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.
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.
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.
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.)