Lower Car Rental Rates

Effective July 22, DER Tours reduced its basic weekly car rental rates in several categories and several countries. In Germany, for example, an Opel Corsa is now $118 vs. $129, a VW Passat is $219 vs $238, a Mercedes 190E is $329 vs. $338. In Switzerland, reductions are even greater. An Opel Corsa goes from $155 to $129, an Opel Astra is now $169 vs. $200, an Opel Vectra is $199 vs. $268, a Mercedes 190E with air conditioning and automatic transmission goes from $478 to $349, and a Ford minivan dropped from $398 to $298. Call 800-521-6722 for specific quotes.

Swissair Winter Fares

Swissair has announced lower prices for travel commencing November 1 through March 31, 1994. Midweek roundtrip airfares to Switzerland start at $518 from Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Washington D. C.; $568 from Atlanta, Chicago and Cincinnati; and $768 from Los Angeles. Weekend travel and during holiday periods will be slightly higher.

Swissair has extended its reduced fare promotion exclusively for current Gemütlichkeit subscribers. The amount of reduction on these winter sale fares is $50 per ticket. To obtain the reduced price, you must first book directly with Swissair at 800-221-4750. Identify yourself as a Gemütlichkeit subscriber and reserve at the best fare available. Next, phone Shirley at 800-238-0399 who - after confirming with Gemütlichkeit that you are a current subscriber - will issue your tickets at the appropriate reduced price. The lower price can apply to everyone in your traveling party. This program in only for Gemütlichkeit subscribers. Regular economy fares will be reduced $100, business class fares $400 and first class fares will be reduced $600 per ticket.

Freighter to Europe

For a long time, charter subscriber Martin Ems of San Francisco has urged us to tell readers about the pleasures of sailing the Atlantic by freighter.

Last year, in a response to our report on a disappointing crossing aboard the Queen Elizabeth II, Mr. Ems pointed out that those who enjoy being at sea can do so in a spacious outside cabin at prices lower than what one will pay for an inside cabin in Trans-Atlantic (lowest) class aboard the QEII.

Here, from an article Mr. Ems wrote for the publication Freighter Travel News, are portions of his description of a 17-day freighter crossing from Montreal to Antwerp in 1991 aboard the MV Cast Otter.

The passenger cabins were former crew quarters and the deluxe suites, cabins four and five, were made by combining two former crew rooms so that each of the suites retain two bathrooms, along with a good-size sitting room with a two-seater sofa, matching upholstered chairs, two table lamps on side tables, a coffee table and another small table. The bedroom consists of two lower beds, each with one drawer underneath, two nightstands, each with one drawer and reading lamp, a writing desk, with four drawers, one of which can be locked, a mirror above the desk, plus two good-size wardrobe closets, each of which also contains two drawers and a mirror...

We were invited to be on the bridge at 4:30 pm to meet the ship's captain, to sip from a glass of champagne and partake of hors d'oeuvres...we also met our fellow passengers. There were only eight of us, although the ship can accommodate 12...

The ship has two lounges, a spacious one on C deck, shared with the ship's officers (and reserved for their use in the early evening hours) and the Otter Room, a smaller lounge on B deck for the sole use of the passengers. The former has a self-service bar ($.50 per drink, on the honor system; each person keeping a written record of drinks poured), a television/VCR system, radio and a tropical fish aquarium. There are also upholstered chairs and sofas that seat about 17 persons plus four bar stools. The B deck lounge has seating capacity for six in upholstered chairs, plus an adjoining room for bridge players with table and four chairs... A basket of fresh fruit was kept full in each stateroom...

Outside deck space is limited, with narrow areas facing aft on each deck, except the bridge and flying bridge decks which are of ample size but unprotected from the wind and weather... A swimming pool is located on the stern, just aft of the funnel...

Passengers were welcome to visit any part of the ship, except the engine room; and there were no restrictions about visiting the bridge, even when entering or leaving ports...

Breakfast was served from 0700-0800, lunch from 1215-1300 and dinner 1730-1800. Breakfast included hot and cold cereals, eggs to order, toast and jams, coffee, tea and juices; occasionally grapefruit, croissants, pancakes or French toast were offered. Both lunch and dinner were full-course meals, with soup, breads, salad, appetizer, main course and dessert. Carafes of complimentary red and white wine were provided at lunch and dinner. Food seemed invariably well-prepared and there were sufficient choices so that if one dish was not to ones liking, another would most certainly be available...

Waiter service was provided by two very willing, but in this case in need of training, Filipino stewards. They also saw to it that the pantry, adjoining the passenger lounge, was supplied daily with the necessary ingredients for making sandwiches, preparing coffee or tea, and a steady supply of cookies.

Mr. Ems recommends Freighter World Cruises, Inc. to those interested in this mode of travel. It bills itself as the largest travel agency in the world dedicated to freighter travel and is the passenger agent in North America for several shipping companies.

The July 1, 1993, issue of its publication, Freighter Space Advisory, contains descriptions of the sailings of some 25 companies which accept passengers. Also included were black and white photographs of exteriors and interiors of some of the ships involved. About 10 of the companies listed service to North Europe or the Mediterranean.

Here is a sample listing:

Mediterranean Shipping (Cyprus and Panama Registry/Swiss Ownership) Departs from Boston with calls to New York, Baltimore, Newport News, Antwerp, Bremen, Hamburg, Felixstowe, Bremerhaven, and Le Havre, returning to Boston. Duration about 28 days. Passengers can board at any port. Fares: $3200 per person doubles or singles; owners cabin $4200 per person. One way rates begin at $1400 per person double or single; owners cabin $1890 per person. Ships carry 12 passengers. Most ships have swimming pool. Age limit 75.

Some listings offered the opportunity for passengers to take their automobiles at rates starting at $650 one-way. Some ships sail with a doctor on board.

  • Freighter Travel News, 3524 Harts Lake Rd., Roy WA 98580. Published monthly, subscription $18 per year.

Mr. Ems has offered to answer readers' questions relating to freighter travel. Send inquiries to him at 74 Macondray Lane, San Francisco CA 94133.

Changes at ANTO

The Austrian National Tourist Office in New York will move soon and the new mailing address is P. O. Box 1142, New York NY 10108-1142. The phone number, 212-944-6880, will remain. The ANTO will continue to provide travel advice and brochures but only via mail and telephone. Like most European tourist agencies, the ANTO is cutting back. No longer will its New York or Los Angeles offices service walk-in visitors. Accordingly, the new mailing address of the L.A. office is now P. O. Box 491938, Los Angeles CA 90049. It's phone number remains 310-477-3332. ANTO offices in Houston and Chicago had previously been downscaled and "converted to honorary representations by the Austrian Trade commissions" in these cities. Thankfully, for Austria-bound travelers, the ANTO still offers its marvelous service of free travel advice and attractive and informative brochures. About two years ago the French National Tourist Office replaced the practice of free advice with a caller-pays 900 telephone hotline. Germany, Austria and Switzerland are still doing it the old-fashioned way - they give it away. Count your blessings.

July 1993