Παρασκευή, 29 Μαρτίου 2019

Windstar Immerses Guests in the Waters of the World with Complimentary Watersports Program

Seattle, WA,  Windstar Cruises always sets out to take travelers deeper into a destination’s culture and further off the familiar path, but what surprises some is that guests of the small ship cruise line have the opportunity to splash ashore when “wet landings” are the mode of entry to tiny ports without a dock. Another surprise? Guests can (and are encouraged to) jump into and swim in the actual ocean from the Watersports Platform found on every ship. The boutique line delivers the ability to navigate waterways where larger ships simply cannot. The company’s authentic approach to cruising means that water remains an essential and prominent part of the overall cruise experience.
On some cruises the water just becomes that thing ships glide across, a distant horizon line for a placid selfie backdrop. But life on board Windstar is different. The award-winning small ships sail close to the water offering a comprehensive and complimentary Watersports Program operated from the back of each Windstar ship; “wet” landings right on the beach by inflatable boat to hidden tropical shores; active excursion options on and in the water including Signature Expeditions in Alaska that launch kayaks and Zodiacs right from the ship. Windstar ships are equipped to make the most of the water experience everywhere they sail.
“We believe cruising is about connecting with the sea. Our guests are active and they appreciate being closer to the water with ocean views from every suite, expansive open decks, an Open Bridge to drop in and chat with the Captain, and a complimentary Watersports Program that operates from the marina at the back of each ship. These are the types of unexpected experiences that set Windstar apart from the rest and draws travelers to our highly awarded small ships,” said Windstar President John Delaney.
Wet Landings” add an Element of Adventure in Costa Rica & Panama
What is a wet landing? It’s the chance to get sand between your toes in a hidden harbor as you transfer ashore for Windstar’s Signature Beach Party by inflatable boat that pulls right up on the beach to deliver guests to a tropical paradise complete with a local band, beach loungers and a delicious beach barbecue. Where do wet landings land? Places not everyone has been but anyone would be awed to see such as Costa Rica, home to some of the most singular and diverse ecosystems on the planet. Cruise guests visit rainforests alive with howler monkeys, unpopulated beaches, and coral reefs thriving with marine life at ports like Bahia Drake and Golfo Dulce, places onlyaccessible by a wet landing.

