traveltruth.com does not accept advertising or promotional fees from airlines, tour operators, tourism boards or cruise lines. Every single word on traveltruth.com is written by industry insiders and journalists with at least twenty years of executive-level industry experience. We accept no fees for articles and we do not reprint press releases or articles written by free-lance travel journalists.

ITALIAN RESTAURANT MANNERS 101

Q – We will be leaving shortly for a culinary tour of southern Italy. Are there any “proper manners” we should be aware of as we dine out?

A – Try not to ask the owner if he or any member of his family is involved with the Mafia. This could possibly ruin your meal.

The biggest “gaffe” is ordering cappuccino after 12:00 noon. Continue Reading »

HOTEL TIPPING 101: GRACIOUS GRATUITIES

While proper tipping etiquette does vary from country-to-country, you will be pleased to know there are current industry standard expectations of tipping behavior. Here is what you should be tipping for good to excellent service:

HOTEL DOORMAN: $1.00 TO $2.00 or 1 Euro for opening door, hailing a taxi and $3.00 or 2 Euro for loading trunk with bags. Continue Reading »

TRAVELERS ADOPT FIST BUMP AS HANDSHAKES NOW OBSOLETE

A new study released by the U.K.’s Aberystwyth University (you get a degree if you can learn how to spell it) is shaking up the way US travelers are now exchanging greetings. The fist-bump, popularized by President Obama, has now been shown to reduce exposure to bacterial disease by 90% when compared to the common handshake. Continue Reading »

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, at the moment, is something called “Mo’s Dark Chocolate Bacon Bar”. Continue Reading »

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 recommend where you would trust the food and the atmosphere as child-friendly. Continue Reading »

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. Continue Reading »

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 recommend? Continue Reading »

WANT TO AVOID NOROVIRUS? DINE AT SEA

(reprinted from Travel Weekly Magazine)

By Senior Contributing Editor Richard Bruce Turen

Given their fairness in all matters concerning cruise industry health and safety matters, I imagine I will soon be seeing a public apology from our friends at the major network news organizations and the decision-makers at our most respected newspapers concerning the issue of norovirus on cruise ships. Continue Reading »

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 to sit with her at  one of those wonderful cafes where she can experience the warm churros and Chocolate a la taza Continue Reading »

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 get too adventurous. Continue Reading »

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 kids programs at sea but couldn’t find any information about them on your site. Continue Reading »

GETTING BLANK STARES ABOUT A CRUISE THAT INCLUDES WEST AFRICA

Q – I thought I would see if 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 for a nice cruise, particularly on an itinerary that includes Ghana, the land of our ancestors. Continue Reading »

A LETTER FROM SLEEPY MADRID

Visitors to our wonderful country should understand that we are all totally sleep-deprived in Spain. As journalist Joaquin Pi Yague points out in El Pais, “our night owl culture is hurting our economy.” There has been much modernization in Spain, easily visible to tourists in Madrid and Barcelona. But one thing that has ot changed is the fact that Spaniards hardly ever start dinner before 10:00 pm. Continue Reading »

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 I should book it since there are five of us (12, 14, 17).  Continue Reading »

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 hotels all seem to be city-centered with a business feel. Continue Reading »

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 up by doing a bus tour. Continue Reading »

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 Himalayas, but we do want o see those places on most everyone’s bucket list. Continue Reading »

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 most frequent in the afternoon and early evening. Continue Reading »

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 spoke to claim that their computers assure the lowest price, something a travel agent can’t do. Continue Reading »

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 suggest we prepare, research, etc? Continue Reading »

INDUSTRY RATINGS OF THE MAJOR INTERNATIONAL AIRLINES

CURRENT RATINGS OF THE WORLDWIDE AIRLINE FLEET

By Skytrax, the world’s most respected airline rating service.

Five Star-Rated Airlines are considered to be absolutely top tier.

