Basketball aboardThe 1995 National Basketball Association season...


Basketball aboard

The 1995 National Basketball Association season is over, but not if you take the Annual Sports Afloat Cruise July 15-22.

Norwegian Cruise Line, the official cruise line of the NBA, will be the host for some top athletes on the SS Norway sailing from Miami to the Eastern Caribbean. Passengers can meet Vincent Askew of the Seattle Supersonics, Moses Malone of the San Antonio Spurs and Tree Rollins of the Orlando Magic during the seven-day round trip to St. Maarten, St. John/St. Thomas and Great Stirrup Cay.

Scheduled activities include a three-on-three tournament, a three-point shootout on the ship's basketball court, a sports trivia contest and an autograph session.

Fares start at $899 per person, double occupancy, not including airfare. For more information, contact a travel agent or call (800) 327-7030. When it comes to blowing their horns, airlines and hotels rarely hesitate to invoke polls or praise from even the most obscure publications.

But it's a good bet neither industry will have much to say about its showings in the latest American Customer Satisfaction index, the quarterly measurement co-sponsored by the University of Michigan Business School and the American Society for Quality Control: The index found that the 3 percent drop in overall satisfaction with the service sector is almost entirely the result of a 2.7 percent drop in satisfaction with hotels and motels.

And the 4.2 percent drop in satisfaction with airlines gave that industry an overall score of 69, tying it with the U.S. Postal Service.

Winning air miles

Frequent-flier miles continue to have widespread appeal for business and leisure travelers alike, and a few lucky people stand to collect lots of them.

To celebrate the recent alliance between the frequent-flier programs of Marriott and United Airlines, the two companies are running a sweepstakes open to anyone.

First prize in the random drawing is 25,000 miles of travel a year for life on United, plus 14 complimentary nights a year at any Marriott hotel, resort or suite worldwide.

Also, this month Cathay Pacific announced its own contest with a grand prize of 1 million frequent-flier miles with its U.S. partner, American Airlines. This is equivalent to six trips around the world or 25 round trips to Europe.

The United with Marriott sweepstakes drawing can be entered by mail through Oct. 31, 1995. For contest entry information call United Airlines at (800) 241-6522.

The Cathay with American contest is open to anyone already registered as Cybertravelers on the airline's World Wide Web site, or anyone who signs up ( through March 21, 1996, and registers by filling out an electronic form.

High-speed train

The new 18-car Eurostar trains that highball it between London and Paris -- at about 90 miles per hour through English countryside, 100 mph through the 31-mile-long "Chunnel" (20 minutes) and 180 mph-plus in France -- are turning frequent fliers into rail buffs.

Next month there will be nine expresses, up from five, making the daily round trips between Waterloo Station and the Gare du Nord -- and five, up from three, between Waterloo Station and Gare du Midi in Brussels.

When it tested all the London-Paris options, including Channel ferries, Conde Nast Traveler magazine found that only flights between London City Airport, a small field six miles east of the financial district, and Charles de Gaulle airport northeast of Paris, were faster -- city center to city center -- than the total trip time aboard Eurostar: London-Paris, three hours; London-Brussels, three hours and 15 minutes.

For many executives, the trains not only eliminate airport hassles but make it easy to work spreadsheets and write memos with their laptops, thanks to firmly mounted mini-desks. The one-way first-class fare on both routes is $154 -- less with advance purchase. For additional information or reservations, phone Eurostar at (800) 387-6782.

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