The towns are so small that bigger cruise ships would overwhelm them, so they don’t have big ports or constructed docks to welcome ships. Instead, they welcome small ships like Windstar’s with only 310? guests (or less), and that means rugged inflatable boats deliver guests directly from the Windstar ship to shore, where they disembark in the shallow water/onto the beach. It’s easy to board and splash ashore, but guests are reminded to bring some water shoes or sandals and appropriate (quick dry) clothing. The landings add a bit of sparkle to any travel tale told at happy hour or home.
Wet landing ports are featured on multiple Costa Rica and Central America itineraries including the popular 7-day Costa Rica & Panama Canal cruise with more than a dozen departure dates available through March 2020, and prices starting at $1,999 per guest, double occupancy. Wet landings are also featured on the following cruises in 2019 and 2020: Costa Rica & Panama Canal; Adventures in Panama & Costa RicaThe Spanish Main: Rise of the New WorldSouthern Mexico: Fish Tales & Mayan Trails;Star Collector: 3 AmericasTropical Escape Through the Panama CanalStar Collector: Caribbean & Panamanian ParadiseStar Collector: A Double Crossing: Atlantic & Panama Canal.
Watersports Platform – Complimentary Water Toys & Sports Coordinators
Not every landing on Windstar is a wet one, but there are loads of opportunities to get wet on many warm water itineraries in the Caribbean, Tahiti, South Pacific, Greek Isles, Mediterranean and more. Each of the six Windstar ships has a Watersports Platform offering guests easy access to warm tropical waters when anchored in port. The platforms are staffed by trained Sports Coordinators and outfitted with stand-up paddleboards, kayaks, and equipment for snorkeling, sailing, swimming, water skiing, and windsurfing. For a low-key water experience the ships also carry a large foam flotation pad, perfect for lounging in the sun and taking in the views.
The Sports Coordinators oversee a program of water-oriented activities in addition to ensuring guest safety, the coordinators assist with tips and information on using the complimentary water toys - equipment like a water trampoline, snorkel gear, sail boats, kayaks, floatation pads, and stand-up paddle boards. Want to try water-skiing or water tubing? The Watersports team is there to tow guests to glory. (Equipment may vary by sailing region and vessel.)
During days when the ship is at anchor, guests can swim or use any of the water toys at no charge (weather and port rules permitting). Guests are made aware of days when the Watersports Platform is operational during their cruise, eliminating sudden conflicts with scheduled shore excursions. If there is a private island day on the itinerary (as on most Windstar Caribbean/Central America and Tahiti sailings), the water sports activities are provided on shore, rather than from the platform, which is always a welcome (and complimentary) addition to the festive beach day.
Snorkel & Dive in Ports around the World on Undersea Shore Excursions
Windstar’s robust shore excursion program offers dozens of opportunities for cruise guests to explore the underwater world around them in exotic ports of call. Tropical seas reveal an underwater snorkeler’s and diver’s paradise, with plenty of variety on water-based excursions in Tahiti and other warm-water destinations around the world including the hidden Caribbean, both coasts of Mexico, Costa Rica and Panama, and smaller Mediterranean ports. Guests can book an excursion or simply take advantage of the complimentary snorkeling gear to really plunge into the local destination.
In French Polynesia, for example, Fakarava is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve known for some of the best diving in the South Pacific. In addition to planning their own water adventures right from the local beaches, Windstar guests can choose among numerous snorkeling or diving excursions including an ocean dive at Tapu, one of the most famous dive sites of Bora Bora where divers experience the coral drop-off to meet lemon sharks, black tip reef sharks, humphead Maori wrasses, moray eels, and turtles.
On the other side of the world numerous snorkel excursions are offered that let cruisers discover the historic waters of the storied Adriatic and Mediterranean Seas such as snorkeling or swimming at the Modra Spilja Cave in Croatia or viewing the walls of the Secca delle Formiche in Lipari, Italy that host a wide variety of flora, fauna, fish and shell fish as well as lobsters, groupers, prawns, and moray fish.
Tropical ports in the Caribbean and Central America also provide boundless feasts for the eyes below sea level featuring virgin reefs and extensive soft corals, fans, and sponges. Following is a sampling of the numerous snorkel and dive excursions:
Mediterranean: Dubrovnik Adriatic Sea Adventure; Concierge Collection: Sailing Hvar Archipelago; Kayaking Kotor Bay; Lipari Snorkeling Tour; Concierge Collection: Camogli Highlights & Punta Chiappa; Sailing Zadar Archipelago; Ibiza Snorkel & Kayaking Tour
Caribbean: Snorkel at Anse Dufour and the Bat Cave in Martinique; Snorkel Safari in St. Kitts; Bequia 2-Tank Dive; Shipwreck Snorkeling Adventure in Bimini; 2-Tank Dive & Snorkel Delight in St. Lucia; Swim & Snorkel with the Stingrays in Antigua; St. Bart’s Sailing Catamaran & Snorkeling Adventure; Jost Van Dyke Sail, Snorkel & Bubbly Pools Hike; Champagne Reef Snorkeling Adventure in Dominica
Central America: La Paz Snorkeling & Birdwatching at Gaviota Island; Cabo San Lucas Luxury Sail & Snorkel, in Mexico; Snorkeling Cano Island Biological Reserve in Bahia Drake; Catamaran Adventure & Snorkel in Playa Flamingo, in Costa Rica.
South Pacific: Bora Bora Snorkel Safari & Stingray Encounter; Bora Bora Certified 2-Tank Dive to Tapu, Toopua, & Anua; Concierge Collection: Bora Bora Lagoon and Cultural Tour; Bora Bora AquaSafari; Snorkeling at Pufuna, Fakarava; Moorea Snorkel Safari; Huahine Motu Picnic & Snorkel
Note: Dive Tours are offered for Certified Divers only who bring PADI - CMAS Cards or other proof of certification, (including a log book) and sign waiver release forms and medical disclosures.
Signature Expeditions Explore Alaskan Waterways by Kayak & Zodiac with Expert Guides
Not all water experiences are of the tropical variety. The award-winning Windstar Signature Expeditions program provides Alaska voyagers with adventure and insight into some of the most remote wonders this destination has to offer. Guests don’t just see the glaciers from the deck; they actively experience Alaska from the vantage of a kayak skimming the waters of a picturesque coastal inlet. Windstar guests paddle alongside pedigreed Expedition Leaders via field excursions on the water, pointing out the nuances of the changing biospheres, while offering tips on wildlife viewing, photography, and more.
Windstar’s Signature Expeditions team of onboard naturalists, historians, glaciologists, and photographers deliver a once-in-a-lifetime experience providing insights and presentations throughout the cruise; giving guests an up close perspective on the Great Land that is unique to the Windstar way of cruising in Alaska. Zodiac tours led by the Expedition staff are also an option for guests to explore glaciers and coastal waterways while getting a close look at wildlife along the shore.
Star Collector Voyages - Longer Cruises Offer More Time for Active Water Adventures
Star Collector Voyages combine popular itineraries to create longer cruises with more in-depth exploration of destinations. Itineraries are 14 days or longer and designed to ensure few repeated ports and maximum culture collecting and more time for kayaking, snorkeling, diving, paddle boarding, beachcombing and more. Star Collector Voyages include free daily laundry service so guests can pack light even for the longest cruises, dive into water activities worldwide, and still stay sand-free.
There are all kinds of cruises for all kinds of cruisers, but for travelers who want water adventures and activities authentically woven into the overall itinerary, no one does it better than Windstar. The 180˚ From Ordinary experience brings together onboard amenities, a James Beard Foundation culinary program, cultural enrichment programs, and the benefits of small ship cruising, like being right on the water, for travelers who really want a deeper dive into culture around the world.
With Windstar’s Beyond Ordinary Savings Event on now, guests looking to immerse themselves in the waters of the world have access to the best fares of the season right now. Book by March 18 to pick your Star Perk choosing from up to $1,000 Shipboard Credit, Free Gratuities, or Free Wi-Fi. Prices begin at $1,499 per guest.  To learn more about rates, dates and authentic small ship cruising with Windstar, contact a travel advisor, phone 1-800-258-7245, or visit www.windstarcruises.com.

