Tours & cruises


Winter wine tastings

The Winter in the Wineries Passport offers tastings at 17 wineries in Calistoga, Calif. The wine passport, which is valid for several months and offered by the Calistoga Chamber of Commerce, is good for one tasting per winery, and buyers must be 21 or older. Some area hotels and restaurants extend discounts to passport-holders too. Participating wineries include Sterling Vineyards, Castello di Amorosa, Madrigal Vineyards, Rios Wine Co., Zahtila Vineyards, Von Strasser Winery, Tomey Cellars and more.

When: The passport is good Dec. 2-Feb. 5.

Price: $50. Wine tastings generally cost about $10 a person (that’s the price at Zahtila Vineyards and Tomey Cellars). Using that as an average, savings would add up to $120 for those who sample all 17 wineries.


Info: Winter in the Wineries Passport, (707) 942-6333,


Cooking classes

The five-day Barcelona Culinary Tour from Tourcrafters includes learning how to cook an authentic Spanish meal — and sampling the results. The food-themed trip also includes a guided tour of the city’s historic Boqueria Market, a free tapas and wine stop, and time to stroll the city on your own.

When: Tours depart Sundays-Fridays through March 25, with some blackout dates.


Price: $450 a person, based on double occupancy. It includes four nights in a four-star hotel, the Boqueria Market tour, cooking class plus meal, tapas and wine and airport transfer for arrivals. Airfare and add-on Gothic or Gaudi architectural tours are extra.

Info: Tourcrafters, (800) 482-5995,


Oxford education

College life without tests or papers? You can take a week of classes at prestigious Oxford University in Oxford, England, on topics such as castles in Britain, the Brontës, King Arthur and the Dark Ages, the history of the BBC and more.

The Oxford Experience invites “students” to stay in dormitories and attend classes at Christ Church college while touring the storied campus and the area around Oxford. Meals are served in the Great Hall, made famous by the “Harry Potter” films, and extra tours may be added.

When: Study weeks run Sundays-Saturdays from July 1-Aug. 11; reservations must be made by May 1.

Price: $1,819 a person, which includes tuition for a week of courses, accommodations in dorms, three meals daily and evening activities. Airfare and excursions are not included.

Info: Oxford Experience,



Film and theater cruise

Hollywood and Broadway come together with the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles and others during Film & Theatre Cruise 2012, which will feature live performances and movie screenings on a trip from Los Angeles to New York. Members of the chorus will perform several times and meet guests on the 17-day spring sailing aboard the Crystal Serenity. Actresses Tippi Hedren and Kate Burton (“Grey’s Anatomy”), film lecturer Drew Casper, Center Theatre Group artistic director Michael Ritchie and others are scheduled to be part of the program too. Ports of call include Cabo San Lucas, Mexico; Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica; the Panama Canal; Georgetown, Grand Cayman; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; and Charleston, S.C., before ending in New York.

When: April 21-May 8.

Price: Cabins start at $5,545 a person, double occupancy, plus taxes and fees. That fare, which represents a $900 discount per person, is available for those who reserve by Dec. 31. (Quotes for single fares are available). Includes accommodations and meals, airfare, prepaid tips and gratuities, $500 ship-board credit, film and theater performances and more. Frosch Classic Cruise & Travel donates a portion of the fare to the chorus for educational programming.

Info: Film & Theatre Cruise 2012; (800) 688-8500 or (818) 936-2000

—Mary Forgione

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