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The Mature Traveler

Grand Circle Route to Global Exploration

March 20, 1994|HANK KOVELL

For 36 years, Boston-based Grand Circle Travel has been a leading packager of tours and cruises for active travelers over the age of 50. The company continues to develop new destinations, land-cruise combinations and a worldwide series focusing on culture and education. Grand Circle also has established a nonprofit foundation that has contributed more than $200,000 to such programs as a university for peace in Costa Rica, Nepal's Himalayan Trust and a children's village in Portugal.

Some of the Grand Circle travel-program options below might have particular appeal for those with diverse travel and cultural interests.

* Live Abroad Extended Vacations is a plan under which travelers may reside in a house, villa or apartment in a foreign country for two to 26 weeks. Travelers can shop, explore castles, visit museums and take day trips while mingling with locals. All Extended Vacation packages include round-trip air fare from major U.S. cities, plus lodging, airport transfers, selected meals and an on-site program director who is familiar with the country.

Many travelers visit two or more countries, or different regions of the same country. A sample Extended Vacation divides 23 days among three Mediterranean coastal cities in Spain and includes air fare from Los Angeles, and breakfast and dinner daily. Cost begins at $2,125 per person, with additional weeks priced at $135 per person.

Extended Vacations destinations include Spain, Portugal, Turkey, Greece, Morocco, the Swiss Alps, Austria, Italy, France, England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland and Costa Rica. Add-ons of three to five days in nearby major cities are available.

* Last year, Grand Circle Travel acquired Overseas Adventure Travel, which offers trips and safaris throughout North and South America, Asia, Africa and the Mediterranean. Packages are designed to appeal to several groups, including women, families, singles and "busy people," with quick trips of eight to 13 days for the latter.

Overseas Adventure Travel's African safaris are limited to eight people and include huge cabin-tents with beds, linen, toilets and hot showers, plus a safari vehicle. Destinations include such off-beat places as Borneo, the Amazon, the Andes, Nepal and Tibet.

* The Discovery Series is designed for travelers who seek a deeper understanding of the land, culture and people they visit. They can engage in dialogue with individuals from the worlds of art, history, nature and politics. For example, travelers may meet with former Costa Rican President Rodrigo Carazo, learn how to make filo dough during a cooking lesson in Turkey, or explore the history of Spanish and Moorish architecture with university professors in Spain.

* Elder Venture, Grand Circle's newest program, was created in response to adventurous seniors seeking interaction with nature. Trips are currently offered to the Amazon, Belize, Costa Rica and the Galapagos Islands.

* A series of cruises on such lines as Princess, Regency, Royal, Cunard and Costa are available, with land-and-cruise options. Deep discounts are common.

A Grand Circle 36th anniversary voyage, which departs the United States by air on Oct. 4 for Venice and the Adriatic Sea, includes visits to cities in Greece, Turkey, Romania and the Ukraine. Prices begin at $3,246 per person, including air fare from Los Angeles. Also available are shore excursions in Istanbul, Athens and the ruins at Ephesus, Turkey.

Grand Circle also offers a wide range of discounted budget cruises, including a 15-day Danube River cruise beginning at $2,795 per person, with round-trip air fare from New York. A 13-day cruise aboard the QE2, with five nights on the ship and seven nights in London, and including daily breakfast, airport transfers and one week of bus/subway passes, starts at $1,825 per person.

Two current booklets describe Grand Circle programs: Going Abroad: 101 Tips for Mature Travelers, which has a new section on health and fitness; and GCT Travel Planner. Both are free. For more information, call (800) 248-3737.

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