2021 | The Great Canadian Travel Co. - Part 2

STAFF PICKS

June 29, 2022 | Lois Farley

Way back in 2017 I wrote a blog in recognition of Canada Day; 50 Great Things Canada Contributed to the World. Since I wrote that blog I’ve been studying about the Indigenous peoples who have lived on this land we now call Canada for millennia – the First Nations and …

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March 17, 2022 | Lois Farley

Saint Patrick’s Day brings Ireland and all things Irish to a lot of people’s minds. And, those of us lucky enough to be Irish or are of Irish descent, particularly so! My ancestors on both sides of my family emigrated to Canada from Ireland back in the mid to late …

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March 1, 2022 | Allison Silvaggio

There are so many things that we miss when it comes to travel, such as exploring new places, trying new things and meeting new people.  What I miss the most, are those extremely peaceful moments where you can just take it all in.  Whether you are enjoying a beautiful hike, …

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What’s New

April 18, 2021 | GCTG Marketing

2022

Our COVID-19 office policy, including hours of operation, is outlined on our Contact Us page. 

If you live in the Winnipeg or Edmonton area ask us for referral to a lab for testing. We have negotiated special rates for our clients who book and tell the lab they were referred by Great Canadian Travel. We can email you full details of lab locations, prices and online booking instructions.

Read our current newsletters.

Company Announcements:

  • We’re honoured to announce that we’ve been nominated in the category of Canada’s Leading Travel Agency 2022 by the  World Travel Awards 29th annual travel awards competition! “Thank You” to everyone who voted for us to receive this award last year and we’d appreciate your support again in 2022. To vote for us please Register on the World Travel Awards website (or use your registration information from 2021, if you voted last year), view thlist of Canadian nominees and then Vote. Closing date for votes is July 17th, 2022.
    Who Will Win? You Decide!  
  • We’re thrilled to announce that we’ve been named Canada’s Leading Travel Agency 2021 by the voters in the World Travel Awards 28th annual travel awards competition! It’s truly an honour to be recognized by this association and a big “Thank You” to everyone who voted for us to receive this award.

 

 

 

  • Introducing Uplift! We have recently partnered with Uplift, a financing partner dedicated to the travel industry, to facilitate time payment options for our Canadian clients’ travel bookings. The plan provides for 12 equal payments spread out over a year and allows all travel and associated costs to be financed. It offers clear and simple financing plans; easy, no-obligation quotes and, once approved, the ability to make lump sum payments for any amount due, without penalty. The minimum amount allowed for financing is $500, maximum $15,000 per person. You must be at least 19 years of age, have a bank debit card or a Visa/Mastercard debit card and a mobile phone to qualify. Read our blog or Inquire for full details of this great new payment option.

Special offers & promotions*:

  • Save up to US$1,000 per double cabin on Australis Patagonia one-way, 4-night cruises in 2022-23, for new bookings made and under deposit by the 31 May, paid in full by 30 June, 2022. Limited to 15 cabins per departure, categories A, AA, AAA and Superior cabins (category B cabins excluded). Discounts for single passengers, children and infants on request. Not combinable with other promotions or benefits. Ask us for full details.
  • Iceland ProCruises have extended their Early Bird Booking discount of 20% for the entire 2022 sailing season, subject to cabin availability. Choose from the Iceland Circumnavigation or the Iceland and Greenland cruises.
  • For a limited time, save up to 20% off + up to $500 air credit on select 2022, 2023 and 2024 Hurtigruten Coastal Norway Voyages for new bookings made by June 28, 2022! Itineraries offered for 6, 7, 11 or 12 days, either one-way or round-trip. Please contact us for details.
  • AMA Waterways is highlighting a complimentary visit to the once-in-a-decade horticultural event, Floriade Expo this year for all guests embarking or disembarking their river cruise in Amsterdam from 14 April – 09 October. The city district of Almere will host The Netherlands’ largest public event with the theme “Growing Green Cities.”
  • Oceania Cruises 2023 World Cruise sold out in just one day! So, for 2024 they are providing more extended voyage options. On offer is their 2024 “Around the World in 180 Days” world cruise itinerary in addition to four distinct Grand Voyages of 72 to 82 days in length. Featuring 96 destinations in 34 countries, the world cruise aboard the 684-guest Insignia departs Los Angeles for New York on 14JAN 2024, crossing three oceans and 15 seas from the South Pacific to the coasts of Europe.
  • G Adventures: “Vaccinated Tours” program offer trips with only fully vaccinated guides to lead the tour, on which all travellers must also be fully vaccinated (final dose administered at least 14 days prior to day 1 of the tour). Due to the slower roll-out of vaccinations in some of G Adventures destinations, and to support the tour guides in those countries, they will also be introducing ‘Travel-Ready’ tours. On Travel-Ready tours, all travellers and CEOs must have either received a full COVID-19 vaccination, or have a negative PCR test within 96 hours prior to day one of their tour’s departure.
  • Intrepid Tours offer 10% off to travellers 18-29 who book at least 9 months in advance of travel. Have your eye on the trip of a lifetime? Give yourself a bit of time to “get it together”, have something to look forward to and save by taking advantage of this offer.
  • Insight Vacations has launched a new Wander Women series of journeys created for women, by women. One of the tours being offered is a 12-day itinerary, Venice & The Croatian Coast, with two departures, June and September, 2022. These women only tours will offer enriching travel experiences, cater to the diverse interests of female clients and introduce guests to inspiring women in communities across Croatia. Email us to receive information on the itinerary and pricing.
  • Windstar Cruises 7 for 7 specials are limited-time savings on popular cruises sailing in 2022 and 2023. These deals on the best in small ship cruising only last for 7 days or until staterooms and suites sell out. So don’t delay, call us for the weekly itineraries, dates and pricing details.

