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

Monday, November 26, 2007

I’ve always rented a car in Las Vegas but with the Strip gridlocked with traffic and terrible congestion all throughout the valley I think I’ll see how I can navigate utilizing the CATS the public transportation system.

Their on line trip planner service was not available but after a half hour or so of searching I managed to piece together a few trips. When possible I like to advance my routes and have a good conceptual idea of the travel schedule and times. I will keep you posted on how my public transportation research unfolds.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

As we approach the festivities of Thanksgiving Day let me run a little controversy by you. Where and when was the 1st English Thanksgiving in the New World?

The history books state it was in 1621 at
Plymouth Mass. where the colonists and Native Americans celebrated the recent harvest.

This was a tradition that the Pilgrims had brought with them from the old country, England.

But there was also a thriving British colony in Virginia. Established in 1607 the early settlements built Jamestown and expanded up the James Rivers.

Berkeley Plantation, home of Benjamin Harrison, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and the home of President William Henry Harrison, claims to have held the 1st official Thanksgiving feast in 1619. The site lays claim to America's first official Thanksgiving in 1619, when a group of British settlers knelt in prayer of thanks for a healthy arrival across the Atlantic.

Both are deserving of the honor, offer a great deal of history and are well worth a visit.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Pack "smart" for the busy holiday air travel season

As we move into the busy and hectic holiday travel period the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is asking travelers to pack their carryon luggage neatly in order to expedite passage through security checkpoints. The TSA said that security checkpoints at the nation's more than 450 airports have optimized schedules and are prepared to accommodate the busy holiday travel season. "SimpliFLY" is a public awareness effort that includes a 60-second public service announcement to encourage travelers to "pack smart to get through security faster." The video and print materials will be distributed to airline and airport partners, on websites and in the media.

Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) see thousands of bags a day and must quickly determine whether or not a bag contains a possible improvised explosive device (IED). The traveling public can take an active role in their screening experience by coming prepared for the security checkpoint. TSA encourages passengers to pack their carry-on bags neatly and in layers to help security officers better determine what is in a bag. Travelers should have boarding passes and identification out and outerwear and shoes off to go through the checkpoint. It is essential to arrive at the airport early to allow time to park, check-in and process through the security checkpoint during peak travel periods. For more information on the airport security process and /or to view the video visit

Monday, November 19, 2007

NCL & Royal Caribbean Cruises Lines join fuel surcharge fleet

It appears that most of the major cruise lines have joined ranks and are assessing fuel recovery fees on future booking. The largest differences are the amount charged and when they apply.

On December 1st NCL “Freestyle” cruises will start charging $7.00 per person per day for the 1st & 2nd passenger in the cabin along with $3.00 for the 3rd & 4th guest.

Royal Caribbean is not charging it’s travelers that are paid for in full. However effective February 1st 2008 they will charge each cruiser $5.00 per person per day.

Hotels have not jumped on board but they may want to join forces soon. An energy recovery fee is a common addition to many Caribbean hotel bills so we may start to see this item on domestic rate schedules too.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Luxury suites in the sky

Be one of the first travelers to soak up the luxury of 1st class on one of Singapore Airlines new A380 from Airbus.

Singapore is the first airline to fly the new super jumbo, double decker, 525 seat jet A380 from Airbus. The route—between Singapore and Sydney—might be out of the typical American's way, but you may want to consider a trip just to experience that upper-class hedonism. The 12 suites were masterminded by yacht designer Jean-Jacques Coste and have fully closable doors, an armchair almost three feet wide, and a separate chaise lounge/visitor seat. When you are ready to slumber, cabin crew will make up a bed using a separate mattress—no slumming on converted seat cushions here—adorned with the Givenchy duvet and pillow. Maybe they’ll even do a little towel art, a staple featured on many cruise lines.

Even better, Singapore has taken advantage of the usually less-than-luxurious middle pair of seats in its new 1-2-1 configuration, allowing traveling couples the chance to snuggle down in a double bed together if they sit there. Ever wanted to join that illustrious club in the air? You'll never get a better (and more private) chance.

The cost is Singapore to Sydney from $7,343 round-trip based on availability.

God I miss the good old days when travel agents would have been paid a 8% commission for those tickets! Couple that with a $10, 000 a night suite and that would have been a great sale!

Bronze medalist in the world's most expensive hotel room derby

Coming in a distant third is The Presidential Suite at the Martinez Hotel in Cannes France. This 8000 square foot suite will only set you back $18000 for a single night stay. The suites mirror the hotel's signature Art Deco style and are adorned with silk curtains, streamline furniture and teak parquet floors. You have two bedrooms, a kitchen, a Turkish bath and a personal sauna. There is a personal butler at your disposal, BOSE plasma screen televisions and telephones, open bar, the use of a private limousine, and other facilities are also there for you to use.

