The Travel Professor
Join me on a journey across the broad spectrum of interesting travel topics. We’ll discuss destinations domestic and abroad, some familiar and some off the beaten path. We take a look at suppliers like cruise lines, air carriers and tour operators and find their bargains and special offerings. Got questions? Email

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

All Aboard Amtrak!

I needed to get a small group of 16-20 travelers to New York City for Christmas shopping and sightseeing. My options when to move a small group of people between Ironton and New York City were flying, driving, renting a bus or taking Amtrak. That’s right-riding the rails to the Big Apple.

Driving was out of the question, airfares were sky high as were motor coach costs. Surprisingly Amtrak was reasonably priced downright cheap when compared to the other options.

A couple of the downsides of this mode of transportation was the time involved it is a 15 plus hour ride in each direction and a limited schedule from the River Cities.

Other than these I found Amtrak to be a very pleasant experience. Their coach seating reminded me of business class on long haul flights, the restrooms were large and well maintained, the meals and snacks in the dining and club cars were reasonably priced.

All in all I will definitely take Amtrak again. I am actually thinking about a transcontinental family excursion next summer.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Radio City Music Hall opens

At the height of the Great Depression, thousands turn out on Dec 27th for the opening of Radio City Music Hall, a magnificent Art Deco theater in New York City. Radio City Music Hall was designed as a palace for the people, a place of beauty where ordinary people could see high-quality entertainment. Since its 1932 opening, more than 300 million people have gone to Radio City to enjoy movies, stage shows, concerts, and special events.

This magnificent building is still a must see on many 1st time NYC visitors. A great way to explore to RCMH and NYC is on a hop on hop off open aired sightseeing bus. The tour is narrated plus you can enter and/or exit the coach along the tour route. There are a couple of fine operators but my personal favorite is Gray Line New York.

I just escorted a group there and they loved this touring experience. You get plenty of shopping, sightseeing and dining opportunities plus depending on the weather plenty of fresh air. I think you need to be up on top to really experience the city.

We also rode the train-Amtrak-to the city which was another wonderful transportation option. As this is a whole new story I’ll share these experiences later.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

American "All Inclusive" Family Resort

If you are like me when “all inclusive resorts “are mentioned destinations like Mexico and/or the Caribbean come to mind. Names like Sandals, Super Clubs, Breezes, Beaches, RIU, Barcelo or Palace resorts flood our thoughts. We never give any consideration to the US of A. But now there is a United States all inclusive family oriented located in sunny southwest Florida.

It is the newly renovated and reopened Club Med Sand Piper Bay. This Club Med all-inclusive resort of Sandpiper is located in the United States, on the east coast of Florida. It stretches along the lush vegetation of the Saint Lucie River, between Miami and Orlando, and only a 30-minute drive from West Palm Beach.

Book an Allegiant Air fly drive package and take the family to the beach. For reservations contact your favorite local travel agent or

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Carnival "Dream" Earns Perfect Score in Health Inspection

All too frequently all you hear, see and/or read about in the media is doom and gloom, bad or negative news.

Recently Carnival Cruise Lines took a big hit for a power outtage at sea but let me share some good news with you about their ship the "Dream".

Carnival Cruise Lines’ 130,000-ton Carnival Dream earned a perfect 100 score on its most recent U.S. Public Health inspection conducted in Port Canaveral, Fla. This marks the second time this year that the ship has earned a perfect USPH score. To earn 100, cruise ships must receive perfect marks on all 42 items that comprise the USPHS Vessel Sanitation Program checklist.

The unannounced inspections, which are conducted twice a year and are required for any cruise ship with an international itinerary calling at a U.S. port, evaluate vessels in a wide variety of areas, including adherence to proper food handling, preparation and storage procedures, and overall galley cleanliness. Ships’ potable water supplies used in spas and pools are evaluated, as well.

Carnival Dream operates year-round seven-day voyages from Port Canaveral, departing every Saturday on week-long cruises alternating to Eastern and Western Caribbean. For more information on Carnival Cruises contact me at 740.550.9540 and

Bon Voyage!

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Union dissolved!

Immediately upon Lincoln’s election in November 1860, the Legislature of South Carolina called for a convention of the people of the State to consider the issue of secession. In the middle of December the convention met in Charleston’s Institute Hall. On a roll call vote held December 20th, 1860 the delegates to the Convention unanimously voted to adopt an ordinance of secession.

Down came the Stars and Stripes and up went the Palmetto flag. It will only be a few months before the 1st shots of the American Civil War were fired.

There will be plenty of Civil War related travel experiences over the four years. I’ll try to keep you posted.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Pilgrims land in Plimoth

On December 18, 1620, passengers on the British ship Mayflower come ashore at modern-day Plymouth, Massachusetts, to begin their new settlement, Plymouth Colony.

The famous Mayflower story began in 1606, when a group of reform-minded Puritans in Nottinghamshire, England, founded their own church, separate from the state-sanctioned Church of England. Accused of treason, they were forced to leave the country and settle in the more tolerant Netherlands. After 12 years of struggling to adapt and make a decent living, the group sought financial backing from some London merchants to set up a colony in America. On September 6, 1620, 102 passengers--dubbed Pilgrims by William Bradford, a passenger who would become the first governor of Plymouth Colony--crowded on the Mayflower to begin the long, hard journey to a new life in the New World.

Today Plymouth Mass is a quaint seaside village about an hour south of Boston. Visitors can board a replica of the Mayflower and explore recreated Plimoth Village. There’s a great view of the Atlantic from one of the blockhouses. Stop in to enjoy a pint or two of original recipe ‘Pilgrim Ale’ in the restaurant.

