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Ask T+L: Lost Passports, Belgium Breweries, Bargain Cruises, and More

Jane Wooldridge,cruise editor,portrait

Photo: Courtesy of the Miami Herald

Ask an Expert: Jane Wooldridge, Travel + Leisure’s New Cruise Editor

Q: I’ve heard repositioning cruises are a great way to save. What do I need to know? —Nina Goodyear, Lake Forest, Ill.

A: When the seasons shift each spring, many ships are sent from waters warm in winter (the Caribbean, South America, and Asia) to Alaska and Europe; they switch back again in fall. If you don’t mind multiple days at sea and one-way itineraries, the sailings offer extraordinary value—fares are up to 50 percent less than average. This spring, you could spend seven nights aboard the Disney Wonder (from $707 per person; May 14–21) as it moves from Los Angeles to Vancouver; cruise from Barcelona through the Suez Canal to Dubai aboard Royal Caribbean’s Voyager of the Seas (from $859 per person; April 30–May 15); or make your way from Miami to Lisbon on the Crystal Symphony (from $1,360 per person; March 19–29).

Q: How do I proceed if my passport or wallet is lost or stolen on vacation? —Lucy Grayson, Fairport, N.Y.

A: Before your trip, scan copies of all your ID’s and e-mail them to yourself so you’ll have easy access to the information (be sure to keep your phone, laptop, or tablet password-protected). Doug Johnson, vice president of risk management policy at the American Bankers Association, recommends keeping credit card numbers, bank contact information, and passport details on an encrypted storage app such as Wallet ($19.99; iPhone, iPad). Call your bank immediately to cancel any missing or stolen cards; you likely won’t be held liable for fraudulent purchases, and most banks with international branches can issue a new card within 24 hours. To replace your passport, contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. Mention your departure date to expedite the process, and bring copies of any documentation to prove your identity.

Q: We’re going to Belgium. What breweries should we visit? —Andrea Turley, Las Vegas, Nev.

A: One of the few active breweries remaining in Brussels is the family-run Cantillon Brewery, built in 1900 in an old warehouse and famous for its acidic lambic brews (in March and November they invite the public to participate in the process, which may include adding hops or cleaning the 19th-century copper barrels). A visit to nearby Steenhuffel’s Palm Breweries (32-5/231-7411) includes a trip to the grounds of medieval Diepensteyn Castle for a chance to see its herd of Brabant draft horses. Southwest of Brussels in Tournai, one of the oldest cities in Belgium, the Brunehaut Brewery (32-6/934-6411) uses recipes that date back to the First Crusade.

Q: I’d love to return to the Riviera Maya. Where should I stay this time? —Michael Vaughan, via e-mail

A: If you’re heading to Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula between now and May, consider staying in Tulum. Design Hotels’ first temporary pop-up resort, Papaya Playa (800/337-4685; doubles from $105; open until May 5), has 99 rustic cabanas, a raw-food restaurant, and a spa that takes its cues from Mayan shamanism. On the beach at Playa del Carmen, all 41 villas at the just-rebranded Viceroy Riviera Maya (doubles from $720) come with private terraces and outdoor showers. On the horizon: Hard Rock is opening an all-inclusive in Quintana Roo in early 2013, and the new Kanai community, slated to open in 2014, just 24 miles south of Cancún International Airport, will contain a St. Regis, an Auberge, and a W Retreat.

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