Euphoria at a floating SpaClub

Canyon Ranch pampers passengers traveling on the elegant Queen Mary 2

The Smart Traveler

September 30, 2007|By Harry Shattuck | Harry Shattuck,Houston Chronicle

AS A 10-TIME WINNER OF CONDE NAST Traveler magazine's best destination spa award, Canyon Ranch health resorts in Massachusetts and Arizona are renowned for pampering guests. Meanwhile, Cunard Line's Queen Mary 2 is one of the most elegant ocean liners afloat.

CANCUN & THE YUCATAN: DAY BY DAY

Frommer's / Wiley / $12.99

People continue to flock to these regions of Mexico for many reasons, but perhaps a lot of it has to do with the white sandy beaches and pre- Columbian ruins. If your time is limited, authors Irene and Bill Sunley offer the best of the Yucatan in three days, as well as one-week and two-week durations. They describe the best beaches, underwater Yucatan (including the Great Mesoamerican Reef) and the best golf courses. There is also a chapter devoted to special-interest tours. Other topics include charming cities and towns (including Campeche and Cozumel) and, of course, Cancun itself.

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[JUNE SAWYERS]

TRENDS

A shipbuilding spurt

With more than 12 million vacationers ambling up the gangways last year and nearly 13 million expected to sail this year, cruise lines' coffers are awash with profits -- with lots of it slated for shipbuilding. A dozen new liners will make debuts this year, according to the Cruise Lines International Association. The building spurt will add 22,039 berths to the fleet of floating resorts that now ply the oceans. Among those planning new launches this year are Costa Cruises (Serena), Carnival (Freedom), Princess (Emerald), Royal Caribbean (Freedom of the Seas), MSC (Orchestra), Norwegian Cruise Line (Gem) and Cunard (Queen Victoria).

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[CHICAGO TRIBUNE]

PASSAGES

Plying the Intracoastal Waterway

This fall, the 100-passenger American Spirit makes a two-week journey from Baltimore to Jacksonville, Fla., through the Intracoastal Waterway. Along the way, the vessel passes marshes, wildlife refuges and farmland -- and calls at more than a dozen ports, including Charleston, S.C. and Savannah, Ga. Prices start at $6,380 for the Nov. 10-24 East Coast Inland Passage Cruise, plus $310 in fees and port charges. Gratuities, shore excursions and transporation home are extra. The American Spirit is operated by American Cruise Lines. Call 800-814-6880 or go to americancruiselines.com.

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[CHICAGO TRIBUNE]

10 FOR THE ROAD

Top large-ship cruise lines

The best large-ship cruise lines, according to a survey of nearly 19,000 readers of Travel + Leisure magazine:

1. Crystal

2. Regent Seven Seas

3. Oceania

4. Disney

5. Cunard

6. Celebrity

7. Holland America

8. Orient

9. Princess

10. Royal Caribbean

THEMES

Jazz up a trip to the Caribbean

The many styles of jazz take center stage Dec. 1-8 on a Caribbean jazz cruise aboard the Crystal Symphony. Nightly performances throughout the ship, a jazz brunch and lectures by jazz expert Robert G. O'Meally are high notes. The cruise runs round-trip from Miami, calling at Key West, Fla., and ports in Mexico and Belize. Fares start at $2,920, plus port fees of $165 and a fuel surcharge of $5 per day per person. Shore excursions and transportation between home and Miami are additional. Call 888-799-4625 or go to crystalcruises.com.

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[CHICAGO TRIBUNE]

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