Q I am interested in going on a culinary cruise that provides cooking classes, not just demonstrations or tastings. Can you suggest some cruise lines?
A Culinary classes are offered by several cruise lines. Holland America Line (877-724-5425, www.hollandamerica.com), for example, launched a Culinary Arts Program that includes small classes at portable cooking stations for $19 per person per class. The lessons are geared around the destination -- a recent cruise to Mexico's Sea of Cortez, for instance, included classes on making duck and black bean quesadillas, crepes with Mexican chocolate sauce and tequila lime tarts. New York chef and cookbook author Richard Sandoval will teach in March during a seven-night cruise from San Diego to Mexico (from $1,139 per person double).
Radisson Seven Seas (877-505-5370, www.rssc.com) offers French cooking lessons taught by Le Cordon Bleu-trained chefs. Three two-hour workshops are included, with classes limited to 16 people. Five Cordon Blue cruises are scheduled for 2005, including a one-way eight-day trip from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to Funchal, Madeira, starting April 23. Cost: from $2,148 per person double.
Norwegian Cruise Lines (800-327-7030, www.ncl.com) offers what it calls "wacky" cooking classes for children as part of its Kid's Crew programs. They're available on nearly all cruises, including a seven-night round trip from Philadelphia to Bermuda in May, from $1,149 per person double (plus an additional $309 per child from 2 to 12 years old).
My family is visiting Costa Rica this summer and would like to scuba dive. Could you suggest some good beaches and dive spots? It seems the Pacific side has more to offer.
The central Pacific coast, with its volcanic rock formations and hundreds of types of fish, is ideal for scuba diving year-round. Though the summer tends to have rainy afternoons, you still can dive in the mornings when the water is calm and visibility at its best, says Bill Beard, who has been diving off Costa Rica for 34 years and runs scuba diving outings through his company, Bill Beard's Costa Rica (877-853-0538, www.billbeardcostarica.com) of Fort Lauderdale.