How Passports will change in 2017

I saw this article recenly on how passport may change in 2017. Thought you might like to read it.
One thing to know is now you can apply for a Global Entry card right here at the Gulfport Airport.
Here is the article:
Don’t worry—the little book will still stay blue.

For many, reading about passport protocol (and upcoming passport changes) can be about as exciting as watching paint dry, especially when there’s so much other exciting travel news regarding 2017, including the year’s most popular cities, the 50 top hotels and resorts in the world, and—yep—the best places to travel in the coming year. Yet to get to many of those very countries, cities, and hotels, you need a passport—and should probably be aware of how things will shake out for those little blue books (or, depending where you’re from, red or green books) in 2017. Here’s what you should know.

Passport applications will increase (again)

We said it in 2016, and we’ll say it again for 2017: If you don’t have a passport or need to renew yours within six months, go ahead and apply now. Why? Chalk it up largely to the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, which was put into effect in 2007 and mandated that Americans entering the U.S. by air from Canada, Mexico, and Bermuda would be required to have a passport. Ten years later, all of these documents are expiring, which means more applications; and the January 2018 implementation of the Real ID Act (and the confusion surrounding it) has also led to an increased number of applications from travelers unsure whether their driver’s license will be accepted as a valid form of ID for domestic travel. Add to that a rush of election-dismayed travelers looking to get out of Dodge, and the State Department will be a near-constant busy season. Officials say they expect 20 million passport renewal requests in 2017.

Passports will be more secure…

If you already thought the U.S. passport was the most secure in the world, think again. The U.S. is a few steps behind other countries in terms of biometric security, but it’s making small advances in coming year: though this so-called “Next Generation” passport has been discussed since 2015, Mike Holly, Senior Advisor for International Affairs in the State Department’s passport office, told the Professional Association for Design that late 2017 will finally see its debut. As we previously reported, the passport will have an embedded data chip on the information page protected by a polycarbonate coating; this will help prevent your book from getting wet and bending, and—should your passport be stolen—the chip will keep people from Jason Bourne-ing your page and falsifying an identity. The passport number will also be laser cut as tapered, perforated holes through pages—just one of several components of the “Next Generation” passport, including an artwork upgrade, new security features such as a watermark, “tactile features,” and more “optically variable” inks. In other words: Some designs on pages will be raised, and ink—depending on the viewing angle—will appear to be different colors.

…with stricter rules for application

As of November 1, 2016 glasses are no longer allowed in passport photos, as glares reflecting off the lenses led to the State Department turning away thousands of applications because of bad photos. You’re still allowed to wear glasses in your photo if you have a medical condition (just submit a doctor’s note along with your application), and given that the rule is still relatively fresh, the State Department says applicants who did send in a photo of themselves wearing glasses can resubmit photos without paying the application fee again. Expect this leniency to change, however, and look for continued guidance on proper photo protocol as officials look to cut down their time turning away applicants. So long, Warby Parker frames.

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Numbers, numbers

Come 2017, passport pages will reportedly also have numbers on them, which should help travelers keep track of roughly how much time they have to renew. (Some countries will not accept passports with fewer than four pages remaining.) Given that the government did away with extra passport pages in January 2016, a step like this—further controlling the pages—makes sense.

Renewal may get easier

According to Brenda Sprague, deputy assistant secretary for passport services at the Bureau of Consular Affairs, the process by which we renew our passports may also be getting a makeover. Quoted in U.S. News and World Report, Sprague said that a new platform that will allow people to renew their passports online is “in the works,” for 2017, and could mean the end of those late-night trips to Walgreens photo booths to rush your application off the next morning. Can’t wait until 2017? Worry not: Passport-expediting company It’sEasy allows users to take a selfie as their passport photo and submit their entire application through an app.

