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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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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.


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