Think of the word 'cruise' and lunacy springs to mind: Tom Cruise and his wacky Scientology, and Cruise Missiles amed at the USSR by mad Ronnie Reagan. To this we can also add the names of two American cruise fanatics, Tom and Mary Milano. If ever there was an argument for the torpedoing of ships, this has to be it. The Milanos have, according to the charming site Voyager of the Seas, enjoyed 23 cruises (as of 2001) and with this wealth of experience, they are able to offer crucial cruising tips such as this diamond,

"Make your luggage easy to spot: 75% of all luggage is black. It will save you a lot of time and aggravation if you put a colorful bow or luggage strap on your belongings. It makes it much easier to identify them among thousands of pieces of luggage. TIE SOMETHING COLORFUL ON YOUR LUGGAGE. "

I think they missed out a sentence about Mary's dresses being the most appropriate item to tie onto the luggage.

They surpass themselves further with the tale of the $2 note.


Prepare envelopes for tipping on first night of cruise: Many of our readers have tried our suggestion on tipping with great results. Following are some examples of the many e-mails we received.

We like to give the suggested tip for the week, to our cabin attendant, waiter and assistant waiter and Maitre`de, the first evening of our cruise. Tipping at the end of the week is like locking the barn door after the horse has run away. We make out [3 x 5] envelopes with a note that reads...This is a down payment on your services, Thank you, Tom & Mary Milano.

On our [22] cruises we have never had service that was poor enough to warrant us tipping less than the suggested amount. By tipping the suggested amount on the first night, you let your servers know that you are appreciative of good service and they can expect an additional stipend at the end of the cruise. [At the end of the cruise we usually give an additional $20 to the waiter, $10 to the assistant and $10 or $20 to the cabin attendant]. Giving an extra forty dollars for the week, is a small price to pay to ensure the very best from your servers. Take our word for it. It does make a difference. MAKE OUT ENVELOPES FOR PRE TIPPING.

Magic of the $2 bill: If what we hear from our readers is true, banks should start running out of $2 in the new future. This again is another low-cost way of getting a high return. We start collecting $2 bills weeks before the cruise. We take with us $20--$30 in $2 bills. I call these our magic potion. I take a $2 bill and keep folding it until I have a small square, with the large imprint of the $2 covering the surface. I use the $2 a lot in the beginning of the cruise. It's important what you say when you give it, otherwise it doesn't have much significance. When I give it to a server, I say to them, give me your hand. When they give me their hand, I take it and with my other hand I show them the folded $2 bill; then I say to them, I want you to know this is a magic $2 bill and I can promise you that during this coming week something special is going to happen to you, something that will make you very happy. Very few servers have ever seen a $2 bill and that alone gets their rapt attention. Then you can see in their quizzical expression that their thinking; it's crazy but who knows. It might work. Who among us doesn't have some form of a lucky piece. A lucky coin, a rabbits foot, a religious medal. All we can tell you is, we have had the most amazing, wonderful things happen as a result of giving out these two dollar bills; not the least is the exceptional service we have received from many servers. START COLLECTING $2 BILLS.

Next time I travel on the Mersey Ferry I shall remember the envelopes! More tips soon!