Wednesday, May 16, 2012

We are Steve & Pat, the Travelin' Tanenbaums.  We are the
 authors of The  Cheapskate's Guide to Vacations and The Cheaptskate's Guide to Cruises (Citadel-Kensington Press). 
Our CTN newsletter has published continuously since 1999 and is proudly celebrating its 11th Anniversary. Steve is currently a 'Budget & FREE Travel' expert with In addition to our books we have written national magazine articles and have made numerous radio & TV appearances. We early retired from our day jobs in 1999 and embarked on a seven year travel odyssey, globe-trotting six months per year. Currently, we average about 2-3 months of exotic travel yearly.  During the Summer of 2009 we were living for one month each in Barcelona and Paris, two of our favorite cities. Just weeks ago we returned from our Summer 2010 trip to Italy where we spent three weeks exploring Tuscany and then settled down, spending a glorious month living in a bargain penthouse apartment in Florence.    

Pure and simple, we enjoy a love of travel and do our best to share travel related comfort, convenience and money saving TIPS with our loyal readership. We always encourage and appreciate reader input. Our travel 'motto' these many years remains: NOTHING BEATS FREE TRAVEL!

OK, so no surprise that CTN's subscriptions sky rocketed with the advent of our FREE online CTN. This is the best way to share our savvy TIPS n' TALES with the traveling public. As we have always said.....nothing beats FREE travel!

It is always best to receive the newsletter on the day it is published. To do this send us your email address and we shall add you to our subscription list. Rest assured, e-mail addresses are kept strictly private. Send your free subscription request to:
Or you may simply Google our CTN periodically for new issues.THANKS TO ALL

THE NEW BLOG 'LOOK' - The column on the right is a vertical 'album' of many of our favorite travel photos. Want to view some or all of Steve's 200+ YouTube videos? First, go to Then, in it's search box type screen name: worldromer. You will have instant access to Steve's videos.
FONT SIZES: Due to technical glitches there may be occasional mismatched text sizes and fonts. 
3D FUN: Grab of pair of those old red/blue 3D glasses. Some of our videos and personal photos are in very cool to view 3D. ALSO, most photos are clickable for larger size viewing. MISCHIEVOUS LINKS:  There may be occasional glitches with some LINKS.  If any LINK, when double clicked, indicates the link is broken or otherwise not working try copying and pasting the link to your browser's address line.  If that does not help drop us  an email and we shall send you a workable LINK.

FIRST EVER GUEST CTN COLUMNIST:  Joyce Gleeson-Adamidis is a long time friend and author of:  If I Were Not Upon the Sea (Under the Captain's Table) which is available at We met Joyce some years ago during our incredible 32 days Celebrity cruise from Rio to San Diego, California.  Joyce, herself a California native, was a former cruise director who happened to marry the  Greek Captain of her Celebrity cruise ship. Before their recent retirement to Greece the couple spent many years together at sea raising their son aboard ship. We thank and applaud Joyce for offering her very special Greek insights to our CTN readers. Welcome aboard Joyce!
         * The Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino
         * The Curacao Marriott Resort & Emerald Casino
         * LaSource Beach Resort & Spa - Grenada
         * Crystal Cove Beach Resort - Barbados
         * Wireless mp3 Music Rocks on Vacations
         * Field Test: Toshiba's Camileo HD waterproof camera/camcorder  
Some years ago, over a period of two weeks,  Patty received two United Airlines promotional letters. One was for their personal credit card and the other for their small business card. Each promotion offered Patty 20,000 United bonus miles.

In short order Patty applied for and received 40,000 United Airline miles good for such as a free RT ticket to Hawaii. On top of that both of Patty’s cards were annual FEE WAIVED. Steve received a similar letter from United BUT for reasons unknown Steve’s offer was for 17,000 miles and charged an annual $75 card fee. At the time Steve needed to do a ‘transaction’ to keep miles from expiring and so he bit his lip, paid the $75 and was happy to renew his miles and receive the17,000 miles.


MORAL: All that/who look the same are NOT. This is especially true when it comes to credit card solicitations, even those that look alike, are often very different in the large and sometimes very small print.

Flash forward to this past week when we received two identical looking letters from US Bank. This time Steve was the winner. His letter offered US Bank’s FlexPerks Travel Reward Visa card with fee waived and with a whopping 20,000 bonus points. While we do not favor ‘points’ programs this was an exception. We quickly confirmed that the 20,000 bonus points were good for $400 toward most airline’s air fares. 
Example: Air Canada told us they would accept the 20,000 points for their $390 RT flight from San Francisco to Vancouver.