Should I reserve a week or two for you? After all you’re planning on attending the yearly film festival held here. Or will you just stay on your yacht, anchored off shore in the calm Mediterranean Sea?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

World's 2nd most expensive hotel room

The Imperial Suite at President Wilson Hotel comes in at a close second for a mere $23,000 per night. This hotel in Geneva Switzerland is luxurious and at the same time very much secured with bulletproof windows and doors.

The Imperial Suite actually involves the entire top floor of the hotel and has four bedrooms, simply overlooking Lake Geneva. You can reach it through a private elevator. The décor is modern and done with hardwood and marble floors.

The suite comes with five bathrooms having mosaic marble floors. There is also a steam bath and a Jacuzzi. The dining room has an oval mahogany table that has the capacity of seating 26 people. The living room features a library, a billiards table and a cocktail lounge providing a view of the water

Ok I’ll spend the cold dreary days of winter at the Atlantis in the Bahamas then the summer months on the Continent.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Most expensive hotel room in the world

Guess how much a single night at the world's most expensive hotel would cost you? $1000.00…$10,000.00…$25000.00

Yes, you got that right; at $25000.00 a single night at the Bridge Suite at the Atlantis resort in the Bahamas would cost you your entire year of college tuition or maybe even a modest down payment on your home.

Holding the honors as the most expensive hotel room is the Bridge Suite at the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas is set in a fantastic location. The hotel is actually on top of a bridge that acts as a connection between the two Royal Towers buildings, overlooking the marina and the entire resort. Red, black and gold rules the ten-room suite, and you get 12-foot ceilings, bar lounge and entertainment center. Dolphin fixtures, marble baths and chaise lounges dominate the bathrooms.

Are you willing to spend that kind of money on a single night stay at the world's costliest hotel room? Not this travel guy and I’ll opt for something much less pricey. Something like the hotel chain that will leave the light on for you!
The Islands of the Bahamas are a warm & wonderful place with plenty of value priced resorts.
Contact your local travel agent and they'll gladly talk about a vacation getaway for you. Don't have one, contact me & I'll refer you to a travel professional.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Rising oil prices = travel surcharges

As the price of oil escalates expect the cost of your travels to increase. Instead of increasing prices many suppliers tack on a fuel surcharge.

It started last week when Carnival Corporation on Nov. 7, 2007, announced it will add fuel surcharges of $5 per passenger per day for the first and second passenger in each stateroom, up to a maximum of $70 per passenger per cruise, for all cruise departures starting on or after Feb. 1, 2008. The Carnival surcharge applies to six Carnival-owned lines including Carnival, Costa, Cunard, Holland America, Princess and Seabourn.

I expect more companies to follow suit.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Help save the "Delta Queen" and promote local tourism

It would be a tragedy if we allowed this National Historic Landmark to go by the wayside" because of such a rule, says Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, who represents the Cincinnati area. "It would be a great loss not only to the communities along the rivers but to the nation."

Chabot has introduced legislation that would extend the Delta Queen's exemption from the rule for another 10 years. Already, Chabot has a dozen co-sponsors for the bill, both Republicans and Democrats — a rare showing of bipartisanship that he says "speaks to our better chances of getting this done."

Still, it could be a tough battle. While Congress has granted the exemption more than half a dozen times over the past four decades, the powerful chairman of the Transportation Committee, Rep. Jim Oberstar, D-Minn., is against another extension. Committee spokeswoman Mary Kerr says Oberstar considers the boat a fire hazard.

Contact Rep. Oberstar @ 2365 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515, (202) 225-6211, FAX: (202) 225-0699 and tell him you support the extension of the sailing certificate of the Delta Queen. Get in touch with your local representative and tell them to support the Delta Queen extension

Lastly contact
Majestic America Lines , owners of the Delta Queen, and tell them they need to stop in Huntington as a port of call. There are plenty of things to see and do in our Tri-State region of Ohio, Kentucky & West Virginia and their passengers will be thrilled by the experience.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Comparing credit cards that offer airline frequent flyer miles

I play the airline credit card game and earn airline miles with the goal of eventually earning a free ticket. By using my affinity credit card for every day purchases I add miles to my frequent flyer account.

But I’ve got lazy and complacent with my charge accounts and now it’s time to research the offers out there and see if I still carry the best cards in my wallet.

