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Ask T&L: Zanzibar Virgin, Cruise Tips

q. Ever since I read Evelyn Waugh's Tourist in Africa, I've longed to go to Zanzibar. Any advice for a first-timer? --R.J.L., Atlanta, Ga.
a. If you're visiting this island just off the eastern coast of Africa, you'll find the best hotels in the old section of Stone Town, also known as Zanzibar Town. The 16-room Dhow Palace Hotel (Kenyatta St.; 255-54/233-012, fax 255-54/233-008; doubles from $85, including breakfast; no credit cards) is in a beautifully restored, antiques-filled 19th-century building with all the comforts of a modern hotel -- air-conditioning, private baths, balconies. We also like the 10-room Emerson & Green Hotel (236 Hurumzi St.; 255-54/230-171, fax 255-54/231-038; doubles from $150). Once home to a wealthy 19th-century merchant, the inn is now fitted out with netting-draped four-posters, Zanzibari carved-wood furniture, and ceiling fans. In this part of town, be sure to visit the Palace Museum, the National Museum, and the 1883 four-story Beit-el-Ajaib, or House of Wonders. Elsewhere on the island, you can tour a spice plantation, look for red colobus monkeys at the Jozani Forest Reserve, and bask on secluded east coast beaches.

q. Can you dock a private boat in Chicago's harbor?We want to pull up in our 21-foot cruiser and visit downtown. --K.B., Houston, Ohio
a. The Chicago Yacht Club (312/861-7777) and the Columbia Yacht Club (312/938-3625) provide a handful of public-use slips or docks alongside Chicago's 29 miles of lakefront. You can only drop anchor here, however, if you're a member of a yacht club that has a reciprocal agreement with either Chicago group. Both charge minimal rent: as low as $1.25 per foot per night (which, unless you're at the helm of the Grand Princess, prices out better than a hotel room). Each club also has different requirements as to the length of your stay. Call ahead for further details and to reserve a slip. If you can't tie up at either club, contact the Chicago Park District (312/742-7529), which can give you information on city-owned slips.

q. I'm sending my parents to Italy for their 40th anniversary. Where should they go for a special dinner in Rome?--S.M., London
a. "My personal favorite in Rome is Agata e Romeo," says Anya von Bremzen, a T+L contributing editor and our resident food critic. It's a tiny restaurant where a husband-and-wife team -- Agata's the chef, Romeo mans the tables -- prepares thrilling contemporary updates of ancient Roman dishes (45 Via Carlo Alberto; 06/446-6115, fax 06/446-5842; dinner for two $140). Seafood is plentiful and delicious here: poached skate and turbot; swordfish stuffed with capers and olives; a soupy combination of borlotti beans with clams and mussels. If your parents are wine lovers, von Bremzen suggests lunch at Bottega del Vino da Bleve, a wineshop at the edge of the Jewish ghetto (9 Via Santa Maria del Pianto; 06/686-5970). "It has fabulous boutique wines by the glass and lovely light lunches that are popular with Roman celebrities and politicians."

q. I've figured out how to tip on land, but am baffled about how much to give on a cruise. --E.K., Pittsburgh, Pa.
a. According to Douglas Ward, author of the invaluable Berlitz Complete Guide to Cruising and Cruise Ships, you should budget about $9 to $10 per passenger per day for a standard 7-to-10-day cruise. That sum is broken down among the daily staff that assists you the most ($3 to $4 for waiters, $2 for busboys, $3 to $4 for the cabin attendant). Most cruise lines provide you with envelopes so you can pay the tip in full at the end of your voyage (cash only, please). Extra services like a spa treatment should be tipped immediately. Be prepared, though, for "tips" added to your invoice: gratuities for drinks, for example, are often really extra taxes slapped on to your total.

E-mail your questions to AskTL@travelandleisure.com, fax them to 800/926-1748, or mail them to: Ask T+L, 1120 Avenue of the Americas, 10th floor, New York, NY 10036. We regret that questions can be answered only in the column.

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