We talk a lot about what to give others this time of year. Well, I say: go big or go home. Forgo all the “stuff” and spring on a cruise instead—whether for your spouse, your family or, hey, even yourself.
Five years ago, if you said I’d be promoting cruising as a way of travel on my own accord, I’d have thought you were smoking something. And then I discovered “alternative cruising,” i.e. trips on the open sea that didn’t include a water slide and 8,000 of my closest “friends.” Enter: the MV Explorer.
As those of you who have followed this blog for awhile know, I’ve been enamored with Semester at Sea since learning about the program back in 2009. Then, in 2010, my sister circumnavigated the globe on her own study abroad semester. In 2011, SVV and I followed suit. In 2012 and 2013, I went back (yet again), this time on Enrichment Voyages. In 2014, I’ll be on board for the Reunion Voyage (now closed, sorry) and TEDx Semester at Sea, a one-day event featuring some amazing entrepreneurs (and fellow SAS alums) like Kiva founder Jessica Jackley and Stanford’s George Kembel. (PSA: Tickets are still available here for just $35, for any of you who reside in Southern California.)
But let’s talk about why you should go on one of the twice-annual Enrichment Voyages for your next vacation. The voyage is broken up into two two-week segments, from May 18 to May 31 and June 1 to June 15. Go on one or book both if you have the time. It’s a fantastic program, the ship is awesome, the people who go on these things are some of the best I know, and the destinations can’t be beat. Not convinced? Here are my top reasons for choosing an Enrichment Voyage for your 2014 vacation.
This next itinerary is seriously bad ass. Don’t believe me? Check out this map.
And if your knowledge of European geography is lacking, let me just tell you where all this cruise goes: Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Estonia, Russia, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Scotland, Iceland, Ireland and England. You have no idea how much it pains me not to be able to go—three destination weddings this spring renders that impossible—but I’d very much like you to be able to go. Plus! You’ll get three stops in one of my very favorite countries, Iceland, and who doesn’t want to go to Iceland in summertime? (No one is the answer.)
It’s before high season kicks in over in Europe. My family and I are going to Europe for three-and-a-half weeks at the end of June and beginning of July, and whoa Nelly, are prices quite a good deal higher then than in May (both airfare and lodging). Why not get there before the crowds do?
In a rare move for a cruise, you’ll get to spend two to three days in several of the ports. Who likes to be whisked in and out of a country for less than eight hours? (Not me. It’s like giving me a chocolate cream pie and then pulling it away the second I dig my fork in.) At least this way, you have up to 58 hours in a place while still enjoying the convenience of traveling by ship.
It’s super affordable. A 14-day segment through Europe goes for as low as $1299 a person. I don’t have to tell you but that’s far less than you’d pay a day for food and lodging if you traveled overland. Contact me for more pricing details, as this is an unpublished deal and a special rate the program has given me as an agent.
The ship is small and intimate, and I guarantee you that you’ll make friends. It only holds 836 passengers, meaning you get to be friends with many of them fast. Friendships that, often, will last a lifetime.
It’s a great getaway for families. You’re all in one place at once, and no one needs to coordinate anything (aside from maybe what you’ll do in port the next day). We had families with as many as four generations represented on my last EV!
It’s an easy way to cover a whole lot of ground at once. Cruising is perhaps the easiest way to travel, which is why it’s such a popular pastime. No flights, no airport security checkpoints, no luggage, you just hop off the ship and do your thing on foot.
You deserve it. The majority of my American friends hoard their precious vacation time so much that they rarely wind up using it all. Why not put those two weeks off to good use and see a little bit of the world?