Inspection program reduces illnesses on cruise shipsA...

TRAVEL LOG

November 11, 1990

Inspection program reduces illnesses on cruise ships

A cruise ship inspection program, begun in 1975, has yielded dramatic improvement in sanitation and a sharp decline in health problems over the last three years, according to the Centers for Disease Contron in Atlanta.

As of the end of October, there have been no outbreaks of infectious disease on board any cruise ship operating out of the United States this year.

Six full-time inspectors have been making routine semiannual inspections of all cruise ships leaving United States ports for foreign waters, and giving each ship a grade of 0 to 100, with 86 the passing grade. The main focus is on kitchens, bathrooms and water supplies.

Of 84 ships inspected this year, 72 received passing marks. One ship, the Wind Spirit of Windstar Cruises, came through with a perfect 100, while the lowest-scoring vessel was the Pride of Mississippi, operated by Pride Cruise Lines, which scored 57. Between March 1, 1987, and Aug. 31, 1988, 58 of 87 ships that were inspected failed, with many of them receiving scores below 50. During that period there were also several minor outbreaks of sickness on board.

Thomas Hunt, chief of the centers' program, said the purpose of the inspections is to ward off outbreaks of serious infections, but nothing can prevent an occasional case of nausea or faulty sea legs. "For most people, it's still a good idea to take along some Dramamine," he added.

Travel service arranges Tahoe skiing vacations

Anyone who has ever booked a ski vacation knows that it can be daunting. In addition to making reservations for airline tickets, lodging and car rental, one needs to shop for lift tickets, ski

lessons, rental equipment and child care -- and there are many packages combining some or all of these elements.

Enter the ski reservation service. Victoria Vacations, known as Vic-Vac, has opened an office in Boulder, Colo., to use specially designed software to help customers and travel agents find suitable packages. This year, Vic-Vac -- Victorian Vacations, 2100 Central Ave., Boulder, Colo. 80301; (800) 800-8888 -- will represent 18 resorts: Aspen, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Copper Mountain, Crested Butte, Keystone, Snowmass, Steamboat, Vail and Winter Park in Colorado; Deer Valley and Park City, Utah; Jackson Hole, Wyo.; Stratton, Vt.; and Banff, Lake Louise and Whistler-Blackcomb in western Canada. Vic-Vac can be reached by phone from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays (Mountain time).

With political unrest in North India likely to go on at least sporadically through the winter tourist season, travelers are advised to check and recheck reservations before leaving New Delhi, and to visit India prepared to change plans at the last moment.

Disturbances in the northern Indian states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, first over a national affirmative-action plan and then over a disputed mosque and temple site in the holy city of Ayodhya, have disrupted rail, road and sometimes air traffic along the New Delhi-Lucknow-Varanasi-Patna-Calcutta corridor. The Rajasthani city of Jaipur has also been affected.

Kashmir remains severely disturbed and increasingly dangerous because of a heavy Indian military response to an independence movement there. Foreigners are sometimes questioned by Indian forces, who have the right to stop any vehicle in the Kashmir Valley. There has also been a report of one case of sexual assault on a Western tourist by paramilitary troops.

Teddy Bear museum to open in Florida

There'll be a lot of hugging going on in the teddy bear world on Dec. 19, when Frannie's Teddy Bear Museum opens in Naples, Fla. More than 1,600 teddy bears will be on display, most of them from the collection of the museum's founder, philanthropist Frances Pew Hayes. The $2 million, 8,000-square-foot attraction also will hold about 200 pieces of bear art, and the opening exhibit will feature the bear work of Florida artists. The museum also will be a repository of teddy bear information, with a library and audiovisual room.

Many of the bears in the collection were gifts to Ms. Hayes from friends and relatives, including her 19 grandchildren, according to George B. Black Jr., her son and the museum's director.

Holiday tour, dinner at Vanderbilt mansion

The holidays are a time for feasting, of course, but few places will offer as elaborate a spread as that to be served by the Biltmore Estate in Ashville, N.C. At Biltmore, the 250-room mansion that was the home of George Washington Vanderbilt, a lavish, 35-item Victorian era holiday dinner will be offered on selected days from Nov. 28, the day after Thanksgiving, through Dec. 30.

Among the entrees: lobster bisque, Angus prime rib, crown roast of lamb, poached Scottish salmon, roast goose with chestnuts, suckling pig, smoked turkey with oyster stuffing, medallions of quail; venison Talleyrand and pheasant Biltmore. Desserts include pumpkin cheesecake, hazelnuts with praline mousse, sugarplums and Waldorf pudding.

The Victorian Christmas Feast is offered on Candlelight Evenings, when the mansion's 60 fireplaces are lighted and more than 200 candles are placed throughout the grand manor. The mansion will be elaborately decoarated with 26 Christmas ++ trees, 1,500 poinsettias, 150 wreaths and more than 10,000 feet of evergreen roping.

Admission for a Candlelight Evening is $25 for adults and $21 for students 12-17. Cost of the feast is $18 for adults and $7.95 for children 11 and under. Reservations are required to attend a Candlelight Evening: call (800) 289-1895.

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