Would-Be 007s Mingle on Bahamas Spy Cruise

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Ex-CIA, FBI and KGB officers will join tourists on a seven-day "Spy Cruise" through the Bahamas. This educational-entertainment offering is from the Centre for Counterintelligence and Security Studies of Alexandria, Va.

Spy Cruise passengers will sail on the Regal Empress of Regal Cruise Lines from March 10 to 17. They will dine with former spies and spy catchers and authors of espionage novels.

Each morning, participants can attend two-hour espionage seminars given by center professors, who will talk about spies they knew, recruited or caught as well as important spy cases that changed history, espionage craft and technology, and espionage literature. Participants also will see demonstrations of spy equipment by collector H. Keith Melton.

Oh, yes, the cruise: It leaves from Florida and visits Eleuthera, San Salvador and Nassau in the Bahamas, and Key West, Fla.

Cost: from $749 per person, double occupancy. Air fare to Florida is not included.

Contact: Dynamic Cruise Concepts; telephone (888) 322-2250, Internet http://www.spycruise.com.

Europe: Flower Shows

A trip from May 13 to 23 combines visits to three of Europe's best-known flower shows: the Floriade in Amsterdam (Netherlands), the Chelsea Flower Show in London, and Paris' Courson show. Beginning in Amsterdam, guests will see the Aalsmeer Flower Auction and Keukenhof Gardens, with 70 acres of blooming tulips, daffodils and hyacinths. Extras in France include Monet's house and gardens at Giverny and a dinner cruise on the Seine River. In England, participants will attend the Chelsea Flower Show and spend a day in Kent and Sussex.

Cost: $3,484 per person, double occupancy, including hotels, motor coach transportation, luggage handling, some meals and guides. Air fare is additional.

Contact: Kathleen Dutton at OMO Travel, 16787 Beach Blvd., No. 440, Huntington Beach, CA 92647; tel. (800) 465-8132, http://www.omotravel.com.

Morocco, Sahara: Culture

"The Magic of Morocco" will become apparent on a 10-day escorted tour that begins in Marrakech and its Djemaa el Fna square, which is lively with snake charmers, dancers, acrobats and merchants. The trip continues over the Atlas Mountains to the Todra Gorge. On the edge of the Sahara Desert the group will spend a night in a tented oasis camp. The next day the group will visit a nomad family. After exploring the Imperial city of Meknes, the trip continues to the Roman ruins of Volubilis Fes, one of the oldest cities in North Africa, for the final stop.

Cost: from $2,269 per person, including round-trip air fare from New York, all transfers and luggage handling, lodging, guides, daily breakfast and some dinners.

Contact: General Tours; tel. (800) 221-2216, http://www.generaltours.com.

California: Hiking

Timberline Adventures of Denver will offer two six-day hiking adventures in Sequoia-Kings Canyon (Sept. 2 to 7) and Yosemite (Sept. 9 to 14) national parks. Guides will take participants on scenic day hikes.

Cost for each trip: $1,495 per person, including five nights' lodging, all meals, park entrance fees and airport transfers from Fresno. Transportation to Fresno is extra.

Contact: Timberline Adventures; tel. (800) 417-2453, e-mail http://timber@boulder.earthnet.net.

Antarctica: Kayaking

Lindblad Expeditions' Endeavour (formerly the Caledonian Star) now offers kayaking among Antarctica's icebergs. The trips are accompanied by a staff of naturalists--some with PhDs in zoology, geology or marine sciences--who will share their knowledge and passion for the region. The ship carries Zodiac landing craft and sea kayaks for up-close exploration of ice canyons created by enormous glaciers, ice floes, resting penguins and Weddell seals.

The 110-passenger Endeavour is outfitted with equipment for scientific exploration, including an undersea video camera, a video microscope, a hydrophone to hear the vocalizations of the water's inhabitants and a remotely operated vehicle that lets guests glimpse the environment beneath icebergs.

Lindblad Expeditions' 14-day "Antarctica" expedition begins in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Passengers will board the Endeavour at Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego. The expedition departs Dec. 5, 16 and 27 and Jan. 7, 18 and 29.

Cost: from $7,490 per person, double occupancy, not including air fare.

Contact a travel agent or Lindblad Expeditions at (800) 397-3348, http://www.expeditions.com.

Spain: New Year's

The new year could start out brighter--or at least noisier--in Barcelona, Spain, on a trip that departs Dec. 26. Guests will spend six nights in old Barcelona. New Year's Eve festivities will be held at a restaurant, followed by a flamenco show.

Cost: $2,375 per person, double occupancy, including round-trip air from Los Angeles, daily breakfast, two dinners, ground transportation, hotel and escorted tours.

Contact: Claudette Crowther at Summerland Travel; tel. (805) 969-9014.

Washington: Sea Kayaking

Go kayaking among Washington's San Juan Islands on a Wilderness Inquiry trip Sept. 17 to 22.

A short ferry ride from Anacortes, Wash., will transport guests to an ecosystem that is home to harbor seals, starfish, bald eagles and whales. No experience is required, and the trip is open to people of all ages and abilities, including people with disabilities.

Cost: $645 per person, including instruction, food and camping gear. Round-trip van transportation is available from Seattle for an additional $45. Air fare to Seattle is not included.

Contact: Wilderness Inquiry, 808 14th Ave. S.E., Minneapolis, MN 55414; tel. (800) 728-0719, http://www.wildernessinquiry.org.

Bahamas: Cruise

Learn how to become an "advantage" player with Jean Scott, author of "The Frugal Gambler," on a cruise to Key West, Fla., and the Bahamas from Feb. 17 to 22 on Holland America's Westerdam. Scott will present a seminar on how to take advantage of slot cards, find coupons to use in the casinos, choose the best machine to play for the highest return and get the most for your money while in Las Vegas.

Guests will attend a private cocktail party on the Westerdam and participate in a free slot tournament with cash prizes at the Nassau Marriott Resort and Casino in the Bahamas.

Cost: from $839 per person, double occupancy, including port charges and taxes. Air fare to Florida is extra.

Contact: Cruise Giants-Euclid Travel; tel. (800) 659-2662.

Mexico: Mayans

Explore Mayan ruins of Yucatan on a nine-day educational excursion that departs Jan. 2 with Rick Chacon, who teaches anthropology at El Camino College and has done extensive research.

Archeological sites visited are Chichen Itza, Palenque, Tulum, Mayapan, Loltun Cave, Becan and Xel-Ha. Three nights will be spent in the resort city of Cancun.

Cost: $1,756 per person, including round-trip air fare from Los Angeles, guides, ground transportation, two daily meals and hotels. Travelers under age 25 get $200 off.

Contact: Chacon at El Camino College; tel. (310) 660-3578.

Tuscany: On Foot

Late fall is a colorful time to visit the countryside of Tuscany. Tre Laghi, a walking tour operator, has seven-day trips to this area in September and October. All trips emphasize strolling the countryside, meeting the residents and enjoying local foods and wines. Limited to 14 participants, trips include two guides and all lunches with wine. Daily walks average eight to 10 miles and are designed for anyone who enjoys walking.

Departures are Sept. 7, Sept. 22 and Oct. 7.

Cost: $3,180 per person, double occupancy, including lodging and breakfasts but excluding air fare.

Contact: Tre Laghi; tel. (800) 293-1117, http://www.trelaghi.com.

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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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