Originally created 01/30/05

Travel briefs



Cruise priests

PORT EVERGLADES, Fla. - The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has started screening those celebrating Mass on cruise ships, a plan geared toward preventing former, rental and even fraudulent priests from ministering to Catholic passengers.

More than 650 priests have been approved to work on cruise lines, where some priests suspended in the wake of the clergy sexual abuse scandal have recently sought employment. Some Catholics have complained to the bishops that priests on their ships were incompetent, according to The Miami Herald.

Celebrity and Holland America lines are working with priests approved by the Apostleship of the Sea, but other cruise lines are still striking private deals with priests or hiring clergy through Rent-A-Priest, a group that provides former, now-married priests who are no longer authorized to conduct Mass, the newspaper reported.

Eventually, the bishops hope that all cruise lines will adopt a more thorough screening process for clergy.

Priests who apply for the Apostleship of the Sea program must have their bishops' approval and are subject to yearly review, said Doreen Badeaux, secretary general of the Apostleship. All dioceses conduct their own background checks on priests, Badeaux said.

Offering Mass aboard cruises is something that can help attract vacationers. Priests usually cruise for free in exchange for their work, which includes hearing confessions in addition to celebrating Mass.

Wind Cave

HOT SPRINGS, S.D. -Wind Cave has moved up the ranks to become the fifth-longest cave in the world.

Five teams of spelunking explorers mapped an additional 2,715 feet of the Wind Cave National Park cave, moving it ahead of Lechuguillia Cave at Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico, according to the National Park Service.

"This achievement is the culmination of decades of efforts by numerous cavers," science specialist Rod Horrocks said.

Wind Cave, north of Hot Springs, also moves up to become the third-longest cave in the United States.

The five longest caves in the world are:

- Mammoth Cave, Kentucky, 360 miles

- Optimisticeskaja Cave, Ukraine, 132 miles

- Jewel Cave, South Dakota, 130 miles

- Holloch Cave, Switzerland, 117 miles

- Wind Cave, South Dakota, 114 miles

Exploration at Wind Cave began in the early 1880s. Chicago caver John Scheltens, now of Hot Springs, led four consecutive summer expeditions in the early 1970s that revealed the cave as one of the world's largest.

Tom Farrell, chief of interpretation at Wind Cave National Park, said many Black Hills residents do not realize how famous the two Black Hills caves are throughout the world. "It's easy to overlook attractions that are right in your backyard," he said.

For information on Wind Cave, visit www.nps.gov/wica/. For Jewel Cave, go to www.nps.gov/jeca/.

Disneyland's 50th

NEW YORK - From a roaming dinosaur to new rides to an online computer game, Disney will offer new attractions and spectacles at all of its parks this year to mark the 50th anniversary of Disneyland.

The flagship park in Anaheim, Calif., opened in July 1955. A celebration kicks off May 5 with festivities there and at the other Disney parks in Florida, France and Japan, said Jay Rasulo, president of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, at a press conference in Manhattan.

The newest Disney park - in Hong Kong - will also open this year, on Sept. 12. The park offers both classic Disney attractions and regionally inspired design elements, such as extensive gardens.

In Anaheim, the anniversary celebration will include spontaneous block parties, a new fireworks show, a new parade, and a new attraction, Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, in which guests pilot their own ship through an interactive space mission. Summer skies over Disneyland Paris will light up with a new musical fireworks show, "Wishes," inspired by a similar show from the Florida park, and Tokyo Disneyland will feature "Raging Spirits," a new high-speed ride with special effects.

Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., will feature several attractions imported from the other Disney parks - the "Soarin'" ride, from Anaheim; the "Cinderellabration," a musical from Tokyo; and "Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show" from Paris. And a new critter will be roaming through Animal Kingdom - an animatronic dinosaur.

The Disney Cruise Line is marking the anniversary with its first West Coast itinerary, departing Los Angeles to Mexico for 12 one-week cruises.

An interactive computer game, called "Virtual Magic Kingdom," will be launched May 5 on the Disney Web site, www.disney.com. "It's really a vehicle to link people to the theme park when they're not at the theme park," said Rasulo. Players will be able to visit the virtual parks, design their own creations, accumulate points and status and even link their real-world Disney experiences to the game. For example, if you buy certain Disney merchandise, you'll be able to type a code number in and have the item show up as a prop in the game.

Finally, a global ad campaign - launched domestically Jan. 1 but also airing in different languages in France, Japan and Hong Kong - invites people to "come home" to Disney - whatever destination that might be - for "the biggest celebration in 50 years."

Expedia kiosks

MAUI, Hawaii - If you're in Hawaii and you want to book an excursion through Expedia, you could head for the hotel kiosk if you don't feel like finding an Internet cafe.

The online travel company has acquired 36 kiosks in Hawaii hotels where visitors can book activities like snorkeling, helicopter rides or bike tours.

The kiosks, called Expedia!fun, are located on the Big Island, Maui, Oahu and Kauai. The kiosks, called Expedia!fun, are located on the Big Island, Maui, Oahu and Kauai, in hotels ranging from the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa to the Aston Waikiki to the Hilo Hawaiian.

