Traveltruth Responds to Your Travel Questions

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PASSING THROUGH O’HARE PAUSING FOR CHOCOLATE

Q – Somehow, I know that your team will know the answer to this question. I was doing a quick connection at O’Hare Airport in Chicago and walked past this gourmet-looking chocolate store called Vosges. Any good, worth bringing home, or skipable? A – We’re not huge fans but it is decent chocolate. The stunner,…

CHILD FRIENDLY DINING IN ST. PETERSBURG

Q – Call us crazy, but we’re bringing the twins, our eleven year-olds girls, on a Crystal Cruise to the Baltic that will include several days in St. Petersburg, Russia. We want to put together a special day that might include a really nice lunch the entire family can enjoy. Is there anywhere you could…

WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO BOOK A EUROPEAN RIVER CRUISE

Q – As we plan a river boat journey, our first, from Basel to Amsterdam next September, we are wondering when it might make the most sense to book. We are looking at Viking River and we know that the boats book up early. A – Two schools of thought. You may want to book this afternoon….

DAY TRIP DINING NEAR STRESA

Q – We are going to be staying at the Grand Hotel des lles Borromees along the water in Stresa for a week. Flying from LA to Milano, renting an Alfa, and ready for some day trips. Are there any restaurants in the area worth a drive of am hour or so that you could…

BARCELONA CHURROS: WHERE ARE THEY BEST?

Q – In the mid-eighties, I spent a semester in Barcelona, studying Spanish and a bit of Architecture. Now, my wife and I, she has never been to Spain, are heading for Barcelona to begin a 12-Day Cruise on Oceania. Because of work, there is just the one day in Barcelona and I am intent…

CAN YOU HELP MY HUSBAND FIND THE TACO OF HIS DREAMS?

Q – Do you think it is practical, to plan a trip to Mexico City that would allow us to take in some of the best local food spots and markets in about a week? My  husband just lives for authentic Mexican food but we live just outside of Birmingham and we’re not about to…

IS NORWEGIAN RIGHT FOR MY FAMILY AND WHY DON’T YOU RATE THEM

Q – I think it is fair to say that you have no bigger fans of this site but, sadly, we find little help from you in planning our upcoming cruise with our 8 and 11 year-old boys. I know, for example, that Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean are supposed to have the best…

GETTING BLANK STARES ABOUT A CRUISE THAT INCLUDES WEST AFRICA

Q – I thought I would see if beta.traveltruth.com is going to give us the same blank stare we get when we ask a travel agent about cruising West Africa. I mean, Africa is a fairly large continent and, near as I can tell, it has both an East and a West Coast. We would…

BEST CRUISE WITH KIDS NEXT SUMMER

Q – I am a pediatrician here in Dallas and an avid reader of this space. Next summer (2015) Patti and I want to take our three children on a real quality cruise up to Alaska that might have children’s programs. I would love to know the best line to do this with and how…

IS SINGAPORE REALLY RIGHT FOR US THIS WINTER?

Q –  I am going to need to be in Singapore in February on business and I am thinking about bringing along my wife for a week of seeing and exploring the city. Some of what I am seeing online makes me feel that this might not be worth five nights or so and the…

HOW LIKELY THAT MY RIVER BOAT CRUISE WILL TURN INTO A BUS TOUR?

Q – Our travel agent has set us up with a cruise on the Viking River Line, which I understand is the Cadillac of river cruises. We’re scheduled to leave on June 12th next year but I’ve heard from friends that the rivers sometimes flood preventing a full sailing on the river with days made…

IS THERE A LIST OF THE WORLD’S MOST OVERRATED PLACES?

Q – As we approach the magic day – two weeks from now, retirement will mean that we will be going out to see much of the same world we have been avoiding for the past six decades. We don’t want to see it all – no interest in seeing the Congo or hiking the…

THREE THINGS WE’D LIKE NERVOUS FLYERS TO KNOW

Based on the volume of inquiries we receive from nervous flyers, the following three observations might be helpful the next time you take to the skies: 01 – If you have concerns about turbulence, try to book a departure before 10:00 am. Most turbulence  seems to build up during the day and thunderstorm activity is…

AM I BEING RIPPED OFF: WHO’S LYING?

Q – My wife and I read travel blogs for fun and we think your sis one of the best. But I’ve been told by two different cruise lines reservations departments that you are not telling the truth when you claim that booking directly with a cruise line is a rip-off. The two lines I…

WHICH KINDS OF RESTAURANTS ARE MOST DANGEROUS FOR E-COLI CONTAMINATION?

Q – We will be doing a driving trip from coast to coast later this summer. We’re in our mid-sixties, relatively well-traveled, but we’ve not done a driving vacation in the United States. Our biggest concern is all those meals we will have in strange places and we want to stay healthy. How would you…

NORMANDY BOUND, BUT NOT FOR THE BATTLEFIELDS

Q – We are off to Normandy this August with our 19-year-old son who is, of all things, fascinated by Impressionist art. We will tour the battlefields, but the main purpose would be to enroll him in some painting classes where they stress the Impressionist school techniques. Where would you suggest we stay to use…

WHO IS THE BEST PERSON TO PLAN AN ECO FRIENDLY, ENVIRONMENTAL TOUR OF COSTA RICA?

Q – We have strong environmental interests both professionally and privately. We are rather interested in going to Costa Rica to see and enjoy some of the best most eco-friendly resorts and off-the-beaten path experiences. We want to be in the hands of people who will get what we’re about and who won’t be intimidated…

ANY WAY TO GET US INTO RESTAURANT GUY SAVOY IN PARIS?

Q – We are going to be in Paris later this summer. Our dream is to dine at Guy Savoy’s Restaurant. We tried online but that doesn’t seem to work. I hope this is not an inappropriate question, but is there any secret way to get into a restaurant of that caliber when traveling overseas?…

I AM BOOKED FOR BANGKOK – NOW WHAT?

Q – My wife and I have planned a trip that includes a number of days in Bangkok through one of the better tour companies in that part of the world. We worked with Pacific Delight directly. We’re under deposit for a trip in August. It may be hot but we’re both school teachers so…

ANY PLACE WORTH SEEING NEAR BUT OUTSIDE VENICE?

Q – In late September we’ve booked a great itinerary on the Seabourn Spirit round-trip out of Venice for ten days. The cruise will visit ports in Greece and Croatia that we really want to see but it overnights at the end in Venice. The problem is we’ve been there twice before, once with a…

WHERE CAN WE FIND THE CHEAPEST TRAVEL INSURANCE?

Q – We will be leaving in three months for a two-week cruise to Greece and Turkey with Sea Dream 1. Picking the cruise was easy, the ship only has 50 cabins and 100 people. But choosing insurance is tougher. How do we find the best deals on travel insurance? A – We’re not going…

CAN YOU FIND US THE ULTIMATE RETIREMENT TRIP?

Q – We would very much like to have your help with planning our ultimate trip, a celebration of my retirement from the financial world with  a month-long journey that might include as much wildlife as possible in Africa as well as, if at all possible, the Amazon. We’re open to what else we might see…

USING MY PHONE ON A CRUISE TO SOUTH AMERICA

Q – We leave for a cruise to South America this winter and we’re already looking forward to it – except for the communications part. Is there any way to cut down on the cost of making a call while still using my regular phone (Android)?  A – There is one rather new technique that…

WHICH AIRLINES HAVE THE LOWEST FARES TO EUROPE?

Q – We love reading this site even though it is clearly aimed at the upscale traveler. I suppose we are about fifty-fifty upscale. But we just hate spending money we don’t have to for another inch of chair for eight or nice hours. For a 5-star hotel at the other end yes – but we just…

LOOKING FOR A CHICKEN IN PARIS

Q – Don’t know if you can help with this, but would appreciate it if you can help. I am not a vegetarian but my fiancé and I do not eat meat. We do eat chicken and fish. We will be in Paris for six days in August and we would love to know that…

HOW DO WE LOSE SEATS THAT WERE CONFIRMED SIX MONTHS AGO?

Q – We will be leaving for a European Cruise booked through Regent Seven Seas in three weeks. We booked the air/sea program and paid extra for an air deviation. We were flying United Airline on a flight from Atlanta that is actually going to be operated by Lufthansa. We have a connection in Frankfurt…

WHICH IRAN TOUR SHOULD WE BOOK?

Q – We have read that Iran is a great destination with friendly people and a great deal to see. Wonder if you agree? We’ve been looking at Travcoa and Mir Tours. They each seem to be operating two departures this year. Which of the two passes your “legitimate Tour Operator” Test? Really enjoying the…

ARE ONLINE FLIGHT SEARCHES RIGGED?

Q – Over a period of about 24 months, we’ve noticed that when we start planning our flights for vacation it seems that the prices have always gone up when we are ready to book, often just a day or two later. It happens too often to be a coincidence. Any recommendations or are we…

DO I NEED A VISA FOR TRAVEL TO ST. PETERSBURG, RUSSIA

Q – We have a rather unusual situation. We are traveling with friends on a Baltic cruise this July that includes three full days in St. Petersburg. My mother is quite ill and there is the remote possibility that I could be called during the cruise with the  need to fly out of Russia in a…

HOW MANY COOTIES ARE LIVING ON MY BUSINESS CLASS BLANKET?

