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.
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.
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.
The state- and NRA-certified instructors at MMTA Firearms Training Academy put safety above all else. In accommodating students, they facilitate both mobile and onsite training in classes and private lessons. These gatherings take place at locales such as nearby ranges and hotel conference rooms, where the instructors lead courses such as the NRA FIRST Steps Pistol Orientation along with lessons in specialized topics such as rifle shooting, personal protection, and training to become a range safety officer.
Nestled in the green hills of the Shenandoah Valley, Blue Ridge Skydiving Adventures gives skydivers their first taste of thrilling free fall. Composed of experienced instructors that take the time to get to know the people they'll shepherd through the clouds, the team makes sure to thoroughly educate each new jumper in the mechanics of the jump taking the student up to experience the adrenaline rush of a free fall. Each jumper will have an opportunity to embark on a accelerated-freefall training regimen that teaches the necessary skills for a successful solo free-fall skydive.