Here’s a pretty good web site to compare the various credit cards that offer frequent airline miles. Visit and compare the cards. I know I will!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Cancel for any reason travel insurance

TravelSafe, a major travel insurance company, just announced a new product that will let you cancel your trip for any reason.

Many of you will pay a substantial amount of money for a cruise or land tour package and in the past trip cancellation coverage normally was tied to health related issues.

Naturally there are terms, conditions and exclusions but this is new option for travelers that want to insure their travel investment.

Contact your travel agent or
TraveSafe on-line for information and/or to purchase coverage.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

History Mystery worksheet & final exam

Try your hand at answering these exercises. Most if not all of the answers were discussed and discovered on location during our October 26-27 getaway.

1. What are the four boundaries of the Northwest Territory?

2. What military engagement of 1795 saw the U.S. finally defeat the Indians and allow more settlers into the Northwest Territory?

3. How many states were to be carved out of the Northwest Territory?

4. What famous American drew up the “Ordinance of 1784” calling for 10 states north of the Ohio River? This “Ordinance of 1784” never took effect.

5. What was the basic division of the land in the “Land Ordinance of 1785” called? Such a “6 mile square” was formed by lines running due north and south and beginning at the western boundary of Pennsylvania.

6. What is the term for a north-south row of townships called?

7. What do you call an illegal settler in the Northwest Territory? The term embraces every human type from the honest and industrious to the thieving and shiftless.

8. What do we call the only unit completed under the first government survey? This unit was found in eastern Ohio.

9. 1/7 of the surveyed unit of land in eastern Ohio was to be used to compensate veterans of Continental regiments of the Revolutionary War. The remaining land (6/7) was to be sold at auction in New York City. What was the minimum price per acre in specie or loan-office certificates?

10-11. Name two of the three men who are usually credited with framing sections of the “Northwest Ordinance of 1787”.

12. When the total population of an area in the Northwest Territory reached a certain, fixed number, that territory could officially apply for admission into the United States on terms of full equality with the older states. What was this number?

13. On March 1, 1786, eleven persons met in Boston and established the Ohio Company of Associates to buy land and settle within the Northwest Territory. Where did they meet in Boston?

14. He was Yale-educated, interested in law, the ministry, and the natural sciences. He had served as a Revolutionary War chaplain. He was the main advocate (called a lobbyist today) for the Ohio Company and sought to purchase acreage for them. Who was this most remarkable man?

15. Name the fort on the west bank of the Muskingum River where it empties into the Ohio. Major John Doughty established this fort to stop “illegals” from crossing the river to settle. Name the fort.

16. What is the oldest town in Ohio?

17. How many men, representing the advance party of the Ohio Company, landed at the mouth of the Muskingum River on April 7, 1788, to establish Ohio’s oldest town?

18. For what individual was the village of Marietta, Ohio, named?

19. Why did this group of republican-minded Americans name their village after this person?

20. Define “Campus Martius” in 1788.

21. What was the first county to be formed in what is now Ohio (July 26, 1788)?

22. Who was the leader of 288 Revolutionary War officers who signed the “Newburgh Petition” in 1783? This “Petition” outlined a plan for settling the Ohio Country with Revolutionary veterans. He led the advance party to Marietta and helped lay out the village of Marietta.

23. Whose home is included in the Campus Martius Museum at Marietta, Ohio?

24. Define the Via Sacra at Marietta.

25. It was suggested in 1802 that an institution of higher learning be established in Ohio Country. The name “American Western University” evolved into what?

26. What famous American helped deprive Aaron Burr of the United States Presidency through his influence throughout the 36 ballots in the House of Representatives to solve the tie in the Election of 1800?

27. What real estate was Aaron Burr and his recruited army seeking to detach and make part of his personal empire?

28. Where exactly is Blennerhassett Island located?

29. What was strange about the marriage of Harman and Margaret Blennerhassett?

30. On whose tombstone is the following line? “Strangers, pass not by without dropping a tear.”

31. What happened to the white porticoed mansion sitting on the 550-acre Blennerhassett Island in 1811?

32. What is the origin of the term “Underground Railroad?”

33. What was your favorite part of the Travel Professor's History Mystery trip?

Extra Credit: Purely Voluntary!
Below is an extra credit question dealing with the study content of this field trip. Using your knowledge or luck, you may gain “bonus points past 99” if you can answer my question correctly. Should you guess and be in error, you will not be penalized.

What part of Ohio’s tradition and heritage was Colonel Ebenezer Sproat responsible for on September 2, 1788, in Marietta, Ohio, at the first session of court ever held in the Northwest Territory?


