washingtonpost.com
Cruising Out of Baltimore, Hon

By Andrea Sachs
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, June 17, 2007

Q. Do you have information on short cruises from Baltimore?

Bruce Truett, Bethesda

A. Baltimore's cruising scene received a boost last June when the city unveiled the South Locust Point Terminal, near the Inner Harbor. Before the facility opened, travelers had to board the large cruise ships at Dundalk Marine Terminal, a heavily commercial and trafficked port. Now, "on a good day, you can leave D.C. and be processed and boarding the ship within an hour and a half," said J.B. Hanson, a spokesman for the Maryland Port Administration, which runs the Port of Baltimore.

The cruises leaving Locust Point start at five nights, but cruisers seeking short trips in regional waters won't be left behind. More than a dozen companies organize boat tours around the Inner Harbor and Chesapeake Bay. For example, Mystic Whaler Cruises (800-697-8420, http://www.mysticwhaler.com/) offers three-night cruises aboard the Mystic Whaler in September and October. The tall ship sets sail from the Inner Harbor and visits such Maryland towns as St. Michaels and Easton. Prices start at $450 per person double. Harbor Cruises (800-695-5239, http://www.harborcruises.com/) has a longer season and wider sailing schedule. Options include a 60-minute Baltimore sightseeing cruise, a crab-feast cruise, a moonlight jaunt and a full-day expedition to Annapolis. Prices vary.

If you can take off extra days, American Cruise Lines (800-814-6880, http://www.americancruiselines.com/) offers six-, seven- and 14-night sojourns departing from the Inner Harbor; stops include Williamsburg and Oxford, Md. Rates start at $2,670 per person double.

For a list of cruise companies in Baltimore: Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Association, 877-225-8466, http://www.baltimore.org/. For info on the Locust Point terminal: Maryland Port Administration, http://www.cruisemaryland.com/.

Our daughter is in South Korea, and we would like to take a Christmas week beach vacation where we could meet her. Any ideas?

Diohn Benedict, Fairfax

Asia has countless beach destinations, but when you factor in winter weather, the number drops. For example, during that season, South Korea's Chejudo Island is cold, and Bali and Malaysia are rainy.

For perfect weather, Sandy Lindsay, president of Alluring Asia (800-420-5993, http://www.alluringasia.com/), a Southeast Asia specialty travel agency, points to Thailand and Vietnam. In southwest Thailand, Phuket is a commercialized beach area that Lindsay describes as the "Waikiki of Thailand." From Phuket, many travelers move on to Phi Phi Island, accessible by boat, or Krabi, on the mainland. Off the southeast coast, Koh Samui has a wealth of attractions beyond the beach, including elephant treks and a giant gold Buddha. Info on Thailand: Tourism Authority of Thailand, 212-432-0433, http://www.tourismthailand.org/.

In Vietnam, Lindsay suggests Nha Trang, a southern beach town reachable by plane from Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City. Lindsay calls the area "busy, but not insane," where visitors can spend their vacation snorkeling or scuba diving, exploring nearby islands and dining on fresh seafood. Info: Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, http://www.vietnamtourism.com/.

Finally, when researching lodging, remember that Christmastime is high season throughout Asia, so many places may be booked up to a year in advance and rates increase sharply.

Send queries by e-mail (travelqa@washpost.com) or U.S. mail (Travel Q&A, Washington Post Travel Section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071). Please include your name and town.

View all comments that have been posted about this article.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company