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mariner of the seas royal caribbean sports deck cruise shipOne North Carolina couple is going to impressive lengths to try and sell their home: they’re offering buyers a free Mediterranean cruise.

Maj. William and Mrs. Sabrina Marlowe’s four-bedroom house in Jacksonville, NC, has been on the market for four months, reports ENC Today, and it’s gotten no offers — yet. But these motivated sellers, who have to move quickly to accommodate a military transfer, hope a vacation will help sweeten the deal. In addition to contributing $2,000 toward closing costs, the Marlowes will treat buyers to a seven-night Mediterranean cruise, including airfare.

I contacted Amanda Parmer, the Marlowes’ real estate agent, to get the scoop on what exactly this cruise would entail. She told me that buyers can choose from three 2011 Western Mediterranean sailings aboard Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas, with port calls in Rome, Genoa, Monte Carlo, Corsica, Barcelona and Palma de Mallorca.

“We chose the cruise over other incentives as it seemed more attractive to buyers in the price range of our home,” the Marlowes told Jacksonville’s Daily News. “We thought we could get the most exciting vacation with a cruise, all inclusive, for our dollar. This is something most everyone would love to go on, but not pay for, especially after just purchasing a home.”

The Marlowes make a good point. I bought a home myself not too long ago, and after all the stress of house hunting, mortgage signing and writing out some very hefty checks, I certainly would have appreciated an all-expenses-paid trip!

You can check out the listing for the house here.

Not in the market for a new home? You can still treat yourself to a discounted trip with our cruise deals.

–written by Sarah Schlichter

tel aviv ben gurion international airport terminalIn all the hoopla that’s been raised in the past few weeks about airport security, amidst the calls to opt out and “don’t touch my junk,” one question has persistently emerged: Isn’t there a better way?

Many experts — not to mention a few of our own readers — think there is. Rafi Ron, a former director of security at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, tells Newsweek that Israel’s security procedures are more effective than those in the U.S. because they focus more on people than on technology. Rather than relying so heavily on screening every single passenger with machines such as the new full body scanners, Ron recommends that airport security officers look for human behaviors that raise red flags — such as paying cash for a ticket, only flying one way or otherwise acting suspiciously.

Several readers who responded to our recent airport security poll agreed that the U.S. should look to Israel for an example of effective screening procedures. Writes member LSKahn, “[Israeli security officers] interview everyone standing in line for check-in and select [some] for further interviews. That works. When is the last time there was a problem on an Israeli plane?”

But critics have raised objections to the idea, citing the high cost of deploying such labor-intensive procedures at hundreds of airports across the United States and questioning whether this type of screening would lead to racial and religious profiling — and potential civil rights violations. Check out the video below from “The Joy Behar Show,” which features a debate about profiling at U.S. airports:

What do you think — would Israeli airport security strategies work in the U.S.?

–written by Sarah Schlichter

tsa scanner imageEver since the TSA introduced its new enhanced pat-downs and full-body scanners we’ve received heaps of e-mails from concerned, confused and angry travelers in response to the changes. Some people just want to vent. (And really, we don’t blame them.) Others flooded us with practical questions about the new state of airport security; a selection of the most common inquires is posted below. While one or two of these questions may seem silly to some readers, keep in mind that half-truths and misinformation proliferate on the Web, and the TSA isn’t exactly known for its stellar public relations. When it comes to enhanced pat-downs and full body scanners, here’s the naked truth:

Q: Just how personal do these security people get?

A: If you opt out of the full body screening, then you will be subject to an “enhanced” pat-down that includes a manual examination conducted by a same-gender officer. Screeners may use the front of their hands to touch any part of your body, including private parts. The screener should announce what he or she is going to do before any action takes place. You may choose to have a traveling companion present during the screening, and you may request a private screening if this makes you more comfortable. The alternative to this is the full body screening.

Q: Can I ask the TSA officer who will be performing my enhanced pat-down if he or she is gay?

A: You are not entitled to information about any TSA officer’s sexual orientation. If you do not wish to be touched, you’re better off going through the full body scanner.

Q: I have a prosthesis, a hip replacement or another kind of medical implant. Will this cause problems when I go through airport security? What should I do?

A: The TSA recommends that travelers bring a medical ID card from their doctors to show to the security officer before stepping into the scanner (this is not a requirement). It’s also recommended that you inform the TSA officer of your medical device. However, be prepared for a pat-down just in case. Remember, you’re entitled to a private screening from a same-gender security officer.

Q: Will everyone know about my breast implants when I go through the new full body scanners?

A: Even if your implants show up on the scanner, no one will see the image of your body except the security officer viewing the readouts from the machine. This officer will be in a booth separate from the screening area. If you are chosen for a pat-down, you have a right to request that it be done in private so other passengers will not be able to watch as it happens.

Q: Are Muslim women subject to full body scans and pat-downs?

A: The rumor that Muslim women are permitted to opt out of both body scans and pat-downs is simply not true. All travelers are subject to full body scans and/or pat-downs at the airports where these security measures are in effect. (Some airports do not have the full body scanners yet.) Travelers who choose to opt out of the full body scan will be subject to a pat-down.

For more information, see Airport Security Q&A and Passenger Rights.

— written by Caroline Costello and Sarah Schlichter