At the same time Patty’s letter/offer, which looked almost identical, on close inspection proved to be quite different. The corner of the letter referenced the fact that Patty’s letter was offering a different credit card, US Bank’s Flex Perks Select Rewards Visa card. Then, we read the small print which stated that Patty’s promotion provided for only 10,000 points which equals $200 of air travel.

Both letters were making their offers based on the fact that we were pre-approved for the two respective cards.

TIP: If you need $200 of air travel for FREE then call the below phone number and confirm they will take your telephone application for their Flex Perks Select Rewards Visa card with annual fee waived and with 10,000 bonus points.
Note: To obtain the bonus miles you must use the credit card and... (1) spend $500 over 90 days for the 20,000 bonus points OR  (2) spend $250 over 90 days to receive the 10,000 bonus points.

Since there is zero cost (annual fee is waived) and Steve’s points are worth $400 toward any ticket, even dirt cheap tickets, we must give this promotion two solid thumbs up.

We ask all readers to be on the look out for US Bank solicitation envelopes and hope they are headed your way. If not it appears that you can still seek their 10,000 points ($200 value) reward by calling the below contact number. When such offers arrive we say....GO FOR THEM.
US BANK application number: 855-742-4444

SUCCESS! We happily report that our plan to visit 8 luxury resorts on 8 Caribbean islands worked to perfection. We were thrilled to be hosted as day guests at eight top luxury beach resorts. Each new island and each new resort was a new mini tropical adventure.

Our daily ‘schedule’ at each resort went something like this:

* We arrived at each resort by taxi or bus at 9:30am.
* We were greeted by friendly resort managers or their assistants who often gave us a brief resort tour.
* Steve spent about one hour or less filming the resort including interviews with hotel representatives, smiling staff and a few enthusiastic guest testimonials.
* At about 10:30am we checked the camera bag at the front desk, retrieved our ‘wet’ fun-in-the-sun bag and spent the remainder of our all too short day having a tropical ‘all-inclusive’ vacation ‘blast.’
* Lunches were mostly fun. We met a few resort managers for lunch, usually at their beach or pool-side restaurants. With one exception lunches were included as part of our hosted visits.

* Our activities included such as: Waterfall pools with swim-up bars, white sand beaches, water sports, a one hour spa session at one resort, snorkeling on reefs right off the beach plus one snorkel boat and often beach waiter service with unlimited tropical drinks.
* Sadly, at 4pm we had to grab a taxi back to the ship which departed at 5pm.

This article presents our post-trip report and recommendations on the first four of the eight islands we visited, namely, Aruba, Curacao, Grenada and Barbados. Part 2, in our CTN Summer edition, will include the remaining four islands of are Antigua, St. Lucia, St Maartin and St. Thomas.

Thinking of splurging on a Caribbean vacation? Read on and ‘see’ some of the southern Caribbean’s top luxury beach resorts up close and personal via our exclusive HD YouTube videos. Also, we hope that some of our Caribbean TIPS will save you $$$$.


We knew that taxi cabs were the best and often the only means of transportation from the cruise dock to our selected resorts. Our research indicated that buses might be possible on one or two islands. We planned for up to sixteen taxi rides on eight islands. Our $300 taxi ‘kitty’ in small bills (about 50 singles) would be near exact change for the taxi rides.  Our highest taxi price was $30 each way and the lowest $12 per trip. On the flip side of this expense was the fact that we were ‘saving’ $1600- $2,000, the price other passengers were paying for eight full days of shore excursions.  Some island Taxis, like those on St. Thomas, have a very

special 'look.'

We never have a total trust of foreign taxi drives. For this reason, Steve created laminated ‘taxi slips’ (see the photo). Each mini-handout referenced the taxi fare as told to us by the resort and included the resort managers name. When the taxi driver on St. Maartin tried to charge us $22 Steve flashed a slip that indicated the fare should be no more then $18. In short order the $22 fare was reduced to $18.

On St. Lucia  we told the fare should be $30 each way. At the dock the taxi kiosk lady wanted to charge us $80 round trip. Steve again flashed the appropriate taxi slip, waited while the taxi diva decided how she would deal with it, and voila....she decided to lower our fare from $80 to $60. In the end the slips saved us the equivalent of two $14 taxi rides. Only one taxi driver tried to scam us. LaSource resort graciously told us they were paying for our taxi back to the ship. When the taxi arrived at our dock the driver asked us for the $20 fare. Knowing he had likely already paid we refused and he quickly backed off and dropped it.

Many fellow cruise passengers opted to forego expensive shore excursions for sun, surf and fun at the best nearby public beaches. They were easily spotted with their beach bags slung over their shoulders. They could either walk, take buses if available or more often group taxis. Half the resorts we visited sell day passes but these cost upwards of $100 and ours was a rather short day. We saw no fellow cruise passengers at any of the resorts we visited.

