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Ask Peter: Answers to Your Travel Questions

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Every week Peter Greenberg solves your travel problems and answers your travel questions on Peter Greenberg Worldwide Radio (click here to find your local station or here to listen to the most recent podcast). This week Peter tackled cruise disruptions, travelers checks and hotel ratings.

Do you have a travel question or problem? You can talk to Peter at 1-888-88-PETER (1-888-887-3837) or email peter@petergreenberg.com. (Write “ASK PETER” in the subject line.)

Jeff  from Kentucky asked: On a recent cruise trip the occupants in the next cabin over left their children unattended. Our headboards would shake from the running and jumping and slamming of the balcony door. Guest services were notified but acted like we were the problem for notifying them of the situation. How would you have handled this issue?

Peter answered: First of all, don’t go to guest services, go to the purser when you have a problem on a cruise. When you go to the cruise director and tell them that you have a problem with your neighbor, they should have to quiet down or you would like a cabin exchange. And unless your ship was entirely full, they should have done that. If they don’t do that, you need to have a paper trail of who you talk to: Make sure you get their full name and title, send it in a letter to the cruise line, and you can even copy me. One of two things will happen: They will either make an adjustment in terms of discount for your next cruise or refund you with onboard credits. If they don’t respond, you have your first problem in service–the definition of good service is when you recover from bad service. Your cruise company did a very poor job of that because they ignored you.

For more information, visit the cruise travel section of PeterGreenberg.com.

Bonnie from Jackson, Mississippi asked: I have done some extensive traveling over the world and I’ve done it all through travelers checks: no credit cards. I’d like to take another trip without credit cards due to the high risk of hacking of personal checks. Are travelers checks included in other countries including Cuba, or is there another way to go?

Peter replied:  Let’s call travelers checks what they are: an unsecured loan you’re giving the travelers check company. You’re buying travelers checks and they’re hoping you’re not going to use them. It’s an unsecured loan and an interest-free loan and that’s why they make so much money off of you. We live in a different world now. If you want to use travelers checks for emergencies that’s fine, but it would be a better idea to find out what ATM cards don’t charge you to use overseas ATMs, and there are those cards that don’t. Then you can go to the ATM and only withdraw as much money as you’ll need for that day at the exchange rate that the bank is giving on that day. That way you’re only taking out what you need and you’re not hit with commissions on both sides of the transaction.

For more information on travelers checks, see an interview with Los Angeles Times Assistant Travel Editor Jane Engle on foreign currency.

Chuck  from Nashville, Tennessee asked: I would like to travel on cruises but I usually travel alone and that doubles the ticket price. I am also a retired from the military; can you make any suggestions for discounts, if there are any?

Peter replied: Believe it or not, many cruise lines have military discounts. Carnival has one called the Early Save Rate and you can reserve it up to 4 months in advance. Princess Cruise Lines has a military discount as well but it goes towards onboard credit for food, merchandise and more. You should also take note that cruise lines aren’t discriminating against single travelers anymore. Norwegian Cruise lines on their new ship, the Epic, designed 128 cabins just for solo travelers where you don’t have to pay the single supplement. It’s a little more expensive than the single cabin for two occupants but they’re not doubling the price and those cabins are almost all sold out in almost every cruise because there’s a huge audience of single people who want to cruise and don’t want to be penalized for it. Also, many cruise lines that were not supportive of the idea are now redesigning their ships to accommodate more single travelers, such as Royal Caribbean and probably Carnival.

For more information on military discounts, check out my travel tip on military flight discounts.

Virginia from Florida asked: Are star ratings something someone should look into when booking a hotel?

Peter replied: Absolutely not! What are the criteria used for those star rating? If a hotel gets a five-star rating because they have a golf course, but I don’t golf, why is that a five-star hotel for me? Who’s doing the rating? And be warned, overseas the rating system is usually only reflective of a tax designation of the most expensive hotel in town.

For some smart hotel advice, visit the Travel Planning & Hotel category.

What do you think of Peter’s answers? Call in to disagree, ask questions or just share your travel experiences with Peter:  1-888-88-PETER (1-888-887-3837) or email peter@petergreenberg.com. (Write “ASK PETER” in the subject line.)

By Peter Greenberg for Peter Greenberg Worldwide Radio

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