(This commentary was originally broadcast Jan. 28, 2013.)
Every year a web site called The Ethical Traveler takes a look at developing nations and considers their natural beauty, their commitment to human rights and the environment, and how well they integrate tourism into the local culture. Then the site recommends the world’s ten best ethical destinations conscientious travelers might want to visit.
The list is in alphabetical order, so don’t draw any inference from the order in which I list the winners. Island states made a strong showing in this year’s list, beginning with Barbados and followed by Cape Verde and Costa Rica.
One country in Africa made the list—Ghana. Eastern Europe is represented by Latvia and Lithuania. There was one country from South America, and it’s one of my favorite places: Uruguay (pictured).
The other two are far away—Palau in the South Pacific and Mauritius in the Indian Ocean.
The goal here, of course, is to encourage developing nations to consider their overall policies toward their citizens, ecosystem, and tourism in order to assure sensible growth and development. And I have no doubt there are travelers who would rather visit enlightened countries and vote with their feet and their dollars.
(This commentary was originally broadcast Jan.8, 2013.)
Most of us visit a national park the same way: We drive or hike through it and perhaps stay in a lodge for a few nights to experience it. But what if you had a private tour guide who could show you things you might otherwise miss?
That’s exactly what a park expert named Marty Behr and his company, National Parks Revealed, promises. Behr spent two years visiting the major national parks of the West getting to know guides and learning about the parks. Now his company will put together a bespoke tour, complete with luxury accommodations and a private tour guide.
The most popular parks, he says, are Yellowstone, Yosemite, and the Grand Canyon. And helping you avoid crowds is his company’s specialty. He suggests visiting during the shoulder seasons—spring and fall—and having a guide who knows where the best spots are.
He also says if you can hike, getting 100 or 200 feet above the normal tourist spots delivers a more meaningful experience. He uses safari-style, four-wheel drive vehicles and can set up a back-country base camp complete with canvas-wall tents and cowboy cooks for a family getaway.
Now THAT sounds like fun.
There was the 15-year-old girl who was refused boarding on a ship set to sail from Puerto Rico. She admitted to a slight cough, a ship doctor found her temperature slightly elevated, and she and her father incurred thousands of dollars in expenses to stay in San Juan and fly back home.
There are many things that can lead you to be denied boarding. If you don’t have a visa for some of the places where the ship will make port calls, you may be barred from sailing. Make sure you have a passport and appropriate visas.
Carnival won’t allow anyone under 21 aboard if they’re not accompanied by someone at least 25 years old. A married minor couple must show up with proof of marriage. If you’re a divorced parent with a child, make sure you have a letter of permission to travel with that child from the other parent. If you’re more than 24 weeks pregnant, you also may be barred.
Here’s a link to Paul’s most informative article.
(This commentary was originally broadcast Feb. 8, 2013.)
Well, in some cases, you can.
For example, Celebrity Cruises will let you bring two bottles of wine or Champagne per stateroom aboard. But if you want to open it at dinner, you’ll be charged a $25 corkage fee. Consume it in your stateroom, and there’s no charge.
Carnival allows one bottle and levies a $10 corkage fee. Norwegian allows you to bring wine and Champagne aboard but charges $15 a bottle. No boxed wine allowed.
In most cases, had liquor is not allowed. And any bottles you buy on board or during stops at port will be held by the ship until the end of the cruise. My advice: Call your cruise line ahead of a trip and learn the rules.
By the way, Carnival Cruise Lines has expanded the number of ships offering all-you-can-drink packages. Pay $42.95 a day plus a 15 per cent gratuity and you and can drink up to 15 drinks a day.
Think about that for a minute.
Thirteen Carnival ships offer the package deal. Here’s the good news: You also get a 25% discount on bottled water.
Kathy McCabe is an American who lives, works, and breathes Italy. She publishes a monthly newsletter called “Dream of Italy,” and she recently came on my weekend show to discuss the “Ten Commandments of Planning a Trip to Italy.”
Let me see if I can give them to you in 50 seconds.
First, practice acceptance—admit you’ll only be able to see one region well in a week-long trip.
Second, buy your plane ticket now. There’s limited lift to Italy, and if you don’t act now, you may not get the dates you want.
Remember September is high season. Personally, I love the Amalfi Coast in early October, and the swimming is still just fine.
Stay at least two nights in each hotel. Don’t rush. With travel time, two nights is a minimum.
Pre-book train, museum and opera tickets, and maybe even restaurant reservations if you’re considering a Michelin-starred restaurant during prime summer months.
Plan travel around special events and festivals.
Get a tour guide, get to know the locals, and accept the fact you’re going to get lost from time to time.
Check out Kathy’s web site for advice on visiting Italy and her events calendar and tips on how to get to know locals.