Example: Let us say your next Caribbean cruise stops at Aruba. We visited the Aruba Marriott on very popular Palm Beach.
You could take the very same bus we boarded to reach beautiful Palm Beach for $1 per person each way.
Each hotel’s web site contains a full list of available amenities. Suffice to say, most if not all of the eight resorts offer steam/sauna rooms, outdoor jacuzzis and a variety of activities i.e. tennis, golf etc. We are emphasizing each hotels major sun-in-the-fun recreational beach and pool and sea amenities. After all sun, sea and fun are the resons 98% of guests choose to visit these resorts.

PRICES: Most of the eight resorts are all-inclusive which means high sounding prices. When viewing the resort prices consider the resort’s included amenities. Does the resort include motorized or non-motorized water sports i.e. motorized banana boat ride versus non-motorized kayaks. Also consider ‘extras’ like LaSource’s daily included spa session valued at about $100 per person. Then, factor in the included meals and last but least unlimited drinks, both virgin and alcohol types, day and night.

We paid about $90/day for our Celebrity inside cabin cruise compared to LaSource’s $280/day for their lowest priced luxury room. While LaSource seems much, much, more costly consider that the motorized water sports are similar to the cruise ships aquatic shore excursions and the spa is valued at $100/day. Our Celebrity cruise did not include so much as a Coca Cola let alone unlimited exotic cocktails and all other drinks.  

Here are our reports and recommendations for the first four island resorts we



 Here is a recap of highlights found on the resort’s web site: 
*Recent $50 million hotel refurbishing
*Free-form swimming pool with cascading waterfalls
*Many rooms overlook the pool and/or lush palm, banana, and jacaranda trees.
*Seven restaurants and cafes
*Largest casino in Aruba
*6,500 square-foot spa
*New adult only pool
*Tradewinds Club with special rooms and luxury amenities

ARRIVAL IN ARUBA - GETTING THERE: Instead of paying $26 RT taxi fare we opted for the bus terminal which is located across the street from the cruise dock. The bus accepts USD and the fare was only $5 RT for both of us. Net savings: $21. The bus was a fun 20 minute ride. Some fellow cruise passengers exited the bus at various Palm Beach stops. The bus runs every 15-30 minutes. Use any bus marked L10, L10A or L10B. There is a convenient bus stop in front of the Marriott.

At the outset let us acknowledge our prejudice for Marriott. As Maui ‘taxpayers’ for over 20 years we have often visited the Maui Marriott on Kaanapali beach and can attest to the luxurious ambiance of that world class beach resort.

The Aruba Marriott is a distant but proud ‘sister’ resort to our favorite Maui Marriott. It  delivers in outstanding fashion on just about every level. Here are some of the highlights we experienced during our day long visit. The best is yet to come. Be sure to see it for yourself by viewing our Aruba Marriott YouTube video which is imbedded below. Now here are our visit highlights:

* We stepped into Marriott’s open air lobby and knew we had ‘arrived’ in a tropical vacation paradise.
* Our tour of a sample room confirmed elegant , spacious comfort with a fabulous balcony view.
* The lovely spanking new adult pool offers a luxurious, quiet, aquatic get-a-ways with optional $100/day private cabanas that include butler service.


* In all directions there are Immaculate, landscaped, palm tree laden tropical grounds.
* We most enjoyed the resort’s main free form pool with cascading waterfall and swim-up bar.

* Swarms of happy guests, we among them, were swimming, relaxing, drinking, sunning and playing water volley ball. Comfortable lounge chairs and towels were abundant in both sun and shaded areas. We met new friends John & Lisa right there, in the pool, while enjoying an awesome Chocolate Monkey drink. Here is a shot of Steve toasting his new friends in Marriott's fabulous cascading waterfall pool. 

* Just beyond the pools Palm Beach offers sun, surf and all types of water sports.
* There is very good snorkeling, with TURTLES, just a ten minute walk up the beach.

* The Tradewinds Club is a pricey optional extra. It includes a deluxe ocean view room on the special Tradewinds 8th floor plus breakfast and a snack buffet lunch at the Tradewinds Lounge.
We were invited to have lunch at the lounge and enjoyed salads and basic ‘snack’ finger food i.e. mini cold chicken and cold cut sandwiches plus included beers and sodas. The lounge also doubles as a special business center. The package also includes afternoon tea, and afternoon/early evening cocktails, beer and soft drinks plus a special reserved area on the beach. What does it cost? See ‘prices’ below.
* We met repeat guests who can not get enough of Marriott’s sun and fun luxury and we AGREE! Guests say it best....see them in our below video.