Q – Realize yours is not an airline site but I always wonder about the cleanliness of the blankets I find all wrapped up, nice and tidy, on my seat when I am flying Business Class internationally. I’d love to know how often those blankets are actually  cleaned?  I start itching just thinking about it….

ONE QUESTION YOU NEED TO ANSWER

Q – We’ve been following traveltruth  for the past two years and we love every bit of it – but there is one question I don’t think you’ve ever addressed. When is the best time to get awful assigned seats changed to something better? Whenever we call the airlines they say the seating is “closed”. A –…

CAN WE USE CRUISE CREDITS TO REDUCE THE PRICE OF OUR CRUISE?

Q – We will need to make a payment to Celebrity Cruises for our final payment for a two-week cruise to the Mediterranean. We booked it directly with Celebrity and there seems to be some confusion about the credits we were given when we booked with their agent, Joseph. I think we should be allowed…

WHICH COUNTRIES HAVE REALLY GREAT CREDIT RATINGS?

Q – We were at a friends house last night doing some Pinot Noir blind tastings accompanied by s’mores when the subject of credit ratings for countries came up. A Wall Street player in our group said that he believed that credit agencies that rate businesses also rate countries. I’d really be interested in which…

WILL THE COAST OF NORWAY BE A BOREWAY?

Q – As frequent cruisers, we have to make our minds up quickly about a 16-Day voyage on Regent Seven Seas between Oslo and Copenhagen. This is a cruise pretty much limited to the coast of Norway and St. Petersburg, which we’ve previously visited, is not  on the itinerary. Wondering of you would recommend this specific itinerary?…

GREEK FAMILY SPECTACULAR

Q – We have a rather large, tightly-knit Greek family (so what else is new) and we’re planning to go to the islands in 2016 for a two-week spectacular trip. We thought it best to start now. Of course we’ll have all age groups and some will want to do their own thing. We have some…

CAN WE DO A CUSTOM BEEMER TOUR?

Q – We have three BMW’s in the garage. For our next trip to Europe, we’d love to have a custom trip arranged where we might drive a Beemer on some of Germany’s best roads, with frequent stops for beer and Brotzeit. We know what we want – we just don’t know how to begin….

A PHOTOGRAPHER’S DREAM TRIP

Q – Please don’t use my name but you can say that I am a fairly well-known amateur photographer whose work has appeared in several major publications including AFAR and National Geographic. But I have a day job that finances our photographic journeys. My dream is to take some great photos of Japan’s Mt. Fuji….

CAN WE TURN JAMAICA INTO A MEMORABLE VACATION?

Q – We’re really into traveltruth but we feel you seriously shortchange the Caribbean. There isn’t much objective information about the islands online – they all use the term “paradise” interchangeably.  In three months, we’re off to Jamaica on a corporate reward trip including accommodations at Rose Hall. But we keep hearing negatives about the…

SHOULD I LET MY DAUGHTER GO ON A CRUISE?

Q – Thank you for the information you give about some of the things you need to be careful about on some of these cruise ships. My 17 year-old daughter has asked me to let her go with a friend on a three-night Royal Caribbean Bahamas cruise. Her friends mother will be going, but she…

BIG MOVES TO EUROPE

Q – We have always had a desire to sail the world’s largest ship for a week or so. I’ve heard Royal Caribbean and Carnival ships are huge but we literally want to sail the biggest next summer. Can you tell us which ship that would be? A – The Royal Caribbean Allure of the…

WILL WE BE ABLE TO GET AWAY ON AMERICAN CHRISTMAS 2017?

Q – With all the problems we’ve been reading about involving American Airline’s bankruptcy and this pending deal with US Airways, we are wondering if keeping miles in our Advantage account for a planned major Christmas trip in 2017 is a good idea? A – The merger with US Air went through last year and American…

WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO GET UPDATED GATE INFORMATION ON MY iPHONE?

Q – I know the airlines can notify you of an assigned gate or change, but is there any single source I can use all of the time to get information without having to trust my airline to update me? A – There are two apps that are quite good and both have a basic version…

SHOULD WE CANCEL OUR ROYAL CARIBBEAN CRUISE?

Q – We’ve been listening to the horrific news reports about the virus that got everyone sick on the Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas. We have never cruised and are scheduled to take our first stab at cruising this October with two other couples from our church. As luck would have it, we’re booked…

A ‘PUT YOU ON THE SPOT” QUESTION

Q – Over the past two years, you have kind of spoiled us with the candor of your responses in the Q&A section of your site. So let me pose a question that may put you on the spot. I have to fly rather frequently to Europe where my company has several factories and storage…

I AM A TRAVELING CFO. WHAT IS BEST WAY TO COMMUNICATE WITH OFFICE BACK HOME?

Q – Interesting and honest responses to other questions lead me to ask you if you know of any services that will make my life easier as I travel the world and frequently have to call in from abroad? I would also like to video conference from time to time. As a CFO in the…

VACATION.COM VERSUS VIRTUOSO, VERSUS SIGNATURE

Q – We worked with an agent who was in the Virtuoso Consortium for many years. We now have a new agent who is in something called Signature. Meanwhile, our best friends use someone connected to Vacations.com who just got them a wonderful upgrade at the Hyatt in New York.  Each of these groups seems to…

DO WE REALLY NEED AN INDIAN VISA?

Q – We are on a Crystal cruise to Malaysia and Singapore that stops for the day at Port Blair, in the Andaman Islands, which technically belong to India. We just learned it will cost is $334 and a whole lot of paperwork, plus sending our passports to the Indian embassy, in order to get…

THE OCEANIA MARINA SAYS IT HAS GREAT FOOD. DOES IT?

Q – We are mid-town Manhattan Foodies, quite used to choosing from America’s best restaurants, many with world-famous chefs. We are considering our first experience at sea and friends tell us they’ve read that Oceania has the best food.  We shop at Zabar’s and we dine at Le Bernadin at least once a month, if…

WHERE DO YOU FIND THE BEST TOUR GUIDES, ON ESCORTRED TOURS OR BOOKING PRIVATE ARRANGEMENTS?

Q – Having just received my retirement “papers”, my wife and I are off to see the world for the next twenty years. That is of fate, my knee joints, and arthritis, all permit it. The few trips that we’ve done abroad were a mixed bag, and we found that so much is determined by…

WHICH PORTS IN ISRAEL ARE BEST FOR CRUISE PASSENGERS?

Q – Now that the Iranians have promised not to build nukes and the Syrians are dismantling their nerve gas depots, it is time for a family cruise to Israel we’ve been putting off for close to 20 years. We’re not worried, if you’re not worried, about taking our teens, 15 and 17, to Israel…

iPHONES AND PASSPORTS IN CUBA

Q – We are really excited to be going on one of the first scheduled tours to Cuba. We just signed up but we had two immediate questions. Will our iPhone work in Cuba and what do we do with our Passport? Will we be carrying it with us? A – You will be able…

AMERICAN VERSUS UNITED TO LONDON

Q –  We are going to be attending a conference  in London next  month and we’re trying to figure out whether we should be booking our air on American or United out of Chicago. The seating in Business Class is really important to us and we are wondering which of these has beds that will allow…

WILL AN ATLANTIC HURRICAINE BANKRUPT OUR VACATION?

Q – Our family of five is booked on a Crystal Cruise to New England and Canada in top suites in Mid-October. We booked this cruise largely based on the traveltruth ratings, the most honest we’ve found. But given our substantial investment for two doubles and a single all upper decks, I am concerned about…

ANYTHING COOL AND HIP IN THE CARIBBEAN?

Q – My boyfriend and I are professionals in the fashion industry in New York and we are in dire need of a Caribbean getaway sometime in December, perhaps over the Holidays. We like hip resorts with progressive food and rooms with modern design touches. We also have rather high expectations about service, a rare commodity, from what we…

WHY NO REPORTING ON THE REAL SCENT OF PARIS – URINE?

Q – My husband and I have just returned from a week in Paris. We were rather amazed at the number of homeless people on the streets. We had been there in 1994 and it was nothing like this. The smell of urine is everywhere and people are just setting up cots on the sidewalks all…

TWO QUESTIONS REGARDING FREE AIR AND USING AN AGENT VERSUS BOOKING DIRECT

Q – Hi – I have spent some time on your site, and I have to thank you for the effort you put in, and the advice that you provide – it is a great resource. I have seen a couple of comments or recommendations in regards to cruise vacations that I would like you…

SHOULD WE BRING MAGNETS ON OUR CRUISE?

Q – We will shortly be taking our first cruise aboard the Celebrity Eclipse. Do you like and recommend this ship and Celebrity generally? Also, we read on the internet that you are supposed to bring a set of magnets on a cruise but we have no idea why nor does our travel agent. Any…

GOING TO KINGSTON MON, AND NEED GREAT FOOD

Q – We are heading to Jamaica for a vacation that will involve a great music festival in Kingston. We’re foodies but know little about dining in Kingston. Any recommendations would be appreciated. Our air fare and hotels are set. Know you will provide trustworthy advice. A – While Jerk Chicken is everywhere, we would…

HOW FAR CAN I GO ON A NON-STOP FLIGHT?

