Other Cruise Views
Unlike letter-writer Muriel Greene (Feb. 3), we four readers join Slater and Basch's Cruise Views column of Dec. 30 in sounding the trumpet loud and clear in praise of Royal Caribbean Cruise Line. Greene, who took a November cruise on the Sun Viking, charged "disintegration in courtesy, service and food." We took a December cruise on Song of America, and our experience was quite the opposite--fine food and excellent service, as good as anything we have encountered in some of Europe's best hotels. Ship's personnel, in a crew representing 46 nationalities but all speaking English, were invariably courteous, friendly and helpful.
Many of the passengers were repeaters, including ex-President Jimmy Carter and family and two of our own party.
CECIL and LIESEL EPRILE
JACK and BINNIE NEUER
West Africa Warnings
Travel to and within West Africa is incredibly difficult. For example, visas to Ivory Coast read "3 months," but buried in the often illegible visa stamping are the fatal words, "Single Entry." Leaving Abidjan for a side trip to Mali, we were seized by Abidjan Airport Security as illegals on our return. For the better part of three days we were subjected to the Surete Nationale, and were only able to return to our home base in Abidjan with the help of the U.S. Embassy. In the meantime, we were faced with forced departure by the next flight out--to anywhere, to make our way back to Los Angeles as best we could, at whatever expense and inconvenience.
Mali, which has a similar single-entry requirement, was more cooperative, but its seven-day visa allowance, and the incredibly uncertain transportation, can find you, as it did us, stuck in Mali with an expired visa. Anyone going to West Africa should secure a multiple-entry visa. There will be an extra cost, but well worth it. And apply for a renewal of a short-term visa no later than your second day there, to allow for the renewal paper work.
Mali also requires a Tourist Permit and a Photo Permit, even for amateurs, at the risk of jail.
The article by Helen Keleman (Feb. 10) brought back happy memories of my own trip to Paris last September. I had many bonne chance meetings, from the lady who happened to notice my aimless wanderings around the Gare du Nord and told me how to obtain a Metro ticket, to the gentleman who helped get me oriented from the Place de la Concorde, to the wonderful Parisians on the train from Brussels who taught me some of their beautiful language to help me get along in their city.
I, too, had heard of the anti-Americanism rampant in Paris. But after my visit there I can state that the Parisians have been unjustly maligned. No one there was rude or unkind, not one person mocked my bad French or ignored my English. I was not once looked down upon or laughed at. The people of Paris made my stay there one of the highlights of my European vacation.
Spellings in India
I think Sharon Dirlan came a cropper with her Feb. 10 New Delhi story. In fact, it's such a non-story about one of the world's most fascinating cities that I got the impression she saw it only from a fast-moving bus. She does say she stayed at the "Ashok" Hotel. When I was there it was named the Ashoka, and I don't believe that the name, much revered in India, has been shortened. Apparently, Dirlan wasn't in it long enough to know its correct name. Good thing she had those pictures to pad that story, as they were the only things that told anything.
Note: Speaking of spellings, the writer's name is Dirlam. Guidebooks spell the hotel name both ways, and so does literature from India tourist offices. Cambria B&B;
In regard to Barbara Figelski's Feb. 3 letter about the Pickford House: We take pride in keeping high standards and to date have an excellent reputation. It is not our policy to hustle any of our patrons. If they ask to see other rooms and feel disappointed because they paid for a more expensive room (and stop payment on their check when they return home), that is their option. As for poor lighting, we have extra bedside lamps for those who request them, which Mrs. Figelski did and received.
The owner of the Pickford House does not live in Los Angeles, and in fact had a very nice time at breakfast with Mrs. Figelski here.