Imagine boarding your four-masted, luxurious sailboat at Monte Carlo's
incredible harbor. You're off to Lisbon, with stops at plenty of la dolce
vita ports such as Spain's Ibiza island. In short, the Mediterranean
oyster for eight days or 14 days. That's the life Windstar Cruises (www.windstarcruises.com) is
offering early this fall for half the usual price.
Like clockwork, twice a year cruise ships around the world change locations
because of the weather. In late spring, ships serving Mexico and Central
America, for example, go north to Alaska for summer cruises. They go back
south when fall arrives. These are called "repositioning" cruises, and some
companies offer special deals on them. Which is what Windstar, a luxury line
whose ships carry between 150 and 300 passengers, is doing with four of its
ships in late October. All of them will cruise the coasts of Italy, France,
Spain or Morocco, and two people sail for the price of one.
Here's a sample price: Sail eight days from Monte Carlo to Lisbon for $2,253
per person, including taxes and port charges. Or you can do 14 days, sailing
from Rome to Lisbon for $3800 per person. This isn't
budget travel, but by Windstar standards, these are budget prices.
Cruising the Mediterranean for half price -- that's my Deal of the Week!
American and British Air Alliance
The Department of Transportation this week refused to give American
Airlines and British Airways special permission to form an alliance.
D.O.T. wants more U.S. carriers to have access to Heathrow Airport, but
B.A. won't give up enough of its takeoff and landing slots. Access to
Heathrow has long been a sticking point in Uncle Sam's negotiations with
the British government over a new aviation agreement. A.A. and B.A.
already dominate the lucrative New York to London route. I asked Business
Travel Coalition chairman Kevin Mitchell if the two airlines won't still be
partners in many ways.
Mitchell: "Yeah and those areas include the frequent flyer programs, the
joint use of lounges. But that is not anywhere near as dangerous to the
consumer as the ability to sit in a room and say all right, we now have six
flights a day on this route, $1000 one-way. If we reduce the six to four
flights, we can increase prices to, say, $1300 each way. They're not going
to be allowed to have that kind of discussion."
Stowaway to London
Meanwhile, there was an uninvited and non-paying guest on a recent B.A.
flight to London. The Boston Globe reports that a 17-year-old Boston boy
stowed away earlier this month by cutting razor wire, crossing two miles of
restricted area, and boarding the plane through a door that was supposed to
be locked. He said he wanted to go to Israel and thought the stunt might
impress Israel's intelligence agency. The FAA, Logan Airport, and the
airline are investigating the breech of security.
Cruise Crime Reports
The country's biggest cruise lines have changed their policy about
reporting shipboard crime. Carnival Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean, and the
14 other members of the International Council of Cruise Lines have agreed
to report allegations of crime to the F.B.I. when one of their ships sails
from an American port or when the incident involves an American citizen.
Cruise lines have avoided this until now because cruise ships generally are
registered in foreign countries and aren't subject to many U.S. regulations.
A Wing and a Prayer
Ever get the urge to pray when you board a plane? Airbus has offered to
make it easier by building five planes equipped with synagogues for
Israel's airline, El Al. There'll even be a rotating stand for the Torah so
the scroll always faces Jerusalem.
Travel Advisory by Cheryl Glaser
U.S. Embassy Update
Security officials on the island of Madagascar found traces of explosives
on a vehicle approaching the American embassy Thursday. They closed the
street for several hours, but the embassy remains open. The U.S. embassy
in Mozambique has been closed since last week; officials are working from
home. Tensions have been high in east Africa all summer approaching the
August 7th anniversary of last year's embassy bombings in Kenya and
Fires Threaten Bwindi Wildlife
Forest fires have raged for the past week in Bwindi Impenetrable National
Park, where trekkers observe Uganda's rare mountain gorillas. Uganda's
tourism industry already was shaky after eight tourists were massacred in
March. Wildlife officials fear the gorillas will flee the park for good if
the fires continue. Uganda has no advanced fire-fighting technology, and
rain may be the only hope for putting out the flames.
Strike in South Africa
And be prepared for widespread disruption in South Africa: hundreds of
thousands of public workers began protests Thursday in the biggest strike
since the end of apartheid. Union officials said emergency workers and
police would remain on duty.