Things to Do

Travel News: Cruise Controversy Edition

Find out if you’re getting a good deal and where you fall on the Great Cruise Divide

In life, there are many subjects that are culturally divisive (we’re thinking KFC Double Downs, PBS, and Sarah Palin). But in the travel world, one issue occasions more debate than any other: the cruise. It’s peak cruise season right now, so everyone who’s anyone is weighing in on the pleasures and perils of cruising, from Arthur Frommer on why tour operators are barging (pun intended) up against cruises to CNN’s lengthy treatise on “the great cruise divide.”

The New York Times has a useful piece this week about vacation packages and how to tell if they’re really as good a value as they seem (or as they’re promoted to be). Key hints: Don’t be sucked in by the cheapest deal you can find, pay attention to the site’s top picks, and consider packages during peak season, when the individual prices of flights and hotels usually soar.

An interesting local deal this week: LivingSocial Escapes is offering a one-night stay at the Tremont Plaza Hotel in Baltimore for $109 a night, which is almost half the price of the hotel’s usual rate. The Inner Harbor hotel is walking distance to the National Aquarium, the Maryland Science Center, and the Mount Vernon Cultural District, and amenities include free wi-fi, an outdoor pool, gym, yoga studio, and sauna. has some great rates on flights to Costa Rica from March through May. Round-trip flights from Washington to San Jose are currently $354, including tax, which is one of the cheapest rates we’ve seen for this route in a while. No “Do you know the way to San Jose?” jokes at the airport though, please.

And finally, if you thought we were done with cruises, you were wrong. The Washington Post’s Andrea Sachs took a trip earlier this month on the Disney Dream, a veritable 130,000-ton cruising amusement park. Only this time the Disney theme is apparently muted: “Mickey silhouettes on the red funnels and the figure of ‘Fantasia’ Mickey dangling from the stern are the only winks to the Big Daddy creator.”

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