Explorations From Home: All Things Camping with The Dyrt

AAA Travel is proud to present the next broadcast in our Explorations from Home series: All Things Camping with The Dyrt. This LIVE, one-hour session will be presented by our friend Kevin, the CEO from the Dyrt, who will be joined by an expert camper!

The Dyrt is the go-to resource for campers.

However you camp — in a tent, trailer, RV, or cabin — the Dyrt believes that finding outdoor accommodations should be just as easy as finding the indoor kind. Join us as we share tips and tricks to make your camping experience the best it can be.

This is a Microsoft Live event and can be best viewed on a desktop or laptop computer. For those using mobile devices, you may need to download Microsoft Teams from your app store.


Alaska Updates COVID Testing Requirements

Alaska has been one state that seems to have COVID contained, in comparison to more densely populated regions of the United States. In fact, the state holds some of the lowest numbers of COVID-19 cases in the country. Even though Alaska is ready to welcome visitors, it is with an abundance of necessary caution. This now includes a COVID-19 test, with negative results prior to arrival. The magic number to keep in mind is "72". If testing was conducted within 72 hours prior to arrival, and the results are negative, a second test will not be required. However, if the testing was conducted between 72-plus hours and five days prior to departure,  Alaska officials are requiring a second test and travelers will need to minimize interactions until they receive the results.

Anyone arriving without being tested can receive a test in Alaska but must be quarantined at their own expense for 14 days or until they receive negative results.

Testing may be a small price to pay, as travelers will find many of Alaska’s accommodations, tours, and attractions are open. Alaska is home to wide-open spaces and natural beauty that enables social distancing. Alaska is also the location of various national and state parks. These settings offer opportunities to stay socially distanced at campgrounds, remote lodges and vast resorts.

What to know upon your arrival to Alaska:

When you arrive, look for greeters who will assist you through the process and be prepared with the proper documentation:

  • Travel Declaration Form
    Have a printed copy of your completed declaration form. Anchorage-bound travelers should fill out the Mandatory Declaration Form for Interstate Travelers at app.kelvin.care. Test results will also be returned electronically through this private and confidential website.

  • Provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test
    If you were tested before you traveled – which is your best bet to avoid delays or quarantine – have a printed copy of your negative test results attached to your declaration form.

  • Testing in Alaska
    If you didn’t get a test before you traveled, Alaska has some testing available for interstate travelers, but cannot guarantee availability. If you do get tested here, you are required to go directly to your quarantine location until you receive negative results or for 14-days. The test you need to get is a PCR swab test. Depending on the location and available resources, some test results may return relatively quickly or within a few days while others may take up to five days or longer. Children under the age of two do not need to receive a test to avoid quarantine.

  • Testing is not guaranteed
    Although the state continues to expand testing capacity, testing for travelers coming from outside of Alaska is subject to availability. For this reason, travelers are strongly encouraged to obtain a test prior to travel and/or have a contingency plan that includes completing a 14-day quarantine if the state is unable to provide a test at arrival.

  • In the event of a positive COVID-19 test
    If you test positive in Alaska, you must isolate at your own expense for 14 days or until a public health official clears you for traveling.

  • Lodging expenses
    Each traveler is responsible for their own expenses while in quarantine or isolation, including lodging.

  • If no one is there to greet you
    If no one is there to greet you when you arrive in Alaska, please email covidquestions@alaska.gov for directions on how to comply with the requirements of Health Mandate 10.

AAA Travel recently held a broadcast focused on Alaksa travels, including land and cruise options available to AAA members. You may view a recording of that session here, with AAA Travel Presents: Alaska Discovery.

AAA Travel Agents are available to help you plan your next adventure, be it Alaska or further. Speak to a AAA Travel Agent by calling 1-800-222-7448.


Royal Caribbean Group Reinvents Muster Drill

For many cruise lovers, their least favorite part of a vacation (though possibly the most important) is attending the mandatory muster drill. In addition, while we all try to avoid gathering together in limited spaces, it seems a solution to the gathering of travelers was necessary. Royal Caribbean Group has acknowledged this and is replacing the safety drill – with Muster 2.0™, an entirely new approach to delivering safety information to guests. The innovative program, the first of its kind, reimagines a process originally designed for large groups of people into a faster, more personal approach that encourages higher levels of safety.

