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Tours & cruises

November 01, 2009|Avital Binshtock

MARQUESAS ISLANDS

Where Gauguin escaped

Follow Paul Gauguin to Marquesas Islands' spectacular French Polynesian scenery aboard the Aranui III adventure cruise. Half cargo boat, half upscale passenger vessel, the family-owned ship has been sailing to these nine islands for more than 30 years. This means the multilingual Polynesian navigators who guide you during this 14-day voyage know where Gauguin is buried, how to find hidden jungle ruins, how best to see wild horses, and where the most impressive volcanoes, cliffs and waterfalls are.

Itinerary: Papeete to Fakarava, Ua Pou, Nuku Hiva, Hiva Oa, Fatu Hiva, Tahuata, Ua Huka, Ua Pou, Rangiroa and back to Papeete

Dates: Departures Nov. 28, Dec. 19, Jan. 12 and other dates in 2010

Price: Starting at $2,079 for shared dorm-style accommodations and $3,675 for standard double-occupancy accommodations (single supplement 50%), including daily meals with wine and most excursions, but not including taxes and optional excursions.

Contact: Compagnie Polynesienne de Transport Maritime, San Mateo, Calif.; (800) 972-7268, www.aranui.com

MALI

A little effort, then relax

Get 2010 off to a meaningful start by reserving the 17-day Give Back Kick Back mission to West Africa. You'll help pupils plant vegetables and fruit trees at their elementary school, the products of which they'll sell to buy school supplies. After that, you'll attend the annual Festival au Desert in the Sahara. Along the way, you'll see UNESCO World Heritage sites, take camel rides and dine with families.

Itinerary: Bamako to Segou, Sangha, Tireli, Douentza, Timbuktu, Essakane, Mopti, Djenne and back to Segou and Bamako

Dates: Dec. 30 to Jan. 15. Book by Nov. 15.

Price: $4,995, double occupancy (single supplement $495) including taxes, 11 nights in hotels, three nights camping, most meals, transportation in 4x4 vehicles, the services of a tour guide throughout, admission to the music festival and airport transfers. The rate does not include international airfare, gratuities or a Mali travel visa.

Contact: Give Back Kick Back, Boston; (877) 788-7625, www.givebackkickback.com

CHINA

A spree through the sights

Chase down China's highlights on China Spree's fast-paced, 10-day Golden Triangle Tour, which flies you into the capital city of Beijing, where you'll see the Great Wall, the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace. A train trip to Xian enables a visit to the terra-cotta army, where more than 8,000 soldiers are memorialized with life-sized statues. Finally, a flight takes you into bustling Shanghai for shopping and dining.

Itinerary: Beijing to Xian and Shanghai

Dates: Many departure dates through 2010, starting Jan. 8

Price: From $888, double occupancy, including round-trip nonstop airfare from San Francisco, all transfers and transportation in China, eight nights in hotels, daily breakfast and some lunches, private sightseeing tours and entrance fees, but not including U.S. and China departure taxes and fees (close to $300) or the China visa fee ($150). The $888 price is a cash-discount rate and applies to January and February departures (but does not afford the protection of paying by credit card); departing later in the year costs more.

Contact: China Spree, Blaine, Wash.; (866) 652-5656, www.chinaspree.com (click "China Tours," then "Super Value")

ALASKA

Where families go wild

Sign on for the 12-night Family Fun cruise, designed specifically for families with children. Activities include a jetboat ride, panning for gold, a narrated bus tour of Denali National Park, a Junior Ranger program in Glacier Bay National Park and a dinner show about summiting Mt. McKinley.

Itinerary: Vancouver, Canada, to Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay National Park, College Fjord, Anchorage, Mt. McKinley, Denali and Fairbanks.

Dates: Departures May 15 and 29

Price: From $1,743 per person for

the first and second passengers,

$1,191 per person for the third and fourth, including a seven-night cruise, a five-night land tour with stays at wilderness lodges, daily breakfast and rail service.

Contact: Princess Cruises, Santa Clarita; (800) 774-6237, www.princess.com

EASTERN EUROPE

Jewish historical sites

Reconnect with, or learn about, the traditions of Judaism with Isram World's new Jewish-interest itineraries. The company's Eastern Europe Discovery is led by scholar Jacob Shoshan and highlights Ashkenazi Jewry with visits to synagogues, Jewish museums and Holocaust sites such as Auschwitz-Birkenau and Oskar Schindler's factory. Also on the itinerary are Shabbat dinners, a Yiddish theater performance and a walking tour of Prague.

Itinerary: Warsaw to Lublin, Poland; Krakow; Trebic, Czech Republic and Prague.

Dates: June 16 to July 1; July 28 to Aug. 12

Price: $4,995 land-only, double occupancy ($1,095 single supplement), including the flight from Vilna to Warsaw, hotel stays, breakfasts, some lunches and dinners, tour guides, transport on tour buses, all entrance fees, transfers, luggage handling, hotel and meal taxes and most gratuities. Not included are U.S. and local taxes.

Contact: Isram World, New York City; (800) 223-7460, www.isramworld.com

-- Avital Binshtock

--

itinerary@latimes.com

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