SHIP TRAVEL

If you've never traveled by ship, you're missing a treat. As a pre-baby

boomer, I can remember the waning days of ocean liners when the Queen

Mary, Queen Elizabeth, France, Bremen, Michelangelo, Raffaelo, Cristo-

foro Columbo, Rotterdam, Constitution, Independence, and a dozen others

lined up like cars in parking slots on the West Side of Manhattan every

week. Those days are gone; the Queen Mary is now a hotel, the France is

a Norwegian cruise ship, the Mikhail Lermontov sank off New Zealand a

few years after carrying me to Bremerhaven, and most of the other great

liners have been recycled into cars or razor blades. However, you can still

travel by ship—and you should, if you've never had the opportunity.

 

Cruises

Most of today's passenger ships are cruisers, not ocean liners. A cruise dif-

fers from an ocean passage in being a circular tour instead of a point-to-

point crossing. The travel experience becomes the purpose of the trip,

rather than merely being an enjoyable means to an end.

The word "cruise" is typically associated with the Caribbean, if only

because so many cruise itineraries focus on that warm and sunny region.

However, you can find cruises to just about anywhere: the Baltic in sum-

mer, the Mediterranean in spring, the Panama Canal, Alaska, the South

Pacific, Antarctica, or around the world.

What's more, cruises come in an amazing variety of price ranges:

from cheap three-day trips for the mass market to cruises that last several

months and cost $20,000 or more. Theme cruises are increasingly popular,

too: look hard enough, and you'll find cruises for jazz fans, chamber musi-

cians, wildlife enthusiasts, and the corporate incentive market.

Rather than try to list all cruise lines here (and leave something else

out of the book), I'll point you to Web sites that have everything you need

to know about cruise lines and their ships:

Cruises

http://cruises.miningco.com

Linda Coffman serves up a veritable midnight buffet of articles and

Web links for cruise fans, including pointers to other cruising guides.

Fielding's Cruise Finder

http://www.fieldingtravel.com/cf/

The quantity of information here is enormous. Select a cruise line,

then examine capsule reports in 16 categories, such as "who should

go," "who should not go," "bill of fare," and "gimmicks." You can

also read reviews of individual ships and search for a cruise by

region, rating level, and "best" lists.

The Industry of Cruising

http://www.frommers.com/standard/cruising/

The title sounds like a Fortune article, but Arthur Frommer's guide

to cruising has everything from "outspoken appraisals" of 81 ships

to advice on cargo liners.

 

Ferries

Passenger/car ferries are today's counterparts to the second-tier, bread-

and-butter ocean liners of a generation ago. Most are comfortable, and the

better European ships often have luxury touches, such as cabins with beds

(rather than the usual bunks) and white-tablecloth restaurants.

 

Australia

Spirit of Tasmania

http://www.tt-line.com.au

Book anything from a hostel berth to a suite, and pick from three

restaurants during the overnight crossing between Melbourne and

Devonport.

 

North America

Alaska Marine Highway System

http://www.dot.state.ak.us/external/amhs/home.html

Ferries connect Alaska's coastal communities with each other and

the Lower 48. Accommodations range from cabins to compartments

with airline seating, and the public spaces tend to be crowded in

summer.

BC Ferries

http://www.bcferries.bc.ca/

Many of these vessels are on short-haul routes, but dayrooms and

overnight cabins are available on the Inside Passage cruise.

Lake Michigan Carferry

http ://www. ssbadger.com

The SS Badger doesn't really belong in these listings, because the

crossing from Manitowoc to Ludington takes only a few hours and

there are no cabins. Still, by Midwestern standards, it's a worthy

rival to the QE2. (For a history of Lake Michigan ferries, see

http://www.execpc.com/~abuelow/ferry.html.)

Marine Atlantique

http://www.marine-atlantic.ca/introe.html

Two 1200-passenger car ferries, the Caribou and Smallwood, run

between Newfoundland ports and North Sydney, Nova Scotia.

Cabins and dormitory sleepers are available on both ships, with

"daynighter" seats being a cheaper option on the Smallwood.

 

Europe

Overnight "ferryliners" are legion in Europe. Routes include:

• Denmark to the Faroes, Norway, Iceland, and Shetlands

• England to Holland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Spain

• Ireland to France

• Italy to Greece

• Norwegian North Cape

• Spain (mainland) to the Balearics and Canarie

and too many other routes to mention here.

 

For the Web's most complete set of links to European ferry sites, see:

 

European Ferries

http://goeurope.miningco.com/msub-ferries.htm

This entry page leads to collections of ferry links for the English

Channel and Irish Sea, Northern Europe, and Southern Europe.

 

My personal recommendations for European ferry journeys include:

Scandinavian Seaways

http://www.scansea.com

Book a cabin or couchette from Harwich or Newcastle, England, to

one of this first-rate Danish company's Scandinavian or German

destinations. (The line also runs a convenient overnight ferry

between Copenhagen and Oslo.) Minicruises are available, and the

Harwich office's ship/land holiday packages are fantastic deals.

Smyril Line

http://www.smyril-line.fo

The M/F Norrona's weekly sailings include stops in Denmark, the

Faroe Islands, the Shetlands, Western Norway, and Eastern Iceland.

If you have just a week, sail from Hanstholm to Torshavn. Spend

two nights in the Faroes, then rejoin the ship for the round-trip to

Iceland and the return to Denmark.

