**Please note, due to the COVID-19 pandemic our Winnipeg and Edmonton offices are currently closed to walk-in traffic. Consultation appointments are available by phone. Please email us at email@example.com to request an appointment date and time. Our hours of operation have been altered to Monday to Friday from 10am to 4pm local time.**
All 2020 and 2021 programs are subject to change without notice due to COVID-19 restrictions and depending 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.
COVID-19 Resources – Quick Lookup:
Coronavirus and Travel Covid Checker
Canada Provincial Travel Regulations for Canadians
Re-Open EU Map
World Health Organization and World Map
John Hopkins World Map
Our World in Data
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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
Read our current newsletters.
Read the updates from our President, Ian Kalinowsky on his blog page.
Supplier news and information:
Week of 23 – 29 November, 2020:
- England is set to reduce its quarantine period for arrivals from outside the country to just five days from December 15th. This will be permitted only if a test is taken and a negative result is obtained. Such improvements may be long overdue for the struggling travel industry but are still a welcome step forward.
- The International Air Transport Association (IATA) says it is in the advanced development phase of its ‘Travel Pass’ app which would provide proof of a passenger’s Covid-free status and unlock global borders. The Travel Pass would display test results, proof of a Covid vaccination as well as a link to a digitized copy of their passport to prove their identity. A pilot program will start with British Airways parent International Airlines Group (IAG) later this year.
- In an interview Monday on Australian TV, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce reportedly became the first global airline executive to declare, “We are looking at changing our terms and conditions to say that, for international travellers, we will ask people to have a vaccination before they get on the aircraft,” he revealed.
- Rocky Mountaineer will launch its first route in the United States in August, 2021 The two-day rail journey between Denver, Colorado, and Moab, Utah, Rockies to the Red Rocks, will include an overnight stay in Glenwood Springs, Colorado.
- WestJet has released its updated December schedule featuring up to 55 daily flights to sun destinations in the Caribbean, the United States (including Hawaii) and Mexico. The schedule also highlights increased domestic frequencies for travel starting December 5, 2020 through to January 4, 2021. Canadians re-entering Canada through Calgary International Airport can take advantage of the post-travel Covid-19 testing trial, reducing the quarantine period in Alberta, supported by the Governments of Canada and Alberta.
Week of 16 – 22 November, 2020:
Black Friday Sales & Special Offers
- The land border between Canada and the US will remain closed until at least December 21, 2020.
- The state of Hawai’i announced a deal with Air Canada and WestJet that will allow Canadians to get official COVID-19 tests in Canada within 72 hours of flying to Hawai’i. Travellers with a negative test result will be able to skip the state’s 14-day quarantine. Changes will take effect in mid-December, when both airlines plan to return flying from Canada to Hawai’i.
- Hurtigruten‘s Black Friday Sale is live! This is their biggest sale of the year, with expedition cruise destinations of Alaska, Greenland, and Norway among those on sale. Save up to 50% per person on select 2021 and 2022 cruises, if booked by December 2, 2020. Contact us for details on the cruise destination you’re interested in and we’ll check to see if it’s included in the sale.
Week of 09 – 15 November, 2020:
- Great Canadian Travel offices will be closed on Wednesday, November 11th in honour of Remembrance Day. We remember all who have defended our country and our freedom. Lest we Forget.
- Pfizer and it’s partner company BioNTech have announced good progress on developing a Covid-19 vaccine. Tests performed so far have shown a 90% success rate on test subjects who received two vaccinations three weeks apart. Other companies are also working on similar vaccines. So, maybe some good news ahead!
Week of 02 – 08 November, 2020:
- Max Ward, a true aviation pioneers and founder of the beloved Canadian charter airline Wardair, has died at age 98, just 20 days short of his 99th birthday. Fly high, Mr. Ward!
- As of Nov. 21, 2020, air travellers whose final destination is Canada will be required to submit their information electronically through ArriveCAN before they board their flight. This includes travel and contact information, quarantine plan and COVID-19 symptom self-assessment. Travellers must show their ArriveCAN receipt when seeking entry into Canada. A border services officer will verify that they have submitted their information digitally.
- Starting Monday, 02 November, the province of Alberta in co-operation with the Government of Canada will begin a pilot Covid testing program for international arrivals at the Calgary Airport, as well as travellers crossing the Coutts land border from Montana. Canadian citizens, permanent residents or foreign nationals currently permitted entry into Canada, who are without symptoms, are eligible for testing. The program cuts the quarantine to 24-48 hours while awaiting test results (from the current 2 week quarantine). Upon receiving a negative test result the traveller is allowed to continue with their travel plans, but must remain in Alberta. A follow-up test will be required on day 5 or 6, along with daily calls from a public health nurse. If the pilot project in Alberta proves successful, there are plans to expand it to other airports and ports of entry across the country.
- As Canada keeps its borders shut to tourism, Statistics Canada reports the travel restrictions will lead to an estimated loss of 400,000 to 500,000 jobs, and a reduction in GDP between $27.9 billion and $37.1 billion.
- AMA Waterways have suspended all their river cruises in Europe, Asia and Africa through to the end of 2020, other than the charter series on the Rhine, restricted to German citizens. Viking River Cruises have also suspended cruises to the end of 2020.
- Thailand announced it will be issuing Smart Band bracelets to international travellers. The digital wristband will allow local authorities to track and monitor the health of tourists within its border. A test of the program was run on a group of tourists arriving from China in October, the first international tourists allowed into the country since April.
Week of 26 October – 01 November, 2020:
- The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is letting the no-sail order expire on Oct. 31, setting the stage for a conditional, phased-in return to cruise ship operations. The phase-in will start with testing and implemented safeguards for crew members “while these cruise ship operators build the laboratory capacity needed to test future passengers.” After that, “test voyages” will be operated to check that ships meet specific requirements and are able to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Cruise lines must submit their materials to support a resumption of sailing to the CDC at least 60 calendar days prior to the date on which they propose to commence cruises with the restricted passenger operations. This takes us to the end of 2020 and industry experts say it will most likely be February until phased cruises begin.
- Canada’s cruise ship ban has been extended until Feb. 28, 2021, affecting cruise ships with overnight accommodations that carry more than 100 people. The move will have little impact as cruises in Canadian waters typically operate April and onwards.
- Which EU countries have banned Canadians from entering, which plan to and which may not follow the EU recommendation? The list is fluid but, as of today, the following have placed Canadians on the “no go” list: Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, and probably soon, Italy. It’s expected most of the other EU countries will follow shortly. The countries that probably won’t enact the ban, based on their previous actions? Croatia, Cyprus and Malta. But, it’s anyone’s guess!
- Jamaica has announced a groundbreaking, mandatory, new program for all foreign travellers, effective next month. “Jamaica Cares”, being hailed as a first-of-its kind traveller protection and emergency services program, will cost approx. US$40 per person. It is designed to protect both visitors entering Jamaica (on non-Jamaican passports) and the people of Jamaica from the burden of unexpected expenses incurred while on the island. Jamaican officials are hoping similar programs will be introduced globally, allowing for travel to resume again.
Week of 19 – 25 October, 2020:
- The EU have removed Canada from its “whitelist” of countries whose citizens are allowed access to the bloc for non-essential travel. Canada has been included on the list since it began back in July, 2020, but a recent increase in cases has caused concern among EU countries.
- Canada’s Public Safety Minister Bill Blair confirmed today, 19 October, that the Canada-U.S. land border will remain closed to non-essential travel until at least the 21 November.
- The WestJet Group of Companies has announced it will begin providing refunds for travellers who had flights cancelled by WestJet and Swoop as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Starting November 2, 2020 refunds will start to be processed back to the original form of payment, beginning with flights cancelled at the onset of the pandemic and working forward. The refund process is expected to take six to nine months to work through eligible requests.
- The Canadian government is considering taking a stake in Canadian airlines as it considers how to help the sector in its struggles amid the COVID-19 pandemic, said Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic Leblanc. The Canadian government departments involved in such a decision have been watching other countries, like Germany, which took at 20% stake in its national carrier, Lufthansa, in a bid to save the struggling company.
- IATA, which represents 290 airlines globally, is working with the International Civil Aviation Organization and the World Health Organization to set up a testing system that would replace compulsory quarantine, to help revive the airline industry that’s been decimated by the coronavirus outbreak.
- AmaWaterways suspended its remaining 2020 river cruise season, including all regularly scheduled departures in Europe, Asia and Africa, but said bookings are strong for summer 2021 and beyond.
Week of 12 – 18 October, 2020:
- Air Canada has launched its Sun Flight Pass. Available until Nov.11, 2020, pay to lock in your price now and plan your sunny getaway later. The Sun Flight Pass is a pre-paid package of one-way flight credits that can be used for travel within 15 months from the date of purchase. Buy a pass and choose any sun destination Air Canada serves, right up to two hours before the flight.