*All sales and promotions posted on this page are subject to the Terms and Conditions of the operator and may be changed or withdrawn at any time, without prior notice. 

Please note: 2022 and 2023 programs featured on our website are subject to change without notice due to COVID-19 restrictions and depend on the availability of the components of each tour. At the time of your inquiry we will advise you what changes may affect the trip you are looking into and recalculate the price according to the available inclusions. Local COVID-19 restrictions and regulations may change at any time, without advance notice. We cannot be held responsible for such changes, but we will do our utmost to rework your program to give you the best possible experience based on current conditions.


2022 News
:

  • The Canadian government has confirmed that effective June 20, 2022 proof of vaccination will no longer be required for domestic and outbound travellers. Vaccination proof will still be required to enter the country and to board cruise ships in Canada. Other public health measures, such as wearing a mask, continue to apply and will be enforced throughout a traveller’s journey on a plane or train.
    Canadian citizens and Canadian permanent residents returning from international destinations who do not qualify for the fully vaccinated traveller exemption will continue to be required to provide a valid pre-entry test result, remain subject to Day 1 and Day 8 molecular testing, and quarantine for 14 days.
    All travellers entering Canada are still required to input their mandatory information in ArriveCAN within 72 hours before their arrival to Canada. Travellers who arrive without completing their ArriveCAN submission may also be subject to Day 1, Day 8 molecular testing, quarantine for 14 days, and to fines or other enforcement actions, regardless of their vaccination status.
    Foreign nationals who are not fully vaccinated continue to be prohibited entry into Canada.
  • The U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention has lifted its requirement that visitors test negative for COVID-19 before entering the country, effective for U.S.-bound air travellers at midnight on Sunday, June 12.
  • Germain Hotels has announced a new partnership with luxury car company Porsche to offer charging stations in all of its locations across Canada. Owners of any kind of electric or hybrid vehicles will be able to enjoy charging at Germain properties for a “100% electric and 100% accessible experience.”
  • Kudos to the Netherlands and City of Rotterdam for chartering Holland America Line‘s ship the Volendam, docking in Rotterdam, to accommodate approx. 1,500 Ukrainian refugees . This is part of a larger commitment from the Netherlands to accommodate 50,000 Ukrainians who have fled the war in their homeland. Under the charter agreement Holland America Line will provide three hot meals per day, private stateroom accommodations, housekeeping services, use of public spaces, fitness facilities, internet access, and other necessities. The ship will be staffed with around 650 crew members.
  • After two years, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has dropped its notice of its assessment of cruise as a health risk. 30March, 2022
  • Seychelles foresees an economic crisis worse than the one brought by the COVID-19 pandemic with the impact of the Russia and Ukraine conflict on its eastern European tourism markets. Russia is its #1 market with Ukraine sitting at #4. If the Seychelles have been on your wish list 2022 might be the perfect time, as tourism numbers may be quite low. Also being impacted is tourism to Turkey and Cuba. The turquoise beaches of Turkey and Cuba typically attract millions of Russian tourists. But this year they look empty, dashing hopes of a buoyant revival for the countries’ tourism industries.
  • It’s official: Canada is ending pre-arrival testing for fully-vaxxed travellers on April 1. Random on-arrival testing at airports will continue to help track new variants. The ArriveCan form must still be completed on the App or online prior to arrival to Canada.
  • Canada’s new travel rules kicked in Monday (Feb. 28), giving fully vaccinated travellers the option of opting for a cheaper and faster rapid antigen test to meet their pre-entry requirements, dropping the requirement for the costly and often hard to obtain PCR test.
  • The European Council, on Tuesday (Feb. 22), recommended its member states “lift the temporary restriction on non-essential travel” into the EU for those who have either been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or recovered from the virus within the last 180 days. Individual EU countries may still apply entry restrictions, such as testing prior to and after arrival.
  • Crystal Cruises is ceasing operation with immediate effect. On the 20 January 2022 they paused accepting payments for cruise bookings and were accepting future reservations with a deferred deposit date of the 01 March 2022. Crystal is the World’s Most Awarded Luxury Cruise Line™, topping both Condé Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards 28 times and Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best numerous times, and its closure will leave a big gap in the luxury cruise market.
