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

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The French countryside. The most unusual golf cruise this autumn is a Wide World of Golf (of Carmel, Calif.) charter of the 18-passenger French luxury barge, Esprit. Sailing Oct. 4 from Montreux, it will cruise for a week through the Alsace-Lorraine countryside of France, with 10 days (before and after the barge trip) of golfing in Germany and Switzerland. Although this trip costs more than $4,000, ``we could have sold it three times over,'' says Wide World president Michael C. Roseto.

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New England. On Sept. 10, Clipper Cruise Line will send its yachtlike Yorktown Clipper (138 passengers) on a week out of Quincy, Mass., to the islands of Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard and to Newport, R.I. The Wide World of Golf agency will have a group aboard this sailing. Cost of this two-week trip is $4,000, plus air.

Carolina and Georgia. On Nov. 12 and 19, the Clipper Cruise Line's slick Newport Clipper (100 passengers) will do seven-day round trips from Savannah, Ga., taking golfers ashore to play at Dataw Island (near Beaufort, S.C.), Kiawah (off Charleston), and St. Simons Island, Ga., companion to the famous Sea Island. Before or after the cruise, golfers will also get a crack at Hilton Head Island, S.C. The golf package runs $200, the cruise itself from $1,595 to $2,195.

Florida via the Intracoastal Waterway. Again, it's the Clipper Cruise Line, with six sailings along the Florida coast between Oct. 29 and Dec. 10 of its Yorktown Clipper, Nantucket Clipper, and Newport Clipper. Starting or ending ports are Jacksonville and Fort Lauderdale, with golf offered at the Ponte Vedra Club near St. Augustine, Walt Disney World while at Cocoa Beach, and the PGA National near Palm Beach. The golf costs $200; the cruise, $1,595 to $2,195. Two Los Angeles-area travel agencies, International Golf Safaris and Golf Getaways, will have a group aboard the Oct. 29 and Nov. 5 trips.

Florida to San Francisco (or vice versa). On Oct. 21, and four more times between Jan. 31, 1989, and March 20, Royal Viking Line will send cruises meandering for 17 days from Florida to California, through the Panama Canal. There'll be golf along the way at Ocho Rios, Jamaica, and Acapulco and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. The golf days cost about $125; the cruise, from $3,610 to $12,115, round-trip air included.

Florida to Brazil. Sailing from Fort Lauderdale Nov. 1, the Royal Viking Sky will make a 19-day voyage to Rio de Janeiro, with golf at San Juan, Trinidad, and Salvador, Brazil. Golf outings run $125; the cruise (air included), $3,660 to $11,650.

Australia-New Zealand. Two-week cruises between Sydney and Auckland, with a good taste of golf ashore in both Australia and New Zealand, will be offered four times next year (when it's summer down under) by Royal Viking Line. Sailing dates: Jan. 30, Feb. 11, Feb. 23, and March 7. Golf days cost $125, with coddled service to, from, and at the courses; the cruise itself runs from $3,740 to $11,480.

China. Departing San Francisco Sept. 17 is an intriguing 20-day air/sea package, with well-known touring professional Bob Toski as host. Golfers will fly to Hong Kong, play at the Royal Hong Kong Golf Club, and then continue on to Peking and its spectacular International Golf Course (near the Ming tombs). At Peking, golfers will board Royal Cruise Line's Golden Odyssey, for a 10-day sail through the China seas. Cost of it all is $5,595 to $8,495.

Big ships and little ones, some sleek, some modest. All with great food and fine golf, are waiting. Golfers, ahoy! would seem to be the message.

If you go

Phone numbers for golf cruise reservations are: Aloha Pacific Cruises (Hawaii), 800-544-6442. American Hawaii Cruises (Hawaii), 800-227-3666. Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines (Bermuda, Caribbean), 800-327-6700. Norwegian Cruise Lines (Southern California/Mexico, Caribbean), 800-327-7030 (except for the two special cruise tours mentioned above: 800-338-6259).

Esprit (France with a Wide World of Golf group), (408) 624-6667. Clipper Cruise Line (New England, Intracoastal Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina), 800-325-0010.

Royal Viking Line (Florida/Mexico/California, Australia-New Zealand), 800-422-8000. Royal Cruise Line (China Seas), 800-792-2992 (from inside California), 800-227-4534 (from outside.)