Latest on Cuba Travel

The race is on for voyages to Cuba — home to a rich heritage, colorful 1950s classic automobiles, iconic music, pulsating nightlife and people-to-people opportunities. It’s also a new Caribbean experience close to the U.S. The big news? In addition to new Cuba cruises from Apple Vacations, late last year, the brands of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH) and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd along with small ship operator Pearl Seas Cruises received approval to begin sailing to Cuba from the U.S. Also toward the end of 2016, Fathom received Cuban approval to add calls at Santiago de Cuba, the second largest city in Cuba, on six of its upcoming cruises to the Dominican Republic. These seven-day voyages depart February 26, March 12, March 26, April 9, April 23 and May 7; fares start at $599 per person double. Other lines are already sailing to the island nation, just 90 miles south of Key West, FL, and a short distance from many embarkation ports in Florida.

Particularly excited about the upcoming Cuba sailings is Frank Del Rio, NCLH’s president and CEO, who, at the age of seven, emigrated with his family from Cuba to the U.S. “As a Cuban-American and founder of Oceania Cruises, I am incredibly proud that one of Oceania’s vessels will be our company’s first to sail to Cuba,” Del Rio says. “This is truly a dream-come-true for me, and I cannot wait for our loyal guests to experience the sights and sounds of my hometown of Havana and get to know its rich culture and its warm and welcoming residents.” For more Cuba insights from Del Rio, visit oceaniacruisesblog.com/2016/12/07.

NCLH’s first cruise to Cuba will sail from PortMiami on Oceania CruisesMarina on March 7. This 14-day Cuba inaugural voyage called “Old Time Rhythms” will call at Havana; Cozumel and Costa Maya, Mexico; Harvest Caye, Belize; Puerto Limon, Costa Rica; Colon, Panama; Cartagena, Colombia and George Town, Grand Cayman, plus spend three days at sea. Two other 10-night cruises on Marina, sailing March 21 and 31 roundtrip from Miami, will also call at Havana this year; both will have an overnight stay, so guests have two full days at the destination.

Of particular interest to luxury cruisers, Regent Seven Seas CruisesSeven Seas Mariner will call on Havana during two seven-night sailings departing April 11 and April 18 from PortMiami. The ship will spend two days in Havana and two days at sea, and feature calls at the new Harvest Caye (Norwegian’s new private island experience) in Belize and also Costa Maya, Mexico. Free and unlimited tours of Cuba designed for Regent guests will provide an authentic Cuban experience focused on people, music, art, history and culture.

Classic U.S. cars from the 1950s are a familiar sight on the streets of Havana.

The line stresses that the tours comply with the regulations of U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). Onboard, guests will hear Cuba-focused presentations from guest lecturers and scholars. These two Regent Seven Sea Cruises sailings are priced from $2,999 per person and include airfare, unlimited shore excursions, Wi-Fi, fine wine and spirits, and other amenities.

Norwegian Cruise Line’s short-cruise ship, Norwegian Sky, will also sail from Miami on four-day Cuba and Bahamas voyages, starting in May. The itinerary includes two days in Havana (one overnight stay) and a beach day at Great Stirrup Cay, the line’s private island experience in the Bahamas.

On the RCCL front, Royal Caribbean International’s newly revitalized Empress of the Seas will become the largest ship to sail from the U.S. to Cuba, when it departs on a five-day itinerary from Miami on April 19. After that, it will reposition to Tampa and operate two departures with Havana calls — a seven-night April 30 cruise and a five-night May 20 sailing. Empress of the Seas will then homeport in Tampa for the summer season, operating a series of four- and five-night sailings that include Cuba port calls. This will be Royal Caribbean’s first summer program from Tampa.

Royal Caribbean says it plans to offer its guests authentic Cuban experiences on land, such as Havana sightseeing options and Hemingway-focused tours. Back onboard Empress of the Seas, guests can keep that Cuba spirit going at the two-level Boleros, a Cuban-focused entertainment venue that will showcase the isle’s history, legends and traditions. Guests, for example, can hit the floor for salsa dancing or savor a hand-rolled cigar and mojito. In Cafe Royal, they’ll also find such Cuba favorites as cortaditos and café con leche.

This ship also has multiple dining options, a rock climbing wall, new pools and whirlpools, an adults-only Solarium, Vitality Spa and complimentary Adventure Ocean youth program, among many other big-ship features.