Q – Wondering whether one of your editors can tell me who is operating the longest passenger flight these days. For the ultimate getaway, I might be tempted to take it and let that be the degree to which I do itinerary planning. Is there any advantage to using a travel agent once I decide…

BARCELONA IN JULY – ANY DANGER?

Q – My husband and I read traveltruth on our iPad in bed. So thanks for that. Despite the time devoted to your excellent site, we have managed to have two kids and we’re all scheduled to do an Azamara Cruise next summer that will spend two days in Barcelona. Our perfectly behaved angels are…

BARBADOS TO RIO: SHOULD WE SPLURGE?

Q – We are seriously considering joining friends from work on the January 15th sailing of Silverseas from Barbados to South America. We’ve never cruised this line but the combination of the Caribbean and South America intrigues us. Is $5650 a great deal for a window suite?  We’ve been working with an agent but were…

ROME DURING EASTER WEEK?

Q – We are taking our 16-Year old on a dream trip to Italy this coming spring. Our highlights will be Venice, Rome, and the Amalfi Coast. Our tentative schedule puts us in Rome Easter week flying home after the Holiday. But we don’t know how insane Rome will be that weekend. We had wanted…

ANY WAY TO DO THE SILK ROAD BY TRAIN?

Q – Your site was recommended to help us answer a question about my personal bucket list. Can you actually do the Silk Road through Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Kazahkstan by train. I want  to see it all, and my wife will indulge me, from the Karakum and Kysilkum deserts to the Tien Shan Mountains. We’re rather well-traveled, much…

CUBA NOW – SI OR NO?

Q – Like many traveltruth fans, we have always wanted to go to Cuba. Now, it seems, things are opening up and we noticed that Tauck Tours is offering programs there next year. Can we book this and do you recommend this. Does Tauck have a  decent reputation? A – Tauck is, in our view,…

WE ARE BOOKED ON A SHIP THAT JUST FAILED ITS HEALTH INSPECTION

Q – We are really worried about a cruise we have booked for next year on Silverseas Cruises Shadow, This will be our third cruise, first on this line, but we are now quite worried because our daughter-in-law was checking the ship out online and tells us it just failed its health test. There also…

DOES DISNEY REALLY DOUBLE ESCORT THEIR TOURS IN EUROPE AND SOUTH AMERICA?

Q – We are thinking about doing a trip to Great Britain with a family whose daughter attends grade school with my son. The parents get along well and so do the kids. My friend is recommending the Disney Tour company and says they actually provide two escorts. Is this really true and is this…

BEST FIVE-STAR CRUISE OPTIONS FOR NON-SMOKERS

  Q – Quite frankly, we are disappointed that traveltruth does not have more questions about smoking on cruise ships. The vast majority of us are non-smokers and we feel that the last thing we need is to be exposed to second-hand cigarette smoke. We understand that smokers have rights, but we would choose a luxury…

CRUISING TO WORLD WAR TWO PACIFIC BATTLE SITES

Q – I am a retired Officer who would love to visit some of the sites of the Second World War  Pacific Theater with my wife. I have the time and the means to do it right and was wondering if there is a cruise that might make us happy in terms of a focus on…

DO I NEED PAPERS TO GET INTO AUSTRALIA?

Q – My buddy and I will stop trading commodities for a few days, hope the markets can withstand our absence, and we’re off to Sydney for a few days of rest, relaxation, and some sailing. We’re getting conflicting advice about the need for an Australian Visa and we were wondering if getting one is…

TRYING TO FIND LISBETH SALANDAR?

Q – Both my husband and I have just finished the three Scandinavian detective thrillers in Stieg Larsson’s “Millennium” series. We know Mr. Larsson passed away but we would really like to enjoy a visit to Stockholm to try to trace the steps of Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salendar, the wonderful tattooed computer hacker and…

REALLY GETTING ANNOYED ABOUT SHORE EXCURSIONS

Q – In your reviews of the Top Ten Cruise Lines, we notice that you say very little about the cost these lines are charging for their shore excursions. We’ve done one previous cruise on MSC and we’re trying Oceania in Europe next May. But we notice that they are charging up to twice as…

GOING TO PROPOSE IN EZE AND NEED HELP

Q – My girlfriend and I visited the hilltop town of Eze in the south of France on a recent  cruise and we fell in love with it. Now, I want to go back and spend a few days so I can propose in a beautiful setting. Where should I book and how should I…

ARE YOU FOLKS RECOMMENDING TRAVEL TO MEXICO?

Q – We are thinking about a trip to Cabo San Lucas but were wondering if you are sending people there and if you feel it is generally safe? We’re rather high-end travelers, I suppose, fans of Peninsula and Mandarin Oriental, but my wife is worried about traveling where drug cartels are ruling the streets….

ARE THERE REAL LAST-MINUTE CRUISE DEALS ON THE TOP CRUISE LINES?

Q – We just returned from a cruise on Crystal to the Baltic and loved the experience. We’re already signed up for another trip next year. But being retired, we can cruise on short notice. We’ve read what you’ve recommended about the benefits of being among the first 20% to book. But now, we’re wondering about…

787 UPDATE: IS THIS PLANE SAFE?

Q – My entire family of seven is scheduled to fly from Houston to Denver in October and we are currently bo0ked on the new Boeing 787. First we had the battery issues and now it seems that there are more issues with the  airplane. We do not fly often and we are a little…

AM I GETTING HUSTLED ABOUT RUSSIA?

Q – We are working with a travel agent we’ve known for years. Last week, I brought her a tour put out by General Tours that really looked interesting. But she quickly tried to turn things around trying to get us to book a Viking River Cruise in Russia instead. I’m just wondering about how…

MATH CHAOS IN GERMANY’S RESTAURANTS

Q – Our friends from Portland recently joined us on a custom arranged vacation that took in portions of Switzerland, northern Italy, and almost ten days in Germany. We loved this vacation and being with our friends of twenty-five or so years, was terrific. But we ran into one problem that we just didn’t understand….

FLYING FOR FREE WITH A MERCEDES CARD

Q – I’ve been getting mailings about a new credit card called the Mercedes-Benz Platinum. In terms of travel benefits, is this one of the better cards. Given the cost of my Mercedes, I’d love to feel that I can get a few free international tickets out of my purchase. A – This is one…

CAN YOU MAKE MY HUSBAND AN OFFER HE CAN’T REFUSE?

Q – My husband smokes cigars continually, has an eight handicap, runs a five million dollar auto-supply business and knows about 75% of the dialogue from the original Godfather movie. He’s big, loud, obnoxious, and a sort of typical Jersey guy. He’s a sweetie and I want to take him to Sicily as a surprise for his…

THE BEST OVERALL CRUISE LINE

Q – OK, we’ve read your entire site, or 90% of it, and, wow!  Congratulations. So the one question we’re dying to know the truth about. All in, which cruise line is really the best in the world. And don’t be concerned about naming names – we won’t tell any of the other lines you…

DO YOU RECOMMEND INTERNET-BASED SHORE EXCURSION FIRMS?

Q – My husband and I, as well as our best friends, are all working with a great travel agent here in Pittsburgh on a cruise to Europe with Windstar. She has recommended several private shore excursions through her connections with the group she belongs to. They all seem wonderful but pricey. Our friends have…

OK, I’M IN MY HOTEL ROOM. WHAT DO I CLEAN FIRST?

Q – There is all this media coverage of dirty hotel rooms, bed bugs, lousy security etc. But I am most concerned about touching something in my hotel room that will make me sick. Yuck. What do I Purell first and how do you know which hotels are the cleanest? A – Start with the…

WHO SHOULD WE USE TO SHIP LUGGAGE?

Q – I know you are going to say it is extremely expensive, but my wife and I have decided that we are not going to be traveling with luggage when we connect with our Absolute Asia itinerary in Hong Kong. Could you give us the one or two best luggage firms to contact? Thanks so…

WHY CAN’T I GET REGENT’S FREE HOTEL NIGHT?

Q – Just can’t fathom the way these cruise lines give and then take away. For the past year we’ve been getting mailers from Regent Seven Seas offering a Free Hotel Night before each of their cruises. Now, our agent tells us that she can’t get us the free night for our planned cruise on…

DO I REALLY NEED TO IRON MY MONEY?

Q – We have have heard that people who travel out of the United States should carry clean, or fresh money. A friend of mine in Concord, says she literally irons her larger bills before going to Europe so they look more legitimate. This just sounds crazy to us. What’s the truth? A – This…

CHINA FOR FIRST-TIMERS ON A BIT OF A BUDGET

Q –  My husband just retired three weeks ago and I can already tell you, I want out of this house. Wer’re going to start doing some long term travel planning and we are wondering if you are talking on new clients or if  you would be willing to recommend someone in the Little Rock…

ORDERING; ONE OF THE GREATEST MEALS OF OUR LIVES IN VERONA

Q – OK, we’re going to trust you with the most important portion of our October trip to Italy. On the last night of the trip, we are going to be staying in Verona, after a few days in Venice. This is a honeymoon of sorts and, if all goes well, we may actually consider…

HEADED FOR CUZCO – WHAT SHOULD WE DO?