Day 2 of our Oct 26th & 27th history mystery trip

Before we set out on today’s tours let’s have a little history lesson, in 1788, pioneers of the Ohio Company made Marietta the first permanent settlement in the Northwest Territory and soon a bustling community grew along banks of the rivers. As commerce flowed the town expanded, people flocked into the countryside and the Northwest Territory soon became the states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin and part of Minnesota.

Bright and early on this crisp autumn Saturday morning a very well informed local tour guide stepped on our coached and informed us on the city’s rich and colorful history and heritage as toured around town.

Our 1st stop was a visit to the “Castle” one of the best executed examples of Gothic Revival style architecture in Ohio. With its octagonal tower, trefoil attic window, and stone capped spires on the outside and with interior architectural details include a scagliola fireplace surround, coodge papier-mâché moldings, and floor to ceiling shutters on the parlor's bay window it was a home to behold. The house, once the home of Ohio Senator Theodore Davis, is furnished with items of historical significance to the area, as well as those typical of the Victorian Era.

Nearly midday it’s time for lunch and/or shopping in the downtown historic districts. There are plenty of options to search out but most of the group headed to the Marietta Brewing Company for oversized sandwiches and hand-crafted birch beer. The Raspberry Wheat along with the Scotch Ale were tasty too!

Our afternoon stops Campus Martius Museum and the Ohio River Museum deal with much of the early history and eventual development of the region. Both of these venues offer excellent interpretations of our past with dramatic displays and unbelievably authentic artifacts and displays. These two sites are only a few blocks apart so it’s easy to walk between both museums and the downtown is only a few minutes drive away. Let’s start our afternoon at the Campus Martius Museum. It highlights migration in Ohio's history and is located on the site of the first organized American settlement in the Northwest Territory. Founded by the Ohio Company of Associates in 1788, Campus Martius was a fort that served as home for some of the pioneers while they established Marietta. The restored Rufus Putnam house, part of the original fort, is now enclosed within a wing of the museum. Behind the museum is the Ohio Company's Land Office. History and artifacts are everywhere here.

After an hour or so here, head down the gentle sloping sidewalks towards the Muskingum River and in a few minutes you’ll approach The Ohio River Museum. This attraction consists of three exhibit buildings, the first of which houses displays depicting the origins and natural history of the Ohio River. The golden age of the steamboat is featured in the second building, along with a video presentation on river steamboats. The last building explores the enduring relationship between man and the river. Boat building is also featured. Outside the museum, on the Muskingum River, visitors can take an escorted tour of the W. P. SNYDER JR. -- the last intact steam-powered, stern-wheeled towboat in the United States. The TELL CITY pilothouse and a full-scale reproduction of a flatboat complete the outside exhibits.

You can learn more about Marietta this region by calling the Marietta/Washington County Visitors Bureau at 1.800.288.2577 or visiting them online at Happy travels!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

The end of day 1 on our history mystery tour

Once again it’s time to board the coach for our short journey through Williamstown WV then on to Marietta, OH. It’s my hope that the hotel has already assigned my groups rooms and that they have their keys waiting. Upon arrival our driver pulls into the unloading zone, my assistant heads straight to the registration desk and thankfully the hotel has honored my request. By the time that our luggage is unloaded I distributed all of the keys and the group has a couple hours of free time to settle in before tonight’s functions.

We’re staying at one of the last riverboat-era hotels, the Lafayette which opened on July 1, 1918, and was named in honor of the Marquis de Lafayette, who visited the city in 1825. With its distinctive triangular shape, the hotel offers guest rooms with views of either the Ohio or Muskingum Rivers, whose legendary flooding a half-century ago is indicated on plaques placed on the exterior of the building at the intersection of First and Pine Street.

The dining room features a fine collection of long rifles, including one made by J. J. Henry that accompanied the Benedict Arnold expedition to Quebec in 1775. An 11-foot pilot wheel from the steamboat J. D. Ayres is featured the lobby. For some great views of the river have lunch or dinner in the quaint relaxed atmosphere of the Riverview Lounge. For more information on the Lafayette's rich history, click here.

We reassemble in the lobby ready for dinner at the Betsey Mills Club followed with a “history alive” show. The club was founded in 1911 under the name The Girls’ Monday Club. The Monday Club was the result of a sewing class started in 1898 in Marietta by Mrs. Betsey Mills and other community minded women. The first permanent home of the Monday Club was the white frame house on the corner of Fourth and Putnam Streets.

The home was donated by Mr. and Mrs. William Mills in 1916. The home became the nucleus of the present complex constructed by Mr. Mills as a memorial to his wife. The Betsey Mills as you see it today was dedicated on June 13, 1927 and donated by Mr. Mills to the community of Marietta.