“Having Cuba open up to more mass-market cruise lines like Royal Caribbean and Norwegian is definitely going to make it more affordable to cruise to Cuba,” believes Uf Tukel, co-president and co-founder, WMPH Vacations / iCruise, Delray Beach, FL. His agency is a top producer for multiple cruise lines and he believes that “additionally, past passengers of these cruise lines, especially those who live in Palm Beach County and South Florida will appreciate a new destination and an alternative to the Bahamas.”

The upscale Azamara Club Cruises will operate a 13-night roundtrip Miami cruise on March 21 that will include an overnight stay in Havana as well as calls at Key West and Tampa, FL; New Orleans, LA (two overnights); and Cozumel, Mexico. “Destination immersion is the heartbeat of our brand as expressed by our overnight stay in Havana, Cuba,” says Larry Pimentel, Azamara’s president and CEO, noting that the line strives to provide authentic, interactive experiences. “Cuba has been a destination on our radar for years…”

While Azamara is building Havana into an existing itinerary, it will, in time, add additional Cuban ports into several itineraries. Among Azamara’s “Land Discovery” offerings will be a four-hour “Hemingway’s Havana” tour, which explores literary connections between Cuba and the late American novelist Ernest Hemingway. Cruisers will see where he lived, fished, dined and sipped his favorite cocktails. Other Azamara excursions include “Old Havana City Sightseeing,” showcasing Havana’s city center with its fortresses, government buildings, historic squares, notable cemeteries and an artisan market, plus an eight-hour “Best of Havana” Tour that includes in-depth sightseeing and an authentic Cuban meal.

Starting Jan. 17, small ship operator Pearl Seas Cruises will begin 10-day Cuba cruises on the 210-passenger Pearl Mist roundtrip from Port Everglades, FL. The ship will circumnavigate Cuba and call at Havana and many southern coast ports, including Cienfuegos, Trinidad and Santiago de Cuba.

“There is a significant demand to visit Cuba on a smaller ship and we are honored to be among the first cruise lines to have access to the country,” said Timothy Beebe, Pearl Seas’ vice president. Eleven cruises are planned through May, all roundtrip from Port Everglades.

The first major U.S.-based cruise line sailing from Florida to Cuba was Carnival Corporation’s social-impact brand, Fathom, which began cruises on Adonia to several Cuban ports in 2016. However, last fall, the company announced that these Fathom stand-alone cruises would cease by June. Its ship, Adonia, is returning to P&O for Southampton summer sailings.

However, Fathom’s social-impact concept will continue for shore excursions on Carnival’s other brands, along with yet-to-be-determined future opportunities, Carnival Corporation said. The company has applied to Cuban authority to sail to Cuba with its other brands; nothing had yet been received at press time.

One line that’s also still awaiting approval is Viking Ocean Cruises, which says it plans new “Central America Shores & Cuba” voyages on November 17, November 24, December 1 and December 8. These seven-night sailings, if approved, will depart Port Everglades, spend two days in Havana, then call at Cozumel, Mexico; Belize City, Belize; and Key West, FL.

Cruises embarking in Havana? Now that commercial air service has been re-established between the U.S. and Cuba, some clients may opt to embark their cruise ship in Havana. MSC Cruises, Costa Cruises and Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines are among the big-ship lines currently sailing from or calling at Havana. Check with the individual line, though, for paperwork requirements for Americans boarding the ship in Havana.

Clients prefer a small ship? Celestyal Cruises is now on its fourth year of Cuba cruises, sailing year-round from Havana with educational and cultural exchange activities. Celestyal’s all-inclusive Cuba cruises include two days in Havana and call at Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba.

Peregrine Adventures’ eight-day voyages on m/s Panorama sail to ports in western Cuba.

The cruise, drinks, entertainment, gratuities and select excursions are included in the cruise fare. Sold onboard is one pulsating shore option — an excursion to the Tropicana Cabaret, Havana’s biggest nightclub. The cruise embarks every Monday from Havana and every Friday from Montego Bay, Jamaica.