Q – Our agent booked us into Cuzco for two nights before taking the train to Machu Picchu, where we will have a private guide for two full days. We are really excited about the history and the views that lie ahead. Any suggestions on what we should do with our time in Cuzco. This is…

A VILLA IN SPAIN: WHERE DO WE BEGIN?

Q  – My travel agent can get me the best airfare to Ft. Lauderdale or Chicago, but she knows very little about Villas (trust me – I’ve tried to engage her on the topic). Some of the magazines like Travel + leisure now list Villa Agencies. Is this the best way or do we contact…

ROME’S LEAST-KNOWN NEW HOTELS

Q – We go to Rome every six months or so. We love the energy, the food, and the southern Italian “attitude.” We’ve always done the Hassler or your recommended Hotel De Russie, but now we’re looking for some new recommendations in the city, We would prefer to stay under $1200 USD per night. A…

DO CERTAIN AIRLINES CHARGE LESS FOR FLIGHTS TO EUROPE?

Q – Don’t think anyone has ever asked you this before – “Are there airlines that routinely offer lower air fares to Europe?” My feeling is that, once I’m over there, I can connect anywhere I need to go. A – You may want to look at the schedules and pricing on one of the…

DO WE NEED TO GO 5-STAR IN THE CARIBBEAN?

Q – Our frrinds in Aiken keep wanting us to join them on a Caribbean cruise. They tend to go with Princess or Holland America. We’ve done our last two cruises on Sea Dream Yachts and Seabourn, so we’re reluctant to get on any boat that doesn’t have “Sea” in its name. But then again,…

WHAT IS THE SMARTEST WAY FOR A FAMILY OF FIVE TO SAIL MICKEY?

Q – We want to take our family of five on the Disney Magic. What would you recommend as the best cabin strategy? A – Do a deck 8 Veranda. They have a queen or twin beds and three singles that pull out from the wall. There is a divider between the sitting area and…

HELP IN COZUMEL

Q – I don’t know if you all give advice but I guess it’s worth a shot given my situation. I’m young (mid twenties) petite female who just booked a solo trip to Cozumel for five days in May. Given that I’ve been there before, albeit with a companion, I thought that I chose a…

NEWS FROM THE STATE OF PARANOIA

Q – If you really want to be “truthful” you may want to tell your readers that the Chinese are already waging cyberwarfare against the United States and our entire air traffic control system can be brought down while thousands of planes are in the air causing who knows what level of chaos. I know you…

WHY AREN’T CRUISE LINES FLYING THE US FLAG?

Q – Reading about these cruise lines that register out of the United States and pay no taxes? Are they really non-American companies and why are we supporting them with our business. What is really going on here? A –  If you look at the five largest cruise lines operating in the United States, you…

I HATE O’HARE – OPTIONS?

Q – Spent several hours on this site last night and had to drop you a line. Great stuff. Here’s my specific question. I am a  consultant in the chemical industry and I fly, out of my home in Denver all over Europe. I work alone, with a part-time secretary and we do all of…

FLYING IN APRIL – HOW EARLY DO I NEED TO GET TO THE AIRPORT?

Q – My husband and I are going overseas for the first time this April on a tour arranged through our church in Boise. It is a group tour and we have to get to New York on our own to get on a Delta Airlines flight. My question is how much time do you…

SHOULD WE REALLY CONSIDER A CRUISE AFTER THIS?

Q – After watching CNN and other interviews with the poor folks getting off the Carnival Triumph, I really wonder if we ever will take that first cruise. So let’s see why travel “truth” is still, as far as I can see, recommending cruising. Given the honesty of your answers to other questions, I wonder how you…

DOES TEN DAYS ON THE AMALFI COAST MAKE SENSE?

Q – We work full time and have just nine or ten nights to spend in Italy. We love hiking, exploring, and really good food. Could the Amalfi Coast work in that time frame and how would we set it up in terms of hotels and air. We are in our fifties and we like…

WOULD YOU PUT YOUR FAMILY ON THE DREAMLINER WHEN THEY CLEAR IT?

Q – We have been following the story, now on the New York Times second and third page, of the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner. I am writing this on February 8th and I wonder what the status is. We are supposed to fly the plane in April on United. You all seem to be honest journalists…

DOES ANYONE STILL OFFER AROUND THE WORLD CRUISES?

Q – In this day and age of less ostentatious travel, I wonder if  cruise lines are still offering Around the World type cruises? A – This year, we count nine lines offering ATW Cruises, six of which will literally circumnavigate the globe. Three of these lines, Holland America, Seabourn, and Silverseas, compete with identical length, 115…

WHERE IS ICE CREAM STREET?

Q – We’ve been searching for a really strange destination and thought your staff might be able to help. We will soon be opening an ice cream parlor in Sonoma, California. I’ve taken early retirement and before getting back to the hard work ahead in launching a labor intensive business, my wife and I want to…

CRUISING THE AMAZON WITHOUT BINGO

Q –  We find your site rather confusing. On the one hand, it purports to be a cruise site, but we notice lots of information that seems way off topic. If you wish to have people use the site, you might want to think about sticking to one thing and doing it well. Our question…

I WANT MORE THAN I PAID FOR

Q – These hotels really get me angry. They always pretend they are full when I ask for an upgrade. Meanwhile, I know from online availability, that they have suites available. I am just constantly being turned down for upgrades and I know others are getting them. I dress quite well, I’m a decent looking…

TOUGHING IT OUT ON THE AMALFI COAST

Q –  My boss just informed me that I’ve won a two week trip to Italy that will include three nights in Sorrento, along the Amalfi Coast. My wife wants us to rent a car and do some driving. Do you think that’s a safe idea? Any tips on the towns nearby that are “must-see’s”….

OK, ANDY GRIFFITH HAS PASSED, SO WAS MAYBERRY REAL?

Q – With great sadness, my husband and I read of the passing of Andy Griffith, a wonderful role model and, I think, a true southern gentleman. My husband suggested we just “drive to Mayberry”. Is there such a place and how would we get there? Hope this request is not sounding silly. A –…

BORDEAUX’S BEST WINES

Q – I am a country club wine drinker but I do keep the Wine Bible next tot he remote and I am slowly getting into French red, particularly Bordeaux’s. We’re headed to France to do some tasting with another couple who thinks that the Trader Joe’s label is really prestigious. But I do want…

NEGOTIATING WITH A HOTEL AT THE FRONT DESK

Q – I am a software gun for hire and I travel about 80% of the time. I know that there are often great deals online at the hotels I’m staying at but I just don’t have the time to check it all out on a daily basis. Is there any way to get the…

ARE WE GOING TO BE ABLE TO GET INTO COPENHAGEN’S BLUE PLANET?

Q – Very cool site but we wish you would have more on food and restaurants. It would be great if we could get all kinds of restaurant information mixed in with your highly valuable travel insights. My husband and I will be in Copenhagen at the end of June, having just ended a cruise. My…

HOW DO WE GET AROUND BUS TOURS IN ISTANBUL?

Q – We have a little but of a dilemma. We are doing a land tour that begins in Istanbul and includes two nights in the city with sightseeing. But to use frequent flyer miles with US Air, we had to add on three additional nights to make our upgrades work. So we now have…

DO YOU RECOMMEND THE PAUL GAUGUIN?

Q – We are thinking about taking a cruise on the Paul Gauguin in Tahiti. We are looking at an 11-Day sailing out of Papeete to the Society Islands. We are casual people, we don’t like dress up nights but we’re ready to try some quality after our last disappointing cruise on one of the…

DIRTY RESTAURANT STORIES

Q – My wife and I were curious if  your restaurant writers saw the 20-20 on ABC TV about food and restaurant contamination (November 16th)? What did you think about it? A – Yes, we saw it. It struck us as a combo platter of light investigative reporting that really didn’t take on the corporate…

IS THERE REALLY ANY SUCH THING?

Q – My golfing partner thinks he read somewhere that you can do a safari in the Arctic. Any truth to this and how would we go about getting additional information? Is there really such any such thing? A – Well it’s a bit of a marketing ploy but you can actually see wildlife like…

SANTORINI RESTAURANT RECOMMENDATION

Q – The family, six of us, are headed for two nights on Santorini as part of a Greek islands itinerary planned with Isram Travel in New York. Is there a particular restaurant on Santorini that you think we should go out of our way to try? Will the cruise ship hordes ruin our time…

IS THIS ITINERARY WORTH $20,000 FOR TWO?

Q – Don’t know if you folks are allowed to do this but I would love your opinion on a 33-Day Voyage on the Oceania Marina in April of 2014 from Tahiti to New York via Easter island, Peru, Ecuador, the Panama Canal, some of the Caribbean and even a day in Charleston before heading…

SHOCKED BY TREATMENT BY RIVER BOAT OPERATORS

Q – My husband and I were planning our first cruise on a Danube River Boat Cruise. We’ve read so many wonderful things about these cruises on this site and others. We didn’t use a travel agent and tried booking the cruise ourselves with Tauck, Viking River, and Grand Circle. I am rather shocked to…

CRUISE CREW SALARIES EXPOSED

Q – We’ve just returned from a cruise on the Oasis of the Seas and some friends we had dinner with told us that they had gotten friendly with their cabin attendant who told them that crew is paid next to nothing and really survives on tips. In this day and age and with minimum…

SUNDAY: IS IT THE BEST DAY TO BOOK FLIGHTS?