- Effective Nov. 2 WestJet is indefinitely suspending operations to 4 Atlantic Canada gateways – Moncton, Fredericton, Sydney and Charlottetown – and significantly reducing service to 2 more, Halifax and St. John’s, amid the sharp downturn in travel as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Porter Airlines has pushed back its restart to Dec. 15. Porter is waiving change and cancellation fees on all fares booked through Dec. 15, including Porter Escapes vacation packages.
- Carnival Cruise Lines has extended its operational pause in North America through October 31, in compliance with CDC’s announcement of the extension of the No Sail Order for ships departing from US ports.
- Seabourn’s updated suspension of operations applies differently to each of Seabourn’s five ships: Odyssey to Jan. 15, 2021; Sojourn, Alaska/BC season to Oct.13; Quest, Canada/New England season to Nov. 6; Encore to May 28, 2021; Ovation to April 18, 2021.
- Celestyal Cruises announced it will provide free travel insurance for all new, individual bookings through Nov. 30, 2020 for sailings March – June 2021. The cruise line says the included policy is provided by Allianz Global Assistance and includes coverage of medical/hospitalization expenses, including those associated with COVID-19.
Week of 05 – 11 October, 2020:
- More airports are introducing on-site Covid-19 testing. Currently or soon to be offering tests are: London, UK; Istanbul, Turkey; Hong Kong; Singapore; Bangalore, India,; Frankfurt, Germany; Alaska’s Anchorage Airport; Newark, New Jersey; JFK, New York; Tampa and Miami, Florida. As well, some airlines are doing testing for only their passengers, such as United Airlines in San Francisco for travellers bound for Hawaii. It’s expected more and more airlines and airports will be introducing testing in the near future and the hope is to come up with standardized testing and certification processes.
- Canada re-opens its border to allow specific travellers to enter. 1) Certain extended family members of Canadian citizens and Canadian permanent residents (including those in an exclusive dating relationship of at least one year), and their dependent children, as well as adult children, grandchildren, siblings and grandparents. 2) International students, if they will be attending a designated learning institution that has been identified by their provincial or territorial government as having a COVID-19 readiness plan in place (starting October 20, 2020). 3) Foreign nationals who need to enter the country for compassionate reasons in specific circumstances, such as life-threatening illness, critical injury or death, with potential limited release from quarantine. Arrivals into Canada will still be required to quarantine for 14 days, unless specifically granted an exemption due to extenuating circumstances. Every visitor will need to apply for and receive official authorization before they can travel to Canada, and should not make cross-border travel plans until they are issued one. More information can be found at: https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/coronavirus-covid19/travel-restrictions-exemptions.html
- WestJet has announced their Vancouver-Toronto route will offer flights on its newest aircraft – the 787 Dreamliner. The award-winning aircraft is now operating from Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto. “The Dreamliner offers our guests the highest safety and health standards as well as an extremely comfortable inflight experience”, said John Weatherill, WestJet VP Network Planning and Revenue.
Week of 28 September – 04 October, 2020:
- The Canadian federal government has once again extended the mandatory 14-day quarantine for all passengers arriving in or returning to Canada until the 31 October.
- Westjet and Westjet Vacations Covid-19 insurance coverage is now available to passengers flying to, through or from the U.S. and the maximum limit has been increased to $200,000. The free insurance applies to air-0nly and vacation reservations.
- Transat has announced it will also offer an Emergency Medical Certificate of Insurance designed to cover emergency medical and quarantine expenses at destination, in addition to providing assistance if COVID-19 is contracted during the trip. Applies to roundtrip flights from Canada and packages to Mexico, Central or South America, or the Caribbean.
- The future of airline travel? United Airlines will become the first carrier in the U.S. to offer coronavirus testing to passengers, beginning on October 15. Travelers flying to Hawaii from San Francisco International Airport will have the option to take rapid-response COVID-19 tests to avoid quarantine requirements upon entry to Hawaii. Will other airlines follow suit and start offering testing at departure gateways?
- Hurtigruten has revised its cancellation policy for all new bookings for 2021 and 2022 voyages. You can cancel newly booked cruises for any reason in the future, and they promise that a refund–including the deposit paid – will be processed within 14 days.
- Air Canada Vacations is now offering cruises by the luxury cruise brand, Cunard Line. Cruise vacation packages with Cunard Line, including airfare on Air Canada will be offered in 2021 and 2022 with choices of signature Transatlantic Crossings, Alaska, Europe, South America, Australia, Asia and the popular New England & Canada voyages. For new bookings made until 16 October, 2020 (for sailings April 2021-May 2022), receive a US$600 on-board credit, reduced deposit, free upgrades, free pre-paid gratuities, alternative dining and free drinks for Grill Suites.
- The US government has extended its No Sail order for cruise ships until the 31 October, 2020.
Week of 21 – 27 September, 2020:
- Canada and the US have extended the border closed to all non-essential travel until the 21 October, 2020.
- There’s a new coalition, made up of companies in the tourism, arts and culture, events and festivals and hospitality sectors, called the Coalition of Hardest Hit Businesses (CHHB). The CHHB is calling on the Canadian federal government to extend the CEWS (Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy), including a letter-writing campaign by members and those in the industry affected by possible job loss. “In the COVID-19 pandemic, our businesses were the first shut down, and we will be the last to recover, in short, we are the hardest hit businesses,” said Charlotte Bell, President and CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada. “Our sectors will bounce back when COVID is behind us, but this fall we face bankruptcy and unemployment for over 2 million Canadians working in our sectors.” To learn more about the CHHB and to get involved, visit www.HardestHit.ca.
Week of 14 – 20 September, 2020:
- Air Canada today (17Sep/20) announced that it is including complimentary COVID-19 emergency medical & quarantine insurance for eligible customers booking round-trip international flights. The coverage, available for new bookings made in Canada from September 17 until October 31, 2020, inclusive, provides emergency medical and quarantine insurance designed to give customers added confidence when booking flights and travelling abroad.
- Celebrity Cruises, Canada will host its first-ever virtual booking event on Wednesday, 23 September. There is no cost to join in. Choose from one of two session times and login from the links below:
4:00pm Eastern – Register here: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_36ulQ14RQIK_s2K–lyc9w
7:00pm Eastern – Register here: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_GA57Y8OFQZyoMZcc1-bdZA
- Looking ahead to luxury river cruising with AmaWaterways. You’re invited to join us virtually on Thursday, 17 September at 6:00pm CT, to learn about our AMAWaterway’s array of luxury river cruising products. Click here to register. European River Cruises transport you to the best of worlds – fascinating history, art and culture, stunning landscapes, and fine wine and food. Sail the blue Danube, romantic Rhine River, or another storied European river and come away with a new perspective on this incomparable land. Discover their exotic destinations, too!
- AmaWaterways has extended the suspension of its regularly scheduled river cruises in Europe, Africa and Asia through Nov. 15, 2020.The cruise line has issued Future Cruise Credits (FCC) equal to 115% of the value of the funds paid on file.
Week of 07 – 13 September, 2020:
- Westjet and Westjet Vacations announced on the 13 September that they will be offering complimentary COVID-19 emergency medical insurance of up to $100,000 coverage, for eligible customers to select destinations starting now for reservations through to spring, 2021.
- Air Canada’s Great Escape Sale offers savings on all destinations and classes of service for travel until June 30, 2021. And, if your travel plans change, you can make a one-time change without a fee. Hurry, sale ends September 15, 2020!
- Seabourn Cruises Sensational Suite Savings on select cruises booked by September 30, 2020. Some of the savings you may qualify for included 50% reduced deposit; complimentary Veranda for Ocean View Suite upgrades; up to 3 category Veranda Suite upgrades; up to US$600 Shipboard Credit per suite; up to CA$1,200 Air Credit per guest; up to 600 Minute Internet Package per guest; book a Penthouse or Premium Suite and receive up to US$2,000 Shipboard Credit per suite and an Unlimited Internet Package per Suite. We can provide full details on these and other offers.
Week of 31 August – 06 September, 2020:
- Air Canada Vacations’ packages, to select destinations on select travel package, now include the Covid-19 Coverage and Assistance Plan from Allianz Global Assistance, designed to cover emergency medical and quarantine costs related to Covid-19 while travelling. As some sunny destinations start to open up you’ll be able to travel with confidence and enjoy your vacation with peace of mind. And, this insurance is provided at no additional cost to you! The plan covers travel dates between September 04, 2020 and April 30, 2021. Ask us for details on the destinations and packages that qualify for this free insurance offer.
- G Adventures says all tours departing up to and including Oct. 31, 2020 have been suspended, as well as the November and December 2020 departures of its G Expedition ship, except for a selection of October tours in Europe, for travel between certain allowed countries.
- The mandatory 14-day quarantine for all passengers arriving in or returning to Canada, in place since mid-March, has been extended to September 30th, announced on August 28th by Canada’ Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair.