Rumor has it that the original Pilgrims ran out of beer and stopped here looking for fresh water so they could brew up a new batch!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

World's Best Destinations

The U.S. Tour Operators Association (USTOA) has just issued its first World’s Best list, ranking destinations in a variety of categories. Italy took top honors as best destination in four categories -- architecture, walking, romance, and culinary/wine experience. The country also trailed just behind France as best for art and culture, with France second as best destination for a romantic vacation. London placed first for entertainment, with New York and Rio de Janeiro closely tied for the second spot. However, New York edged out both Hong Kong and Italy as best shopping destination. Winning destinations were based on informal rankings by more than 50 of the top companies arranging vacation experiences, tours, and packages worldwide.

The USTOA 2010 Rankings for World’s Best Destination were as follows: for adventure, soft adventure -- Costa Rica and New Zealand; for architecture -- Italy (cited by nearly 55 percent of respondents) and Spain (cited by some 30 percent); for art and culture -- France (cited by more than 50 percent) and Italy (cited by 40 percent); for entertainment -- London, New York and Rio de Janiero; for history -- Egypt, the U.K. and Israel; for romance -- Italy (cited by 50 percent) and France (cited by more than 40 percent); for shopping -- New York City (cited by one-third of respondents), Hong Kong (cited by nearly 30 percent) and Italy (cited by 25 percent); for walking -- Italy, U.S. Western National Parks and Prague; and for wine, dining and culinary experience: Italy (cited by 45 percent), France (cited by 20 percent), Spain (cited by 13 percent) and Napa Valley (cited by 12 percent).

USTOA members provide vacation arrangements for more than 11 million people yearly. The association’s members must meet the travel industry’s highest requirements, including participation in the USTOA Travelers Assistance Program, which requires, among other things, that each Active Member set aside $1 million security to protect consumer deposits and payment in the event the company goes out of business.

For more information and to obtain a list of USTOA members and destinations that they offer visit your local travel agent.

Do you readers out there in cyber land agree? Email your selections and comments to

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Continental Unveils FareLock Service to Let Buyers Lock Ticket Prices

Continental Airlines has introduced FareLock, an option that offers lets customers hold reservations and lock-in ticket prices for 72 hours or seven days with no commitment to purchase a ticket. The new feature, which costs $5 to $9 for certain itineraries, both domestic and international, gives customers additional flexibility and lets them avoid the risk of price increases or sold-out flights.

Customers may choose FareLock when booking reservations at and opt for a 72-hour or a seven-day hold. They may return to complete the transaction at any time before the expiration time, or they may choose an auto-ticketing feature which tickets at the end of the lock period. FareLock fees, beginning at $5 for a 72-hour hold and $9 for a seven-day hold, will vary based on a number of factors such as the itinerary, number of days to departure and the length of the hold.

The carrier will continue to offer its 24-hour flexible booking policy that allows reservation changes and cancellations with full refund without a fee within 24 hours of booking. For customers choosing FareLock, the 24-hour flexible booking policy remains in effect upon ticketing, although the FareLock fee is non-refundable.

If you carry a Continental credit card you can check 1 bag free of charge. Continental is also in the process of merging with United Airlines. Once complete it will become one of the world’s largest carriers.

Got travel questions? Contact

Monday, December 13, 2010

International air travel

On my last couple of foreign trips I’ve flown American owned and flagged carriers. You know the United’s, US Airways, Delta’s and Continental’s of the sky. The in flight service and cabin comforts on these flights were basically what you receive on their domestic routes.

Then I recently had the opportunity to fly an international air carrier, Turkish Airlines in specific. What a relieving change of pace and totally awesome flight experience.

There were a couple more inches of leg room, seat pitch in the aviation industry, so when the person seated in front of me reclined their seat I did not take the seatback in the nose.

In flight entertainment was free and plentiful. They had to have at least 50 plus movies. Meals were served along with free beverages. Yes even the adult beverages were complimentary.

These foreign carriers participate in many of our US based frequent traveler programs so the next time I need to head overseas I am going to look for a foreign flagged over the water carrier. There are plenty of international excellent airlines to select from but most depart/arrive from major international hubs like New York Kennedy or Chicago O’Hare. The trick may be coordinating the domestic feeder connecting flights and creating a joint airfare from our stateside departure gateway all the way through to our international arrival point.

But I’m up for the challenge and am confident that I can create a sound routing and construct a completive fare. Who knows we may even overnight in the Big Apple and check out a show!

Happy travels!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The 1st state

On Dec 7 1787 in Dover, Delaware, the U.S. Constitution is unanimously ratified by all 30 delegates to the Delaware Constitutional Convention, making Delaware the first state of the modern United States.

Less than four months before, the Constitution was signed by 37 of the original 55 delegates to the Constitutional Convention meeting in Philadelphia. The Constitution was sent to the states for ratification, and, by the terms of the document, the Constitution would become binding once nine of the former 13 colonies had ratified the document. Delaware led the process, and on June 21, 1788, New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify the Constitution, making federal democracy the law of the land. Government under the U.S. Constitution took effect on March 4, 1789.

Rich in history and culture Delaware awaits your journey of discovery.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Mother of Presidents

On Dec 2nd, 1823 during his annual address to Congress, President James Monroe proclaims a new U.S. foreign policy initiative that becomes known as the "Monroe Doctrine." Primarily the work of Secretary of State John Quincy Adams, the Monroe Doctrine forbade European interference in the American hemisphere but also asserted U.S. neutrality in regard to future European conflicts.

Virginia is known as the
Mother of Presidents. Eight U.S. Presidents were born in Virginia and most of their homes can be visited today. This makes for a great long weekend history themed trip!