Red light district tours to be banned in Amsterdam

Αποτέλεσμα εικόνας για Red light district tours to be banned in Amsterdam

From 2020  Amsterdam will ban all tours of its red light district along with capping the number of people allowed on guided tours of the city’s medieval centre at 15 per group.

The Netherlands capital encompasses the red light district and the ban will be effective on January next year including pub crawls and guided walks.

Udo Kock, the deputy mayor said that they did not considered tourists leering at sex workers as appropriate.

So, they were banning tours that would take visitors along sex workers’ windows to prevent overcrowding in the red-light district and it is not respectful to sex workers.

Oudekerksplein, the hub of the red light district was visited by more than 1,000 organized groups each week. It saw a peak of 28 tours an hour in early evening.

However, a majority of the prostitutes that the non-stop guided tours were hurting their business.

According to the officials, guides outside the red light district should  now have permits, there will be a ban on free tours and the practice of touting for punters will also be prohibited.

Amsterdam had banned beer bikes in 2017 in the city centre and in an effort to reverse ‘Disneyfication’ of the Dutch capital a coalition of the city’s main political parties announced plans to address the impact of mass tourism on the city.

Further ideas are inclusive of cracking down on boozy boat trips, diverting cruise ships from docking in the city centre and banning Airbnb short-term rentals located in the city’s busiest areas.

Amsterdam has just 850,000 residents in 2019 the tourist number had hit 19 million in 2018 and  the growing issue of overtourism was a concern.

