Crossing between Serbia and Kosovo. Cruise lines' smoking policies.

By David Tykol
This item appears on page 2 of the October 2011 issue.

Dear Globetrotter:

Welcome to the 428th issue of your monthly overseas travel magazine, the one largely written — in all candidness — by its subscribers.

I’m filling this page, however — with travel news.

Church of the Visoki Dečani Monastery in Kosovo. Photo: Julian Nitzsche

If you’re planning a trip to both Serbia and Kosovo, be aware of the following.

You can cross into Serbia from Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia & Herzegovina or Croatia but NOT directly from Kosovo unless you can prove, by having a Serbian Immigration stamp in your passport, that you first entered Serbia.

Serbia does not recognize Kosovo as a legitimate nation but considers it still to be part of its sovereign territory. Therefore, an entry stamp placed in your passport in Kosovo would not be accepted by Serbian border authorities; you would be considered as someone trying to enter the country illegally. Once you get the Serbian entry stamp, however, you then should be able to enter Kosovo and go back into Serbia without a problem.

On this subject, John Cox of McLean, Virginia, wrote, “On a trip last year, my wife and I entered Serbia from Macedonia and each got a Serbian Immigration stamp in our passports. We then entered Kosovo, where we got Kosovo entry stamps. When we left Kosovo and returned to Serbia, the Serbian border officials initially refused us entry because they could not find the Serbian entry stamps we had gotten a few days earlier. (Our passports have many stamps and visas.)

“In addition, the bus we were on, which we had boarded in Pristina, Kosovo, had come from Skopje, Macedonia, directly into Kosovo, so the Serbian official probably thought we had come in that way and did not have Serbian stamps.

“After carefully going through our passports again, the official finally found the Serbian Immigration stamps, at which time he was very apologetic and said we had complied with the proper procedures.”

For the list of border crossing points considered legitimate by Serbia, visit the Serbian Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.


In June, three major cruise lines announced upcoming revisions in their policies regarding smoking on board.

Effective Dec. 1, 2011, for Carnival Cruise Lines and on Jan. 15, 2012, for Holland America Line and Princess Cruises, smoking will not be allowed in any staterooms, though smoking will continue to be allowed in designated areas.

“Designated public spaces” usually mean marked sections of casinos, bars and lounges plus specific open-air deck areas and, on some ships, cigar/pipe lounges.

ITN staff researched the onboard smoking policies of major cruise lines, then grouped them as follows, from the most strict to the most lenient.

Smoking is not allowed in enclosed spaces, including cabins and private balconies, but is permitted only outdoors in a few designated public spaces — Azamara Club Cruises, Hurtigruten, Lindblad Expeditions, Oceania Cruises, Princess Cruises (as of Jan. 15, 2012), Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Royal Caribbean International, SeaDream Yacht Club and Windstar Cruises.

Smoking is not allowed in cabins but is permitted on private balconies and in designated public spaces — Carnival Cruise Lines (as of Dec. 1, 2011), Cunard Line, Disney Cruise Line, Holland America Line (as of Jan. 15, 2012) and Star Clippers.

Smoking is permitted in staterooms but is not allowed on private balconies, and it continues to be permitted in designated public spaces — MSC Cruises (smoking in staterooms is strongly discouraged) and Silverseas Cruises.

Smoking is permitted in staterooms and on private balconies and in designated public spaces — Celebrity Cruises, Costa Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line and Seabourn Cruise Line.


Ron Evans of Corte Madera, California, pointed out an error in my August ’11 column.

In talking about changes being discussed to the Schengen Agreement (with which citizens of participating nations, mostly in Europe, may pass across each other’s borders without visas), I wrongly stated that Sweden was not a member of the European Union. I meant to name, instead, Switzerland.

Ron wrote, “Sweden has been an EU member for several years. It is not, however, one of the member nations using the euro.”

For the record, the following are member nations of the European Union (those shown in bold type have not signed the Schengen Agreement): Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

Further, the following nations are in the Schengen Zone (those shown in bold type are not members of the European Union): Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

While I’m at it, the following are nations whose official currency is the euro: Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France (including overseas departments and territorial communities), Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Kosovo, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Portugal, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Vatican City.

Lastly, of the EU member nations, the euro is not the official currency in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Sweden or the United Kingdom (including Northern Ireland).


Last month I wrote about megaships and the numbers of cruise ships and passengers visiting various ports.

I mentioned that at one dockyard in Bermuda, for the benefit of the locals, the numbers of tourists were being restricted on public buses during rush hours.

On Aug. 17-18, there was a bus strike in Bermuda. It came after an eight-week labor dispute between the Bermuda Public Transportation Department and the Bermuda Industrial Union over the administering of a drug test to a bus driver involved in an accident in which a passenger’s hand was injured.

Taxis and ferries were not able to handle the numbers of passengers, and local citizens rallied to help other locals as well as cruise passengers get to their destinations. At the time, the Norwegian Gem and Celebrity Summit were docked, with passengers trying to get to beaches or go shopping.

An arbitration hearing was scheduled to resolve the labor dispute.

I’ll repeat the request I made last month. If you have taken cruises outside of the US in the last couple of years, let us know which destinations you’ve found to be particularly affected by crowds of cruise ship passengers (not during a labor strike but when things were operating “normally”). Did you find that the day of the week or time of day made a difference?

In addition to sharing your observations, let us know when your cruise took place (include dates, if possible). Add any advice that might help others considering visits to popular cruise stops. Write to Overcrowded Ports, c/o ITN, 2116 28th St., Sacramento, CA 95818, or e-mail (Include the address at which you receive ITN.)


Daissy Owen of Iowa City, Iowa, wrote, “I’ve been a subscriber for many years. I had some guests in my bed-and-breakfast who are big travelers. I talked to them about ITN and would love for them to get a copy of the magazine.”

Daissy added, “I have photos from my trips to the seven continents all over the home and often show ITN to my guests, especially those issues where some of my photos appeared on the ‘Where in the World?’ page.”

Daissy’s pictures appeared in the December ’06, January ’08 and August ’09 issues (with each photo credit following two months later).

We’re always looking for more photos for “Where in the World?” We often get shots of statues, and we welcome those, but I’d like to also see some pictures of natural landmarks or even famous things not immediately recognizable because they’re close-ups or taken from unusual angles.

Carole Shereda of Plymouth, Michigan, wrote, “Here are the names and addresses of two new friends whom we met recently during our travels in Mexico. Neither of these couples has heard of ITN and they want to learn more. We assured them you would send a free sample copy without any strings attached.”

It’s true. ITN does not sell or release the names and addresses of subscribers or of sample-copy recipients.

Sandy Snowe of Merritt Island, Florida, wrote, “I was reading my latest copy of ITN at my hairdresser’s and she was more interested in it than my haircut. So please send her a personal copy so her customers can have some better-quality reading material (after she’s read it) and she can focus on our hair!”


Speaking of focusing, some readers overlook the list of helpful information “hotlines” and websites that we print in each issue. We’ve added a couple of websites this month, and you can find the box on the first page of The MART (classifieds), in this issue on page 72.

ITN is what it is because of your participation. If a subject in this issue grabs you, write in!— DT