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Opening a Bag of Holiday Packages

November 12, 1989|BILL HUGHES | Hughes is a 30-year veteran travel writer living in Sherman Oaks

Mature travelers looking to spend the Yuletide holidays away from home will find gaily wrapped packages offered by tour companies and travel agents.

They range from short trips to Las Vegas, Laughlin and Reno, Nev., to Christmas in Solvang, the Grand Canyon, New Mexico, Texas and New Orleans. There's even a Charles Dickens Yuletide Holiday in London. Several holiday cruises also are offered.

Here's a rundown on a few of the tours and cruises offered by members of the Senior Travel and Recreation Assn. of California (all prices are per person, double occupancy):

You can spend Christmas at the Grand Canyon on a five-day motor-coach tour by Great Western Travel that also includes visits to Prescott, Ariz., and Laughlin, Nev. Priced at $349, including Christmas Eve and Christmas dinners, the tour departs Dec. 23.

The same Pasadena agency also has a five-day air and motor-coach Louisiana Creole Christmas tour, departing Dec. 22 for $795 per person double, that includes visits to New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Alexandria, La., with more holiday activities.

A third holiday offering is an eight-day motor-coach tour to Albuquerque, N.M., for the popular Luminarias Cavalcade, where the streets of old town Albuquerque are lined with thousands of candlelighted paper bags. It departs Dec. 21 and costs $795.

Trieloff Tours' Great Southwest Luminarias Christmas tour is an eight-day motor-coach tour that includes the festive Santa Fe Christmas Lights Tour, as well as Albuquerque and Flagstaff, Ariz., and sightseeing that features Oak Creek Canyon, Petrified Forest National Park and Lake Havasu City and its London Bridge. It's priced at $799 and departs Dec. 20.

A third Southwest Christmas tour highlighting the Albuquerque Luminarias Cavalcades is by Corliss Tours. This one is a six-day air and motor-coach tour departing Dec. 21 and priced at $703, with stays at Hilton hotels in both Albuquerque and Santa Fe, along with four special holiday meals.

Corliss also has a San Antonio tour, a Texas version of the Fiesta de las Luminarias, leaving by air from Los Angeles Dec. 22, with motor-coach side tours out of San Antonio and priced at $849, and Christmas in Victoria, B.C., a seven-day air tour for $1,142. That one features a stop in Vancouver, plus Christmas at the Empress Hotel in Victoria, with 13 meals, including both Christmas and Boxing Day dinners. A similar tour is offered over the New Year's holiday period.

(Trieloff Tours also has a Christmas in Victoria and a Christmas in San Antonio tour, and Gadabout Tours offers a San Antonio Christmas tour.)

Still another Corliss tour is a six-day Christmas holiday stay in New Orleans, preceded by a seven-day cruise on the Queen of Bermuda, visiting Key West, Playa de Carmen and Cozumel. It departs by air from Los Angeles Dec. 15 and starts at $1,800 per person, with higher prices for other shipboard cabins. Or you can enjoy the New Orleans Christmas stay, without the cruise, for $991 from Los Angeles.

Giovanni Tours has an eight-day Charles Dickens Yuletide Holiday to London, Dec. 26 to Jan. 2. As with all Giovanni trips it includes comprehensive sightseeing, full breakfast and dinner each day, plus a New Year's party and London post-Christmas shopping. It's priced at $1,789.

Gadabout Tours has a wide selection of Christmas tours, including several within California. Included are a four-day Christmas in Solvang trip (leaving Dec. 23 for $392) and a five-day Sierra Christmas to Bishop, Lake Tahoe and Reno (leaving Dec. 23, $375), plus still others to Death Valley and San Francisco.

Longer holiday tours from Gadabout include a 10-day Dixieland Christmas Cruise aboard the Mississippi Queen out of New Orleans. It departs Dec. 20 and starts at $2,193, including air fare from Los Angeles.

Others are an eight-day Christmas in Natchez, Miss., a four-island, 10-day Hawaiian tour over Christmas, and a mostly rail Twelve Days of Christmas tour that goes to Seattle, Vancouver, Victoria and Portland, among other stops.

You can ring in the new year at Death Valley with Calico Tours' four-day motor-coach tour. Accommodations are at Furnace Creek Lodge. The trip, priced at $349, includes a New Year's Eve party plus sightseeing trips.

Calico also offers an overnighter to Lawrence Welk Village in Escondido and the musical "Funny Girl," followed by a New Year's Eve party. Also included in the $189 tour price are accommodations at the Travelodge and brunch at the Hotel del Coronado in San Diego.

Jean Soule of Lee Hansen Travel says her New Year's cruise is for "active seniors." Soule's seven-day cruise on the Fair Princess visits the Mexican Riviera and starts at $1,190. There are only a few openings left at the money-saving group rates. The cruise leaves Los Angeles Dec. 30.

For more information:

Calico Tours: 2265 Westwood Blvd., No. 247, Los Angeles 90064, (213) 478-5865.

Corliss Tours: 436 W. Foothill Blvd., Monrovia 91016, toll-free (800) 456-5717 or (818) 359-5358.

Gadabout Tours: 700 E. Tahquitz Way, Palm Springs 92262, (800) 521-7309 or (619) 325-5556.

Giovanni Tours: 5308 Derry Ave., Suite F, Agoura Hills, Calif. 91301, (818) 889-3156.

Great Western Travel: 3814 E. Colorado Blvd., Suite 200, Pasadena 91107-3993, (800) 344-7090 or (818) 578-1161.

Lee Hansen Travel: 712 Foothill Blvd., P.O. Box 127, La Canada 91011, (213) 681-4881 or (818) 790-5589.

Smith Tours: 8898 Clairmont Mesa Blvd., Suite D, San Diego 92123, (619) 292-5522 or (619) 292-4835.

Trieloff Tours: P.O. Box 2100, 23521 Paseo de Valencia, Suite B-1, Laguna Hills 92653, (800) 432-7125.

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