Four-Star Airlines are considered to be “Often above-average”

Three-star Airlines are considered to be “Average for the industry”

STAR RATING

AIRLINE   (view rating)

COUNTRY

REGION

3

Adria Airways

Slovenia

Europe

3

Aegean Airlines

Greece

Europe

3

Aer Lingus

Ireland

Europe

3

Aeroflot Russian Airlines

Russia

Europe

3

Aerolineas Argentinas

Argentina

South America

3

Aeromexico

Mexico

North America

0

Aerosvit Airlines

Ukraine

Europe

0

Afriqiyah Airways

Libya

Africa

3

Air Algerie

Algeria

Africa

3

Air Arabia

UAE

Middle East

4

Air Astana

Kazakhstan

Central Asia

3

Air Austral

Réunion

Africa

3

Air Bagan

Myanmar

Asia

3

Air Baltic

Latvia

Europe

3

Air Berlin

Germany

Europe

4

Air Canada

Canada

North America

3

Air Caraibes

French Caribbean

Central America/Caribbean

3

Air China

China

Asia

4

Air Dolomiti

Italy

Europe

3

Air Europa

Spain

Europe

0

Air Finland

Finland

Europe

4

Air France

France

Europe

3

Air India

India

Asia

2

Air Italy

Italy

Europe

1

Air Koryo

North Korea

Asia

3

Air Macau

Macau

Asia

3

Air Malta

Malta

Europe

3

Air Mauritius

Mauritius

Africa

3

Air Namibia

Namibia

Africa

4

Air New Zealand

New Zealand

Australia/Oceania

3

Air Niugini

Papua New Guinea

Australia/Oceania

3

Air Nostrum

Spain

Europe

3

Air Serbia

Serbia

Europe

4

Air Seychelles

Seychelles

Africa

3

Air Tahiti Nui

Tahiti

Australia/Oceania

3

Air Transat

Canada

North America

3

AirAsia

Malaysia

Asia

3

AirAsia X

Malaysia

Asia

3

Aircalin

New Caledonia

Australia/Oceania

3

Alaska Airlines

USA

North America

3

Alitalia

Italy

Europe

3

Allegiant Air

USA

North America

3

American Airlines

USA

North America

5

ANA All Nippon Airways

Japan

Asia

3

Arik Air

Nigeria

Africa

3

Arkefly

Netherlands

Europe

0

Armavia

Armenia

Central Asia

5

Asiana Airlines

South Korea

Asia

0

Atlas Blue

Morocco

Africa

4

Austrian Airlines

Austria

Europe

3

Avianca

Colombia

South America

0

Avianova

Russia

Europe

3

Azerbaijan Airlines

Azerbaijan

Europe

2

Bahamasair

Bahamas

North America

0

Bahrain Air

Bahrain

Middle East

4

Bangkok Airways

Thailand

Asia

2

Biman Bangladesh

Bangladesh

Asia

0

Blue1

Finland

Europe

4

British Airways

United Kingdom

Europe

3

Brussels Airlines

Belgium

Europe

2

Bulgaria Air

Bulgaria

Europe

3

Caribbean Airlines

Trinidad & Tobago

Central America/Caribbean

5

Cathay Pacific Airways

Hong Kong

Asia

3

Cebu Pacific

Philippines

Asia

4

China Airlines

Taiwan

Asia

3

China Eastern Airlines

China

Asia

4

China Southern Airlines

China

Asia

2

China United Airlines

China

Asia

3

CityJet

Ireland

Europe

3

Condor Airlines

Germany

Europe

3

Copa Airlines

Panama

Central America/Caribbean

3

Croatia Airlines

Croatia

Europe

2

Cubana Airlines

Cuba

Central America/Caribbean

3

Cyprus Airways

Cyprus

Europe

3

Czech Airlines

Czech Republic

Europe

3

Delta Air Lines

USA

North America

4

Dragonair

Hong Kong

Asia

3

easyJet

United Kingdom

Europe

4

Edelweiss Air

Switzerland

Europe

3

Egyptair

Egypt

Africa

3

El Al Israel Airlines

Israel

Middle East

4

Emirates

UAE

Middle East

3

Estonian Air

Estonia

Europe

3

Ethiopian Airlines

Ethiopian

Africa

4

Etihad Airways

UAE

Middle East

0

Eurowings

Germany

Europe

4

EVA Airways

Taiwan

Asia

3

Far Eastern Air Transport

Taiwan

Asia

3

Fiji Airways

Fiji

Australia/Oceania

4

Finnair

Finland

Europe

3

FlyBe

United Kingdom

Europe

3

Frontier Airlines

USA

North America

3

Gambia Bird Airlines

Gambia

Africa

4

Garuda Indonesia

