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We are planning a four-generation Alaska cruise this summer. Our group of eighteen people ranges from a one-year-old baby to an eighty-one-year-old great-grandparent. We are concerned about the emergency medical facilities on board ship that would be available for the wide spectrum of our ages. The baby has had croup: do ships carry compressors on board? Also, how difficult is it to evacuate from these ships, should the need arise for more intense medical attention in a hospital?
JK, Toronto, Canada

Most cruise ships plying Alaskan waters today are equipped and ready to handle emergency situations to a certain degree. However, the facilities and types of equipment on board vary from ship to ship. For example: certain ships offer ship-to-shore medical teleconferencing to guide doctors through emergencies; certain Holland America ships offer dialysis treatment facilities; Cunard's Queen Elizabeth II has a small operating room; some ships allow emergency helicopter landings on deck. For peace of mind and accurate information, it's best to contact the individual cruise line directly and ask questions about a specific ship. The convenience of an Alaska cruise is that - even though you are at sea - you can be fairly sure of quick and easy access to land. For details and resources, see the Cruise Lines International Association

We are oenophiles planning our dream trip to South Africa's Stellenbosch wine country. Can you suggest a lovely, unpretentious inn that we could use as a base for exploring the region?
PLS, San Antonio, U.S.A.

I enjoyed a delightful stay at the historic d'Ouwe Werf Herberg Country Inn in Stellenbosch. Built in 1802 right on the foundation of the first church in South Africa (you can see part of the foundation exposed under glass) this building is a national monument. The 25 rooms are furnished with antiques; four-poster-beds swathed in textured fabrics. It has an outdoor pool and a paneled library with a fireplace - perfect for relaxing with glasses of wine. The Inn's restaurant (one of the best in Stellenbosch) served delicious Kabeljou fish with a frisson of crunchy leeks and a sumptuous dessert buffet.
Contact d'Ouwe Werf Herberg Country Inn at 30 Church St., Stellenbosch 7600 South Africa
Phone: 021-887-1608 or 021-887-4608
Fax: 021-887-4626 Call for seasonal rates.

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