Q – Having just retired from Duke Power after twenty years, my wife and I are ready to do some traveling. We’ll do some overseas cruises but we really want to travel within the US at least four or five times annually. I’ve heard that I should go online on Sunday evening to get the…

POSITANO SECONDS

Q – We have a problem that is, admittedly, in light of real world problems, insignificant. So we thought we would turn to your editors. We have a full day in Positano while visiting Sorrento off a Holland America ship. We’ve been there before and walked the streets of Positano which we loved. We wish…

HOW DO WE TAKE ADVANTAGE OF REGENT CRUISE LINES FREE BUSINESS AIR OFFER?

Q – Read about your site in one of the travel magazines and would like to know a bit about the “Free Business Airfare Offer” they have at Regent Cruises. We are looking at a cruise in South America on the Seven Seas Mariner next December 8th that starts in Rio  de Janeiro and ends…

CHINA NEXT YEAR: WHEN SHOULD WE GO?

Q – We are thinking about doing China next year, using one of the better tour companies like Trafalgar, Abercrombie and Kent, or the Tauck Tours. We are wondering which of these you would recommend for the best overall experience? We would also like to know exactly when we should do this trip for optimum…

GOING TO THE MIDDLE EAST IN MARCH, WHAT TO DO?

Q – Love this site. Like sitting down with our doctor or attorney – but for free. This March we’re headed on a voyage that will include several ports in the Middle East including Egypt. We booked through the cruise line for the savings but we’re not getting any updates on the itinerary changes that might occur…

DO WE REALLY NEED TO DO THE WORK OF OUR TRAVEL AGENT?

Q – We’ve been going on three major trips a year for the past five years, using a travel agent with whom we feel we have a good relationship. But she is always telling us that we should reconfirm our reservations at hotels even though she has made the bookings. We’re rather tech savvy so…

BEST SINGLE WAY TO CUT AIR COSTS DOMESTICALLY

Q – My husband and I love reading about luxurious travel options on your site. But with two pre-teens, our primary goal at the moment is planning three and four day vacations within the United States. Other than using low-cost airlines like JetBlue and Southwest, is there one single strategy that you could recommend to…

HOW DO WE BOOK THE NEW DREAMLINER FOR A CROSS COUNTRY FLIGHT?

Q –  How do we actually book a flight on the new Boeing Dreamliner? We hear such great things about the plane but I don’t see any ads for it and I don’t know how to go about getting on board this year or, if necessary, next year. It is likely we would want to fly her…

BOTTOM LINE: SHOULD MY DAUGHTER DO THIS TRIP?

Q – My daughter, my only daughter, has come to me asking permission to join two girlfriends on a cruise aboard Royal Caribbean next Spring. There may be an older sister on board who is twenty-two if the line requires it. Her girlfriend’s parents have given their consent, feeling that a cruise ship is as…

WINTER IN THE FURIOUS FIFTIES; POSSIBLE? RECOMMENDED?

Q – We are writing about our desire to do something really different next year, exploring the sub-Antarctic Islands of New Zealand, the Antipodes. We know the seas are rough but we wonder if there is anything in these waters we might consider?  We’re thinking of, perhaps, seeing Campbell Island and the Bounty Islands, perhaps…

CRYSTAL OR SILVERSEAS: IS THERE REALLY A DIFFERENCE?

Q – My wife and I are looking to take a Baltic Cruise next year. Given the current offers, we’d prefer booking now rather than wait. But we are rather new to cruising and not really sure about the differences between Crystal and Silverseas. Any light you might shed on the differences? We understand they…

WHO REALLY HAS THE LARGEST SUITES AT SEA?

Q – The stuff on the internet is really confusing. I am trying to find out which cruise line has the largest cabins, or should I say suites? My wife and I like lots of space and there is a possibility that we will bring our family of six along with us. I’ve looked at…

WHY YOU WANT TO LEAVE PARIS SOON AFTER ARRIVAL

Q – My seventeen year-old daughter, her best friend, and I are off  to Paris in six weeks for a shopping splurge the likes of which Westport, Connecticut has never seen. Wondering if you could give us your best tip to really take advantage of  the best designs at the best prices. We’ll have ten days…

ARE THERE ANY BRAINIACS ON THE VOLGA?

Q – My wife and I are rather astounded at the lack of intellectually interesting river boat options available in Russia. We have a deep and abiding interest ion the fine arts and we were wondering if there is anything like a program along some of Russia’s rivers that might cater to Americans who wish…

WHEN ARE INTERNET CONNECTIONS GOING TO IMPROVE ON CRUISE SHIPS?

Q – As an IT Professional, I am rather appalled at the sorry state of internet service as evidenced by recent cruises on MSC, NCL, and Holland America. I was just wondering who provides internet to ships at sea and when is it going to get to the point when I can search the web…

SHOULD WE CRUISE TO MEXICO OR JUST GO TO A MEXICAN RESTAURANT?

Q –  The little woman and I are interested in sailing down to Mexico, perhaps getting off or on in Acapulco. But we’re fairly cautious people and if there is crime we’d just as soon go to one of the Mexican restaurants here in Denver, sip a few Margaritas, and pretend we’re out to sea. We are…

WHY AREN’T THERE MORE CRUISES TO SCANDINAVIA?

Q – We’ve been looking into cruises to Norway and the Fjords next summer on one of the better lines. We’re just amazed at how few there are and we wonder why the demand isn’t greater. It seems that Seabourn, Crystal, Regent, and Silversea will do one, possibly two of these itineraries each summer yet…

48 HOURS IN LISBON: WHERE DO WE WALK?

Q – Where will soon be leaving for Europe. At the end of our trip, we have two full days in Lisbon. We’re walkers, we love to go where the tourists don’t, we love discovering where the people live and play. We have little interest in museums or historic sites. Where would you head if…

CAN MY WIFE AND I SLEEP OVERNIGHT IN HARROD’S?

Q – Greetings from Cape Town where Traveltruth is not yet a household word. But my husband and I love you so that’s all that matters. We’ve just read somewhere that it is now possible to sleep in Harrod’s Department Store in London. We’re headed back to London soon after the Olympics and we were…

SEABOURN VERSUS TIES AND GOWNS

Q – The wife and I are seriously considering a Seabourn Cruise that will explore Japan and some of Korea next year. We’ve been on one cruise, a Windstar, which we enjoyed. There is lots on the internet about Seabourn but the criticisms you always read are that they are way too formal and they…

WE’RE SPEADING THE NEWS . . . .

Q –  My husband will be annoyed that I wrote to you. First, feel free not to print this but, if you do, I trust you will not use my name. My husband and I have traveled on ten or eleven tours and about twelve cruises. Over the years we have been struck by how…

SLEEPING IN ROME’S CITY CENTER AFFORDABLY

Q – We will be visiting Rome in the Fall and we were wondering of there is a really nice, really well-located, hotel you might recommend that will cost less than the Excelsior or the Eden? We like to avoid hotels that are small and so hip and modern that it requires an engineering degree…

IS THERE AN ALTERNATIVE TO TAUCK IN EUROPE?

Q –  Although we suffered from a bit of sticker shock when our agent showed us a Tauck Tour brochure last year, we thoroughly enjoyed it and we felt the quality was well worth the extra cost. What a difference between the way they handle things and the way our previous tour was managed, with…

UNITED CANCELLED OUR FLIGHT: STRATEGIES IF THIS HAPPENS AGAIN?

Q – We were scheduled to fly out of Jacksonville to connect to a flight to Europe on United’s partner, Lufthansa. There was one United employee working the desk at the airport when our flight out was cancelled and she could do little to help us with our missed connections. After hours of work and…

ANY RECOMMENDATIONS FOR BARCELONA DINING?

Q – We will be leaving in two weeks for Barcelona, where we intend to spend three days before joining a cruise. We really appreciate great  food and were wondering if you have any tips? A – You will be visiting one of the world’s most vital and important restaurant cities. Barcelona’s culinary influences have not…

ARE AMERICANS GOING TO EUROPE THIS SUMMER?

Q – We are based in Wales and very much enjoy the information and the insights. Quite frankly, we learn a lot about Americans going over the Q and A. That leads to a query regarding travel to Europe this summer. We are wondering what trends are being noted in terms of cruises and tours….

DO BOUTIQUE LUXURY HOTELS EXIST IN ATHENS?

Q – We are going to be staying in Athens prior to an upcoming cruise of the Greek islands and Turkey. Having been to Athens before, we understand that there are surprisingly  few boutique hotel options. The King George and the Grand Bretagne have great locations on Syntagma Square, but we prefer something on a…

CAN YOU ENCOURAGE A RETIREE TO BECOME A TRAVEL AGENT?

Q – I am a recently retired consulting engineer in the field of water collection methodologies. We have done some traveling and would like to do more. I think I would be the perfect part-time employee. I’d really appreciate a quick overview of the industry in terms of the issue of survival. I’d want to…

ARE MY AA ADVANTAGE MILES SAFE IN MY ACCOUNT?