With new technology comes new opportunities, and muster has gone mobile. With Muster 2.0, the key elements of the safety drill – including reviewing what to expect and where to go in case of an emergency, and instructions on how to properly use a life jacket – will be accessible to guests on an individual basis instead of a group approach that has been followed historically. New technology, eMuster™, will be used to help provide the information to guests via their mobile devices and interactive stateroom TVs. Travelers will be able to review the information at their own time prior to setting sail, eliminating the need for the traditional large group assemblies. The new approach also enables everyone on board to maintain better spacing as guests move about the ship, and it allows guests to enjoy more of their vacation with no interruption.

After reviewing safety information individually, guests will complete the drill by visiting their assigned assembly station, where a crew member will verify that all steps have been completed and answer questions. Each of the steps will need to be completed prior to the ship’s departure, as required by international maritime law.

“The health and safety of our guests and crew are our number one priority, and the development of this new muster process is an elegant solution to an outdated, unpopular process,” said Richard Fain, chairman and CEO, Royal Caribbean Group. “The fact that this will also save guests time and allow the ship to operate without pause means that we can increase health, safety and guest satisfaction simultaneously.”

“Muster 2.0 represents a natural extension of our mission to improve our guests’ vacation experiences by removing points of friction,” said Jay Schneider, Royal Caribbean Group’s senior vice president of digital. “In this instance, what’s most convenient for our guests is also the safest option in light of needing to reimagine social spaces in the wake of COVID-19.”

This marks the first dramatic change to the safety drill process in a decade, since Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas moved the life jackets from guest staterooms to the muster stations, which improved the evacuation process and has been widely followed throughout the industry. More than a year in the making, Muster 2.0 is also an initiative that will be part of the comprehensive set of protocols and procedures Royal Caribbean Group is developing along with the Healthy Sail Panel that was recently assembled in collaboration with Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd.

“This new process represents the kind of innovation that the Healthy Sail Panel is focusing on as part of its mission to enhance the health and safety of cruising,” said former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt, co-chair of the Healthy Sail Panel. “It shows that we can accomplish a lot if we try to think outside the box on safety.”

“I'd like to extend my congratulations to Royal Caribbean Group on this innovative milestone. It's exactly what our industry needs during these unprecedented times and we appreciate the generous offer to participate in this innovation,” said Frank Del Rio, President and CEO, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. “In this industry, we all work cooperatively to enhance health and safety, and this is an example of that.”

The distributed muster for ocean-going vessels concept is patented in the United States and is patent-pending in major markets around the world, including the various cruise industry flag states. The company has also worked with international regulators, the U.S. Coast Guard and other maritime and government authorities to ensure it meets all safety requirements.

In addition to introducing the new process on the ships of its own cruise lines – Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara – Royal Caribbean Group is offering to license the patented technology to interested cruise operators and will waive patent license fees during the time the world and industry battle the global pandemic. Patent licenses have already been granted to the company’s joint venture, TUI Cruises GmbH, as well as Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd., the parent company of Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.

Muster 2.0 was first tested on Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas in January 2020. Guests who took part in the mock process indicated a strong preference for the new approach and also reported better comprehension and retention of the safety information.

As you plan your next voyage, consult your AAA travel agent. You'll be offered up to date safety information, as well as member-exclusive pricing and add-ons. To speak to an agent, call 1-800-222-7448.


AAA Northeast to Host Town Hall on Rhode Island Summer Vacationing

With restrictions, regulations, and requirements abound, Rhode Islanders may be left feeling the summer season is lost. AAA has gathered local industry experts to help members navigate their options for safe and fun summer getaways. On August 4th, the region is invited to attend a town hall broadcast focused on safe alternatives for travel options.

Panelists include:

Sarah R. Bratko – Vice President of Advocacy and General Counsel, RI Hospitality Association
RIHA represents over 700 foodservice, hotels, vendors and hospitality members in the state of Rhode Island and has been the voice of the hospitality and foodservice industries in the state since 1963.

John Goodman – Director of Media and Public Relations, RI Airport Corporation
As Rhode Island moves into “Phase 3” of its re-opening plan, T.F. Green Airport and the Rhode Island Airport Corporation (RIAC) are providing updates for travelers regarding airport parking, available concessions, and new quarantine requirements for individuals arriving from states with high coronavirus positivity rates.

Evan Smith – President & CEO, Discover Newport
In these unprecedented times, there's nothing that matters to Discover Newport more than the health and safety of our locals and visitors. Rest assured this coastal haven can still provide the serenity and relief it always has.

