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Ask T+L: River Cruises in Europe, Small Hotels on Maui, and Hidden Airline Fees

Q: My husband and I want to spend a weekend in Manhattan. Where are the best new places to stay and eat? —Alison Carter, San Jose, Calif.

A: “I’d base myself at the retro-cool Ace Hotel (doubles from $299) or at the modern Andaz Wall Street (doubles from $275). Another new option: the 390-room Trump Soho (doubles from $389), set to make its debut this spring. Don’t miss the Museum of Arts and Design, where the recently opened restaurant Robert (lunch for two $45) offers a hearty Tuscan vegetable soup. Later, head to the Meatpacking District and take one of the horticultural tours of the High Line (tours $10), built on a former raised railroad track—the park expands to 30th Street this year. Nearby is the Standard Grill (dinner for two $70), which serves dishes such as merguez-stuffed squid.” —T+L associate editor Clark Mitchell

Q: Do you know of any great new river cruises in Europe? —Joseph Allen, Salem, Oreg.

A: A 12-day itinerary from Tauck (800/788-7885; tauck.com; from $3,990 per person) sails from Strasbourg to Prague, stopping in Germany to explore Baden-Baden’s thermal springs and Würzburg’s Baroque palace, known for its Tiepolo frescoes. Farther west, Avalon Waterways (from $2,149 per person) operates an eight-day round-trip route from Paris; in Normandy you’ll meander past the timber-framed houses of Rouen’s medieval quarter. And an eight-day departure from Viking River Cruises (877/688-4546; vikingrivercruises.com; from $1,456 per person) winds along the Danube River through Germany, Hungary, and Slovakia and includes a guided tour of the 900-year-old Benedictine abbey in the Austrian city of Melk.

Q: Can you recommend any small—yet stylish—hotels on Maui? —Michelle Lopez, Laredo, Tex.

A: On the island’s north shore, set far from the resorts in Wailea, the five rooms at the eco-conscious Paia Inn (doubles from $189) are simple but elegant, with white-and-yellow walls, bamboo floors, and travertine tile bathrooms; a 150-foot path leads to a secluded stretch of beach. Meanwhile, the Hotel Wailea (doubles from $189), centrally located near shops and restaurants on the south shore, has 72 streamlined suites—all of which are 900 square feet, with soaking tubs and private lanais. Finally, the 69-room Hotel Hana-Maui & Honua Spa (doubles from $495) remains a T+L favorite for its “Old Hawaii” feel: from its plantation-style bungalows and remote location to its decades-loyal staff.

Q: I’m finding surcharges for fares on domestic flights. Is this practice now considered standard? —Mike Collins, Fairfield, Conn.

A: According to Rick Seaney, CEO of farecompare.com, “many U.S. carriers have discounted tickets to attract leisure travelers as a result of the economy, and surcharges are a way to make up for lost revenue.” Airlines such as US Airways and American started imposing a $10 surcharge on heavy travel days late last year. Charges have since doubled and been extended into the spring. Passengers can expect to pay $10 to $50 more each way for flights around spring breaks, Easter, and Memorial Day—not to mention all of the hidden baggage fees. While no one can predict how long these charges will stick, many industry experts suspect they’ll be around until the rebound of business travel, when operating and fuel costs will be sufficiently covered by higher fares.

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