Q – We’ve been following your responses to questions about American Airlines bankruptcy carefully. Just wondering if anything has changed or if you remain confident we face no danger in letting our miles grow in the account. We’re approaching 500,000 miles. Please try to do less cruise reporting and more on the airlines. We all…

CAN WE TIE THE KNOT AND AVOID THE CARIBBEAN?

Q – We are frequent visitors to your site. In fact, we decided to get married and ask you about our honeymoon four days ago. Here is our dilemma. We are planning a June 2013 wedding date and we’d love to be legally married aboard a nice cruise ship. But we just don’t want to…

CAN Y0U BUY CRYSTAL FOR $2305?

Q – We have friends in Portland who claim to have booked a Crystal Cruise for $2305 per person. They’ve been bragging about the great deal they got but we wonder if this is really the rate. I don’t know exactly where they are going but I think they are traveling in April or May….

WILL MIAMI START TO SMELL LIKE AN ASHTRAY?

Q – My wife and I like to gamble and we go on upscale gambling vacations twice a year. We’ve heard that there is something coming to Miami to be built by the Chinese that will be the largest casino in the States. Is there any truth to this?  As a suggestion, your coverage of…

WHAT HAPPENED TO CRUISES OUT OF MEXICO?

Q – My husband and I and our two children were looking forward to booking a cruise to the Mexican Riviera this year. But when we spoke to our agent, she told us that there just aren’t any cruises that would suit our needs and she suggested we look, instead, at the Western Caribbean. What…

ARE WE SAFE UP THERE?

Q – I am desperate to take my wife to see relatives in County Clare, Ireland next summer. But she is absolutely afraid to fly. Any facts you might provide to help me convince her it is safe would be much appreciated. A – We’re not sure she will care much about our “facts” but…

HOW MANY MORE CRUISE BERTHS ARE BEING BUILT?

Q – I am just wondering about the state of the US Cruise industry. With the economy, and all, are new ships going to be launched in the next several years or are they holding off? A – Cruise brands based in North America have firm contracts to launch 10 new cruise ships between now…

CAN WE ACTUALLY WALTZ IN THE NEW YEAR?

Q – A quick question about a lifelong dream. I have always wanted to surprise my wife with a lavish New Year Ball celebration, where we can waltz in the New Year in Vienna. Is this even possible? I know that it will not be inexpensive. A –  Yes, you can attend any one of…

BED BUGS AT SEA: HOW SERIOUS A PROBLEM?

Q – We’re turning to traveltruth with a serious concern. We are being urged by family members to join them on a Spring Break cruise next year on Norwegian Cruises Line. But my husband and I have real concerns about bed bugs which we understand is a real problem on cruise ships. How serious a…

THE INEVITABLE HARRY POTTER QUESTION

Q – I read this site all the time now and I know you are not particularly child-centered. But please help us. We’ve got eleven year-old Natalie and thirteen year-old George, Muggles one and all. They are begging us to take them to Universal for a week of Harry Potterizing. Has anyone on your staff…

OUR BEST BALTIC BET

Q – I have avoided cruises for most of my adult life, not wishing to attend any party I would be unable to leave at my choosing.  In February, my wife and I accepted an invitation to join her tennis group and their spouses on what seems to have been a stereotypical cruise of the…

PONDERING SOUTH AFRICA ON A RIVER CRUISE

Q – We have found a sixteen-day tour to South Africa run by AMA Waterways. I’ve never heard of them or the river cruise boat they are using, a boat called the MS Zambezi Queen. South Africa has been a dream of ours for a very long time. On this trip you get to see…

IDEAL TIMES TO VISIT CHINA AND THE SILK ROAD

Q – We’re recently retired from the financial sector where, I suppose you could say, quoting  that famous Saturday Night Sketch, “we’ve done berry, berry well.” So now it’s time to see the rest of the world excluding Europe, a continent we know well. Our first thoughts are to do, perhaps, two trips to China,…

SO HOW MUCH DID MY BAKED ALASKA REALLY COST?

Q –  We’ve sailed  on NCL twice and Royal Caribbean three times, the last time on the Oasis of the Seas. On our last cruise we shared a table with a couple from Arizona and another from Philadelphia. The fellow from Philly owned a restaurant and we talked quite a but about the food on…

CAN WE DO OUR DREAM HONEYMOON FOR $10,000?

Q –  We have this dream that we  can do an over-the-water bungalow honeymoon for no more than $10,000 including economy airfare from New York.  Is this in any way possible and how or where do we begin? A – Difficult but not really impossible. The trick will be to use an agent who works…

DO WE WANT THE CRUISE LINE’S INSURANCE?

Q – We will be taking our two teenage girls on a Christmas Cruise aboard the Celebrity Eclipse. Our travel agent wants us to take Celebrity’s insurance but has been less than helpful in educating us on this fairly important component of our trip.  One of the girls has, what I think would be, a…

IS THE PAUL GAUGUIN GETTING A SISTER?

Q –  We had an extraordinary time on the Paul Gauguin sailing the Society Islands last May. Since then, we’ve heard rumors that there will be a Gauguin # 2. Any truth to the rumor? Wonder how they rate currently and when the 2012 Revised Cruise Line Ratings will be finalized? I hate to be…

DOES DISNEY DISCOUNT FOR EX-MILITARY?

Q – Don’t know if anyone ever just says “thank you” for this site, but we feel like we ought to. I am ex-military and my son is currently based at Ft. Hood. One of my neighbors told us that Walt Disney World actually has a resort for the military with sharply reduced rates. Any…

EXPLORING AMAZON RAINFOREST WITHOUT POISON DARTS

Q – We are going to be turning the corner on seventy and we are starting to think we ought to move on some of our bucket list exotics. We’re really anxious to get into the Peruvian Amazon to see as much as possible off a safe, comfortable expedition boat. Any company we should be…

HIDDEN BELT OR FANNY PACK?

Q – In a few months we’ll be off to Europe for the first time, visiting primarily Italy with some France. As we walk around, we were wondering if we should buy one of those hidden money belts or a fanny pack for our valuables? A – The money belts and fanny packs are not…

HOW DO WE AVOID BANQUET QUALITY RIVER BOAT FOOD?

Q –  It is our 40th anniversary and first European trip. We are looking at river cruises. Outstanding food is a concern with any cruise or all-inclusive tour. We’d hate to be in Europe for two weeks eating buffet or banquet style food. Any advice would be appreciated. A – Since you used the term…

WILL OUR FELLOW TOUR MEMBERS BELIEVE THE EARTH IS FLAT?

Q – No one has ever asked traveltruth a really important question. My wife and I are off to China on our first ever escorted tour. We are extremely nervous about this trip as we really have no sense of who our fellow guests will be. The tour company is Gate1 and the feedback we…

URGENTLY NEED MEDICAL TEST RESULTS FROM CRUISE

Q – Thank you for FINALLY telling the truth, the whole truth, the cruise truth! I hope you can answer the question I have. My Mother just disembarked from Singaport on a flight to Dallas Texas after a 52 day segment of the Seabourn’s world cruise ( Seabourn Quest). She was taken from the airport…

MY CRUISE WAS LIKE A BAD WEDDING RECEPTION

Q – Dear Traveltruth – Greetings from Australia. I know that Aussies have a reputation for telling the truth in a direct manner. Hence these comments and question. I found your site by accident on the internet. But I sense I will get a truthful response. My dear husband who is now in a wheelchair…

ROMANTIC BEACHES AND A GOOD DINNER

Q – OK here’s the deal. We’re in our mid-thirties, not all that well traveled, but we have a week and want to do a Caribbean island that has a nice variety of beaches. We are willing to spend up to $1200 a night for a great beach and we’d love a restaurant recommendation on…

IS MY TRAVEL AGENT PARANOID ABOUT SOUTH AMERICA?

Q – We are headed off to Brazil in October for a two week custom-planned vacation. Our travel agent is recommending that we take out a new credit card just for this trip because she is concerned that the card could be compromised during our stay. Do you think she is being just a little…

HELP SUPPORT THESE BOOBIES

Q – We were referred to you by a serious world traveler friend. My husband and I are planning a trip to the Galapagos but we’re not sure that the Celebrity Expedition  Cruise is the way to go. There are land trips and other sailing vessels but we feel like the blue foot boobies. Help!…

WHY DON’T YOU WRITE ABOUT ROYAL CARIBBEAN, CARNIVAL, OR NORWEGIAN?

Q – We are going to devote a portion of this weekend reading this site, but so far, we can’t find anything much about the Splendour of the Seas, the Enchantment, the Norway, or the Celebration. We’ve sailed all of them and wonder why these cruise lines, which I believe are the largest, seem to be…

SEEKING COLLETTE VACATIONS RATINGS

Q – We are members of Marriott’s Vacation Club and we are thinking of going to Italy with them. They use a company called Collette Vacations and we’ve been trying to find ratings of the company. Any advice would be appreciated. A – Collette Vacations is a highly reputable company that is family-owned and has…

SHOULD WE DO EGYPT IN OCTOBER?