- Cunard is extending its pause in operations until March 25, 2021 for Queen Elizabeth sailings; until April 18, 2021 for Queen Mary 2 sailings; until May 16, 2021 for Queen Victoria sailings and have cancelled all of the Queen Elizabeth’s sailings scheduled to depart March 26, 2021 – December 13, 2021, in and around Australia, Japan and Alaska.
Week of 24 – 30 August, 2020:
- Hurtigruten’s Buy One Get One Half Price offer is on its way for select Antarctica 2021 and 2022 cruises, including the Total Solar Eclipse departures; Expedition Norway 2021 and 2022; and all Alaska 2021 cruises. This fantastic offer applies to new bookings made through your travel agent, between September 10-October 31, 2020. This special offer will not apply for bookings made directly with Hurtigruten. PLUS Canadian Residents save an additional 20%, in combination with this exclusive promotion! Thanks to our amazing supplier, Hurtigruten, for supporting its travel agency partners. Ask us for full details on this travel trade only offer and get ready to book an incredible adventure!
- Several major world airports are offering or requiring Covid-19 testing on-site for arriving international passengers. The most widespread airport testing is taking place in Germany, where tests are free of charge at the airports of Berlin Tegel, Berlin Schonefeld, Munich, Frankfurt and Dusseldorf. Results are provided within five hours and those with a negative result are immediately free of the 2-week quarantine. Even more rapid turnaround is offered at Tokyo’s Haneda and Narita airports, with results of the free test within an hour and Istanbul Airport, where tests cost $16 and results are delivered within two hours. Efforts like these, if coordinated across borders, with a single protocal established and instituted in all countries at all airport, could be the key for opening up international travel while the Covid-19 pandemic continues. Results could potentially be encoded on boarding passes, prior to allowing anyone onboard a flight.
- Air Canada has extended its goodwill policy for change fee waiver for one change, to cover tickets issued up to September 30, 2020 with a re-booking window until September 30, 2022.
- Lufthansa, SWISS, Austrian Airlines and Brussels Airlines have announced changes to their ticket fare structure through the end of December 2020. All four airlines are allowing re-booking several times, free of charge on all fares, even including the lowest light fare without checked baggage.
- The Dominican Republic has unveiled its new tourism recovery plan that will kick in at the end of September. It includes new rapid testing on arrival, eliminating the need for arriving tourists to supply a negative test result, as well as temporary insurance coverage for all tourists staying at designated hotels.
Week of 17 – 23 August, 2020:
- Greece, after handling the initial Covid-19 outbreak extremely well and re-opening to tourism in early July is once again imposing restrictions on restaurants, bars and clubs on the most-popular holiday islands this week and toughened restrictions on travellers arriving from some EU countries. Covid-19 test results will be required of all arrivals to the country from Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden and the Czech Republic from Monday August 17. Travellers will be asked to present a negative PCR test result for coronavirus on arrival.
- Most recently, Crystal Cruises announced the cancellation of all yacht voyages (aboard Crystal Esprit) through Jan. 9, 2021. Crystal has also cancelled all ocean voyages (onboard Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity) through the end of 2020.
- Viking River Cruises has extended its temporary suspension of operations across all scheduled departures through December 31, 2020.
Week of 10 – 16 August, 2020:
- Canada and the US have agreed to keep their border closed to all non-essential travel until the 21 September, 2020.
- Royal Irish Tours, the Canadian based tour company specializing in Ireland and the UK, has delayed the restart of its operations to April 2021. Updated terms & conditions have been introduced offering flexibility to change dates and/or tours up to 30 days prior to departure. Group sizes will be reduced when tours restart in 2021 to a maximum of 30 on a full size coach (can seat 55-60) and many more small-group tours with a maximum of 16 passengers.
- The chances of contracting the COVID-19 virus on an airplane are lower than you think, according to a new report by Arnold Barnett, a professor of management science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Barnett approached it mathematically, calculating the odds of becoming infected while flying, and came up with this: There is a one in 4,300 chance of catching COVID-19 while flying on a full two-hour flight and a one in 7,700 chance if the airline leaves the middle seat open. Barnett’s findings were backed by University of Massachusetts biology professor Erin Bromage, who said air exchange systems in planes are even better than in hospitals, completely replacing the cabin air 30 times per hour.
- Westjet Vacations is now offering Instant Savings to many of their sun-filled destinations for travel this winter, from 01 November to 30 April, 2021. Book on select programs up until the 31 August, 2020 and save CA$300 on a minimum 7-night stay in all room categories at select hotels in Cancun, Huatulco, Cabo, Los Cabos, Jamaica, Puerto Vallarta, Punta Cana and La Romana. Also, save up to 50% off private transfers at select hotels. Also, a new Travel Protection plan is being introduced for CA$49 plus GST per person, with benefits like name change waiver, package change waiver, cancellation fee waiver, refund for cancellations up to 3 days prior to travel as well as hurricane and tropical storm protection. Another feature for this season is the Price Match Guarantee for Mexico and Caribben programs. Westjet Vacations will cover any price difference when compared to the identical all-in-package price of any competitor, up to CA$75 per person.
- Cuba will soon be welcoming flights from Canada, allowing tourists to vacation at Cayo Coco, Cayo Guillermo, Cayo Cruz, Cayo Santa Maria, Cayo Las Brujas, Cayo Ensenachos and Cayo Largo, all located off the coast of mainland Cuba. These cays have no residential developments and no reported cases of COVID-19 to date. Air Canada Vacations plan to start up in September; Transat in October; Hola Sun, Sunwing and Westjet in November.
- Air Canada will resume flights from Toronto to Delhi, India on the 15 August. Entry to Canada is still restricted for tourism purposes and a 14 day self-quarantine is still in place for those allowed to enter the country.
- If you thought you were having a bad day, check this out! The English version of VisitMexico.com suffered the ravages of a very bad case of auto-translate last week when the site appeared riddled with mis-translations of some of the country’s most popular tourist spots. The ancient city of Tulum became “Jumpsuit”, northern Gulf coast city of Ciudad Madero was referred to as “Log”, the state of Hidalgo became “Noble” and Guerrero “Warrior”, the town of Bacalar, on the Caribbean coast, was switched to the Gulf coast state of Tabasco. A criminal complaint has been filed as it’s believed the update was initiated with the intent to tarnish the reputation of Visit Mexico and the website and appropriate legal action will be taken against those responsible.
- Italy’s leading cruise operators, MSC and Costa Cruises, will be among the world’s first big-ship, multi-port operations since the coronavirus pandemic shut down the cruise industry. MSC Cruises is ready to go with MSC Grandiosa from Genoa on 16 August and MSC Magnifica from Bari 29 August. Complete revised schedules will be announced soon.
- Spain’s Canary Islands has become that country’s first region to offer visitors, both Spanish and foreign, coverage for all expenses in the case of COVID-19 illness (as long as you did not have the virus upon arrival), including medical expenses, health repatriation and extension of stay due to quarantine.
Week of 03 – 09 August, 2020:
- The United Arab Emirates country of Dubai is the first to employ sniffer dogs at its international airport to detect COVID-19 cases in travellers arriving into the country. No direct contact occurs between the passenger and the dog, or the handler. Instead, samples are presented to the dog in an isolated room and the canine can generally determine within seconds whether a person has the virus. Dogs are amazing!
- UnCruise Adventures on Saturday became the first cruise line to resume overnight cruising in U.S. waters since the Covid-19 pandemic shut down global travel in March. The company’s Wilderness Adventurer departed Juneau with 37 passengers and 30 crew, with special protocols in place in port and while on the ship, for a seven-day cruise on the line’s Glacier Bay Adventure itinerary. **Just days after resuming operations UnCruise Adventures has halted its current Alaska program and cancelled all future departures due to positive tests onboard amongst the crew and passengers.**
- Effective September 01 Hawaii will be allowing all trans-Pacific travellers to forgo the 14-day quarantine providing they have proof of a negative COVID-19 test result. Full details will be posted once finalized. Inter-island travellers must also complete an online Health Form and present a QR code at the airport.
- Norwegian authorities are restricting cruise ships carrying more than 100 passengers from sailing in Norwegian waters for the next 14 days, awaiting the final outcome of a COVID-19 outbreak on Hurtigruten’s Roald Amundsen during two Spitsbergen itineraries. All expedition cruises with MS Roald Amundsen, MS Fridtjof Nansen and MS Spitsbergen in August and September 2020 have been cancelled, but cruises underway are allowed to complete their itineraries, without allowing passengers and crew to go ashore. The ban does not affect Hurtigruten’s Norwegian coastal voyages, which are considered ferries/supply ships.