PRICES: The Marriott web site lists room prices ranging from run-of-the-house at $189 to $339 for a suite. The Tradewinds Club room/package was priced at a whopping $609 per night. A discount Caribbean web site offers a basic six day package including air fare from San Francisco for $2,101 for two and the same six days, room only, for $1,384. 

OUR RECOMMENDATION: We give the Aruba Marriott two thumbs up. When it
comes to a tropical sun, sea and surf vacation the Marriott delivers big time.  Since pictures speak thousands of words we present our Marriott HD YouTube video. You will not doubt want to dive right in!

OUR EXCITING YOUTUBE RESORT VIDEOS - HOW TO BEST VIEW OUR HD VIDEOS: Just beneath the YouTube videos, on the right, find a star shaped icon. Hold your cursor over the icon and click on it. A pop-up menu. Choose the highest number that will play on your computer.  Most computers will play the video at the lower quality of 360p and 480p. 720p is DVD quality and 1080p is blu-ray quality. Use the highest number that works and ENJOY!

Here is the YouTube video. Just click on the center icon and it should instantly play. *Alternate YouTube LINK:

Here is a recap of highlights found on the resort’s web site::
* Located on Piscadera Bay with 6 oceanfront acres and white sand beach
* Stunning views and lush tropical gardens
* Newly renovated S
eabreeze pool with swim up bar
* World class dining options such as Portofino, which specializes in international cuisine
* The resort’s Emerald Casino
* Dive and water sports center located on the beach
* Snorkeling off the beach on a natural coral reef

ARRIVAL IN CURACAO - GETTING THERE: We walked about 5 minutes to the bus depot. The depot was very 3rd world. One person told us this was the wrong depot for a bus to the Marriott and seconds later a driver told us just the opposite. We hopped on his bus for a short 15 minute ride to the resort. Total price $4. Taxi fare would have been $28.

PRICES: Offers some of the lowest resort prices. Rooms range from $119 TO $175 per day per room (not per person).


Once again, Marriott delivers an wonderful, tropical paradise vacation. Here are highlights we experienced during our day long visit:

* The open air entrance and lobby structure reeks of luxury. The brightly painted white and yellow building is supported by scores of vertical, oval shaped, large white columns. * The resort is surrounded by stunning landscaped gardens and offers a lobby  view to the sea. The architecture including A-frame ceiling speaks of another era of luxurious oppulance.
* The new Seabreeze is an amazing, irregular shaped,  free-form pool. Sans a waterfall it is nevertheless a sight to behold. Nestled in the middle of the resort with direct Caribbean oceanfront views. The pool is nothing short of stunning, especially with its elegant swim-up bar/restaurant. (see photo above)
* The marvelous white sand beach is studded with Marriotts colorful shade huts looming above comfortable lounges.
* There were sufficient lounges and available shade.

Since there are so many highlights to report let us take a break here for our
Curacao Marriott YouTube video:

Note: Here is an alternate Link to the above video:

Marriott highlights continued:
* A beach water sports center offers a variety of fun options
* Snorkeling off the beach, on a nice reef, is a BIG plus! Great snorkeling, no...but never-the-less good, fun snorkeling at guests’ ‘doorstep.’ Check out Steve’s HD snorkeling video.
*. The hotel’s Emerald Casino is a big plus for those seeking games of chance.
* There are numerous eateries as with most luxury resorts. The beach-side Seabreeze restaurant offers sandwiches and burgers all priced at about $15-$18. We read about the lobby’s Voila Delicatessen and tried their tuna wraps which weighed about one pound each and were bargain priced (for the Marriott) at $8.50. On a ten scale we rated the sandwiches 10+.

OUR RECOMMENDATION: Our thumbs are way up for the Curacao Marriott Beach Resort. Marriott promises guests a luxury tropical vacation and we can assure you that is just what they deliver. Our video speaks volumes. Here is our Curacao Marriott YouTube HD video:

Phone: 599 9 736 8800 Toll-free:   
Sales: 599 9 4337753


Here is a recap of highlights found on the resort’s web site:                                                                                                                           * Wide range of holistic spa treatments and activities geared for relaxation of body and mind 
* Fitness Classes including Yoga, Tai Chi and Pilates
* Relax by the pool, enjoy a complimentary spa treatment, learn a new sport
* Food nourishes the body, but when it is prepared with the flourish of a great chef, it also nourishes the soul. La Source has three restaurants waiting for you
* Set on beautiful Pink Gin Beach
with drink service on the beach.
* Immaculate gardens

