Navigating Internet access on a cruise


Published: Sunday, January 8, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 7, 2006 at 10:18 p.m.
Using the Internet while you're on vacation - whether it's in Shanghai or Seattle - is usually the cheapest way to keep in touch. That is, unless you're on a cruise ship. In fact, costs on ships can be prohibitive, even though they may offer access through a ship's e-mail system. On top of fees for each minute of access, some cruise lines tack on charges for activation, for using your own laptop in your cabin and for printing.
Costs generally range from about 70 to 95 cents a minute - some discount packages bringing it closer to 50 cents - but can go as low as 20 to 25 cents on Seabourn Cruise Line, Silversea, Crystal Cruises and Radisson Seven Seas. Radisson offers free access to passengers taking its complete world cruise on the Seven Seas Voyager, and next month loyalty program members will benefit from greater discounts or free access.
There are ways to cut down on shipboard online costs. For example, if you're willing to wait, free or cheaper access is almost always available at ports-of-call worldwide (cruise terminals, public libraries, cybercafes, Wi-Fi hot spots and fast-food chains like McDonald's). Sites like www.netcafes.com and www.netcafeguide.com can help locate cybercafes.
Once you are aboard, confer with members of the ship's computer staff to determine what best meets your needs. Ask if the ship interfaces with your Internet service provider, like America Online and about Wi-Fi usage fees. Wireless Internet cards can usually be rented onboard for about $10 a day and laptops for about $20.
Internet access is via a satellite (not high-speed) up to 128k. The clock starts ticking before getting to your Internet service provider mailbox; it can take as long as eight minutes to read and respond to just your first e-mail messages. Prepare to pay for what can be interminable periods of time before pages load and for unsuccessful connections to your Internet service provider.
Ships offer at-sea e-mail accounts, which most often are the fastest and cheapest way to go. They typically charge $2 per e-mail address sent or received, no matter the length of time to compose. This is an excellent option for passengers simply sending or receiving e-mail or digital photos with no need to access the Internet.
Opting for this plan does not preclude you from getting access to the Internet on a per-minute charge basis. Pack a copy of your e-mail address book if you're considering using the ship's system, because your Internet service provider address book will not be accessible.
- LAUREN PRICE

AGASSI AND GRAF PLAN LUXURY PROJECT

With 30 Grand Slam titles between them, the tennis champions Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi could be expected to have satisfied their competitive urges. But the married tennis tycoons are entering a new arena: real estate.
Their company, Agassi Graf Development LLC, announced plans last month to build a luxury mountain hotel and residential development at Tamarack, an all-season resort in Donnelly, Idaho. Agassi said he and Graf had wanted to invest in something ''ahead of the curve.'' But he soon found Tamarack embraced everything they believe in. ''This is about family,'' he said. ''About lifestyle. About four seasons.''
Tamarack resort offers many activities, including alpine and cross-country skiing, a Robert Trent Jones II golf course and water sports like swimming, sailing, fishing, canoeing and kayaking on Lake Cascade, which is over 20 miles long. Two properties are planned for Tamarack Resort. At Belvedere Ridge, a hotel will be located within the resort's ''village,'' which is still under construction. It will feature 225 condo-hotel units, a spa and a restaurant (the chef has yet to be appointed). The second building will be located midmountain in Whitewater and will have 35 private ski-in, ski-out residences, concierge service and a restaurant.
Both projects should be finished by 2008 to coincide with the completion of the resort's village. An 89,000-square-foot lodge - the first permanent structure to open there - begins business this month. But what about tennis courts? So far, there are no plans for courts, but Tamarack says it hopes to offer tennis in the future.
- HILARY HOWARD

SEOUL RECLAIMS A RIVER THAT DEVELOPMENT HAD PAVED OVER

In central Seoul these days, signs of helter-skelter industrial development are out, and attractions focusing on culture and the environment are in. Leading the transformation of Seoul, South Korea's capital, is a 6.8-mile river - more a stream or rivulet - and riverbank commercial area that the city finished restoring in October.
Since then, more than 10 million people have visited the river, the Cheonggyecheon, braving Seoul's bitter winter to catch a glimpse of the stream that had symbolized South Korea's determination to catch up economically, without regard for the environment.
About four decades ago, the Cheonggyecheon was paved over, and a two-story expressway was built above it. Gritty residential neighborhoods and shops grew in the expressway's shadows. But Seoul's mayor, Lee Myung-bak, decided two years ago to bring back the river that a whole generation of South Koreans had never seen.
A 3.7-mile stretch of the expressway was demolished, revealing a stream of relatively clear water cascading over rocks and gravel. There are 22 bridges, some with foundation stones from as early as 1412, and elevated sidewalks that make their way among high rises. Some concrete supports of the expressway have been left. There is an information center at Cheonggye Plaza; or go to www.lifeinkorea.com/Travel2/Seoul/417.
- SU HYUN LEE

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