Meet Our Experts

Contact

Lois Farley, CTC | Product Manager

Who is Lois:
Lois is currently Product Manager. She joined the Great Canadian Travel team in March 2000, starting out as an airfare specialist, then represented Icelandair in Canada, handled Sales & Marketing as well as specializing in Iceland, Greenland, the Faroe Islands, Norway and expedition cruises in the Arctic and Antarctic.

She grew up on a farm near Forrest, MB and moved to Winnipeg to attend university pursuing a phys-ed degree, then obtained a travel diploma from Angus College. Since graduating she worked in the industry as a travel consultant, a reservations agent/fares specialist for Canadian Airlines and in the sales/ticketing office for KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.

Lois married Yianni in 1993 in a tiny, country chapel in Greece and they have two daughters, Lea and Giorgia. They live in Winnipeg and travel frequently to Greece to visit family and friends there. She and her daughters are ardent Winnipeg Jets fans and cheer on the Toronto Blue Jays, Winnipeg Goldeyes, Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Canada’s men’s and women’s volleyball teams and Canadian tennis players.  During Euro Cup 2016, Lois became a big fan of the Icelandic soccer team – Afram Island!

One of Lois’ favourite places to travel to is Ireland – even her profile picture is taken there, learning to pour a Guinness. Her maternal grandmother and other great-grandparents all emigrated from County Antrim, so this is a very special place for her. But, she loves the whole island and all of the incredible experiences it holds.

What are Lois’ TOP 5 travel experiences:

  • Climbing Ayers Rock (now called Uluru) at dawn, and looking out over the ancient lands of the Aboriginals of central Australia. Much to the disappointment of one of the people on our group, there was no Coke machine at the top.
  • Sailing into the fjords of Torngat National Park in northern Labrador. I had no idea there was anywhere like that in Canada – stunning!
  • Visiting the monasteries of Meteora in central Greece, the cliff-side villages of Santorini, the ancient sites of Knossos in Crete, Mycenae and Olympia in the Peloponnese, skiing on Mt. Parnassos in the morning and having lunch in the afternoon beside the sea.  Greece is amazing.
  • Hiking the Samaria Gorge in Crete and the Milford Track in New Zealand – completely different hikes, but both incredible experiences.
  • Backpacking through Europe for almost a year; from Greece in the south to the northern tip of Scotland, Bergen Norway to the beaches of the Algarve in Portugal. A better education than any classroom could ever give!

What is Lois’ closing comment:
“In the short term, it would make me happy to go play outside. In the long term, it would make me happier to do well at school and become successful. But, in the VERY long term, I know which will make better memories”.
– Bill Watterson, Calvin and Hobbes: It’s a Magical World

So, go outside and play whenever you can! Life is too short to regret what you could have, would have, should have done!

New from Lois Farley, CTC

What’s New

June 03, 2020 | Lois Farley

2020

**Please note, due to the COVID-19 pandemic both our Winnipeg and Edmonton office are 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.**

 

Read our current newsletters.

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

Supplier news and information:

Week of 01-08 June, 2020:

  • 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.

Newsletters – 2020

May 20, 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 couple of weeks. 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:

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

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!

Newsletters – 2019

December 31, 2019 | 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 couple of weeks. 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:

December 31st newsletter – Happy New Year in 2020!

December 18th newsletter – Happy Holiday Greetings!

December 05th newsletter – Winter Escapes

November 21st newsletterBlack Friday & Cyber Monday sales.

November 07th newsletter – Travel With a Purpose.

October 24th newsletter – Under the African Sun.

October 09th newsletter – Thanksgiving.

September 25th newsletter – Multi-Generational Cruises.

September 11th newsletter – All-Inclusive Resorts.

August 28th newsletter – Group Travel.

August 14th newsletterNorthern Lights.

July 31st newsletter – Stunning South Pacific.

July 17th newsletter – Award-Winning Portugal.

July 4th newsletter – Let’s Celebrate Canada!

June 19th newsletterIceland & Fun in the Summertime.

June 5th newsletterEscorted African safari.

May 22nd newsletter – European Escorted Tours.

