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Photographing the total eclipse. On March 18, viewers can be in the path of the total eclipse in the South China Sea if they sign on to a cruise in the area. One is a world cruise offered by the Queen Elizabeth 2. Kenneth Brecher, an astronomy professor at Boston University, and other specialists will be on board to conduct seminars and assist passengers in photographing the event. An eight-day eclipse segment (from $1,765), or 14-day cruise including the eclipse (from $3,995), can be booked separately, departing from Bombay. For details contact the Eclipse Desk, Crimson Travel Service, 39 John F. Kennedy St., Cambridge, MA 02138; (617) 354-8900. Pearl sails to the eclipse, too. Another option is a cruise on the Ocean Pearl (Pearl Cruises of Scandinavia), which will view the eclipse from off Karimata Island. Its 20-day Great Cities of Asia Cruisetour sails from Bangkok to Hong Kong, taking in five countries and seven cities. On board for the March 9 sailing will be Ben Bova, former editor of Omni magazine and a science commentator on radio and TV, and other specialists in astronomy. For details on costs write Scientific Expeditions, Suite 500, 20 E. 49th St., New York, NY 10017; (800) 248-0234; or Pearl Cruises, 1510 S.E. 17th St., Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316; (305) 764-3500.

Art Deco in Miami. For the 10th year, a celebration of Miami's Art Deco architecture and nostalgia will be held this weekend. The Street Festival opens today at noon, with more than 125 booths featuring vintage arts, crafts, and jewelry, along with contemporary Art Deco posters, photos, and clothing. A parade of antique automobiles begins at 5 p.m. Coinciding with the festival is a conference of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Museums, galleries, theaters, and movie houses in the Historic District are offering lectures, performances, and exhibits. For more details, call (305) 672-2014.

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Seniors flock to Florida. Some seniors over 60 have already discovered the fun of group activities and bargain rates available at the four Senior Vacation Hotels of Florida. The hotels are all historic landmarks, having been built during the 1920s. They are in the center of their respective cities: two in St. Petersburg, one in Lakeland, and one in Bradenton, near major Florida attractions. Rates set with fixed incomes in mind begin at $700 a month per person, double occupancy, and include breakfast, a light lunch, and dinner. For information, call 800-247-2203 (in US), 800-843-3713 (in Canada), or write to Senior Vacation Hotels, 7401 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, FL 33710.

Route to link Mayans' past. In November, National Geographic editor Wilbur E. Garrett unveiled a proposal to create La Ruta Maya,``one of the world's richest travel destinations.'' The plan would link the cities, traditional villages, historical buildings, archaeological sites, national parks, and beaches of southern Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras. At first, existing roads would be used, and as funds became available, more roads would be constructed. Local operation of hotels and dining facilities along the route would be encouraged. The proposal also suggests that ``several areas should be immediately set aside as national parks,'' which would ``become as well known and well managed and protected as Serengeti Park in East Africa.''

Colorado caters to special skiers. A recent study showed that 6 percent of the state's skiers are over 65, and that a number of physically challenged people are also on skis. To keep these two groups on the mountains, Colorado ski areas have developed a number of discount tickets and special programs. For example, Breckenridge offers a $13-a-day ticket for people between 60 and 69 years old. Those 70 and over ski free. The physically challenged ski for $15 a day, and special instruction is available. For details of prices statewide, contact Colorado Ski Country USA, (303) 837-0793.

Mexico hot-line number. Travelers to Mexico who need help can now call a 24-hour hot-line number day or night, says Guillermo A. Grimm, Mexican tourism undersecretary. The hot-line staff is equipped to translate and register complaints with proper authorities, assist tourist during their stay in Mexico, or follow up after the tourist has left the country. To call the hot line from inside Mexico, ask the operator for ``emergency assistance.'' Within the US, call collect or dial 011-525 plus 250-0123, or 250-0493, 250-0151, or 250-0589.

Gal'apagos with no smoke. Five international wildlife excursions for nonsmokers have been planned for 1988 by Cheeseman's Ecology Safaris. The groups are small and spend maximum time during two weeks observing the birds, mammals, and other wildlife in Africa, Australia, or South America. Departures are May 22, July 21, July 22, Oct. 14, and Nov. 6, 1988. For specific itineraries and costs, contact Cheeseman's at 20800 Kittredge Rd., Saratoga, CA 95070; (408) 741-5330 or (408) 867-1371.

A flexible nine-day Eurail pass. A new wrinkle in 1988 rail passes has gone on sale. The Eurail Flexipass will enable a traveler nine days of consecutive or non-consecutive unlimited mileage in any of 16 European countries within 21 days. The price is $310 (US). Rates for other Eurail passes have been adjusted slightly for 1988. The popular 15-day Eurail Saverpass, valid for two or more people from Oct. 1 to March 31, remains at $210. The Eurail Youthpass for those under age 26 is $320 for one month and $420 US for two months. For further information, write Eurailpass, Box 325, Old Greenwich, CT 06870, or in Canada, write Eurailpass District Centre, C.P. 300, Succursale Rd., Montreal, Quebec H2S 3K9.

Credit card skiing. A trial program for automated credit card sales of ski tickets has begun at Cannon and Sunapee ski areas in New Hampshire. Dispensing machines are set up at information areas along northbound I-93. Signs direct skiers to the machines for ``same day'' passes. After 4 p.m., tickets may be purchased for the following day. The program will continue until March 15. Results will be analyzed with an eye toward more use of this automated technology in the ski industry.

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