Boarding Pass

By David Tykol

Dear Globetrotter:

“Monarch of the Seas.” Photo courtesy of RCCL

Welcome to the 335th issue of your monthly overseas travel magazine.

His column last appeared in our May ’03 issue and I was holding out hope that he would continue it, but I received word this month that our longtime Contributing Editor Bill Bennett has decided to retire from writing the Cruises column for ITN. Bill has moved into a retirement home and will no longer be traveling extensively.

Starting in 1974, Bill and Louise Bennett — true lovers of cruise travel — sold cruises and escorted groups on cruise ships for over 20 years. In 1980 they collaborated on writing a Cruises column for ITN. Louise died in 1999 and Bill continued the column on his own, keeping readers up to date on trends in the industry and imparting an appreciation for elegant ships and ship travel.

While we will miss his writing (my vocabulary expanded with each piece he submitted), Bill is a good friend of all of us here at the Sacramento offices and we look forward to his dropping in occasionally and joining us at future get-togethers.

Thanks for all your work, Bill.

Cruise lovers might be interested in the results of an online poll run by Travelers Advantage recently. Travelers were asked how much they tipped various staff members on cruise ships. More than 300 surveys were completed, eliciting the following statistics.

• 55% of those responding said they tipped their waiter or waitress between $3 and $4 a day, less than a quarter tipped $2 a day and 7% tipped $1 a day. More than 10% said they did not tip their waiter.

• Half of the respondents tipped their housekeeper between $3 and $4 a day, almost 20% tipped $2 a day and 11% tipped $1 a day. More than a quarter withheld tips from their housekeeper.

• More than half tipped the bartender between $1 and $2 a drink, but 30% left no tip.

• Almost 40% tipped their maître d’ between $2 and $4 a day, almost a quarter tipped between $1 and $1.50 a day and 38% left the maitre d’ nothing.

• More than 60% did not tip their housekeeping manager. Those who did were likely to leave between $1 and $4 per person per day.

If any of you have common-sense cruise ship tipping guidelines that you would be willing to share with other ITN readers, we’ll be happy to print them. What are your thoughts on the growing trend of cruise lines to automatically charge each passenger’s shipboard account $10 per day in a collective tip for shipboard staff?

In the Travelers Advantage poll, waiters fared best in receiving tips, followed by bartenders and housekeepers. The company pointed out, “Although three-quarters of travelers polled understand that tips are a significant source of income for a ship’s onboard employees, about a third of these travelers say that a tip should only be given to reward exceptional service.”

The travel agency Travelers Advantage (877/841-1335 or www. offers its members savings on selected air travel, cruises, car rentals and accommodations. A 3-month trial membership can be had for $1. An annual membership costs $89.99.

Peter Bijur of Greenwich, CT, reminds us that the Olympics are coming up this summer, and he would like suggestions on things to do and see in and around Greece. He asks, “What are the ferries like that travel between Greece and Italy or Greece and Istanbul?”

Charles Severs of Louisville, KY, would like to see more letters and articles on Mediterranean islands, specifically Crete and Cyprus. He adds, “Also, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Poland seem to get overlooked a lot. Is there a company that specializes in trips to these areas?”

And Nancy A. Logan of Jamestown, RI, wrote, “Thanks for including my note about volunteer vacations in the September ’03 issue, page 19. Please invite your readers to contribute accounts of their own vounteer vacations around the world. It would be interesting to learn how popular this type of vacation is, and it would be enlightening to learn the many kinds of opportunities that are available.”

So fire up the laptop or grab pen and paper. ITN is as vibrant as you are. If you need further proof that your contributions are valued, read this note from Dory Scudder of Riverside, California:

“We have been taking recommendations read in International Travel News for well over 20 years, maybe even 25, and have been all over the world. We bought two VW popups in Germany in the ’70s and toured through the Iron Curtain countries. We sailed to Gdynia, Poland, on the Stefan Batori and stayed in reader-recommended hotels in Poland, East Germany and Czechoslovakia. We bought around-the-world airline tickets and stayed in a multitude of hotels all over the world also recommended by ITN readers. We have taken train trips suggested by Contributing Editor Jay Brunhouse and sailed on some beautiful cruise ships, even some little ones like those of American Canadian Carribean Line.

“I can’t begin to believe we have traveled so much — and all because of articles and recommendations from readers of ITN. It is a wonderful publication, and all of you who produce it deserve a great big pat on the back. Thank you.”

ITN is the product of travelers sharing their experiences, and we appreciate not only those who write in but those who patronize ITN advertisers, those who spread the word about ITN and those who simply enjoy receiving and reading the magazine each month. Everyone plays a part. Thank you. — David Tykol