Peruvian Treasure

THANKS FOR your article on Arequipa, Peru ["In Peru, Who Knew? Dec. 22]. I went there in a student exchange program many years ago, staying with a Peruvian family and attending the National University of San Augustine there. It was a beautiful city then, and though my original stay was to be three months, I stayed for nine!

I wonder if they still have the quaint trolley cars they had then, reminiscent of those in San Francisco. When I was there, I tasted some of the best chocolates I've ever had. I believe they were made by Italian immigrants. And dressmakers could be found who would make you a beautiful alpaca mix suit for so little.

I have thought many times about going back and you have provided me all the info I need to do so.

Carol Fletez

Columbia

To Lock or Not to Lock

IN REGARD to your recent report on locking checked bags [Coming and Going, Dec. 22], assuming the Transportation Security Administration has everything under control and all U.S. baggage handling facilities and baggage handlers are absolutely honest, what guarantees does the agency give for what happens to my luggage outside of the United States? I've been to countries where one is grateful that the luggage shows up. There are places where the luggage will be "lost" in order to cover up the fact that it's been slashed. Granted, locking one's luggage guarantees nothing, but, as with all theft prevention devices, it does act as a deterrent.

Sending out millions of pieces of unlocked luggage from the world's richest country is a most tempting invitation to anyone who wants to partake in a global smorgasbord. I'd rather spend whatever time it takes to stand by my luggage while it's inspected and to then relock it before it's loaded aboard.

Howard Kaplan

Chevy Chase

IF ONE locks one's bags with plastic cables, what will one use to cut the cables upon arrival?

Elizabeth Ewing Stanford

Arlington

Scissors. According to the Transportation Security Administration, they may now be packed in carry-on luggage, as long as they are blunt-tipped.

Cruise to Nowhere

CAN YOU tell us what happened to cancel the Dec. 24 sailing of the new Coral Princess 12 days before the scheduled sailing date out of Fort Lauderdale? At noon, Dec. 12, our travel agent called to say Princess Cruises had just notified her the ship wouldn't sail. One would think any wide-awake cruise company would know a new ocean liner wasn't good to go far ahead of a l2-day time frame.

One would also think an etiquette-aware company might murmur such words, or send a little note saying "We're sorry." Our memories of the 12 Days of Christmas for 2002 won't be about maids a-milking or lords a-leaping. Instead it will be, well . . . "Ship happens."

Ray Milz

Salem, Va.

According to Tori Benson, a spokeswoman for Princess Cruises, delivery of the Coral Princess was delayed due to last-minute construction difficulties. "Despite everyone's best efforts, it didn't quite make it," she said. "It left the shipyard in France at 3 p.m. Christmas Eve." Benson said travel agents were given a full explanation and that passengers on the affected sailing received full refunds, as well as "a fairly generous credit" toward a future cruise.

Night Train, Cont'd

YOUR STORY on European rail ["Night Train From Hell," Dec. 8] offered a microcosm of the world where Americans, as usual, don't fit in. But for those of us who are brave and romantic, traveling by train in Europe is truly a wonderful experience and the best way to see the Continent.True, it can sometimes be cramped and crowded unless you're in first class, but you meet the real people, and can hop on and off and see picturesque little towns on the way (provided you are traveling light).

My travels on European trains have been truly rewarding and I recommend it to anyone who wants to experience how the rest of the world travels.

Alakananda Bagchi

Great Falls

I SIMPLY must vent my spleen over Karin Krchnak's letter regarding the "Night Train From Hell" [Message Center, Dec. 15]. I still remember the first time I spent a night in a six-berth couchette in Europe in 1969.

What I remember most clearly from that trip is the train-sick child of about 5 or 6 whose mother had to hustle him out of an upper berth at least three times during the night. After several more attempts at overnight train trips I gave up because I realized that I am unable to sleep on a train.

But I found neither those sleepless nights nor the night that I spent with that ill child as unpleasant as I found Krchnak's arrogant, holier-than-thou comments.

Ellen Rossman

Washington

YOUR STORY sent me to my 1984 diary, written after a 12-hour night trip from Luxor to Cairo, Egypt, in a private compartment:

"Trying to sleep was like trying to sleep in a cement mixer or on a jackhammer. Back and forth, up and down, side to side with appropriate thumps, bangs, clangs and clatters. Just when a certain rhythm emerged, everything would buck as if the cars were being uncoupled. After the wake-up call at 5:30 a.m. (I didn't need it!), it felt as if there was no track at all."

Mary A. Kelly

Fairfax

Cruise Ship Viruses

MY THEORY about the cause of multiple virus cases on cruise ships is that the germs are being passed by hand via the utensils used at buffet tables on ships ["The Bug Boat," Dec. 15]. I contend that those who eat only in the dining rooms where the food is served by dining room employees will be less likely to get a shipboard virus.

Ed T. Barron

Washington

Touring With Lance

IT WAS with great interest that I read Nicole Miller's article on the Tour de France ["Lance, France and You," Nov. 3]. While I realize the listings in the Details sidebar were not exhaustive, I was surprised the tour operator Discover France was not mentioned. Discover France offers an innovative cycling program in tandem with the Tour de France where participants cycle segments of the official route in the morning a few hours before the real riders do. Afternoons include sightseeing and watching the racing. For more information: 800-960-2221, www.discoverfrance.com.

Stephanie Jukes Amer

Brooklyn

Write us: The Washington Post Travel section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071; via fax, 202-912-3609; or e-mail, travel@ washpost.com. Include your name and daytime telephone number. Letters are edited for length and clarity.