Indonesia

Asia

3

Germanwings

Germany

Europe

3

GOL Linhas Aereas

Brazil

South America

3

Gulf Air

Bahrain

Middle East

5

Hainan Airlines

China

Asia

3

Hawaiian Airlines

USA

North America

3

Iberia

Spain

Europe

3

Icelandair

Iceland

Europe

3

Interjet

Mexico

North America

2

Iran Air

Iran

Middle East

4

Japan Airlines

Japan

Asia

3

Jazeera Airways

Kuwait

Middle East

3

Jet Airways

India

Asia

3

Jet2.com

United Kingdom

Europe

4

JetBlue Airways

USA

North America

3

JetStar Airways

Australia

Australia/Oceania

3

Jetstar Asia Airways

Singapore

Asia

3

Juneyao Airlines

China

Asia

3

Kenya Airways

Kenya

Africa

0

Kingfisher Airlines

India

Asia

4

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines

Netherlands

Europe

4

Korean Air

South Korea

Asia

3

Kuwait Airways

Kuwait

Middle East

3

LAM Mozambique Airlines

Mozambique

Africa

3

LAN Airlines

Chile

South America

0

Lauda Air

Austria

Europe

2

Lion Air

Indonesia

Asia

3

LOT Polish Airlines

Poland

Europe

4

Lufthansa

Germany

Europe

3

Luxair

Luxembourg

Europe

2

Mahan Air

Iran

Middle East

5

Malaysia Airlines

Malaysia

Asia

3

Meridiana

Italy

Europe

0

Merpati Nusantara Airlines

Indonesia

Asia

3

MIAT Mongolian Airlines

Mongolia

Asia

3

Middle East Airlines

Lebanon

Middle East

3

Moldavian Airlines

Moldova

Europe

3

Monarch Airlines

United Kingdom

Europe

3

Myanmar Airways International

Myanmar

Asia

2

Nepal Airlines

Nepal

Asia

3

NIKI

Germany

Europe

3

Nok Air

Thailand

Asia

3

Norwegian

Norway

Europe

3

Okay Airways

China

Asia

3

Olympic Air

Greece

Europe

4

Oman Air

Oman

Middle East

2

Onur Air

Turkey

Europe

3

Pakistan International

Pakistan

Asia

2

Pegasus Airlines

Turkey

Europe

3

Philippine Airlines

Philippines

Asia

4

Porter Airlines

Canada

North America

4

Qantas Airways

Australia

Australia/Oceania

5

Qatar Airways

Qatar

Middle East

2

Rossiya Airlines

Russia

Europe

3

Royal Air Maroc

Morocco

Africa

3

Royal Brunei Airlines

Brunei

Asia

3

Royal Jordanian Airlines

Jordan

Middle East

2

Ryanair

Ireland

Europe

3

S7 Siberia Airlines

Russia

Europe

3

SAS Scandinavian Airlines

Denmark/Norway/Sweden

Europe

3

SATA Air Azores

Azores

Europe

3

Saudia Arabian Airlines

Saudia Arabia

Middle East

3

Scoot

Singapore

Asia

3

Shandong Airlines

China

Asia

3

Shanghai Airlines

China

Asia

3

Shenzhen Airlines

China

Asia

3

Sichuan Airlines

China

Asia

4

Silk Air

Singapore

Asia

5

Singapore Airlines

Singapore

Asia

2

SmartWings

Czech Republic

Europe

4

South African Airways

South Africa

Africa

3

Southwest Airlines

USA

North America

2

Spirit Airlines

USA

North America

3

Spring Airlines

China

Asia

3

SriLankan Airlines

Sri Lanka

Asia

2

Sudan Airways

Sudan

Africa

4

Swiss International Air Lines

Switzerland

Europe

2

Syrianair

Syria

Middle East

3

TAAG Angola Airlines

Angola

Africa

3

TACA

El Salvador

Central America/Caribbean

3

TACV Cabo Verde Airlines

Cape Verde

Africa

2

Tajik Air

Tajikistan

Central Asia

3

TAM Airlines

Brazil

South America

3

TAP Air Portugal

Portugal

Europe

3

Tarom

Romania

Europe

4

Thai Airways

Thailand

Asia

3

Thomas Cook Airlines

United Kingdom

Europe

4

Tianjin Airlines

China

Asia

3

Tigerair

Singapore

Asia

3

Tigerair Mandala

Indonesia

Asia

3

Transaero Airlines

Russia

Europe

3

Transavia Airlines

Netherlands

Europe

4

Tunisair

Tunisia

Africa

4

Turkish Airlines

Turkey

Europe

2

Turkmenistan Airlines

Turkmenistan

Asia

2

Ukraine Int’l Airlines

Ukraine

