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FINALLY – THE 787 DREAMLINER ACTUALLY FLIES

FINALLY – THE 787 DREAMLINER ACTUALLY FLIES

The line was more than three years long but ANA, All Nippon Airways, received delivery of its first two spanking new 787′s. This is the plane that, quite frankly, is the Boeing Corporations biggest single gamble. The first  flight took off from Narita on October 26th, landing a short time later in Hong Kong. Journalists on board, including Travel Weekly’s Ken Kiesnoski, thought the world’s airlines on the order list may well feel the wait was worthwhile. Continue Reading »

TOP FIVE CRUISE LINE RATINGS REALIGNMENT

TOP FIVE CRUISE LINE RATINGS REALIGNMENT

The new traveltruth 2.0 ratings of the World’s Top Five Cruise lines is out and there have been some changes since the last ratings were completed in Januarfy of 2011. The World of Residensea maintains its position as the # 1 rated cruise line. But Silverseas and Crystal Cruises have increased their standings, occupying the # 2 and # 3 positions respectively. Continue Reading »

CAN WE PLEASE LET OUR AIR CONTROLLERS HAVE A BIT OF SLEEP?

CAN WE PLEASE LET OUR AIR CONTROLLERS HAVE A BIT OF SLEEP?

There were some tense moments in our nation’s capital, last March 23rd, when several approaching aircraft could not reach the tower. It turns out, as reported by USA Today, that the lone supervisor had fallen asleep.

We know that it has not been unusual for one controller to work the midnight shift at many mid-size airports in the United States. Continue Reading »

MARRIOTT’S MOST IMPORTANT NON US MARKET IS …..

MARRIOTT’S MOST IMPORTANT NON US MARKET IS …..

That would be China. A recent report in Travel Weekly shows the growth potential of an “American Heartland” lodging icon in China. The numbers are rather staggering. Marriott brands, including Ritz Carlton and the upscale JW Marriott division, will open a new hotel in China every month for the next three years. And there is a great deal of growth potential beyond that. Continue Reading »

A BIT OF SEX EDUCATION CROSSING THE PACIFIC

A BIT OF SEX EDUCATION CROSSING THE PACIFIC

Qantas Airlines has an in-flight film channel called “The Edge”. It is interesting to note that the video-on-demand system has an option to “learn improved sex techniques”.  It turns out that the video is a French documentary entitled “The Female Orgasm Explained.”  The documentary includes excerpts from some dated porno films, complete with all of the appropriate sound effects. Continue Reading »

WELCOME NUMBER 7 BILLION

WELCOME NUMBER 7 BILLION

It happened, or at least we think it did, on October 31st. The 7 billionth one of us was born. On the one hand we might manage. There seems to be lots of space and the birth rate has nearly been reduced to half of what it was in 1970. Farm production has seen enormous increases in per acre food production, increases that, over a decade, are measured to 100% fold increases. Continue Reading »

THE NY TIMES ON THE BEST PLACE TO VISIT IN 2011

THE NY TIMES ON THE BEST PLACE TO VISIT IN 2011

The New York Times has selected its list of the 41 Places real travelers ought to consider visiting this year. Heading the List, at # 1, is a city that has survived an 8.8 magnitude earthquake less than fourteen months ago. By all reckoning this city should not even be standing. But Santiago, Chile has enjoyed a quite recent cultural change that has resulted in museums like the Fashion Museum, upscale boutique hotels like the Aubrey, and a local, affordable dining scene that is almost worth the trip. Continue Reading »

MAY I HAVE SOME DOLMADES WITH MY TEAR GAS?

MAY I HAVE SOME DOLMADES WITH MY TEAR GAS?

