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Originally published August 31, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified August 31, 2007 at 2:03 AM

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Travel briefs

Sea of troubles for Hawaii's new inter-islands ferry

The new ferry service between Hawaii's islands, which began last weekend, was suspended because of environmental protests and legal setbacks...

The new ferry service between Hawaii's islands, which began last weekend, was suspended because of environmental protests and legal setbacks.

Hawaii Superferry halted service between Honolulu and the island of Kauai indefinitely after the Coast Guard advised that it could not assure safe passage of the 350-foot ferry in and out of Nawiliwili Harbor on Kauai, where a flotilla of protesters blocked it from docking late Monday.

A court order sought by environmentalists had already temporarily halted service from Honolulu to Maui (the company hoped to sail again this weekend; get updates at www.hawaiisuperferry.com).

Gov. Linda Lingle, a longtime ferry supporter, requested that the Kauai service be suspended because of public-safety concerns. Opponents say the ferry endangers whales, threatens to spread invasive species and will worsen traffic and pollution. But Superferry officials say the ship's water jet-propulsion system means there are no exposed propellers to strike aquatic animals.

Hotels

Deal, no deal: Farecast adds hotels to its site

Seattle-based Farecast, a Web site that predicts when airfares will rise or fall and gives users advice on whether to buy airline tickets now or wait for a better price, is adding search tools to help travelers determine whether or not they're getting the best deals on hotels.

The newly launched beta (test) version of Farecast Hotels, at www.farecast.com, lets customers narrow their search to specific locations in various cities, call up a map pinpointing the locations of various hotels, find out the rates they charge and how those prices compare with rates available in the past several months and 90 days into the future. Based on Farecast's analysis, a color-coded map will indicate whether a hotel at that price is a "deal," "not a deal," or "average."

Farecast Hotels lets users shop for more than 80,000 hotels in cities worldwide, but the ratings data will be initially limited to about 5,000 hotels in 30 major U.S. cities, based on prices quoted by Orbitz.com, Cheaptickets.com and Reservetravel.com. In the future, Farecast plans to add quotes from more sites, including hotel Web sites where consumers often find the best rates, says president Hugh Crean.

Farecast, launched a year ago, uses historical data to offer airfare predictions for about 75 cities in the U.S. Farecast doesn't sell airline tickets or book hotel rooms directly but links users to sites that do.

Cruising

Delta Queen may stop river trips

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The Delta Queen, a historic wooden paddle-wheeler that cruises American rivers, will make her final overnight cruise next year unless the federal government extends her exemption from modern fire codes.

Under the terms of the 1960 Safety of Lives at Sea Act, ships with more than 50 staterooms must be constructed of inflammable materials.

The Delta Queen, owned by Seattle-based Majestic America Line, accommodates 176 passengers on cruises that include the Mississippi, Ohio and Arkansas rivers. The ship's owners have sought congressional exemption from the rules but this year failed to win one.

Britain

Finding discounted rooms in London and beyond

With a dollar worth only about 50 British pennies, travelers to Britain need every edge they can get. Laterooms, which offers discounted rooms at www.laterooms.com, can help you get more bang for your quid.

For London in late August, a room was available at a Thistle chain hotel for 79 pounds, about $160, a downright steal in the capital these days. The site offers listings in other parts of Europe and the world, including the U.S., but its forte is Britain.

Air travel

More crowded than ever for Labor Day

If you're traveling this Labor Day weekend, expect crowds at airports (and on highways). The Air Transport Association of America, which represents U.S. airlines, expects 15.7 million travelers on U.S. airlines during the Labor Day period (Aug. 29 through Wednesday), a 2.6 percent increase from last year.

Seattle Times staff and news services

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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