A visit to The Classic Coast—nine vibrant and historic towns all sharing some seriously prime New England coastline—is both everything you expect and enjoyably unpredictable. This is a place and a people made of surf and soul; raised by the ocean and built by eccentric and outspoken rebels some 300-plus years ago. If you’re looking for classic Colonial architecture and breathtaking New England landscapes, we’ve got ‘em. Trust us. But it’s a feeling you get here that’ll make you never want to leave. It’s that feeling of being away yet connected; switched off yet inspired; engaged yet refreshed. There’s no word for it, but it happens every day on the Classic Coast.

Cyndi Zesk – VP of Travel, AAA Northeast
COVID has left AAA members with questions. Let AAA be your first destination when you're planning a trip. Whether it's a family vacation or cruise, a romantic getaway, or a business trip, AAA can get you there in style, with great member savings. You'll get hotel discounts, discount car rentals, and vacation packages that meet your needs and budget - all while we help you navigate the pandemic.

Registering for this town hall is easy. Click here to register.


AAA's Paula Twidale Talks Road Trips with Kelly and Ryan

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ksCs7hoKetY

Paula Twidale of AAA Travel recently spoke with Kelly and Ryan, sharing her tips and tricks for a successful and safe summer road trip. Paula shares must-haves to include packing, such as hand sanitizer and extra face coverings. She also stresses the importance of reservations. With the COVIID outbreak, not every facility is running at capacity and those who do not plan ahead may find themselves bumping into issues along their journey.

Paula also mentions the value of AAA TripTiks. These pre-designed routes help members find rest stops, restaurants, gas stations and more. Your AAA Travel Agent can help you plan the perfect vacation (under the current circumstances) or those looking for a simple escape can visit AAA.com/TripTik to plan their drive.

Watch the full video for advice on handling pit stops, restrooms, hotels, and all aspects of taking a summer road trip. Remember, AAA Travel Agents are here to help you plan and book your adventure. Call your AAA Travel Agent at 1-800-222-7448.

 

 


Puerto Rico Slows Reopening

While Puerto Rico officially began welcoming back tourists on July 15, rising cases of coronavirus in the mainland U.S. has caused the island to postpone some of the reopenings efforts. Puerto Rico has now issued a statement in support of "essential travel” only and has postponed its official inbound tourism reopening to safeguard visitors and residents.

Much like a European nation, the island will conduct a continuous assessment of cases in the United States and Puerto Rico, according to the island's tourism board. Puerto Rico has reported over 12,000 positive cases of the virus, with 180 deaths.

For AAA members who find themselves on the island, or a part of the essential travel criteria, the island will not be fully open. Non-essential businesses which include theaters, casinos, bars, clubs, attractions, and gyms are closed. Popular restaurants and museums are operating at 50% percent capacity and malls remain open, according to Discover Puerto Rico. Alcohol sales are also banned after 7 PM and on Sundays.

Additional restrictions include:

  • Travelers are required to fill out a Travel Declaration Form
  • Travelers need a molecular COVID-19 test no more than 72 hours before arrival and show proof of a negative result
  • Beaches are only open to those doing solo sports or exercise
  • A curfew on the island is in effect through the end of the month between 10 – 5 AM
  • Mask-wearing is mandatory when in public, or you could face a fine

You may have questions while planning your travel, and our AAA Travel Agents are here to help you find answers. Call 


Bahamas Postpone Welcoming Americans

The Bahamas will continue their ban on American travelers amid a spike in COVID-19 cases in the United States.

The Caribbean nation started opening up to tourism be welcoming yachts and private planes on June 15, followed by commercial airlines on July 1. On July 22, commercial flights and vessels from Canada, the UK, and the European Union will be welcomed, but US travelers will need to wait longer.

“While there are countries that continue to make progress, such progress can be reversed because of what is happening in neighboring and other countries,” Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said in a statement. “We are in a marathon, not a sprint… Like other nations that responded well at the outset of the pandemic, the Bahamas is working through the same balancing act. We are trying to get Bahamians back to work and to promote economic activity, while also limiting the spread of the virus.”

In addition, Bahamasair will cease outgoing flights to the United States effective immediately. Private international flights and yachts from the U.S., however, will continue to be allowed, but all visitors will be required to show a negative COVID-19 test result taken no later than 10 days before traveling.
The Bahamas are not immune to the outbreak, having seen a spike in cases as the islands reopened to tourism, This includes 31 new cases in two weeks on Grand Bahama after being COVID-19-free for just over two months. A nightly curfew has been implemented for that island.