In an endeavor to raise $105 m a year by 2022, the existing tourist tax has risne from 4 and 6 per cent to 7 per cent.

Hilton Honors Sweeps All Hotel Awards Categories in 2019 FlyerTalk Awards

Hilton Honors is the first rewards program to sweep all six FlyerTalk Hotel 2019 Awards. The guest-centric loyalty program for the entire 17-brand Hilton portfolio was awarded Best Hotel Rewards Program and Outstanding Benefit by FlyerTalk members.   
Recognizing its complimentary breakfast and room upgrades, across three geographical regions, Hilton Honors earned every FlyerTalk Award in the hotel category: Î‘ποτέλεσμα εικόνας για All Hotel Awards Categories in 2019 FlyerTalk Awards
  • Best Hotel Rewards Program – Americas
  • Best Hotel Rewards Program – Middle East, Asia, Oceana
  • Best Hotel Rewards Program – Europe, Africa
  • Outstanding Benefit (Free Breakfast) – Americas
  • Outstanding Benefit (Room Upgrades) – Middle East, Asia, Oceana
  • Outstanding Benefit (Free Breakfast) – Europe, Africa 
This was the eighth consecutive year that FlyerTalk members cast ballots to determine the community’s favorite travel loyalty programs in three major categories (Fly, Stay, Drive). Given the global nature of these programs, 18 total awards were given across the Americas, Middle East/Asia/Oceana and Europe/Africa. 
More than 100 rewards programs worldwide compete for Best Program, taking into consideration value, ease-of-redemption and customer service. Hilton Honors loyalty program rose to the top among voters with its unique benefits, such as complimentary, healthy breakfast options for Gold and Diamond members, as well as space-available upgrades to a preferred room, or the next-best available room from the room type booked at select hotels. Hilton Honors members also have access to Hilton’s industry-first programs like Five Feet to Fitness and indulgences like on-site spa treatments that will revive even the weariest travelers. 
Learn more about Hilton Honors’ award-winning program benefits here 

Paul Hayward of Bangkok focuses philanthropic efforts in Thailand

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Paul Hayward of Bangkok, co-founder of Panthera Group Thailand, gifts a considerable amount of his personal wealth and time to those less fortunate. Since Panthera Group Thailand’s inception some 17 years ago, Paul Hayward has been committed to donating a percentage of his net income to the local community and those in need across Asia.
Paul Hayward contributes to a variety of charities, though most of his philanthropic efforts seem to be focused on Thailand’s impoverished, unwanted, abandoned and neglected children. Recently, Paul Hayward again put his money where his mouth is, in support of the Rotary Club of Bangkok South’s ‘Annual Charity Golf Tournament’. An event which raised just under 600,000 Baht for charities in Thailand focused on disadvantaged youngsters. The funds raised during the Rotary Clubs event will aid a clean drinking water systems project and library kits for poverty stricken rural schools.
Paul Hayward of Bangkok, co-founder of Panthera Group Thailand said, “Giving is not something I have to do, it’s something I want to do. I know not everyone can afford to give to charity, but you don’t have to be rich to care about humanity. You don’t have to be rich to give your time and make someone smile. There’s no better feeling, giving adds meaning to my life, and whatever good I’m doing seems to come back to me tenfold. The realisation that even the smallest of donations can make a substantive difference to the lives of youths that have been given up or simply abandoned is very rewarding. I’m committed to educating and supporting children, because though it may sound cliché children really are the future.
Paul Hayward may be one of the busiest entrepreneurs in Bangkok. His business Panthera Group Thailand now has assets valued at 160 Million USD, but his donations are not part of his company’s CSR program. Paul Hayward is socially conscious and sees it as his duty to help others, a sentiment very much rooted in his own personal values and principles.