To date, no major cruise lines have canceled Athens embarkations.  We anticipate some hotel location changes designed to keep cruise guests away from the central square where major demonstrations are taking place. This situation is currently rather fluid and we recommend that all Athens bound guests review arrangements with their consultant two weeks prior to departure. Continue Reading »

ANNOUNCING OUR NEW SIGNATURE CRUISE TO SPAIN, PORTUGAL, AND MOROCCO JUNE 5, 2012

ANNOUNCING OUR NEW SIGNATURE CRUISE TO SPAIN, PORTUGAL, AND MOROCCO JUNE 5, 2012

You are cordially invited to join us on our 12-Day sailing from Barcelona to Lisbon on the new, Oceania Riviera. This is an ideal itinerary for those who would like to really get to know Spain and Portugal. We will have five port calls in Spain, two days in Portugal, two days in Morocco, and two days in the Canary Islands. Continue Reading »

HOW DO THE MAJOR CITIES IN EUROPE HANDLE TRAFFIC CONGESTION?

HOW DO THE MAJOR CITIES IN EUROPE HANDLE TRAFFIC CONGESTION?

If you are renting a car it will be helpful to know the following in advance:

Greece: The trick in Athens is to secure two legal license plates. Odd numbered plates are allowed on odd numbered days, even on even. This, quite theoretically, cuts traffic congestion by 50%.

Italy – The rules keep getting tougher but in Florence and Rome only drivers with hard-to-get special permits are allowed to drive into the historical centers where tourists gather. Continue Reading »

FOODIE UPDATE: FLORIDA TOMATOES GET GASSED

The fall and winter season will soon bring Florida’s crop of absolutely unripened tomatoes to our tables. This is another example of our collective willingness to eat chemically treated food when better alternatives exist. It is what separates us from the Italians, the French, and the Spanish as we appear to have no trouble with adulterated foods. Continue Reading »

Credit Card Redoux

Credit Card Redoux

In case you’ve missed all our other credit card advice over the years. Here are the essentials:

If you travel internationally two or more times per year, strongly consider using a credit card exclusively for overseas purchases.

Continue Reading »

US Ranks High in Global Competitiveness Index Rankings

US Ranks High in Global Competitiveness Index Rankings

The new Global Competitiveness Rankings, developed by the World Economic Forum, evaluate each nation’s education, health care, business innovation, infrastructure and other key factors.

Continue Reading »

Thinking Globally; Some Thoughts About Cruise Growth

Thinking Globally; Some Thoughts About Cruise Growth

There are some key “understandings” shared by many cruise line executives about their future growth and the internalization of their passengers. Here are some observations that can help the consumer envision the world of upscale cruising projected ten to fifteen years into the future:

It is a given that at least 50% of luxury cruise guests will be sourced outside the United States. Continue Reading »

Check Into this Four Seasons and Never Check Out:

Among the exciting new ships en route to us in the coming 24 months, none has generated the initial buzz of The Four Seasons, a 42,000 Gross-ton beauty under construction in Finland. We are hearing that the 100 or so apartments that range in size from 1300 to over 3,000 sq. ft. are selling out prior to the company’s launch of an official sales piece. Continue Reading »

The Benefits of Dual Elite Status:

When it comes to airline miles not all flyers or airline programs are created equal. Although the travel ads will never tell you this, frequent flyers can manipulate the system to secure the upgrades that seem so elusive for the rest of us.

One of the best techniques is to use two different Elite Status Mileage cards – say one on American and one on United. Continue Reading »

The World’s Best Restaurant Serves Infusions:

Spain’s El Bulli restaurant has been nothing short of Mecca for food writers and a huge posse of trendistas intent on sampling a new cuisine that involves infusions of pure flavor essences.The food fusion movement has been called the inevitable merging of fine dining and science.

Now, the internationally respected Restaurant Magazine, an industry publication read by anyone who counts, has named the Fat Duck, in Bray, England as the “Best Restaurant in the World”. Continue Reading »

Hurricane Vacationing 101:

What we have here is a failure to communicate. When exactly is hurricane season in the Caribbean?

The unreported story is that we are now considering the entire month of November as hurricane season. In the past, before Pat Robertson decided to change the world’s weather patterns, cruisers were told to avoid the last two weeks of August through the end of October. Continue Reading »

Sampling London’s Best Two Restaurants:

Of the several Gordon Ramsay’s, the best of the lot, GR at Royal Hospital Road, is currently London’s finest. Getting in takes a top-notch concierge or serious pre-planning.

The other top toque in town is Shane Osborn of Pied A Terre on Charlotte Street.

