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 wide wheelbase of Jeep Rubicons kicks up age-old dust as they trundle across the dry open vistas of the desert. Inside, Borrego Jeep Photo Tours' guides describe local flora and fauna as they reveal the arid land's most spectacular natural formations such as Coyote Canyon or Split Mountain. They provide passengers with complimentary bottles of cold water and snacks on tours that last anywhere from two to six hours. Professional photographer Aaron Dennis accompanies every tour on their journey, providing guests with in-the-field photographic instruction as they capture their own images as keepsakes.
Each Groupon covers one person's flight, so couples, triplets, and ventriloquists need to purchase one Groupon per rider. Though pricing for the sunrise flight varies throughout the week, this Groupon is valid any day including weekends. Participants in the winery tour need to be 21+ with valid ID, and the age minimum for the sunrise flight is five years old. Both journeys lift off from Maurice Car'rie Winery in Temecula.
When Father Lasuen founded Mission San Juan Capistrano in 1775, he created the 7th of modern California's 21 missions, which were intended to serve as epicenters of Christianity and Spanish culture in the New World. The mission system fell into disarray and disrepair during the war for Mexican independence and the Mexican-American War, but San Juan Capistrano remains, standing as a relic of that era and a testament to California's historical mélange of European and Native American cultures.
The mission invites visitors to learn more about the region’s history by exploring 10 acres of preserved adobe architecture, fountains, and gardens. Audio tours give groups a unique insight into the site's stories, and rotating exhibits feature artwork as well as historical and religious artifacts from San Juan Capistrano. Hands-on activities allow guests to recreate the experience of centuries-old mission life by making adobe bricks, panning for gold, or connecting computers to dial-up modems.
Flavors of Laguna's tasting tours meander to well-known Laguna Beach restaurants as well as eateries kept quiet by locals, with tastings of a wide variety of cuisines along the way. Though stops can vary, past trips have seen tour-goers dig spoons into Dolce Gelato's creamy handcrafted treats, sample sizzling dishes at La Sirena Grill, or cozy up to the horseshoe island bar at Lumberyard. (Wine or beer tastings are available for an extra fee.) Between bites, guides point out major sights during casual strolls around Laguna's streets, ensuring that tours, like city maps made of chocolate, are informative as well as delicious.
Specializing in outdoor products, Adventure 16 provides daring travelers with a large selection of high-quality apparel and gear that is not only built to last, but also designed to be as environmentally friendly as possible. Trailblazers can charge confidently through cactus fields or scorpion pits with a pair of durable The North Face Paramount convertible pants ($65), which can be morphed from pants into shorts. Protect built-in binoculars with a pair of Native polarized sunglasses ($89) and further deflect UV rays with a fashionable Tilley Airflo hat ($76). Spelunkers will be glad for the company of a Nalgene Tritan water bottle ($9.50) that keeps thirst quenchers tightly bottled, as well as a Black Diamond Cosmo headlamp ($29.95) to light the way out of any cave, dense rainforest, or haunted house.