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Tours & Cruises

January 05, 2003|Rosemary McClure | Times Staff Writer


Tulips and windmills on a Low Countries river cruise

JOURNEY along the latticework of rivers and canals that crisscrosses the Netherlands on a nine-day tour and cruise that visits colorful Dutch flower fields and cities before sailing into Belgium.

The April 23 trip includes bus, canal and walking tours in major cities, such as Amsterdam, Antwerp and Brussels, as well as visits to small harbor towns and villages, such as Zaanse Schans, Holland, known for its windmills.

The cruise ship is the 150-passenger Viking Neptune. Among the stops in the Netherlands are Edam, known for its cheeses; Delft, famous for its blue-patterned, tin-glazed earthenware; and Keukenhof, where about 6 million bulbs are planted each year in the 70-acre garden.

Cost: $3,096 per person, double occupancy, including round-trip air fare from Los Angeles to Amsterdam, all meals, daily sightseeing, a tour escort, taxes and transfers.

Contact: Riverside-based Unique Vacations by Caren; (800) 713-2207, Ext. 14,


The wine will flow in Burgundy and Provence

DRIFT down the Rhone River in the south of France this spring on a seven-night cruise that visits the wine regions of Burgundy and Provence.

The May 10 trip will be aboard the 110-passenger Rhone Princess, built in 2001. There will be shore excursions to Macon, Lyon, Vienne, Tain l'Hermitage, Viviers, Avignon and Arles.

Cost: $2,748 per person, double occupancy, including round-trip air fare from Los Angeles or San Francisco, outside cabin, meals, guided excursions and transfers. Cruise-only price is $1,848 per person.

Contact: Marina del Rey-based WindSong Tours; (310) 821-6510.


Chelsea Flower Show to burst into bloom in spring

Flower power will draw gardeners to England for the annual springtime Chelsea Flower Show. A tour from May 19 to 28 will combine the show with visits to private gardens in Kent.

The Chelsea garden event, with 11 acres of exhibits and displays, is considered one of the world's leading horticultural shows. It has been held since 1913 on the grounds of the Royal Hospital in London and is organized by the Royal Horticultural Society.

Cost: $2,890 per person, double occupancy, including round-trip air fare from Los Angeles, accommodations, daily breakfast, London city tour, transfers and admission to the show and various country gardens.

Contact: Westminster-based Celia's Getaways; (714) 901-3510, e-mail celia'


Rolling on the river for Mardi Gras fest

JOIN in the revelry of Mardi Gras on a 10-day riverboat excursion that includes three days of parades and fun in New Orleans before departing up the Mississippi for Memphis, Tenn.

The March 2 tour begins in New Orleans, where the River Explorer, a 198-passenger hotel barge, will be docked at the Riverwalk Marketplace near the annual festivities. Travelers will have reserved grandstand seats for the Bacchus Parade in Lee Circle on Sunday and seats a second time on Fat Tuesday for several Mardi Gras parades.

On Wednesday, the Explorer will depart for Baton Rouge, La.; Natchez and Vicksburg, Miss.; and Memphis.

Cost: $3,040 per person, double occupancy, including the cruise, accommodations and transfer back to New Orleans by bus from Memphis. Round-trip air fare from Los Angeles is not included.

Contact: RiverBarge Excursion Lines Inc.; (888) GOBARGE (462-2743),


A trip into Buddhist culture and history

Search for Shangri-La on a 17-night tour to Tibet. The May 21 tour focuses on religious, historical and cultural sites in Tibet, which straddles the Himalayas between China and the Indian subcontinent.

Richard Kimball, director of the Buddhist Psychology and Counseling Research Center at Hsi Lai University in Rosemead, will lead the tour.

Guests will visit some of the most well-known sites in Tibet, such as the Mt. Everest region and the 1,000-room Potala Palace in Lhasa. There will also be excursions to such sites as the city of Zhongdian in Yunnan Province, China, the inspiration for James Hilton's novel "Lost Horizon."

Cost: $3,199 per person, double occupancy, including round-trip air fare from LAX to Beijing (returning from Shanghai), internal flights, accommodations, 50 meals, sightseeing and admissions, transportation, transfers and service charges.

Contact: Richard Kimball; (626) 656-2140, fax (626) 571-1413.


A rail ride from the canyon to Chihuahua

RIDE the rails through Mexico's scenic Copper Canyon on a seven-day tour that travels about 300 miles along the canyon rim.

The March 16 tour begins in Los Mochis on the Gulf of California. Travelers board the Chihuahua al Pacifico Railroad, which climbs 8,000 feet into the Sierra Madre before descending to the city of Chihuahua.

Cost: $1,795 per person, double occupancy, including round-trip air from Los Angeles, accommodations, tours, a guide and many meals.

Contact: Roxanne Galbreath at the Travel Store; (800) 343-9779.

The Times is not responsible for changes in prices, dates or itineraries. These should be confirmed with travel agents, cruise lines or tour operators.

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