- The cruise ship Paul Gauguin, part of Ponant Cruise Line, returned to its home port in Papeete, Tahiti over the weekend after a passenger tested positive for the coronavirus. It was the line’s first cruise with international passengers since the shutdown in April. When the suspected case was discovered, all passengers were informed and asked to stay in their cabins, On return to port the positive case was reconfirmed, all contact cases, passengers and crew members, were quickly tested. The results of all those tests were negative..
- The Caribbean island of Grenada will welcome back Canadians flying on Air Canada starting August 10, as the island continues its reopening process for international travellers.
- Transat has announced its winter schedule with flights to 40 destinations in the Caribbean, southern USA and Europe, with departures out of the eastern Canada cities of Toronto, Montreal and Quebec City only. No winter programs are being offered out of western Canada.
- The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) announced August 05 that its ocean-going cruise line members have agreed to voluntarily suspend U.S. cruise operations, for ships carrying over 250 passengers, until at least October 31, 2020.
- The U.S. State Department lifted its blanket Level 4 (do not travel) advisory on Thursday, and has reverted to its original system of per country advisories four 1/2 months after the Level 4 advisory was issued on 19 March. American travellers can now travel, but will be governed by the regulations of the countries they wish to visit. Many countries are still not allowing U.S. citizens entry, due to the continuing high levels of infection in the U.S. overall.
- Intrepid Travel has operated its first tour since March 2020. On August 6, 2020, six travelers from the UK departed from Athens on one of Intrepid Travel’s new products from its Intrepid Retreats line. This new category, a first for Intrepid, celebrates “slow travel”. It operates very small groups focusing on one location, allowing travellers to immerse themselves in local experiences while staying in handpicked, small boutique properties or glamping. With Canadians now being allowed entry into many EU countries, once Canada lifts its mandatory 14-day quarantine for Canadian citizens returning from those countries, these tours may offer interesting travel possibilities.
- G-Adventures are offering a new product line, Book Your Bubble Private Tours. This Collection of 80 tours gives you and your hand-picked crew the freedom and safety found on all of our private tours, now with the added bonus of extra savings! Book Your Bubble of 8 people and the 8th spot is 50% off, perfect for a Bubble of two families, a group of friends, or four couples! Book Your Bubble of 12 and the 12th spot is free. Did someone say extended family vacation? You can also combine your private tour price with current G Adventures sales for added discounts to save even more!
Week of 27 July – 02 August, 2020:
- Europe’s tourism revival is running into turbulence only weeks after countries reopened their borders to travel within the region on the 15 June. Spikes in COVID-19 cases in several regions of Spain, including popular Catalonia, prompted the UK to reinstate a mandatory 14-day quarantine if returning from Spain. In Germany, testing stations have been set up at airports to encourage people arriving from a long list of countries deemed high-risk – including Spain and Turkey – to get tested. Greek authorities said they will likely extend the mandatory use of masks at churches and shopping malls.
- After multiple delays to its 2020 season’s start, Rocky Mountaineer has made the move to postpone operations until 2021 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Guests on a suspended departure will receive a future travel credit of 110% value of monies paid, valid through to the end of the 2022 season. The rail prices for 2021 and 2022 are being held at the 2020 level so that guests will not pay more for the rail portion of their itinerary.
- Air Transat has announced it will not operate any flights from Western Canada to the South or USA for winter 2020-2021. Only domestic flights from Vancouver to Toronto and Montreal, along with some connecting flights onward to Europe will be operated. Western Canadian cities impacted are Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and Victoria
- Hawaii cracks down on travellers who do not follow prescribed health precautions. Nearly 200 tourists have been arrested and fined in Hawaii since the state mandated a 14-day quarantine for travel arrivals. The big island of Hawaii is looking at designating certain properties as “resort bubbles”, allowing tourists the freedom to move around the property while they serve out their quarantine period within a “geofence” that tracks their movements.
- Emirates airline, flag carrier of the United Arab Emirates, has just announced a bold, first-of-its-kind initiative to boost customers’ confidence in flying by pledging to cover passengers’ medical expenses (up to EUR150,000) and quarantine costs (up to EUR100/day for up to 14 days) if they are diagnosed with COVID-19 in the course of their travels. Effective immediately, this perk is being provided at no additional cost to customers flying with Emirates through October 30, 2020, regardless of travel class or destination. It is valid for 31 days from the date of the first portion of their journey, even if they are continuing on to other cities or destinations afterward.
- World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has established a Safe Travels Stamp. The new health and safety certification has been developed by the WTTC to help travellers identify destinations, as well as individual businesses, around the world that have adopted global standardized health and hygiene protocols. An easily recognizable logo of a green circle with the words “Safe Travels” can be used by all travel destinations and businesses that meet the protocols and requirements.
- Club Med is going above and beyond to accommodate guests by offering new COVID-19 medical coverage at no extra cost within its packages. The expanded Emergency Assistance Program includes COVID-19 coverage for all trips through April 30, 2021 to any of its resorts worldwide. Coverage includes medical expenses abroad (up to €75,000 including tax/person), advance on hospitalization costs incurred abroad (up to €75,000 including tax/beneficiary), cost of extended stays at the resort if required by local health authorities and Medical evacuation and repatriation following accident and/or illness.
- Greece will reopen cruise travel as of 01 August, Tourism Minister Haris Theocharis confirmed. Cruise ships will be allowed to dock at the ports of Piraeus, Rhodos, Iraklion, Volos, Corfu and Katakolo. Cruise travel will abide with all the health and safety protocols set by the European Union due to coronavirus.
Week of 20 – 26 July, 2020:
- G Adventures has extended their suspension of tours departing up to Sept. 30, 2020, (except for 21 departures within Europe where travel is possible between certain countries) as we ll as the Oct. 21, 2020 departure of its G Expedition ship. This comes with the exception of 21 departures that are operating in Europe for travel that is possible between certain countries.
- Malta has added Canada to the list of countries whose citizens may enter Malta without quarantine or COVID-19 testing. Malta has one of the lowest rates of COVID- 19 cases in Europe and is one of the safest countries to visit. Malta has produced an online brochure, Malta, Sunny & Safe, which outlines all the safety measures and procedures that the Maltese government has put into place for all hotels, bars, restaurants, clubs, beaches based on social distancing and testing.
- Sunwing has suspended all southbound flights through Aug. 31, 2020. For original departure dates June 1 – Aug. 31, 2020, future travel credits are redeemable up to Aug. 31, 2022.
- Transat has resumed flights on select routes, effective July 23. Its new flight schedule, running through Oct. 31, includes destinations in Europe, the South, the U.S. and Canada. Transat announced on July 22 that its Future Travel Credits are now fully transferable, with no expiry date. As before, any residual credit will remain on file. The new policy applies to flights, packages and guided tours but excludes cruises, which are subject to each cruise line’s policies.
- Azamara and Celebrity Cruise Lines have suspended all global sailings through Sept. 30. Passengers can choose between a 125% Future Cruise Credit or a refund.
- Royal Caribbean has extended its suspension of most of its sailings through Sept. 30. Some sailings beyond that date have also been cancelled. Royal Caribbean’s options for passengers booked on impacted cruises include future cruise credits, the ‘Lift & Shift’ promotion for rebooking in 2021, and refunds.
- Princess Cruises has extended its pause of select global ship operations until Dec. 15. Sailings affected include those into and out of Australia, all sailings in Asia, Caribbean, California Coast, Hawaii, Mexico, Panama Canal, South America & Antarctica, Japan, and Tahiti/South Pacific.
- Air Canada has begun to gradually reopen its Maple Leaf Lounges with new bio-safety protocols to help ensure the well-being of its guests and employees. Opening first on July 24 to eligible customers travelling on a domestic or international flight will be the Maple Leaf Lounge at Toronto Pearson, D gates. This will be followed by the lounges located in the domestic departure areas at airports in Montreal and Vancouver in the coming weeks.
- Desperate to restore transatlantic flights, the chief execs of United Airlines, American Airlines, Lufthansa Group and British Airways are joining forces to urge government officials world-wide to institute a co-ordinated Covid-19 testing program. Such a program could be key to permit services to resume without quarantine requirements or other entry restrictions and gain traveller’s confidence in the safety of air travel. Measures could include swab testing of passengers pre-boarding with test results linked electronically to their ticket in order to avoid quarantine at their transfer airports or at destination.
- United Airlines have mandated the wearing of face masks at customer service counters, kiosks, club lounges, gates and baggage claim areas as well as onboard its aircraft. Travellers who refuse to wear a face mask will be denied boarding and may be banned from future United flights until the mask requirement is removed.
Week of 13 – 19 July, 2020:
- The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) is urging all travellers to “wear to care” as global borders begin to reopen. Citing evidence that countries where face masks have been widely enforced are recovering faster from COVID-19, WTTC is advising wearing them on all forms of transport throughout the entire travel journey, as well as when visiting any interior venue or those with restricted movement. Travellers around the world are being encouraged to join in the WTTC’s new social media campaign, #wear2care, by sharing pictures of themselves proudly travelling with their masks on.
