Side trip

Briefs: Don't let cruise extras sink your budget

Associated Press

Associated Press

Going on a cruise? You may think everything's included in the fare, but there are lots of little extras that can add up. Be prepared for these:

• Parking near the cruise port: $15 to $20 a day. You may be able to find cheaper parking some distance away.

• Drinks. Soft drinks and alcoholic beverages cost extra. Most major cruise lines offer a prepaid drink card/account that can help cruisers control beverage spending or offer unlimited consumption for a set price. A prepaid soda card can be cost-effective, particularly if you're cruising with kids. Keep an eye out for gratuities that are automatically added to the bar tab.

• Speaking of tips, many cruise lines have adopted an automatic prepaid service fee. On Norwegian Cruise Line's ships it is $10 per adult, and $5 per child, per day. On lines not using automatic charges, combined tips totaling about $10 per person per day are generally encouraged for dining room servers and cabin stewards.

• Internet access. Be prepared to pay. Royal Caribbean charges cruisers 55 cents per minute for an Internet connection, but customers can purchase packages such as 60 minutes for $28, 90 minutes for $38 and 150 minutes for $55. Pricing for cell phone usage onboard a ship can vary, even if roaming charges and international calls are included in a user's calling plan.

• Reservations. The high-end steak houses or fancy Italian restaurants on cruise ships often charge a per-person reservation fee, unlike main dining rooms that offer a set menu of items included in the cruise fare. On Princess Cruises, a cover charge of $15 to $25 per person may apply at alternative dining venues.

Wallet's gone? Turn here

What would you do if your wallet disappeared while you're traveling? You've got a few choices:

• Ask someone to wire you money via Western Union.

• Borrow money from fellow tourists.

• Get in touch with American Citizens Services and Crisis Management, through the State Department. (Go to www.travel.state.gov.) This service can help you reach family or friends who can help with money or, if need be, it can float you a small loan to help you regain your footing. This is also the agency to call if someone dies or becomes ill while traveling overseas or is arrested. Reach ACS at toll-free 1-888-407-4747 in the United States or, from overseas, at (202) 501-4444.

Museums for kids

Taking the family to Washington? Check out the Muppets exhibit, "Jim Henson's Fantastic World," at the underground International Gallery at the Smithsonian Institution, www.sites.si.edu/henson, through Oct. 5. Or visit the "Building Zone" gallery at the National Building Museum, www.nbm.org, with blocks, toy trucks and tools for kids through age 6.

Save on gas

The high cost of gasoline doesn't have to scuttle your plans for a driving vacation. Check bedandbreakfast.com for dozens of properties throughout the country offering "Tanks a Lot" promotions to attract guests. Some offer a gas card outright, others discount the rooms to ease the pain at the pump. Then check such sites as gasbuddy.com for stations in any given area with the lowest prices on gas.

Our favorite cities

Here are the top North American cities, from Travel+Leisure magazine's 2008 reader poll (last year's rank in parentheses):

1. New York (1)

2. San Francisco (2)

3. Chicago (3)

4. Charleston, S.C. (6)

5. Santa Fe (4)

6. Quebec City (5)

7. Montreal (8)

8. Vancouver (7)

9. Savannah, Ga.

10. Victoria, British Columbia (9)

Correction

Oh, what a difference an apostrophe makes. In a Latitudes story Aug. 17, we wrote about the winning California red wine in a legendary 1976 Paris tasting. The wine was from Stag's Leap Wine Cellars on the Silverado Trail in Napa Valley, not its neighbor Stags' Leap Winery.

Compiled from Times wires

Briefs: Don't let cruise extras sink your budget 08/30/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 2, 2010 2:11pm]

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