Promos & Specials – May 15, 2019 – 2nd edition

May 08, 2019: The ABCs of Great Canadian Travel

Promos & Specials: May 01, 2019 – 1st edition

April 24, 2019: Our Nordic Adventures

Promos & Specials: April 17, 2019 – 2nd edition

April 10, 2019: A Spring in Your Step

Promos & Specials: April 03, 2019 – 1st edition

March 27, 2019: Ireland & the UK

Promos & Specials: March 20, 2019 – 2nd edition

March 13, 2019: Sales on Sails

Promos & Specials: March 06, 2019 – 1st edition

February 27, 2019: International Polar Bear Day

Promos & Specials: February 20, 2019 – 2nd edition

February 13, 2019: Love is in the Air

Promos & Specials: February 06, 2019 – 1st edition

January 30, 2019: Top of the World

Promos & Specials: January 23, 2019 – 2nd edition

January 16, 2019: Warm Destinations

Promos & Specials: January 9, 2019 – 1st edition

January 2, 2019: Happy New Year!

Lois’ Best Days Ever!

November 12, 2019 | Lois Farley

Over my many years of travelling, both for work and on vacation, there have been lots of Best Days Ever. But, this is definitely one of the best!

My two daughters and I recently took a trip to Ireland. We started out in Dublin, and had a couple of days in that fun city, where’s there’s so much to see and do. Then, we picked up a rental car and off we went, road warriors! The self-drive trip itself was great, although I admit to being a bit too ambitious in my planning. Trying to fit in everything that all three of us wanted to see was just not possible. We did manage to see a lot of awesome places, though (and even some we didn’t intend to, thanks Google maps!) But, I always say, when you’re on holiday you never get lost, you just take scenic detours. And sometimes those detours work out great. Note to self, just because a road in Ireland looks straight on the map (there are one or two, but that’s probably it) does not mean it’s flat (as our Prairie brains automatically equated it to be). There was one in particular that was a real roller coaster! Read More >

Travel With a Purpose

November 08, 2019 | Lois Farley

Travel With a Purpose is the new trend in travel that is changing the industry and bringing people together. Besides a holiday or a well-deserved rest, when was the last time you traveled and asked yourself why? Why that destination, why that route, why those activities on the road?

Traveling is representative of life. If you listen to your inner voice and follow your heart, you will find the places that speak out to you, that reach out and touch you, and which make you feel like you’re “home”. Find something meaningful to you that can motivate you to book a ticket and take that trip. There are so many ways you can travel with a purpose. The important thing is that it has purpose for YOU. If it’s enjoyable or brings meaning to you, it will be a good motivation to travel. Read More >

Out on the Tundra in Churchill

November 06, 2018 | Lois Farley

“Sssshhhh, turn around quietly and look out the window.” Those were the words said in hushed tones by our tour host as we were happily sitting in the lounge car of the Tundra Buggy Lodge™, having a wee drink before dinner. We turned and looked in awe, as right outside the windows, casually strolling by in the tell-tale pigeon-toed gait, was a big, beautiful polar bear. You could hear the intake of breath as we all marvelled at the incredible wonder of nature walking right by us. “That’s a young male, about 3 years old” our guide informed us. His powerful muscles rippled underneath his fur telling us that he is a force of nature, a natural hunter and predator. But the round, black eyes and black nose set in that white face offered all of us that unmistakable sense of “Oh, you look cute enough to cuddle”. A feeling best kept as thought and not action! These are not cute and cuddly toys! Read More >

2018 Newsletters:

October 04, 2018 | Lois Farley

December 12, 2018: Days of Travel

November 28, 2018: Moving Week

November 14, 2018: Wildlife

October 31, 2018: Happy Halloween

October 18, 2018: South America

October 03, 2018: Thanksgiving Cornucopia of Travel

September 19, 2018: Warm Winter Getaways

September 4, 2018: Castles & Cathedrals

August 22, 2018: Northern Lights

August 09, 2018: Wine & Whiskey Tours

July 25, 2018: Africa Adventures

July 11, 2018: Mexico and Central America

June 26, 2018: Canada Day Edition

June 06, 2018: Expedition Cruising

May 2018: May Flowers in Iceland and Greenland

April 2018: April Showers Bring Canadian Flowers

March 2018: Happy St. Patrick’s Day! We Love Ireland!

February 2018: International Polar Bear Day – Name Our Bear Mascot Contest

January 2018: There’s a Place in the Sun

Sleep Like Royalty in an Irish Castle

March 15, 2018 | Lois Farley

With World Sleep Day and St. Patrick’s Day falling consecutively on Friday, March 16th and Saturday, March 17th, I thought it’d be only fitting to look into the idea of sleeping in an Irish castle. I mean, who hasn’t dreamed of spending at least one night like a prince or princess from a fairy tale?

Ireland offers up a lot of great choices for a castle stay. Here are three choices, but there are many others.

