25-Day, 10-Country Educational Voyage
The Institute for Shipboard Education was born from an idea to create a floating campus that reflected the ideals of the United Nations and the realities of globalization. Over the years, college students have enrolled in the Institute's Semester at Sea academic program, an intercontinental voyage that has attracted Mikhail Gorbachev, Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, and other world-famous guest lecturers to speak along the way. Today, the university tours the world aboard the MV Explorer, with each educational voyage featuring informative lectures, courses, and optional field excursions that delve into the culture and history of each port of call along the way.
With this Groupon, you'll set out on a 25-day voyage starting on December 8 with stops at 10 countries, including Jamaica, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, and Guatemala. Aboard the ship, scholars and field specialists lead a string of seminars. Subjects vary from history to the Spanish language to biodiversity, often relating to the ship's next port of call. On land, you can explore each port of call independently or participate in the Institute's hands-on field studies, which in the past have ranged from scuba diving in Mexico's underwater national park to visiting a coffee plantation in Antigua (additional costs for official field excursions).
Click here to view the full trip itinerary.
December 8–10: After departing from Nassau, the ship cruises to Montego Bay, Jamaica, known for its duty-free shopping and picturesque scenery along the Caribbean.
December 11–14: You'll sail to Cartagena, Colombia, a historical South American city fortified by 400-year-old stone walls. Cobblestone paths here lead to Old World–style plazas. Next, the city of Colón, Panama, stands over the Caribbean side of the Panama Canal—still a marvel of engineering. The nearby overflow reservoir, Gatún Lake, is home to crocodiles, iguanas, and sloths.
December 15–21: Dipping toward South America, the cruise makes its way to Guayaquil, Ecuador’s biggest city and the site of a massive urban-renewal project. Explore Malecón 2000, a waterfront walkway lined with urban gardens and a contemporary-art museum, or stroll through the Las Penas district and marvel at the colonial architecture. The journey continues to the trip’s most southern port, Callao, Peru. Callao dates back to 1537, when it was founded by conquistador Francisco Pizarro.
December 22–25: Next, the ship heads to Manta, Ecuador, a trade city dating to pre-Columbian times. Pounding waves on the city’s Playa Murciélago create attractive surfing conditions. On Christmas Day, you’ll arrive at Puntarenas, Costa Rica, to hike through its inland rainforests.
December 26–28: Nicaragua’s largest Pacific port, Corinto, borders León, an Old World town dotted with 17th-century Spanish colonial churches such as the Cathedral of the Assumption. The next day, you’ll arrive at Puerto Quetzal in Guatemala, which is surrounded by mountains; it lies within easy range of the town of Antigua, named a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its well-preserved baroque architecture.
December 29–31: Then it's off to Cabo San Lucas, where the iconic El Arco seaside arch forms a scenic backdrop for a day of kayaking and snorkeling. You'll ring in the New Year in Cabo, known for its festive nightlife scene.
January 1–January 2: The journey concludes in San Diego