Lois Farley – The Great Canadian Travel Co.


July 8, 2020 | Lois Farley

Travel is not just about people going somewhere. It is about inspiration, opportunity, dreams, ambitions and about building lifelong connections. COVID-19 has not made any of these things disappear. In many ways the desire for real connectivity is being increased. Travel has changed forever. One major change may be seen …

July 6, 2020 | Arnie Hydamaka

The more special your travel dream, the more we can help you get there! That was the motto of the Great Canadian Travel Company when it began in 1980 and was when I became associated with the company. I had a dream travel destination – Africa, and more specifically the …

June 30, 2020 | GCT Bear

My hometown of Churchill, Manitoba is a Canadian town located on the edge of the Arctic. It still has a distinctive frontier town feel about it and comes to life whenever a new group of visitors arrive. The people that live here are friendly, proud of their hometown and the …


A Note from our President, 08 July 2020

July 08, 2020 | Lois Farley

Travel is not just about people going somewhere. It is about inspiration, opportunity, dreams, ambitions and about building lifelong connections. COVID-19 has not made any of these things disappear.

In many ways the desire for real connectivity is being increased. Travel has changed forever. One major change may be seen in the reasons that we travel, with a greater sense of desire to be connected to people. Rather than just focusing on the cheapest trip to go somewhere for a couple of days, our travel will be about our families and friends – the desire to go and see loved ones that Zoom or FaceTime just doesn’t fulfill. A family trip away to “really” spend time together. Or, given the dramatically increased “travel hassle factor“, travelling with a purpose.

Read More >

Newsletters – 2020

July 08, 2020 | Lois Farley

If you want to keep up to date on product news, promotions and specials we send out a newsletter by e-mail every week or two. To be kept in the loop just sign up from our website, at the bottom of each page in the red “footer” or email us to be added to the list to receive updates from us. You can always unsubscribe at any time if you change your mind later on!

Newsletter Archives:

08 July, 2020 – Up2Date with Arnie Hydamaka

01 July, 2020 – Up2Date with Amelia Bearhart

24 June, 2020 – Up2Date with Margot Kalinowsky

17 June, 2020 – Up2Date with Yvonne Sacilot

10 June, 2020 – Up2Date with Ian Kalinowsky

03 June, 2020 – Up2Date with Lindsay Ruffeski

27 May, 2020 – Up2Date with Karen Pearson

20 May, 2020 – Up2Date with Sandra Jensen

13 May, 2020 – Up2Date with Allison Silvaggio

06 May, 2020 – Up2Date with Lois Farley

29 April, 2020 – Up2Date with Shauna Cook

16 April, 2020 – Spring Ahead to Your Best Days Ever!

01 April, 2020 – Active Getaways & April Fools Day

18 March, 2020 – Update on COVID-19

12 March, 2020 – Luck of the Irish

27 February, 2020 – International Polar Bear Day

13 February, 2020 – Romance on the Rails

29 January, 2020 – Top of the World

15 January, 2020 – Sun, Sand and Surf

What’s New

July 08, 2020 | Lois Farley


**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 sales@gctravel.ca 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 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
Re-Open EU Map
World Health Organization and World Map
John Hopkins World Map
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 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.

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.

Doorways to Game of Thrones®Country

May 05, 2020 | Lois Farley

Anyone who is a Game of Thrones® fan will know that much of the filming of the blockbuster HBO series took place in Northern Ireland. You can visit many of the locations on excellent guided day tours out of Belfast or multi-day tours, for a more in-depth experience. And many of the guides were actually involved in the filming of the show, so have firsthand knowledge.

One of the filming locations is The Dark Hedges, in the northern part of County Antrim. To those in Westeros it is known as the Kingsroad.  The Dark Hedges was battered by gale force winds during Storm Gertrude in 2016. Unfortunately, a number of the trees whose branches formed the scenic arch over the road, were felled by the winds. Rather than just dispose of the wood the idea came up to use the wood from some of the trees that fell to create intricately carved, wooden doors, each door depicting a story from Game of Thones®, Season 6. Thus, the Journey of Doors was born!

Read More >

April Fool’s Day

April 01, 2020 | Lois Farley

April 1st, known as April Fools’ Day or All Fools’ Day, is here and if you’re like me, I’m kind of feeling like Mother Nature is playing a very nasty prank on humankind. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact our world in many different ways and the seriousness of it makes it pretty hard to feel much like laughing. But, boy, if there was ever a time we needed to laugh, it’s now!

Read More >

Update on COVID-19

March 18, 2020 | Lois Farley

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.

Read More >

Saint Patrick’s Ireland

March 11, 2020 | Lois Farley

With Saint Patrick’s Day coming up a lot of people’s minds turn to Ireland and all things Irish. 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 1800s. My maternal Grandmother’s family home in County Antrim is a special place to me from a genealogical standpoint, nestled as it is at the foot of nearby Mt. Slemish. It’s where my Grandma Hannah was born and raised, and is the land she left behind when she left for Canada. But, I discovered, it was also a very significant place for Saint Patrick. Read More >

On the Silver Screen

February 29, 2020 | Lois Farley

When I’m sitting in a theatre, or on my couch, watching a movie, I often wonder where in the world they filmed the shot of the roaring waterfall, or the glass-like lake, or, for example, the Cliffs of Insanity… I’ve watched The Princess Bride more times than I can count… I’m not ashamed, it’s a great movie.