  Ashford Castle, County Mayo
The original castle construction began back in 1228, so some of the castle’s stonework is approaching 800 years of age. The famed Guinness brewing family purchased the castle in the mid-1800’s and put about $75 million into the massive renovation to upgrade the interior. With additional modern renovations the castle now features its historic façade and “bones” along with stunningly restored interiors and a state-of-the-art spa. Not just a place to lay your head, it’s an experience, the chance to live a dream of staying in a genuine castle, but still having all the creature comforts we’ve come to expect.

Dromoland Castle, County Clare
Built in the 16th century, the limestone, medieval castle with its statuesque turret sits on 450 acres of lush green grass and verdant gardens. Since the 10th century Dromoland has been the ancestral home of the O’Briens, Barons of Inchiquin and descendants of Brian Boru High King of Ireland during the 11th century. For the next 900 years a branch of the O’Briens lived and ruled from this castle. Retaining all the grandness of bygone eras the castle has been upgraded to a very comfortable standard, offering everything the modern day, discerning “royalty for a day” is looking for.

  Ballygally Castle, County Antrim
In real estate it’s said that location is everything, and Ballygally Castle has that in spades! This turreted treasure has been standing guard over the spellbinding Causeway Coastal Route since the 17th century. Rumoured to be one of the most haunted buildings on the entire island, Ballygally boasts more than one spectre, including former residents Lady Isobel Shaw and Madame Nixon. If you’re brave enough you can visit the Ghost Room in one of the turrets!

Read about more Irish castles where you can sleep like royalty:
Irish Times, Ireland’s Top 10 Castles to Stay In
Ireland.com, 6 Luxury Castle Stays

Ireland Speaks to Me Like No Other Place on Earth

January 19, 2018 | Lois Farley

My maternal Grandma, Hannah Muirhead, emigrated to Canada from County Antrim, Ireland (now part of Northern Ireland) back in the late 1800’s.  Two of her brothers and a sister had sailed to Canada a few years earlier.  Sadly, her sister died of black fever on the crossing and was buried at sea, but her brothers arrived safely and made their way west to homestead at the Derry Corner, near Douglas, Manitoba. They then invited Hannah to come and join them. I can’t imagine leaving my family and everything that was familiar to me and sailing across the Atlantic to an unknown place, all at the age of 19. The courage to do that seems unimaginable.  Read More >

10 Reasons Why You Still Need a Travel Agent Consultant

September 08, 2017 | Lois Farley

 

In the age of online booking sites, using a travel consultant may feel like going the way of the dinosaur. But, consultants are more useful than simply selling airline tickets, trips to Disney World and cruises. Many consultants provide services or have knowledge that you just can’t get online – and sometimes, especially in times of crisis, working with a real live person is just plain superior. Read More >

Guinness™ Part 3 – Beer and Books

August 09, 2017 | Lois Farley

Being at the Guinness™ brewery in Dublin got me to thinking about the Guinness™ Book of World Records. Was it related to the famous Guinness™ stout I’d learned so much about at the Guinness™ Storehouse?

Read More >

Guinness™ Part 2 – The Storehouse

July 31, 2017 | Lois Farley

When I was in Dublin in March I visited the Guinness™ Storehouse at St. James’s Gate. A seven-story, converted warehouse where you learn all about the Guinness™ story, it is Ireland’s #1 tourist attraction according to TripAdvisor®. The centre court is built in the shape of a monstrous Guinness™ glass, reaching from the ground floor all the way up to the 6th story. They’ll even tell you how many pints of Guinness™ it would take to fill that gigantic glass! Read More >

Guinness™ – it’s a food group!

July 19, 2017 | Lois Farley

OK, well maybe not technically, but ask any true-blooded Irish person and they’ll tell you that “Yes, it makes a nice snack or small meal!”. And why wouldn’t it? It’s made of really good natural food stuff, all locally sourced.

Read More >

Tracing Your Family Tree Just One Reason to Visit Halifax

July 13, 2017 | Lois Farley

Halifax, Nova Scotia is an appealing city with the friendliness of a small town but all the amenities you would expect to find in a modern, urban centre. Its city centre is compact and very walkable with lots of shops, cafes and restaurants, attractions, the harbour-front and loads of accommodation options, all easily accessible. Destination Halifax says this about Halifax – “An urban centre wrapped in seacoast and history – you’ll want to see for yourself!”. I think this is a pretty accurate description!

