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One golfs, the other doesn't. On one cruise, you can play while your spouse explores the Ming tombs

By Lee TylerSpecial to The Christian Science Monitor / September 9, 1988



AS anyone knows who's taken a cruise, the temptation to overdo the ``good life'' is tremendous. More and more cruise lines are offering an antidote to the late nights and long meals: Work them off on a golf course at the various ports of call. With golf courses everywhere these days, an 18-hole game typically taking four hours, and time in port increasingly generous (often a full day, sometimes overnight), golf and cruising seem made for each other. The option of golf also makes for a happy compromise for friends or mates who don't play, as I observed recently on the Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines' Sun Viking. All the frills of the ship were theirs to enjoy after beaching and shopping, while we golfers kept flailing away on each port's links.

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More than 15 ships representing eight lines are featuring golf as a shore excursion this autumn and winter. Some coddle duffers, such as Royal Viking Line ships that assign ``piccolos'' (porters) to store and transfer your clubs for you. Clipper Cruise Line has a ``supercaddie,'' who drives a chase van ahead of the ship, taking the bags to and from each course. On the Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Lines, and a few others, golfers will find they must stash their bags beneath their beds - and a merry rattle they make during the night in a gently rolling sea.

Golf at sea (in a way) is offered by Royal Cruise Line's Crown Odyssey through its permanent putting green atop the ship. Royal Viking's new Sun, to debut Nov. 26, also has an outdoor putting green in addition to an indoor ``golf simulator,'' a giant video with practice range facing it so you can pretend you're playing the world's most famous courses.

Where could you be cruising and golfing this season? Here's where:

The Hawaiian Islands. Beginning Oct. 1, Aloha Pacific Cruises' Monterey will do seven-day sailings every week from Honolulu, with a special golf package ($449 on top of the $1,195 minimum cruise fare), featuring the tough but scenic new Jack Nicklaus course at the Westin Kauai, the Wailea and Kapalua resort courses on Maui, and the unique green-on-black, lava-strewn course at Mauna Lani on the Big Island.

Bermuda. Through mid-October, the Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines' Nordic Prince offers seven-day, round-trip cruises between New York and Bermuda. The ship offers golf excursions to five courses: golf days cost from $30 to $50 and the cruise itself, $1,285 to $2,655 (round-trip air to New York included).

Southern California with a touch of Mexico. Recently transferred from the Caribbean to the West Coast, the Norwegian Cruise Lines' Southward does three- and four-day sailings every week from Los Angeles. Ports of call: Catalina (Avalon Country Club), San Diego (Cottonwood Country Club), and Ensenada, Mexico (Bajamar course). Cruise fare: from $445 to $845, plus golf.

The Caribbean. Every week from Miami or San Juan, the five Royal Caribbean ships, Sovereign of the Seas, Song of America, Song of Norway, Sun Viking, and Nordic Prince, sally into the Caribbean in different directions. Golf excursions ashore are offered at San Juan, St. Thomas, Jamaica, Grand Cayman Island, Barbados, Martinique, St. Kitts, St. Maarten, and Grenada. Cost of the golf outings is from about $30 to $60. The cruises range in price from $1,355 to $3,735, round-trip air included. The Nov. 16 and Dec. 4 sailings will have an InterGolf (of Montreal) group aboard paying from $1,695 to $2,295.

Also serving the Caribbean weekly from Miami are five ships of the Norwegian Cruise Lines, the Starward, Skyward, Sunward II, Norway, and the newest in the fleet, the Seaward. All offer ``Tee-up'' cruises of 7 to 10 days, with choice of tournament-style or recreational golf. Each golf day costs from about $30 to $50 above the $1,200 or so cruise fare. The Oct. 16 (Seaward) and Oct. 30 (Starward) sailings will have a ``Fore! Golf'' group aboard from Dallas, playing at Ocho Rios, Jamaica; Grand Cayman Island; Barbados, Martinique, St. Maarten, Antigua, and St. Thomas. The all-inclusive price starts at $1,124.