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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 4)

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  


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