Exploring the Grand Canyon in winter
EXPERIENCE life on the edge at Grand Canyon National Park this winter on two-day, two-night guided field trips for families.
The year-round Lodging and Learning packages, available at reduced rates through March 25, include accommodations and outdoor education classes along the canyon's South Rim.
A naturalist leads participants on a hike on and below the rim on the first day, focusing on the geology of the mile-deep canyon; on the second day, participants are transported to various overlooks, where they will learn about the area's history and environment.
Participants "join an expert who can share with them the rich themes of Grand Canyon National Park and point out sights they might not otherwise see," said Mike Buchheit, director of the nonprofit Grand Canyon Field Institute, which sponsors the program.
"The goal is to give people a more comprehensive overview of what makes this a place worth protecting."
Children must be 10 or older to participate and must be accompanied by an adult.
Cost: $286 per person, double occupancy (single surcharge $85). Each additional adult in the room is $201, and children are $168 each. Included are lodging at Yavapai or Maswik lodges, in-park transportation, meals, a guide and instructional materials.
Contact: Xanterra Resorts Group Reservations; (928) 638-2525, www.grandcanyonlodges.com.
Emerald Isle highlights
Discover the hills of Erin on nine-day tours departing March 4 and 23.
The land-and-air tours focus on Irish highlights, including visits to Dublin, Killarney, the Waterford Crystal Factory, Galway, Blarney Castle, the Ring of Kerry and the Cliffs of Moher.
Among the special events: ballads in a Killarney pub, tea and scones at an Irish farmhouse and ferry rides across the River Shannon.
Cost: $1,479 per person, double occupancy (single surcharge $220), including round-trip airfare from LAX to Dublin, accommodations, most meals, bus transportation and guide service.
Contact: Great Western Tours, Pasadena; (800) 344-7090.
The South in books, music
Explore Old Man River on a weeklong steamboat cruise that will focus on the literature and music of the South.
The Feb. 21 trip, which sails on the Mississippi River from New Orleans to Memphis, Tenn., includes stops at William Faulkner's home in Rowan Oak, Miss., and the Center for the Study of Southern Culture in Oxford, Miss. Other port calls will be at Natchez and Vicksburg, Miss., and Helena, Ark.
The Sammy Kaye Orchestra will perform Big Band-era music on the cruise.
Cost: Fares start at $1,585.50 per person, double occupancy (single surcharge is $1,189.55), aboard the American Queen, including airfare from LAX to New Orleans and the return flight from Memphis.
Shore tours are also included.
Contact: Historic Tours and Cruises Inc., Huntington Beach; (714) 536-3434, www.deltaqueen.com.
Welcoming in the full moon
ADD some fireworks to your life on a nine-day tour to Taiwan that includes a visit to Taipei's flashy Lantern Festival.
The Jan. 29 tour explores the island of Taiwan, visiting Kaohsiung and several other cities before arriving at Taipei, the capital, in time for the Feb. 5 Lantern Festival celebration. Fireworks, helium-filled balloons and decorated lanterns fill the city as residents celebrate the first full moon of the New Year.
Cost: $1,680 per person, double occupancy, including round-trip transportation on China Air, accommodations, meals, escorted sightseeing and tours.
Contact: Hermes Travel and Tours, Torrance; (310) 791-5556, www.hermestoursonline.com.
Seeing the sea life off Baja
Catch a winter show of mammoth proportions off the coast of Baja California on a seven-day tour that includes three days of watching California gray whales.
The Feb. 8 tour makes its way by bus down Baja from San Diego, returning by air. Participants stay overnight in Catavina and San Ignacio and spend two nights each in Loreto and La Paz.
Whale watching stops are at Scammon's Lagoon, Puerto Lopez Mateos and Puerto San Carlos. At each of these stops, passengers board skiffs to search for migrating gray whales.
Cost: $1,429 per person, double occupancy (single surcharge $270), including bus transportation from San Diego to La Paz, accommodations, 10 meals, whale-watching trips, airfare from La Paz to Tijuana and van transport from Tijuana to San Diego. Transportation to San Diego from the Los Angeles area is extra.
Contact: Baja California Tours Inc., La Jolla; (800) 336-5454, www.baja specials.com.
Deal of the week
If you like traveling first class but hate the price tag, Crystal Cruises may have a deal for you. The luxury line is offering 12-day Alaskan cruises starting at $2,595 per person, double occupancy, 50% off published fares. (Single surcharge is $648.75.)
The Alaska cruises, aboard the 940- passenger Crystal Harmony, will be offered from May 30 to Sept. 15. Children younger than 12 sail free when sharing a stateroom with two adults.
Crystal Harmony, sailing round trip from San Francisco, visits Ketchikan, Sitka, Skagway and Juneau in Alaska and Vancouver and Victoria in British Columbia, Canada.
Contact: Your travel agent or Crystal Cruises; (800) 820-6663, www.crystalcruises.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; e-mail email@example.com.