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TRAVEL NEWS  .   .   .

VIKING TO LAUNCH NEW SHIP FOR THE MEKONG RIVER

 

Set to Debut in 2021, Viking Saigon Will Set a New Standard for Modern River Cruising in Southeast Asia 

Viking today announced it will launch a new ship next summer for its popular Magnificent Mekong cruisetour. Currently under construction, the 80-guest Viking Saigon is scheduled to debut for the August 30, 2021, cruisetour departure; the river cruise portion of the itinerary sails between Kampong Cham, Cambodia and Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam.

                “For many of our guests, Vietnam and Cambodia remain top destinations because of their significance in world history,” said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking. “We have led the river cruise industry with our fleet development and experiences that bring travelers closer to the cultures of the world for more than two decades. This will be the most modern vessel on the Mekong and will feel like ‘home’ to our loyal Viking guests who are familiar with the comfortable design of our ships.”

Viking Saigon

                Purpose-built for the Mekong River, the new Viking Saigon will host 80 guests in 40 outside staterooms. Featuring the clean Scandinavian design for which Viking is known, all staterooms will have hotel-style beds and floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors with a Veranda or French Balcony. Guests on the three-deck Viking Saigon will also enjoy a Spa & Fitness Center, Infinity Pool and open-air Sky Bar on the Upper Deck.

Magnificent Mekong

                During this 15-day journey, guests explore the cultural treasures of Vietnam and Cambodia with 16 guided tours. Hotel stays in Hanoi, Siem Reap and Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) bracket an eight-day Mekong River cruise on this unique cruisetour itinerary, during which guests can enjoy shopping in Old Hanoi’s markets; exploring the Khmer temple complex of Angkor Wat; visiting Ta Prohm, where jungle vines embrace ancient ruins; and seeing the sights of Phnom Penh by cyclo rickshaw. On the river cruise portion of the itinerary, guests can discover silk towns, fishing villages, monasteries and floating markets. Multiple departure dates beginning in August 2021. Pricing starts at $5,299 per person, with discounted airfare from $1,199 per person.

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CHANGES AT BUDAPEST AIRPORT

Budapest Airport: Accelerated re-growth of passenger traffic
With growing passenger figures at Budapest Airport weekly, the airline development team have reason to announce that the Hungarian gateway is more than ready to welcome an increasing number of flights and travelers. Currently, with 16 airlines offering seats to 92 destinations, Budapest is experiencing an accelerated re-growth of passenger traffic

In addition to the return of many established routes, Hungary’s capital city marks the arrival of two new connections with Wizz Air. Previously unserved, this week sees the home-based carrier launch twice-weekly operations to the classic holiday resorts of Menorca and Santorini, seeing the airline now serve 10 Spanish airports and nine Greek airports from Budapest.

THAILAND TO ANNOUNCE NEW ENTRY RULES

Thailand expected to announce new entry rules following COVID-19 cases.  Tightening of rules and regulations for foreigners entering the country is expected following new cases announced. Thailand was without confirmed local transmission of COVID-19 for 50 days but two foreigners have led to self-isolation of more than 400 people recently which is expected to bring about new restrictions.

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WHY THIS IS JAPAN'S
MOST RELAXING DESTINATION
Akiu Onsen is one of Miyagi Prefecture's most frequented onsens (© JNTO)

Geothermal wonders that rejuvenate the body and mind, Japan's
onsens (naturally occuring hot springs) are a must for any traveler, and Miyagi Prefecture has no shortage of them. With many dotted throughout Miyagi's diverse terrain, each onsen provides a unique experience with different water sources producing baths of different temperatures, mineral content, texture and more. As these onsens are often located in the mountains, by the ocean and in forests, they provide a great place for travelers to practice the tradition of toji, extended stays at onsens to recuperate from illness or overexertion. Below is a sample of Miyagi's best onsens for travelers to dream of relaxing in once travel restrictions are lifted.

