Subject: Re: 50th Anniversary Cruise
Hi, Harry and Fellow Ziners intersted in cruising,

First, Harry, congrats and best wishes on your prospective celebration of 50 years of marriage! Taking a special trip is certainly a wonderful way to commemorate the milestone.

Second, about cruising, our family has taken 14 cruises to date, but the operative word there is "family," so while I am well-versed on the topic of cruising generally and what's known as "mass market cruise lines," I haven't been on any of the smaller lines that might be right up your alley, especially for making a 50th anni voyage. I will try to give you a few online resources that cover a wide range of cruise options. I also recommend that you check out from your library a Berlitz or other guide to cruising so you can sit down and read about your options. - Lots of articles about cruising, reviews of many cruise lines and ships, discussion forums with the most up-to-the-minute information you can find on the Internet about ships and itineraries - Use the advanced cruise search engine, which you can manipulate for date, destination, departure port, cruise line, etc. This is great for idea- gathering, but is limited to the primary "mass market" lines - A nifty place to spend several hours reading about small ship cruising all over the world!

As you will learn, there are certain "cruise seasons" which correspond to nature's seasons, e.g., South American cruises are popular during the US winter months because it is summer down there. For the truly adventurous, this is the time of year to go to Antarctica! Another cruise trip that is popular during the winter months is a *full* Panama Canal cruise, through the locks ocean-to- ocean, generally from Florida to California or vice versa. Of course, there will be many varieties of Caribbean and other tropical cruises in December (and on the flip side of things, no Alaskan or Baltics cruises, which are reserved for summer months, although in Europe, Christmas market cruises on the Rhine and Danube are popular, although they sound awfully cold to me--if you want to take a river cruise, December's great for doing the Nile, we did it in the summer when only crazy people go!). Another type of cruise to look for in the winter is a transatlantic repositioning cruise. Many ships spend their summers in Europe and return to the Caribbean for the winter, so it can be fun to fly over for a Euro land trip and then return home on a ship that is crossing the pond to winter in the Caribbean. I see several attractive options when using Travelocity's advanced cruise search finder--select Transatlantic for destination and input range of dates November 2006-December 2006, let the defaults remain for trip length, cruise line, etc.

I will leave you with the small cruise ship website that always makes me drool: Select "Destinations," then at the bottom left of the page use the Dates pull-down menu to select "December," voila! you will see some absolutely scrumptious offerings. Turkey's blue coast and the Seychelles are two cruise destinations on my list!

Note, if you don't want to go out on a limb on your first cruise for fear cruising may not be a good travel match for you, a Caribbean cruise in December is hard to beat for value. The pricing is generally at its lowest of the year during the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, which means you can go for a song and a modest "splurge" will yield a very nice cabin arrangement. No matter what cruise you choose, the ship will make a fuss over your anniversary, so you and your wife will feel special.

Obviously, once you've done enough research to have a few ideas and a zillion questions, a travel agent who is a cruise expert (not all TA's are) will be invaluable to you!

Happy cruise research and planning! Diana near Houston, TX