- WestJet today (13 July) released its updated August schedule featuring more than 200 daily flights to 48 destinations across Canada (39), the United States (5), the Caribbean (1), Mexico (1) and Europe (2).
- Air Transat has announced resumption of flight and tour programs (to the South and Europe) as of July 23, 2020, provided that the travel restrictions applicable on that date allow it. On offer are new flight schedules to more than 20 destinations in Europe, the South, the United States and Canada until the end of the summer season, October 31, 2020.
- Azores Airlines has resumed non-stop international operations with flights to Frankfurt, Germany; Boston, USA and Toronto, Canada. Boston and Toronto are focus destinations of the airline as a large number of Azorean emigrants reside in these cities. In June, Azores Airlines resumed its flight operations to the Portuguese mainland as well as flights connecting the islands of the Azores.
- Sunwing has pushed back the date for its suspension of operations for all southbound flights to Aug. 16. Travellers affected by cancelled flights will automatically receive a travel credit to be used by the summer of 2022.
- Several Caribbean and Central American destinations are requiring Canadian travellers to complete some or all of a variety of safety measure such as a negative COVID-19 test result done within a specified time prior to arrival, online health forms to be completed in advance of travel and location information forms. Each country has its own requirements that will need to be followed. These countries include, but are not limited to, Mexico, Bahamas, Barbados, Aruba, Antigua & Barbuda, Curacao, Dominican Republic, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Anguilla, Grenada, Cuba and Puerto Rico. Mid-August will see Belize added to the list.
- Delta Air Lines has donated one million pounds of food (and counting) to communities around world in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The surplus came after Delta temporarily adjusted its services on board and in its Sky Clubs. As well as donating to its U.S. partners including Feeding Delta has donated food and other supplies in the Philippines, Senegal, South Africa, Brazil, Argentina, El Salvador, Peru, Japan, Greece, Spain, France, Netherlands and the U.K.
- G Adventures have released ahead of schedule their 2022 Arctic and Norway departures aboard the 134-passenger G Expedition ship. The 12 new departures, now available to book, run from May to September 2022.
- Swiss International Air Lines, part of the Lufthansa Group resumed flights between Montreal and Zurish on 15 July. Initially, the service will operate three times per week, on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, with an Airbus A340-300 aircraft which includes First, Business and Economy classes. Wearing a face mask is mandatory on all SWISS flights, including during boarding, while in the air and until fully disembarked.
- Air Canada is urging the Canadian government to replace blanket travel restrictions and quarantines with “more proportionate” and “science-based” measures that mirror those adopted by numerous jurisdictions worldwide and endorsed by the International Air Transport Association. Measure suggested include creating a list of countries whose citizens can enter Canada and be exempt from the 14 day self-isolation requirement (similar to what the EU did in early July), establishing “travel bubbles” or “safe corridors”. The list of exempt countries would be based on the prevalence of coronavirus within each country, the numbers of new cases and the potential trajectory over the coming weeks of COVID-19. Air Canada states that the exempt countries with good records in handling and limiting the virus would pose no greater risk to Canadians than inter-provincial travel, and the list would be reviewed and updated every two weeks.
- Cancun Airport opened a second terminal on 14 July to manage the growing numbers of tourists flocking to the popular beach destination. All airlines flying into Cancun will continue to use Terminal 4, but two of Mexico’s domestic airlines will be moved to Terminal 2 to help prevent crowding.
Week of 06 – 12 July, 2020:,
Great Canadian Travel and Adventure Canada will host an online presentation about expedition cruising on Wednesday, July 8th at 2:00pm CST. To join us, please click on this link to register: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/7679422823805597711
In 2020, Great Canadian Travel will celebrate 40 years of selling unique travel experiences around the world! For more than thirty years, Adventure Canada has been a leader in small-ship expeditions to some of the Earth’s great wild spaces. It’s an ideal partnership! In this live presentation, Sam Freedberg from Adventure Canada will discuss the advantages of small-ship exploration and Adventure Canada’s 2021 season line-up aboard the 198-passenger Ocean Endeavour.
- Ukraine International Airlines will resume flights between Kiev and Toronto on 19 July. Canada’s large Ukrainian community in Canada will once again have a direct link from Toronto to Ukraine. Service will initially be once a week with flights added depending on market demand and evolving policies around global travel restrictions. The route will be operated using a B767-300, 3-class configuration with rigorous and enhanced sanitization procedures in place.
- Hurtigruten is offering a Freedom Flash Sale with savings of up to 50% per person on new bookings made by Wednesday, 08 July 2020 for 2021 cruises to Antarctica or 40% per person savings to Norway and Alaska, among other destinations. With decreased deposits of US$500 per person and an updated flexible booking policy you can book with confidence on any cruise. Combinable with all offers. Offer expires 08 July, 2020.
- Canada’s federal government has extended the mandatory quarantine order for most people entering Canada until the end of August to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. All travellers entering the country by land, air or sea must isolate for 14 days.
- The European Union released guidelines for the resumption of cruising, which include onboard separation by age group, reduced capacity, COVID testing of all passengers and recommendations for shorter cruises (3-7 days maximum). Cruise lines must also have a written contingency plan for a COVID-19 outbreak and be able to arrange for necessary medical treatment, repatriation and shore side quarantine of any passenger or crew member who comes into close contact with an infected person.
- Britain is now welcoming travellers from dozens of countries without requiring a mandatory 14-day self-isolation period. Sadly Canada and the US didn’t make the cut, so we’ll have to wait awhile yet to visit Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England. Some of the countries on the “travel corridor” list include Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Greece, Belgium, Australia, and New Zealand. Other notable omissions from the non-quarantine list of 59 countries include Russia, Sweden, Portugal, India, and China.
- Good news for Israeli airline El Al who said Monday it had reached a bailout deal with the Israeli government that could lead to its nationalization after being crippled by the coronavirus pandemic. The airline will receive loans of $250 million, mostly guaranteed by the state. The company is expected to raise an additional $150 million by selling public shares. The agreement awaits approval by a parliamentary committee.
- Hey, Ireland! Air Canada is resuming three-times weekly non-stop service between Dublin and Toronto utilizing Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft. Flights will also carry general cargo and temperature-controlled goods, machinery and industrial parts, aircraft spares, e-commerce products, as well as pharmaceuticals and medical supplies, manufactured by both Irish and Ireland-based multinational companies. Service from Dublin to Toronto will operate on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays and the return service from Toronto to Dublin on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.
- Almost 70,000 tourists have visited Cancún, Mexico since the Caribbean coastal resort city reopened for tourism almost a month ago. 120 hotels have reopened at 30% capacity since 08 June. Canada is among the int’l destinations with connections to CUN.
- Explora’s Buy Now, Explore Later program offers a 50% incentive – receive US$500 bonus for every US$1,000 travel voucher you purchase by July 31, 2020. Credit certificates purchased by the end of July can be used for future bookings at any Explora destination, with a check-out date until October 31, 2022, including the Atacama – Uyuni Travesía and the Salta Travesía. Your purchase now will be supporting the livelihoods of local communities in remote territories and their people during this challenging period. Some restrictions apply. Ask us for details of this amazing offer for these incredible programs.
- “Ships may be safer than on shore”, according to Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a former commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and co-chair of a panel of public health experts put together by Royal Caribbean Group and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. Dr. Gottlieb reported that when cruise travel resumes it may be the safest way to vacation. Updated safety measure will include enhanced embarkation screening, temperature screenings, testing options for guests and crew, enhanced sanitization and disinfection protocols, upgraded air filtration, social distancing onboard, reduced occupancy and changes to dining and shore excursions. It’s expected that all ocean and river cruise lines will be following similar protocols.
- Say goodbye to mini-bars and buffets! Hotels have already irrevocably changed and finding new ways to operate with stricter healthcare guidelines and social distancing. Longer term, we can expect larger rooms with exercise bikes in each, an end to mini-bars and extra linens. Similar changes are being considered for cruise ships, where, sadly, the buffet will cease to exist. Probably a good thing for the waistline!
- The much-anticipated reopening of Orlando’s Walt Disney World will take place on Saturday, July 11, 2020. The pandemic has devastated Disney’s businesses, and the return of its signature tourist attraction — albeit with restricted capacity — is a major part of the company’s comeback attempt. Not everyone is happy about the move, however. Disney is stepping into a politicized debate in the US surrounding safety protocols, where even the wearing of masks has become a point of bitter contention.