Reflective pond at Tenshukaku Gardens (©Visit Miyagi)

One of the more popular onsen towns due to its proximity to Miyagi Prefecture's capital Sendai, Akiu Onsen is tucked in the region's mountains. The town features about a dozen hot spring hotels located along the scenic Natorigawa River with many offering day use of their hot spring baths. Nearby, Tenshukaku Gardens is home to its own onsen, known as Ichitaro no Yu. After strolling through the traditional Edo-style garden, guests can warm up in the hot spring with a view of Mount Osawa. Lucky bathers may even get to catch a glimpse of kamoshika, a rare Japanese goat-antelope often seen roaming on the mountainside. While the onsen's water will leave skin soft and silky, Akiu Onsen water is also said to improve quality of sleep, circulation and reduce stress levels.

Sakunami Onsen is located deeper into the mountains and the train ride to this town passes through thick pine and maple tree forests with views of the Hirosegawa River below. This onsen town was often visited by weary monks, members of the shogunate and the shogun himself centuries ago as the water was said to treat a variety of illnesses. After cleansing their mind and body at the onsens on the rocky banks of the river, travelers can opt to hike one of the many trails or take a day trip to the Nikka Whiskey Miyagikyo Distillery.

Naruko Onsen's diverse hot spring water makes for a rich experience (© JNTO)

Known as one of the "Three Most Scenic Spots of Japan," Matsushima Bay has its own onsens facing towards the bay with views of countless small islands. Several hotels near the bay have their own natural onsen facilities and staying the night is highly recommended. Guests should make their way out to the open-air baths during the night to see thousands of stars light up the bay. For early birds, the baths are also an ideal spot to watch the sunrise.

While Naruko Onsen can be a little hard to get to as it's hidden away in the hills of northwestern Miyagi, the trip is worth it. Naruko Onsen boasts one of the richest onsen experiences anywhere as the town has eight of the ten types of hot spring water found in Japan. Additionally, the town has more than 400 different springs providing an almost endless variety of bathing facilities. Naruko Onsen also has a wide range of ryokans from traditional inns to luxurious private baths.

The Miyagi Onsen Experience
The Miyagi Onsen Experience

For more information on Miyagi Prefecture's onsens, travelers are encouraged to use the website's Trip Organizer which has plenty of resources and travel tips. Travelers can also watch this short video highlighting experiences at onsen towns in the prefecture.



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VIKING ANNOUNCES 2021-2022 WORLD CRUISE
New 136-Day Itinerary Visits 27 Countries and 56 Ports, Including Overnights in 11 Cities
 