So I researched some of the filming locations of some of my favourite movies, and lo and behold, I found out that Great Canadian Travel has tours that go to some of these locations. So, here is my definitely non-exhaustive list of tours for movie/TV show buffs and those who like to travel to neat places: Read More >

Made in Canada – What’s the Deal with our Pricing?

February 13, 2020 | Lois Farley

The Great Canadian Travel Group has been in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada since November 21, 1980. It grew to incorporate an office in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada September 1, 2016. All our staff are Canadian and we all love Canada. Our clients span the globe as do our tour suppliers. We love travel and love to help our clients see as much of the world as we can. We are passionate about our jobs. Read More >

What’s New Archives

January 05, 2020 | Lois Farley

Read our current newsletters.

Read the updates from our President, Ian Kalinowksy on his blog page.


Company News – 2019:

Great Canadian Travel Group signed a partnership agreement with Indigeno Travel, 13 November, 2019: Ian Kalinowsky and Allison Silvaggio are attending the International Indigenous Tourism Conference in Kelowna, BC. It is the largest Indigenous conference in the world. Today, Great Canadian Travel Group signed a partnership agreement with Indigeno Travel, a Winnipeg-based, Indigenous-owned travel agency, Continental travel Group and the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC) to act as the travel agency for Indigenous experiences across the country. For 40 years Great Canadian Travel has been operating in  Indigenous communities and we are very excited to be recognised for our knowledge and capabilities. We look forward to exciting growth possibilities with this new partnership.

30 May, 2019: Today marks the 70th anniversary of KLM’s inaugural flight between the Netherlands and Canada, a milestone occasion that the carrier marked with an official water salute by firefighters at Montréal-Trudeau airport. The ceremonial salute was a touching reminder of how 70 years ago, on May 29, 1949, members of the KLM Royal Dutch Airlines crew boarded a Lockheed Constellation 747 to welcome passengers on the first-ever Amsterdam-Montreal flight. The ‘Batavia’ touched down at Dorval airport on May 30, following two stopovers.


New Location: We’re nicely settled into our new office at 1349 Portage Avenue (north side of Portage between Valour Road and Ashburn Street), which we moved to on the 30 November, 2018, and the weather finally warmed up enough for our signs to be installed. We’re no longer that nameless, light brown brick building on Portage Avenue! If you live in the Winnipeg area we invite you to pop in and see our new digs!


If you want to keep up to date on product news, promotions and specials we send out an e-mailer every couple of weeks. If you want to be kept in the loop just sign up from our website, at the bottom of each page in the red “footer” or email us to be added to the list to receive updates from us. You can always unsubscribe at any time!


Company News – 2018

Our Winnipeg office is moving! Effective November 30th our new address will be 1349 Portage Avenue. We’ll be on the north side of Portage Avenue between Valour Rd and Ashburn St. Our phone number, fax number and email addresses will all stay the same. We’ll be having a Grand Opening once we’re all settled in our new digs, so watch this space for updates.

Top 60 Canadian Travel Blogger sites: Great Canadian Travel was just named as one of the top 60 travel blog sites in Canada by Feedspot.com. Blog sites are judged by their search engine ranking, social media influence, social media buzz, Alexa ranking (a division of Amazon that measures web searches and visitors), post frequency and quality scores. We try hard to keep providing interesting and relevant content and it’s nice to see that our effort is being noticed. So, if we keep blogging, will you keep reading?

And the Michelin Stars keep coming to our favourite places! Dill has been named the best Icelandic restaurant on numerous occasions and can now boast a Michelin Star, the first every awarded in Iceland – way to go, Dill!  “Dill builds on Icelandic traditions and Icelandic and Nordic ideology, and we use only the best and purest of Icelandic ingredients in our cooking,” said Head Chef of Dill, Ragnar Eiríksson. “It’s an enormous honor for all of my fantastic coworkers.” Dill is a small restaurant that sits between 20-30 people, so book your reservation today before the rest of the world hears about one of Iceland’s (and the world’s) best restaurants!

Congratulations to KOKS restaurant, Kirkjubøur, Faroe Islands on winning your first Michelin star, the first restaurant in the Faroe Islands to do so!  Makes the short drive to this stunning seaside town even more worthwhile (like we needed another reason)!  Run by 26 year-old Faroese chef Poul Andrias Ziska, the young avant-garde team at KOKS use Faroese produce, focusing on innovative, but at the same time, traditional cuisine.  The menu is determined by the season and what they have to offer, transforming the food by using ancient culinary traditions such as drying, fermenting, salting and smoking, into modern delicacies.  Way to go, Poul and your fabulous team at KOKS!