Week of 29 June – 05 July, 2020:
- The EU announced a list of 14 countries whose citizens will be allowed to visit EU countries in its first phase of reopening, subject to the approval of each EU member. Countries still dealing with high COVID-19 numbers including the U.S. are not on the list. Canada is on the list, meaning Canadian may travel to the EU to visit family, even though non-essential travel is still not recommended by the Canadian government. Canadians returning from Europe will have to self-quarantine for 14 days upon their return. Prior to travel to the EU Canadian should check with the embassy of any country they plan to visit for the latest regulations and be prepared for last minute changes. Travel health insurance policies will not cover cases of COVID-19 while travelling and no repatriation flights will be offered to anyone that decides to travel at this time.
- Aeromexico filed for bankruptcy protection on Tuesday, the third Latin American airline to do so, joining Avianca Holdings of Colombia and Chile’s LATAM Airlines which had earlier sought protection from creditors. This follows a plunge in demand because of the coronavirus pandemic and limited or no government support or bailouts.
- Air Canada has announced today, 30 June, the indefinite suspension of service on 30 domestic regional routes as well as the discontinuation of service to eight Canadian airports as it is forced to streamline its operations amid the pandemic, working around ongoing travel restrictions and advisories. The company warns that further service suspensions may be necessary over the coming weeks as it navigates the unprecedented situation brought on by COVID-19. All of the airport operations closing down are in Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes, as are the route suspensions, other than four affecting Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
- LOT Polish Airlines resumed its first international flights since the suspension of passenger services in mid-March on 01 July. This includes a flights between Warsaw and Toronto, operating three to seven times per week.
- Air Canada has announced that, as of July 01, 2020, they will no longer be blocking off the middle/adjacent seat in their aircraft. They will be following the safety protocols outlined by IATA, including HEPA air filters onboard, antibacterial wipes as part of each meal service and in lavatories as well as CleanCare+ customer care kits (containing hand sanitizer, a mask, antibacterial wipes, hand sanitizer, gloves, water bottle, headphones and a snack). Enhanced cleaning protocols at airports and online queues for check-in counters are being put in place.
- Westjet has announced that, as of July 01, 2020, they will no longer be blocking off the middle/adjacent seat on their flights, but will adhere to the IATA protocols ensuring aircraft have HEPA air filters and enhanced cleaning systems. WestJet conducts pre-boarding temperature checks and requires masks be worn on board.
- G Adventures has suspended all tours departing up to and including Aug. 31, 2020. All travellers booked and paid in full on a cancelled tour will receive a 110% travel credit on all booked tour services to be used towards any tour departing up to two years from the end of the month of their tour’s suspension. Tours that are booked and under deposit only will have the deposit carried forward in a Lifetime Credit to use towards future travel.
- Air Canada Vacations’ “Canada Promise Updated” program offers one checked bag, seat selection and an additional 2,000 bonus Aeroplan® Miles per couple on qualifying packages. The special Canada 2020 promotion of $100 off per booking is applicable to new bookings of Canada packages (Flight & Hotel vacations, Urban Getaways, Guided Tours, Wildlife Adventures, Fly & Drive Vacations, Fly & Rail Vacations, Golf Vacations, Ski Vacations, Winter Adventures) made by 12 July, 2020 for travel up to 30 April, 2021.
- All passengers flying with Qatar Airways in economy class will be required to wear face shields as part of the carrier’s health and safety measures. Qatar says it will be issuing fliers with protection kits – including the face shields, hand sanitizer, a surgical face mask and disposable gloves — before they board its airplanes.
- Israeli-flag carrier El Al announced on Thursday that it would not be resuming scheduled passenger operations in July as planned, but has extended flight suspensions through the end of July and sent most employees home without pay amid a liquidity crisis.
Week of 22-28 June, 2020:
- As European Union countries prepare to reopen borders on 01 July they may not allow Americans to enter the bloc due to the United States’ lack of control in handling the spread of the Coronavirus within it its own population. The final recommendations will be released next week and reviewed every two weeks.
- Insight Vacations, Contiki, Costsaver, Luxury Gold and Trafalgar have temporarily suspended all guided holidays across the globe for trips departing up and until Aug. 31, 2020.
- Carnival has extended its operational pause in North America through Sept. 30, 2020.
- Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Azamara and MSC Cruises have all confirmed the halt of operations of their ships operating from U.S. ports to the Caribbean until Sept. 15, 2020.
Week of 15-21 June, 2020:
- COVID-19 Travel Restrictions across Canada – here’s the latest update published in the Winnipeg Free Press (source, The Canadian Press).
- WestJet has released an updated schedule for July, running from July 5-August 4 including trans-border destinations including Los Angeles, Atlanta and Las Vegas. WestJet’s Safety Above All health and safety protocols are in place, plus the airline continues to provide flexibility in booking, change and cancellation policies.
- Intrepid’s new ‘Flexible Bookings’ policy allows travellers to hold a reservation up to five days without payment; hold a trip reservations up to 21 days before the scheduled departure before making final payment and transfer their deposit three weeks prior to planned travel to the same trip on a different date or even a different trip prior to making final payment.
- Holland America Line has extended its suspension of operations,including cancelled Panama Canal, Hawaii, Pacific Coastal and South America cruises out of Vancouver this fall, plus Circle Hawaii voyages in early 2021.
- An interesting “Did you know?” Canadian farmers depend on 250,000 honeybees and 40,000 bee colonies imported into the country to pollinate their crops. Without them, there is a risk that growing yields could decline and cause food shortages. Honeybees provide pollination and sustain the overall food supply. Air Canada is instrumental in transporting honeybees into Canada, flying them in from warmer climates, such as California or Hawaii, in the spring. Unlike regular cargo, living queen bee shipments need to be kept at specific temperatures during their travel, and the cargo hold of commercial passenger flights are ideal. Although Covid-19 has disrupted passenger traffic to many areas, these essential workers will be able to clock-in for their yearly pollination across Canada.
- Today, June 16, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Canada and the US had agreed to keep the land border closed for another 30 days, extending the closure through to July 21.
- Air Canada Vacations future travel credits issued for cancelled vacations due to COVID-19 with departures between 04 March and July 31 no longer have an expiry date. This is in addition to the ability to transfer the credit to another person and to keep the residual value of the credit resulting from a fare difference.
- Hurtigruten‘s ship Finnmarken set off today (June 16) on a familiar 34-port journey from Bergen, Norway along the Norwegian coast to Kirkenes. The Hurtigruten ships that glide pas more than 100 fjords and 1,000 mountains, carry much needed supplies to scattered, coastal communities as well as ferrying tourists along the breathtaking coastline. The 12-day, one-way voyage is the first ocean-going cruise to sail since the coronavirus outbreak shut down the cruise industry.
- Rocky Mountaineer has extended its suspension of rail operations to August 30, 2020. Guests on a suspended departure will receive a future travel credit of 110% of monies paid, valid to the end of the 2022 season, rebooked by November 30, 2020. Rocky Mountaineer is also holding its 2021 and 2022 rail prices at the 2020 level.
- NCL, Oceania and Regent Seven Seas Cruises have announced the suspension of their global cruise voyages up to September 30, 2020, except for NCL’s Seattle-based Alaska voyages for this September. NCL and Oceania are also cancelling select Canada and New England sailings on for October 2020, due to travel and port restrictions.
- Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) is suspending all cruise operations from U.S. ports until September 15, 2020, the association announced June 19. “Due to the ongoing situation within the U.S. related to COVID-19, CLIA member cruise lines have decided to voluntarily extend the period of suspended passenger operations ,” CLIA wrote in a statement. The suspension applies to all CLIA members to which the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) No Sail Order applied (vessels with capacity to carry 250 persons or more).
Week of 08-14 June, 2020:
- Air Canada Vacations welcomed its first guests back to Cancun last week since the start of the COVID-19 crisis. Flying from Toronto Pearson on June 12, guests were greeted with a warm welcome at Cancun International Airport before being transferred to either Catalonia Playa Maroma or Barcelo Maya Palace. Air Canada‘s June schedule offers flights to Cancun as well as Varadero, Cayo Coco, Montego Bay, Barbados, Paris, Athens and Barcelona.
- British Airways, easyjet and Ryanair have launched legal action against the British government’s 14-day quarantine requirement to nearly all incoming travellers. In order to try and salvage some of the tourism industry in the UK the three airlines are requesting the government readopt its previous policy limiting only passengers from high risk countries.
- Travelweek’s COVID-19 Consumer Survey, in partnership with Star Metroland, which garnered close to 3,000 responses from consumers across Canada showed that Canada has moved to the top of travel wish-lists for Canadian travellers, once travel restrictions are lifted. When asked how soon after travel restrictions are lifted will they travel again: 34% – within 4-6 months; 32% – 1-3 months; 24% – 7+ months; 10% – within 1 month of restrictions being lifted. Considerations in order to book future travel now: nearly 28% – flexible cancellation policies; 19% – price discounts; 19% – cleanliness/physical distancing policies; 19% – destinations with low numbers of COVID-19; nearly 14% – quality product.