Read More >

A Bunch of Random Facts About Canada on her Sesquicentennial

June 26, 2017 | Lois Farley

It’s not everyday a lady celebrates her Sesquicentennial.  And it’s not everyday you can find someone who actually a) knows what that means and b) can say it properly!

OK, so what it means is “the 150th anniversary of” and is pronounced “ses kwi sen tenial”.  It comes from “sesqui”, meaning one and a half and “centennial” meaning a hundred. Read More >

Where are the best places on earth to see the Northern Lights?

March 17, 2017 | Lois Farley

There’s a huge amount of information about Northern Lights viewing available online today.  Several different countries claim to provide the best viewing (and I must admit I’m a bit biased in Canada’s favour), and even after you’ve decided on a country, there’s normally a number of different towns within that country, all vying for your attention and your visit.

  

Read More >

2017 Newsletters

February 14, 2017 | Lois Farley

January 2017 Issue 1 – Ring in the New Year  Read
February 2017 Issue 2 – Happy 150th Canada – We Love You!  Read
February 2017 Issue 2.5 – International Polar Bear Day  Read
March 2017 Issue 3 – We Love Canada Even More!  Read
April 2017 Issue 4 – April Showers Bring May Flowers and a Bouquet of Travel Ideas!  Read
May 2017 Issue 5 – O Canada, our home and native land   Read
June 2017 Issue 6 – Happy 150th Canada!   Read
July 2017 Issue 7 – Ireland and the UK – There’s Never Been a Better Time  Read
August 2017 Issue 8 – Now’s The Time to Experience Africa Read
September 2017 Issue 9 – Everyone Needs a Little Vitamin Sea Read
October 2017 Issue 10 – Some Like It Hot – Winter Getaways Read
November 2017 Issue 11 – Look Up, Look Way Up  Read
December 2017 Issue 12 – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top 10 Tips for Keeping Valuables Safe When Travelling

February 06, 2017 | Lois Farley

When you travel do you take lots of jewellery and other valuables with you?  How do you keep your valuables safe when you’re travelling?  Every hotel tells you to not leave valuables in plain sight in your room and to use the room safe.  But what if the safe isn’t safe?  You can always use the hotel’s safe, which is usually secured inside an office behind the front desk.  Ensure you get a receipt for the items you deposited.  Most hotels are liable for items that go missing from their safe, but not for items in a room safe.

Here are 10 of our top ideas for keeping valuables safe when travelling. Read More >

Entry requirements for Canadian passport holders

January 10, 2017 | Lois Farley

With recent news stories reporting Canadian travellers being denied boarding at airports across the country, it’s important for you to know what the entry requirements for a Canadian passport holder are for the country or countries you plan to visit.  Your professional travel consultant will advise you of passport and visa requirements when you are booking a trip.  But, it’s good to know the general rule regarding passports and their validity.

Let’s say your passport expires the 30 June, 2017.  You would think that you could travel anywhere with this passport right up until that date, right?  Not necessarily.  Many countries require your passport be valid 3 or 6 months beyond your intended stay in that country.  Always double check with your travel consultant as to the requirements for your specific journey, as well as checking for any connecting countries along the way.

You can check out the countries you plan to visit at the Government of Canada travel website at https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/advisories

Most countries require 3 months but some require 6 months, such as Nicaragua, which was one of the countries highlighted on a recent news story. However, her neighbour Costa Rica, only requires a 1 month validity beyond your stay.

Other countries may require a visa in addition to your valid passport.  It’s always best to check and double check so you don’t face a nasty surprise at the airport when you’re checking in!

2016 Newsletters

December 08, 2016 | Lois Farley

December 2016, issue 12 – Season’s Greetings

November 2016, issue 11 – Some Like it Hot

October 2016, issue 10 – Land of Fire and Ice

September 2016, issue 9 – I Dream of Africa

August 2016, issue 8.5 – In Search of Northern Lights

August 2016, issue 8 – Cruising Down the River

July 2016, issue 7 – All Hands on Deck

June 2016, issue 6 – Walk a Mile in My Shoes

May 2016, issue 5 – Whiskey, Wine and Wildlife

April 2016, issue 4 – Now’s the Time to Explore Canada

March 2016, issue 3 – Experience it All on An Expedition Cruise

February 2016, issue 2.5 – International Polar Bear Day

February 2016, issue 2 – Go North Young Man (and Young Woman)!

January 2016, issue 1 – Where in the World Do You Want to Go?

