Medical transport is probably the last thing on your mind when planning your vacation. However, in today’s uncertain world, having a plan in place before travel is a smart move. Medjet, an air medical transport membership program, now offers transport for members who are hospitalized with COVID-19. The service is available in the contiguous United States, Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean.
Medjet will transport travelers to a home hospital of their choice. Like all other programs of its kind, Medjet had previously excluded active COVID infections from transport. In fact, it is the first to adjust its program to include this type of transport.
“COVID has become our members’ number one concern. We wanted to address that,” said Mike Hallman, CEO of Medjet. “We always try to evolve our services based on member needs.
Safer Aircraft and Trained Crew
We have been able to source more aircraft with isolation pods, and crews with proper training. Our team has worked through operational issues, clearances, and ongoing restrictions relative to the 48 contiguous United States, Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean Islands. Now, our members can have the same hospital-to-hospital transport benefits we’ve always provided. The level of service our members expect remains the same.”
Broader international transport for COVID-19 is not yet available. However, all other hospitalization events that Medjet transports for remain covered.
“The same car accidents, heart attacks, strokes, slip and falls, etc. that happened pre-COVID, kept happening during COVID, and will keep happening after COVID,” said Hallman. “Members hospitalized internationally, who are not COVID-positive, remain eligible for transport to their hospital at home.”
Cost-Effective Medical Transport
Despite the increased cost of providing transport for a COVID-19 positive member, Medjet will continue to absorb 100% of all associated costs associated with the transport. In addition, they maintain their “no cost caps on transports” policy. Since a regular air ambulance transport can cost up to $30,000 domestically, and up to $180,000 internationally, Medjet is cost-effective.
The new benefit will be available to current and new MedjetAssist and MedjetHorizon members as of October 19, 2020. Medjet memberships will remain the same price, starting at $99.
After months of quarantine in the United States, travel lovers are free of COVID-19 but many are getting a serious case of cabin fever. Fortunately, international travel is slowly opening up and the lure of adventure is tempting globe trotters to travel again. But where to go? One of the most convenient – and safest – ways to travel is on a river cruise. AMAWaterways leads the way with safe river cruising
According to Kristin Karst of AmaWaterways, safety is paramount. She says, “When it comes to trust in safeguarding the health of our guests, we are in the unique position of being the only US-based river cruise ship company operating in Europe this summer. Sailing AmaKristina in Germany for the local market has allowed us to practice and fine-tune all our enhanced health and safety protocols. We know our North American guests are very eager to get back out and discover the world. Our captains and crews are ready to welcome you on board with open arms once all the conditions are right.”
Here are some of the measures AmaWaterways is taking to protect guests on board and ashore:
Before boarding, guests must complete an online health and contact screening questionnaire.
At embarkation, guests’ temperatures will be taken with no-contact infrared thermometers. If the guest requires further testing, shoreside medical treatment centers are within close proximity.
The crew will sanitize guests’ luggage handles before delivery to the stateroom.
On Board Protection
Protocols continue to change. However, at this time, guests must wear face coverings when moving through public spaces.
There is ample hand sanitizer available throughout the ship. Frequent use is required by all guests and crew.
The crew has implemented enhanced cleaning and disinfecting measures throughout the ship.
State-of-the-art fan coil air conditioning units are in place. There is no recirculating of air onboard the ships.
A limited number of guests allowed onboard. No non-essential visitors.
Enhanced safety and social distancing throughout the dining room.
The crew thoroughly sanitizes fitness mats and equipment after each use.
Safety Exploring Ashore
Personal portable Quietvox commentary systems will allow you to hear guides while social distancing.
Shore excursions in small groups. Guests must use hand sanitizers when getting on and off coaches.
Safe Crew Protocols
Crew must complete pre-boarding medical tests and isolation periods, in-depth health and safety training. They must use face coverings and practice social distancing.
All crew members are trained on enhanced operating protocols. Each ship has its own Public Health Officer overseeing all aspects of health and sanitation for guests and crew.
Crew health will be monitored for potential symptoms. Temperatures checked two times a day.
The crew will wear face coverings during working hours and continue to respect social distancing in their living quarters.
The decision of when it is safe for you, personally, to travel, is based on many factors. However, AmaWaterways safe river cruising is one of the best options available today.
When you think about where a wine comes from, what countries do you think of?
I think about France, Argentina, Spain, Italy, and the state of California here in the United States.
