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Cruises: Tops of the Liners

Think Sea Cruises Are Strictly Cattle Cars? Check Out These Ocean-Going Limousines
Heidi Sarna
From the Print Edition:
Laurence Fishburne, Jan/Feb 00

(continued from page 1)

On some ships, PGA-certified golf pros provide lessons for players of all skill levels, covering everything from the basics to specialty shots in facilities that include golf cages, putting greens and sand traps on outside decks.   Silversea's Silver Links golf program is featured on 17 different cruises this year, visiting some 59 courses in 26 countries. Packages start at $995 a person and include from three to six rounds in different countries.  

A series of Seabourn's Signature Golf Cruises are scheduled to visit Southeast Asia, the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, the British Isles, mainland Europe and Scandinavia this year. Ranging from $1,025 to $1,938 a person, the packages offer up to six rounds of golf at prestigious courses and include everything you'll need. The Seabourn Golf School at Sea, which includes videotape analysis and seminars on course management, rules, history and etiquette, is being offered year-round.  

Crystal's Golf Series programs will be held on 14 cruises this year, on 35 courses in the Mediterranean, Asia, the South Pacific and the Caribbean. Packages offer the works, even complimentary club storage and special cocktail parties. Crystal has PGA golf pros on board most sailings, conducting private lessons. The pro determines the fee, generally ranging from $50 to $250, depending on the length of the lesson and the skill level of the student. The pro also teaches a free one-hour group class during days at sea as well as a free 30-minute clinic specializing in swing technique.  

Radisson Seven Seas, the official cruise line of the PGA of America, runs its RSSC Golf Program on the Radisson Diamond and Navigator on select European and Caribbean cruises every year. Play on board and in port. An onboard PGA golf pro gives private, videotaped lessons. As with the Silversea golf program, packages including play at courses in various ports of call are also available--HS    

HOW TO BOOK A CRUISE  

Since many cruise lines don't book reservations directly, contacting a travel agent is usually the best way to select a cruise. Some agents deal exclusively in cruises and, generally, none charge for their services. Cruise-only agents offer specialized knowledge, but their service is limited to the cruise itself and booking air connections. Full-service agencies, while generalists, can also arrange hotels, car rentals and land tours. Some cruise-only agencies work exclusively from 800 numbers and deal with clients only over the phone--convenient, yes, but also somewhat impersonal. If you have a good relationship with a local travel agent who knows your likes and dislikes, it may be best to pay him a visit. You can also expect your travel agent to find you the best prices available. Never give out your credit card number over the phone to an unfamiliar agency. For referrals to agents specializing in high-end travel, contact A.P.I. Travel Consultants, a 235-member consortium (800-401-4API by phone or on the Internet at www.apitravel.com).  

Cruise prices are almost always discounted from the published brochure rates--often as much as 10 to 50 percent--and prices vary according to the date of the cruise. High season (late December through April for the Caribbean; April through October for the Mediterranean and northern Europe; and November through April for Asia and the South Pacific) and holiday time generally cost the most. Consider cruising in the off-season or toward the beginning or end of a season to save money and avoid crowds. As a rule, booking 90 days or more before a cruise sails ensures the best price, although last-minute deals develop when ships still have space available just weeks or days before sailing. Because travel agents sell so many cruises, many get special rates and additional discounts directly from the lines and pass them on to consumers. Keep in mind, agents work on commissions from the cruise lines and may be biased toward those that pay the highest rates. Don't be swayed to a cruise that isn't right for you. Don't forget to factor in airfare--which may or may not be included in the package price--tips and the cost of shore excursions.--HS    

SMOKING ON THE WATER  

THE BEST SHIPS AND THEIR CIGAR AMENITIES  
CARONIA/CUNARD LINE LIMITED
Where:
North Cape Bar
Cuban cigars:
yes  

CRYSTAL HARMONY/CRYSTAL CRUISES
Where: Vista Lounge
Cuban cigars:
yes   CRYSTAL SYMPHONY/CRYSTAL CRUISES

Where: Connoisseurs Club
Cuban cigars:
yes   PAUL GAUGUIN AND NAVIGATOR/RADISSON SEVEN SEAS CRUISES

Where: Connoisseur Club
Cuban cigars:
yes  

QUEEN ELIZABETH 2/CUNARD LINE LIMITED
Where:
Chart Room and Golden Lion Pub
Cuban cigars: yes  

RADISSON DIAMOND/RADISSON SEVEN SEAS CRUISES
Where: Outside decks
Cuban cigars:
no (no cigars sold on board)  

SEABOURN GODDESS I AND II/SEABOURN CRUISE LINE
Where:
Main Salon
CUBAN CIGARS: available on all Seabourn vessels listed  

SEABOURN LEGEND/SEABOURN CRUISE LINE
Where:
Midnight Sun  

SEABOURN PRIDE/SEABOURN CRUISE LINE
Where:
Constellation Lounge  

SEABOURN SPIRIT/SEABOURN CRUISE LINE
Where: Horizon Lounge  

SEABOURN SUN/SEABOURN CRUISE LINE
Where:
Oak Room  

SILVER WIND AND SILVER CLOUD/SILVERSEA CRUISES
Where: Observation Lounge
Cuban cigars:
yes  

WIND STAR, WIND SPIRIT AND WIND SONG/WINDSTAR CRUISES
Where:
Outside decks
Cuban cigars:
no  

CENTURY, MERCURY AND GALAXY/CELEBRITY CRUISES
Where:
Michael's Cigar Bar
Cuban cigars: no  

ROTTERDAM AND VOLENDAM/HOLLAND AMERICA LINE
Where:
Outside decks
Cuban cigars:
no


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