- Transat is set to resume both its flights and tours starting July 23, 2020. Its new flight schedule, running through Oct. 31, will include 22 destinations in Europe, the South, the U.S. and Canada.
Week of 01-07 June, 2020:
- Canada’s Transport Minister Marc Garneau announced on June 3 that most airport workers and flight crews will be required to wear non-medical masks from June 4, but pilots will be exempt while they are on the flight deck. Airline passengers have been required to wear face coverings since April and most airlines have recommended their onboard staff wear masks during service. Maritime and rail workers will be provided masks, while rail passengers will be asked to have one at hand in case they are not able to physically distance.
- Europe is gradually re-opening some of its most visited museums this week. Now open are: the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, the Netherlands; Vatican Museums, Vatican City, Italy; Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain. Set to re-open soon: Prado and Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain (06 June); Musee d’Orsay, Paris, France (23 June); Louvre, Paris, France (06 July).
- While businesses can apply a COVID-19 surcharge to cover the cost of personal protective equipment, some – including airlines — are choosing to absorb the cost instead of passing it on to customers. Both Air Canada and WestJet say they are not planning on issuing a COVID-19 surcharge as the travel industry slowly bounces back.
- The Winnipeg Airports Authority is increasing its airport improvement fee $13, from $25 to $38 come SEP. The fees help pay for maintaining airport infrastructure and capital project costs at YWG.
- New guidance issued by the International Civil Aviation Organization says passengers should have restricted access to toilets as airlines start to relaunch flights. One toilet should be set aside for crew. Passengers should use a designated WC based on their seat number, said the UN body, which detailed other guidelines around food and drink services, luggage, face masks and more.
- Royal Caribbean Cruise Line has cancelled all 2020 Alaska and eastern Canada/US cruises to comply with updated Canadian government regulations. Anyone currently booked on a cancelled departure can just Lift & Shift onto the same cruise for 2021, holding the price and promotions! This option is only available through June 17, 2020. Future cruise credits of 125% of the value of the currently booked cruise will be automatically issued for anyone not choosing the Lift & Shift option by the deadline. A refund is also available if requested by the 31 December, 2020.
- Fairmont Hotels & Resorts in Canada’s Western Mountain Region that encompasses Banff, Lake Louise, Jasper, and Whistler are reopening their doors to guests and visitors on 01 June. The properties are implementing physical distancing measures, mandatory screening for all guests and employees, masks provided to guests and worn by all employees, a 48-hour “settling period” for occupied rooms post-departure and more.
- Cancun and the Mexican Caribbean are the first destinations in the Americas to receive the Safe Travels Global Security Stamp issued by the World Travel and Tourism Council. Tourism in the Mexican Caribbean will begin to receive tourists under new sanitary protocols beginning 08 June, 2020.
Week of 25-31 May, 2020:
- Adventure Canada is offering a 15% saving off the berth cost on their 2021 Arctic and East Coast expeditions if booked by the 31 October, 2020. Their current offer of a 15% saving on 2021 European sailings is ending soon – book by the 01 June, 2020 to qualify.
- Travelweek’s COVID-19 Consumer Survey, completed by 2,853 consumers from across Canada, shows that 57% of respondents said they are more likely to use the services of a travel agent when booking their next trip. The survey noted that Canadian travel agents helped thousands of Canadians (some not even their clients) get home as borders were closing in mid-March. The coronavirus crisis brought confusion and chaos to the travel industry, but amid all the tumult, two things have become very clear. First, travel insurance sales will likely skyrocket in a post-pandemic world. And second, travel agents will be seen – rightly – as indispensable.
- The Canadian Minister of Transport Marc Garneau has extended the ban on cruise ships with overnight accommodation and allowed to carry more than 100 passengers. These cruise ships will be prohibited from operating in Canadian waters until at least Oct. 31.
- Canada’s Federal Court of Appeal has dismissed a consumer group’s lawsuit demanding that airlines refund travellers whose flights were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “The airline industry and airline passengers have been seriously affected by the Covid-19 pandemic,” wrote Justice Mactavish. “International borders have been closed, travel advisories and bans have been instituted, people are not travelling for non-essential reasons and airlines have cancelled numerous flights.” The Court stated: “Having airlines provide affected passengers with vouchers or credits for future travel ‘could be’ an appropriate approach in the present context as long as these vouchers or credits do not expire in an unreasonably short period of time.”
- LATAM, South America’s biggest airline, sought U.S. Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Tuesday as it grapples with the sharp downturn in air travel sparked by the coronavirus pandemic. Passenger and cargo flights will continue to operate, and employees will still be paid, the Santiago, Chile-based airline company said.
- The Greek government recently announced the gradual reopening of the Greek tourism season in the next few weeks, with international flights from select countries resuming in July. In line with this announcement the Greek cruise line, Celestyal, is further suspending its sailings by a month until July 30, 2020.
- Costa Cruises has announced that cruises will be paused until July 31, 2020, two months later than its previously announced date of May 31.
Week of 18-24 May, 2020:
- Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced today, 19 May/20, that the border between Canada and the US will remain closed for at least another month to all non-essential travel. Canadian and US officials agreed in mid-March to close the border for 30 days. That decision was extended another 30 days in April, reaching to May 21. Adding another 30 days to that means the soonest the border would open to normal traffic would be June 20.
- Rocky Mountaineer has extended its seasonal cancellations through to the 31 July, 2020. Guests booked on suspended departures will receive a future travel credit of 110% of the monies paid, valid through to the end of the 2022 season. Rocky Mountaineer will also hold 2021 rail prices at the 2020 level, so guests will not experience an inflationary price increase for the rail portion of their itinerary.
- Sunwing’s domestic Canada program will be back for its 15th consecutive season on June 26, with flights from Toronto to three Newfoundland destinations as well as Vancouver. This comes in combination with Sunwing’s Flexible Booking program for bookings made by 30 June, 2020. Features include the flexibility to change or cancel plans with ease, complimentary Price Drop Cash Back, $100 reduced deposit and flexible payment options where travellers can book now and pay over time with monthly payments.
- Silversea is extending its Cruise with Confidence cancellation program to all voyages scheduled to depart before 31 December, 2020. Guests may cancel their cruise for any reason up to 48 hours prior to sailing and receive a 100% future cruise credit for the amount paid, valid for two years from the date of issue. Also, a reduced deposit of CA$1,250 per suite is in place for new bookings made before 30 June 30, 2020 (excluding World Cruises and Grand Voyages). Guests who redeem this offer will also receive a $1,000 onboard spending credit per suite. Guests with a Future Cruise Credit may use it to take advantage of these special offers.
- Norwegian Cruise Line, has voluntarily suspended sailings through to 30 June, 2020, has extended its Peace of Mind policy. The policy applies to any voyage through 30 November, 2020, and allows guests to cancel anytime up to 48 hours in advance of embarkation. Guests will receive a future cruise credit for the full value of their payment, to be used for sailings that embark through 31 December, 2022. NCL also has several special offers in place for bookings made by 31 May, 2020.
- Hertz and it’s subsidiaries Dollar, Thrifty and Firefly, filed for bankruptcy Friday night, the latest victim of the economic downturn sparked by the pandemic. The company has been renting cars since 1918, when it set up shop in Chicago with a dozen Ford Model Ts, and has survived the Great Depression, the virtual halt of US auto production during World War II and numerous oil price shocks. By declaring bankruptcy now, Hertz says it intends to stay in business while restructuring its debts and emerging a financially healthier company. The bankruptcy filing excludes operations in Europe, Australia and New Zealand, as well as the company’s franchisee locations.
- Azamara, Celebrity and Royal Caribbean Cruise Line has suspended all cruise departures until the 31 July, 2020. Passengers affected by cancelled cruise sailings can opt for a future cruise credit of 125% of monies paid or receive a refund.
Week of 11-17 May, 2020:
- Globus Family of Brands (Globus, Cosmos, Monograms and Avalon Waterways) has cancelled all tour departures through to the 31 August, 2020. Anyone booked on affected tours or cruises can rebook without penalty for any 2020, 2021 or 2022 departure, on any of the four brands under their Peace of Mind Travel plan. The plan also includes a bonus credit of $50, $100 or $200 per person, depending on the program you are booked on.
- Air Canada will automatically block the sale of adjacent seats in Economy Class on all flights and cap the total number of seats sold per flight. As a result, no customer in Economy Class will sit immediately adjacent to another, unless they are travelling with a child under age 14 or someone needing assistance. This policy remains in effect until June 30, 2020.
- Westjet Airlines has extended its suspension of flight to the US and international destinations until 25 June, 2020 and has revised its domestic Canada flight schedules for 04 June-25 July.
- AmaWaterways, select 2021 sailings booked by the 30 June, 2020 qualify for a 5% discount (max. CA$1,800 per cabin) on balcony staterooms and suites and complimentary pre-paid gratuities. In response to early demand, they have opened up bookings for 2022 sailings, a full six months ahead of schedule. All itineraries in France, Portugal, Holland and those travelling the Rhine and Moselle rivers are now open for reservations, with added rewards for guests who book early. The remainder of the 2020 season will be announced May 20.
