HAVING BOOKED a millennium cruise with Renaissance, we were delighted to read Carolyn Spencer Brown's report ["Renaissance, Breaking Waves," Sept. 12].
One item she did not address was Renaissance's off-the-wall tipping policy. Its brochure states that guests "usually" (based on two sailings?) tip $15 per person per night for the dining room staff. This seems like highway robbery. Renaissance boasts about its affiliation with American Express, but the American Express guidelines for cruise tipping suggest $3 per person per night for the main water, $1.75 for the assistant. This is a far cry from $30 per couple per night.
Donald H. Crosby
Carolyn Spencer Brown reports that, after a lot of negative feedback about its higher-than-norm tipping recommendation, Renaissance has backed down from its $20-per-person, per-day guideline. Currently, posted guidelines on board its R class ships recommend $9 per day for wait staff and $4 per day for cabin stewards, which is in line with other cruise companies. A cruise line representative stresses that these are simply guidelines.
WORLD AIRWAYS, which might be called Washington's hometown international airline, has just begun to serve Renaissance cruises, with dedicated flights between JFK and Athens and Istanbul. We offer a business class cabin and, in economy, a 34- and 35-inch seat pitch--better than essentially all domestic airline flights, and comparable or better than the seating on international scheduled service flights.
William R. Lange
Vice President, World Airways
Touring Palm Springs
WE THOROUGHLY enjoyed Craig Stoltz's article on Palm Springs ["Livin' Low in Palm Springs," Sept. 12]. The only thing missing was the tours given by Desert Safari, with a spectacular view of the desert.
SAW THE article on Milwaukee ["Beer, Hogs and Giant Duck," Aug. 29], and wanted to add a few notes for anyone who might venture there. If you're looking for an excuse to go, attend the Milwaukee Summerfest (next year, June 29-July 9). What a wonderful excuse to sit by the lake and relax! Skip the hotel's breakfast buffet and head instead to Benji's Deli and Restaurant in Shorewood. Order the Hoppel Poppel and a bagel and enjoy!
YOU NEGLECTED to mention the city's uncrowded and pleasant waterfront. Also, one can rediscover the joys of civilized airplane travel by using Midwest Airlines, the best little airline in the U.S.A.
"PITTSBURGH Wheelers" [Aug. 29) was an excellent outline of efforts to create a bike trail from that city to Washington, but it omitted the fact that long stretches of the new trail (and connecting C&O Canal trail) are within sight of the route of Amtrak's Capitol Limited. Ideally, one could take a bike out on the train and ride back on the trails (or vice versa).
Unfortunately, this train allows bikes to be carried only in the baggage car, and then partly disassembled and boxed. Since no Amtrak stop between Washington and Pittsburgh offers checked baggage service, the Capitol Limited is essentially useless for bicyclists.
It doesn't have to be this way. In 1997, Amtrak installed bike racks on another train, the Cardinal. The Capitol Limited uses the same type of bi-level equipment, yet Amtrak has taken no action to spread this easy retrofit.
of Railroad Passengers
ALTHOUGH THERE is a nice treatment of Pennsylvania's dreams and accomplishments for a connected network of bike paths, this treatment stops at the Maryland border. There the delightful descriptions trail off. Please give the dedicated efforts by professionals and volunteers who have spent hours restoring the C&O towpath a mention.
Last Word on Iceland
THANK YOU for Carol Vinzant's article on a weekend in Iceland ["Fire and Nice," Aug. 8). I was trying to come up with a different kind of trip for me and my 12-year-old daughter. I read Vinzant's article on Sunday, and on Friday we were on our way to Iceland. The country was beautiful and the people couldn't have been nicer. If you fly Icelandair to Europe you can "take a break in Iceland" at no additional cost. I am recommending a weekend in Iceland to all my friends!
Laura St. Claire
TWO COMMENTS on the Aug. 22 Travel section:
* As to Mike Tidwell's overwritten piece on hitchhiking through Cajun country by shrimp boat, a sort of "Lord Jim Etouffee" . . . who cares?
* On the other hand, John Burgess's account of a day's walk in the country near London offers an enjoyable and realistic possibility.
Glenn P. Tucker
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