You'll find Expedia!fun kiosks in a few other selection locations as well - the Metropolitan Hotel in Manhattan and the Hyatt Cancun Caribe in Mexico.

Anime in Tokyo

TOKYO - Fans of Japanese animation can now plan a vacation around their obsession with the help of a new guide called "Cruising the Anime City" (Stone Bridge Press, $16.95) by Patrick Macias and Tomohiro Machiyama.

The paperback, filled with colorful pictures of anime characters and photos of stars, stores and merchandise, is a guide to shopping, hangouts and cafes where visitors can steep themselves in all things anime. The Akihabara Oriental Comic Theater - close to Suehirocho Station on the Ginza Line - screens nothing but anime. A chapter in the book on "cosplay" - which means "costume play" - lists cafes where beautiful actresses portray Sailor Moon and other characters. Or you can gamble your yen away at slot machine and video arcades where the games include dialogue spoken by anime actors.

The book also takes you to some of the real landmarks that appear in cartoons and movies, such as Tokyo Tower, a favorite location for launching (or averting) a movie-made apocalypse. Also on the list of must-sees are the six-story toy display at the Bandai Museum in the suburb of Matsuo; and Taco che, an emporium for Japanese comics and related media.

Outside trips

NEW YORK - A safari by air to view wildlife and other natural wonders in five South American countries won top honors from Outside magazine as top "trip of the year."

The magazine's February issue lists a total of 38 trips around the globe recommended for 2005.

In addition to the $20,000, 19-day extravaganza to Chile, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador (www.worldwildlife.org), others on Outside's top 10 list are:

-A kayak trip through the San Bals Islands in Panama, where you'll visit Indian communities and orchid-filled jungles; details at www.explorerscorner.com.

-Accompanying relief workers on a 15-day horseback journey through the Thar Desert to bring medical care and supplies to villages in northwestern India; details at www.reliefridersinternational.com.

-A safari that combines classic wildlife drives - starting at the Masai Mara Game Reserve - with visits to local schools and villages in Kenya and Tanzania; details at www.wildlandadventures.com.

-A nine-day trek through the Caucasus of Georgia, a largely untouristed area of glaciers, waterfalls and granite peaks; details at www.mtsobek.com.

-A bicycle-training camp in the Swiss Alps based at a four-star hotel on Lake Geneva; details at www.veloclassic.com.

-Skiing the King's Trail above the Arctic Circle in Sweden; details at www.keadventure.com.

-A surf safari in the mostly uninhabited Tuamotu Archipelago, 200 miles northeast of Tahiti; details at www.wavehunters.com.

-An eight-day trip through the Texas Hill Country from San Antonio to Austin that includes a 20-mile morning spin with Lance Armstrong. The trip includes a stretch on Armstrong's cancer fund-raising Ride for the Roses, and half the $10,000 price tag will be donated to the cause; details at www.trektravel.com

-Rafting the Lower Apurimac in Peru, followed by a visit to the Incan ruins of Choquequirau; details at www.bbxrafting.com

For more information on these and other trips, including difficulty level, pick up the February issue of Outside.

Caribbean food

NEW YORK - Eat well while you're enjoying the sun and the sand of the Caribbean this winter.

Bon Appetit's February issue is recommending the dining scenes on five islands. They are:

-Puerto Rico, where a sushi bar called Dragonfly Too serves up sushi rolls with conch and hearts of palm.

-St. Maarten, where classic French bistro food is perfected at Le Montmartre.

-Nevis, where you can dine at the Montpelier Plantation Inn in a British colonial home.

-St. Lucia, where chef Paul Yellin, at the Kai Manje restaurant in Ti Kaye Village, draws on his Caribbean heritage for Creole-inspired dishes.

-Barbados, where you'll want to try Sassafras Wine Bar & Grill's version of fish and chips - coconut-crusted kingfish and spiced yucca chips - and the exotic kangaroo, ostrich and elk entrees at the Restaurant at Southsea.

Paris on the Potomac

WASHINGTON - From Valentine's Day to Memorial Day, Washington is showcasing its French connections through shows, food and tours.

Art exhibits include Toulouse Lautrec at the National Gallery of Art, March 20 to June 14; Berthe Morisot at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, through May 8, and Modigliani - with a focus on the fruits of his 14-year career in Paris - at The Phillips Collection, Feb. 26 to May 29.

The French Embassy is sponsoring French jazz and cabaret performances at venues throughout the city as well as a March 1 to April 30 French film festival.

At the National Archives, "Americans in Paris" spotlights Americans whose encounters with France have affected history. The Black Fashion Museum features the career of Carol Mongo, the first black American to be appointed director of the Parsons School of Design in Paris.

Washington Photo Safari will offer photography lessons in the style of Henri Cartier Bresson, and a bike tour called "Biking L'Enfant's City," allows visitors to explore the legacy of Pierre L'Enfant, who designed Washington's grand boulevards and parks. Eighteen restaurants are taking part in the promotion by highlighting French food, and a one-day event called "French Chefs, American Icons," will feature celebrity chefs Jacques Pepin, Jacques Torres and others.

Packages are available that include hotels, meals and tickets to various attractions. Call (800) 422-8644 ext. 1789 or visit www.ParisOnThePotomac.org.