Travel Briefs

Celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2004, Relais & Châteaux includes 450 privately owned hotels and restaurants in 50 countries around the world, each establishment adhering to the association’s quality charter.

Gift certificates, in denominations of $50, $100 or $500 and valid for two years, can be used for gourmet dining, hotel accommodations, spa treatments and other amenities and may be purchased by calling 877/334-6464 or visiting

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Bonus savings of up to $1,000 per person are being offered by Radisson Seven Seas Cruises for bookings made by Aug. 15, 2004, on the Jan. 15 and Jan. 26, 2005, sailings of the Explorer II from Ushuaia, Argentina, to Antarctica, the Falklands and the South Shetland Islands.

For those who book by Aug. 15, per-person prices start from $7,295 and include round-trip economy airfare from 86 North American gateways; one hotel night in Santiago (Jan. 15 sailing) or Buenos Aires (Jan. 26...


Passengers on the MV Discovery will have the best vantage point to witness a rare annular total solar eclipse in the South Pacific near Polynesia on April 8, 2005. The ship will maneuver to find clear skies under the 15-mile-wide path of the eclipse.

Discovery World Cruises’ 19-night “South Pacific Eclipse” cruise-tour departs April 2 and visits Papeete, Moorea, Pitcairn Island, Easter Island and, in Peru, Pisco and Lima. A team of eclipse lecturers will be on board.



Gourmets will enjoy fine dining and wine tasting on France Cruises’ 14-passenger canal barge Luciole in the waterways of Burgundy. In addition, daily cooking lessons will be given by the onboard chef, and there will be a visit to the restaurant La Côte Saint Jacques (three Michelin stars) for a cookery demonstration supervised by the chef and owner, Jean-Michel Lorain, followed by a gourmet dinner.

Priced from $3,200 per person, the tour includes six nights on board with guided...


A deluxe ecocruise vessel is navigating Ecuador’s Rio Napo in the Amazon jungle. Big Five Tours & Expeditions’ Manatee Explorer is a modern, 3-deck vessel with air-conditioning, 13 en suite cabins, dining room, bar and lounge.

The exclusive “flotel” offers a full-service crew plus expert naturalist guides for excursions.

Four- and 5-day cruises may be combined with other tour programs. The 4-day “Amazon Cruising in Ecuador” departs every Friday from Quito and costs $799...


On its “Three Gorges” cruises on the Yangtze River in China, Victoria Cruises now begins and ends in Yichang rather than Wuhan. The upstream trip now takes five days instead of six, while the downstream voyage is still four days. Reasons cited for the change include better air connections and fewer problems with locks being closed during the flood season.

A major stage in the long-term restoration of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London has been completed (Feb. ’04, pg. 21). The East End face is looking as good as new following 13 months of painstaking renovation by stonemasons. Restoration of the interior is expected to be completed early in 2005.

It is open daily Monday-Saturday, with admission £7 (near $12.50). Visit

The Royal Oak Foundation is the American membership affiliate of Britain’s National Trust. The National Trust owns and operates over 200 historic houses, gardens, castles and sites in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Royal Oak members enter these properties free of charge, saving on admission fees. The Royal Oak membership card is also honored at over 100 properties of the National Trust for Scotland.

Royal Oak individual and family memberships cost $50 and $75, respectively, and...