I never thought of Croatia as a wine-growing region until I visited the country for myself in 2019.
Yet, it should come as no surprise that parts of Croatia are ideal for grape growing, considering it is located just across the Adriatic Sea from Italy.
Croatians have literally been making wine for thousands of years. And good ones at that. With the increase in tourists visiting the country in recent years (nearly 21 million tourists visited Croatia in 2019), it should come as no surprise that more and more people are tasting and liking Croatian wines.
And that’s why Win Burke and Mirena Bagur, Boston residents, decided that it was the right time to start introducing Croatian wines to the United States.
Mirena Bagur grew up in the small town of Metkovic in the Dubrovnik-Neretva region of the Dalmatian coast. For Mirena’s family, traditions were important. Her grandfather had a Plavac Mali (a type of Croatian red wine) vineyard.
Mirena is the VP of Brand Management of Croatian Premium Wines. She moved to the U.S. after college and started a career in global communications. She later became involved in high tech, which is where she met Win Burke some thirty years ago.
Win is what you would call a serial high tech entrepreneur. He is highly experienced in the early stages of startups and is the President and CEO of Croatian Premium Wines.
Win and Mirena became a couple ten years ago, and when Win traveled with Mirena to Croatia for the first time, he realized that the U.S. was missing out on some seriously good wines.
“I didn’t know there were Croatian wines prior,” Win said. “I was really impressed,” he said, after trying several types of wines while he was there.
With the increasing popularity of Croatia, and with the Boston-based couple having more time on their hands, it created a “perfect storm” to start a Croatian wine importation business.
Croatian Premium Wine offers reds, whites, and rosés sourced from the Komarna wine growing area of South Dalmatia. The soil is sparse here, mixed with limestone and faces south and southwest.
“We have lately been importing wines from Dalmatia because ultimately, that is where I am from,” said Mirena.
Pošip or Plavac Mali?
Pošip and Plavac Mali are the primary varietals of wine from this region. Pošip is a type of white wine that is crisp with flavors of apple and citrus.
Plavac Mali is the main red wine in Croatia. It is rich and has flavors of dark cherry and pepper.
Mirena likes to pair Pošip with seafood dishes, which is easy enough to do here in New England. “I am your classic Dalmatian cook,” she said. “I do a lot of veggies with grilled seafood,” she continued. Personally, Mirena prefers Plavac Mali as her go-to, which she likes to pair with swiss chard, olive oil, potatoes, and red meat.
A New Wine: K7
Croatian Premium Wines, in collaboration with the Komarna Seven Association (K7), just created a wine specific to the American market called K7. Komarna Seven is a winery association of the seven wineries in the Komarna Appelation in Dalmatia, Croatia.
“To me, that is a true expression of Dalmatia,” said Mirena. It’s very aromatic; it’s got all the tannins that you want. “It’s dry,” she continued.
And it’s moderately priced! “I think it’s worth more,” said Mirena.
Meals Inspired By Croatian Wines
Recently, the couple has hosted three dinners in Boston that were inspired by Croatian wines.
“All three were sold out,” said Mirena.
Mirena and Win are continuing to work on expanding the presence of Croatian wines in the U.S. market and the growth in awareness of Croatia as a holiday destination and the moderate prices for this wide variety of wines from the Dalmatian region.
Christopher Patrick, the CEO and owner of CKIM Group, was open minded about his upcoming trip to the Galapagos islands. He knew that the cold Humbolt Current coming up from Antarctica created a unique ecosystem around these islands. That ecosystem included giant tortoises hundreds of years old, seals and marine iguanas.
He also looked forward to learning more about the people that lived there and their culture.
Upon arrival in Guayaquil, a port city in Ecuador, Chris was impressed with how modern of an airport it was. There was a little bit of congestion going through customs and immigration, but altogether, it was not a bad experience.
Chris stayed at the local Courtyard by Marriott. The shuttle driver was waiting for him at the airport. While the driver was waiting for another passenger, Chris took the opportunity to buy a SIM card for his phone for $15. This would allow him to make calls and send texts in the Galapagos as well since the islands are part of Ecuador.
Chris received a warm welcome at the hotel and the woman working the front desk recommended that he take the 8am airport shuttle for his flight to San Cristobal.
When Chris got to the airport, his flight was cancelled due to the protests occurring throughout the country against austerity measures put in place by PresidentLenín Moreno.
Chris managed to rebook his flights. He flew with Avianca, a Colombian airline. The crew were pleasant and from Ecuador.
