What To Expect From Cruising in 2018


(posted on Travel Agent Site)

Faster, more innovative technology, meaningful connections and a boom in luxury expedition cruising are on the horizon for 2018 in Cruise Planners’ annual list of predictions for cruise travel.

“Change is an exciting part of the travel industry,” said Vicky Garcia, COO and co-owner of Cruise Planners, in a written release. “Things that were once considered innovations are now expectations. The level of technology, luxury accommodations or custom travel experiences that travelers expect are high. Travel agents continue to be the essential part of delivering these experiences to travelers.”

Knowing consumer demands are evolving, here are Cruise Planners’ 2018 travel trend predictions directly from the home-based travel agency:

1. Luxury Expeditions – Getting down and dirty doesn’t always appeal to explorers, but stately accommodations and champagne toasts in exotic locations just might. Expedition cruising is taking travelers to the far corners of the earth on small-ship cruises with modern amenities, delicious cuisine and authentic experiences in a style explorers from days of old could not even fathom.

The Scenic Eclipse, Scenic Cruises’ new 6-star luxury discovery yacht launches in 2018 and is equipped with a helicopter and submarine. Hurtigruten is expanding its fleet, starting with the MS Roald Amundsen, and making sailing Antarctica and the Arctic more immersive and environmentally sustainable.

Private yacht charters are gaining popularity with intimate experiences and stellar service as guests travel to hard-to-reach destinations. For guests not looking to charter a ship, small ships such as the Crystal Esprit offer the exclusivity of yachting with only 62 passengers.

2. BIG Little Extras – Travel agents are curating meaningful moments for their clients that surprise and delight. From booking a photographer to capture a proposal in front of the Eiffel Tower to arranging a scenic helicopter transfer to a five-star hotel, travel agents are making dreams come true that travelers didn’t even know they had.

Travel agents are upping the wow factor of the world’s most iconic museums and monuments by scheduling early admittances or private evenings for guests. Cruise lines and tour operators are partnering with cultural hot spots to provide the exclusive tours and experiences that money simply can’t buy, either before the crowds arrive or after the sun goes down.

3. Skip-Gens – “Skip-Gen” travel are vacations where grandparents take the grandkids on a special adventure, leaving the parents behind to enjoy their own time off. Vacations are the perfect time to make lasting memories while taking the time to learn from each other.

Grandparents might figure out how to take the perfect selfie while grandkids hear about life *gasp!* before cell phones.

4. Experiences of a Lifetime – Whether it only happens once or only happens once a year, travel agents are sending their clients to events offering a once-in-a-lifetime experience that also give their clients serious bragging rights when they return back home. Travelers are already planning trips for 2020’s Tokyo Olympic Games and the Oberammergau Passion Play in Germany. Annual celebrations such as Germany’s beer festival, Oktoberfest, or India’s color festival, Holi, take cultural immersion to a new level for travelers looking to not only see a destination, but experience it at its height of celebration.

5. Room for One, Please – Traveling solo doesn’t have to mean traveling alone as cruise lines and tour operators make it easier and more comforting for those looking to explore the world with like-minded travelers. For retirees, Millennials and everyone in between, solo travel could be as complex as wanting to find oneself or as simple as being the only family member on the trip not sharing a room with a significant other.

Cruise lines such as Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean International and Holland America Line feature single cabins on select ships while other cruise lines, including AmaWaterways, offer waived single-supplement fees on select sailings so solo travelers only pay one cruise fare. Tour operators, including Contiki, offer roommate-matching programs where solo travelers are assigned a roommate of the same sex.

6. Intuitive Tech – Technology is elevating the entire travel process, starting with trip planning. Virtual reality is giving travelers a 360-degree peek at what their destination may be like while Cruise Planners’ exclusive Alexa Skills are keeping travelers connected to their travel agents hands-free. Smart technology on board continues to innovate, most notably with Princess Cruises’ Ocean Medallions which will be available on their entire fleet by the end of 2019.

7. River Cruising for All – Just as ocean cruising has seen major shifts over the past two decades, river cruising is coming out of its shell, diversifying its offerings and targeting more than just Baby Boomers.

U by Uniworld is designed exclusively for travelers aged 21-45, offering the allure of backpacking through Europe, but without the backpacking, hostel stays or uncertainty. Families are finding river cruising to be an appealing multi-generational trip with children’s programming including AmaWaterways’s Adventures by Disney sailings and Tauck Bridges itineraries.

The variety of on-shore experiences are expanding with more active excursions, such as the Avalon Active Discovery itineraries and more culturally immersive opportunities such as cooking in a local’s home.



Myrtle Beach Top Goggle Search

by Soo Kim, The Telegraph, December 15, 2017

Despite a year of falling visitor numbers following the election of president Donald Trump, one tiny patch of US soil has yet to lose its tourist appeal, according to Google.

The search engine this week unveiled its annual ranking of the most searched-for destinations. Las Vegas took the top spot, followed by Barcelona – so far, so unsurprising. But third placed might come as a shock – to British observers, at least.

At a glance | Google’s top 10 most searched destinations in 2017

South Carolina’s Myrtle Beach, the search engine reports, is more in demand than Paris, London, Venice and New York, to name a few, despite being a sleepy seaside town with just 30,000 residents.

That’s because, despite its diminuitive size, it attracts around 15 million visitors a year (nearly double the number that Rome, Amsterdam, Barcelona and Tokyo receive, according to the Global Destinations City Index). But we’d wager plenty of Britons have never heard of it. Indeed, most of those Google searches came from the US, and only 100,000 of its annual visitors are from overseas.

So allow us to explain the appeals of this well-kept secret.

1. The beaches are incredible

The clue’s in the name but Myrtle Beach overlooks 60 miles of pristine sand. It also basks in around 2,800 hours of sun a year (one of Britain’s sunniest spots, Sussex, gets just 1,750). Temperatures peak at an average of 28C in July, while they hover between 14C and 16C during its short and mild winters.

2. It’s got class

Bikini thongs, and other swimming gear showing any part of the buttocks, are banned in all public areas of Myrtle Beach, including beaches. This “thong ordinance” has been in effect since the Nineties.

3. You can bag a bargain

Myrtle Beach is less crowded and more affordable than some of the more well-known seaside spots along the east coast, from Miami and Fort Lauderdale in the south to further north in New York, where there’s the celebrity haven of The Hamptons.

4. It’s easy to reach

Myrtle Beach has its own international airport, with flights to New York, Boston, Atlanta, Washington DC, Dallas, Chicago and Toronto, among others.

