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Boston to Baja salutes the best year ever: 2007!

Email|Print| Text size + By Richard P. Carpenter
Globe Correspondent / December 10, 2006

Anticipating a new year is like scratching an instant lottery ticket: Chances are slim that anything life-changing will happen, but for a little while, hope glows brightly. Why not celebrate in style while holding on to that hope? Here are some possibilities:

You will not be surprised that Las Vegas whoops it up mightily on New Year's Eve. Don't expect the amazing bargains available most of the year, but vegas.com lists these three-night deals for two adults sharing a room Dec. 29-Jan. 1, with all taxes and fees included: Golden Nugget $445 , Stratosphere $800 , Paris Las Vegas $1,251 , Hard Rock Hotel $1,462, Caesars Palace $1,972 , and Bellagio $2,165.

Check out the New Year's Eve Weekend section at vegas.com .

Not planning to travel that far? Boston's cruise vessel Odyssey has three options. For $185 a person, a New Year's Eve cruise from 9 p.m.-1 a.m includes a champagne toast, hats and horns, hors d'oeuvres, a three-course dinner, live entertainment, dancing, and a great view of First Night fireworks. For those who want to celebrate in daylight, an 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. sailing includes those hats and horns, a brunch buffet, a countdown at noon, and a champagne toast. The price is $61 per adult and $13 per child ages 3-11. Combine the nighttime cruise with a night's stay at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel & Towers starting at $489 for two, including parking, transportation to the Odyssey, and other amenities.

For the cruise, call 888-741-0281 or visit odyssey.com. For the Park Plaza offer, visit bostonparkplaza.com and click on Packages or call 617-426-2000 . Mention rate code NYODY.

If you have $1,490 to spare, consider skipping the throng in Times Square and instead having an elegant but quiet celebration at the Pierre on Manhattan's East Side. A champagne reception and hors d'oeuvres in the Rotunda will be followed by a six-course dinner at the Café Pierre that includes everything from lobster bisque, a beef duo of filet mignon and short rib to a white chocolate champagne Napoleon, and a bottle of champagne per couple. Call 866-969-1825 or visit tajhotels.com.

How often have you thought about celebrating the arrival of 2007 at a dude ranch in the Adirondacks ? The 1000 Acres Ranch Resort in Stony Creek, N.Y., offers horseback riding, ice skating, snowmobiling, sledding, and bonfires. Its New Year's gala package, offered Dec. 29-Jan. 1, adds three meals a day. The price is $139 per adult per night; $89 per child ages 13-17; and $75 per child 7-12.

Call 518-696-2444 or visit 1000acres.com.

For the adventurous, mountain biking, kayaking, snorkeling, scuba diving, hiking, and a tequila tasting are part of Black Sheep Adventures' New Year's Baja trip in Los Cabos, Mexico, Dec. 28-Jan. 2. The five-night trip includes lodging, 11 meals, all activities, all rental equipment, services of a professional US trip leader plus local guides, transportation during the trip, porterage service , and shuttle service from and to Los Cabos International Airport. The price is $1,995 a person.

Visit blacksheepadventures.com or call 866-647-4337.

The iconic movie "Casablanca" will be re-created at the Place d'Armes Hôtel & Suites in Montreal on New Year's Eve. Decor has been imported from Morocco, and "Sam" will be at the piano -- with a DJ on hand. There will be belly dancers, strolling violinists, and men in jalabas. The menu, inspired by both Quebec and Morocco, will include foie gras torchon; caviar and lemongrass sauce; lamb loin with roasted lobster tail, saffron beurre blanc, coriander, and mint couscous; chocolate and mint soufflé, and orange ice. At the stroke of midnight, one lucky raffle winner will win a week for two in Morocco. Tickets, including the meal and an open bar, are about $175 . A hotel room with breakfast and wine and cheese is about $197.

Call 888-450-1887 or visit hotelplacedarmes.com.

Mickey calling
Guests who book a Walt Disney World vacation by Dec. 23 can have Mickey Mouse phone their home to announce the news. Mickey will call families on Dec. 25 with the news of their 2007 vacation and a holiday message.

Visit disneyworld.com/gift or call 407-W-DISNEY (934-7639).

Two-day specials
General Tours will ring in the new year and celebrate its 60th anniversary year with a series of two-day specials Jan. 2-March 30. Among offers from the Keene, N.H.-based company will be $200-per-person savings on Peter Deilmann small ship cruises in Europe , a free iPod on any escorted tour booking worldwide , $200 savings on any tour to Angkor Wat in Cambodia , a free two-night extension on any tour in Central America , a complimentary two-night stay in Prague with any five-night European vacation , and a free Casio Exilim Zoom digital camera on any small ship cruise worldwide.

Visit generaltours.com.

Gay getaway in Spain
Spanish Journeys, a Wellfleet company that designs high-end travel experiences in Catalonia, in the northeast corner of Spain, is planning its first gay-themed tour, a Gay Getaway May 14-20 that will be limited to 16 participants and includes three nights in a gay-owned Barcelona hotel, and two nights in a gay-friendly beach resort; all breakfasts, five lunches, and three dinners; wine with meals; a vineyard visit and wine tasting; an excursion on a private yacht; a cooking lesson; a drag show, nightclub tour, and evening at a historic dance hall; museum visits and tours; guide services; gratuities; ground transportation; and travel medical insurance. The cost is $2,995 per person. Travelers must book and buy their own air tickets.

Call 508-349-9769 or visit spanishjourneys.com.

Global scavenger hunt
The fourth annual around-the-world travel competition is looking for 50 adventurous types for its Blind Date With the World scavenger hunt, which will lead to the title of the World's Greatest Travelers. For three weeks, 25 teams of two will travel the globe visiting at least 10 countries across four continents. Teams earn points by completing cultural-oriented scavenges (finding Buddha's tooth in Sri Lanka or explaining Thai cooking flavors, for example) and challenges (taking a photo of a wild orangutan in Indonesia or entering a camel race in India). Travelers will be interviewed for suitability and asked to help in the event's goal of raising $1 million for charities. Participants must raise or pay a $9,900 entry fee that includes all international air fare and hotels over the 23-day event. Winners will defend their titles in the next event for free.

Visit globalscavengerhunt.com or call 310-281-7809.

A hotel so cold it's hot
Quebec's Ice Hotel -- and, yes, it is made entirely of ice -- will be open Jan. 5-April 1, with several new features, such as a private spa and children's playground -- all made of ice. Its lowest-priced offering with a stay in the hotel is the Picture Perfect Package at about $150 per person. It includes a night's accommodations, a welcome cocktail (on the rocks, of course), access to hot tubs and a sauna, photos and a video, a buffet breakfast, and a thankfully hot beverage served in the morning. There are other packages, and the opportunity to visit but not stay. The hotel is in Sainte-Catherine-de-la-Jacques-Cartier , just outside Quebec City.

Call 877-505-0423 or visit icehotel-canada.com.

Get that passport
Apply now. If you missed the announcement, beginning Jan. 23, all persons, including US citizens, traveling by air between the United States and Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Bermuda will be required to present a valid passport, Air NEXUS card, or US Coast Guard Merchant Mariner document.

For the rules, including for first-time applicants 16 and older, visit travel.state.gov/passport.

When not included, hotel taxes, airport fees, and port charges can add significantly to the price of a trip. Most prices quoted are for double occupancy; solo travelers will usually pay more. Offers are subject to availability and there may be blackout dates. Contact Richard P. Carpenter at carpenter@globe.com.

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