Travelers' Intercom

In 1934, Queen Mary of England christened the ship that bore her name. This 81,000-ton ship was the biggest and fastest ship of its day and celebrated its maiden voyage in May 1936. The jewel of Cunard’s merchant fleet and the quintessence of grandeur, it represented the finest in ship travel.

I sailed the Queen Mary in September 1937, having arrived in Europe that June on Cunard’s Aquitania, “The Ship Beautiful.” While the Aquitania, Cunard’s last ship with four funnels, carried 2,...


Clutching our tickets, passports and visas (at — gasp! — $100 each), my husband and I inched into the Aeroflot line. It was Sept. 5, ’03, and we were bound for Moscow from San Francisco.

Arriving in Moscow, we were met by a representative from Peter the Great Cruises (Brooklyn, NY; phone 800/828-7970) and whisked to M/S Peter the Great (or Zosima Shashkov), the river ship which would be our home for the next three weeks.

On our way to Volgograd (formerly Stalingrad), we would...


My husband and I have done quite a bit of traveling. We research in depth the places to which we are going. We do not like traveling with large groups, as we travel for art, history and architecture and do not want to be rushed through places where we would like to spend a lot of time. Thus, we travel alone or with a private guide.

We have found the most wonderful solution for our travel needs. We learned of Idyll, Ltd. (Box 405, Media, PA 19063; phone 888/868-6871, e-mail info@...


In September ’03 my wife and I took a train from Berlin Ost Bahnhof to Prague, a 5-hour trip.

I had been to Prague many years before when the country was under strict Communist rule. We had to declare our currencies and register any or all bills at each border point. This time we found Prague a different city. Currency-exchange signs were all over, and we could even pay in U.S. dollars or euros in most stores (about 28 koruny to $1).

I would recommend a visit to Prague. It has...


I want to respond to the news item “Fighting Rebels in Nepal” (Feb. ’04, pg. 18).

I was in Nepal in October ’03 and researched the Maoist situation quite thoroughly through news reports and by speaking to other trekkers. Although the U.S. State Department did issue that travel advisory, the fact is there have not been any reports at all that a single foreign visitor has been physically attacked or injured.

There has been some extortion on popular trekking routes, with trekkers...


In the February’04 issue, two authors refer to the “rows of crosses” they observed at American military cemeteries abroad (pages 22 and 104). I have not been to Omaha Beach but did visit the American War Memorial outside of Manila and noticed that there were numerous symbols of faiths of soldiers of other religions who were killed on these battlefields as well.


A letter in the November ’03 issue, page 38, stated that MBNA does not charge for foreign currency conversion. That’s true. What it doesn’t say is that the various credit card companies themselves are the ones that charge; e.g., Visa, 2%; AmEx, 2%, and MasterCard, 1%. I learned the above researching the veracity of the MBNA deal.

There can be significant ATM charges from the issuer, not the credit card company. In the case of the MBNA cards, the MasterCard holder is charged by MBNA 3...


The reader’s letter “Unusual Transactions” (Feb. ’04, pg. 41) brought to mind some of our experiences with credit card companies and our prevacation routine.

We have always notified our credit card companies of when and where we will be going. It is becoming more unnerving, though, as we find we have to fill in the blanks rather than count on the companies’ representatives to ask the questions.

For example, in response to “Where will you be going?” we tell them each country we...