5. Seafood fans will love it

Known as the state’s seafood capital, Myrtle Beach offers an array of places offering the freshest seafood, from beach shacks to fine dining. Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen, run by American TV chef, is the top related search topic in Myrtle Beach, according to Google.

At a glance | Google’s top 10 most searched activities in 2017

6. So too will golfers

The town is a golfer’s paradise, with a remarkable 100 championship golf courses within reach, designed by a host of famed golf course ‘starchitects’, including Arnold Palmer, Greg Norman and Robert Trent Jones.

7. There are amusements galore

In a similar vein to Brighton in the UK, and New York’s Coney Island, Myrtle Beach is home to various fairground attractions including the SkyWheel, towering 200 feet over the Myrtle Beach boardwalk, and the Family Kingdom amusement park, which boast 38 thrilling rides.

8. And plenty for lovers of culture

Myrtle Beach’s cultural calendar offers a year-round schedule of activities, from arts and craft expos, including 600 fine art events, to light installations, candle-lit gardens and a Great Christmas Light Show. The annual display features more than two million lights along a 1.5-mile drive through the North Myrtle Beach Park & Sports Complex.

The town is also home to a number of historical museums and art galleries, including beautifully landscaped gardens such as the Brookgreen Gardens which showcase more than 900 works from 300 of America’s greatest sculpture artists.

Spring Time River Trips

. Monet in Paris


Monet a spring cruise on the Seine until early June (summer starts officially on June 21) and with luck the water lilies immortalised by Claude Monet will be in flower. His Giverny gardens are not to be missed; trips to Honfleur and Auvers-sur-Oise, where Van Gogh died, reveal more about the impressionists.

Avalon (0800 668 1843; avaloncruises.co.uk) offers an eight-day Paris to Normandy cruise round-trip from £2,539 per person full board including flights, drinks with meals, most tours and tips. Departs June 9.

2. Music on the Danube

Spring is perfect for a river cruise to Budapest, as the city’s museums, concert halls and streets come alive with music, art, dance and opera to celebrate the largest cultural festival in Hungary (March 30 to April 22 in 2018). Music lovers will delight in Mozart and Strauss concerts in Vienna, and seeing Mozart’s childhood violin and his music manuscripts in the Salzburg house, now a museum, where he was born.

Uniworld (0808 281 1125; uniworld.com) offers a 10-day Enchanting Danube and Munich cruise-and-stay pairing two nights in Munich with a cruise from Passau to Budapest from £2,429 per person full-board including drinks, tours and tips. Flights cost extra. Departs March 30.

3. Wellness break at sea

March is not only a good time to spring-clean the house, but also to get the body back in shape after a winter of festive excess. Land-based gyms are costly and boring. Keep fit on one of AmaWaterways’ new wellness river cruises, however, and you’ll not just save your pennies, but be jogging, stretching and cycling to a different backdrop every day.

AmaWaterways (0800 320 2335; amawaterways.co.uk) offers a seven-night Taste of Bordeaux cruise round-trip from Bordeaux from £2,111 per person full board including twice-daily fitness classes, drinks with meals and tours. Flights extra. Departs March 29.

4. Gardens in Holland

In Holland, seven million tulip bulbs are planted each year in Keukenhof gardens, creating wonderful displays. If you’re quick enough to secure a cabin on Telegraph ToursHolland in Bloom cruise, you can enjoy them in the company of gardening expert and TV presenter Carol Klein. She will also be offering tips and talks during the cruise, while The Telegraph’s gardening writer Helen Yemm is hosting a live version of her Thorny Problems advice column.

Emerald Waterways (03331 227 907; telegraph.co.uk/travel/tours) offers an eight-day Holland in Bloom cruise, with Carol Klein, round-trip from Amsterdam from £1,695 per person full board, including flights, drinks with meals, tours and tips. Departs April 12.

5. Castles on the Rhine

There will most likely be a winter chill in the air on the Rhine in April, but don’t be put off. Spring is a busy time on the river as cruisers rush to beat high summer prices, trees begin to blossom and the café culture in Holland, Germany and France kicks in. Scenic’s Rhine cruises visit all three countries: sail through the castle-strewn Rhine Gorge and end your cruise in Switzerland.

Scenic (0808 120 9126; scenic.co.uk ) offers an eight-day Rhine Highlights cruise from Basel to Amsterdam from £2,770 per person including flights, all meals, drinks, tours and tips. Departs April 23.

10 fairy-tale castles you must visit in your lifetime

6. Wildlife in Myanmar

Swap a chilly European spring for the warmth of Asia on a Pandaw cruise around the Irrawaddy Delta in Myanmar. This is a true adventure, visiting towns, markets, temples, churches and mosques where Westerners are a rarity, and also a wildlife reserve where saltwater crocodiles lurk. Sign up quick as there are only two departures in 2018, both in March, on a vessel that holds just 32 passengers.

Pandaw (0208 326 5620; pandaw.co.uk) offers a seven-night Great Irrawaddy Delta cruise round-trip from Yangon from $2,117 (£1,575) per person full-board including drinks, tours and tips. Flights extra. Departs March 18.

7. Cherry blossom in Berlin

Cruising the Elbe in spring is not just a good excuse for seeing cherry blossom in Berlin but also a fairly sure way of avoiding the low water that plagues the river most summers – and which, incidentally, means few cruise lines dare to sail here, so capacity is very limited. Among rewards for booking fast are visits to Wittenberg, the birthplace of Protestantism; Meissen, famed for its porcelain; and the beautiful city of Dresden.

CroisiEurope (020 8328 1281; croisieurope.co.uk ) offers a nine-day cruise from Berlin to Prague from £1,794 per person full- board including drinks. Flights extra. Departs April 4.

Europe’s most beautiful rivers

8. Easter on the Mississippi

Easter in the US means colourful parades, eggs and bunnies, so you’ll feel at home celebrating on a Mississippi river cruise, but be aware that the holiday weekend is a favourite for Americans, so the boats fill fast. When not painting eggs, there are antebellum mansions to explore and civil war battlefields to discover on this cruise on American Duchess.

American Queen Steamboat Company (01223 568904; l ightbluetravel.co.uk) offers a nine-day Springtime in the South/Easter cruise from New Orleans to Memphis from £3,025 per person full-board including flights, a pre-cruise hotel night, drinks with dinner and hop-on, hop-off bus tours. Departs March 25.

