Arthur Frommer

Arthur Frommer

Travel to Cuba is affordable to independent tourists

Several months ago, when Carnival Cruises announced that it would soon begin offering cruises to Cuba, it did so in the strangest way. Instead of promising a standard cruise program, one that would visit several Cuban ports and allow passengers to tour the highlights of those locations, it characterized its program (perhaps inadvertently) as consisting of one long volunteer vacation. On arriving in Cuba, passengers presumably would engage in work activities of benefit to indigent Cubans, performing unskilled labor in several Cuban industries or activities.

Arthur Frommer

Recent developments, good and bad, affect the world of travel

In travel news of some importance, a fair number of travel commentators have recently discovered that both domestic and international airfares, economy class, are now running from 12 percent to 20 percent below the levels of last year. The decline is undoubtedly due to the sharply reduced price of aviation fuel, though some of it also reflects a slight drop in the number of Americans traveling to Europe. While fares are supposed to recover next year, the price of air transportation currently has lowered the cost of vacations. Let’s hope that oil remains below $40 a barrel.

Arthur Frommer

With Americans caught up in the presidential race, travel may be somewhat reduced, creating unexpected opportunities

To the U.S. travel industry, now is the “election year curse” – a time when both domestic and international travel slow perceptibly. And this year, that sluggish trend apparently has been made worse by the terrorist attacks in Paris in November 2015 and the terrorist attacks in Brussels in early March 2016. Though it’s too early to make a firm prediction, it’s possible that trans-Atlantic travel may decrease by 5 percent this year, and domestic travel by almost as much.

Arthur Frommer

Cheap times for Europe, best times for Washington, D.C.

I’m sad to report that there no longer seems to be any doubt that travel to Europe has been hurt by the terror attacks in Paris and Brussels. Trans-Atlantic trips from the U.S. currently are down by about 5 percent, and though the biggest drop has been to Belgium, most other popular destinations also have been affected. The result of that fall-off? It appears that some persistent folks are finding bargain-priced flights to Europe when they consult the Internet; one traveler I know was astonished to secure a $700 round-trip ticket between New York and London on a major carrier in the peak month of May.

Arthur Frommer

A drop in foreign currencies has created, new cheap destinations

Among the major recent events in travel, illustrating a larger trend, has been the continued sharp decline in the value of the Russian ruble. Two years ago, that currency enjoyed an exchange rate of 33 to the U.S. dollar, and then plunged last year to a level of 65 to the dollar, which most observers felt to be its bottom value. Lo and behold, the ruble has now plunged again, to about 80 to the dollar, and consequently, the cost of a stay in Russia for the American tourist has become quite low. All this has occurred, of course, because the Russian economy – almost totally dependent on the sale of oil, has been battered by the current price of oil averaging $30 a barrel. If you have ever felt curious about life in Moscow and St. Petersburg, you now have the best-ever conditions for a stay there.

Arthur Frommer

Miami and Miami Beach are still on the rise for tourists

Few American cities are enjoying greater and more continuous growth than Miami and Miami Beach, Florida. In a recent column, I expressed my own surprise at the enormous expansion of cultural activities, the new museums and art galleries, the constant opening of new and superb ethnic restaurants, the building of more and more hotels and condos, that I witnessed on a recent stay.

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