Our spotlight today is focused on the...

Our spotlight today is focused on the cruise scene. Columnists Shirley Slater and Harry Basch describe how ocean liners have become “democratized.” (Ships that once attracted royalty, they say, are doing one-class cruises that appeal to everyone.) On Page 3 you’ll enjoy another article by Dagmar Miller who sailed away--without her husband--and confesses she enjoyed the trip immensely! You’ll also learn from travel writer Jack McGuire that today’s cruise world lies somewhere between the old newsreel shots of celebrities dancing away the night and the swinging scenes of TV escapades. And there is the more poignant story by Georgina Cruz who describes a middle-aged amputee who navigated the decks of a cruise ship in her wheelchair.

And now, a few notes of my own.

Last-Minute Cruises

Spur of the Moment Cruises specializes in discount travel throughout the world. Claims it can save you as much as 50% on trips. Reduced rates to Mexico, the Caribbean, Panama Canal, the Orient, the Mediterranean. Here’s how it works: Spur of the Moment books you on ships that are about to sail with empty cabins. (The cruise lines figure a few dollars is better than taking a loss.) No charge for registering. Fill out a questionnaire, name your cruise preferences. After this the computer kicks out an answer. (The company operates a 24-hour hot line, keeping members posted on latest cruise offers.) It’s a great opportunity for retirees who can leave on short notice. Register through your travel agent or contact Spur of the Moment, 10780 Jefferson Blvd., Culver City 90230. Telephone toll-free (800) 233-2129; outside California call (800) 343-1991.

Short Notice

Other reduced rates are offered by Short Notice Trip Service of Maryland. Give three to four weeks head start and they promise to save you big bucks on tours, charter flights, cruises. These are standby reservations. The space is guaranteed, with the same service full-pay passengers receive. Costs $35 to join Short Notice. Members are given a telephone number to call for information on trip offers. Details from Vacation Go Card (Short Notice Trip Service), P.O. Box 641, Lanham, Md. 20706, or telphone toll-free (800) 638-8976.

Here’s another: South Florida Cruises offers additional discounts on cruises to the Caribbean, Mexico, South America, the Panama Canal. Call toll-free (800) 327-SHIP for up-to-the-minute details. No membership or service charges.

Love Boat Sampler

Princess Cruises will take you sailing on a mini-cruise Sept. 24 for $599 per person, double occupancy. This is a five-day, four-night fly/cruise package that includes a hop to Vancouver and a first-class hotel. Return to Los Angeles will be aboard the Island Princess. The package is billed as the “Love Boat Sampler.” Princess will also take you on a tour of Vancouver, the city that will host the Expo ’86 celebration next year. Sounds like a winner.


Singles Scene

Several cruise lines are finding roommates for singles seeking to avoid that irritating (and costly) business of the single supplement. Regency Cruises says if it can’t find you a cabin mate, you can occupy a cabin alone at no extra charge. Sounds like a good a deal. Regency says it can save the passenger up to $787. Ask your travel agency about the Regency Roommate Program. (These are seven-day cruises out of Montego Bay, Jamaica. Ports of call include Grand Cayman, Cartagena, Aruba. The ship also transits the Panama Canal.) Your travel agent has the details.

One-Day Sail

Closer to home, Resort Commuter Airline will fly you from Orange County’s John Wayne Airport to Catalina to board a 70-foot yacht that hosted the Kennedys, the Rockefellers and other celebrated folks. Snacks, champagne served during the four/five-hour cruise back to the mainland. Passengers are met by limousine at Newport Beach and returned to the airport. Cost for the full-day package, $139. This includes a bus tour of Catalina. Contact Pete Maddox c/o Resort Commuter Airline, 805 E. Fairway Drive, Orange, Calif. 92666, or telephone (714) 261-2444. The toll-free number is (800) 523-3000.

Reader Recommendations

Borrego Springs, Calif.--Charles Chapman, Glendale: High praise for La Casa del Zorro, 3845 Yaqui Pass Road, Borrego Springs 92004. “Rooms are impeccable, airstrip nearby. Dining room specializes in international cuisine. We loved it. Rate: $70/$75.”

Santa Cruz, Calif.--Jackie Pickell, San Diego: Try Jelly’s French Pastry, 1547 C Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, for fresh-made croissants. “They melt in your mouth, as do all her pastries.”

Maine--Ralph F. Bernays, Oceanside: Recommends Mrs. Victoria Albert’s Old Tavern Inn with six rooms. Heated pool, fishing, 12 miles southwest of Augusta. $30 double, $27 single, full breakfast. P.O. Box 445, Litchfield, Me. 04350. “Best we had in Maine.”

Oregon--Don Ogren, Torrance: “A delightful place to have lunch and a slice of pie is Tommy Callahan’s Pie and Kite Shop at Ocean View Drive and Beach Avenue in the town of Yachats on the Oregon Coast. Exotic kites are also sold.”

Australia--Hank and Priscilla Brodkin, Marina del Rey: “Spent three magical days at Cassowary House in the coastal hills above Cairns, Australia. Clean, comfortable accommodations overlook a stream in the rain forest. Private home of John and Rita Squire. $50 Australian a day includes three fantastic meals. Squires will pick up and return you to Cairns airport and arrange tours if desired.” Cassowary House, Black Mountain Road, Box 252, Kuranda Queensland 4872, Australia. Phone (070) 93 7318.

France--Marta Schwartz, Los Angeles: “Enjoyed the charming Le Relais Grillabe, three miles south of Pouilly sur Loire on the RN7 road. Food was excellent, service good, prices reasonable. No other address necessary.”

France--Sid and Jerry Elicks, Downey: “Restaurant Da Albert, 24 Rue des Marchand, Colmar, France. Lunch $5, dinner $10. Owners M. and Mme. Alberto Bradi are a young English-speaking couple. Excellent food, lovely decor, great service. Restaurant is tucked in back of a court off the street.”

England--Mr. and Mrs. A. H. Dunn, Pomona: “Highly recommend Bowen Farmhouse, Fownhope, Hereford, England. Great ambiance, good food (much of which is grown on the premises). The guest house is in the beautiful Wye Valley, six miles south of the city of Hereford. Bed and breakfast about 13 (about $18).”

England--Mr. and Mrs. James T. Nance, South Pasadena: Enjoyed the Wentworth Hotel, 106 Bloomfield Road, Bath BA2 2AP, England. “Lovely rooms and villas. International cuisine. We loved it.”

England--John W. Witt, San Diego: “Two B&Bs; we enjoyed, both well located, clean, comfortable with excellent breakfasts and friendly accommodating hosts. Hayburn Wyke Guest House, 72 Castle Road, Salisbury, Wiltshire, run by Bill and Doreen Marks. Stonehenge a short drive away. 30 for three of us. Honeystone, Upper Campsfield Road, Woodstock, Oxon, has two guest rooms offered by Mr. and Mrs. Poole. Blenheim Palace and Bladon, Churchill’s final resting place, nearby. 25 for our family of three.”

Canada--Harry Hooper, Simi Valley: “Four of us just had a most enjoyable five-day cruise on a beautiful 48-foot sailboat, Gypsy Wind, around the spectacular San Juan and Gulf islands. Cost $711 American. We bought the food for us and the skipper, Mark Ranson, 1144 Fort St., Victoria, B.C. V8V 3R8, Canada. Phone (604) 384-2811. Charters all year.”

Readers: Contributions to this column MUST contain prices and addresses.