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Today:
*** News from Conde Nast Traveler: On Cruising
*** Practical Writing Prompt of the Week:
*** Reader Feedback: How to Handle Your Camera in Extreme Weather

Dear Reader,

Conde Nast Traveler got an interesting note from one of their readers a few months back. You can read all about it in the January 2007 issue. But I’ll give you the short version here…

A gentleman wrote in to say that, to celebrate his 70th birthday, he had booked a one-week Mediterranean sailing cruise for himself and a few friends.

Little did he know, however, that the ads he saw online for the cruise here in the States were not the same advertisements that ran in Europe. In the States, this cruise was promoted as a relaxing getaway. In Europe, it was promoted with a kids-sail-free incentive, resulting in an above-average number of children on the boat (approximately one-fifth of the boat’s population or close to 550 kids).

With no escape from screeching children, his dream of a relaxing getaway was dashed. (His pictures show kids overflowing even the adults-only pool and casino.)

The editors at Conde Nast Traveler did a little research and discovered a few things I think you should know:

*** 1) The cruise manager responded to Conde Nast’s inquiry about this event by saying that because Mr. Anderson purchased his cabin through Cruise.com (an online travel agency), she couldn’t determine what information was included or omitted from their U.S. advertisements and could therefore not explain the limited disclosure Mr. Anderson received.

To my mind, the message here is that we should all be careful when booking packages like this. I am, after all, a big fan of discount-package sites like cruise.com and don’t intend to stop using them. But I for one will begin to double-check the websites of the companies participating in a package before I book on the discount site, maybe even call the company directly, just to verify that what I think I’m buying is really what I’ll be getting.

*** 2) The cruise manager also said that summer cruises, by definition, attract more families than cruises throughout the school year do. If you want a kid-free cruise, think twice about booking in the summer months and over spring break.

I hadn’t really thought about that before, but it makes sense. Since cruise lines don’t post online profiles of the people they expect on board, I suggest you follow my lead and simply make a mental note to check the calendar before booking a cruise you’re hoping will prove to be a relaxing, adult getaway.

*** 3) When Conde Nast went to the cruise line’s website to find full disclosure on the cruise, they instead found that even the cruise line promoted their cruises very differently on their U.S. and U.K. sites. What does this mean? Well, if your cruise originates outside the U.S, you’d be wise to check both the cruise line’s U.S. and perhaps at least U.K. websites. It’s easy to do. For example: You can search on Google for “Princess Cruises,” which gives you the U.S. website at http://www.princess.com.

Then do a second search for “Princess Cruises UK,” which gives you their website for a British audience at http://www.princesscruises.co.uk/. Or, talk with a travel agent that specializes in the region where you’re planning to travel.

*** 4) Conde Nast offers this additional advice: The destination is also key in figuring out who you’re going to find onboard. Small ships that stop at remote ports and focus their activities on history, culture, and food are not likely to attract families with children. A summer cruise on a big ship with lots of pools and activities, might.

Incidentally, Conde Nast Traveler offers a cruising guidebook if you’re interested in learning more. You can find it on the publication’s website at http://www.cntraveler.com

And don’t forget to keep me up-to-speed on your travel-writing or photography success. If you have a story to share, send me a quick note at lori@thetravelwriterslife.com.

— Lori
Lori Appling
Director, Great Escape Publishing

[Editor’s Note: Learn more about opportunities to profit from your travels (and even from your own home) in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel.]

PRACTICAL WRITING PROMPT OF THE WEEK

“On a small, dimly-lit side street off the Piazza Mercada, in a hillside village in Italy, there is a madman. He’s been there for years, but the residents of this Umbrian village of Spoleto have no intention of removing him. Far from being a hazard, he is a draw for locals and tourists alike…”

This lead caught my attention in this month’s Travel Post Monthly.

The story is a short and tidy account of a quirky, good-value place to eat. If you know of a place like that near you, write it up for the Travel Post Monthly.

You’ll find Writer’s and Photographer’s Guidelines at: www.travelpostmonthly.com

READER FEEDBACK: How to Handle Your Camera in Extreme Weather

Q: “How do you deal with taking your camera equipment into the field when the temperatures are potentially lethal to the equipment?”

A: “Pro-quality digital SLRs are often weather sealed so a little rain and/or snow isn’t going to bother them.

“If you plan to spend a considerable amount of time outside in the rain, however, you might consider a waterproof bag for your camera. You can find waterproof camera bags for compact cameras online for under $50 by searching for “waterproof camera bag” at www.google.com. Bags for your digital SLR are much more expensive but can also be used when snorkeling. See www.keepitdrycase.com for details. And in a pinch, you can use a plain Ziploc bag with a hole for your lens to stick out (use a rubber band to keep it in place.)

“In extreme cold weather, you also have to think about your batteries. At low temperatures, batteries start to lose their power. You’ll want to bring extra batteries with you and store them close to your body to keep them warm.

“Your tripod might also be a problem. Unless you’ve invested in a tripod made from carbon fiber, be careful when you turn the screws and buttons to adjust your settings. Non-carbon fiber tripods can freeze.

“And in extreme heat, I don’t really worry about it. I can’t imagine a situation where I’d (or you’d) be in heat hot enough to mess up anything on your digital camera.”

— Rich Wagner, professional photographer and AWAI’s photo expert

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