* Nine hole golf course
* All-inclusive resort which means no extra charge for the following: meals, snacks, drinks (including Premium Brands and Champagne), Sports including Golf, Tennis, Scuba Diving (set number of dives per stay) and other selected water sports
*Snorkeling off the beach
* One 50 minute Spa session each day at their Oasis Spa center. Guest may choose from this array of session/treatments:
    LaSource Signature Massage - 50 minute treatment
    Silk and Smooth Exfoliation – 50 minute treatment
    Float on Air Foot Massage – 50 minute treatment
    Swedish Full Body Massage - 50 minute treatment
    Aromatherapy Massage - 50 minute treatment
    Restorative Facial - 50 minute treatment

    Arawak Head Massage - 50 minute treatment
    Point Salines Body Wrap - 50 minute treatment


LaSource is a boutique resort that is unique in its dedication to relaxing and rejuvenating guests bodies, minds and souls. It may be the only Caribbean resort that  includes a daily spa session for all guests. The value of this ‘amenity’ is obvious to anyone who has paid $100 and likely much more for one of the above spa sessions during a cruise vacation.

Without further adieu here is our Grenada LaSource YouTube video:

 *Alternate Link to the above YouTube video:

Here are some of the highlights we experienced:                                                      * From the moment we entered the spacious, open, landscaped grounds of LaSource we truly felt their one-of-a-kind tranquil atmosphere.  A Mediterranean fountain sat amidst its colorful, well tended gardens. Tropical trees, plans and flowers completed the perfect ‘picture’ for this special Caribbean island destination.

* The Oasis Spa: Our ‘hosted’ day visit included a memorable visit to the Oasis Spa for their signature 50 minute massage. The multi-floor spa building included pleasant waiting rooms and a wonderful, friendly staff. Our masseuses asked us all the right questions and their professional efforts left us renewed and invigorated. This must be one of the most physically rewarding amenities of any resort we have ever visited.

* In an open, serene setting LaSource’s three connecting pools, with abundant chaise lounge chairs and spiffy green umbrellas, leads down toward the beach. Whether, sunbathing, taking a gentle swim in a pool or playing pool volley ball guests, including the two of us, feel this is a great vacation place to be.
* Beach/pool waiter service: The video shows all ..... and yes, we kicked back, looked out at the sea and ordered any and all drinks from the friendliest waiter in the Caribbean. One of our favorite dringks: BBC (Baileys Banana Colada).

* Pink Gin beach is a delightful wide, white sand beach and LaSource has abundant padded lounge chairs and thatched shade huts protecting them. This was beach heaven.

* We selected LaSource and most of the other resorts for their off-the-beach reef snorkeling, not easily found at many other resorts. LaSource had fun, good snorkeling as seen in Steve’s video.

* LaSource’s claim of great food, seldom delivered at ‘all-inclusive’ resorts, rose to 
the occasion. We enjoyed vBBQ day at their indoor Garden Restaurant where the chef cooked up Kobe quality burgers, chicken and sensational  
Caribbean marinated ribs (seen above) plus a full buffet of salads, great deserts and other goodies.
PRICES: LaSource is offering 5th night free through December 22, 2012. Their lowest cost luxury room, including the free day, is $560* for two or $280 per person. The single rate is $376 per day. LaSource is perfect for that Caribbean splurge, luxury vacation YOU deserve.

* As noted above, do some quick math adding up the value of LaSource’s ‘all-inclusive’ amenities and you have a reasonably priced one-of-a-kind luxury vacation.


Unique is the best word to describe the delightful, tropical resort vacation that awaits guests at LaSource Resort. It is hard to beat their special ‘formula’: Reduce stress while rejuvenating body and mind in a tropical gardens, pools, beach and sea setting. Okay, you have guessed it....two big, enthusiastic THUMBS UP for LASOURCE!


Here is a recap of highlights found on the resort’s web site:

* Premium all-inclusive resort that includes all meals, water sports, drinks and evening entertainment
* 62 guest rooms and 28 one-bedroom suites with private patio or balcony Families are welcome
* Three lagoon-like, multi-tiered, sparkling freshwater swimming spools with waterfall
* Two floodlit tennis courts
*Set on white sand beach
    * Complimentary water sports such as snorkeling, sailing, tubing, boogie boarding, kayaking and windsurfing + fitness center.
* Organized beach sports like football and volleyball + aquacise and beach walks
* Water taxi transportation to other Elegant West Coast properties
* Kids Club with activities for children
* Two on-site restaurants and bars

PRICES: Crystal Cove rooms start at $206 per person. Many web sites offer special air/hotel packages with greater savings

While not the biggest Crystal Cove is the type of tropical resort enclave that invites repeat guests. Here are some of the highlights we experienced:

* From the moment we entered Crystal Cove’s open air, well appointed lobby we knew this resort was ‘special.’

* We visited one of their two floor 1BR suites, featured in our video, and it truly has a marvelous  tropical home-away-from-home feel.
 * The three tiered pools include this upper pool with cascading waterfall.