9. Fruit trees in Portugal

June, July and August in the Douro Valley are dubbed three months of hell by the locals, so most people beat the summer heat by cruising there in spring instead. It’s a lovely time of year, with peach and orange trees starting to blossom and the tiny grapes used to make the region’s famed port wine peeking through the verdant vines that cloak the steep river banks.

Shearings (0344 874 8220; shearings.co.uk ) offers a seven-day Porto and the Douro Valley cruise round-trip from Porto from £1,256 per person full board including flights. Departs April 14.

10. Art tour in Belgium and Holland

Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum receives around 1.6  million visitors each year, so APT’s spring river cruise around Holland and Belgium, with a private tour before the doors open to the public, will be snapped up. There’s more Van Gogh on offer at the Kröller-Müller Museum near Arnhem, plus a visit to the former home and studio of Rubens in Antwerp.

APT (0800 046 3002; aptouring.co.uk ) offers an eight-day Springtime in Holland and Belgium cruise round-trip from Amsterdam from £2,795 per person full board including flights, a private visit to the Van Gogh Museum, drinks, tours and tips. Departs April 20.


Viking Ocean announces New Ships

The march of Viking Ocean Cruises across the globe continues in a strong way. On Friday, the new 930-passenger Viking Sun sailed from PortMiami on the line’s first World Cruise, plus Viking Orion will launch in summer 2018 and an unnamed sister in 2019.

But much more is happening too. On Saturday, European shipbuilder Fincantieri announced that contracts for Viking’s seventh and eighth oceangoing ships are now in effect, finalizing a process that began earlier in the year. These two additional vessels will be delivered in 2021 and 2022.

Most notably, though, Viking appears poised to achieve the ultimate fleet vision of Torstein Hagen, its chairman, who has publicly talked about his desire for a 10-ship ocean fleet.

On Saturday, Fincantieri confirmed that Viking had also exercised its option for two additional oceangoing vessels, the fleet’s ninth and 10th ships. They’re now slated for delivery in 2022 and 2023.

A Ready Source 

So where will the ocean passengers come from? One easy answer is “the rivers.”

When it comes to the Viking Cruises product, the river passenger and ocean guest are “exactly the same,” said Richard Marnell, the line’s senior vice president of marketing, in talking Friday to Travel Agent and other media touring Viking Sun. 

He said there really isn’t a difference in the clientele: “They are absolutely identical.”

In fact, two thirds of the line’s 350,000 ocean passengers who sail each year previously sailed on the line’s river cruise product, Marnell emphasized.

Elsewhere on the ship, guests taking Viking’s first World Cruise (including one greeted above by the ship’s captain upon arrival) were settling into deck chairs, finding a corner with a good book or just enjoying drinks with friends they met on past sailings.

For embarkation day, it was an amazingly quiet, smooth experience – doable given the 930-passenger maximum for the new ship, Viking’s fourth. The ship set sail Friday evening for a sold-out, 141-day journey from Miami to London.

Over nearly five months,  the voyage will take guests to five continents, 35 countries and 64 ports. The ship will be christened in Shanghai, China on March 8 and the World Cruise will end in London on May 5.

Masterful Growth 

The launch of Viking’s first ocean ship, Viking Star, in 2015 was followed by fast paced growth. Today, Viking has four nearly identical, 47,800-grt vessels with 465 staterooms. Plus those other six “sisters” are on the way.

On global rivers, the line – founded 20 years ago to operate Russia voyages – has doubled the size of its market since 2010. Back then, Viking had 26 percent of the market; today that’s 50 percent, Marnell noted.

“Demand continues to be strong in Europe for us,” he stressed, adding that Viking River Cruises is now “leaps and bounds ahead of where we were in 2016.”

Based on North American sourced river cruise passengers, Marnell said the compounded rate of growth between 2004 and 2017 for Viking River Cruises was 18.5 percent, versus 7.7 percent growth for other river lines (not including Viking). That also compares with less than 4 percent for all ocean products.

Today, Viking now operates 64 river vessels in Europe, Asia and North Africa (Egypt). In 2019, the river line will launch seven new vessels on the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers — Viking Einar, Viking Sigrun, Viking Sigyn, Viking Tir, Viking Ullur and Viking Vali. In addition, Viking Helgrim will launch on the Douro River in Portugal.

Ocean Cruise Marketplace

In terms of oceangoing upscale marketshare, today Viking represents 5.3 percent of the target market of 2.2 million high-spending ocean premium and luxury clients from North America. (Viking Sun’s Wintergarden, an interior lounge and relaxation space, is shown above).

Marnell’s numbers show that compares with 33 percent by Princess Cruises, 22 percent by Celebrity Cruises, 18 percent by Holland America Line, 7 percent by Oceania Cruises, 4 percent each by Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Seabourn, 3 percent each by Crystal Cruises and Silversea Cruises and 2 percent by Azamara Club Cruises.

However, by 2021, Viking is expected to have 6.2 percent of that upscale target market, which will rise to 2.7 million North American upscale passengers.

In his presentation, Marnell outlined his perspective about the all-balcony ocean product. He emphasized that the line offers guests spacious, quiet ships with Scandinavian design, an understated elegance, and calming artwork.

Because they’re identical in style and design, “repeat guests begin to feel like they’re home,” he said. They like the familiarity of the ships with the same lay-out.

Value is also important, Marnell said, citing a “no nickel and diming” policy, all balcony accommodations, and included shore trips, port charges and government taxes. Also complimentary are beer and wine with lunch and dinner service, premium dining reservations, Wi-Fi, self-service laundry, access to the Thermal Suite in the LivNordic Spa; and 24-hour room service,

Competitive Insight

On the fare side, he showed a chart providing insight for agents into the line’s competitiveness. It compared fares for cruise products seeking to attract high-end luxury and premium guests.

Marnell said that when comparing northern European itineraries between January and September 2018, the average price per day for the lowest veranda stateroom (includes air and value of included items for each line) is $585 for Viking Sky. That’s just above Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Silhouette at $534.

Everyone else was higher, though at $592 for Pacific Princess, $666 for Azamara Journey, $677 for Crystal Serenity, $700 for Holland America’s Prinsendam, $715 for Oceania’s Marina, $1,020 for Seabourn Ovation and $1,140 for RSSC’s Seven Seas Explorer.

So how does the line keep costs down to offer fares that are lower than other competitors. Marnell cited the “cookie cutter” (identical) ship design approach plus energy-efficient features that cut costs on those ships. Also, he said Viking’s approach is to not waste space for such elements as an onboard casino or bathtubs in accommodations (except suites).

