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. As Chinese shipping magnate C.Y. Tung put it, “Ships can transport more than cargo—they can carry ideas.” From humble beginnings, the program went on to attract world-famous guest speakers including Mikhail Gorbachev, Mother Teresa, and Nelson Mandela. Today, the cruising university onboard the MV Explorer offers two-week Enrichment Voyages for learners of all ages, with educational programming that digs deep into each port of call's culture and history. This 15-day cruise incorporates both lectures and hands-on exploration as it passes along Mexico’s Baja peninsula toward the Isthmus of Panama and Ecuador. At each port on the itinerary, available excursions range from dive trips to volunteer service projects, such as plastering houses or feeding kindergarteners (additional fees apply for shore trips). Or you can set off on your own, armed with knowledge acquired from the recommended reading list.Days 1–3: After cruising from Ensenada, Mexico, to the southern tip of the Baja peninsula, the ship anchors at Cabo San Lucas. El Arco, the city’s iconic seaside arch, forms a scenic backdrop for a day of kayaking and snorkeling.Day 6: Puerto Quetzal in Guatemala lies within easy range of Antigua, named an UNESCO World Heritage Site for its well-preserved baroque architecture. It's ringed by mountains playing a very slow-moving game of duck-duck-goose. Day 7: 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.Days 9–10: Balboa, Panama, stands at the entrance to the Panama Canal—still an engineering marvel. The nearby overflow reservoir, Gatún Lake, is home to crocodiles, iguanas, and sloths.Days 12–13: Dipping toward South America, the ship docks at Manta, Ecuador, a trade city dating to pre-Columbian times. Pounding waves on Playa Murciélago create attractive surfing conditions.Day 15: The journey concludes at Puntarenas, Costa Rica, leaving you free to explore inland rainforests or head home. During each day at sea, college professors and other experts lead a string of seminars. Subjects are as varied as marine ecology, cultural anthropology, and photojournalism, and they often relate to the next port of call. The ship retains vestiges of its former life as a commercial liner. There are barstools in the 9,000-volume library, for instance, testifying to the space's former role as the ship's tavern. Despite the emphasis on education, there’s still plenty of relaxation aboard. The Wellness Center spa offers massages, manicures, and other pampering services. Nightly live entertainment offerings include an all-male a cappella group, a magician, and staged readings of old Love Boat scripts. During the day, you can even skip class to lounge by the pool, located on deck 7.See the full trip overview for more information.Read the Fine Print for important info on travel dates and other restrictions.
The CAA Men's Basketball Championship features the conference's top programs, including George Mason, James Madison, William & Mary, Virginia Commonwealth, and Old Dominion, known for their fierce competition both against each other and noted national powerhouses. A once-a-year showcase of conference constituents, the CAA championship allows fans firsthand exposure to each team's peculiar brand of round ball, from George Mason's precision sharpshooters to the seamless passing of William and Mary's cybernetically enhanced hive mind. Each purchase gets you a one-session ticket good for dribbling duos of afternoon or evening contests.
LA Boxing offers fitness classes in boxing, kickboxing, and mixed martial arts. The proprietary style of the LA Boxing workout is a mixture of genuine fight training, engaging fitness, and stronger-than-Earth gravity. Quasi-boxers and martial artists burn from 800 to more than 1,000 calories during these total-body routines, which combine external inspiration and jukes, jabs, and kicks. Both men and women are welcome in the ring, where they'll learn new techniques and methods to blissfully break into a sweat in an energetic group setting. Gloves are provided during the month-long trial membership, as are a set of reusable pro-quality hand wraps and complimentary motivational mumbling from Mickey Goldmill (all three subject to availability).
C.T. Campbell, a Luray native, calls upon more than 30 years of experience to teach aspiring anglers how to track down fish during private fly-fishing trips. Small groups of up to four trek to a private 1-mile stretch of the Shenandoah River, where they can cast for fish and take in the scenic vistas of Shenandoah National Park and the Blue Ridge Mountains. With all gear and equipment provided, visitors can concentrate on reeling in smallmouth bass and trout as C.T. takes care of all the lines, leaders, flies, and tackle. C.T. welcomes fishers of all skill levels and teaches the fundamental flies of this active style of fishing. Page Valley Fly Fishing Service practices catch-and-release fishing, so fishers will have to return their catches to the majestic river unless they can convince trophy fish to become animatronic singers mounted to their home-office walls.
A movie theater by day and night and a comedy club by selected other nights, Visulite Lynchburg's relaxed, cushy environs cosset audiences with top-notch sound, visuals, and concessions. Eight screens project digital first-run releases and 3-D shadow puppets and immerse film-goers in 360 degrees of digital surround sound—one degree for each day of the year not dedicated to a finger of the left human hand. The concession stand serves up classic movie eats and gourmet confections such as biscotti, cupcakes, and cappuccino for sipping in the lobby’s comfortable lounge area. Cellulite connoisseurs can catch up on the animated exploits of Shrek’s feline pal Puss in Boots —voiced by Antonio Banderas—or bear witness as Johnny Depp breathes life into a Hunter S. Thompson novel in The Rum Diary.
As a child, Michael O’Daniel would sometimes spend his days among giant aircraft in a hangar as his father, a Pan Am pilot out of Miami, was at work. Michael found himself daydreaming about one day being able to fly; by 1980 he was a private pilot. Eventually he became taken with another form of flight—paragliding. He founded Powered Paragliding USA and over the years has spread his wings over Peru, Costa Rica, and he once completed a flight across the entire length of the Panama Canal.
A few years ago, Michael was joined at Powered Paragliding by Brian Goff, another pilot. Goff has hundreds of hours of flying experience; he's been behind the controls of everything from helicopters and airplanes to aerobatic planes and hot air balloons. Today, Michael and Brian man flights for clients of all experience levels. They can fly tandem with beginners, or train budding para-pilots on technique, safety, and how to switch lanes with birds. Expert flyers can take to the skies by purchasing their own paragliders and paramotors from the company.
Throughout the centuries, Virginia's James River has served as a home to native Powhatan, Monacan, and Haudenosaunee peoples, followed by early English settlers. Today, the river's waters host leisure and thrill seekers. James River Float Company's experienced guides lead these thrill seekers, plying the waters between Lynchburg and Richmond on a range of aquatic excursions. They embark on whitewater-rafting and standup-paddleboarding trips on specialty crafts designed for the river, and teach classes in basic or advanced sit-in kayaking; during which they teach turning to avoid rocks and rolling to avoid owl rush hour at midnight. On four types of canoe or kayak excursions, paddlers drift past old stone walls, Civil War encampments, waterfalls, and bubbling currents. Guides also pilot flat, handcrafted white-oak bateaus—each up to 60 feet long and 8 feet wide—on guided and overnight trips. On many overnight boating trips, Float Company staffers furnish all tents, sleeping pads, and sleeping bags, as well as meals.