HEAD to the Big Easy for the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival on a seven-night Louisiana music tour that begins April 27.
Participants will spend four days in New Orleans, where they will have festival tickets for two days.
Among the performers scheduled for this year's Jazz Fest are Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon and Fats Domino, said tour leader and former concert producer Nancy Covey.
"This is the best year to go ... because it's post-Katrina. It's literally a way to support Louisiana and join a celebration to bring back New Orleans," Covey said.
The tour also will include three days visiting the Louisiana backcountry, where participants will visit the homes of local Cajun and Zydeco musicians, joining them for a barbecue, an afternoon music jam and a crayfish boil. They also will attend a Cajun cooking class and go on a swamp boat trip to see alligators and dig for crayfish.
An optional volunteer service day will be available for participants who want to help in a restoration project.
Cost: $1,599 per person, double occupancy ($650 single surcharge), including lodging, most meals, beer in the Cajun country segment of the tour, transportation and event tickets. Airfare from Los Angeles is not included.
Contact: Festival Tours International, Pacific Palisades; (310) 454-4080, festtours.com.
See artworks, earn credits
STUDY the art and architecture of Spain from Madrid to Bilbao.
The 11-night tour, offered through UCLA Extension, will visit historic sites, museums and mosques and will trace the influence of the Iberians, Greeks, Romans, Jews, Moors and Christians on the country's art and culture.
The group will travel to Toledo to see the paintings of El Greco and spend three days touring Seville, where the itinerary includes visits to the narrow streets of the Barrio de Santa Cruz and to the royal palace, Reales Alcazar.
Participants visit the Alhambra in Granada before flying to Barcelona for three days to study the architecture of Antonio Gaudi and the paintings and sculptures of Pablo Picasso, Joan Miro and Salvador Dali.
The tour concludes in Bilbao with a visit to the Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim museum.
Four units of college credit are included.
Cost: $4,870 per person, double occupancy ($845 single surcharge) including round-trip airfare from Los Angeles, hotels, internal airfare and ground transportation in Spain, most meals, tuition and instruction.
Contact: Art Adventures International, Malibu; (310) 230-9299, www.artadventures.net.
Plunge into the world of the shark
SNORKEL with whale sharks on an expedition to the Gladden Spit Marine Nature Preserve in Belize.
The seven-day snorkeling and diving trips, scheduled April 9 and May 10, coincide with peak spawning times for the whale sharks, which are harmless to humans.
"People have a chance to get firsthand information on the largest fish in the world," said Birgit Winning of the Oceanic Society, which is sponsoring the trips. "Also, it's a great place for snorkeling and diving. The spawning areas attract all sorts of marine life."
Participants stay in the coastal town of Placencia and make daily trips to the spawning site, either by dive boat or snorkel boat.
Whale shark specialist Glen Eiley, of the Gladden Spit Nature Preserve, and naturalists from the Oceanic Society will lead the trips and give evening presentations on the biology of the whale sharks, marine life and the ecology of Belize.
Cost: $1,890 per person for snorkelers and $1,990 per person for divers. Included are domestic flights in Belize, accommodations, lunches and excursions. Most meals and airfare from Los Angeles are not included.
Contact: Oceanic Society Expeditions, San Francisco; (800) 326-7491, www.oceanicsociety.org.
NETHERLANDS, BELGIUM & GERMANY
Rediscover a Dutch master
CELEBRATE the 400th anniversary of Rembrandt's birth on 13-day tours of the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany that include seven-day cruises on the Rhine, Moselle and Neckar rivers.
The trips, scheduled Aug. 28 and Sept. 11, begin in Brussels. The group takes a walking tour of Brugge, then moves on to Amsterdam for sightseeing. Participants view the "Rembrandt 400" exhibit at the Rijksmuseum and visit the Netherlands city of Leiden, Rembrandt's birthplace.
The river cruise begins in Amsterdam and includes stops in Cologne, Koblenz, Heidelberg and Mannheim, Germany.
Cost: $4,349 to $4,949 per person, double occupancy ($1,400 to $2,000 single surcharge), including four nights' hotel lodging and breakfast, seven nights' accommodations and meals on board the ship. Airfare from Los Angeles to Brussels and port charges are not included.
Contact: Peter Deilmann Cruises, Alexandria, Va.; (800) 348-8287, www.deilmann-cruises.com.
The Times is not responsible for changes in prices, dates or itineraries. Send information to Tours & Cruises, Los Angeles Times, 202 W. 1st St., Los Angeles, CA 90012 or write via e-mail to email@example.com.