“I understand the frustration and the disappointment of many Bahamians and residents that may ensue as we re-implement certain restrictions. But as a country we have to do what is right and necessary,” Minnis said. “If we do not take these measures now, we will pay a higher and deadlier price later.”

In total, the Bahamas has reported 153 confirmed cases of COVID-19, Minnis noted, 49 of which have been recorded since the borders reopened on July 1.

Not all of the Caribbean is closed to US residents. Islands are handling their restrictions on an individual basis. AAA members are invited to participate in our upcoming deep dive into travel options to the Caribbean. Learn about our favorite Caribbean islands, such as Aruba, Jamaica, and the Bahamas as we welcome representatives for each island to our one-hour broadcast highlighting why these island treasures are a great place to plan your NEXT great adventure.


Countries Welcoming American Travelers

Not all hope is lost for those looking to travel in 2020. Travel Pulse recently compiled 17 countries opening their borders to Americans this summer. There are conditions that must be met to visit. Here is a breakdown of locations and requirements.


viking mississippi

Viking Announces More 2023 Mississippi Sailings

With itineraries selling out in weeks, Viking knew that their Mississippi sailings were a big hit with American travelers looking for that river cruise experience in rivers closer to home. In response, Viking has announced additional dates for 2023 bookings for its first domestic ship, the Viking Mississippi.

The debut of this ship is still a year away, scheduled for August 2022, but the buzz around the release is astounding. Viking Mississippi will sail on the lower and upper Mississippi River, between New Orleans and St. Paul, Minn. Stretching for 2,350 miles, from Minnesota's Lake Itasca to the Gulf of Mexico, new cruises on the Mighty Mississippi offer a different type of cross-country journey for the curious explorer–one that allows you to be immersed in American history and culture.

"We are very pleased at the initial response and support we have received from guests and community partners along the Mississippi River," said Torstein Hagen, chairman of Viking. "Like me, many travelers are planning ahead for when we will once again be exploring the world in comfort -- to exotic destinations as well as those closer to home."

AAA Members recently had the opportunity to learn more about the Mississippi opportunity, thanks to a Next Network Broadcast focusing on the ship, the voyage, and the benefits of booking through AAA Travel. In addition to the exclusive benefits available to AAA members, viewers learned more about A Mississippi River cruise, and the rare opportunity to sail through America's heartland. Highlights included detail on the picturesque towns and boom cities; the views of pastoral farms and towering bluffs; and immersive experiences in the region's rich history and culture.

To learn more about this voyage, watch our recorded broadcast found in the Next Network video archives.

To read more about the itineraries Viking offers, now domestic and internationally, visit our itinerary list.

As always, your AAA membership comes with access to AAA Travel Advisors. Let AAA Travel review the special member benefits available to members booking Viking vacations. To speak with a travel representative, call 1-800-222-7448.


American Airlines and JetBlue Partner Up

A new partnership between American Airlines and JetBlue is set to bring more choice to customers, as the airlines lay the foundation toward future growth. This new relationship promises travelers an industry-leading network in New York and Boston, and more flight choices with a seamless experience.

Industry-leading network

This exciting news brings more destinations for customers flying from New York (JFK) with the introduction of year-round nonstop service to Tel Aviv (TLV) and seasonal service to Athens (ATH) beginning in 2021. American will also resume daily seasonal service from JFK to Rio de Janeiro (GIG) in the winter of 2021. In the future, this new partnership aims to aid American in adding new long-haul markets in Europe, Africa, India and South America. JetBlue will enhance service to strategic markets on the west coast and southeast, building on their recently announced growth, while giving customers in New York seamless access to a global network.

More choice with a seamless experience

Through these integrated networks, American and JetBlue will operate reciprocal codeshare flights, allowing customers to book a single itinerary combining flights from both airlines resulting in a one-stop check-in experience and seamless flight connections.

AAdvantage and True Blue members will enjoy new benefits while the airlines explore additional premium experiences for customers. In addition, customers will enjoy an improved on-the-ground experience and more comfort in transcontinental service through access to both JetBlue’s Mint and American’s three-class Transcon service.

AAA Travel is here to help you navigate all aspects of travel, from finding the perfect vacation to shopping for flight deals. Call you AAA Travel Agent at