COMING AND GOING
COMING AND GOING
Sailing From Home
Washington area travelers who want to take a cruise but skip the flights now have a third port option within a drive of less than 200 miles: Norfolk's new, $36 million Half Moone Cruise and Celebration Center, about 195 miles from the District. The first passengers are slated to wave bon voyage on Saturday. Royal Caribbean and Carnival cruise lines are offering 13 sailings to Bermuda, three to the Bahamas and two "Cruises to Nowhere" in the port's first season, which runs through Oct. 28. Details: http:/
This area's closest cruise terminal -- the Port of Baltimore-- lists 29 sailings on Royal Caribbean between May 13 and Nov. 25. Destinations include the Caribbean, Bermuda and Canada. Details: http:/
Philadelphia's port, about 135 miles from Washington, will host 19 sailings to Bermuda and one to the Caribbean between May 6 and Oct. 27 on Norwegian and Royal Caribbean. Details: http:/
All three ports' Web sites detail packages that include such things as hotels and restaurants, either for the night before or after a cruise, or longer.
While the United States quibbles about subsidies to keep Amtrak lumbering along as is, Europe is vastly expanding its network of high-speed trains. Four new high-speed routes will open this year:
* France's new TGV East line on June 10 will begin providing service between 20 French cities and 10 destinations in Germany, Luxembourg and Switzerland. Trains on the new line will travel at 199 mph, cutting travel time by a third or more. For example, a trip from Paris to Reims now takes one hour and 35 minutes. As of June 10: 45 minutes. From Paris to Frankfurt: less than four hours, down from the current six. Costs range widely. For example, Paris-to-Reims costs between $25 and $75 each way.
* New high-speed track as of Nov. 14 will speed Eurostar trains between London and Paris in two hours and 15 minutes, and between London and Brussels in less than two hours, shaving about 20 minutes off each trip.
* Spain's AVE train had already cut travel time between Madrid and Barcelona from almost seven hours to 4 1/2. Additional high-speed tracks set to open at the end of this year will cut the time to less than four hours. By the end of 2008, the trip is expected to take 2 1/2 hours.
* The Netherlands will open service on its new Zuid (South) high-speed line by the end of this year, although the train won't meet its final goal until next year: Brussels to Amsterdam in 1 1/2 hours. Currently, conventional trains take three hours.
High-speed trains now operate on 3,034 miles of track in 10 European countries. At least 1,711 miles of track will be added by 2010.
For more info, contact a travel agent or Rail Europe: 888-382-7245, http:/
Looking for environmentally friendly hotels, eco-friendly destinations or volunteer trips to help the Earth? Orbitz, the online travel booking site, last week launched a "green" info section on its site. Details: http:/
BARGAIN OF THE WEEK
American Airlines has sale fares from Washington Dulles and Reagan National to destinations throughout Central and South America. Fare to Liberia, Costa Rica, for example, is $420 round trip (including $71 taxes). Buy tickets by April 23. Travelers must depart by June 12 and complete trip by June 15. Other airlines are matching in select markets. Three-day advance purchase is required. Book at www.aa.com, or pay $10 more by calling 800-433-7300.
Reporting: Cindy Loose
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