Viking also benefits, he said, from its existing management/operational structure set up for the river cruise product plus a high level of repeat guests. It also has a highly inclusive product, but also keeps fares lower, he said, by not including two things that are a personal choice, he said, pointing to gratuities and high-end spirits.

Agents, depending on their perspective and clientele, typically will characterize Viking Ocean Cruises as either within the upper premium or luxury space.

As for how the line describes its product, Marnell said the term luxury – while widely used by guests and media –, well, “it’s not something we’ve used in our marketing. It’s not something we would say about ourselves,” noting that “luxury means very different things to different people.”

On a separate note, when asked if Viking will repeat it’s million-dollar giveaway contest for agents in 2018, Marnell said nothing had yet been decided/announced, but he wouldn’t rule it out either.

One factor is clear. As on the river side, Viking is experiencing fast-paced growth. By 2019, Viking Ocean Cruises will be selling 5,580 beds, versus what’s expected for the others: 5,236 beds for Oceania, 2,884 for Silversea, 2,660 for Regent Seven Seas, 2,558 for Seabourn, 2,304 for Crystal and 2,076 for Azamara.

When to Find the Cheapest Flights

Looking to find cheap flight deals next year? Booking more than 30 days out is one of the tips in a new report by Expedia and ARC.

The two companies’ fourth annual ARC Air Travel Outlook Report analyzes international and domestic flight data to identify patterns travelers can use to find airfare savings in 2018. The report also includes commentary by Egencia, Expedia’s corporate travel arm, on the business travel aspects of the findings.

Here are the highlights:

Busting the “last minute” myth:

Despite popular belief in the benefits of last-minute booking, in most parts of the world, economy fares tend to increase as departure date gets closer.

  • Best booking lead time for a bargain: Booking a flight more than 30 days ahead of departure is when travelers are most likely to find the lowest Average Ticket Prices (ATPs) for economy and premium cabin air travel.

Best day to book for a bargain:

  • For most international and domestic economy flights, cheapest fares are booked on a Sunday/most expensive are booked on a Friday.
  • For Premium fares, Saturdays and Sundays are the best bargain booking days.

Best day to start a journey?:

Expedia/ARC’s tip for 2018: No matter where you’re headed, start your journey on a Friday.

  • The cheapest days-of-week to start an international air journey in the economy cabin are Thursdays and Fridays.
    • For U.S. domestic economy flights, travelers paid lowest ATPs when they started their journey on a Friday.
  • The cheapest days-of-week to start an international air journey in the premium cabin are Fridays and Saturdays.

What months offer the best fares?

Expedia and ARC experts compared ATPs paid for flights during a calendar month of flight departures and found:

  • For U.S. travelers:
    • December had highest economy international ATPs/February had lowest; June had highest economy domestic ATPs/September had lowest.
    • October had highest premium international ATPs/December had lowest. June had highest premium domestic ATPs/August had lowest.
  • For UK economy international travelers, December had highest ATPs/ May had lowest.
  • In Asia, premium fares were highest mid-year (between April and September)

Traveling “on trend” – Where is the world traveling?

  • Busiest international gateways into the U.S. are New York, Miami, Los Angeles and Orlando, with global demand coming from Canada, Europe, Asia and a range of Latin America origins.
  • Cancun remains a top international destination for US travelers.
  • Travel from and within Asia Pacific is a trend: Shanghai, Taipei and Seoul in particular are fueling intra-Asia travel as well as inbound travel to key European airports/cities.
  • Europe remains a substantial contributor to global air travel, with London and Paris key entry points to the region for international travelers.
  • The Middle East is an important hub for travel between Europe and Asia Pacific (APAC) travel.

Source: Expedia/ARC

Civil Rights Museum Opens in Jackson

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — In the 1950s and ’60s, segregationist whites waved Confederate flags and slapped defiant bumper stickers on cars declaring Mississippi “the most lied about state in the Union.”

Those were ways of defiantly pushing back against African-Americans who dared challenge racial oppression, and taking a jab at journalists covering the civil rights movement.

Decades later, as Mississippi marks its bicentennial, the state is getting an unflinching look at its complex, often brutal past in two history museums, complete with displays of slave chains, Ku Klux Klan robes and graphic photos of lynchings and firebombings.

The Museum of Mississippi History takes a 15,000-year view, from the Stone Age through modern times. The Mississippi Civil Rights Museum concentrates on a shorter, but intense span, from 1945 to 1976.

They open Saturday, the day before the 200th anniversary of Mississippi becoming the 20th state.

The two distinct museums under a single roof are both funded by state tax dollars and private donations. Officials insist the museums aren’t intended to be “separate-but-equal” in a state where that phrase was invoked to maintain segregated school systems for whites and blacks that were separate and distinctly unequal.

“We are telling a much longer story in the Museum of Mississippi History, a much deeper story in the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum,” said Katie Blount, director of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. “We want everybody to walk in one door, side by side, to learn all of our state’s stories.”

The general history museum depicts Native American culture, European settlement, slavery, the Civil War and Reconstruction. It examines natural disasters, including the Mississippi River flood in 1927 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005. It also has only-in-Mississippi items such as the crown Mary Ann Mobley wore as Miss America 1959.

The museums’ opening caps a yearlong bicentennial commemoration. Some events celebrated Mississippi’s success at producing influential authors and musicians, such as William Faulkner, Richard Wright, B.B. King and Elvis Presley. Others took a critical look slavery and segregation.

President Donald Trump is scheduled to attend the museums’ opening, a White House official said Monday, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the trip before a formal announcement. Republican Gov. Phil Bryant, a Trump supporter, invited the president. The Mississippi NAACP president is asking Bryant to rescind the invitation, with state chapter president Charles Hampton saying “an invitation to a president that has aimed to divide this nation is not becoming of this historic moment.”

Mississippi — one of the nation’s poorest states, population 59 percent white and 38 percent black — remains divided by one of its most visible symbols. It’s the last state with a flag featuring the Confederate battle emblem that critics see as racist. All eight public universities, and several cities and counties, stopped flying it in recent years.

There’s no flagpole outside the new museums.

Ellie Dahmer, the 92-year-old widow of slain civil rights leader Vernon Dahmer, said the flag represents an unabashed defense of slavery. She marveled at the existence of the civil rights museum in a state that won’t abandon the banner.