After supper history is brought to life by Ms. Patty Cooper as she portrays frontier scout “Mad” Anne Bailey, 1742?-1825. In the late 1700s Anne Bailey served in the Great Kanawha Valley as a buckskin-clad frontierswoman who could handle a horse, hatchet, and long rifle as well as any man. When her husband was killed in the battle of Point Pleasant in 1774 she was compelled to avenge his death and embarked on a new life as border scout and messenger. The 1861 poem “Anne Bailey’s Ride” commemorates her heroic 1791 ride alone through over 100 miles of mostly wilderness when Fort Lee (Charleston) was threatened with attack to Fort Savannah (Lewisburg) and her return with desperately needed gunpowder.

Having put in a full day packed for fun, travel and learning we head back to the Lafayette and the class is dismissed. A few hearty souls head out for the nightlife of Marietta but most retire to their rooms to reflect on today’s activities and recharge for tomorrow.

We still have day 2 of our history mystery trip so check back soon.

Friday, November 2, 2007

History Mystery tour stop 3

It’s back on the coach for a short journey through Parkersburg over to our next tour stop, Henderson Hall. Our bus is met by Michael Rolston, whose mother was a Henderson, who inherited the estate in 1984. At that time, Rolston left New York City and his career as a graphic designer to devote himself full time to the care and preservation of the property. By 1988, he had the 65-acre site surrounding the home declared a National Historic District.

The mansion is still occupied by descendants of the original family and retains all of its contents. The rare clocks, rosewood piano, silver and china, twelve-foot gilt mirror and other unique pieces are not antiques; they are the daily furnishings of successive residents. The three-story 8,000 square foot Italianate mansion with an intriguing silhouette was a center of social and political life for nearly two centuries. An original Federal portion was built overlooking the Ohio River in 1836; the mansion was added just before the Civil War for a total of twenty-nine rooms. Fortunately for us, the Henderson’s kept everything from dresses and portraits to correspondence from everyone they knew and they knew everyone important at the time. Virginia natives the Henderson’s were close friends of George Washington and many other Founding Fathers.

One of the few major changes was the addition of electricity early in 20th century however the home still retains the charm and eloquence of the Victorian period and is a must see for the lovers of early Americana.

We spent about 90 minutes here being escorted by Michael who did a splendid job of interpreted the items and artifacts in all rooms. An added treat was Mr. Rolston playing a few pieces on a 19th century organ. We would have spent much more here but our schedule prevented it so if you visit budget at least 2 to 3 hours.

Tours are by appointment and you can contact 304.375.2129 for reservations. For more information about Henderson Hall click here
Henderson Hall.

The adventure continues as it is back on the bus for the short ride over to Marietta and check in time at our hotel.

There plenty more to follow about this evening’s and tomorrows activities so check back often.

History Mystery trip stop 2

Once the boat is docked we proceed up the ramp to a waiting lunch of fried chicken, coleslaw, beans and cornbread along with all of the trimmings. “It’s the best chicken I’ve ever had” is the comment made by most of the diners.

Refreshed and ready to continue it’s a 3 to 5 minute walk up a graveled path to the Blennerhassett Mansion. Here we are met by tour guides dressed in period attire who escort us through the home as they interpret the rooms and décor.

Harman and Margaret Blennerhassett, exiled Anglo-Irish aristocrats, came to North America in 1796 and to the Island two years later. When they completed their home in 1800, it was considered the most beautiful private residence west of the Alleghenies. The mansion was constructed in the Palladian style of architecture which was popular in Europe and America during the 18th century. Another famous Palladian home is George Washington’s Mount Vernon.

This is also the site of where Aaron Burr and Harman Blennerhassett plotted to establish a southwest empire in what is Texas today. A frequent special event is the Mansion by Candlelight tour conducted each October. The mansion is open May-October, closed Mondays while the museum is open all year around with the exception of being closed on Mondays.
Other features out here on the island are narrated wagon rides, hiking trails and picnic facilities, a gift and concession shop. For more information visit or call 304.420.4800/1.800.CALL.WVA for hours, days and ticket prices.

Plan on spending at least 2 to 3 hours exploring the mansion and the grounds before heading back to the mainland.

Next stop for us is Henderson Hall, a lovely Victorian plantation house dating to the mid 1830’s. It’s located on the outskirts of Williamstown, WV a short ride however due to space restrictions I’ll have to share our explorations and discoveries with you all next week.

Do you have a burning travel question? Need help on developing a perfect trip itinerary? Then feel free to contact the Travel Professor and I will search out the answers just for you!