Choice Hotels named "Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality" for 9th consecutive year

Αποτέλεσμα εικόνας για Choice Hotels named "Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality" for 9th consecutive year

Αποτέλεσμα εικόνας για Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality" for 9th consecutive year

ROCKVILLE, MD. - For the ninth consecutive year, Choice Hotels International, Inc. earned the distinction as one of the Human Rights Campaign's (HRC) "Best Places to Work for LGBTQ Equality." The company once again achieved a perfect 100 score on the HRC 2019 Corporate Equality Index, a national benchmark that ranks companies on LGBTQ-friendly corporate policies and practices.
"Choice Hotels is committed to cultivating an engaged, diverse workforce that always feels welcome, wanted, and respected through our professional development programs and employee resource groups," said Patrick Cimerola, chief human resources officer, Choice Hotels. "A top priority for Choice year after year is maintaining that devotion, which supports creativity and innovation among our associates and creates an overall inclusive environment."
As part of the Corporate Equality Index, Choice Hotels was rated on a series of criteria involving corporate policies, benefits and practices affecting the LGBTQ workforce and their families. To earn a perfect score and achieve the distinction of "Best Places to Work for LGBTQ Equality," Choice demonstrated equal employment opportunities and benefits, organizational LGBTQ awareness and advocacy, and an overall commitment to equality.
The company's long-time commitment to workplace diversity and inclusion is driven at the top of the organization and extends to every facet of the company. Choice Hotels supports nine different employee resource groups to facilitate engagement among associates and shape the company's culture and values. As an example of its commitment, Choice has a dedicated emerging markets development team with a mission to maintain and grow a diverse franchisee base that includes minorities and veterans.

World’s longest salt cave uncovered in Israel

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As per an international team of researchers, the world’s longest salt cave has been discovered in Israel and it continues to grow.

The 6.2 miles long Malham Cave in Mount Sedom also known as the mount Sodom has surpassed Iran’s Cave of the Three Nudes which is almost 4.1 miles in length.
The Malham Cave was succesfully mapped by Hebrew University’s Cave Research Center, the Israel Cave Explorers Club and Bulgaria’s Sofia Speleo Club along with 80 cavers from nine countries.

According to the scientists , located on the southwestern tip of the Dead Sea, Mount Sedom is made completely of Salt beneath a layer of cap rock and the cave is living.
Prof. Amos Frumkin CRC director at Hebrew University’s Institute of Earth Sciences said that the Malham Salt Cave is a river cave,water from a surface stream flowed underground and dissolved the salt which created caves. This process is going on when there is strong rain over Mount Sedom about once a year and so it is deemed as alive and still growing.

In 1980s the Malham Cave was first discovered by the CRC and is believed to be 3.5 miles long. In 2018 when the experts came they used the sophisticated laser technology to confirm its 6.2 mile length.

Αποτέλεσμα εικόνας για World’s longest salt cave uncovered in Israel 

The electronic map of the cave will be created after researchers process the final data from their surveys.The scientists said that there are more than 100 different salt caves within Mount Sedom.

