Traveller letters: What does our 'all inclusive' fare include? They won't tell us

GIVE ME A BREAK(DOWN)

We recently booked a group tour holiday in Canada for next year. We used a travel consultant who tailor-made the journey to include air fares, the Rocky Mountaineer, hotels and an Alaskan cruise. He invoiced us for the total amount and when asked for a breakdown of costs he refused to give it. He said he could only give us a package price, saying he was using an "inclusive tour fare" and was not allowed to disclose costs of different components. He said for example that Qantas could withdraw their contract if he did so. We are not happy with this and wonder if it is common practice? Under these circumstances, how do we know we are getting value for money?

Mary Lyon, Camperdown, VIC

LETTER OF THE WEEK

GOLD STANDARD

We recently drove hours to visit "historic" Walhalla, an old gold mining town in Gippsland, Victoria. The only day the gold mine is open during the week is on a Wednesday, which is why we chose that day. Although it was cold and wet, there were plenty of people around, including at least two buses with school children and tourists. To our dismay, however, we discovered only two shops were open that day whilst all of the cafes and historical buildings were closed. By that stage cold, wet and hungry, we then came across a cafe, some 20 kilometres away, in a small town called Erica where we were served excellent coffee and toasted sandwiches by the obliging and charming owner.

Clare Purbrick, Nagambie, VIC

GRAN PLANS

We wish we'd seen all of the recent ideas from readers of Traveller Letters for customising luggage with inexpensive straps, tags and the like, before our trip with granny. In 2019, our family travelled to Ireland with Granny's ashes in our luggage. Jetlagged at the carousel in Dublin we waited and waited for granny's case which never appeared. As we stood in the lost luggage queue, thoughts of what to reveal was in the luggage haunted us. Is it legal to have human remains in the luggage? What if we don't get the case back? Thankfully the suitcase was eventually located by one of our group, abandoned near the baggage carousels.

Anna Crawford-Brown, Richmond, VIC

BREW BLUE

I have to agree with John Woodward (Traveller Letters, November 13) that not all railway coffee is bad. Coffee at Venice's rail station was as good as I've ever had anywhere and cost next to nothing.

Peter Miniutti, Ashbury, NSW

FULL DISCLOSURE

The letter from Trish Burt (Traveller Letters, November 13), regarding Airbnb failed to mention she is the convenor of Neighbours Not Strangers, an anti-short term rental activist group. Short-term rental accommodation plays a critical part in Australian tourism. These properties are professionally run and are critical to the economies of tourist destinations. They provide affordability and flexibility in the accommodation mix of tourism destinations.

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Rob Testro, Ascot Vale, VIC

TART RESPONSE

Ben Groundwater, stop! I am desperate to re-book my trip to Portugal which had to be cancelled way back.Please don't encourage others until I get to go. I'm so looking forward to the hilly streets of Lisbon, the hiking from Porto to Santiago de Compostela and the Portuguese tarts. Just need to book the flights and cross my fingers that it all goes ahead. I'm so excited I can't wait.

Carol Thompson, Mosman, NSW

OLD NAPOLI

I refer to the guide to Naples by Steve McKenna (Traveller, November 13). Steve has mentioned several Naples attractions to which I would like to add one more. A visit to the Cappella Sansevero will enable you to see, among other marble statues, the Veiled Christ, completed in 1753 by Guiseppe Sanmartino. Long regarded as one of history's most remarkable sculptures, it depicts the suffering of Christ during the crucifixion. I am not a religious person but the magnificence of this sculpture and the extraordinary detail will stay with me forever.

Scott McKenzie, Brunswick East, VIC

CROSS PURPOSES

Lee Tulloch (Traveller, November 13) incorrectly states that Roald Amundsen was the first person to cross Antarctica. The first person to cross the Continent was American Colin O'Brady in 2018. Amundsen only went as far as the South Pole in 1911 and retraced his steps back to where he started. The first team to cross Antarctica was the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition in 1958 but none of the team completed the full journey.

Stuart Molony, Mount Martha, VIC

EDITOR'S NOTE In a February 4, 2020, expose by National Geographic magazine, it was claimed that controversial US endurance athlete Colin O'Brady had embellished details of his history-making solo expedition across Antarctica. The website of polar-specialist cruise line Hurtigruten, referred to in Tulloch's column, also refers to Roald Amundsen as the first man to cross Antarctica and reach the South Pole.

GRECIAN CRICKETS

Further to issues raised by Peter Smithson (Traveller Letters, November 13) regarding Booking.com payments, I would like to alert readers to my experience. A few years ago I booked a hotel room in Athens. Upon confirmation Booking.com stated no payment was required at that time, I could pay at check-in which suited me as I wanted to pay in euros. Several days later the hotel took full payment from my credit card for the room. I had to pay a large conversion fee from dollars to euros. I complained to Booking.com who never replied.

Judy Simpson, Alberton, SA

NOT SO SUPER

Having just read Brett Gore's experience about credit charge rejection (Traveller Letters, November 13) I know how he feels. Pre-COVID, we were about to fly to Europe for three months and thought it would be sensible to increase our credit card limit in case of an emergency. We were taken aback when a rejection letter arrived saying they felt we would be unable to manage the repayments. I would have thought a self-managed super fund would be more acceptable than a job which might change at any time.

Margaret Zarifeh, Doncaster, VIC

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