Q – We are considering joining our church group for a tour our Minister is leading to Egyot and the Holy Land. As part of the trip, we’ll be spending nine nights in Egypt and we’re a little nervous. We’ve never been to Europe or the Middle East so this is kind of a big…

FORGIVE US – WE’RE NOT ON FACEBOOK – YET

Q – Cool site but we I wish you could tell us where we can find you on Facebook. We’ve tried several searches and we can’t seem to find anything. A – Well first you have to sign in to Facebook. Then put our name, Churchill and Turen Ltd., or our web site name, www.beta.traveltruth.com in…

HEADED FOR LISBON AND NEED ADVICE

Q – My 18 year-old son and I will be spending a week in Lisbon as part of his graduation present. We’re pretty much set but were wondering if you had sources that could direct us toward a shop that sells the best hand-painted tiles in the city. We hear they are beautiful. My son…

USING OUR 4G PHONE IN GERMANY

Q – I wonder if you can advise me if I can be assured that my new Verizon 4G LTE phone will work on an upcoming trip to Germany and Austria. The salesman in the Verizon store said it would but he was all of eighteen and told me he had never been to Europe….

SEA DREAM VERSUS REGENT SEVEN SEAS – AND THE WINNER IS …

Q – I just happened upon your site and am so happy that I did …what a concept, telling the truth! My husband and I love to travel and will be taking a first cruise on Sea Dream 1 in November. The reviews I have read on those “other” sites (before I found yours, of…

SEEING AUTHENTIC AFRICA WITH A CAMERA

Q – We’re in our late fifties, still quite active, and we travel from our home in Southern California about three times a year. We’ll spend somewhere between $15,000 – $20,000 on average per trip. Our problem is that we’ve done most of the destinations that our travel agent has been to and we are…

IS THIS AIR DEAL FOR REAL?

Q – Wow, fascinating site with great information. Yesterday, we received a mailer from Tauck Tours, a firm that does quite well in your ratings, that was announcing a new air deal to Europe. If we are reading it right, and my bifocals are not failing me, Tauck will fly us up and back to…

IS THE TITANIC CRUISE LEGIT?

Q – After spending two weekends reading everything on this site, (it goes nicely with Red Bull), we thought we would ask about the 100th Anniversary of the Titanic Cruise sailing out of New York on April 10th. Is this thing legitimate? Do we have to worry about the Captain. I’ve never heard of Azamara…

WHOLE FOODS AT SEA

Q – Do you know of any cruise line that  likes to cook and serve organic food.? A – Well we can’t imagine any cruise line would actually “enjoy” serving organic food given the cost. But cruise line marketing people understand that this segment of the market is growing and virtually every upscale cruise line now offers…

MORE ON BIG SHIPS AND SAFETY

Q – We had dinner with friends last night from St. Louis who have joined us on a number of cruises. The entire evening was spent discussing the Costa Concordia situation. We were somewhat surprised by the advice you have offered to some folks who expressed concern about sailing a mega-ship in the future. We…

CRUISE PRICES AND THE COSTA TRAGEDY?

Q – We are seriously considering a cruise for our family sometime this year. We read what you had to say about school vacation time and the impact on cruise pricing so we were wondering when might be the best time to cruise in 2012. Simply put, when are the best prices? We’re not cheap…

SHOULD WE CANCEL OUR PLANNED CRUISE?

Q – We are just so upset about the tragedy in Italy and the way the Captain of a luuxury cruise ship would just walk away. My husband and I are taking our two daughters on a cruise out of Ft. Lauderdale to the Caribbean on Norwegian Cruise Line and we are seriously thinking of…

DOES ANYONE OUT THERE CARE ABOUT OUR LUNGS?

Q – I am writing on behalf of my parents who, in their early seventies, are going to be visiting Europe for the first time. My brother and I want to send them on a nice seven-to-ten day cruise in Europe. They have never been, so we were thinking of a cruise that does the…

IMPLICATIONS OF COSTA CATASTROPHE

Q – We are scheduled to take a cruise on a line called Azamara this coming August. It was to do the coastline of Italy near the area where the Luxury Liner went down. My husband wants to just cancel, saying the port pilots obviously do not know what they were doing. What is your…

THE ULTIMATE WALL STREET BLACKBERRY BREAK

Q – OK, here’s the deal. My boyfriend is head of research at a Wall Street hedge fund. We’re both in our thirties and we both work long hours. I want to surprise him with a vacation he’ll never forget, taking him to a place where his Blackberry won’t function. We’re both into climbing and…

WILL THERE EVER BE ANOTHER AIRLINE REALITY SHOW?

Q – Since traveltruth is a not-so-guilty pleasure and you don’t list names, I can ask a couch potato question. We loved that reality show that took you behind the scenes at Southwest. Are any other airlines going to do a reality series? A – No, but the good news is that there will be…

CROSSING THE POND THIS CHRISTMAS

Q – Hope this gets answered on traveltruth or via e-mail. We’re in our early fifties and both my wife and I work long hours as programmers and data consultants. In the last ten years of our marriage, we’ve gone away for the Holidays to the Dominican Republic or Puerto Rico seven time over Christmas….

WHY DO CRUISE LINES HATE SINGLES?

Q – I am an attractive guy in his late sixties, ok, early seventies, and, believe it or not, I’ve never been married. I like to play the field and I like to meet and dance with all the widows on cruises. But I am on a fixed income and I wonder why single supplements…

BARCELONA’S MOST DESIRABLE RESERVATION

Q – We are heading out to Barcelona in June for a long-delayed second honeymoon. We’ll be staying at the Hotel Arts, which we hope you will agree is the best hotel in the city. Our question has to do with one memorable meal. We have established a relationship with a member of the Concierge…

INDIA: WHEN AND WHERE

Q – Well we are going to finally do a real trip and head off to India in 2012. We know that you have advocated travel to India and we’re going to do it. We’ve started our searches and it seems as though there are two primary questions to ask right away? Should we do Northern…

CRUISE LINE SNOBBERY INDEX

Q – We read your “Cruise Line Sophistication Index” with a great deal of interest. But we’re less afraid of being at sea with sophisticates then we are locked up for a week or two with “snobs.” Any chance you would help out any number of traveltruth readers who feel like we do by listing those…

US AIR VS. LUFTHANSA VS. AMERICAN

Q – We have a rather specific question. We can fly to Barcelona from Philadelphia or JFK in New York. We’ve found three airfares similarly-priced, with decent availability, US Air, Lufthansa, and American. We’ll probably end up flying coach. Which of these airlines has the best seating and the best food? A – In your scenario,…

WHO HAS THE BEST SERVICE LEVELS AT SEA?

Q – What an odd site – you people have obviously never been to business school. You could be making a lot of money if you featured advertising and, quite frankly, ads  wouldn’t bother me a bit. Anyway, I come to you with a question no one seems willing to address. It’s simple – my wife…

WE HAVE AMERICAN AIRLINES ADVANTAGE MILES – NOW WHAT?

Q – We were just reading about American Airlines going bankrupt and it sent shivers down my spine. My husband and I  been saving Advantage Miles for years and we’re planning on using the 250,000 miles we’ve accumulated for several trips we have planned in the next 24 months. We’re in our seventies and not very familiar…

TACOS ON THE RUNS

Q – My girlfriend and I are off to Cancun in three weeks. We’ve never been to Mexico and I was really looking forward to trying the tacos made on the street. I was wondering if street food or food from food trucks, if they have such a thing, is safe in Cancun or other…

HOW TO GET A POWER SHOWER, AN UPGRADE AND A RESCUE LADDER

Q – My wife and I watched Peter Greenberg on The Early Show this morning and we heard several things that were rather new to us. He said that you should never stay above the eighth floor in a high-rise hotel, that you should only ask for rooms that have a booster of some sort,…

ANY WAY TO AVOID AMALFI COAST HOTEL RIP-OFFS?

Q –  We are headed to Italy this summer and have every aspect of our trip planned with the exception of four nights along the Amalfi Coast. From reading the information on traveltruth and speaking with friends who have been there, it sounds as though we need to be in Positano. But the hotels that…

TRIPADVISOR HAS SERVED ME WELL

Q – We just had to comment on your recent posting about TripAdvisor. Whilst we understand your leanings toward the upwardly mobile user, many of us just don’t fancy freu-freu accommodations when we travel. And there are millions of us out there who would never take an escorted tour, a cruise, or even think about…

TRIPADVISOR: DO I WANT THEM ADVISING ME ON MY TRIP?

Q – I’ve noticed that beta.traveltruth.com and other professional sites seem to take a dim view of TripAdvisor. I like to book my own hotels for business and pleasure but I know their reviews are often way off the mark. Does your staff use TA and, if so, how do you get the most out…

THE BEST HOTEL VALUE IN BARCELONA

Q – It isn’t that we’re cheap, but I suppose you could say we’re thrifty. We know the Meridian and the Hotel Arts are two of the best hotels in Barcelona, but we’re looking for something smaller and, if at all possible, under $350 a night. We love that we know who is giving advice…

WILL ITALY BE SAFE NEXT SUMMER?

Q – We have just heard that Italy’s Prime Minister, Berlusconi, iks resigning. Italy’s debt crisis dwarfs that of Greece. We’re doing a cruise out of Rome in July on Celebrity Cruises , booked with Celebrity, and we are both extremely worried about possible riots related to the new cuts the new government will have…

WHAT IF MY TAIL ICES OVER?

