A seven-day Christmas cruise of the Rhine aboard the Deutschland, a KD German Rhine Line ship, will take place beginning Dec. 20. Ports of call will be in Cologne, Speyer, Mainz and Strasbourg, where visits to cathedrals highlight shore excursions. Christmas Day will be spent cruising the river.

Cost is $1,070 to $1,815. Fares are also the same for a seven-day New Year's cruise that leaves Cologne Dec. 27 and sails north to the Netherlands. For more information, contact the Rhine Cruise Agency, 323 Geary St., San Francisco, Calif. 94102.-0

Focusing on the annual migration of the Pacific whales to Baja California, Big Five Expeditions offers a series of 22 naturalist-led expeditions lasting from 8 to 10 days aboard small vessels. Three different itineraries are available, including visits to Magdalena Bay on the western coast of Baja or along its eastern coast in the Sea of Cortez.

Gray, humpback, blue, minke, finback and sei whales may be seen, in addition to the area's abundant birds.

Trips take place from Nov. 18, 1990, to April 1, 1991. Costs are $1,745 to $2,060 per person, double occupancy, including round-trip air fare from Los Angeles. For more information, contact Big Five Expeditions, 2151 E. Dublin-Granville Road, Suite 215, Columbus, Ohio 43229, (800) 541-2790.


A sea kayaking vacation in the Sea of Cortez off Espiritu Santo Island, Mexico, and designed for the novice is available beginning in October and running through May, 1991, under the sponsorship of Baja-Expeditions, 2625 Garnet Ave., San Diego, Calif. 92109. The nine-day trips include two days for travel and seven for paddling. Fishing, hiking and snorkeling opportunities are available.

A highlight of the week is kayaking to Los Islotes, an island rookery for sea lions. Cost is $1,025, including round-trip air fare to La Paz from Los Angeles. Departures are twice weekly, on Friday and Sunday.


"Australia Travel Sail" tours, highlighted by attendance at the Little America's Cup, has been planned by Qantas Jetabout Holidays. Cup competition for an international catamaran trophy will be held between the United States, France, Japan and Great Britain, taking place on Port Phillip Bay just south of Melbourne, Australia.

The tours, offered in December 1990 and January 1991, are part of a promotional joint venture between the Victorian Tourism Commission, Qantas Airways and Qantas Jetabout Holidays. Three tour packages of nine days and six nights (one night is lost crossing the international dateline) include round-trip air fare from Los Angeles and cost from $1,489 to $1,898.

In addition to the sailing competition, participants will be taken to the Great Ocean Road, the fairy penguin parade on Phillip Island, the restored mining township of Sovereign Hill and Ballarat Wildlife Park. For more information, call Qantas Jetabout Holidays at (800) 641-8772.


Learning Russian and sightseeing in the Soviet Union will be the focus of a five-week program sponsored by the Center for U.S.-U.S.S.R. Initiatives, Nov. 1 to Dec. 6.

The last five days of the program, which will be based in Leningrad, is set for Moscow, where participants can tour the Kremlin, Red Square, Arbat, Moscow pet market and other famous sights.

Cost of the program is $2,500 per person, including round-trip air fare from Los Angeles, accommodations in Soviet homes, meals, language classes and excursions. Lodging in hotels is $400 per person extra. For more information, contact the center at 3268 Sacramento St., San Francisco, Calif. 94115.