Brussels Expo Hosts Interactive Science Festival In April

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Having received more than 10,000 visitors in its first year, Brussels' I Love Science Festival will take place at Brussels Expo, from 26–28 April 2019. The free festival of science and new technology launched its programme.
Around sixty institutions, associations and universities will be in attendance with more than 200 stands and 10 science trucks with fun learning activities for finding out more about science and new technology, while having fun!
Created in 2018, through the initiative of the Brussels Secretary of State responsible for scientific research and Innoviris, the “I Love Science festival” of science and technology is a free event that is open to everyone. It offers visitors the chance to immerse themselves in the world of science and new technology.
A fun interactive festival
The “I Love Science Festival” does not limit itself merely to the observation of scientific discoveries. This event is designed to be both immersive and interactive. Visitors can genuinely take part in the experiences and activities on offer to them, such as observing the stars in a mobile planetarium, discovering the world of insects or even taking a flight in a glider simulator.
Science serving humanity
More than ever, the future of the planet is right at the heart of our concerns. Through interactive activities, multimedia exhibitions or even by presenting new modes of transport that respect the environment, the festival will show the public how technology and science can contribute to improving everyone’s day-to-day life and ensuring a better future for all.
Naturally, Belgium’s young scientists will be taking part once again. In addition to the exhibitions of science experiments from high school students, they will also be showcasing a new activity called Science Worlds. The programme for this huge team game includes puzzles, tests and the discovery of parallel worlds…
Like last year, BOZAR is taking part in the event. Several activities based on the theme of “Speculative Futures” are being showcased at Brussels Expo, Osseghem Park, in the Jette-Ganshoren marsh and at BOZAR. The subject will be ecology and the responses that art and research can bring to environmental problems.
The “I Love Science festival” is an invitation to discover science and new technology. A unique opportunity to take a deeper interest in the progress being made in these fields.
Something new: three patrons for this second event
This year, three well-known personalities from the world of science have agreed to act as patrons for the festival:
Patrice Goldberg: author, journalist, screenwriter, director, producer and presenter, chief editor and science manager at the RTBF, Patrice is responsible for the science programme Matière Grise (“Grey Matter”) on channel one.
Véronique Dehant: Véronique works at the Belgian Royal Observatory, where she is responsible for the operational management of the “Planetology and Reference Systems”. She is also Adjunct Professor at the Catholic University of Louvain. She has been an academician (member of the Belgian Royal Academy; section for science) since 2010 and a foreign member of the Académie des Sciences in Paris since 2016.
Nathan Uyttendaele: Nathan has a real gift for popularising science. Through his YouTube channels under the name “chat sceptique” (“sceptical cat”), he has more than 85,000 subscribers. He has also given a TEDx talk on “the truth about gambling” that has been viewed more than a million times.
Programme and more info is on www.ilovescience.brussels

The Accessibility Group To Host Disability Expo In September At The ICC Wales

The Accessibility Group will host the initial Disability Expo from 6-7 September, 2019 at The ICC Wales in Newport.  The event, which is expected to attract more than 5,000 trade and consumer visitors will provide an opportunity for attendees to gain knowledge, experience inspiring innovations and have fun.
To maximise the event’s commercial potential, organisers Leighton Morris and Sara Flay from The Accessibility Group have appointed Brightelm to deliver sponsorship and exhibition sales.  As specialists in event services for associations, the Brightelm team, led by Rob Eveleigh will focus on finding and delivering a host of exhibitors as well as sponsorship deals ranging from transport providers through to commercial partners looking to highlight their offering to the event’s wide-ranging audience.

The event, which is the first of its kind in Wales, is making use of the ICC’s industry leading accessibility to provide a truly open forum for disabled people, carers, families, the trade and anyone interested to gather, share ideas and see the latest products and services available.
“We wanted to create an event for disabled people that is organised by disabled people, with a true understanding of the market and the needs of attendees,” comments Leighton Morris, CEO of the Accessibility Group.  “Other similar events exist but they have become too commercial in their outlook and have lost their appeal to much of their audience.  We want to create a space where people can ask questions, find answers and be educated on genuinely life changing topics – whether it is the latest technology, a new service or something as simple as a government grant that they were unaware of.  Disability is a huge topic, with many of the most serious conditions invisible to the eye, as such there is much to learn and this event will be the perfect platform to achieve that.”
The Accessibility Group selected Brightelm as a commercial partner due to their professionalism and approachability, as Leighton says: “Rob sold his services to us as we would expect him to sell to our exhibitors and sponsors.  It was about relationship building, a long-term approach and a desire to create a partnership rather than a client / supplier relationship.”
Rob Eveleigh, Brightelm’s Managing Director concludes: “Brightelm is just a year old, yet we have already won one award and been shortlisted for a second.  Winning the Disability Expo is a real coup for us.  Whilst we were initially engaged to focus on the sponsorship it is exciting to have our remit expanded to cover the exhibition space as there is so much crossover and synergy between the two.”
The Disability Expo will run from 6-7 September, 2019 at the ICC Wales.

Tags: The Accessibility Group   The ICC Wales in Newport