* Then, the middle pool with swim-up bar and adjoining restaurant.
 * Last but not least, their lower pool which leads to the beach.

All were totally delightful and refreshing. If one pool is too crowded guests simply move to another one. It was great fun swimming through or diving under the waterfall to reach the bar!
* Crossing the quaint foot bridge we explored the extended upper garden landscaped grounds with one after another pastel colored lodgings.


* Included water sports were fabulous. We had super wet fun riding heir banana boat and tubing. When just the two of us wanted to go problem.... the water sports manager called for the boat to take us out. No waiting, that easy and FUN.  Did we say fun? Can not wait to see our video? Here is a shot of Patty (Steve was on his tube several feet away) as we were ready to launch into a high speed, crashing through the waves, ride! HANG ON PATTY!
* Crystal Cove has enjoyable snorkeling off the beach and along the inshore reef where turtles can often be seen.
* We had a very good lunch at Drifters Beach Bar. They offer a nice salad bar plus entrees such as burgers, sandwiches, pasta, pizza, fish and chicken.

And now enjoy our 'exciting' Crystal Cove  YouTube video - *Your may use this
alternate Link if, for any reason the video does not play:

Tho very enthusiastic THUMBS UP for Crystal Cove Resort on Barbados. Crystal Cover offers an amazing array of all-inclusive amenities that easily rivals those found on larger, mega properties i.e. Sandals. We wished we had many more days to savor the fun, tropical resort life at Crystal Cove. For sure we took away many, many fond memories of the tropical paradise created by Crystal Cove. Here the LINK to  Crystal Cove's web site:



For the past several years I have been on the technological cutting edge, enjoying my MP3 music in wireless fashion using two different systems. I was convinced that by 2012 most everyone would have ‘done away’ with tangled (urrggghh) headset cords and thus set themselves musically FREE AT LAST.
However, during our Summer 2011 trip to Barcelona, Paris and Ireland plus my local travels in California I was surprised to see perhaps 95% or more of MP3 players remain wired to their victims....I mean users. This article is for you IF you wish to wave goodby to tangled headset cords by going wireless.
During the past several years I have used these two wireless systems:

1) A Logitech wireless 2-piece blue tooth headset consisting of a high quality on-the-ear headset and small blue tooth transmitter. The latter plugs into virtually any MP3 device, including my favorite iTOUCH, plus most other devices i.e. flat screen TV, that have a headset plug. Sadly, my Logitech model has been replaced by a $200 version. Consequently,  I recommend you check out a much less costly but similar, highly rated TDK model.  

2) On special occasions i.e. when I was rushed and needed instant wireless music,  i.e. I suddenly find myself on a long checkout line at Costco, I used a Macally 1-piece headset that was dedicated to my basic little iPod Shuffle. The shuffle fit neatly into a ‘pocket’ on the side of the headset. This dandy system was basic iPod quality wireless perfection.

The issue of my use of these systems came to the forefront eight weeks ago when I ‘lapsed’ during our Caribbean journey. Horrors of all horrors...during our visit to the Curacao Marriott I dove into the pool while wearing the shuffle around
my neck. In an instant I had ‘KILLED’ my shuffle. Luckily, our travel insurance covers such negligent lapses and  Travel Guard paid for the loss. This  meant that I needed a replacement which led me to the upgraded 1-piece system I shall now present to you.


New System #1: MACALLY + NANO 2nd:
A few years ago, before ‘retiring’ from selling 1-piece mp3 headsets,  Macally produced their second and last new model. The new headset (shown in the photo with the blue Nano sitting in its slot) was dedicated to the iPod Nano 2nd generation. This merger of an older model Nano and new Macally headset worked out well for me and may do the same for you. The system is comprised of (1) iPod Nano 2nd generation and (2) a brand new Macally mTUNE cordless headset dedicated to the Nano 2nd generation. Put the two together and you have a cool 1-piece wireless mp3 system.
Even better, the Nano has no true OFF switch so that it merely goes to ‘sleep.’ With the Nano sitting in the Macally headset, as shown in the photo, I simply slap the Macally on my head, press the Nano’s center & play buttons (takes less then 2 seconds) and voila....the music is instantly playing. Consider that my ‘turned off’ iTOUCH takes almost two long minutes to power up
Here are my Macally/Nano system pros and cons:
* Low cost package. Just two weeks ago I paid $35 for a perfectly working used Nano 2nd generation on ebay. Then, I paid half price, just $12.99, for a brand new Macally headset. I purchased the Macally on ecrater,
a  web site that competes with ebay. My total cost for the system was $48 delivered.
* Instant
music as noted. Great for standing on lines and other times one does not have time or inclination to power-up a 2-piece blue tooth system.
* Excellent quality headset for the price.
* The headset has an audio ‘input’ so that it can be used in ‘wired’ mode. One can simply run a double mini plug cable from any MP3 unit, like an iTOUCH, to the headset.
* All the Nano’s controls are easily accessed with one finger whilst one is wearing the headset.
* The Macally is a large, light weight over the ears headset that blocks out ambient noise.

