The Discerning Traveler

Am I having a stroke?

“My right hand is numb,” my wife, Flory, mumbled while we were watching a show in the lounge of the ms Prinsendam.

As her face became paler, she started to slide down in her seat. I tried to talk to her, but she had no idea what I was saying.

A woman nearby called 911. The doctor arrived promptly.

Was she having a stroke or perhaps a mini-stroke? I worried.

TIAs, or mini-strokes

When the flow of blood to a part of...


Timeline: September 1976. A restaurant in Los Angeles.

Out of the blue, I choked on a piece of meat. I could not breathe. I stood up, my hands clenching my throat. Fortunately, a few seconds later, I could eject the piece of meat from my throat.

I looked around the restaurant. Everybody was staring at me. Nobody had come to help me. Nobody had attempted to use the Heimlich maneuver, which is the first-aid procedure for the treatment of choking caused by foreign objects.



When the ms Prinsendam entered the harbor of Sint Maarten in January 2015, I knew that the Zika virus was rampant on the island and that, unless I took precautions, there was a good chance that I would be bitten by one of the many Zika virus-carrying mosquitoes that were flying around the island day and night.

Should I disembark? I decided to stay on the ship.

So when I read in ITN a very nice article about Sint Maarten/Saint-Martin (May ’17, pg. 57) and saw a picture of...


In my December 2016 column, I answered questions that readers had after reading the account of my April 2016 emergency room visit in Naples, Italy (Sept. ’16, pg. 51). 

One reader, Joyce Perry of Los Angeles, California, also wrote, “As an 86-year-old, I would like to know my options if I become too ill to be treated by a cruise ship’s doctor. Unfortunately, the article that detailed your experiences in Italy did not tell us how to be better prepared for an...


Many readers might recall my article about staying in an emergency hospital in Naples, Italy, after a medical condition I had got worse while I was on a Holland America Line cruise in April 2016 (Sept. ’16, pg. 51). Upon my return to Seattle, it was inspiring to receive emails from several ITN subscribers, including Joyce Perry, Judy Serie Nagy, Diane Robbins and Jane B. Holt, all of whom inquired about my health and wished me good luck. As far as my health is concerned, I...


I was shaking uncontrollably and curled up in the fetal position in the corner of my sofa when my friends found me in my stateroom. 

“What happened to you?” 

“I don’t know,” I replied. 

They immediately called the ship’s onboard emergency number (911), ordered a wheelchair and took me to the doctor’s office six decks down and several long halls away. It was April 2016.

When the nurse asked me what the...


(Second of two parts)

Last month, I compared European breakfasts to American breakfasts. In this issue, I present an outline of different breakfast offerings in selected countries.

Breakfasts around the world

THE CONTINENTAL BREAKFAST — “Continental breakfast” is a ubiquitous term, and it refers to a light breakfast in a hotel or restaurant, etc. It usually includes baked goods, cereal, jam, fruit and fruit juice, coffee, tea or hot chocolate. The...


Satillieu, Ardèche, France (May 2002) — I felt heavenly as I ate the buttery croissant slathered with butter and strawberry jam. My late wife, Flory, and I were enjoying our petit dejeuner (breakfast) in the lovely, 2-star Hôtel Restaurant Chaléat-Sapet, on Place de la Faurie in Satillieu, France.

After the croissant had melted in my mouth, I tackled the sections of baguette, making sure to decorate them with more butter and jam. Where else would I get a breakfast with the...