  • Australia will reopen its borders to vaccinated tourists, without a quarantine requirement, from Feb. 21st 2022.  International vaccinated travellers will be required to provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test to enter Australia, either a PCR test within 72 hours of arrival or a Rapid Antigen test within 24 hours of arrival. Visitors will also be required to take a rapid antigen test within 24 hours of arrival and to self-isolate until getting a negative result.
  • WestJet Vacations packages are now available using Swoop flights as well as Westjet flights. The Swoop option is only available through travel agencies. The addition of the low cost carrier Swoop with give price-sensitive travellers more options.
  •  Big Bend National Park, Texasancient petroglyphs thought to be between 4,000-8,500 years old were defaced by visitors who scratched their names and the date of 12-26-21 into the rock, which is positioned in the Indian Head area. The names Isaac & Ariel and Norma & Adrian are clearly visible, scratched overtop of ancient abstract images of geometric forms, circles, and undulating lines. The damage is irreversible. At least 50 cases of vandalism have been recorded at the park since 2005, permanently damaging priceless Indigenous art.
  • All vaccinated travellers who plan to visit the European Union and Schengen Area countries from February 1 at the latest will need to check whether their vaccination is valid for travel to these countries, based on the dates their vaccines were administered. By February 1, all the EU and Schengen countries are set to put an expiry date of nine months at most for all COVID-19 vaccination certificates, the validity of which can be extended as soon as travellers have their booster shots administered. Some countries have already put the requirement into place; some have different requirements for different vaccine types; some have put in place different deadlines for a booster requirement eg. Greece requires a booster after seven months, regardless of what vaccines you received; Latvia requires a booster for one-shot vaccines after five months, but is allowing nine months for double-dose vaccines.
  • Passengers who filmed themselves partying mask-less aboard a chartered Sunwing Airlines flight from Montreal to Mexico last week have become pariahs and now face being stranded after two more airlines announced Wednesday they will not fly them home to Canada. Air Transat and Air Canada have both refused to fly the group back to Canada. Guess the multiple cases of Covid-19 amongst the partiers doesn’t help their cause?! **Update: the party organizer is now planning legal action against Sunwing Airlines as well as other carriers that refused to book their return flight to Canada.
  • The number of flight cancellations around the world is up, primarily due to airline staff being impacted by the Omicron variant. The Globe and Mail reports that more than 4,000 flights were cancelled globally on 02 January 2022, mostly in the U.S. Meanwhile, Canadian airlines have also seen their share of flight cancellations. Between 22-26 December 2021, Flair Airlines cancelled 9% of its scheduled flights, WestJet cancelled 7% and Air Canada 4%. This is up from the 1-2% average of cancelled flight in early December. Despite contingency planning and recalling employees from layoff and furlough, airlines are finding themselves unable to operate planned schedules due to the impact of the Omicron impact. Most have made the difficult decision to consolidate flights, thus reducing their schedules.
  • In light of the current pandemic context, Air Canada will be suspending some flights to Sun destinations from January 24 until April 30, 2022. Suspended destinations include Antigua, Aruba, Samaná, Curaçao, Exuma, Grenada, Puerto Plata, Santo Domingo, Bermuda, Grand Cayman, Havana, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Martin/Sint Maarten, and Saint Kitts and Nevis.
  • Canadian Airlines Seize New Opportunity Amid Global Supply Chain Delays: With COVID-19 upending supply chains around the world, and grounding passenger jets which carried about half of the world’s air cargo, Canada’s airlines have increased their focus on converting some of their fleets to cargo carriers. One of Air Canada’s Boeing 767s last flew passengers home to Toronto from Mexico City on 01APR 2020, and twenty months later, is taking to the skies after being converted to carry cargo instead. WestJet hopes to receive its first two all-freight Boeing 737-800s by APR 2022, with two more to follow. All of them will be former passenger jets converted to carry cargo. The two airlines are adding air freighters to their fleets in efforts to profit from the rise in air freight demand, while seat sales remain well below pre-pandemic levels, reports the Globe and Mail. Read the full story here.
  • Just as Canadians look to escape the winter for warmer locales, the Omicron variant threatens to undermine the potential recovery for Canadian airlines’ leisure travel business. According to Bloomberg, Canada’s air traffic recovery had already been lagging behind the U.S. before the variant emerged, with traffic at Canadian airport security checkpoints at just 53 per cent of 2019 levels in the first 19 days of Dec. 2021. Now, the outlook is even more uncertain as Omicron forces flight cancellations around the world, as well as new restrictions in some countries. Read the full story here.

