Recently, a sharp-eyed ITN reader booked a Holland America Line cruise to Alaska for 18 days, paying for herself and her roommate. Three weeks before the cruise, she received from the cruise line a puzzling document requiring her to sign and send back a preauthorization to hold $60 worth of credit per person per day for the cruise. For the two travelers, this added up to a substantial $2,160.

She protested to Holland America and informed ITN, saying that she hardly ever bought things...


In February a few years ago, a group of middle-aged novice travelers ventured to Costa Rica to tour Braulio Carrillo National Park, which rises and falls between cool, high mountains and low, torrid jungles, all of it washed by swift, curving rivers and waterfalls.

Unbeknown to them, this lovely, pristine region was a mosquito-infested area fraught with health perils. Eight of the group’s members contracted traveler’s diarrhea, four came down with typhoid fever and two were infected...


by Ed Kinney, part 4 of 6 on Spain

As reviewed previously, in April ’04 I traveled with six photographers on a 16-day tour with Close-Up Expeditions (800/457-9553 or Entitled “Spanish Explorer,” it began in Marseille, France, and ended in Granada, Spain.

In Spain, after visiting Albarracín, we proceeded to Cuenca, whose Old City is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. While both of these Spanish cities are perched on high cliffs, they are quite different in...


by Julie Skurdenis, part one of two

By all accounts, Genghis Khan was not a nice guy. Nice guys finish last, and Genghis Khan was determined not to be at the back of the pack. In the late 1100s and early 1200s, this Mongol warrior carved out a vast empire that stretched from Beijing to the Caucasus Mountains in Western Asia. His capital was in Karakorum in central Mongolia, 240 miles southwest of Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia’s present capital.

With my husband, I traveled halfway ’...

A compilation of ITN readers' letters, with responses and recommendations.

Dear Globetrotter:

Welcome to the 342nd issue of your monthly overseas travel magazine.

A year and a half ago, ITN Contributing Editor Jim Patterson, who wrote the “Focal Point” column, went on hiatus following abdominal surgery. Recently, he informed us he was fit to travel again and we were looking forward to new material from his latest trip.

Sadly, we received this news from his wife, Betty: “Jim died of a heart attack photographing the beautiful flowers in Monet’s...


Those of us who have visited the restored Catherine Palace outside of St. Petersburg in Russia have seen the photos of the destruction caused during the World War II “900-day” (actually “only” 872-day) siege of the city then called Leningrad.

German troops occupied the Catherine Palace area during the siege and there was bitter fighting there as the Russians finally prevailed. The palace was in ruins by early 1944. Russians, of course, claimed that the Germans were responsible for the...

The Star Princess. Photo courtesy of Princess Cruises
The Star Princess experience across the Pacific