Cruise ships provide vacation options for people with varied tastes and interests

February 21, 1993|By Newsday

These days there are cruise lines that offer their passengers something more than six meals a day and bingo: Here's a sampling of what's available this year in theme cruises.

* Cunard's Vistafjord Smorgasbord: The Vistafjord sails worldwide this year with a variety of themes. The 10-day wine cruise starting Sept. 4 in Hamburg, Germany, and stopping at Pauillac, France, and Oporto, Lisbon, and Madeira, Portugal, has fares starting at $3,790 per person, double occupancy.

A 15-day northern European Classical Music at Sea package starting June 26 features violinist Anne Sophie Mutter and pianist Jeremy Menuhin (from $5,490 per person, double). And a 13-day Baltic music cruise departing Aug. 22 stars pianists Rudolf Firkusny and John Browning and singer Shirley Love (from $5,090 per person).

Fares for European cruises include round-trip air fare from the East Coast; call (800) 221-4770.

* Northern California and Wine Country: Clipper Cruises' MV Yorktown Clipper explores the beauty and diversity and the wines of Northern California for a week, with a yacht cruise on San Francisco and San Pablo bays and the San Joaquin, Napa and Sacramento rivers and into the heart of Napa Valley.

There will be time to visit a couple of wineries, and then it's on to Sacramento and Stockton, finishing up with a stop in Sausalito and finally San Francisco. Side trips to Yosemite National Park and Lake Tahoe are optional.

Fares start at $1,550 per person, double, and include two nights at the Westin St. Francis Hotel and all meals on board; air fare is extra. Dates are April 25 to May 2. Contact a travel agent.

* German Unity: The historic Elbe River is the main route of the Prussian Princess this year on EuropAmerica River Cruises' sailings through unified Germany and into Decin and Prague in the new Czech Republic.

Stops in Germany include Wittenberg, site of All Saints Castle, where Martin Luther made history in the church doorway; Meissen, home of the world famous porcelain factory; Dresden, home of the Semper Opera, and Pillnitz, famous for its plants and gardens.

Seven-day cruises run from the end of March through October, and prices start at $1,595 per person, double, including return transfers to the port city of origin (either Hamburg or Dresden). Contact a travel agent.

* Big Band Sounds: A special Salute to the Big Bands with the music of Glenn Miller, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Harry James and others will be featured on Holland Rotterdam's 16-day Circle Hawaii cruise, which departs Los Angeles on April 27, returning there May 13.

The performances are by the ship's orchestra. Cruise-only prices start at $3,280 per person, double. Contact a travel agent.

* French Immersion: The Paquet Line, in conjunction with Berlitz, is offering a 15-day trans-Atlantic French-language immersion course/cruise aboard the Mermoz May 8-22.

Immersion is right: The ship's officers and crew and staff are French, the cuisine is French, the menus are in French, and the ship disembarks in Le Havre. Berlitz instruction is conducted in three sessions daily during nine days at the beginner or intermediate level.

The voyage is from Guadeloupe in the Caribbean across the Atlantic to the Azores and then to Spain and France. Rates start at $2,170 per person, double, plus air fare. Call (800) 556-8850.

* Breathing Easy: Taking the air on a cruise ship is a favorite passenger pastime. The New Jersey-based Respiratory Health Association is sponsoring two cruises this year for children and adults with lung and respiratory problems.

On board the Horizon to Bermuda and the Westerdam in Alaskan waters will be pulmonary physicians and nurses as medical escorts. They'll conduct workshops on breathing exercises and medications and demonstrations of exercises and methods for staying "shipshape."

The seven-day Bermuda cruise departs May 29 from New York Harbor; rates range from $1,407 to $1,880 per person, double. The seven-day Alaskan cruise out of Vancouver, British Columbia, leaving Sept. 4, starts at $2,400 per person, including round-trip air fare. Call (800) 536-9383.

* Exploring the British and Emerald Isles: This is a popular theme cruise: It's called Circumnavigating the British and Irish Isles, and it explores the smaller islands and villages off the coasts.

The Polaris from Special Expeditions departs London and cruises down the Thames, stopping at Dartmouth and then the Isles of Scilly off southwest England and continuing to southwest Ireland for a visit to the Skellig Islands and their monastery ruins and a drive along the famous Ring of Kerry on the mainland.

The archeologically rich Aran Islands off Ireland are also on the itinerary, as are the Iona and Staffa Islands off Scotland and St. Kilda, the Scots isle that is one of the most isolated areas of Britain.

The cruise, which returns to London, has two departure dates, May 9 and 23, and the cost is $5,680 per person, double, plus air fare. Call (800) 762-0003 for details.

Most packages can be booked through travel agencies. Prices and itineraries are subject to change. Details should be confirmed with the appropriate travel companies.

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