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.
By the time Blue Bee Cider's signature drink is ready in the spring, it's been three seasons in the making. The process begins in the fall and winter pressing season, when baskets upon baskets of Virginia apples, their ripe red skins shocked with gold, are crushed to loose their sweet juice. The juice lies dormant for the winter, undisturbed by the needless addition of sugar or water, slowly fermenting. Finally, come the break of spring, it takes on the fizzy character of carbonation and is bottled, ready to take its place on the shelves behind the tasting bar. Each of the three varieties takes on a different characteristic from its different blend of apples and ingredients, from the Charred Ordinary's dryness lent by heirloom apples, to the Harvest Ration's surprising kick supplied by fortification with brandy.
Josh knew the first treasure hunt he set up was a success when he saw the happy look in his three younger brothers' eyes as they uncovered the final treasure chest. Based on Josh's clues, the younger Schwabs had just gleefully trekked across Warrenton, Virginia, and into the Shenandoah Mountains in search of their goal. But the event was more than just a fun way to spend the day: it also gave them inspiration at a time when the future felt grim, as their mother was undergoing chemotherapy treatment. Although that has since become a fond memory of a good day, it's also warmly remembered by the family as the catalyst that led Josh to establish Ravenchase Adventures, where he now sets up just such engaging hunts for the public.
Now Ravenchase is an event company that offers pre-set and custom treasure hunts and adventure races. As the company has grown, Josh's team has even set up events for a variety of well-known clients, from DreamWorks Studios to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. But regardless of who participates, he and his dedicated staff ensure each two- to three-hour adventure is filled with brainteasers, mysterious clues, and baffling ciphers. Each solved clue leads the groups across town with treasure maps. Fun prizes await at their final destination. In an effort to give back to the community, the company also set up the nonprofit Ravenchase Foundation, which supports organizations that inspire and teach tolerance for history, logic, and the arts.
In 1784, George Washington stood before the Virginia General Assembly, lobbying for a canal system that would connect the James River to the Ohio River via the Kanawha River. His vision began to materialize in 1789, when construction began on the canals, leading to further westward expansion and the canals becoming a hub of American history. Today, the guides of River District Canal Cruises lead both public tours and private charters through the canal system, unveiling its storied past to passengers. The Canal Walk, for example, teems with historic significance, from hosting the world’s first successful electric streetcar system to having one of the world’s last functioning triple main-line railroad crossings. Throughout each tour, the boat’s cover keeps guests comfortable by providing shade and deflecting falling satellites.
Shockoe Bottom, one of Richmond’s oldest neighborhoods, is also home to some of Richmond’s scariest ghosts and classiest haunting scenes. During the Capital Creepers Eerie Nights tour, which is guided by ghastly ghouls dressed in historical duds and painted with Hollywood-quality makeup that would fool even the deadest ghost, fright fanatics will discover all the dark and gory details about the haunts of Richmond’s past, present, and future, which are much more thrilling than the commonly known tales of the still-warm ketchup on Colonel William Mayo’s 1737 city plan and the guy on the corner who screams “I’m a ghost” every 15 minutes.
Whether exploring the historic riverfront, countless landmarks, architectural points, or celebrated sites, RVA Historic Tours transports visitors and locals there in comfort. Cushioned seats line the 26-person frames of their enclosed trolleys, which cruise through the streets for daily public tours and special events such as holiday-lights tours and private charters for all occasions. They also conduct daily historical tours on segways.