Europe

3

United Airlines

USA

North America

3

US Airways

USA

North America

3

Uzbekistan Airways

Uzbekistan

Central Asia

3

Vietnam Airlines

Vietnam

Asia

4

Virgin America

USA

North America

4

Virgin Atlantic Airways

United Kingdom

Europe

4

Virgin Australia

Australia

Australia/Oceania

3

Vueling Airlines

Spain

Europe

3

Westjet

Canada

North America

3

Wizz Air

Hungary

Europe

3

WOW air

Iceland

Europe

3

Xiamen Airlines

China

Asia

2

Yemenia

Yemen

Middle East

 

Continue Reading »

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 as a base?  Continue Reading »

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 by our academic credentials. Continue Reading »

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? All the regular channels just never seem to work. Continue Reading »

WORTH KNOWING

In 2013, the twenty-five highest paid Hedge Fund Managers earned two and a half times the combined income of our nation’s 157,800 Kindergarten teachers. The top four Hedge Fund Managers earned a higher combined salary than the salaries of every Kindergarten teacher combined.

This information was highlighted in the annual “Rich List” published by Alpha Magazine. Continue Reading »

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 we have to be back in late August. Continue Reading »

TOP SUMMER TRAVEL LUXURY TOURS THAT STILL HAVE SPACE

There are still pockets of availability on some of the best escorted luxury tours this summer. The following journeys are part of the Travcoa collection, a series of extremely high-end, personally escorted journeys that have proper pacing, the best available guides, and hotels and meals of five-star quality. Based in California, Travcoa operates tours at the upper end of the quality and price scale:

Mystery, Legend & Tradition: Romania & Bulgaria – Journey through Romania, enjoy the chills of listening to the legend of Dracula at Bran, a gothic fortress on the edge of the mysterious moors of Transylvania. Continue Reading »

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 wonderful guide named Anna Ferrari. Continue Reading »

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 to tell you because you are asking the wrong question. Continue Reading »

  • Contact US!


  • Our very own Richard Turen is a Trusted Travel Expert on wendyperrin.com

    Wendyperrin.com shares our passion for telling the truth about travel. Click here to see why Wendy considers our Richard Turen a Trusted Travel Expert.

  • The Top-Rated Cruise and River Boat Worldwide Itinerary Database!

    Our Exclusive Cruise Schedule Database to the World’s Best Tour Operators by Destination. This section is for the science majors - not the philosophers.

  • Come see other parts of the
    Churchill & Turen Media Group:


    LUXURY CRUISE RATINGS.COM

    luxurycruisratings.com

  • RIVER BOAT RATINGS.COM


  • The Top-Rated Private Shore Excursions in Europe

    A TASTE OF LIFE ASHORE


  • The Nation's Top Visa Specialists.

    This is the firm that handles many members of Washington's diplomatic community.

  • The "Top Value" rated,

    age-based, comprehensive travel insurance policy. Especially recommended for cruise and tour participants. Actual human beings answer the phones.

traveltruth.com is a collaborative effort designed to offer the vacation consumer real world advice without exaggeration, deception, or sales bias. It is the ultimate insider’s view of how things really work, written by an award-winning team of travel consultants and journalists. We are the owners, managers, and staff at Churchill & Turen Ltd.

traveltruth Q&A

Q&A