Last year, Ponant Cruises, a small-ship luxury line, also received approvals for voyages to Cuba. Its 2017 Cuba program proved highly popular, with eight-night cruises between Havana and Santiago de Cuba now “sold out.”

Peregrine Adventures also recently introduced new small-ship adventure cruising roundtrip from Havana. Now through April, Peregrine’s eight-day voyages on m/s Panorama sail to ports in western Cuba. They’re operated in partnership with Variety Cruises. Calls include Cienfuegos and Maria la Gorda, and during the cruise, clients can explore Havana’s neoclassical architecture, try out salsa dancing, and visit tobacco farms, among many other experiences. Fares start at $5,900 per person.

Cuba Travel Requirements

While the U.S.-Cuba embargo remains in place, recent legislative changes allow 12 specific types of travel by U.S. citizens to Cuba. If a trip to Cuba meets all the requirements of one category, cruisers generally are authorized by the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to travel under a “general license,” meaning that people can travel without any additional government approvals.

Most cruisers will qualify under the “educational activities including people-to-people travel” category. People-to-people tours are education-based trips designed to promote interactions between travelers and the Cuban people. Just inform clients that this type of travel allows for little, if any, free time, as the cruiser’s time ashore will be spent on specific activities.

All cruise travelers, including all children, traveling to Cuba must have a U.S. passport, valid for at least six months after the Cuban travel. U.S. Customs and Border Protection will not allow U.S. guests to travel to Cuba just with a driver’s license and birth certificate. A visa from the Cuban government is also required for entry to the island. Other requirements also may apply, depending on the client’s individual situation. Ask the cruise line about specific paperwork / documentation requirements before booking.

This article was published on Travel Agent Central.

Global Entry

Now you don’t have to travel to New Orleans to obtain a Global Entry card.  This is helpful if you want to clear custom with ease when you come back from overseas.  Also you can use it as a TSA precheck within the United States.  I have one and have used it a couple of times.  Below is the news release that was put out by the U.S. Government about the program.

While it is a little expensive it is good for five years.

GULFPORT, Miss. – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will open a Global Entry enrollment center at the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport on January 11, 2017. Conditionally-approved Global Entry applicants can begin scheduling interviews for the Gulfport-Biloxi Enrollment Center on the Global Online Enrollment System (GOES) website.

Travelers use Global Entry Kiosks
Travelers use Global Entry Kiosks to speed
their entry process when arriving in the U.S.

Global Entry, a CBP Trusted Traveler Program, allows for expedited clearance of pre-approved, low-risk travelers.

“There is enormous demand for the Global Entry trusted traveler program,” said Steven Stavinoha, Director of Field Operations. “CBP wants to make it as convenient as possible for those hoping to join the Trusted Traveler ranks to be able to finalize their application process in a relatively close location, so they can start enjoying expedited processing benefits.”

Currently, the New Orleans Global Entry Enrollment Center is the nearest location for residents in Mississippi and Alabama.

The enrollment center  located at 14035-L Airport Road in Gulfport initially will open on Wednesday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. CBP officers will only interview Global Entry applicants with appointments.

Frequent travelers are encouraged to apply for Global Entry where members bypass the traditional CBP inspection lines and use an automated kiosk to complete their admission to the United States. Travelers scan their passport and fingerprints, answer customs declaration questions using the kiosk’s touch screen and proceed with a receipt to the exit—the whole process takes only about one minute.

Currently available at 52 U.S. airports and 15 preclearance locations, Global Entry streamlines the arrival process at airports for trusted travelers. The program has more than 3.6 million members enrolled, and CBP receives approximately 100,000 new applications for Global Entry each month. As an added benefit, Global Entry members are also eligible to participate in the TSA Pre✓™, the Transportation Security Administration’s expedited security program.

