November 11, 2010

Q: How can I get the best deal on a cruise right now? —Jack Stuart, Providence, R.I.

Sailing before or after peak season is one option. On the Mediterranean-bound Crystal Serenity (crystalcruises.com), heading out in August can cost as much as 32 percent more than in, say, November, when demand is lower. If you’re willing to take an older ship, Caribbean itineraries on Freedom of the Seas, which launched in 2006, are 20 percent less than those on the new Allure of the Seas from Royal Caribbean International. Another idea: Book a longer trip of two weeks or more. Holland America offers a variety of Norwegian fjord cruises; starting prices for the 21-day itinerary aboard the Ryndam are 17 percent less than a seven-day schedule. —T+L cruise editor Sherri Eisenberg

Q: Can you recommend any African safaris where you can meet local tribespeople? —Alison Jansen, Winchester, Mass.

A: You’ll spend time with Dogon elders and explore the Taikri market with Fulani women as part of the new Extreme Adventures Mali: The Jackal’s Road from Abercrombie & Kent (800/554-7094; akextremeadventure.com; from $4,185 for nine days), which provides in-depth access to this remote West African nation. Travel Beyond (800/823-6063; travelbeyond.com; from $3,985 for seven days) creates custom itineraries through Kenya including a stop to meet Samburu warriors. On a bespoke Tribes and Cultures of South Africa trip with Micato Safaris (from $6,972 for nine days), travelers learn about the initiation of youth into warriorhood from a village elder and the art of craftwork alongside members of the Zulu tribe.

Q: I’ve heard that you can now book Delta flights through Facebook. How does it work, and are other airlines considering this service? —Ben Wilson, Salem, Ore.

A: On Delta Air Lines’s Facebook page, a new function allows customers to find and purchase flights through a special booking tool, without leaving Facebook, and then share details such as arrival time on friends’ walls—making coordination that much simpler. According to Delta’s vice president of e-commerce Bob Kupbens: “We already know Facebook is the most used website by in-flight Wi-Fi users on more than 2,000 Delta flights every day.” Other airlines, such as Virgin America, Frontier, and United, are contemplating expanding their booking options, but concrete plans have yet to be announced.

Q: My husband and I want to plan an affordable trip to Turks and Caicos. Where should we stay and eat? —Donna Rutledge, Baton Rouge, La.

A: Getting to these islands has never been easier: in February, JetBlue Airways is launching daily service to Providenciales Airport from New York’s JFK as well as a seasonal, Saturday-only flight from Boston’s Logan. Two hotels to consider: the 17-room Caribbean Paradise Inn (doubles from $160), a five-minute walk from Grace Bay Beach, and the streamlined condo-style accommodations at Coral Gardens Resort (doubles from $200). Also check out Grace Bay Club (doubles from $550), which is offering a “fourth night free” package. For a beachside lunch, Beach Café (lunch for two $20) serves hearty fare such as huevos rancheros. Come evening, try the blackened mahimahi in the courtyard of Coco Bistro (dinner for two $90).

Micato Safaris

Since 1966, the Pinto family of Kenya and New York has been welcoming guests to Africa with an extraordinary level of service and in-country expertise. Guide Alan Petersen has led David Beckham and Robert De Niro. T+L Trip pick Discover Africa’s Heritage. Visit unesco-protected areas such as Kenya’s Lake Nakuru and Zanzibar’s Stone Town.

Grace Bay Club

Royal Caribbean International

Based out of Miami Port of Call on Dodge Island, Royal Caribbean International offers a wide variety of cruises to destinations across the globe, including Alaska, New Zealand, Brazil, and Singapore. One popular option is the three- or four-night Bahamas cruise aboard the Majesty of the Seas®, which stops in Nassau, Bahamas; Coco Cay, Bahamas (the cruise line’s private island); and Key West, Florida before returning to Miami. Onboard features include the Vitality Spa, Casino Royale®, Broadway-style shows, and Royal Caribbean’s signature rock-climbing wall.

Holland America Line

Caribbean Paradise Inn

Coral Gardens Resort

Beach Cafe

Coco Bistro

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