Viking® (www.viking.com) today announced its new 2021-2022 Viking World Cruise, which will span 136 days, 27 countries and 56 ports, with overnight stays in 11 iconic cities. Setting sail on December 24, 2021, from Fort Lauderdale, the itinerary will include three new ports of call for Viking, including Phillip Island and Eden, Australia, as well as Yangon, Myanmar.
                Sailing on Viking’s award-winning 930-guest Viking Star®, the epic voyage will explore ports of call in Central America; transit through the Panama Canal; journey up the West Coast of North America before crossing the Pacific Ocean and calling upon Hawaii; traverse New Zealand and Australia; and sail through Asia, the Middle East and the Mediterranean before concluding in London. Guests may also choose a shorter, 119-day portion of the sailing, 2022 Viking World Horizons, which departs from Los Angeles on January 10, 2022 and visits 22 countries and 49 ports before ending in London. All Viking World Cruise guests will also receive the complimentary option to remain on board for three additional days and disembark in the ship’s home port of Bergen, Norway.  
                “For more than 20 years, we have been committed to providing our guests with immersive and culturally enriching experiences while traveling the world in comfort,” said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking. “This has been an unusual year for all travelers, but we remain focused on the future and are pleased to offer our guests a new destination-focused World Cruise that allows for extensive exploration in 2021-2022.” 
2021-2022 Viking World Cruise Highlights
                The newest Viking World Cruise itinerary visits iconic cities and ports of call in one seamless itinerary. Overnight stays in 11 iconic cities allow guests to explore further in Yangon, Myanmar; Auckland, New Zealand; Singapore, Singapore; Mumbai, India; Luxor, Egypt; Haifa, Israel; and Istanbul, Turkey. While on board, Viking offers cultural enrichment through onboard lectures and entertainment, such as Viking’s Resident Historian® program, which provides guests with a high-level historical and cultural education specific to their journey. Highlights of the new 2021-2022 Viking World Cruise itinerary include:
·         Phillip Island, Australia (NEW Viking Port): Guests will enjoy some of Australia’s most dramatic scenery and diverse wildlife including the island’s famed Little Penguins. At sunset each evening on Summerland Beach, the Little Penguins return to shore and guests can watch them waddle in procession safely from elevated viewing points. 
·         Eden, Australia (NEW Viking Port): Set in Twofold Bay, the town of Eden was once home to Australia’s whaling industry. Guests will explore today’s Eden and the Sapphire Coast, which is now famed for its conservation efforts protecting the whale population.  
·         Yangon, Myanmar (NEW Viking Port): Guests will experience three days in Yangon, Myanmar, which was once the British colony known as Burma. In Myanmar’s largest city, guests may visit the Shwedagon Paya, a golden monument and one of Buddhism’s most sacred sites, explore the colonial architecture or take in the beautiful scenery. From magnificent temples, the floating villages of Inle Lake and the royal city of Mandalay, there are activities for everyone during this port of call. 
·         Oahu (Honolulu), Hawaii: Guests can enjoy everything from historic landmarks to world-class shopping on the island of Oahu. Soak up the sun along Waikiki Beach’s pristine beaches or visit Pearl Harbor to see where the tragic events of December 7, 1941 unfolded.
·         Komodo Island, Indonesia: Guests will enjoy a day ashore visiting Komodo National Park and the Tamarind Woods, home to the famed Komodo dragon. Beyond wildlife viewing, guests will have an opportunity to explore and play at Pink Beach, so called for the rose-hued coral sand.
·         London (Tilbury), England: Guests will end their sailing in the allowing easy access to the regal capital’s iconic sights, including the Tower of London, Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace and St. Paul’s Cathedral.
Viking Star
                Today’s announcement follows the recent news that Viking was voted a #1 Ocean Cruise Line for the fifth consecutive year by Travel + Leisure readers. Viking Star is part of the award-winning fleet of sister ships, which also includes Viking Sea®Viking Sky®, Viking Sun®Viking Orion® and Viking Jupiter®, each with 465 staterooms that can host 930 guests. The company’s seventh 930-guest ocean ship Viking Venus® is scheduled to debut in early 2021. Viking’s ocean fleet features modern Scandinavian design with elegant touches, intimate spaces and attention to detail. Highlights include:
  • All Veranda Staterooms: Guests can choose from five stateroom categories, starting from 270 sq. ft. Veranda Staterooms, all with private verandas, sweeping views of the destination and premium amenities that include king-size beds with luxury linens, generously proportioned closets, large interactive flat-screen LCD TVs with movies-on-demand, free Wi-Fi and award-winning bathrooms with large showers, premium Freyja® bath products and heated floors.
