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Tours & Cruises

June 15, 2003|Rosemary McClure | Times Staff Writer

Ride the rails to get a rare view of nature in its majesty

Get into training -- and save $1,000 in the process -- this summer on seven-night luxury railroad trips through the Pacific Northwest and the Rocky Mountains.

American Orient Express trips, available July through early September, include stops at Glacier, Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks, which participants will tour by bus.

Discounts of $1,000 per couple are available to those who book before June 30.

The train trip, which begins in Seattle or Salt Lake City, crosses four mountain ranges, the agricultural regions of Idaho and eastern Washington and the headwaters of the Missouri River in Montana.

"It's an opportunity to visit parts of the country that are only accessible by rail," said tour representative Jim Cohn. "There's awesome scenery, and you don't have to drive." American Orient Express, a private train service, is known for its vintage restored rail cars.

Cost: Rates begin at a discounted price of $2,990 per person, double occupancy, including accommodations, most meals, sightseeing trips, lectures and nightly entertainment.

Contact: American Orient Express; (800) 320-4206, www.americanorientexpress.com.

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CANADA

Riding in vans, staying in hostels in scenic Alberta

Walk through secluded meadows, hike on glaciers and stroll along forested lake shores on low-cost van-and-hostel tours of the Canadian Rockies.

The trips, offered through early October, depart from Banff or Calgary, Alberta, visiting Lake Louise, the Columbia Icefield, Maligne Lake and Jasper.

Participants tour the region in 15-seat vans, stopping daily to hike or sightsee. Optional activities include whitewater rafting, caving, rock climbing and horseback riding.

Tours range from three to six days and leave several times weekly during the summer.

Cost: $253 per person (no single supplement) for the six-day, five-night tour, including transportation, guide service, hostel accommodations, food, park and other fees.

Transportation to Alberta is not included.

Contact: True North Tours, based in Calgary; (888) 464-4842, www.truenorthtours.com.

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IRELAND

A singular way to see Emerald Isle's best-known sights

Pucker up and kiss the Blarney Stone -- and get to know other singles at the same time -- on a trip to Ireland from July 19 to 27.

The trip, for single adults, includes visits to some of the Emerald Isle's best-known attractions, including Bunratty Castle and the Ring of Kerry. Participants fly into Shannon on the west coast and spend three nights in Killarney and three nights in Dublin on the east coast.

The tour organization charges a single supplement for those traveling alone but will try to find a roommate on request.

"We can provide the fun and security of traveling with a group of friendly singles, plus guarantee them a low price by providing them with a roommate if they want one," said Ann Thomas, tour representative.

Cost: $949 per person, double occupancy (single supplement $261), including accommodations, 10 meals, sightseeing and a tour escort. Airfare to Ireland is extra.

Contact: American Singles, based in San Rafael, Calif.; (888) 286-8687, www.singles-cruises-tours.com.

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ITALY

Don't forget the credit cards on

a shoppers' tour

Hit the highways and byways of Italy on a 16-day shoppers' tour that visits outdoor markets, antique shows and discount outlets.

The Sept. 28 tour, which also visits museums, will include time at the Biennial International Antique Show in the Corsini Palace in Florence.

Among the cities on the itinerary are Venice and Rome, as well as several small hilltop towns in Tuscany.

Cost: $2,800 per person, double occupancy (single supplement $400), including 14 nights' accommodations with breakfast, two gourmet meals, tickets to museums and events, ground transportation and assistance of a cultural tour guide and an antiques dealer. Airfare from LAX to Rome is not included.

Contact: English Antique Market Tours, based in Amador City, Calif.; (888) 322-5250, www.antique-adventures.com.

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MEXICO

By train into the Sierra Madre and Copper Canyon

Ride the rails into the depths of Mexico's Copper Canyon on an escorted seven-day fall tour that includes four nights in the Sierra Madre.

The Oct. 5 trip focuses on the canyon, which is four times larger and 300 feet deeper than Arizona's Grand Canyon. Participants spend two nights in Cerocahui and two nights in Divisadero in the canyon.

They also overnight in El Fuerte and Los Mochis and take a cruise on Topolobampo Bay.

Cost: $1,699 per person, double occupancy (single supplement $275), including transportation from Los Angeles, accommodations, 18 meals and sightseeing.

Contact: Torrance-based Main Street Tours; (800) 300-6246.

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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