Travelers' Intercom

A tip is not a tip if it is mandatory or coerced. In that case it is a passenger service fee and should be listed along with port charges, transfer fees and whatever as part of the total cost of the trip.

My own preference is for the cruise lines to pay competitive, living wages to their employees and then have tips reserved for extraordinary service beyond what would ordinarily be expected.

Whether or not cruise lines should automatically charge each passenger’s shipboard...


I have always felt that the cruise lines’ system of demanding tips from passengers is invidious. Why do they not pay their staff a decent wage and absorb the cost in the fares rather than expect the passengers to do this as a “kindness”?

Some tipping is totally ridiculous. On a Princess line ship, we never saw the maître d’ for two weeks until the last night, when he started to make his smiling rounds of the tables. I was never quite sure of his function. . .

I see no reason to...


I definitely object to cruise lines automatically adding $10 per person per day (or any other amount) for collective tips for the staff.

My husband and I tip according to the quality of service received. We recognize that some employees provide exceptional service and others do not work as hard. In reality, the collective tips penalize those “going that extra mile.”

If the cruise lines want to institute this policy, perhaps they should add $10 per day to the price of the cruise...


My wife, Esta Lee, and I took a Russian river cruise between St. Petersburg and Moscow, June 4-18, ’03. We used Vantage Deluxe World Travel (90 Canal St., Boston, MA 02114; phone 888/734-0188), which had chartered the Novikov Priboy for several trips. The cost of the cruise was just over $3,000 per person, including round-trip airfare from Washington, D.C., all meals and most sightseeing.

We think Vantage did a first-rate job of organizing and overseeing the trip.

A river...


ITN brought to our attention exactly the right barge trip for us. We were to be in France in April ’03 to attend a World War I history conference, and French Country Waterways (Box 2195, Duxbury, MA 02331-9977; phone 800/222-1236 or 781/934-2454 or visit was offering an itinerary through the Champagne region from April 20 (Easter Sunday) through the 26th.

Everything involved in this journey was of the highest quality: the administration in the U.S., the cabin aboard the...


As an avid traveler and ITN reader, I thought I was familiar with most of the means by which people were separated from their money, but the following was a new one to me.

In fall 2003, following disembarkation from our ship in Barcelona, Spain, our group was taken on a brief tour of the city while our hotel rooms were being prepared. The tour guide, while passing out pertinent information, also warned us about pickpockets. The “good news” was that the thieves are now very good at it...


My favorite hotel would be the Hotel Colmar Garni (Lange Strasse 34, Baden-Baden, GERMANY; visit because it has it all.

It’s located on a walking mall in the heart of town with balconies overlooking ice cream shops and flowerpots. It’s unique, has historical charm and is family-owned — great staff. And it’s relatively unknown, mentioned in few guidebooks.

In summer 2003, when we parked our rented Opel in front of the hotel it was the only car on the...


ITN asked readers to name the three cities they most enjoyed visiting outside of North America. Responses were printed in the July ’ 03 issue, inspiring more letters, which are presented below. You can send in your Top 3 list to Favorite Cities Overseas, c/o ITN, 2116 28th St., Sacramento, CA 95818, or e-mail editor@intltravel (please include your surface-mail address). Mention when you last visited each city, and include pictures, if possible.

Favorite cities overseas? Only...