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As Old Man 2005 creaks toward his last weeks and bouncing baby 2006 begins to peek around the calendar's corner, we here at the Frommer's Cruise Bureau have begun to think about which ships have been naughty and which ships have been nice, which will get a lump of coal down their stacks and which will walk away with the Frommer's five-star seal of excellence for the new year.
You'll find moderate prices on luxe Caribbean itineraries, bottom-of-the-barrel fares for a special cruise to the Northern Lights Festival in Norway, plus our reliable listings of the best offers for this week.
Matt Hannafin reports on pirates of the Indian Ocean, new protections for gray whales along the Baja Peninsula, a contest to christen a ship, new cooks, new beds, river cruises and more.
Everyone said a crossing was not your typical cruise. For one thing, you actually wind up in a different continent without having to step aboard a plane. And of course, the QM2, ushered into the world in early 2004 to enormous fanfare, is no ordinary ship.
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Queen Mary 2 Leaving New York
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Reader's Voice
From ShakerHeightsMom: "The kids want a cruise, but my husband and I haven't thought of ourselves as 'cruise types.' We're wondering if it might be restful for us and fun for the children. Online they appear either to be too dry (Crystal Lines) or too patronizing (Royal Caribbean). We're turned off by children's menus and the assumption that children don't like to eat well. Our children love healthy food as we do, which could be rice and beans just as well as anything fancy, and our daughter is a vegetarian. Does anyone know of any cruiselines that have children's options that are fun (giving parents some free time) but don't patronize children by assuming they prefer coca cola and hot dogs over sushi?"
From debbiedoesit: "We are going on a cruise to the Baltics to celebrate our 25th anniversary in May. Has anyone done this cruise and, if so, which line would you recommend?"
From jackiemr: "My friends and I are interested in going on a 3-day Windjammer cruise. There are so many to choose from, can you give me some suggestions? We are planning September 2006."
From courtarrow: "Hi! My fiance and I are taking a 12-night Mediterranean cruise. There are so many ports and I would prefer to travel independently. I have lots of questions. Thank you in advance."
From strosty: "We are planning a cruise to China and a cruise to Russia. We are looking at Viking River Cruises, Oceania Cruises and Grand Circle Tours & Cruises. I was wondering if anyone has used these cruise lines for trips to China and/or Russia. If you have, can you tell me which you think is the best/better cruise line and why in terms of the ship, the staff/guides, the included excursions, the extra excursions, the airline accomodations and the cost, please? These are all issues that we want to consider and would like to be able to decide which would be the best choice for us in terms of these aspects."

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