Passing through San Cristobal Airport was simple and easy. All visitors are levied with the Galapagos National Park Entrance Fee ($100 USD) when entering the country.
Upon arriving at the villa,Chris was stunned by the surrounding beauty. The beach was filled with sea lions. The sound of the ocean, cool breeze and welcoming staff made the place very inviting.
Lunch was huge. Chris follows a vegan /plant-based diet, and there were more than enough food options for him, including Andean Bean Ceviche (it was delightful), vegetarian sushi rolls, an incredible salad, fruits and more. And lots of plantain! A staple in the Galapagos diet.
Soursop, a fruit native to the Americas and the Caribbean, was widely used as a fruit drink.
After lunch,Chris and his fellow colleagues hiked for 35 minutes to Cerro Tijeretas Cove for snorkeling. The water was super cold! Chris forgot his swim cap, which would have been ideal for the cooler waters. The group stopped at two beaches on the way back and got to see a bunch of sea lions.
Dinner at the villa that night was huge and filling. For Chris, there were incredible salads, vegetables, and more.
After dinner, Chris retired to his Master Villa, leaving the sliding door open and the shutters down. Chris thought Karin, his wife, would have loved it there. He felt that he could easilyhave stayed for a few more days there.
The next day, Chris enjoyed a huge breakfast and the group departed at 10:30 AM for an excursion to El Junco Lagoon, a lake in the highlands of San Cristóbal. The group was lucky. They had clear skies, cool temperatures and there weren’t that many people there.
After taking in the lagoon, the groupwent to the giant tortoise sanctuary. It was 15 minutes from El Junco. The group spent an hour exploring the sanctuary.
After leaving the sanctuary, the group drove to the port where they met the crew of Grand Majestic, a 127-foot motor yacht. Two tenders took the group to the yacht which was anchored in the bay.
Chris was pleasantly surprised at the Grand Majestic. It offered 8 staterooms including a master on the main deck, four double bedrooms below with each converting to twins. All rooms were en-suite. The yacht had a crew of 10 including the captain and a chef in the galley.
The main deck had outdoor dining on the aft and a large saloon with a dining area. Large windows allowed natural light to enter the saloon and dining area. The master suite also had large windows.
The group enjoyed a delightfully large dinner complimented with strawberry Pailaice cream for dessert. Paila ice cream is a traditional, Ecuadorian-style sorbet made in a bronze bowl.
While the guests slept, the yacht sailed for Post Office Bay, on the island of Floreana, arriving in the early morning.
Chris woke at 5:45 AM to a beautiful morning with the moon still high in the sky and the sun starting to rise. What paradise!
They enjoyed breakfast on the aft deck then set out at 8:00AM to explore the lava cave and to snorkel in Post Office Bay.
The Lava Cave was amazing. The group descended into the cave via stairs.
After the cave they went to the mailbox barrel on the island to search for postcards that they could deliver close to where we live. The barrel was originally used by homesick sailors to drop off letters for their loved ones in the hopes that sailors returning home would deliver them, or at least mail them once they arrived home.
The tradition has continued and Chris dropped off his post cards as well as looked to see if there were any cards that he or someone else from the group could deliver.
After, the group went snorkeling in the bay. They were blown away by the sea lions that played with them as well as the large turtles and loads of fish and coral.
The group returned to the yacht to recover, had lunch, rest and get ready for the next excursion: Devil’s Crown.
“There, the current was strong,” said Chris. There were lots of fish, a few turtles, and one of the other members of the group saw two white tip sharks. According to Chris, it was “not as beautiful as Post Office Bay.”
“Our next excursion was Cormorant Point at 4:00 PM to see the Flamingoes, then hike over to Green Beach and Four Sand Beach,”said Chris.
Edison, the group’s guide, offered an educational talk at each location. “I know more now about the Galapagos, turtles, flamingos and blue–footed boobies. Our guides were amazing,” said Chris.
Chris said he ate more than he normally does since the food was so good, but also because of the snorkeling in cold water, hiking and cooler temperatures, it was needed to keep him energized!
The Grand Majestic sailed overnight to Española. The group went ashore at 6am in order to be the first group ashore to do a two-hour hike around the island. Española is uninhabited (by humans) and is home to many Albatrosses, Blue-footed Boobies, and many other bird species.
“Sea Lions and loads of marine iguanas lined the beach near the jetty where we landed,” said Chris.