A display in the museum tells of the 1966 KKK firebombing of the Dahmer home outside Hattiesburg after local NAACP leader Vernon Dahmer announced he’d pay poll taxes for black people registering to vote. He fired back at Klansmen who were shooting at his burning house. The family escaped, but Vernon Dahmer’s lungs were seared; he died. The couple’s 10-year-old daughter was severely burned.

Parts of the Dahmers’ bullet-riddled truck are in the museum with photos.

The Mississippi museum joins several others focused on civil rights: the Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta ; the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee; the Rosa Parks Museum in Montgomery, Alabama; Birmingham Civil Rights Institute in Alabama. The National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington has attracted crowds since opening in 2016.

Eddie S. Glaude Jr., a 49-year-old Mississippi native who chairs African-American Studies at Princeton University, said “Mississippi was ground zero” for the civil rights movement, and it’s significant that the state presents an honest account of its history.

“America can’t really turn a corner with regards to its racist and violent past and present until the South, and particularly a state like Mississippi, confronts it — and confronts it unflinchingly,” Glaude said.

In the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, columns list about 600 documented lynchings — most of them of black men. One gallery’s ceiling shows decades-old racist advertising images.

Ku Klux Klan robes are on display. So’s the remnant of a cross that was burned in 1964 outside white merchants’ in McComb after they refused to fire black employees who registered to vote. So are mug shots of black and white Freedom Riders, who were arrested in Jackson in 1961 for challenging segregation on buses.

A large display tells about Emmett Till, the black teenager from Chicago who was kidnapped and killed after witnesses said he whistled at a white woman working in a Mississippi grocery store in 1955.

The central gallery provides a hopeful respite: An abstract sculpture 30 feet (9 meters) tall lights up as a soundtrack plays the folk song “This Little Light of Mine.” As more visitors enter, more voices join the chorus and more lights flicker, symbolizing how one person’s work can become part of a larger effort that leads to change.—

World’s Greatest Cities

by Telegraph Travel, December 1, 2017

The world’s greatest city? It’s a coastal gem in the shadow of an iconic mountain, where fine wine flows and penguins roam. It could only be Cape Town.

After a poll of 90,000 readers in the 2017 Telegraph Travel Awards, the South African city was victorious, beating Vancouver and Tokyo to the top prize. Remarkably, it’s the fifth consecutive year you’ve named Cape Town your number one – and with all eyes on South Africa in 2018, the centenary year of Nelson Mandela’s birth, few would bet against it repeating the trick in 12 months time.

The rest of the upper end of the ranking has a familiar look. Vancouver has played second fiddle to Cape Town for the last five editions of the awards, while Venice, Sydney and New York are perennial members of the top 10. Tokyo, however, knocked La Serenissima off the podium for the first time since 2012. The Japanese capital finished fifth last year, and seventh two years ago – can it challenge Cape Town’s dominance in 2018?

At a glance | Your three favourite cities

Other cities are scaling the rankings too. Seville, 13th two years ago, and ninth last year, rose to 7th overall. Florence climbed five places to eighth. Lisbon rose 10 places, as did Copenhagen. Prague, meanwhile, leapt eight places to 19th, Amsterdam seven spots to 28th, and Marrakesh seven places to 40th.

Seville cracked the top 10 this yearYour 30 favourite cities

  1. Cape Town (=)
  2. Vancouver (=)
  3. Tokyo (+2)
  4. Venice (-1)
  5. Sydney (-1)
  6. New York (=)
  7. Seville (+2)
  8. Florence (+5)
  9. San Francisco (-2)
  10. Rome (=)
  11. St Petersburg (-3)
  12. Barcelona (=)
  13. Melbourne (+4)
  14. Krakow (=)
  15. Singapore (=)
  16. Lisbon (+10)
  17. Vienna (+1)
  18. Chicago (+3)
  19. Prague (+8)
  20. Buenos Aires (-1)
  21. Rio de Janeiro (-10)
  22. Copenhagen (+10)
  23. Boston (=)
  24. Washington DC (-4)
  25. Istanbul (-9)
  26. Edinburgh (+4)
  27. Bruges (+2)
  28. Amsterdam (+7)
  29. Berlin (-4)
  30. Wellington (+1)

Your favourite UK city is still Edinburgh. It climbed four places to 26th this year, putting it well clear of York in 36th. London, meanwhile, fell eight places to 47th, with a spate of terrorists attacks surely playing a part in its decline. After York comes Bath, 41st overall, up one spot.

Falling fast this year was Istanbul, from 16th to 25th. It’s endured a tough few years, with terrorism also sadly to the fore. The same can be said of Paris, which fell from 24th last year to 32nd for 2017.

Other cities sliding down the rankings included Rio de Janeiro, from 11th to 21st, and Hong Kong, from 22nd to 34th.

What makes Cape Town so special?

By Pippa de Bruyn

With Telegraph readers voting Cape Town the best city in the world for the fifth consecutive year, you hardly need me to explain why it’s worth visiting. If anything, I’d rather you stayed away, at least until February, by which time the desalination plants being built around the city should be producing 108 million litres of water a day, alleviating the worst drought the city has experienced in more than a century. Until then, it’s a regimen of two-minute showers, waterless sanitisers and thanks-ever-so-much for flying home with your dirty laundry.

Not that the drought has dampened spirits here. Capetonians are a frontier lot. ‘As long as we haven’t run out of wine,’ is the standard quip, and, by Jove, we have plenty, and it’s good stuff. Outside Europe this is the oldest winemaking region in the world, and we’ve learnt a thing or two over the past 332 years. Yet South African wines remain remarkably underrated – I’m always dismayed by how much undrinkable plonk I find on your supermarket shelves. (A quick tip: labels with illustrations of wild animals are best avoided, as are wines with the vague appellation ‘Wine of Origin Western Cape’.) Terroir isn’t everything of course, but lesser known regions I’m partial to include Elgin, Elim, Walker Bay and Swartland. Stellenbosch remains a stalwart, where you’ll find the likes of Abrie Beeslaar – awarded 2017 Winemaker of the Year at the recent International Wine and Spirit Competition – happily rooting around his Kanonkop vines. It’s a region I’d happily rotate like a well-basted chicken till the end of time, and thankfully most of the best estates are now open for tastings seven days a week, with views, restaurants and architecture as varied as their wines. Cheap too, while wrecking ball Zuma is at the helm (Tip no 2: if Ramaphosa takes over as ANC president, your holiday is going to cost a tad more, so pay now or be prepared). Some prefer a day at the spa (if so, make it Librisa at the Mount Nelson), but it’s hard to beat the pleasure of a privately curated wine tour with Stephen Flesch, rolling through vineyard-clad valleys in a cocoon-like state of bliss (yes, with wines this good, I swallow).