U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals or U.S. Lawful Permanent Residents may apply for Global Entry as well as citizens of certain countries with which CBP has reciprocal agreements, including Colombia, Germany, Mexico, the Netherlands, Panama, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, and the United Kingdom. Canadian citizens and residents enrolled in NEXUS may also use Global Entry. Persons under the age of 18 who meet the general eligibility criteria must have the consent of a parent or legal guardian in order to apply.

Interested individuals may apply online at CBP’s Global Online Enrollment System.  Applicants must possess a machine-readable U.S. passport or permanent resident card, pay a non-refundable $100 application fee, undergo a background investigation with fingerprint check, and complete an in-person interview with a CBP officer. Global Entry membership is good for five years.

What Annoys You on Flights

 

 

 

Picture this: You’ve got your dream trip booked, bags all packed, and you’re sitting cozy on a long flight to your favorite far-off destination. And here’s the kicker. No, literally, someone is kicking your seat.

It should probably be no surprise that the infamous “Rear Seat Kicker” topped our list for the third year in a row in our annual Airplane Etiquette Study. Soliciting feedback from 1,005 Americans, we ranked some of the most problematic passengers with bad behaviors like boozing, excessive chatting, inattentive parenting, and the one that earned 64 percent of the vote: rear-seat kicking.

Sadly, once again, “Inattentive Parents” claimed second place annoying 59 percent of the survey participants, and “Aromatic” passengers, those with poor hygiene or those wearing excessive cologne or perfume, came in close behind at 55 percent. Proof that it can only take one person to turn even the greatest flights into a less than desirable experience—or that we all really need to be working on our hygiene or spraying a little less of the eau de toilette.

This year, the “Audio Insensitive” and “The Boozer” both tied with 49 percent as notable misbehaviors that irritate us. Interestingly enough, according to the study, only 12 percent of Americans claim to consume more than two alcoholic drinks when flying. Makes you wonder what flights those people were on!

Silence is golden

The notorious “Chatty Cathy,” your neighbor who probably means well but feels compelled to tell you their whole life story. These people who strike up conversations and just don’t stop frustrate 40 percent of American fliers. Even more so, a whopping 65 percent said they “dread” sitting next to this type of person.

Passengers value their silence so much that more than 35 percent would pay extra to be seated in a “designated quiet zone,” if the airline offered one. I guess silence really is golden.

To recline or not to recline

It’s easy to imagine becoming the “Seat-Back Guy” when you’re dealing with a “Rear-Seat Kicker.” Actually, a quarter (25 percent) of respondents claim that they would recline their seat for these reasons—like if the passenger behind them “showed aggressive behavior or was rude.”

Overall, more than half (that’s 53 percent) of the participants reported that they do recline their seats when flying, while 23 percent never do as a violation of airplane etiquette, and 11 percent don’t just because it’s uncomfortable.

Speaking of rude behaviors, did you know that 13 percent said that they record someone being offensive on their phone? Of those, five percent would turn to social media: three percent would shame them on their social channels and two percent would simply “tweet about it.” Be careful if you’re acting up, there’s a chance you could be sitting next to one of those and potentially going viral the next day. (Especially if you’re amongst the percent of Americans who report having “been physically intimate” with a fellow passenger aboard a plane.)

If you’re wondering how the other passengers react to misbehavior, 62 percent would alert a flight attendant, 33 would endure in silence, and 10 percent would confront the offending passenger directly.

Flight attendants aren’t unaffected by these bad habits either. About four in 10 Americans (39 percent) “always” pay attention during safety presentations, while a nearly equal percentage (42 percent) say they do “occasionally.” How about when they ask you to switch your phone to Airplane Mode? Do you? In world where it’s hard enough to switch off, surprisingly, two-thirds (66 percent) of fliers turn their phone to Airplane Mode when instructed to do so—while 15 percent “never” do.

Cool to be kind

Now all of this can make you feel like every flight is going to be full of the most annoying people ever, but to my delight, an overwhelming 79 percent agreed that “for the most part, fellow passengers are considerate of one another,” and 74 percent “thoroughly clean their space before leaving the plane.” There is hope for us all yet!