Both of these restaurants produce innovative “New French” cuisine, meaning an almost complete absence of flour-based sauces. Continue Reading »

Just Back from the Tombs:

The Egyptian tombs, that is, in New York’s wondrous Metropolitan Museum where the Conde Nast folks hosted their annual Reader’s Choice Awards. Cocktails were offered in the huge room holding The Temple of Dendur circa 15 BC.

Hotel exeus, cruise line execs, and representatives of worldwide destinations were in the running for awards that are worth their weight in marketing gold. Continue Reading »

London’s Pigiest Restaurant:

That would be Fergus Henderson’s place, St. John, located in what was once a smokehouse in the not yet absolutely completely fashionable Smithfield Market neighborhood. The place has been creating meals out of portions of the pig that even the Chinese discard.

But lo and behold, when Restaurant Magazine, an important European restaurant industry publication, published its list of the 50 best restaurants in the world – there it was, way up there in 16th place. Continue Reading »

Announcing the Mall of Kabul Tour:

A new 9-story hotel and shopping center complex has opened in Kabul, Afghanistan. The 90-store mall is the first fully air-conditioned building in the nation and features Afghanistan’s first ever escalators.

Security outside is tight. Half a division or so troops are protecting the shoppers, most of whom have never seen a mall before. As relatively unsafe as things appear to be outside, the real danger is inside where burkas have been catching in the escalator mechanisms causing a good deal of anguish and fear .Moving stairways to lady’s fine fragrances is a new concept in these parts. Continue Reading »

Cruise Reservations Cascade on Mondays:

An important, but little-known fact, is that nearly 80% of all cruise reservations are made on Monday.

They are made in that tenuous period between the Today Show and Monday Night football. Mom and Dad have discussed things over the weekend, played on the internet, perhaps, if they are intellectuals, even scanned the Sunday papers. And now they are ready to book. Continue Reading »

Perhaps the Perfect Hospitality Industry Gig :

The Ritz-Carlton in South Beach, the currently oh so hot enclave in Miami, employs a tanning butler. This fellow’s brief is to walk the pool area in search of those who may need assistance applying sunscreen to those areas of the body that may be difficult to reach. He carries a small selection of oils because some of us are butter people and some of us aren’t. Continue Reading »

A Quick Look at Prepaid Travel Cards:

The Traveler’s Cheque card from Amex and the Visa Travel Money cards seem like a good idea. You pay for the cards in advance and then simply use them at ATM’s throughout Europe until you’ve used up your money.

But be careful. There are activation fees and “reload” fees. You are, in essence being charged to use your own money. Continue Reading »

The Next Big Thing is Small and Floats:

Look for 2006 to be the year River Boats in Europe and Asia come into their own. Cruising the Danube, the Rhine, the Soane, or the Yangtze with just a few hundred fellow Americans is perceived as a safe, cost effective, and almost intimate way to experience important parts of the world. You can see China, albeit in a somewhat sanitized way, experience “The Path of the Czars” or simply glide through Burgundy and Provence on a one-week idyll. Continue Reading »

Explaining the French: Lesson #3,754

The first thing to know about the French is that the drinking age is 16 and is never, ever enforced. In fact, French mothers have been known to mix a bit of wine with baby’s formula to begin the path to maturity.

It appears to work because the only drunks I’ve ever seen in Paris were over-the-edge hooligans from countries where pints outsell happy meals. Continue Reading »

Does Anyone Still Want Dollars?

The anecdotal evidence is in – and Europe has officially been labeled a “rip-off”. Cruises and escorted tours to Europe are booming while independent travelers are returning from France and Italy with tales of $300+ lunches and plans to re-mortgage the house.

The European-bound traveler needs to consider paying in dollars up front. The romantic notion of negotiating hotel rates in the lobby of some quaint left bank family-run three-star on the fly is but a dream. Continue Reading »

Facts For A Change

I was strolling the back aisle of a small bookshop in the Notting Hill section of London the other day, thinking how very unlike Hugh Grant I am, when a new title by BBC producer Jessica Williams (Disinformation Company Ltd.) caught my eye.

“50 Facts That Should Change the World” is a book that could well change the way that you view the world. Continue Reading »

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