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Ask T+L: Alaskan Cruise, Tech Organization, Amsterdam Day Trips, I.D. for Canada

Web Exclusive: March 15, 2006

I've heard about so-called repositioning cruises. What are the advantages, and what do you get to see and do?

Travelers who have a lot of time and want to see many places on one trip will find repositioning cruises a good way to go. Ships are relocated from one part of the world to another once or twice a year, usually when the seasons change, allowing lucky passengers the chance to see a diverse range of places or visit unusual ports of call along the way. Holland America Line (877/724-5425; www.hollandamerica.com ; cruises from $1,879 per person, double) , for example, takes passengers from Rio de Janeiro to Lisbon in April—a 15-day trip through the Canary Islands and Cape Verde, with a return crossing in November. Or travel from Fort Lauderdale to Valparaíso, Chile, on Celebrity Cruises (800/437-3111; www.celebritycruises.com ; from $1,800) , passing through the Panama Canal and stopping in Aruba, Ecuador, and Peru in the shoulder-season month of November. And the tall-ship company Windjammer Barefoot Cruises (800/327-2601; www.windjammer.com ; from $1,300) repositions one of its vessels from Aruba to Trinidad, stopping at Bonaire, Curaçao, and several tiny islands off the coast of Venezuela, some no bigger than a sandbar.

Web Exclusive: March 1, 2006

We are planning to travel to Canada soon; do we need more than a driver's license for identification at this time?—Robert Blake, Worcester, Mass.

For U.S. citizens entering and leaving Canada, a driver's license is no longer enough. Through December 31, 2006, U.S. citizens must show proof of U.S. citizenship—either with a passport or a combination of a certified copy of your birth certificate and a current, valid driver's license. A driver's license alone is not proof of citizenship, as non-citizens are eligible for licenses. Beginning on January 1, 2007, however, a passport will be required for all air and sea travel from the United States to Canada (as well as to Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Bermuda). And a year later, on January 1, 2008, a valid passport will be required for all border crossings between these countries and the United States.

March 2006

READER'S FIND

UPSTATE NEW YORK
I just returned from Pittsford, New York, near Rochester, where I stayed at a three-year-old bed-and-breakfast in a Victorian house. The Canal Lamp Inn [27 N. Main St.; 585/381-4351; www.canallampinn.com ; doubles from $110] has four charming rooms and is great for an affordable weekend getaway. The grounds abut the historic Erie Canal, with good hiking and walking trails nearby. And the innkeeper, Keith Miller, is an incredible cook to boot. Before you head out for a stroll, he'll whip up his special French toast for breakfast; it's made with Pittsford Farms Dairy cream and locally baked apple-raisin-walnut bread. —Will Morin, Greenville, S.C.

Enter T+L's Reader's Find sweepstakes .

My husband and I are going to Amsterdam to take in some of the special Rembrandt exhibitions organized for his 400th birthday year—can you recommend any cultural day trips from the city?—Ian Austin, New York, N.Y.

You could tuck the Netherlands into West Virginia with room to spare, which means that most points of the country can easily be reached in a day by car or train. Maastricht, about 140 miles to the south of the capital, is the host of the annual European Fine Art Fair, also known as TEFAF (Maastricht Exhibition & Congress Centre; 31-43/383-8383; www.tefaf.com ; tickets $50), held this year March 10–19. Art lovers peruse 290,000 square feet of paintings by Dutch and Flemish masters, as well as contemporary works, coins, furniture, medieval manuscripts, and other objets. Thirty-five miles southwest of Amsterdam, the Hague's Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis (8 Korte Vijverberg; 31-70/302-3456; www.mauritshuis.nl ) displays the Vermeer favorites Girl with a Pearl Earring and View on Delft . Running there March 11–June 25, "Dreaming of Italy" showcases 400 years of European depictions of the sunny south by artists rarely exhibited in the Netherlands, including Corot, Feuerbach, Ingres, Poussin, and Turner. Half an hour south of Amsterdam is the university city of Utrecht, with its funky vibe, medieval architecture, and web of canals. Check out the Centraal Museum's Dick Bruna Huis (2 Agnietenstraat; 31-30/236-2361; www.centraalmuseum.nl ), which opened last month. On display are more than 1,200 works in pencil and ink from the Dutch cartoonist, best known as the creator of the bunny Miffy. At 78, Bruna still draws every day in his nearby studio. The Centraal Museum is also home to the world's largest collection of Rietveld designs, including the plans for the well-known Rietveld Schröderhuis, a short distance away via shuttle bus.

I'm always leaving gadgets behind when I travel. Any tips for keeping track of my BlackBerry and iPod?—Catherine Turnbull, Santa Monica, Calif.

Whether or not you've lost items in the past, there are steps you should take to prevent your small, expensive electronic devices from going missing. Travel + Leisure style director Laura Begley has some great advice: Slow down. The more time you allow yourself to get from place to place, the less likely you are to leave something behind. She also recommends keeping all valuables together, on your person—and out of the notorious in-flight pocket. If you do lose something, you can use Trackitback (www.trackitback.com ) , a lost-and-found service that helps you recover your gadgets while protecting your identity. Simply label your items with the provided registration tags, which instruct the finder to contact Trackitback for a reward (you can set it when you register).

Which cruise lines offer unique trips to Alaska?—Betty Fikes, Burlington, Vt.

Try a smaller ship for an up-close look at the state. For example, CruiseWest (888/851-8133; www.cruisewest.com ; four-day glacier-viewing Alaskan voyages from $1,299 per person, double) ships can carry 78 to 114 passengers on 10 varied routes. The Best of Both Worlds cruise is a nine-day tour with some days on board and some spent deep in Glacier Bay National Park. American Safari Cruises' Seattle-to-Juneau trip (888/862-8881; www.amsafari.com ; from $5,795 per person) takes you in search of seals, sea lions, and whales, following an itinerary that's impossible for larger ships as it weaves through mountain fjords, sends you kayaking around icebergs, and anchors in remote coves. If a larger ship is more your speed, try Radisson Seven Seas Cruises (877/505-5370; www.rssc.com ; from $4,995 per person) or Holland Americ a (877/724-5425; www.hollandamerica.com ; from $1,499 per person). Both offer a variety of activities—spa services, cooking classes, gambling, and Broadway-style entertainment, for example—and optional pre- and post-cruise excursions like Radisson's Canadian Rockies train ride (from $2,135 per person) or Holland America's Denali National Park helicopter excursion between peaks and glaciers around Mount McKinley ($259 per person) .

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