Cruising Panama Canal from sea to sea Tours: Packages include full or partial transit, plus a hotel stay.

Can one just go back and forth through the Panama Canal and spend a few days nearby, flying there and back?

You can book a complete tour from the United States, including modations and a flight, so it might be cheaper and simpler to take a package after all.


Canal transits are on ships operated by Argo Tours of Panama: the Islamorada, which holds up to 125 passengers, and the 500-passenger Fantasia del Mar.

Argo's agent in the United ble range from $260 a person in economy to $383 in deluxe. Prices for a single go from $326 to $530.


Meals and airfares to Panama are extra, but the company offers airfares of $548 round trip from Kennedy International Airport and Newark International Airport.

The longer tours, which include a full transit of the canal, add such features as a trip through the rain tem of ropes and pulleys.

Prices range from $380 for a double in economy for the four-day tour to $1,318 for a deluxe double on the eight-day trip. Singles run from $488 to $1,832. At least one meal a day is included.

Tours will run from Jan. 23 to Jan. 30, March 27 to April 3, May 29 to June 5, July 24 to 31, Sept. 25 to Oct. 2 and Nov. 27 to Dec. 4.

More information: Panama Discovery Tours, Post Office Box 130, Clarita, Okla. 74535; (800) 813-3115, fax (405) 428-3499. The company can be reached on the Internet at http: //

Argo's two ships make full transits every other month from Dock 17 in Balboa, on the Pacific Ocean, to Cristobal, on the Atlantic. Passengers return to Balboa, a distance of about 45 miles, on an air-conditioned bus. The trip takes six hours to eight hours or more, depending on canal traffic, and costs $90; children 12 and under, $69.

Partial transits cost $45 a person, $25 for children 12 and under. The price includes brunch.

More information: Argo Tours, Apartado 9662, Panama 4, Republic of Panama; 011 (507) 228-6069, fax 011 (507) 228-1234.


I will be visiting Moscow and St. Petersburg next year. Where can I get medical help, with English-speaking doctors, if I need it?

There are at least three places in Moscow where foreign visitors can receive medical aid, and one of them has a branch in St. Petersburg.

The American Medical Center opened in Moscow in 1991 and offers full 24-hour emergency services for members of its medical plan and a full array of medical and dental care. The

center, at 2d Tverskaya-Yamskaya St., Building 10, telephone (7 095) 956-3366, fax (7 095) 956-2306, offers a $50-a-month individual plan that is open to tourists. Each visit costs from $160 to $215, depending on the service. The centers are open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. in Moscow and 8: 30 a.m. to 6 tersburg center is at 77 Fontanka St., (7 812) 325-6101, fax (7 812) 325-6120.

European Medical Center, 10 2d Tverskaya-Yamskaya St., (7 095) 251-6099, offers consultations by English-speaking European doctors. A visit to a doctor is $80, a visit to a specialist $100, with no membership fee. Open Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., with a night emergency phone at 229-6536.

International Medical Clinic, 31 Grokholsky St., (7 095) 280-7138, fax (7 095) 280-8677, charges from $80 to $105 for a doctor's visit. A two-month membership costs $50.


I would like to stay in Zihuatanejo, Mexico, this winter for a month to six weeks. Any suggestions for finding a long-term rental overlooking the beach?

This type of property is still relatively rare in Zihuatanejo, a Pacific fishing village that offers a quiet beachfront alternative to the next-door glitz of Ixtapa. The best choice is among time-share houses, which in Mexico still usually refers to the rental of hotel rooms for a particular week of the year over several years.

There are other options.

A beachfront house with three rooms, a kitchen and a patio rents for between $500 and $1,500 a week depending on the season.

There are a number of brokers who can help explain the options: Elizabeth Williams, APDO 19, Zihuatanejo, Guerrero, Mexico; (52 4.26.06; fax (52 755) 4.47.62.

Tim Sullivan, 229 Paseo de las Golondrinas, Colonia Campo de Golf, Guerrero 40880, Zihuatanejo, Mexico; (52 755) 3.14.18.


Condo and Villa Authority, 305 North Pontiac Trail, Walled Lake, Mich. 48390; (810) 669-7500, (800) 831-5512; fax (810) 669-7506.

Villas International, 605 Market Street, San Francisco, Calif. 94105; (415) 281-0910; fax (415) 281-0919.

Residential Condominiums International (Georgina Velasco or Marlene Marin), 1855 Homero, Colonia Los Morales Polanco, Mexico, D.F. 11510, Mexico (52 5) 283-1081.

Pub Date: 1/14/97