COVID-19 Resources – Quick Lookup:

Air Canada Travel Hub
Icelandair Covid-19 Travel Information & Entry Requirements
Sherpa Travel Restrictions
Covid-19 Toolkit – Government of Canada (Canada information)
IATA Travel CentreCoronavirus and Travel Covid Checker
Canada Provincial Travel Regulations for Canadians
Re-Open Europe & EU Map
Skyscanner
Travel Bans
World Health Organization and World Map
John Hopkins World Map
Our World in Data
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US information)
Government of Canada
US Department of State and Country Specific Information
Association of Canadian Travel Agencies (ACTA) – Benefits of Using a Professional ACTA Travel Agent

(Regulations are constantly changing. These resources can assist you in determining current travel requirements but bear in mind these may not be valid by the time your travel date arrives. We will assist you with keeping up to date on the requirements for your planned trip and change your reservations as needed.)

Iceland’s Explosive Volcanoes

March 31, 2021 | Lois Farley

You’ve probably heard of Iceland being referred to as “The Land of Fire and Ice”. It is, without question, an island of extraordinary, natural beauty and attractions like the volcanoes and glaciers that inspired its moniker; stunning waterfalls; caves made of lava and ice; breathtaking fjords and quaint, oceanside towns and villages. But, for the last few days it’s certainly living up to the “fire” part of its nickname!

Iceland sits on top of the Eurasian and the North American tectonic plates, two of the largest on the planet, which are moving in opposite directions. (You can even snorkel or scuba dive in Silfra Ridge, with the plates on either side of you). This separation of the two plates makes Iceland a seismic and volcanic hotspot!

Since early February, several weeks of nearly continuous earthquakes of varying intensity (more than 50,000, compared to the usual 1,000-3,000 registered each year since 2014), had given scientists at the meteorological office (IMO) in Iceland reason to believe an eruption of a volcano in the Krysuvik volcanic system on the Reykjanes Peninsula was imminent, the first in the area for nearly 800 years. Read More >

A Note from our President, 17 March 2021

March 17, 2021 | Ian Kalinowsky

A year into the Pandemic – the future of Travel in Canada

From the news over the past month, it would be reasonable to believe that the Canadian Government has decided to shut down Canada’s largest single industry (travel and tourism) completely.

  • Mandates a shut down of the Canadian Cruise industry till Spring 2022 – the most severe and punitive regulation of any jurisdiction on earth. In BC alone, the cruise industry generates $2.8 B per year and 18,000 jobs.
  • Shuts down all “sun travel” (Caribbean and Mexico) until the 30 April 2021.
  • Shuts down all but 4 Canadian airports and creates a very convoluted “3-day forced pay” hotel quarantine system – then gives all the business of booking these thousands of hotel nights to an American company, American Express (who then services the requests from their US call centers).
  • Canada – the second largest country on Earth – is the ONLY country on Earth NOT to have a support relief package for airlines. As a result, domestic travel has declined 90% from 2019. Compare this to only a 66% decline in domestic US air travel, where airlines received financial aid from the federal government.

Despite these governments actions and lack of support for the industry, we at Great Canadian Travel are still excited about our future in Travel and Tourism. We have not been idle and look forward to unveiling several new initiatives, new products, new services, and new developments which will increase our ability to serve you, our clients.

Till we can travel again,

 

 

Ian Kalinowsky President & Owner

Uplift – a new way to pay for your travel

March 04, 2021 | Lois Farley

Have you ever seen a really awesome travel deal (and there are some enticing offers out there right now) or perhaps you’ve needed to travel for an emergency and wished that there was some way to pay for your trip over time? Well, now there is! Introducing Uplift, a new way to pay for your travel.

Uplift is the leading Buy Now, Pay Later solution for travel and we are partnering with them to provide our Canadian clients with Flexible Payment Options.

Read More >

How many ways can you visit a Polar Bear?