As you reevaluate your 2017 travel resolutions, maybe being more considerate and conscious of your fellow travelers should be on your list. Or, at the very least, just make sure you don’t kick anyone’s seat. Because as my good friend John Morrey, vice president and general manager of Expedia.com, says about flying, “we are quite literally all in this together.”

This article is from a recent Expedia survey.

Top Travel Spots for 2017

Havana, Reykjavik and Cartagena are the top destinations in terms of traveler interest, according to Kayak’s new 2017 Travel Hacker Guide.

With travel to Cuba recently opening back up, searches to Havana skyrocketed with a 191 percent increase, Kayak said. Colombia saw a surge in interest, with both Cartagena and Medellín making the Top Trending list, while St. Croix and St. Thomas both saw a decrease in interest since last year.

Greater accessibility to the South Pacific is making the region more attractive. Auckland and Sydney made appearances on two lists: Trending Destinations and Trending Beach Destinations, likely from the addition of new flight routes in the last year.

Kayak’s Trending Beach list reveals that five Asian cities – all newcomers to the Travel Hacker Guide – made this year’s list: Phuket, Bali, Colombo, Maldives and Okinawa.

Long flights do not seem to be deterring family travelers, as Honolulu, London and Cancun all returned to this year’s list, along with New Delhi, which took spot #9.

Six European cities made the Wallet-Friendly Flight list, and with the low Euro, deal seekers can score a more affordable trip to Dublin or Milan. While the remaining cities may be a deal to fly to, they aren’t so affordable once you arrive (Reykjavik, Oslo, Stockholm and Copenhagen).

“News headlines, new flight routes and favorable exchange rates are key influences to this year’s Travel Hacker Guide,” said David Solomito, VP North America marketing at Kayak. “As a result of these trends, South America, Asia and the South Pacific have a stronger presence on the Guide compared to previous years.”

The top 10 Trending Destinations from the guide are as follows:
1.Havana, Cuba
2.Reykjavik, Iceland
3.Auckland, New Zealand
4.Bali, Indonesia
5.Tokyo, Japan
6.Cartagena, Colombia
7.Lisbon, Portugal
8.Medellín, Colombia
9.Calgary, Canada
10.Sydney, Australia

Kayak considered searches conducted on the U.S. and Canada Kayak sites between 10/25/2015 -10/24/2016 for travel from the U.S. and Canada occurring between 10/25/2015 – 10/24/2016. All flight searches are round-trip, excluding price outliers based on certain criteria. All hotel searches include properties with at least 4 stars and a certain minimum click threshold. Excludes airport properties and outliers based on certain price criteria. All weather data sourced from public sources on the Internet.

Source: 2017 Kayak Travel Hackers Guide

2017 Colorado Springs

Garden of the Gods, the Royal Gorge and                              Colorado Springs

Please join me on this trip out west this fall from September 15th to the 25th.  This 11 day trip just cost $929.00

This trip includes 18 meals, ten breakfasts and 8 dinners.

Highlights of the trip include touring the Garden of the Gods, a visit to the Air Force Academy and a visit to the Royal Gorge.

Garden of the Gods

We will also have a guided tour of Colorado Springs.

On the way to the Rockies we will stop in Dallas and visit the “The Sixth Floor” Museum which is dedicated to the life and death of President John F. Kennedy.

If you would like to see the complete brochure on this trip just log on to Grouptrips.com and when you get to the landing page just type in “tourwithdave”

2017 Diamond Trips

Washington D.C.

I have a trip to Washington D.C. in May of 2017.  The exact dates are May 18-24th.  The cost of the trip is only $655.00

This trips includes six night including four consecutive nights in the Washington D.C. area.

Two guides tours of Washington D.C.

Our tours feature the WWII Memorial, Capitol Hill, Embassy Row, The Korean War Veterans Memorial, The Vietnam Veterans Memorial, The Smithsonian, The Martin Luther King Memorial, The Lincoln Memorial and much more.

Washington Monument

If you would like to read a day by discription of this trip just go to grouptrips.com and when you get to the landing page just type in “TourwithDave”.