A sea of many colors

The mainstream cruise industry has historically attracted few African-American passengers, but a program seeking to change that is called Rangi Jetu at Sea.

"Rangi jetu" is Swahili for "our colors," and the company behind the effort, Seascapes Cruise Specialists in Newport Beach, Calif., is offering packages aimed at people of color aboard the Royal Caribbean International ship Monarch of the Seas.


The next big trip is a seven-day southern Caribbean cruise departing Oct. 1 from San Juan, Puerto Rico, starting at a cruise-only rate of $799. Also on the schedule are three-day cruises and a Hawaiian cruise for next spring.

The company says most of the program's passengers are professionals, 30 to 50 years old. Although there's a singles bent to its promotions, Seascapes emphatically notes that Rangi Jetu encourages all types of passengers.


The program does not occupy all of the ship's cabins, but participants have a lineup of events available only to Rangi Jetu passengers. Among the onboard activities are game shows, tournaments, cocktail parties, formal evenings, photographs, contests, "retro" night, African heritage formal night, fashion and beauty seminars, and dance lessons.

For more information, contact Seascapes at 800-792-7775; the Web site is

In brief

Australian taxes

If you're planning a trip Down Under, you'll find it less taxing if you book your flights within and beyond the country before arriving there.

A new 10 percent tax on goods and services took effect in Australia July 1, part of a wide-ranging revision of the country's tax system. You can expect the new tax to increase travel costs there, including airfares booked in the country.

But the new tax does not apply to domestic flights that are continuations of international trips purchased outside the country. Australia is almost as big as the continental United States, and many visitors move between its major destinations by air.

The good news for tourists is that the new system abolishes the bed tax in New South Wales (where Sydney is located), the Capital Territory (Canberra) and the Northern Territory (Darwin and Alice Springs). It also allows tourists who are carrying purchases home with them to claim a tax refund at the airport upon leaving, much as similar tax refunds are handled in many European countries.


For more information, visit (click on "tourist refund scheme") or www.