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Coming & Going: Aruba, passenger rights, cruise pollution

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Coming & Going: The Caribbean, an airline poll and more

Aruba-bound?

This Caribbean island really wants you to visit. And it's spending a lot of money to entice you -- nearly $500 million, in fact. That's what the island has committed to building several developments, including hotels and recreational centers, by 2012. Some have already opened, including the Cunucu Arubiano, the island's first luxury eco-resort, and the Archaeological Museum of Aruba. Also new to the island are Mr. Jazz, a Cuban jazz club; the Tradewinds Club, a hotel within a hotel at the Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino; and Morgan's Island, a water park.

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Several new resorts, restaurants and attractions will soon follow. Travelers will also have more ways to get to the island as AirTran Airways adds service from Atlanta and Orlando.

The Aruba Tourism Authority is billing the island as a budget-friendly, easy-to-get-to alternative to other Caribbean islands. Want to know more? Go to http://www.aruba.com.

Your favorite airlines

The nonprofit, nonpartisan Consumer Travel Alliance, which promotes passenger rights on Capitol Hill, polled its blog readers to find out which airline they like most. The winner: Southwest Airlines, with 26.1 percent of the vote. Rounding out the top five: Continental (15.7 percent), American (13), Delta (11.5) and JetBlue (8.3). The five least-favorite airlines were Spirit (0.8 percent), Frontier (1.8), US Airways (2.9), Virgin America (3) and AirTran (3.8 percent).

Charlie Leocha, co-founder of the alliance, said that what most surprised him were the reasons people cited for liking or disliking an airline.

Readers liked Southwest most for its prices. Continental was popular for its customer service. American ranked high for its frequent-flier program. Travelers liked Delta for its frequent-flier program and its destinations. And JetBlue earned high marks for seat comfort.

Leocha said he got 663 responses to the poll, and about 38 percent said they are frequent travelers.

Cruise ship control

Two members of Congress have proposed legislation to prohibit cruise ships from dumping sewage and other waste into coastal waters.

The Clean Cruise Ship Act, proposed Wednesday by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and Rep. Sam Farr (D-Calif.), would establish a no-dumping zone in waters within 12 nautical miles of U.S. shores and strengthen the standards for treatment of waste outside the zone. The bill would also create an onboard monitoring program to make sure the ships are complying.

"Big cruise ships make for big pollution," Farr said in a news release. "Unfortunately, responsible disposal of that waste hasn't always been a given. The cruise ship industry is way overdue to take responsibility for its actions."

In a single week, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, an average cruise ship with 3,000 passengers can generate 200,000 gallons of sewage and 1 million gallons of gray water, which comes from bathroom drains and kitchens.

In response to the proposed bill, the Cruise Lines International Association issued a statement asserting that the cruise industry has been "a leader in the maritime industry's effort to reduce its environmental footprint." Last year, association ships received an average sanitation score of slightly above 97 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The minimum score required is 85.

Reporting: Nancy Trejos. Help feed CoGo. Send travel news, road reports and juicy tattles to: cogo@washpost.com. By mail: CoGo, Washington Post Travel Section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071.


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