But enough about wine. For most the real buzz – and reason enough to revisit the city – has been the opening of the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary African Art in September. It’s a triumph, name issues aside (rumour has it Zeitz resolutely refuses to nip his German name off the proud African bud, scotching an enormous donorship deal offered by Johann Rupert). Housed in a former grain silo, with interior spaces magnificently repurposed by London’s Heatherwick Studio, the building alone is worth a visit but the curated work – a chiaroscuro of humour and intelligence, pride and pathos, mystery and honesty –  is equally inspiring. Given that the MOCAA is the first and largest repository for contemporary work produced across Africa (and how easily one forgets that the continent comprises 54 different countries, and is bigger than China, the US and Europe put together) the exceptional standard should come as no surprise. And yet, there it is; guilty as charged. But it hardly matters – by the time you step out, blinking under the bright sun, sparks flying off a Korean fishing boat in a nearby dry dock, the looming flat-topped mountain swathed in its billowing tablecloth, your ideas of the continent will be challenged. A moment worth celebrating, so it’s into the Silo hotel and up to the Willaston bar to celebrate the best view of the city. But be sure to book. Because – and here’s the last tip – to enjoy the charms of a five-times beauty pageant winner, you’ll now need to make appointments.


This article was written by Telegraph Travel from The Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.



Top Cruise Lines

by Telegraph Travel, December 1, 2017

The results of the 2017 Telegraph Travel Awards, based on the opinions of almost 90,000 readers, have been revealed, and – in something of a surprise – Cunard has lost the title of best large cruise line for the first time since 2011.

Your top pick for 2017 is Disney Cruise Line, with Cunard slipping to sixth. It held off competition from Viking Cruises and Hurtigruten.

Best small cruise line, meanwhile, went to Seabourn, ahead of Saga and Star Clippers, while Uniworld Boutique won the river cruise category and Brittany the best ferry company.

The 10 best large cruise lines

  1. Disney Cruise Line
  2. Viking Cruises
  3. Hurtigruten
  4. Oceania Cruises
  5. Crystal Cruises
  6. Cunard Line
  7. Celebrity Cruises
  8. Fred Olsen
  9. Holland America Line
  10. Princess Cruises

Cruising continues to be the fastest-growing holidays in the UK as cruise lines adapt to meet the ever-changing demands and expectations of British travellers. These days there is a ship and cruise style to suit everyone, whether they want to dress up or down, travel on ships packed with entertainment, sail with the family or have a quiet time away from the 1.5 million or so youngsters aged under 18 who cruise these days.

When it comes to cruising with children, Disney Cruise Line is hard to beat. Its ships have family cabins, play areas modelled on Disney film favourites, and pool games with Goofy and pals. The two newest vessels even have a splash-tastic water coaster that takes you over the side of the ship and through the funnel, as well as adult-only bars and nightclubs. Who knows what Disney’s Imagineers will come up with for the three more ships the cruise line is building but as Walt himself would have said, ‘If you can dream it, you can do it’.

Disney Cruise Line in numbers

Close behind, Viking Cruises could not be more different. It launched its first ocean-going ship in 2015 with a Scandinavian style and no-children, no-casino policy, and was an instant hit. It already has three more ships and another four on the way. In third place, Hurtigruten is one of the UK’s leading expedition cruise companies. Its holidays range from scenic sailing along the coast of Norway to adventurous trips to Antarctica, where a pioneering new hybrid ship that operates partly on electric propulsion will be making waves in winter 2018/19.

The 10 best small cruise lines

  1. Seabourn
  2. Saga Cruises
  3. Star Clippers
  4. Hebridean Island Cruises
  5. Azamara Club Cruises
  6. Silversea Cruises
  7. Noble Caledonia
  8. Regent Seven Seas
  9. Voyages to Antiquity
  10. Windstar Cruises

Small ships offer a very special experience. By dint of their size, they offer less in the way of entertainment and dining than the large vessels, but that is a small price to pay for the many perks you get. They can access small ports and harbours in remote areas, you run into the same people time and again so it’s easy to make friends, and with fewer people to look after, the crew have time to stop and chat, and properly get to know you.

A previous winner and runner-up in the awards, Seabourn encapsulates everything cruisers love about small ships but adds its own six-star touches. Crew are tasked to know every passenger by name within two days of the start of the cruise, drinks (including as much Champagne as you can imbibe) are complimentary, tips are not expected and you can eat in any restaurant without paying a penny extra. A new ship this year heralded a chic yacht-like look that will be imitated when another vessel launches in May 2018.

Snapping at Seabourn’s heels is Saga Cruises. Another previous winner, it caters exclusively for people aged over 50 who want a British-style holiday – a formula that is so successful, the company clocked up £25 million in advance sales for its first new ship before any itineraries were even announced. In third place, Star Clippers is a niche cruise line with a fleet of three tall ships where the main entertainment is watching the crew hoist the sails and lazing on deck as the canvas billows in the wind and the keel cuts through the waves.

18 of the most luxurious cruise ships on Earth

The 10 best river cruise lines

  1. Uniworld Boutique River Cruises
  2. APT Guided Tours and River Cruises
  3. Pandaw River Expeditions
  4. Riviera Travel
  5. Avalon Waterways
  6. Scenic Tours
  7. AMA Waterways
  8. Emerald Waterways
  9. Viking River Cruises
  10. Jules Verne

A decade of innovation has brought river cruising out of the backwaters and made it the go-to holiday for ever-growing numbers of travellers who want exciting new experiences while seeing the world in comfort and style. River cruise lines have engineered the change, developing more exciting itineraries, adding active tours ashore and modernising vessels by providing cabins with private balconies, exclusive restaurants and swimming pools that convert into cinemas.

At the forefront of the change is Uniworld Boutique River Cruises, a US company with cruises in Europe, Asia and Egypt that is always breaking the mould. Where others veer towards a minimalist look and feel on their river ships, it favours baroque curves, chandeliers and drapes, and fares that include everything from excursions and drinks to tips. Daring to be different again, in spring 2018 the company is launching U by Uniworld, the first-ever river cruise line exclusively for millennials aged 21 to 45 that packs silent discos and mixologists among attractions.

