Wulaia Bay and extraordinary wildlife.   These are journeys of discovery in a pristine natural environment that is home to magnificent flora and fauna.”  We feature several programs with Australis including Discover Patagonia, Fjords of Tierra del Fuego, Route of Charles Darwin, In Charles Darwin’s Footsteps and Gauchos, Glaciers and Penguins.  We’d love to help you experience what the readers of Travel + Leisure voted as #1 in Small Ocean Cruises!
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Company news:
2016 marks the 35th anniversary of The Great Canadian Travel Company! And to celebrate this milestone of helping you fulfill your travel dreams, we will be rewarding you, our valued clients, with opportunities to win prizes throughout the year. Be sure to sign up for our monthly newsletter by email for celebration announcements and activities!

We can take you anywhere in the world.  We arrange flights from any gateway, rail journeys, expedition cruises, escorted touring, independent travel and custom tour planning. This year we have spent considerably more time exploring the opportunities for travellers in Arctic Canada, Iceland, Africa and unique cruise options. Please browse through the sample selection of a variety of programming we have featured on our website and contact one of our experienced Travel Consultants with any questions you may have.  We would be happy to assist you in making reservations on any of these tours or the numerous other options we can source for you.  We look forward to helping plan your next great adventure!

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