Air routes, Guyana travel, Mediterranean cruises


Q

STEVE, except for a JetBlue flight that leaves at midnight, there are no nonstop flights from Denver to New York’s JFK Airport, and as a traveler who is sick and very tired of flying to Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Dulles, Boston or Detroit to get to JFK (to connect with an international flight), I would really like to know why. — Ellen Jacobson, Centennial, CO

A

DEAR ELLEN, for years now, airlines have not been in the business of providing service, so their decisions on where to fly are based on profitability. It is more profitable to fly you as far as they can on their own planes, and they know that if you want JFK it’s usually to connect with a competitor.

For example, if you wanted to go from Denver to Cairo, you could use United (or their partner Lufthansa), connecting via Frankfurt. For United, that’s much more profitable than flying you only to JFK, where you could catch Egyptair, who then gets most of the money.

Tip — there are seven nonstops a day from Denver to New York’s La Guardia Airport, which is just a few miles from JFK and is connected by shuttles that operate every 30 minutes for $13 one way. Allow plenty of time for your connection.

Q

STEVE, we want to visit Suriname, French Guiana and Guyana and can’t find anyone who goes to all three countries. Ideally, it would be great to do it by ship. We’re not hikers or bikers but would enjoy seeing the countryside and meeting the people. — Sandy & Larry Fassett, Chesterfield, VA

A

DEAR SANDY AND LARRY, I think visiting this area is a terrific idea. A quick check of my resources turned up quotes like “A trip to this wild and primitive land will appeal to the die-hard adventurer seeking an exotic, offbeat destination,” “Great destinations for the naturalist and nature lover” and “Suriname will appeal to travelers who want to observe life (human, animal and botanical) in the rainforest and can tolerate intense heat, humidity and insects.” Just my cup of tea. How about yours?

Swan Hellenic Cruises and the Explorer II operated by Abercrombie & Kent have made a point of stopping at some or each of these three countries during one of their cruises of South America, but right now neither has anything scheduled and I know of no other cruise possibilities.

In the limited time I allowed myself on the Internet, one company that I turned up that supposedly arranges tours to all three countries is Guyana Tropical Tours. I didn’t take the time to contact them, but they show a “Three Guianas Tour” (either budget or upscale), and two reviews of their operation rated them as “good.” One reviewer did note, however, that they may not have had much experience with “American” clients and stated that the budget accommodations were unsatisfactory.

Here are some American companies that do tours that include two of the countries you want to visit, Guyana and Suriname: AESU, Inc.; Alkentours; Altura Tours; Explorers Travel Group; Intrav; Kirby Tours; M.I. Travel; Tara Tours, and Travcoa. Each will work through your local travel agency. Maybe they can add French Guiana.

Q

STEVE, in May my husband and I will be cruising the western Mediterranean. I would like to arrange my own shore excursions. I find them sometimes cheaper than those of the cruise lines, and even if they’re the same price, it is a private tour and not a busload of 40 to 50 people. I am looking for tour guides for (eight cities in four countries). If you have any resources to refer me to, I would appreciate your reply. — Arlene Hewitt, Alexandria, VA

A

DEAR ARLENE, take a look at the websites www.portsidetours.com and www.shoretrips.com. Each offers alternatives to the excursions offered by the cruise lines. Some people like to simply go ashore and grab a taxi or van, which can be cheaper and a rewarding adventure but also can be a little chancy since your driver may not be skilled in English or experienced at being a professional guide.

From my own experience as a travel agent, I have found that if you want a truly customized and private tour, you might need to contract a different guide for each port. To do that, I suggest checking with the tourism board of each city and asking them to put you in direct contact with local licensed guides who can then arrange complete excursions.

As a backup, you can always use the ship’s excursions. They are generally convenient and competitively priced, plus your group may be let off the ship before other passengers. Also, you never have to worry about missing the boat at the end of the day. ITN

—Ask Steve is written by Steve Venables.