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Travel's Greatest Hits

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By Ben Abramson
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, October 1, 2000; Page E02

Ah, the wonderful world of Internet travel sites. Competing firms jousting over claims of who provides the "best" prices. Booking sites returning wildly divergent fares from one minute to the next. Sites constantly merging or going under. It's enough to make you lunge for the . . . telephone.

But not so fast. The Internet also delivers unprecedented access to information and control over the trip-planning process. And some travel sites do deliver what they promise, or do one thing well enough to be worth your while. Here, we've selected the sites that come closest to doing what they claim, where you should be able to get the best information and -- we hope -- the best deals. At least this week.

CRUISES

There are lots of cruise sites, but many are hosted by travel agencies, tour operators and mega online travel services (like Expedia) that want to sell you cruises. Here are three that are relatively independent.

http://www.CruiseMates.com/

Cruisemates is an excellent source of fairly up-to-the-minute news reports, whether it's the launching of a new ship or the sinking of a cruise line. Its addition of a consumer affairs writer means the site tackles travelers' interests first. Excellent links to cruise-oriented sites are listed. Professional travel writers give the site credibility.

Travel section special correspondent Carolyn Spencer Brown contributed to this report.

2000 The Washington Post Company