Close behind is APT, an Australian tour specialist with a 70-year history and diverse portfolio of river cruises across Europe, Russia and Asia that include exclusive experiences ashore such as a journey on the lavish Majestic Imperator train in Austria and dinner in the Vietnam House restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City run by celebrity chef Luke Nguyen. In third place, Pandaw offers adventurous river cruises in Asia that explore the Irrawaddy Delta and transit the gorges and rapids on the Mekong between Laos and China.

Best ferry operators

  1. Brittany Ferries
  2. Stena Line
  3. Irish Ferries

Though challenged by the low fares and myriad new destinations offered by no-frills airlines, the British love-affair with touring the back roads of rural France continues undiminished. And there is nothing we like better than sticking some tape on the headlights, attaching the GB sign to our own car and heading for a south coast ports. Overall, most of us use the Channel tunnel and the short Dover-Calais or Dover-Dunkirk links, but the crossings Telegraph readers enjoy most are the longer routes to Normandy and Brittany (plus those down to the Spanish ports of Santander and Bilbao.

Britain’s 10 greatest islands – and how to reach them by ferry

And the ferry operator which meets their expectations most consistently, and is the perennial winner of our awards, is Brittany Ferries. It has held the top spot since 2013, and its success seems to come down to three things: high quality, well-presented ships which feel more like cruise ships than ferries; excellent (French) cuisine – readers seem to feel they have arrived in France as soon as they drive up the ramp; and a great choice of ports and destinations along the north coasts of France and Spain.

Among the runners up, P&O has dropped out of the top three, and Stena Line, which offers routes across the Irish Sea and also from Harwich to the Hook of Holland, moves up to second place – a creditable performance. And finally, congratulations to Irish Ferries, which connects Holyhead with Dublin and Pembroke with Rosslare in south-east Ireland, which your ranked third, its first appearance on our winners’ podium.

Christmas Markets in Britian


(Recently published in the Independent)

It may be five weeks until Christmas, but Britain‘s festive markets have already started opening their doors. Here are some of the best options for mulled wine, traditional wooden toys, ice rinks and much more.


November 23 to December 10

This is a bumper market with over 200 stalls lining the streets of Bath around the wonderful Roman Baths and the Abbey. Nearly all the items and produce on sale are from the local area, or made by local suppliers. Ceramics and glasswear, clothes, toys and homeware are among the items on sale – as well as food and drink. When you’ve done enough shopping, head for the ice rink (open until January 2, 2018) and glow-in-the-dark crazy golf course at nearby Royal Victoria Park, take a tour of the Roman Baths, or watch a performance at the Theatre Royal.

bathchristmasmarket.co.uk;  visitbath.co.uk

Bath travel guide


November to January (various dates)

Visitors can take their pick from several markets throughout London, from the traditional Nordic inspired Southbank Centre Winter Market (November 14 to December 30) at Royal Festival Hall Riverside, to the festive extravagance of Hyde Park Winter Wonderland (November 18 to January 2), with its giant observation wheel, ice rink, circus shows and ice bar alongside the Christmas market. The pop-up town of Winterville will take over part of Clapham Common from November 23 to January 1, with an indoor market and entertainment including a Street Feast food area, big wheel, crazy golf and roller disco.


London travel guide

Hate Christmas? | Here’s how to skip it entirely


November 19 to January 7 

Edinburgh has a host of festive markets and fairs taking place into New Year. Visitors can choose from the Christmas market in East Princes Street Gardens with a big wheel and Star Flyer chair ride (ends January 6) and another in George Street, with Santa’s Grotto and a new Ice Adventure feature (ends December 24).


Edinburgh travel guide


November 16 to December 24

Frankfurt Christmas Market in Birmingham is the largest German market held outside Germany and Austria. Visitors can soak up the village atmosphere in Victoria Square while enjoying a range of German fare – from mulled wine and beers to meats and pastries. The Christmas Craft Fair next door extends onto Chamberlain Square, featuring various handmade gifts from local artists.



November 18 to December 23

Belfast‘s City Hall gardens are transformed into a village setting for its Christmas market. Visitors can wander around its stalls, sampling festive treats from Belgian chocolates and French tarts to various cheeses and German sausages. As well as authentic continental food, you’ll find clothing, arts crafts and decorations from across Europe and Santa’s Grotto for children.


Belfast travel guide


November 10 to December 21

Manchester hosts several markets throughout the city, from a European market in Albert Square, a German-style market at St Ann’s Square and French-themed stalls at King Street. You’ll find boutiques and some great food outlets at Exchange Square, and arts and crafts at Brazennose Street with a globally-sourced selection of jewellery, leather goods and speciality foods. There are fairground rides in Cathedral Gardens and more stalls in New Cathedral Street and Market Street.


Manchester travel guide

15 of the best Christmas markets in Europe


November 9 to December 22

The Glasgow Christmas Market continues at St Enoch Square, with an international array of goods on offer. Visitors can sample Bavarian beers and mulled wine as well as hog roasts and French crepes. The additional Christmas market at George Square (November 25 to December 29), features craft gifts as well as live entertaiment and funfair rides.


Glasgow travel guide

How long until Christmas 2017?


November 9 to December 23

There’s a great range of artwork on sale at this traditional market in the centre of Cardiff – from collage and photographic prints to posters and cards. Other stalls sell children’s toys and outfits, glassware and ceramics, knitwear, jewellery and much more. Beyond the market there’s a funfair and ice rink at Winter Wonderland and Santa’s Grotto in the atmospheric setting of Cardiff Castle.

cardiffchristmasmarket.com;  cardiffswinterwonderland.com

The best hotels in Wales


November 16 to December 17

Devon‘s cathedral city hosts its Christmas market on the historic grounds of Cathedral Green. Locals showcase a variety of hand-crafted gifts and foods including roast hog, baklava, Belgian chocolates, crepes and speciality cheeses.


Devon travel guide


November 25 to December 10

Brighton does things slightly differently. Over three weekends in November and December, local artists will open their homes, studios and workshops to sell a range of arts and crafts direct to Christmas shoppers in the Artists Open Houses scheme. Openings – at around 60 venues – will take place on weekends between November 25 and  December 10. Items for sale include paintings, prints, upcycled goods, knitwear, jewellery (pictured) and sculpture and textiles. Several artists will hold workshops with drawing classes, craft activities and puppet shows.