“We had to be careful since the path was very rocky. It was incredible viewing the blowholes, Albatrosses, boobies and other species so close,” he went on to say.“These animals were not afraid of humans.”
Chris said that particular excursion was one of the top three experiences of the whole trip.
“There is nothing like an early more hike with the sun rising, a cool breeze, majestic scenery and a good group of people,” he said. “I loved it,” he continued.
They returned to the yacht after to enjoy a well-earned breakfast and then went for another snorkeling excursion.
After lunch, the group explored a nearby beach, followed by a memorable last supper onboard Grand Majestic.
After an early breakfast, the group disembarked by tender on the island of Santa Cruz. They boarded a bus and went to the giant tortoise sanctuary for one last experience with these ancient giants.
They then boarded the ferry for the island of Baltra, where they would depart these majestic islands and continue the tradition of delivering postcards throughout the world.
If you want to plan a charter to Greece, than chartering one of the New Horizons catamarans offered by Big Blue Yachting is the way to go. With ample space both above and below deck, gourmet food and water toys aplenty, there are plenty of reasons to charter in Greece.
Big Blue Yachting currently has three catamarans in its New Horizons fleet. They are all owned by the same owner. They have a year round crew onboard and every winter, they are meticulously maintained in order to ensure that they are ready for the busy summer season. They already have confirmed charters for the 2020 season.
New Horizons is the smallest of the fleet (46 feet) and built in 2014, refitted in 2017. She is a Lagoon 450.
Dia Pappas is the operations manager for Big Blue Yachting, and she assured us that the catamaran is in impeccable condition and a perfect vessel for a more intimate charter setting (she has four cabins).
All three boats are based in Athens and can do itineraries in the Cyclades, Ionian and Saronic islands.
Although there are some suggestedroutes for the boats, “we’re flexible on moving the boats around,” said Pappas.
New Horizons 2
New Horizons 2 is a Saba 50 and was built in 2016. She has ample space both above and below deck. She has five cabins: one master, three doubles and one triple and can accommodate up to 11 passengers.
Her aft seating area is covered so that you can lounge and dine in the shade. The foredeck is an ideal lounging spot for anyone wanting to enjoy some sun and take in the sights.
There is an upper deck as well. She is staffed by a full-time crew of three.
New Horizons 3
The New Horizons 3 is the newest of the fleet (built in 2019) and has a total of five cabins. She is a Bali 5.4. and is also staffed by three crew members.
New Horizons 2 and 3 can carry up to 11 people, and the New Horizons 3 can carry up to 10 people. “All boats have been customized for a luxury holiday experience,” said Pappas.
Each boat has its own gourmet chef. “They are certified chefs,” added Pappas, and are perfectly capable of taking on even the most difficult of dietary preferences. She said that they recently had a charter on one the catamarans that had to be an all Kosher charter, and it it went smoothly.
“Preference sheets are sent to the crew at least a week before the charter” added Pappas, to ensure that all guests are happy with what they are served.
Each catamaran is equipped with a water maker so you don’t have to worry about running out of water. “Everything onboard is very unique,” said Pappas.
Other perks onboard these boats making them the “Tiffany’s of Catamarans” according to Big Blue Yachting, is that each boat has teak decks throughout, air conditioning, hydraulic gangways and they even offer robes and slippers to each guest.
Charters can be personalized, weather permitting and can range from one to three weeks.
Some of the places that you can visit include the Cyclades island group, which offers sandy beaches, instagram-worthy blue and white architecture, and Greek traditions and history.
Mykonos is part of the Cyclades and is one of the most well known Greek islands. Here, you will find those idyllic sandy beaches.
Nearby, is the island of Delos. Considered one of the most important archeological sites in Greece. The island can be reached by ferry from Mykonos, Paros or Naxos. If the weather permits, you charter boat captain can take you to island and arrange for a tour guide. Or, if you hop on the ferry, there are guides offering their services as you land.
The island is an important archeological and historical site. Evidence shows that Delos has been inhabited since the third millennium BC. There is a museum to visit here, as well as the different archeological sites.
And when being awed by the richness of Greek history gets too much, there are always watersports. Each boat has SUPs (stand up paddleboards) and sea scooters. They are equipped for water skiing, tubing and snorkeling.
“The diving is also very nice,” said Pappas. There are sunken ships, planes and even archeological sites to dive on.
For more information on the New Horizons catamarans, reach out to Christopher Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org.