Sunday musings: Medieval guidebooks still provide good advice, FF program secrets, polluting Alaska from cruise ships

What tips for traveling have changed since medieval times? Surprisingly few.
In a brilliant look at Codex Calixtinus, that many claim was the first guidebook, and other early guidebooks, Elizabeth Archibald compares advice provided to travelers that still resonate today. One might claim that some travel advice is timeless, that though modes of transportation change and cultures vary, the basics are still the basics.
This book is full of advice about packing lots of patience and not too many clothes. Or, admonitions like, “one should be dressed poorly, even when getting off the ship,” not for humility or fear of theft, but because this way you can avoid having to tip the entire staff.

“There are three things that no one can advise another person for or against. One is marriage, another is waging war and the third is visiting the Holy Sepulchre,” responded Eberhard, Count of Wurttemberg, when asked for travel advice in 1480. “These things often end badly.”
Or, as Simone Sigoli put it after his 1384 pilgrimage to the Holy Land: “No one should travel who does not desire hardship, trouble, tribulation and risk of death.”

In 1497, pilgrims embarking in Venice for the Holy Land complained to the Venetian magistrates about their cramped spaces on the ship: “It is in no way possible to stay in them except with extreme discomfort.” After a ship inspection, the magistrates issued a proclamation that each berth should be “the width of a foot and a half fully and precisely, and in length the extent of the person standing.” Let us note that a foot and a half fully and precisely is roomier than many economy airline seats these days. Good luck reclining to your full standing extent.

10 dirty little secrets of frequent-flier programs
From the contract you sign when joining a frequent flier program to the hoops one jumps through to score “free” travel, and from the outrageous fees to diluted elite status, this article dives into the frequent flier world. You’ll have to click here to read Ed’s insights. The intro follows.

Is there anyone reading this who isn’t involved with at least one frequent-flier program? Didn’t think so. Frequent-flier miles are embedded in our DNA. We struggle to acquire them through flying, through credit cards and through any promotion we can find. We boast about the “free” trips we get. And we keep coming back for more.
But many of us are getting a bit more savvy — maybe cynical is a better word — about frequent-flier programs. We’re developing a sense that they aren’t really as helpful as when we first enrolled. That the deck is stacked against us and the stack keeps getting higher. And there’s plenty of evidence to support our cynicism.
Occasional and somewhat-frequent leisure travelers may get hit the worst, but a word of warning to all you road warriors: Don’t be too smug about your insider tricks and tips for gaming the system. The airlines have stacked the deck against you, too — and the house always wins.

These cruise ships got caught polluting in Alaska
This article, looking at cruise ships that have been caught polluting the Alaska waters, lists plenty of individual ships. Click here to read about the specifics. But, I find the concerns of the cruise industry most amazing. They are not focused on the pollution and damage inflicted on the nature that sustains their money-making cruises, or the solutions to their misdeeds, but on their investment impact and cash flow.

“In 2015, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation issued Notices of Violations to major cruise lines that operated in the state of Alaska, including Norwegian, for alleged violations of the Alaska Marine Vessel Visible Emission Standards that occurred over the last several years,” wrote Norwegian in an SEC filing. “We are cooperating with the State of Alaska and conducting our own internal investigation into these matters. However, we do not believe the ultimate outcome will have a material impact on our financial condition, results of operations or cash flows.”