Brighton travel guide


November 20 to December 22

The lovely medieval city of Winchester has one of the largest Christmas markets in the south of England, with around 100 wooden chalets in the Cathedral Close, alongside an open-air skating rink. Stalls sell a range of ​craft items, including Christmas decorations, jewellery, hats, belts, artwork and ​wooden toys and there’s a German theme to the food and drink offerings, with mulled wine and bratwurst.

If it gets too crowded (and it can do) wander beyond the Close into the centre of town; just a short walk away are The Square and Parchment Street, both with a range of interesting independent shops – and there’s more shopping and lots of cafes and restaurants in the surrounding streets.



December 2, December 16 and 17

This lovely Cotswolds town is full of Christmas activities and events, with the Sparkles Advent Festival and Market on December 2, when the festive lights are switched on, and a Christmas Market selling a range of food and gifts on December 16 and 17. Both will be held in the newly regenerated Market Place.


Cotswolds travel guide

13 beautiful places in Britain you’d never thought to visit


November 17 to December 24

Nottingham‘s Victorian-themed gift and craft market (ends December 24) is full of festive delights, from roasted chestnuts, cider and mulled wine to carol singing. The market is spread over Smithy Row, Albert Street and Lister Gate. Visitors can also enjoy Nottingham’s Winter Wonderland (to December 31) on the Old Market Square, with winter-themed bars, including a new ski lodge style bar, a traditional carousel, children’s rides, an ice rink and live music.



November 10 to December 24

Christkindelmarkt, a German Christmas market set in the heart of Leeds at Millennium Square, offers over 40 stalls and delicacies including bratwurst sausages, goulash and schnitzels and carousel rides. There are free children’s activities every Sunday between 11am and 1pm, including face painting and games. Look out for winter wonderland princesses and other costumed characters. The Ski Hutte bar in an alpine chalet-style setting aims to create an apres ski-inspired atmosphere with music.



November 23 to December 22

Held at Guildhall Square in this lovely medieval city, Salisbury’s Christmas market will host over 100 exhibitors this year. Look out for street entertainers, musical performances from choirs and local schools, as well as a colourful Christmas lantern parade on November 30. Take a break from the market to see the Magna Carta exhibition in Salisbury Cathedral Chapter House – one of only four remaining copies of the document is housed there.



November 28 to December 24

Visitors to Canterbury‘s small traditional market can enjoy the festive spirit in an intimate setting at Whitefriars Square, from German mulled wine and sausages to Christmas music and hand-crafted gifts from its colourful cabins.


Historic houses and castles

(November and December)

A Christmas Gift Fair is held in the grounds of atmospheric Leeds Castle, which has been decorated for Christmas with cinnamon and orange wreaths, pine trees and sparkling lights. The market will feature live music, children’s rides ,reindeer,  a Victorian carousel and other fairground attractions. The market is open on November 25 and 26, December 2, 3, 9, 10, 16, 17.  The Country Homes and Interiors Christmas Fair will take place on the lawns in front of Stonor Park in Oxfordshire from November 23-26 – and again the house itself has been decked out in festive style. A Christmas Fair and Fine Food Market will run at Burghley House in Lincolnshire from November 23-26.





How to Skip lines at the Airport


(recently published in USA Today)

As federal officials continue to tweak passenger security screening at U.S. airports, more people could avoid hassle if they joined programs that let them use expedited lanes at checkpoints.

Better yet, there are ways to get that privilege without spending a dime. For example, some premium credit cards reimburse the $85 application fee for TSA Precheck or the $100 fee for Global Entry. Membership in these federal background-check programs lasts five years before you need to reapply.

Travelers who use the fast lanes typically say they’ll never go back, says Joe Brancatelli, a business travel writer and founder of travel site JoeSentMe.com. That’s the case even for infrequent flyers, he adds.

“I don’t think I can overstate the value of these programs,” he says. “And the more you travel, the more valuable they are.”

Over the summer, tightened airport security rules meant travelers in standard checkpoint lines had to remove electronics larger than cell phones from carry-on bags and place them in a separate bin for X-ray screening. Travelers in TSA Precheck lanes could leave electronics in their bags.

But the bigger advantages of the speedy security lanes are shorter waits and less intrusive screening; you can leave your shoes on, for example. In September, 96% of TSA Precheck passengers waited in line less than five minutes, according to the Transportation Security Administration. To date, more than 5 million people have enrolled in the program, which is available at 200 airports via 37 airlines.

Which program to choose

Global Entry costs $15 more and is less convenient to apply for: It requires a passport and an interview, available at fewer locations than TSA Precheck. But Global Entry includes TSA Precheck and offers expedited entry through U.S. customs when you return from a foreign country.

The cost difference — just $3 a year on average — probably isn’t that much of a factor, but convenience might be. Those who have a passport and live near a Global Entry interview center — typically larger airports — should consider that program. If you don’t live near a Global Entry center, don’t have a passport and rarely travel abroad, TSA Precheck may be the better option.

Application details are on the Global Entry and TSA Precheck websites.

Henry Harteveldt, a travel industry analyst at Atmosphere Research Group, says he can’t imagine traveling without a trusted traveler program. “These services have helped me save anywhere from five to as much as 20 minutes waiting in security screening lines,” he says.

A survey his firm conducted this year found that 91% of business airline travelers said expedited airport screening was “very important” or “somewhat important.” A similarly high percentage said expedited border crossing programs, such as Global Entry, were important.

Use a credit card to apply free

Several premium credit cards reimburse your application fee if you pay it with the card.

“I don’t know that it would swing your choice of credit card per se, but it is nice to know you had an elite card that rebated your fee,” Brancatelli says.

However, many such cards have high annual fees. A sampling:

●       Bank of America Premium Rewards credit card. Annual fee: $95.

●       U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite Card. Annual fee: $400.

●       Citi Prestige Card. Annual fee: $450.

●       Chase Sapphire Reserve. Annual fee: $450.

●       The Platinum Card from American Express. Annual fee: $550.

Also, some credit card and travel loyalty programs will let you use travel credits or rewards points to pay the application fee. And some airlines might offer reimbursement if you have elite frequent flyer status with them.

Fingerprints and photos

Besides cost and effort, another consideration with trusted traveler programs is your comfort level with handing over more information to the U.S. government, including fingerprints and a photo.

However, provided their personal information is kept secure, 81% of U.S. business passengers said they feel comfortable sharing it with airlines and other travel-related organizations if it results in better, less stressful journeys, according to Atmosphere Research Group’s study.

“The government knows all this stuff about you already,” Brancatelli says. “You’re not really giving up anything more.”