10 days in Haiti show the island nation's beautiful side

Chicago Tribune
Looking for a travel deal? Consider Haiti.

As the poorest country in the Americas, Haiti isn't on the radar for many travelers from the United States. G Adventures is hoping to turn that around with its new 10-day Highlights of Haiti tour, which debuts with five departures in 2015. The guided small-group adventure emphasizes the natural beauty, culture, arts and food of the nation, which shares the Caribbean island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic. A two-night stay in Cap-Haitien on the north coast visits the mountaintop fortress Citadelle Laferriere, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as a rum distillery and the city market. In Jacmel, explore the art community with visits to artists' studios, and there's the Bassin-Bleu, a series of waterfalls and pools. Port-a-Piment and Port-Salut offer a visit to the Art Creation Foundation for Children, which teaches traditional arts and crafts to the local kids. There's also a visit to nearby caves. In Port-au-Prince there's more exploration of history, the local culture and arts, including meeting a Vodou priest. The trip is priced from $2,499 per person double occupancy and includes nine nights' lodging, most meals, internal flights and a variety of tours. Info: 888-800-4100,

Great U.S. freebies

Staying in a hostel has always been an option for free spirits looking for budget accommodations while traveling the world. So it's not surprising that Hostelling International USA would have advice on free things to do when visiting some of the country's major cities. HI USA's Free for All website has advice for what it calls hidden gems that are free in Austin, Texas; Boston; Chicago; Los Angeles; New York City; Portland, Ore.; San Francisco; Seattle; and Washington. In Chicago, for instance, there's the Money Museum at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, which boasts a Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor. For New York, there are links to help you wend your way through the intricacies of scoring free tickets to such TV shows as "Good Morning America," "Late Show With David Lettermen" and "The Rachael Ray Show." For entertainment while in the nation's capital, head to the Kennedy Center, where the Millennium Stage is the site for a free show at 6 p.m. 365 days a year. Info:

Ship not to be missed

Cruise ships keep getting bigger and bigger, and the features keep getting more grandiose. Royal Caribbean International brought out Allure of the Seas in 2010, and it still stands as the world's largest cruise ship. RCI is introducing Quantum of the Seas in November, and though it's smaller than Allure, it has some features that lists in its "10 Reasons Why Quantum of the Seas is the Cruise Ship for You." For instance, there's the RipCord by iFly, a skydiving simulator that gives the sensation of freefalling for a full minute. Then there's the SeaPlex, which will keep sea days busy with things like bumper cars, roller-skating and even a full-size indoor basketball court. Check out other features Cruise Critic likes at

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