Is it finally safe to take a cruise?

If you’re one of the 303 million Americans who won’t take a cruise this year, you might want to reconsider your vacation plans. This may be the time to head out to sea.

The reason has little to do with cruise prices, which are rapidly sinking. The average cabin for two costs just $143 per night, according to Priceline. That’s down 13 percent from last month and a four-year low.

It isn’t even the barrage of bad publicity from a series of embarrassing mishaps, including last year’s sinking of the Costa Concordia and Carnival’s infamous “poop” cruise earlier this year, which some say is pushing prices downward as cruise lines vie for your business.

The real sea change has gone practically unnoticed, as the industry is finally getting its act together in many small ways.
Read more “Is it finally safe to take a cruise?”

Can you trust the cruise lines’ new passenger “bill of rights”?


Maybe it was the string of customer-service disasters, starting with the Costa Concordia tragedy last year and leading up to the recent Carnival Triumph “poop” cruise, on which passengers were left adrift in the Gulf of Mexico for five days without working toilets.

Maybe it was the threat of government regulation from Sen. Charles Schumer (D.-N.Y.), a vocal critic of the cruise industry, that made it move.

Then again, maybe we should just take the cruise industry at its word on its decision, announced just before the Memorial Day holiday, to introduce a passenger “bill of rights.”
Read more “Can you trust the cruise lines’ new passenger “bill of rights”?”

FAA bill offers a mixed bag for air travelers

It looks as if the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill can fly, after all.

It took five years of debate and more than two dozen short-term extensions, but the legislation finally passed this week.
Read more “FAA bill offers a mixed bag for air travelers”

Have airlines neutralized the passenger rights movement?

gateI was thrilled when I heard that a coalition of travel professionals was meeting in Washington for a what they called a “stakeholder hearing” on passenger rights. Finally, after years of virtually no representation in the nation’s capital, passengers appeared to be organizing.

Some of the folks who are involved in this effort seem to be genuine advocates for travelers, and I wish them well.

But when I read over the itinerary and began conducting my own research, the thrill was quickly replaced by dread.
Read more “Have airlines neutralized the passenger rights movement?”