106-Day, Four-Continent 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 each port of call's culture and history. And with the Institute's Lifelong Learning Program, travelers 40 or older can join college students for a once-in-a-lifetime odyssey across four continents.
With this Groupon, you'll set out on a 106-day voyage starting on January 9, with stops at 12 countries, including China, Japan, Spain, Burma, and Ghana. Aboard the ship, scholars and field specialists lead several engaging and informative courses, from Buddhism in the Modern World to Puppet Theatre to Marine Biology. As a Lifelong Learning Program member, you can audit these courses, lead share your experiences, or mentor an undergraduate college student. On land, you can explore each port of call independently or participate in the Institute's hands-on field studies, which might include touring the Great Wall, attending an African dance workshop, or watching a traditional Spanish bullfight (additional costs for official field excursions).
Click here to view the full trip itinerary.
January 9–14: Transfer from San Diego to Ensenada, Mexico, to board the ship bright and early and disembark for Hawaii.
January 15–16: Hilo, Hawaii See Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea volcanoes, Pana'ewa Rainforest Zoo & Gardens, and postcard-worthy views at Rainbow Falls State Park.
January 27–31: Yokohama and Kobe, Japan — Yokohama is Japan's second-most populous city, home to the Yokohama Cosmo World amusement park, featuring one of the world's biggest ferris wheels. In Kobe, visit the Kobe Port Tower observation deck, overlooking Osaka and Mount Rokko, and the famous Arima Onsen hot-springs resort.
February 3–8: Shanghai and Hong Kong, China — See futuristic skyscrapers along the Yangtze River and breathtaking 16th-century gardens with placid ponds and ornate pagodas in Shanghai. Downtown Hong Kong is a flurry of activity day and night, with flashing neon signs and bustling night markets. Ride The Peak tram for panoramic views of Hong Kong's skyline and harbor.
February 12–18: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam — At the largest city in Vietnam, visit the incense-laden Emperor Jade Palace and sample rice dishes at the Ben Thanh Market.
February 20–21: Singapore — This Southeast Asian city-state is known for its exotic cuisine, including stingray, fish-head curry, and oyster omelets. Visit the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve to see exotic wildcats and monkeys.
February 25–March 1: Rangoon, Burma — This city is home to several sacred Buddhist stupas, dome-shaped temples thought to resemble Buddha's form, including the famous Shwedagon Paya pagoda.
March 6–11: Cochin, India — Called 1 of the "50 greatest places of a lifetime" by National Geographic Traveler, this west-coast Indian city’s rickshaws rattle down streets lined with ancient mosques and synagogues.
March 18–30: Port Louis, Mauritius and Cape Town, South Africa — An island nation about 500 miles east of Madagascar, Mauritius is rife with picturesque beaches and tropical forests and is home to the rare pink pigeon. Afterward, you’ll visit Cape Town, South Africa’s second-largest city. Just south of the city, you’ll find two renowned African landmarks: the flat-topped Table Mountain and the Cape of Good Hope.
April 6–10: Tema, Ghana — Ruins of dozens of Portuguese and Dutch forts and castles dating as far back as the 17th century can be found along Ghana’s southern coast.
April 18–25: Casablanca, Morocco — The largest city in Morocco features the Hassan II Mosque, a stunning example of Moorish architecture with carved wooden ceilings, granite columns, and glass floors above turkish baths.
April 25: Barcelona, Spain — Your final destination, Barcelona draws visitors to several UNESCO World Heritage Sites, most notably Sagrada Familia, Antoni Gaudi’s unfinished art-nouveau cathedral. You’ll disembark from the ship here.