CONS: Unlike the blue tooth system which works with any MP3 or similar player this wireless system is dedicated to the Nano.

EBAY TIPS: Be a savvy ebay buyer and do the following:
* Find a Nano 2nd for $35 to $45 that is advertised to be in perfect working condition. It will take a bit of patience since most such units sell for $50 and up.
* Ask the seller to confirm that the Nano’s battery holds a charge.
* Only deal with a seller who offers a return privilege of at least 7 days. That is sufficient time to fully test all functions and confirm the battery holds a good charge.
* Always make certain the seller has a near 100% feedback rating AND that the seller
has been selling on ebay for some time.
EBAY FEEDBACK TIP: I recently saw an item being sold for 50% less than all other ebay vendors. And WOW he had a 100% positive feedback score. No reason to hesitate, right? Wrong! The vendor was located in Russia (jnot that there is anything
wrong with that) and the vendor started selling on ebay about two weeks earlier. Put the two together and the message is clear: Run do not walk to another vendor.

Here is the LINK to the vendor who is still selling the Macally for the delivered price of $12.99.

NEWS FLASH - NANO 3rd GENERATION TIP: Live and learn. I was so eager to buy another Macally headset that I failed to make a  major related discovery. Just days ago my buddy Stu, who is eager to go Nano 'wireless,' found several similar headsets that accept both the Nano 2nd and Nano 3rd generation iPods. It is cheapskate priced at $12.99 delivered.To see more such headsets enter 'ipod nano wireless headsets' in the ebay search  window. Here is the LINK to the vendor selling the dual headset for $12.99 with a 30-day return policy so that you can be sure its works to your satisfaction.

CONCLUSION: This is a cool, 100% wireless over the ears iPod Nano system for
a bargain basement price. It is super convenient to have a wireless system that plays music instantly. Since I am an iTouch kinda guy the Nano is new to me...and already I have grown to love the little machine.

Rather then paying $200 for Logitech’s newest wireless system I would recommend
you check out this TDK system which sells on Amazon for $94.82 with free shipping. While I have no first hand experience with this unit it is backed by a TDK Warranty, it rates 4 our of 5 stars by 22 users (be sure to read their reviews) and Amazon offers a no questions asked 30 days satisfaction guarantee. Here are some excerpts from Amazon’s more detailed product description:
The TDK WR700 delivers a superior listening experience. Listen to  the hi-fi stereo sound you expect...without limitations and/or tangles of a cord. Transmitter range is about 33 feet. Its 4 AAA batteries provide 30-40 hours of listening time. Compatible with all devices using a 3.5mm headphone port.

Here is one of the Five Star 2011 User Reviews:

TDK WR700 is Awesome & I Love it. The design is very pleasing to look at. The ON switch & Volume buttons are very neatly integrated into the design. The black leather around the arc rests very softly on my head. The ear leather pads are very soft on my ears & very comfortable hence I have worn it for hours on long journeys & watching TV. The battery compartments are very easy to open. The sound streams to the headphones instantly when I switch it on. I work around my home while hearing everything on the TV without disturbing anyone. The batteries have lasted for over a month of daily use.

This is the LINK to Amazon’s sale page for the TDK WR700:

HOW TO POWER UP: Assuming this unit is similar to my Logitech (both are blue tooth) you plug the transmitter into any mp3 player and then hold the ON switch on both the transmitter and headset until the both light up ‘blue’ meaning they are synched and ready to use. Mine takes 1-2 minutes before the unit is playing music.

*The is cool, convenient and FUN to be wireless.
*The price is right.
* Backed by TDK’s Warranty and Amazon’s satisfaction guarantee.
* Can transmit sound from any device i.e. TV etc. that has a mini-plug audio ‘out.’

* A minority of users complain about poor sound quality (read all the Amazon reviews)
  Note: Whenever a product has overall very high ratings I realize that there will always be some harsh sounding negative reviews. I read all reviews and weigh them.
CONCLUSION: I enjoy using both wireless systems and there is definitely a time and place for each. The TDK is a work horse since it can be used with any mp3 or iTouch and presumably iPhone that takes a regular mini plug headset. Be creative...this should work, for example, on any TV that has a headphone jack.  Good luck on going WIRELESS!


