I recently took the only ship that still makes scheduled trans-Atlantic crossings between the US and Europe—that would be Cunard’s Queen Mary 2—and, if you like to dance, here’s a way to see the world for almost free.
Among the activities aboard the QM 2 are tea dances and evening balls where five or six single men stand ready to dance with unaccompanied women or women whose partners don’t care to dance.
Cunard calls them Gentlemen Dance Hosts, and they’re well versed in dances such as the waltz, cha-cha, rumba, tango, and more. They pay a small fee to a booking agency that places them, but they aren’t paid by Cunard nor can they accept tips. Their reward: A free cruise and a great way to see the world.
A London-based host I met on the QM2, David Swanston (pictured), took up dancing after retiring and following a stroke. Dance returned to him his ability to walk and balance, and now he—to borrow a line from “My Fair Lady”—“oils his way across the floor, oozing charm from every pore.”
And, while hosts may take tea or lunch with passengers, visits to staterooms are now allowed.
It’s a fact of life that some of the most fascinating big cities in the world such as New York are also among the most expensive to visit. Here’s a list compiled by the Swiss-based banking company, UBS, of the most and the least expensive cities in the world for visitors.
UBS considered the average price per night for two people, including incidentals like dinner with wine, a rental car, postage, and a taxi ride. Transportation to and from the cities was not included in the price.
You might be surprised to learn that Zurich (pictured) topped the expensive list, at $1,050 a night, followed by New York City at $20 less. Geneva, Tokyo, Paris, Munich, Taipei, Helsinki, and Dubai followed.
On the most inexpensive list Bucharest, Romania, was the price leader at $260 a day. Mumbai and Sofia, Bulgaria cost only $300 a night followed by Bangkok, New Delhi, and Beijing. Nairobi and Vilnus. Lithuania, weight in at $380 a night. Budapest and Istanbul came in ninth and tenth place.
If you missed my list of the most and least expensive list of US cities to visit, click on yesterday’s “Travel Minute.”
First, the least expensive. In the number one through three position, Las Vegas and Orlando and Jacksonville, Florida. Followed by Kansas City, Missouri, Detroit and Albuquerque.
The other four in the top ten, Grand Rapids, Michigan; Salt Lake City, Memphis, and Denver.
On the other side of the coin, there are the most expensive cities to visit, beginning with New York City, Santa Barbara, San Francisco, and—here’s a surprise—Jersey City, New Jersey.
Those four are followed by Honolulu, Charleston, and Boston. And at the bottom of the top ten, LA, Miami, and Houston.
Beat the high price of visiting these destinations by going during off season and looking for packages that include both airfare and a hotel. Or maybe even a rental car, if needed. A package is always less expensive than buying each part of a trip individually. Orbitz.com, one of the sponsors of my radio show, is a good place to shop for well-priced packages.
In tomorrow’s “Travel Minute,” I’ll tell you the world’s cheapest cities to visit.
One of the lessons learned from the crash earlier this month of that Russian passenger jet headed to Russia after taking off from the Egyptian beach resort of Sharm el Sheikh is this: Airport security is terribly lax at too many of the world’s airports.
Even after the downing of that jet, as vacationers from Russia, England, and elsewhere clamored to get out of Sharm el Sheikh, reports were rampant of luggage going unchecked, of liquids passing easily through security, and of airport personnel selling “fast track” security checks for $15.
And the suspicion is strong that it’s not difficult to bribe your way into supposedly secure parts of some airports
The senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, California’s Adam Schiff, said he thinks, “There are probably are at least a dozen airports in the region and beyond that are vulnerable to the same kind of approach, which is exactly why we have to harden those defenses.”
He added that the Islamic State may have “concluded that the best way to defeat airport defenses is not to go through them but to go around them with the help of somebody on the inside.”
The Mediterranean had its day. The Atlantic Ocean did, too. It’s author Simon Winchester’s assertion that the future belongs to the Pacific region, and he uses the Pacific Ocean, that he calls “unimaginably vast,” to explain why.
You may have read some of Winchester’s previous couple of dozen books, including the best sellers The Map That Changed the World or The Professor and the Madman. His eye for detail and elegant writing style make his books a joy to read, and his latest book is no exception. It’s titled Pacific: Silicon Chips and Surfboards, Coral Reefs and Atom Bombs, Brutal Dictators, Fading Empires, and the Coming Collision of the World’s Superpowers.
In Pacific, Winchester examines ten events since 1950 that signaled the rise of the region including the invention of the transistor and the rebirth of Japan after World War II; the export from Hawaii of surfing; the startling discoveries of life in the deepest parts of the ocean; America’s nuclear testing and its effect on the people of Micronesia; the maturation of Australia as a world player; and the tension between China and its neighbors and the US over who owns what in that part of the ocean.
Simon Winchester’s book is called Pacific. It’s a great read.