Friday, October 19, 2007

Travel Answers Serenade

Travel Answers

Here are the answers to this season's most frequently asked questions:

Internet Issues

Q: Am I missing something if I don't use the Internet to research and book my vacation?
- Peter T., Winnipeg

A: Opinions on this vary widely, so let's start with researching. The Internet is one of the easiest ways research destinations and it makes planning a breeze. Paying money over the Internet is the larger issue, although millions of people are doing it every day. Its main strength as a booking instrument is the ability to find unpublished accommodation at attractive prices. Buying from a Web site is not a guarantee however of the best price available. There are comparative deals with traditional channels too, including travel agents who can give you face-to-face advice and will be your advocate if something goes wrong. The middle ground is a Web site that offers the option of "live" personal assistance. If you do buy on-line, a general rule of thumb is to buy from a Canadian source, in Canadian dollars. If prices are quoted in a foreign currency, double check that your conversion mathematics is correct.

Cruising Comfort

Q: On cruise ships do we need to worry about a lot of second-hand smoke?
- Jane R., Barrie, Ont.

A: It depends on the cruise line and where you are sailing. Europe, Mediterranean and Asia Pacific cruises have more relaxed smoking rules, but if you choose any of the mainstream, American-based cruise lines, chances are you will not encounter second-hand smoke until evening in some of the clubs and bars. Restaurants are generally smoke-free but the casino is not. Cruise advocates will tell you that the ratio of non-smoking areas has been increasing with every new ship. If a non-smoking environment is a top priority however, choose one of the Caribbean cruises offered by the MS Paradise. It is the only totally non-smoking cruise ship in the world and this season passengers can book either an Eastern, or Western Caribbean itinerary. The luxury, US$300 million, 2,052-passenger MS Paradise delivers a commendable cruise experience and is one of the more recent additions to the Carnival Cruise Lines fleet.

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