NEW YORK -- Norvista, the tour operator division of Finnair,
developed a program for travelers who are going to Russia to adopt
It is a process that is notorious for bureaucratic glitches and
last-minute changes that affect departures from the U.S. "This is
not something that we ordinarily would promote because it's such a
specialized thing," said Lisa Long, Norvista's manager of sales and
marketing. "We will give [a flyer on the programs] to certain
tourist offices and certain travel agencies who might be very happy
to have it as a service."
The packages stand out because they offer special ticketing and
cancellation terms. "One of the problems that people have when they
go over to adopt children is they often end up not being able to
travel at the time they're scheduled to go, and these people were
always subject to cancellation fees," Long said.
Also, Norvista has an office in Moscow and can offer additional
services to prospective parents. Fran Aherns, executive director of
the Adoption Resource Center, a nonprofit child placement agency
specializing in international adoptions, noted that prospective
parents traveling abroad have special needs.
"A lot of these people have never left the U.S. before," Aherns
said. "They are not travel-savvy, they are very anxious and, on top
of the fact that they are adopting, they get very confused."
Aherns agreed that cancellations and changes in itineraries are
a problem. "We tell families to keep the tickets on hold [without
paying for them] for as long as possible; don't buy the ticket
deals in the Sunday newspapers because you'll probably have to eat
Norvista's adoption packages range from $759 to $1,849 for three
nights in Moscow at one of four hotels -- the Ukraina, the
Intourist, the Tverskaya or the Golden Ring -- with breakfast
daily, roundtrip transfers and roundtrip air fare from New York on
Additional nights are from $65 at the Ukraina to $245 at the
Golden Ring, with a single supplement from $189 at the Ukraina to
$699 at the Golden Ring.
For cancellations two weeks prior to departure, there is no fee;
within two weeks but prior to two business days, there is a $50 per
person fee; within two business days, the fee is one-fourth of the
package price, and inside 24 hours, the penalty is the full package
price. Tickets are issued two business days prior to departure.
"This is not something that we expect will bring in a lot of
business, but it is part of how we position ourselves as experts in
Russia," Long said. "What we've been trying to do is offer the
services that support this message."
Norvista, Phone: (800) 677-6454, Fax: (212) 818-0585, E-mail: [email protected] .net, Web: www.norvista.net