Q: Where can I get information on summer employment on a cruise ship?
A: Cruise lines are busiest when children are out of school -- Christmas, Easter and in the summer -- so summer is a good time for employment on a ship, according to Mary Fallon Miller, author of "How to Get a Job on a Cruise Line." The book is available for $12.95, plus $2.50 for postage, from Ticket to Adventure, P.O. Box 41005, St. Petersburg, Fla. 33743, (800) 800-8466. It describes the jobs available and provides profiles of the major cruise lines, their ships, their facilities and programs offered passengers, whom to contact for jobs and tips for job seekers.
In a telephone interview, Ms. Miller stressed that rather than ask for an undefined job, prospective employees should aim for a specific position, preferably one in an area in which they have related experience. Among the jobs that liners may have, she said, are for casino operator, cosmetologist, dance instructor, disc jockey, entertainer, massage therapist, fitness manager, gift shop manager or photographer.
For those traveling abroad during the summer, she suggested contacting the office of a foreign-based cruise line to see about openings .
Q: This August, I will be traveling alone in Switzerland and using the train system. Is a timetable available? Also, I am interested in locating a list of inexpensive rooms throughout the country.
A: A book containing schedules of Swiss trains, boats, postal buses (which take passengers), some mountain cable cars and main train connections between Switzerland and the rest of Europe is sold in Switzerland at most train stations for about $10. The book can be bought in the United States from Avos Travel, 608 Fifth Ave., Suite 410, New York, N.Y. 10020, (212) 245-1150, for $16, which includes postage. There are about 20 small booklets containing schedules from Swiss cities and towns, which are available free at many Swiss train stations.
The Swiss National Tourist Office, 608 Fifth Ave., New York, N.Y. 10017, (212) 757-5944, provides a free booklet listing members of the E&G group -- the letters stand for einfach and gemutlich, German for simple and cozy -- which is an association of moderately priced accommodations in Switzerland.
There are more than 200 members, which include restaurants with a few guest rooms, country and mountain inns and small hotels in or near cities. Rates generally run from $30 to $50 a person a night.
Q: I am planning a trip to Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires the first two weeks of April. Can you give me information on the
expected rainfall and temperature at that time? Do I need visas? Are any shots suggested?
A: In April, the average high temperature in Rio de Janeiro is 80 and the low, 69, with appreciable humidity, averaging 71 percent at 2 p.m. and close to 90 percent at night. April is the end of the rainiest season, with 10 rainy days and an average of 4.2 inches of rain during the month. A visa is required for American tourists entering Brazil. To get one, go to the Brazilian Consulate in New York, in Rockefeller Center at 630 Fifth Ave. on the 27th floor. You must show a valid American passport and a round-trip ticket to Brazil and supply one 2-by-2-inch photograph. There is no fee for those applying in person. You may send someone else in your stead with the materials; for this there is a $10 fee. The consulate does not accept applications by mail.
The Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta say that no shots are required for entry to Brazil but that anyone traveling there should have had a vaccination for tetanus and diphtheria within the last 10 years. Also, anyone older than 18 who has not had a polio vaccination as an adult should get one. Yellow fever vaccination and malaria pills are recommended for those traveling to the Brazilian states of Acre and Rondonia, the territories of Amapa and Roraima and in rural areas of Amazonas, Goias, Maranhao, Mato Grosso and Para states. There is a problem in Brazil with dengue fever, a virus spread by mosquitoes that are active in the daytime, according to the CDC; visitors are advised to wear long pants and sleeves and to use an insect repellent containing the chemical DEET. Visitors can be protected against cholera, which the centers say has also been reported in Brazil, by avoiding raw seafood, raw vegetables, ice cubes, water that has not been treated or boiled and fruit they have not peeled themselves.
Buenos Aires in April is cooler than Rio, with average high temperature 72 and the low 53, with humidity about the same as in Rio. There are eight rainy days on average in April with a total of 3.5 inches. Argentina does not require visas for U.S. passport holders traveling as tourists for no more than three months. There are no vaccinations required for visitors to Argentina, according to the CDC. Only those visiting rural areas outside the usual tourist routes need protect themselves against yellow fever or, in rural areas near the Bolivian border, malaria.
Q: Is there a directory of specialty tour operators that is available to the public?
A: The "Specialty Travel Index," published twice a year, is probably the most comprehensive such listing. The publication was designed for travel agents, but about 5,000 consumers subscribe to it too. It costs $10 for two issues or $6 for one. Issues may be ordered from Alpine Hansen Publishers, 305 San Anselmo Ave., San Anselmo, Calif. 94960, (415) 459-4900 .