Q – We are scheduled to go on a wonderful South America trip on February 2nd planned by our travel agent in Rochester (New York).  But we have real concerns about a snowstorm or ice on the wings or any number of winter problems that could ruin our departure and put us days behind. My…

WHERE CAN WE FIND JIMMY BUFFET’S CARIBBEAN?

Q – We’ve beent here and done that, from Sandals to Sandy Lane. and my lady and I have decided that we’re done with big hotels, cruisers, and packaged tourists. Now, we’re looking for a few secret spots, just a few cottages on a beach where Jimmy Buffet might be lounging in the hammock. We’re big…

DO WE USE CRUISE LINE’S AIR PROGRAM?

Q –  We are set to take our second cruise sailing out of Venice next summer. This is a “Free Air” sailing, one of the reasons we picked it. We will be flying out of Miami and we are worried about the air route Holland America might give us. Our agent feels the fact that…

DO I NEED TO TAKE OUT A LOAN TO SLEEP IN ROME?

Q – We just discovered this site and we can’t stop reading. But it is clearly built around the needs of the 1% who demand five-star accommodations. We are returning to Rome for the second time and we stayed at the Hassler on our first trip. Our room nightly bill could have bought us a…

ON OUR OWN WITH THE KIDS IN ST. PETERSBURG

Q – Our family of four will be visiting St. Petersburg on a cruise operated by Celebrity. We hear it is one of the very top lines. Hope you agree. We will be bringing our 12 and 14 year old girls and wonder if there is a really good restaurant they might enjoy as we…

DOES SIZE REALLY MATTER WHEN IT COMES TO AIRLINE SAFETY

Q – Love the site, and forgive you your occasional spelling errors .I wonder if you can answer a question I’ve never seen addressed by travel folks. Are some aircraft safer than others? Are 747’s more dangerous, for example, then smaller. more maneuverable planes? Aren’t larger planes, like the 747, more likely to head into…

VEGAS ODDS

Q – We have just started going to Las Vegas two or three times a year for a little gambling and some great food. We were wondering if you have ever seen the payout percentage for the casinos and how it might compare to our former home town of Philadelphia where we were regulars at…

GOING TO EGYPT AND I’VE BEEN TO ISRAEL – OOPS

Q – We love the lack of garbage on this web site. Congratulations. It is so nice not to have to get past ads to get a questions answered. We’re headed to Egypt and then, possibly Syria, if things cool down. We’ve been to Israel twice. But my job requires a good deal of international…

CAN WE VACATION AT DAVID COPPERFIELD’S PLACE?

Q – We are serious luxury level travelers and we’ve heard that the magician David Copperfield made a lot of money in Las Vegas and set up a beautiful resort in the Caribbean. Your recommendations would be appreciated. We have no problem with rates in the $1500 a night range for something memorable. A –…

DO YOU KNOW THIS SEAFOOD JOINT ON ARUBA?

Q – I turn everyone on to this amazing site. You guys should really link up with the big boys to get more hits. If you don’t know the site’s name you can’t find it. So you owe me. A simple question. We’re going to Aruba in two weeks and we heard there is this…

BERMUDA VACATION IN MAY

Q – We are thinking about getting away next May to Bermuda. We’ve found some rates that are almost too good to be true. Any thoughts? A – Other than pass – not really. Bermuda visitors are just often unaware of it’s location. The Visitors Bureau may not like it when we point it out,…

BEACHING IN ST. BARTS

Q – Really interesting web site. Much appreciate the specifics. So, we’re off, for the first time to St. Bart’s, a rather silly place for two Brits to go – but that’s another story. We want to find a beach or two to call our own. Where do/would you go? A – The insider’s choice…

GETTING NAKED WITH CLASS

Q – I hope this question is appropriate but we are in shape and we enjoy nude beaches. It seems like most of what we read about beaches where you can go topless or even nude is licentious .We’re not into anything kinky it’s just that my husband and I can go to a beach…

ARE WE NUTS FOR GOING TO QUEBEC?

Q – Instead of going to Paris, we’ve been there five times, we’ve chosen, much to the consternation of our very local, she lives next door, travel agent, Quebec this coming August. We’ve asked about hotels and she recommended the Chateau Frontenac. But it seems huge and huge is not something we generally like unless…

COSTA RICA HOTEL IN GUANACASTE

Q – Trying to pin down a hotel. My husband is a golfer, I love the sun. We’re headed to Guanacaste on Costa Rica’s west coast and have been looking at both the Hotel Punta Islita and the Four Seasons. Any bottom line opinions you might share? A – See if you can get golf…

ARE THERE ANY FLYING STRATEGIES FOR LONG WEEKENDS?

Q – My husband and I decided, well more I decided and I let him know, that we will, in the next 36 months, be taking long weekend vacations instead of longer trips abroad. After that, we’ll return to our travel addiction but, for now, we want to cut the travel budget a bit. For…

DOING SORRENTO AND POSITANO WITHOUT PRIVATE DRIVERS

Q – Enjoy your site but you have to know that most of your visitors can’t afford to get around by taxi or private drivers. A lot of us use public transportation and your site is not very good at telling us how to get around on the cheap. Right now, we are getting ready…

IS CRYSTAL MORE EXPENSIVE THAN ITS COMPETITORS?

Q – We are thinking of going on a Crystal Cruise to Europe in 2012. But friends tell us that they read on the internet that Crystal is more expensive then some of the smaller ships. Price won;t be the main issue in our decision, but we were wondering if Crystal is generally more expensive…

WHO SHOULD WE USE IN ANTARCTICA?

Q – Really grateful for this site and your willingness to help. We are about to plunk down a fistful of cash to see Antarctica, the trip of our dreams. We don’t necessarily care about having the largest cabin etc., but we want to see as much as possible. Our agent is saying Le Boreal…

IS SEABOURN GOING DOWNHILL?

Q – We are currently booked on a Greek Islands cruise on Seabourn this summer. We just read about the changes at the line on traveltruth and we’re concerned. Should we change our plans given that the ship is now going to be run by Carnival Cruises? We booked directly with Seabourn so they are…

VENICE HOTEL CHOICES

Q – We are making a return trip to Venice before embarking on a cruise. We have one night to spend before the cruise and we are looking at Ca’ Segredo, the Hotel Cipriani, or the Hilton Stuckey. We like our comfort and appreciate hotels that have safety procedures in place and no bed bugs….

AMERICAN OR CATHAY PACIFIC

Q – We are going to be flying to Hong Kong in May to begin a lovely trip to China. How many nights should we stay in Hong Kong and should we do it before or after the trip? Also, I went online and it looks like I can fly American or Cathay. Which one…

INTRODUCING MY WIFE – AND HER JEWELRY

Q – Don’ know if you can answer this – wondering if I can win anything for stumping you. The wifey and I are off to Monte Carlo for a nine-night First Class cruise on one of the best lines out there. She is looking forward to dressing up and showing off her jewelry. She…

WILL MY HOLLAND AMERICA CRUISE PRICE COME DOWN?

Q – My family is booked on a Holland America cruise to the Caribbean in January. We’ve sailed with them before and we have not yet made final payment. How are we notified if the price goes down? I’ve booked with some travel agents where cruise pricing was automatically adjusted. How does the system really…

PRICE OF GUIDE SERVICES IN ITALY

Q – We are pretty much convinced that guides can make or break a trip. We are planning a 20th Anniversary with a vacation taking in Florence, Assisi, Bologna and Rome. We are staving at really nice hotels with amenities provided by our travel agent but we haven’t pulled the trigger yet on guide services…

KEEPING UP ON TURKISH NEWS PRIOR TO VISIT

Q – I have one, hopefully, simple question. How are people supposed to keep up with events in a country abroad they are going to be visiting in the near future? Sure there is lots of info on the internet but it all seems uneducated or anecdotal. Travel agents don;t seem very good at describing…

WHAT AIRLINES SELDOM TELL YOU ABOUT PRICING

Q – We just saved about $400 by paying no attention to what a US Air agent told us on the phone and doing our own online research. It turns out that we were able to save considerably by departing Philly for the West coast on the early morning flight and leaving LA around dinner…

TOKYO BOUND FOODIES

Q – Thanks to Japan Airlines mileage desk, and a business trip, my wife and I are headed to Tokyo for two weeks on the company. But, unfortunately, that does not extend to the six days we are on our own for a short vacation. We live in Denver where there is some good Japanese…

40 Somethings on Ibiza

Q – OK, we’re in our forties, about three decades younger then your average blogger on this site. My goodness, if they are so afraid of getting robbed, hurt, or sick, why don’t they just stay and go to Starbucks for entertainment? But we trust your advice so put on your party hats and advise,…

Water on Delta

Q – Living in Atlanta, I get to fly Delta quite a bit on business and for pleasure. I’ve always wondered about something. About a month ago, I returned from overseas and got a bad case of something that seemed food-related. I kept reviewing what I ate and then it hit me that I had…

Following The Beasts

Q – We keep hearing about this “follow the great migration” thing in Africa and it is really confusing. We think we want to see it but when should we go and where? Any thoughts on this? Have gotten several contradictory answers including one gen from a Kenyan tourism official. A –