  • Explorer Suites: The ships feature 14 Explorer Suites, which are two-room suites ranging from 757 to 1,163 sq. ft. With expansive views from wraparound private verandas, as well as the most amenities and privileges of any category on board, Explorer Suites offer the ultimate sanctuary for World Cruise guests.
  • Two Pool Choices: In addition to the Main Pool with a retractable roof permitting any-season swimming, the ships feature a first-of-its-kind glass-backed Infinity Pool cantilevered off the stern, allowing guests to swim surrounded by their destination.
  • LivNordic Spa: In keeping with Viking’s Nordic heritage, The Spa on board is designed with the holistic wellness philosophy of Scandinavia in mind—from the centuries-old tradition of the sauna to a Snow Grotto where snowflakes gently descend from the ceiling through chilled air. Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2017 named it one of the “5 best cruise ship spas.”
  • Explorers’ Lounge and Mamsen’s: Share a cocktail with friends. Linger over a Norwegian breakfast and a nautical history book. The Explorers’ Lounge and Mamsen’s gourmet deli are thoughtful spaces located at the bow of the ship and designed to represent the Scandinavian spirit for complete relaxation and for marveling at sweeping views through double-height windows.
  • The Wintergarden: Guests looking for serenity will find it in the Wintergarden. In this elegant space under a canopy of Scandinavian trellised wood, guests can indulge in afternoon tea service.
  • Dining Choices: Viking’s ships offer eight dining options, all with no additional charge or fee—from fine dining in The Restaurant, which serves three full meals and a variety of culinary options, and the World Café, which features international fare and regional specialties including a sushi and seafood cold bar—to intimate alternative dining experiences at The Chef’s Table, which offers a multi-course tasting menu with wine pairings, and Manfredi’s, which features freshly prepared pastas and Italian favorites. The Pool Grill specializes in gourmet burgers, while afternoon tea and scones are available in the Wintergarden. Mamsen’s serves Norwegian deli-style fare, and complimentary 24-hour room service allows all guests to enjoy many signature dishes in the comfort of their stateroom. Furthermore, with multiple choices for outdoor seating during meals, Viking’s ocean ships offer the most al fresco dining at sea. Additionally, The Kitchen Table specializes in regional dishes from market to table.
  • Cultural Enrichment: Viking experiences from ship to shore are designed for unparalleled access and cultural enrichment. Viking Resident Historians deliver high-level historical and cultural education specific to the journey, offering invaluable insight into the rich history of the destination. Guest Lecturers who are experts in their fields shed light on the destination’s art, architecture, music, geopolitics, natural world and more. Destination Performances represent the most iconic cultural performing arts of the region—whether it be Italian opera or Portuguese fado. Resident Classical Musicians—pianists, guitarists, violinists and flautists—perform classical compositions throughout the ships. And Culinary Classes in The Kitchen Table, Viking’s onboard cooking school, focus on regional cuisine.
  • Nordic Inspiration: Even the smallest details take their inspiration from the exploratory spirit of the original Vikings, reflecting deeply held Nordic traditions. Light wood grains, touches of slate and teak, Swedish limestone and fragrant juniper appear throughout the public spaces and Spa. The Clinker-built design of the Viking Bar mirrors the construction style of the original Viking Longships. A Viking Heritage Center provides history and context from the Viking Age. And characters from Norse Mythology are subtly incorporated into the design, providing curious guests with inspiration to further explore Viking’s Nordic heritage.
  • Sustainable Features: Designed to be environmentally friendly, Viking’s ships feature energy-efficient hybrid engines, hydro-dynamically optimized streamlined hull and bow for maximum fuel efficiency and equipment that reduces exhaust pollution and meets the strictest worldwide environmental regulations.
Booking Details
                Pricing for the 2021-2022 Viking World Cruise starts at $49,995 per person and 2022 World Cruise Horizons starts at $45,995 per person, based on double-occupancy. Both of Viking’s new world cruise itineraries include Business Class international air, transfers to and from the ship, all gratuities and service fees, complimentary visa services, the Silver Spirits Beverage Package, and free luggage shipping services for embarkation. Guests who book between now and September 30, 2020 will receive an additional $2,000 per person in shore excursion credit for any optional land programs and $1,000 per person in shipboard credit which can be used toward optional tours, spa services, onboard shops and beverages. Viking Explorer Society members who book the 2021-2022 Viking World Cruise or 2022 World Cruise Horizons through September 30, 2020 will receive an additional $1,000 in shipboard credit per person. Both voyages will also have a limited-time period with a reduced deposit at booking.
           


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