- The Government of Iceland has today announced that it expects to start easing restrictions on international arrivals no later than 15 June 2020, while from 15 May some professionals arriving in Iceland including scientists, filmmakers and athletes will eligible for a modified quarantine.
- Lufthansa Group says it is preparing to relaunch flights to Canada on 03 June with service 3X/week between Toronto and Frankfurt. From now through to 31 August Lufthansa passengers are required to wear a facial mouth/nose covering while on board and all Lufthansa flight attendants in direct contact with customers are also required to wear a mask. As a result of the new regulation the middle seat is no longer being left empty, although seats will be assigned as far apart as possible. Subsidiary airlines SWISS and Eurowings will also be offering increased inter-Europe service starting the 01 June.
- Celebrity Cruises is reporting increasing bookings on it’s 2020 Caribbean cruises and strong demand for 2021/22 Europe and Alaska cruises. Families, repeat cruisers and those in the 40-59 age range are booking the most and higher-end cabins are selling better than lower priced cabins.
- Disney Cruise Lines has again extended cancellations of all sailings for another two months. Trips are postponed until at least 27 July, 2020.
- Avianca, the Colombian airline, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the US, blaming its collapse on the “unforeseeable impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.” It will continue to operate during the bankruptcy process. Founded in 1919, Avianca claims to be the world’s second-oldest continuously running airline.
- The European Union introduces regulations that airlines will not have to leave seats empty, but passengers flying in the European Union will have to wear masks on planes and in airports, under plans to revive the travel industry.
Week of 04-10 May, 2020:
- Air Canada’s newly released June schedule includes service to Caribbean locations of Cancun, Varadero, Cayo Coco, Montego Bay, Barbados and European destinations of Paris, Athens and Barcelona. Packages including flight and accommodation will be offered by Air Canada Vacations, based on the availability of resorts and hotels.
- Air Canada’s CleanCare+ program addresses concerns for high-level cleanliness and safety protocols. Included in the program is mandatory pre-flight passenger temperature checks; required health questionnaires, and seat assignment policies to allow for more personal space in Economy Class on all flights until June 30, 2020. is allowing a one-time change fee waiver for all new flights booked since March 3, 2020 up to May 31, 2020. Changes or cancellations must be made at least 24 hours in advance of the departure.
- Air Transat has announced it is suspending all flights until the 30 June, 2020.
- Delta continues to provide essential service to key cities globally along with essential service throughout the U.S. They provide flights to all U.S. hubs and top markets, although at significantly reduced frequencies. Some daily flights are offered between the US and Canada including Detroit to Montreal and Toronto, New York to Toronto and Seattle to Vancouver. Less than daily service is offered between Minneapolis and Calgary, Edmonton and Winnipeg as well as Detroit to Ottawa.
- Quark Expeditions has cancelled its 2020 Arctic and North Pole cruises up to the end of September. Cruises scheduled to depart 30 September, 2020 or later are still planned to operate. Their “Book with Confidence & Rebook Anytime” policy applies to any cancelled dates.
- Holland America Cruise Line has cancelled all cruise departures to Alaska, Europe and Canada/New England for the duration of 2020.
16 March-03 May, 2020:
- Adventure Canada has cancelled all 2020 Canadian Arctic expeditions to comply with the Canadian government’s advisory of no non-essential and tourism travel to the region. Passengers booked for 2020 cruises have the option to transfer to the same or similar cruise in 2021 or 2022, or receive a refund for monies paid.
- Exodus has suspended all tours departing up to 30 June, 2020. All travellers booked on a tour departing before 01 July, 2020 are eligible for a refund credit note, which can be used on any booking made by July 31, 2021, for travel prior to March 31, 2022.
- G Adventures announced it is suspending all tours with departures up to 30 June, 2020. Any traveller booked and fully paid on a tour departing up to that date will receive a 110% travel credit on all booked tour services, including pre and post-tour accommodations and transfers, to be used on any tour departing up to two years from the end of the month of their original tour’s suspension. Travellers who haven’t yet made their final payment will have their “life time deposit” kept on file to put towards a future tour.
- Intrepid Group has extended its tour suspension period for global operations until at least 30 September, 2020. Clients booked on a tour that has been suspended due to the pandemic will automatically receive a credit of 110% of monies paid (of their deposit or full payment).
- Quark Expeditions has a “Book with Confidence & Rebook Anytime” Policy, which applies to its Arctic 2020 season (excluding the North Pole), and allows clients to cancel any time, for any reason, up to 24 hours prior to their voyage start date. The policy is risk-free, allowing clients to re-book with a 100% future travel refund credit for deposits or other payments at the time of cancellation received by Quark. It also allows clients to re-book with 120% future travel refund credit for voyages where full payment at the time of cancellation has been received by the company. There are no rebooking fees and credits are transferrable. New and existing Antarctica 2020 bookings receive Extended Payment Terms for voyages up to 60 days prior to voyage.
- Sicily, Italy‘s largest island, introduced a program to pay a portion of international visitor’s airfare, every 3rd hotel night as well a free access to museums and archaeological sites, to entice travellers to visit once restrictions are removed. Vouchers will be offered through the tourist board soon after the country re-opens its borders.
- Canadians with a Nexus Card who use marijuana might want to be extra careful crossing the US border after a leaked memo says if guards find out about prior drug use, operating a grow-op and having a valid medical marijuana card the Nexus pass can be taken away or not granted in the first place.
COVID-19 News & Updates:
29 April, 2020 – The travel industry world-wide is asking everyone who can to reschedule rather than cancel. Whether to postpone or cancel your travel plans is a personal decision,but we’ll work with you and use our experience to guide you along the way. We receive daily updates from our suppliers around the globe including air and cruise lines, tour and accommodation suppliers. As your travel company we will provide you with options for your particular travel plans based on the most up to date information.
01 April, 2020 – We continue to receive frequent updates from our airline, cruise line and tour company suppliers, as the situation evolves. As your travel company we will advise you on what your options are for your particular travel plans. The travel industry world-wide is asking everyone who can to reschedule rather than cancel. Whether to postpone or cancel your travel plans is certainly a personal decision, based on your own circumstances. But, you’ll have our experience and help to guide you along the way.
20 March, 2020 – As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to affect the communities where we live and work (and communities around the world where we love to travel), please know that we are working diligently to assist our clients. Those who are currently travelling we’re assisting to get home safely; those booked to travel over the next few days and weeks, to reschedule their travel plans for future travel; cancelling plans for clients when future travel is not an option.
We must also do all we can to ensure the health and safety of both our staff and clients.
Effective the end of day today, March 18th, 2020:
- our office in Winnipeg will operate with reduced staff and reduced hours, from 10:00am to 4:00pm CT.
- walk-in traffic will not be accepted at this time.
- our staff will be available to handle your inquiries by phone at 204 949 0199 and by email.
- in the case of an emergency where an in-person appointment is the only option, we will offer that service on an “appointment only” basis. Please call or email to set up an appointment.
Effective the end of the day Friday, March 20th, 2020:
- our office in Edmonton will be temporarily closed. All inquiries will be handled by our Winnipeg office staff, who will have access to all client files.
Although there are changes to our staff availability and office hours for the foreseeable future, please be assured that, unlike dealing with an online travel agency, you will be able to reach us! To date, 95% of our clients have re-booked, rescheduled, been refunded or cancelled, all with the assistance of our experienced travel consultants.
While you may not be taken care of by your usual consultant over the next little while, you will definitely be taken care of! We assure you that we will remain available to assist you.
Thank you for your understanding and continued support. We look forward to the day when we can get back to Creating Your Best Days Ever!
12 March, 2020 – COVID-19, a term we’ve become all too used to hearing these past few weeks, continues to be a serious, ongoing health issue worldwide. But there’s no need to panic. First and foremost, if you have booked your trip with us, then you can be assured you are dealing with a professional travel expert. Your consultant will advise you, as their client, what provisions are in place and what your options may be to enable you to make an informed decision regarding your travel plans. We are receiving frequent, daily updates from our airline, cruise line and tour company suppliers, as well as government updates as the situation evolves. Whether to reschedule or cancel your travel plans entirely is certainly a personal decision, based on your own health and circumstances, your destination and your method of travel. But, you’ll have our experience and help to guide you along the way. Here are some really good resources you can look to for accurate information:
World Health Organization and World Map
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Government of Canada
US Department of State and Country Specific Information
John Hopkins World Map
Our 2020 Consumer Events calendar:
January 30 at 7:00pm – Iceland, presented by Shauna Cook
Our consumer events have been suspended until September.
Dates starting in September will be announced as soon as they are available.