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Cruise group toughens ships' medical guidelines

Published Sep. 13, 2005

Revised guidelines for medical facilities on cruise ships have been issued by the International Council of Cruise Lines. The standards are voluntary, but the changes improve on those issued in the fall of 1996.

The guidelines, which are designed to provide reasonable emergency medical care for passengers and crew and to facilitate evacuation of seriously ill or injured patients, were developed by ICCL's group of physicians and medical advisers. The revisions now suggest that:

Shipboard doctors have at least three years of clinical experience.

Infirmaries include a wheelchair-accessible toilet and X-ray machines in ships built after 1997.

There be 360-degree access to all beds and at least one intensive-care bed per ship.

Specific directions for operations and procedures be developed.

Standards adopted in 1996 recommend that physicians have competent skill levels in advanced life-support and cardiac care, that they have general practice experience in areas such as emergency medicine, family practice or internal medicine, and that the medical staff be conversant in English.

Recommended guidelines are dependent on such variables as the size of the ship, its itinerary and its construction.

Think Mexico

People thinking about retiring in Mexico now have a two-part trip to help them decide if it's a good idea. A three-day program in Guadalajara, conducted by the publishers of the quarterly Mexico Living and Travel Newsletter, is paired with a nine-day tour that includes other retirement areas.

Tour leaders John and Jean Bryant are the newsletter publishers and also authors of several books about retiring in Mexico. He says an American can retire there on $600 a month, but only "if you don't mind washing your clothes in a stream."

"Retirement books will tell you that you can live in Mexico on $300 to $600 a month; however, they do not tell you how you will live," he says, adding, "Whatever your income, it will go further in Mexico."

The three-day seminar includes a day spent on the financial, cultural, medical and legal aspects of living in Mexico. Days two and three are guided tours of neighborhoods in Guadalajara and Lake Chapala, giving participants a chance to see homes and apartments of North Americans living in Mexico. Bryant says he is not a Realtor, nor does he endorse or promote any sales.

For the other half of the retirement picture, Bryant's workshops are scheduled with an independent tour of Colonial Mexico conducted by Siesta Tours of Gainesville.

The three-day workshops cost $300 and are held monthly, with participants arriving in Guadalajara on Wednesdays. The escorted tour costs $1,595 per person, including air fare from major U.S. gateways. The tour leaves Guadalajara on Saturdays and ends eight days later in Guanajuato. For information, contact Marion Bayer of Siesta Tours by phone at (800) 679-2746 or by fax at (352) 371-8368.

Retirement overseas

The Overseas Retirement Network offers three tours this year exploring the options in Honduras, Belize and Costa Rica. Each tour includes luncheon seminars with speakers, real estate tours on request, and bilingual guides. Eight-day Honduras tours leave Sept. 20 and cost $1,290 per person, based on double occupancy; Belize tours leave Nov. 15 and cost $1,390; Costa Rica trips leave Aug. 23 and cost $1,690. All three trips have a single-person supplement of $250. Call (888) 535-5289.

Welcome back

Galaxy Tours, working with Lufthansa and Kemwel car rental, has developed Nostalgic Journeys, which allow World War II service members to create personalized itineraries for a Germany trip that includes air fares, VIP Passport Card, car rental, receptions and visits to the veteran's special places. For example, prices from the eastern United States in September/October for a six-day, fly-drive trip would be $1,299 per person. For information, call a travel agent or Galaxy Tours at (800) 523-7287.

Washington close up

The Close Up Foundation, in cooperation with the American Association of Retired Persons, puts on an annual selection of programs in Washington, D.C., designed to teach those 50 and older how to participate effectively in the political arena by meeting congressional members, participating in study tours, and visiting embassies and Congress. Each series of weeklong programs has a different focus: "The American Presidency," or "Washington and the World," for example.

Program prices start at $680 per person, double occupancy. A program will be held May 30-June 5; for other dates and details, call the foundation at (800) 363-4762 or write to 44 Canal Center Plaza, Alexandria, VA 22314.

Women over 40

To feel younger, "stay active and travel," advises Debbie Jacobs, who happens to be president of Explorations in Travel, a company that designs outdoor and cultural vacations for women 40 and older.

Explorations' itineraries have a range of skill levels, with hikers and walkers keeping their own pace. Women can choose from weekend vacations and longer trips in destinations such as Costa Rica, Greece, New Zealand, Alaska and France. For a copy of Explorations' brochure of vacations for women over 40, call (802) 257-0152 or write Explorations in Travel Inc., 275 Jacksonville Stage Road, Brattleboro, VT 05301.

This a digest of news and deals from The Mature Traveler newsletter, P.O. Box 50400, Reno, NV 89513-0400. E-mail: A random sample copy costs $2; annual subscriptions are $29.95.