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Fall or spring opportunity: cruising West Coast cities.

For a first-time cruise or a few days of relaxation, a trip from Vancouver, B.C., to Los Angeles offers a sample of shipboard life for a modest commitment of time and money. Each fall, after spending summer plying Alaskan waters, ships migrate south to the Caribbean or Mexico. Passengers can hop aboard in Vancouver and sail down the coast to L.A., visiting one to three cities along the way or do the reverse in spring.

For a minimum daily cost of $90 to $200,

even these brief, off-season jaunts offer the usual cruise diversions: poolside sunbathing for those who want to unwind; aerobics for the more athletic. Round-theclock kitchens cater to disco dancers as well as the lone spirit who wants tea for a 6 A.M. stroll around the deck. Movies, elaborate floor shows, and nightclub acts add to the entertainment.

While the shore is often barely visible from the ship, you'll have spectacular approaches to waterfront cities. With 7 to 12 hours at each port, you can sign up for tours or set out to explore on your own. In Victoria, it's a short ride to Englishstyle shops, waterfront museums, and public gardens. A Seattle taxi can take you to the Pike Place Market, the downtown waterfront, or the monorail and Space Needle. In San Francisco, an easy walk brings visitors to Pier 39 and Fisherman's Wharf. Tenders can bring you ashore in Santa Barbara or drop you off on Catalina Island, where you can enjoy Avalon or the back country.

If you tend to get seasick, remember that waters off the California coast can be rough. On our northbound trip last spring, the ship pitched enough one evening to force us to clutch the handrails while ascending the stairs. Warm weather is more typical.

These five companies offer four- to sevenday coastal cruises from Vancouver to L.A.; you must board in Vancouver, though you may arrange to disembark in San Francisco. Prices are based on double occupancy. If you can't travel this month, cruises depart next year from Los Angeles or San Francisco in late May and early June. Your travel agent can help with reservations (less expensive rooms will fill quickly).

Admiral Cruises Inc., 1220 Biscayne Blvd,, Miami 33132; (305) 374-1611. The Stardancer's journey begins September 16, with stops in Seattle, San Francisco, and Catalina. The ship arrives in Los Angeles September 24; from $625.

Cunard, 555 Fifth Ave., New York 10017; (800) 221 -4770. The Sagafjord sails September 4 for Victoria, San Francisco, and Santa Barbara, arriving in Los Angeles September 9; from $995. The Cunard Princess departs September 10 and stops in San Francisco, reaching Los Angeles on

September 17; from $560.

Holland America Line Westours Inc., 300 Elliott Ave. W., Seattle 98119. The Nieuw Amsterdam departs September 24 for Seattle, Victoria, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, arriving September 29; from $475. The Noordam sails September 27, stops in Victoria, and reaches Los Angeles on October 1; from $380.

Princess Cruises, 2029 Century Park E., Los Angeles 90067; (800) 421-0522. The Royal Princess departs Vancouver September 18, stops in Victoria, and docks in Los Angeles September 22; from $649.

Regency Cruises, 260 MadisonAve., New York 10016; (800) 457-5566. The Regent Star leaves September 18 and arrives September 23, with stops in Victoria and San Francisco; from $695.
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Copyright 1988 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Sunset
Date:Sep 1, 1988
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