February 17, 2021 | Ian Kalinowsky

So you know you want visit a Polar Bear but you need to figure out the way to visit that works best for you? Well, there are actually several ways that you can have a polar bear experience and I will lay out them out here for you, defining the differences between each one. Read More >

Romantic Film Locations

February 10, 2021 | Lois Farley

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching I was thinking about what makes a trip romantic. Travelling with someone you love is inherently romantic but there really are some places that just seem to hit the romance mark more than others. What better way to show that a place is romantic than featuring it in a romance movie? Here are just a few Romantic Film Locations that you can plan to visit when it’s safe to travel again, and the movie they were featured in. Movie descriptions are pulled from the IMDb website and movie titles are linked to that page.

I know I’ve left off some good ones. What movies would you add to this list?

Read More >

Our 40th Birthday Prize Trip Contest

February 10, 2021 | Lois Farley

Wednesday, 10 February: Our 4-week 40th Birthday Prize Trip Contest is now closed. We’ll be tabulating all of the qualifying entries received from our surveys, testimonials and Google reviews and will draw one lucky winner. We had hoped to announce the winner on Valentine’s Day but due to some technological issues we’ll have to wait until next Wednesday.  So, check out our February 17th newsletter for the prize announcement.

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We’ve said “goodbye, au revoir, tavvauvutit, farvel, adiós, γειά σας, bless, slán leat, farvel, до побачення, do widzenia, arrivederci” and “don’t let the door hit you on your way out” to 2020! I think most of us are happy to see it go and look forward to the New Year of 2021 with hope and optimism that things will get better as the year progresses.

Now that the busy holiday season is over, we decided to turn our attention to celebrating our 40th Birthday. We turned 40 on November 21, 2020 and, unlike a lot of people that turn 40, aren’t the least bit depressed about it. In fact, it’s a great reason to have a celebration!

For 4 weeks, starting January 13th, we’ll be sending out a newsletter featuring our 40th Birthday Prize Trip Contest. If you click on the link in the newsletter and complete the Prize Trip Survey you’ll be entered into the draw for a chance to win a Polar Bear Daytripper tour for 2, departing from Winnipeg on October 23, 2021.

P.S. Don’t you wish you were on that beach, writing “Happy Birthday” in the sand? We sure do!

The Fine Print: Rules of Prize Trip Contest

From our Travel Partners – 40th Birthday Wishes

February 08, 2021 | Lois Farley

Everyone loves sharing their birthday celebrations with family and friends, and that’s exactly how we feel about our travel partners. Some we’ve dealt with for nearly 40 years, others perhaps only the past few years. But, no matter how long we’ve known one another, we are so grateful for your partnership and thank you for the birthday wishes!

Read More >

Iceland Covid-19 Regulations

February 08, 2021 | Shauna Cook

Iceland COVID-19 Regulations – info updated 08 February, 2022

ALL Visitors entering Iceland MUST register at http://visit.covid.is/ 72 hours prior to arrival in Iceland. It cannot be filled out and sent until 72 hours prior to your arrival in the country.

Requirements for entry to Iceland from Canada and the United States:
No testing or quarantining are required on arrival in Iceland if you can provide proof of being fully vaccinated and present a negative Covid test taken within 72 hours of your flight.

These regulations apply to passengers who are fully vaccinated and can provide proof with a vaccination certificate. Fully vaccinated means 2 doses of an approved vaccine (mixed doses of approved 2-dose vaccines are accepted) or a single dose of Johnson and Johnson/Jansen, plus a 14-day waiting period from the date of the final dose. A vaccination certificate is only valid if no more than 270 days have elapsed from the completion of primary vaccination. Primary vaccination is considered complete after two doses of vaccine or after one Janssen injection. A booster dose cancels this expiration date.

 

ALL Visitors entering Iceland must present a negative COVID-19 test result, no older than 72 hours. PCR or Rapid Antigen tests are acceptable. If taking a connecting flight, the 72 starts from the time you board your first flight.

Read More >

Contest Rules – 40th Birthday Prize Trip

January 13, 2021 | Lois Farley

Contest rules:

Beginning at 9:00AM (CT), January 13 to 11:59PM (CT), February 09, 2021 you can enter the Great Canadian Travel Group Inc.’s 40th Birthday Prize Trip Contest (the “Contest”).

Just complete and submit our Contest Survey linked in our newsletters, for 4 weeks beginning on January 13, 2021.

If your name is drawn as the winner of the Contest you will win a trip for 2 on our Churchill Polar Bear Daytripper departing Winnipeg on October 23, 2021.

Read More >

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