 

Passenger Liners

Today, only one ship qualifies as a transoceanic passenger liner: the

Queen Elizabeth 2. During the winter, the 30-year-old QE2 sails around

the world, but it returns to the North Atlantic route in April for a series of

15 or more six-day crossings between Southhampton, England, and

New York. Bring your tuxedo or cocktail dress and a few thousand dol-

lars for a stateroom. The ship is owned and operated by Cunard Line.

http://www.cunardline.com.

 

Freighters

Freighter travel has declined in popularity over the last few decades, not for

lack of passengers, but rather because of a dwindling number of ships that

offer passenger accommodations. This doesn't mean you can't travel by

freighter; it just means you have to plan ahead by visiting Web sites like these:

Internet Guide to Freighter Travel

http://members.aol.com/CruiseAZ/freighters.htm

R. F. Ahem is an inveterate freighter traveler. His site tells where to

find a freighter agent, how to arrange a trip, and what to expect on

board.

Freighter World Cruises

http://www.freighterworld.com

Use the "Destinations" page to select routes from an interactive

world map.

Mans Freighter-Cruises.com

http://www.cruisemaris.com

Maris offers an FAQ, a monthly newsletter by subscription, and

descriptions of freighter trips that can be reserved by calling the

agency's toll-free number in New York.

TravLTips Freighter Cruise & Travel

http://travltips.com

Click the "Freighter Directory" button for listings of shipping lines,

some with Web links.

The Cruise People Ltd.

http://members.aol.com/CruiseAZ/freighters.htm

This Canadian agency has offices in Toronto and London, and its

home page has links to many freighter companies that carry

passengers.

 

Finally, I can't resist plugging what may be the only remaining U.S.-

flag cruise line:

American Hawaii Cruises

http://www.cruisehawaii.com

In the late 1960s, I traveled the American Export Lines route

between Italy and New York on the SS Independence. Today, this

refurbished 1951-vintage ocean liner is owned by American Hawaii

Cruises, which offers seven-day cruises between Oahu, Kauai.

Maui, and Hawaii year-round.

 

Barges and Canal Boats

In Britain and Continental Europe, converted freight barges offer cruises

on nineteenth-century canals. At night, when the barges are moored, pas-

sengers can explore local villages and towpaths.

Boat rentals are also available in many places, with vessels ranging

from modem fiberglass cabin cruisers to refitted wooden narrow boats

Many companies offer cruises and rentals; here are a few URLs to

whet your interest:

Abercrombie & Kent

http://www.signaturetravel.com/barge.htm

Three barges carry from 6 to 24 passengers on French canals In

addition to three- and six-day cruises, family charters are available.

Afloat in France

http://www.bargeaif.com

"Luxury" is the keyword here. Amenities include candlelit dinners

tine wines, an air-conditioned minivan for local sightseeing and a'

tirst-class TGV train ticket for your return to Paris.

Crown Blue Line

http://www.bcomm.co.uk/oldcrown/english/eindex.htm

Select from more than 400 modem boats that you pilot yourself in

France or Holland.

European Waterways

http://www.europeanwaterways.com

Six- to 12-passenger barges cruise through the countryside of

England, France, Holland, and Ireland. Cruises include guided tours

of local historic and cultural sights.

Self-Drive Barges

http://www.fieldingtravel.com/cf/altcruis/canalbrg/selfdriv.htm

Fielding's CruiseFinder tells where to rent U-drive boats in Britain

France, and Holland.

 

River Cruises

Cruise World

http://www.cruiseworld.com/RIV.HTM

This U.S. agency represents river cruise lines in the United States

Austria, France, Germany, Egypt, and Russia.

Delta Queen Steamboat Company

http://www.deltaqueen.com

Cruise the Mississippi, the Ohio, and nine other rivers aboard the

Delta Queen, American Queen, and River Queen.

KD River Cruises

http://riverccruises.com/explore.htm

Cruise the Rhine, Elbe, Moselle, Danube, and other rivers in

France, Germany, Austria, and Hungary.

Peter Deilmann EuropAmerica Cruises

http://www.deilmann-cruises.com/

More than 180 European river itineraries on five deluxe boats are

available from this German firm. The Web site has timetables,

deckplans, and sample daily programs.

RiverBarge Excursions

http ://rivercruises .corn

Tour seven regions in the American South aboard the R/B River

Explorer, which is pushed by a towboat and looks like a steamboat

without paddles.

 

Other Boat Charters

Houseboats, sailboats, and motor yachts are available from thousands of

charter firms, and the easiest way to find a charter is to check the tourism

sites listed in the "Destinations" section. Here are a few listings just to

whet your boating appetite:

Houseboat Rental Directory

http://www.houseboat.net/houseboat_rentals.html

The Houseboating Guide's rental listings include firms in 37 states

and 7 Canadian provinces.

Caribbean On-Line: Sailing, Yachting, & Boat Charters

http://www.caribbean-on-line.com/sailing/

The six companies here offer bareboats and crewed yachts

throughout the Caribbean.

Charter Yachts in Greece

http://www.gfas.com/greekcharters/

Motor yachts, motor sailers, and sailing yachts are available bare or

with crews. Click on the boat photos for specifications and charter

rates.

World Wide Sail

http://www.duhe.com

Click the interactive map for links to charter services on five

continents plus the Caribbean.