By Michael Matthews
December 27, 2012 -- The world has not ended and, if you followed the advice in my last column, you are now probably broke. C'est la vie.

And la vie is the tenor of this year's annual (the eighth!) review of what has gone before in Do Not Disturb.

Because, in answer to many E-mails, I am still alive! I've had three CAT scans and each has shown that I'm clean of the cancer that first appeared last year. I have one more CAT scan in March, then move to a six-month schedule. I should have bet on myself as I am defying the odds. Other than a bit of a balance problem, I am 100 percent. Thanks, dear readers, for all of your support.

I have written a small book about my travails and the first draft is coming with me and Suzanne, the wife, as we go on yet another Seabourn cruise.

What's the title you ask? I first thought it was going to be 28 Weeks, A Hysterical Look at Getting Lung Cancer. But that didn't ring right. Now we are thinking about No More Hair on My Toes.

By the time we return at the end of January, the book should be finished and the title set. More in later columns because you are, after all, going to have to buy at least one copy. (The profits will go to the Children's Cancer Ward at Northwest Medical Center in Tucson.)

Knowing that my life may well have been shortened, Suzanne and I have been cruising the world this year. Until the end of last year, we'd never even been on a cruise ship. As far as I can make it, cruising is simply an all-inclusive resort that floats. That's how an old hotelier like me looks at it.

We started off at the end of last year going from Buenos Aires to the Falklands, around the Horn and up through the Chilean fjords. Every inch of the journey was fascinating. Talk about being coddled! The staffs of the yachts of Seabourn were and are exemplary. A lot of hotels need to send their staffs to Seabourn for training. Incidentally, Seabourn ships are much smaller than the cruising norm, hence the affectation of calling them "yachts."

Our stay at the Alvear Place in Buenos Aires was nearly perfect. From its location in the smartest part of town to the large rooms and the marble bathrooms to the great bar and the snooty concierge. The Ritz-Carlton in Santiago needs some renovation, but its location in the business district is perfect and a subway line is a few steps away. The highlight there was the wonderful food and, of course, wine from the local vineyards.

We were so endeared with Seabourn that we returned in May. We made our way to Venice and then cruised through Montenegro, Croatia and Corfu. Hotels in Venice range from the sublimely expensive to more moderately priced places in converted palaces.

Two outstanding hotels along the way were arranged by an old colleague from my Regent days: The Goldener Hirsch in Salzburg and the Hotel de France in Vienna. Because management had been given the nod, we had remarkable accommodations at both properties with much fawning all round. Both hotels get thumbs up.

Of course, when in Vienna, you must go to the Cafe Sacher, located in the Hotel Sacher next to the Opera House. You will, of course, have their famous Original Sacher-Torte. And you will, of course, join a hundred or so Japanese tourists doing exactly the same thing.

In Prague, we stayed at The Savic hotel, one of the prime choices of TripAdvisor readers. Newly renovated, it offers great bedrooms, wooden floors, marble bathrooms, a bountiful breakfast and a forever-smiling staff. Located in Old Town Square, it's a short stroll to the Charles Bridge in one direction and the famed Astronomical Clock in the other.

As you read this, we are on our fourth Seabourn cruise in a year. If all goes according to plan, we'll spend a few days in Bali and then cruise through the Indonesian islands. Then we will swing south to Australia. We'll visit various ports of call, spend a couple of days snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef, catch up with friends in Brisbane and Sydney and then cross to New Zealand's South Island. It's 32 days in all--excluding a break in Fiji on the way home.

If Suzanne and I don't kill ourselves by the end of the cruise, it will be a miracle.

ABOUT MICHAEL MATTHEWS Michael Matthews has managed and marketed fine hotels around the world for more than 45 years. He spent 14 years in Hong Kong building the legendary Regent International group. He has also worked with St. Regis, Ritz-Carlton and Rosewood hotels. Matthews is currently based in Arizona. He began writing Do Not Disturb in early 2004.

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