An Educational Cruise in Europe

Why Not Give a Cruise for Christmas?

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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.)

Enrichment Voyage: Iron and Ice

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.

Enrichment Voyage: Iron and Ice

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.)


I mean, really. Let’s just take a minute to appreciate how lovely Reykjavik is, why don’t we?

Reykjavik, Iceland

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?

Crowds in Barcelona

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.

back deck of the MV Explorer

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.

Friends on SAS

And who knows, you might meet your soulmate on the ship; it’s been known to happen many times…

Betty and Milt

There’s dancing. Always dancing.


Heated games of trivia. Not to mention, Bingo daily.

Trivia night on SAS

And sometimes celebrity appearances. You just never know.

The Exchange

The views. Enough said.

Ship Views

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!

Family on Enrichment Voyages

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.

Sevilla, Spain

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?

Families on Enrichment Voyages

It’s a whole heck of a lot of fun. End of story.

Jumping silhouette

So … what are you waiting for?

  • December 10, 2013

    Hey this is nice! I’m like you when it comes to giant cruises, but I also really want to go to iceland,and not necessarily by plane, I never thought about doing it by sea.

    I’m afraid this summer might be a bit too early for your deal, but thanks for making me aware of the option!
    Jade Adele recently posted..Why a Fight with my Boyfriend’s Aunt Might Make You a Better TravelerMy Profile

  • December 11, 2013

    This sounds ridiculously awesome, but sadly I could never get that much time off work! Booooo.

    • December 17, 2013

      This is exactly what’s wrong with the American work system. Two weeks is nothing in the grand scheme of things, and yet so many people’s employers won’t allow them that time off. Whereas in Europe, they get a minimum of six weeks off a year (and, no doubt, are healthier for it!). Let’s revolt =)

  • December 11, 2013

    I love to go on a cruise! It is my dream… I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to give someone a cruise holiday, but I would like to experience it myself. Finding one’s soul mate sounds exciting!
    Renuka recently posted..9 Travel Mistakes I Have MadeMy Profile

    • December 17, 2013

      If you’re every interested in future voyages, let me know! They generally do Europe in May and then Central America in December in two- or three-week segments.

  • December 11, 2013

    Now this would be the gift that never got forgotten about. I would love to get this 🙂
    Tanya recently posted..Online HR Software – December 2013 UpdateMy Profile

    • December 17, 2013

      Maybe you should send this post to your family/friends as the ultimate hint, ha!

  • December 12, 2013

    Have been so looking forward to embarking on my maiden cruise trip…reading your post has intensified my wish…:) 🙂

    • December 17, 2013

      Let me know if you need help booking one! I do some work for a travel agency and we get great deals on cruises.

  • December 15, 2013

    This is a gift we would love to get!!
    Hopefully someone will get us this 🙂
    GiselleandCody recently posted..Vegetarian Festival in ThailandMy Profile

  • December 16, 2013

    so pretty! love the rainbow shot

  • December 21, 2013

    I went on a small ship cruise this year and I loved it! It was only 150 people which made it easy to make friends. The only downside was that the boat wasn’t big enough to have a lot of the entertainment options that are available on bigger ships.
    Preeti recently posted..Visiting Beachcomber Island, FijiMy Profile

  • January 2, 2014

    One of the better ideas I’ve heard when it comes to giving a cruise as a gift is for the grandparents, especially for a milestone like a 40th Anniversary. My friend’s grandparents had gotten into that rut I think we all get into after awhile, and they would never have considered going on a cruise on their own.

    Luckily, they didn’t completely refuse, instead they warmed to the idea and ended up having a fantastic time with incredible memories, and they made a few new friends that they keep in touch with thanks to facebook. A great idea! Happy New Year.

  • January 4, 2014

    Wow this cruise sounds fun and I have never even thought of going to Iceland. My husband of 40 years and I have been on a few cruises. Once on a small { 600 passengers} ship called the Golden. It is not sailing anymore and the Royal Cruise Line it was in is no longer sailing. Being on a small ship was completely different then being on a huge cruise liner. Can you please send me the information on this trip, costs, date, do they cater to a particular age? Just discovered this blog and this is the first thing I have read. Thanks

  • December 5, 2016

    Can not WAIT to be able to travel over Christmas. (We are still dealing with Santa and frankly, I’m not sure how to handle that while traveling.) We love shoulder season traveling and find the weather cooler and as you said, EVERYTHING is cheaper. Who doesn’t love that??

    The tricky part, though, can be taking the kids out of school. You have to talk to the teacher and school about curriculum and what will be missed and then factor in how you can accomplish that while traveling. A LOT of the travel experience (especially if you are visting places full of history) can be used as educational credit. As a former teacher I tell you it IS doable!!
    Natalie recently posted..The Educational Tourist: How I got startedMy Profile

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