Beautiful Belize

November 21, 2016 | Lois Farley

As a former British colony, the Central American country of Belize has a unique history.  Although having gained independence in 1981, English remains the official language, easing navigation for North American tourists.

The country is known for diving; the Belize Barrier Reef is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and attracts over 100 000 tourists each year.  Additional attractions include Mayan ruins, eco adventures such as ziplining and cave tubing, and of course tropical beaches.  The capital, Belize City, is home to museums and cultural events, including the annual Street Art Festival.  Belize is a popular stop for cruise ships, which is how my family came to visit.

Read More >

Arctic Sea Ice Day

July 15, 2016 | Lois Farley

Arctic Sea Ice Day is Friday, July 15th, 2016.

Founded by Polar Bears International, this day was created to draw attention to sea ice loss in the Arctic, why it matters, and how we can help.

Why should we care about sea ice? Here are a few facts from Polar Bears International about this remarkable part of the Arctic ecosystem:

  1. Sea ice is as important to the Arctic ecosystem as soil is to a forest. The food chain begins with algae and other tiny organisms that live on and within the sea ice. Arctic cod feed on them. Seals eat Arctic cod. And polar bears prey on seals.
  2. Polar bears rely on sea ice to efficiently catch their seal prey. The polar bear’s main prey, the ringed seal, relies on sea ice, too—for giving birth to and raising their pups.
  3. Arctic sea ice is important to people living in the North and to our global climate. In fact, the Arctic is sometimes called the earth’s air conditioner because the sea ice helps cool the planet by reflecting some of the sun’s light and heat back into space.
  4. Arctic sea ice is declining in both extent and thickness due to human-caused climate change. Just as a warm summer’s day melts the ice in a glass of water, a warming planet causes Arctic sea ice to melt.
  5. Declines in the amount of sea ice means less heat is reflected away from the earth. Instead, more exposed ocean absorbs additional heat, further warming the planet and disrupting the climate.
  6. Despite year-to-year variation, satellite data show that the September sea ice extent has declined more than 13.4% per decade since the satellite record began in 1979. That’s a loss four times the size of Texas!
  7. Scientists say we have entered a new era with sea ice. Today there is more thinner, seasonal ice in some parts of the Arctic rather than thicker, multi-year ice. This young ice is much more vulnerable to rapid melting.
  8. Without action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the probability of ice-free summers in the Arctic increases significantly from the middle to the end of this century. This will greatly reduce the polar bear’s ability to hunt during the summer months, reduce ice seal abundance, and impact people and wildlife around the world.
  9. It’s not too late to save Arctic sea ice! You can help by asking your government representatives for a fair price on carbon. This will level the playing field for renewable energy and speed up our transition from fossil fuels.
  10. Another sector where we can work together to #saveourseaice is to encourage sustainable food production and consumption and reduced food waste in our communities. Visit Polar Bears International Arctic Sea Ice Day page to learn about the Greenhouse Grocery List Challenge.

 

Is a Small-Ship Expedition Cruise Right for You?

June 27, 2016 | Lois Farley

Say the word “cruise” and, to most people what comes to mind is a large, gleaming ship with 10, 15, 20 decks; thousands of passengers (the current largest cruise ship can accommodate 6,410 passengers at maximum capacity); large and lavish meals six times a day; multiple pool, spas, gyms and sporting activities on-board; Las Vegas-style entertainment.  But, an increasing number of travellers know that, when it comes to soft adventure cruising, bigger isn’t better!

monastra_130810_3143   barry_nelson    Michelle_Valberg _D4S5800 Greenland_Labrador 2013    Michelle_Valberg _D4S5917 Greenland_Labrador 2013     Read More >

How to Choose the Right Hiking Boots

June 02, 2016 | Lois Farley

Not everyone or every hike needs the same kind of hiking boot.  In fact, some hikes don’t even require a boot, just a good walking shoe.

The key is thinking through the type of hike you are planning to do, getting good advice from a reputable store and trying on lots of styles until you find the perfect fit!

         

Read More >

Solo Self-Drive in the Faroe Islands

April 22, 2016 | Lois Farley

The atmosphere onboard our Atlantic Airways flight became more excited as we approached Vagar Airport on the island of Vagar in the Faroe Islands. Most of the people on board were tourists or native Faroese returning home for a visit and we were all looking forward to getting to the islands. We started our descent from the bright, clear-blue skies, through the clouds and into…fog. Thick, enveloping fog that made it impossible to see anything below. The pilot announced that we would try to land but, if the visibility wasn’t good enough, we would go back up and circle around to try again.

Read More >