It’s all in the wrist

Frequent cruise passengers will know the frustration of losing their plastic keycard, or leaving it in their cabin. Replacing it often involves a hassle, both for the customer and the crew member who has to sort out the problem.


So it’s no surprise that cruise companies are looking at different ways of giving customers access to their cabins, pay their bills and access their onboard offerings. Continue reading It’s all in the wrist

Does ship size matter?

In cruising circles, it’s often assumed that bigger is better. A large ship means more amenities: from shops to water slides, bars to dodgem cars.


And in many cases it’s true. The mega ships often have a lot more when it comes to onboard distractions, including signature restaurants and popular Broadway shows.

Continue reading Does ship size matter?

Death of the travel agent?

The demise of the bricks-and-mortar travel agency has been predicted ever since airline and hotel bookings first became available online.


But these shopfronts have been quite resilient, and there are still many to be found in shopping malls and high streets.

However, the numbers are slowly declining, with reports that the venerable Thomas Cook is to close 39 stores in the United Kingdom. That will still, however, leave 719 open for business under that brand alone. Continue reading Death of the travel agent?

World’s cheapest, and dearest, cities

Zurich, Switzerland, is the most expensive place on Earth for tourists, according to research by airport transfer company Hoppa.

Sofia (

And the cheapest of 84 cities rated is Sofia in Bulgaria. The survey threw up quite a few surprises.

Continue reading World’s cheapest, and dearest, cities

This is not a drill

Regular cruise-ship passengers, like frequent flyers, often dread the safety demonstration. Maybe they hope that something interesting will happen to spice up a dull first-day routine.

Majesty of the Seas (

If the 2,515 passengers onboard the Majesty of the Seas on Monday thought this way, then they got more than they bargained for.

Continue reading This is not a drill

Stream while you fly

Is this the beginning of the end of dedicated in-flight entertainment? Some airlines have already announced plans to remove seat-back screens since almost everybody has their own mobile device.

(Qantas Newsroom)

Now Australian airline Qantas has announced that its onboard Wi-Fi will enable passengers to stream Netflix, Foxtel and Spotify content on domestic flights.

Continue reading Stream while you fly

How much for a hotel room?

Here’s a interesting exercise. Go into a hotel without a booking and ask: “How much does a  room cost?” You may as well ask the length of a piece of string.*

How much for a bed for the night?

The answer to both questions is: it depends. In the case of the hotel room, while there is a “rack rate” for each room there are several factors that will influence what you will actually be charged.

Continue reading How much for a hotel room?

The Sea World debate

SeaWorld in the United States has come under a lot of pressure from animal activists recently over its treatment of ocean mammals.


The criticism has led to drop in attendance, some changes in practices at its parks in Orlando and San Diego, and a commitment that the company’s new park in the UAE would focus on education, rescue and rehabilitation.

But in Australia, the public mood seems quite different.

Continue reading The Sea World debate

Everything is ship-shape

It’s 10 days until I board the Vision of the Seas in Dubai for my week-long Arabian Gulf adventure.

Vision of the Seas (

As I write, I have completed all the formalities I need to rock up to Port Rashid and board the vessel. As long as I remember a few things …

Continue reading Everything is ship-shape

Brew with a view

A lot of us can’t face the day without first facing a cup of coffee. But what if that coffee featured a famous face — perhaps even our own?

(Tub of Butter, Dubai; Instagram)

Special stencils for commercial coffee machines now mean your latte can feature just about any design. And in Dubai — where else — you can see yourself, or your favourite photo, in your cup the day after emailing an attachment to the barista.

Continue reading Brew with a view

Reality TV bites

If you’ve ever watched one of those “fly on the wall” television shows set in airports and wondered why some people — especially those who do something foolish or illegal — would allow themselves to be a part of it all, this might be a clue.

This sign was spotted at an Australian airport recently, and I find the wording quite interesting.

Continue reading Reality TV bites

Where’s the romance?

Followers of this site will know that I have a love-hate relationship with lists. As a journalist, I know such offering as “the 10 best …” or “20 most exciting…” or “12 cheapest..,” are popular with readers.


But, as an educated and rational person, I know that nobody is in the position to offer the best of anything, unless they’ve tried everything — and nobody has.

Continue reading Where’s the romance?

Mind your behaviour

The simplest advice for people who are travelling or living in a foreign country is: be on your best behaviour. if not, you may face the full force of the law — or, in Vietnam, a public shaming.

Hanoi (

Residents, foreign students, expats and tourists in Hanoi will be “named and shamed” in the media is they dress or behave inappropriately.

Continue reading Mind your behaviour