Suckered by a survey?

Updated on 23 July (see end of post)

So, I received a direct-marketing email from Royal Caribbean, the American cruise company.

Explorer of the Seas (Royal Caribbean)
Explorer of the Seas (Royal Caribbean)

Headed “We want to hear from you”, it invited me to take part in a survey. The email said: “This survey will only take about 10 minutes to complete. We hope you’ll make your opinion count as your feedback is very important to us.”

Continue reading Suckered by a survey?

How should travellers dress?

The issue of appropriate attire for travellers has been in the news lately. There was outrage in the Middle East, and an official apology in America, when a man from the United Arab Emirates was judged suspicious by an Ohio hotel clerk, and later arrested, partly because he was wearing national costume.

That incident led to an advisory from UAE authorities to its own citizens suggesting that they not wear traditional clothing while travelling.

Should colourful shirts be banned?
Should bald me in colourful shirts be banned from all social activity?

Meanwhile, in a survey of 2,500 Americans, 59 per cent agreed that passengers should be kicked off aircraft for “dressing inappropriately”.

Continue reading How should travellers dress?

Food for thought

I’m pretty much an omnivore, but I am sensitive to other people’s dietary requirements. And I feel for those with diet restrictions when they are travelling.


So, it’s great to note that there are organisations that do the research and spread the word on the web so these people know where to go to get a good meal.

Continue reading Food for thought

Free for all at sea?

I’ve written before about my concerns about a cruise line offering passengers free, unlimited alcoholic drinks. My comments then related to certain Norwegian Cruise Line sailing.

Now another cruise operator, Thomson, has announced that on its new TUI Discovery, “everyone goes all inclusive from summer 2017”.

TUI Discovery Atrium Bar (Thomson)
TUI Discovery Atrium Bar (

Continue reading Free for all at sea?

Are we having fun yet?

So you’ve spend a shed-load of money, rearranged your work and life schedule, paid well in advance and raced around like crazy to put everything in place, all so you can enjoy your dream holiday without a hassle. Yes, it’s been hard, but you know it’ll be worth it

Things not purrfect? Make a complaint!
Things not purrfect? Make a complaint!

But what if things don’t turn out the way you expect? Continue reading Are we having fun yet?

Emotional about baggage

Some friends who recently flew from Australia to Europe were annoyed when a few bottles of alcohol in their luggage were broken, ruining some of their clothes. So, they took to social media to broadcast their displeasure with their airline.

What's going on with the baggage?
What’s going on with the baggage?

It got me thinking about the whole issue of baggage handling. I’ve been pretty lucky. My bag was torn by handlers at a German airport many years ago, but British Airways cheerfully provided me with a better one.

Continue reading Emotional about baggage

Review: Ibis Styles, Singapore

Ibis Styles on Macpherson
June 2016

I chose to stay at this hotel for a very simple reason: it was the cheapest  room I could find online among my preferred brands.


I was looking for a relaxing stay in a no-hassle place. I’d already chosen Singapore as my destination because of the excellent business-class deal I secured from Oman Air, and the knowledge that I’d be comfortable with my surroundings.

The Styles came in at about S$128 (US$95.50) a night for bed and breakfast. Continue reading Review: Ibis Styles, Singapore

Review: Oman Air to Singapore

Oman Air A330-300* business class
Abu Dhabi-Muscat-Kuala Lumpur-Singapore-KL-Muscat-Abu Dhabi
June, 2016

Yes, it’s the long way around to get from Abu Dhabi to Singapore and back, but with Oman Air it was a pleasure.


As I discovered when I flew to Bangkok recently, Oman Air has a very good business-class product. Continue reading Review: Oman Air to Singapore

Baggage begone!

Many of my flying frustrations relate to baggage. Not just packing and hauling my own, but coping with the way other people deal with theirs.


Some tourists or business travellers pack like they’re migrating. They dump three or four large suitcases onto the belt at airport check-in, then try to sneak a fully laden backpack larger than an eight-year-old child on to the plane.

Continue reading Baggage begone!

Time flies in Singapore

A time-lapse video doing the rounds of social media demonstrates three years of change in Singapore in just under five minutes.

Created by artist Keith Loutit and posted on Vimeo, it shows buildings going up, and coming down, cars winding through the streets, and changes in season and weather.

You can read more about the artist and his work here.

Revisiting Raffles

A trip to Raffles features on many a bucket list — especially for those interested in Singapore’s colonial past who want to see (or stay in, if they can afford it) arguably the most celebrated hotel in the world. For me, this was my third visit, and a somewhat sentimental one as I remembered a departed friend with whom I first visited Raffles many years ago.


Continue reading Revisiting Raffles

My neck of the woods

Those of us who like to travel sometimes forget about the delights of where we live. While researching the next exotic destination, we are sometimes oblivious to changes in our own neighbourhood.


It pays to have a look around; to go somewhere new but nearby. I did this today with my first proper visit to Al Maryah Island, which has been designed to be the new central business district of Abu Dhabi (which, in case you don’t know is where I live).

Continue reading My neck of the woods

Booze cruises

We go on holiday to relax. And, for many of us, that means some overindulgence, especially when it comes to food and drink. And when the food is free and all you can eat, you can see why cruise passengers are wont to put on a kilogram or two on holiday.

Norwegian Sky (NCL)
Norwegian Sky (NCL)

But overeating isn’t the only danger. Cruise ships do a roaring trade in alcohol. Most lines offer an all-you-can drink package that can cost as little as $30 per day.

Continue reading Booze cruises

Right on time

What time should you arrive at the airport? Well, for international flights, the general advice used to be at least an hour and no more than three hours.


These days, for various reasons, many airlines are requesting that you arrive even earlier than three hours – although, in my experience, that can just mean hanging about waiting for check in to open.

Continue reading Right on time

Tipping point

If you are an American in America, there is no discussion. Tipping is a way of life. If somebody performs a service for you, from opening a door to waiting on your table at a restaurant, they expect, and you will automatically oblige with, a tip.

coinsThe going rate in the United States is, I believe, at least 20 per cent of the bill in a restaurant, and at the very least, a few one-dollar notes for a random nicety.

But tipping is not a universal thing. Continue reading Tipping point

Review: Oman Air experience

Oman Air B787 business class
Abu Dhabi-Muscat-Bangkok-Bangkok-Muscat-Abu Dhabi
May, 2016

My decision to go to Bangkok with Oman Air was made at the last minute. After my original plans fell through, I was looking to spend two weeks at an affordable destination, but with a high level of comfort.


Oman Air fit the bill, with a business-class fare less than two-thirds the price of the big regional operators, Etihad, Emirates and Qatar. I was expecting that the standards would be a little lower than the other airlines but was delighted to discover that it was very high indeed. Continue reading Review: Oman Air experience