CTN’s January, 2012 GIZMO column introduced my newest aquatic ‘toy’ the Toshiba Camileo waterproof (to 6.5 feet) HD digicam. Here is a recap of Camileo’s specs:
* Camileo weights an amazing 3.6oz - about the size of a cell phone
* It shoots full 1080p HD in MP4/H.264 video format
* It uses an SD memory card
* 4 out of 5 stars Amazon customer average rating
* Smallish 2" LCD monitor
* 5 mega pixel stills
* Water proof to 6.5 feet
* HDMI connector for instant playback on any flat screen TV
* 10X digital zoom (digital zoom is not my cup of optics tea)
* Several color choices (my favorite is YELLOW!)

My stated goal for our recent 8 islands Caribbean Odyssey was to capture my first ever  viewable HD 1080p underwater video. I also planned to use the camera during water sports and in and around all the plush lagoon pools and their waterfalls. Did the inexpensive Camileo deliver?

Hand me the envelope (with the answer) please......drum roll.....

The Answer
is:   A LOT OF ‘FUN’ YES and SOME ANTICIPATED NO... read on...

During our visit to eight Caribbean beach resorts I used the Camileo extensively for:
* Snorkeling off the beach at many of the resorts
* On Sandals 11am snorkel boat trip
* In and around splendid resort pools and lagoons and their cascading waterfalls
* Doing on-the-spot testimonials when my main camcorder had long since been dropped off at the registration desk for safe keeping
* During water sports i.e. banana boats and tubing

In a nutshell the Camileo performed as follows:

* I used it to film several on-the-spot testimonials with great 1080p results
* It allowed me to shoot action scenes during our tubing and banana boat rides
* The extra capacity battery I purchased for it never ran down so never needed to
use my spare battery

* The very basic controls are easy to access and use
* Snorkel video, aside from the attendant shaking, was good to occasionally very good. It was, as anticipated, best when there was bright sunlight. I did not get any spectacular underwater shots but then again most snorkeling was less then ideal.
* It came through as an ultra light weight digicam that gave me a shot at some good water and land based HD videos (and stills) when no other camera was available.
* It allowed me to capture this scene, not shown in the above hotel snorkel videos,
where an octopus takes to flight in full view of the Camileo:

* The small LCD screen is makes viewing difficult in less then ideal condition

* Camileo fogged up several times when used in the water. I had experienced this before with expensive cameras and knew it was a temporary condition related to changes in temperature. Within several minutes out of the water the fogging disappeared. Here is a Google explanation which is similar to what I was told years ago:
If a camera is colder than the dew point, water vapor in the air will condense onto the camera in droplet form. This looks like fogging.
* On one occasion the Camileo ‘died.’ It would not power up and changing
batteries had no effect.  Patty placed it on top of a lamp, to heat it and possibly kill and lingering moisture. Not sure why...but .... some minutes later it powered up. I believe an inner circuit of some kind needed to reset itself. This happened on one occasion only. Patty's 'CPR' saved the day.


 When buying a $159 waterproof HD camcorder (now selling for the dirt-cheap price of $59.99) I did not have the greatest of performance expectations. I hoped it would be a ‘fun’ digicam to have at the ready when I hit the pools and/or the waves. I did expect that, due to its Toshiba pedigree, Camileo might deliver decent results in the water and much better results on land when my main camcorder would not be available. I was happy as a lark having the tiny yellow Camileo tied to my wrist during our many water based escapades. I give my enthusiastic thumbs up for this fun, easy to use camcorder that delivered some surprisingly good results. 

STILLS FROM HD VIDEO:  When one uses Camileo to shoot 1080p HD video good quality stills can usually be 'captured' from the video. Here are two examples, both stills taken from the HD video underwater (of a very fast moving fish) and pool-side footage:

And charming Lisa who we met at the Aruba Marriott pool together with her hubby John and son. Here Lisa was giving an unsolicited Marriott testimonial:

 Be sure to click on these and any or all other photos to view most of them full size. Regardless of its low price I am certainly pleased with these types results.

Check out more Camileo results in our above YouTube videos. Here is where you will find them:
* Of course Camileo was used for all water based filming snorkeling, banana boats etc.
* Both guest interviews at the Aruba Marriott with marvelous HD results
* Guest couple interview at Crystal Cove in Barbados with again great HD results

* All scenes shot while in the pool

There will be more Camileo results in our next CTN. That Summer issue will cover our visits to St. Lucia, Antigua, St. Maartin and St. Thomas.

Here is the Toshiba Camileo web page:

For the best price simply Google 'camileo BW10 Amazon' or you may use this LINK to the Amazon page: 

See our SUMMER CTN issue for our exciting reports and videos as our 
Caribbean Oddysey continued to St. Lucia, Antigua, St. Maartin and St. Thomas.