Theater and Culture in England and N.Y.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Critics' Choice International is offering its 22nd annual London and Theatre tour from Dec. 28 to Jan. 7. Guests will spend nine nights at the Athenaeum Hotel and Apartments in Piccadilly and attend seven London shows, with all seats in the stalls or dress circle. The group will also meet a London critic, take a backstage theater tour, visit a museum and celebrate New Year's at a gala after-theater dinner party. Ed Kaufman, drama professor and theater critic, will lead the tour and meet with the group for informal critical sessions after each show.

Cost: $3,899 per person, double occupancy, including accommodations, round-trip air fare from Los Angeles, all theater tickets, daily full English breakfast, some meals, motor-coach transportation, entrance fees, a city tour of London, a trip to the countryside, all tips, taxes and portage.

Contact: Nancy Bland at Montrose Travel, 2343 Honolulu Ave., Montrose, CA 91020-1821; telephone (800) 301-9673.

More England

Travelers who join Saddleback College Community Education's Holiday Experience in Great Britain tour will celebrate Christmas in an elegant country hotel in the Cotswolds with all the trimmings and New Year's Eve in Edinburgh, Scotland, with bagpipes, dancing and "Auld Lang Syne."

On Boxing Day, Dec. 26, the group will attend a sending off of the hounds of the Beaufort Hunt at Badminton House and attend a pantomime in Bath in the afternoon. This 14-day tour departs Dec. 20 and returns Jan. 2. The tour includes three nights in London; two nights in Stratford, with a performance at the Royal Shakespeare Theater; medieval York; and side trips to Oxford, Bath and Sulgrave Manor--the ancestral home of George Washington.

Cost: $3,675 per person, double occupancy, including round-trip air fare from LAX to London and return from Edinburgh, accommodations, most meals and holiday programs.

Contact: Saddleback College Community Education Office, P.O. Box 6691, Laguna Niguel, CA 92607; or trip leader Joe Calwell, tel. (714) 495-2905.

N.Y. Theater

The El Camino College Theatre Department will sponsor a New York Theatre Tour from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1 and will include orchestra seats to three new productions: "Scarlet Pimpernel," "The Diary of Anne Frank" and "Gross Indecencies." Participants will also have the option to add "Titanic" and/or a New Year's Eve performance of "The Lion King," the new Disney musical. Also included in the tour are after-show seminars with the performers and a workshop with a New York acting coach.

Cost: $1,495 per person, double occupancy, including round-trip air fare from LAX, hotel accommodations at the Crown Plaza, tour guides, taxes, transfers, tips and porterage, and personal health and accident insurance.

Contact: Ron Scarlata; tel. (310) 660-3704.

Borneo Blitz

A trip billed as the Borneo Sports Spectacular will have you climbing 13,455-foot Mt. Kinabalu, rappelling off cliffs, spelunking and rafting. The first trip runs April 19 to May 5; other dates are available.

Cost: from $2,390 per person, double occupancy, including accommodations, meals, equipment, guides and porters. The price does not include air fare.

Contact: Outer Edge Expeditions, 4550 Pontiac Trail, Walled Lake, MI 48390-4036; tel. (800) 322-5235.

Sporting Big Island

Getaway Adventures is offering biking and multisport trips to Hawaii's Big Island this winter. The six- and eight-day trips feature luxury accommodations and easy to moderate cycling designed for all abilities. Departures for the 1997-98 season are Nov. 16, Dec. 7 and 21, Jan. 11 and 25, Feb. 8 and 22, and March 8 and 22.

Cyclists start in Hilo, visiting tropical gardens, Puna's white- and black-sand beaches, macadamia nut orchards, coffee plantations and Volcanoes National Park.

In addition, there are historic stops, including the City of Refuge, Capt. Cook's monument and a visit to the island's only winery.

Activities include bicycling between 30 and 40 miles a day, a day of hiking, a day of snorkeling and kayaking.

Cost: $1,249 for six days and $1,599 for eight days per person, double occupancy, including van support, all meals, accommodations and entrance fees. Air fare is extra.

Contact: Getaway Adventures; tel. (800) 499-BIKE.

Harp Seal Watch

An eight-day tour north of Canada's Prince Edward Island to see harp seal pups is being sponsored by Mountain Outin' Tours, March 1 to 8. From the ice-bound Gulf of St. Lawrence, participants will fly by helicopter to the ice floes to observe newborn harp seal pups. The pups are born with snow-white fur and remain on the ice floes for their first two weeks.

Cost: $1,895 per person, double occupancy, including air fare from LAX to Montreal, train to New Brunswick, with private sleeping car compartment, motor coach to Charlottetown (crossing Northumberland Strait over the Confederation Bridge), lodging in Montreal and Charlottetown, helicopter flight to the ice floes, services of an experienced naturalist-guide, winter survival gear, all lodging, transfers and some meals.

Contact: Mountain Outin' Tours, P.O. Box 70, East Irvine, CA 92650; tel. (800) 844-3985.

Kayaking Off Panama

A sea kayaking venture through the San Blas Islands off Panama's Caribbean coast will run Dec. 26 to Jan. 9. The route covers a day of acclimation at Tigre Island and encounters with the indigenous Kuna Indians, then 10 days of paddling through the archipelago for five to six hours daily to Porvenir Island. There will be camping at intermediate islands and opportunities for snorkeling and bird-watching.

Cost: $2,190 to $2,690 per person, double occupancy, includes gear; hotel and tent accommodations; some meals; transfers; ground and internal air transport; and guides. Air fare from the U.S. is not included. Some kayaking experience is required.

Contact: Mountain Travel-Sobek; tel. (888) 687-6235.

Easter Island

Chile's Andean Lakes are among the features of a 19-day tour to Chile departing Feb. 24. Starting with Easter Island, guests spend three days visiting the Ahu Nau Nau statues before traveling to the mainland's Andes Mountains. Puerto Varas is opposite Osorno Volcano, where a night is spent before pressing on to Lake Llanquihue and the cascading Petrohue River.

A scenic cruise on Lake Todos los Santos, also known as the "Emerald Lake," is the method of transport to Puella, a Swiss-style village in the heart of Perez Rosales National Park. Spend the night in picturesque Puerto Montt before boarding a six-day cruise through the southern fiords to visit villages, fishing communities and thermal baths. Zodiacs are used for up-close views of sea life and glaciers. A full-day tour of the capital city of Santiago, including a visit to one of Chile's wineries, is also included.

Cost: $2,676 per person, double occupancy, including accommodations, most meals and cruise. Air fare is extra.

Contact: Acacia Travel; tel. (800) 243-6996.

Yellowstone Winter

Visit Yellowstone National Park in winter, when heavy snowfall covers the entire park like a blanket. The 1998 tour is March 2 to 6. Guests spend two nights in Jackson Hole, Wyo., and two nights inside the park at the Old Faithful Snowlodge. They will go touring throughout the park aboard heated, track-driven snow coaches.

Cost: $895 per person, double occupancy, including round-trip air fare from Los Angeles, deluxe bus transportation and dinners at the Snowlodge Restaurant and at the Wort Hotel in Jackson Hole.

Contact: Main Street Tours, 1751 W. Torrance Blvd., Suite N, Torrance, CA 90501; tel. (800) 300-6246.

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

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