A contributed article by the president of a small and elite cruise line specializing in very unique voyages. Travel Dynamics was among the first cruise lines to offer cruises to Libya, Lebanon, Tunis and Algeria, in addition to other exotic voyages such as the Amazon and Antartica. Currently, they are experiencing the same visa problems in Libya for US citizens as Oceania and Silversea, but they hopeful they can reach a settlement -- Ed.
Enrich Your Mind, and Inspire Your Senses on Small-Ship Cruises of Discovery.
My name is Vasos Papagapitos, and I am the co-founder and Co-President of Travel Dynamics International. Since 1969, we have been planning and operating some of the most intriguing and unusual cruise experiences the world over. It's all right if you haven't heard of us - we only sail two very lovely, very small ships, and we often arrange our itineraries with some very interesting cultural organizations, so if you have not been directly affiliated with them, you may not have received word of our trips. That's something we're trying to change, because we believe many, many more people are becoming interested in travel experiences that go beyond the basics of sightseeing, beyond even the luxury standard - and engage with the culture, history, arts, peoples, and beliefs that give a destination its specific, individual character - that sense of identity and richness that, when experienced, allows the traveler to see the world in a totally different and fuller light. We can offer you something entirely unique in the realm of cruise travel.
Our Difference: Small yacht-like ships (our private yacht Callisto carries just 34 guests; our small cruise ship Corinthian II offers all-suite accommodations to a maximum of 114 guests), totally unique itineraries arranged around themes in history and culture; on-board and on-site lectures by prominent American scholars, authors, journalists, scientists, adventurers, and experts; a relaxed, yet elegant ambience similar to that on board a private yacht; a tradition of gracious, elegant yet un-stuffy service equal to fine hotels and restaurants; highly unusual destinations that are overlooked by mainstream cruise lines, even those operating small ships.
"The trip started beautifully and got better every day. The tour guide was exceptional - balancing logistics with his profound knowledge. Very creative itinerary-always a new approach and new angle Would like the owner's name and address so I can write a personal 'thank you.'" - John O. Whitney, West Palm Beach, FL, participant on Greek Civilizations: From the Bronze Age to Byzantium, 2006.
Our Itineraries: For 2007, Travel Dynamics International has scheduled 20 individual itineraries in the Mediterranean and Black Sea region. In 2004, we were the first American cruise operator to undertake cruises in Libya following the fall of the travel embargo, and our exploration of ancient Greek and Roman cities in Libya, Tunisia, and Algeria remains one of our most sought-after itineraries. We offer leisurely, wide-ranging cruises as well as focused investigations of history, mythology, and contemporary cultures. For example: The Hero in History: Homer, Virgil and the Foundation of the Heroic Ideal, which touches upon locations associated with The Odyssey and The Aeneid en route from Athens to Valletta, Malta; Empires of the Past - The Minoans and Mycenaeans, which takes a close look at the first two civilizations of ancient Greece, traveling to Troy, Crete, the Peloponnese, and mainland Greece; Edith Wharton's Mediterranean, a cruise from Sicily to Turkey and Athens, based upon a recently discovered travel memoir by the American author - and many, many other thoughtful journeys. (During our idyll along the Dalmatian coast, we even stop in secluded coves and sheltered bays so you can go swimming in the Adriatic, right off the stern of the yacht!)
"A wonderful trip, luxurious hotel, a great little ship with just the right size company, guest lecturer and extraordinary food and service, flawless staff and fascinating architectural sites and beautiful Italian art, countryside and towns!" -- M. Behrens, New York, NY, Sicily 2006.
We also have highly acclaimed voyages to Antarctica, the Brazilian coast, the lower Amazon, and a remarkable land-cruise program called The Road to Timbuktu and the Rivers of West Africa. In early 2008, we will be operating even more ambitious itineraries - a cruise from Cape Horn, South America, to the Cape of Good Hope, Africa, stopping at the most remote inhabited island on Earth along the way; a cruise of South Africa by sea; and a month-long exploration of Africa's Atlantic coastline, visiting 12 African nations between the Cape of Good Hope and the Rock of Gibraltar.
"This was the best trip we have ever taken. The whole experience was magical I especially appreciated the pains the lecturers and naturalists took in explaining why the Antarctic is so important and why we should keep it pristine and safe from exploitation (vested interest here - I'm a biologist.) -- Joyce Schwartz, Weston, MA, Antarctica 2004.
Our Lecturers: As we cruise, we alight one day beside the ruins of a 3,000-year-old city, and a classic village with its rustic traditions the next. In the morning before our excursion, or in the evening after its completion, our study leaders hold court for a lecture and discussion on the places we've seen. Certainly not every day - which would seem like work, and we wouldn't want any of that - but on a handful of them. They include superb professors of mythology, archaeology, literature, classics, religion, geology, astrophysics - the entire gamut of the arts and sciences - from the best American universities, as well as journalists, authors, diplomats, and masters of other fields. They remain on the ship throughout the voyage, and are selected for their warmth, charm, gregariousness, and presentation style just as much as for their expertise.
We are adding study leaders to our trips constantly, but a few of the speakers we're particularly excited about for 2007 include:
- Karen Armstrong, renowned author on world religions, including the best-selling A History of God and the recent A Short History of Myth Religion & Culture in Classical Greece, May 1-13, 2007
- Marvin Kalb, journalist, former moderator of "Meet the Press," and former Chief Diplomatic Correspondent for CBS and NBC News The Black Sea: Crossroads of Culture from the Ancient Past to the Present, July 29-August 10, 2007
- Bernard Lewis, Professor Emeritus of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University, world-famous author of What Went Wrong?, an analysis of Islam and the West: The Lost Cities of Libya, Tunisia, and Algeria, November 9-21, 2007
Our Ships: The 34-guest private yacht Callisto inspires not just admiration, but affection, because of its wonderful ambience, and its highly personalized service provided by a superb staff - including a dining staff that, whenever possible, acquires fresh provisions from local shops on shore for the preparation of local specialties that night.
"Certainly our favorite part of the trip was on board the Callisto. What a beautiful vessel and wonderful staff! The arrangements were comfortable and the service was impeccable. Everyone from the captain on down was courteous, helpful and friendly. The small size made us feel welcome and part of the family, not just a passenger on a trip. The food was excellent and the diverse range of local produce and goods was wonderful. We cannot say enough about the five-star service on board Callisto and would recommend it to anyone." -- Jennifer Garner, Pittsburgh, PA.
The 114-guest Corinthian II is a superb ship in mega-yacht style, with outside-facing suites for all passengers, the smallest a very generous 225 square feet. Several suites include balconies accessible via sliding-glass doors. The 70 European officers and crew ensure an atmosphere akin to a private club for the length of your voyage.
"The size of the Corinthian II was perfect. Not having assigned meal seating have us a chance to meet many wonderful and interesting people." --Carol S. Bernstein, Tenafly, NJ.
On both ships, whenever possible, we arrange for meals to be served al fresco on our wide Sun Deck so that you may have the glorious experience of traveling through the Bosporus Strait, or along the Cote d'Azur, with your meal.
On-Board Society and the Experience: Those who choose to travel with us come from many, many backgrounds and experiences, but a few things always unite our guests into a very friendly, congenial group: they are well-educated, and have a sincere interest in the places we visit, stemming from their rich life experiences. Dinner conversations are fantastic. Before you depart on your trip, we are constantly arranging special events, curator-guided museum tours, unique visits to little-known local gems So on a Travel Dynamics International cruise, expect some unexpected magic. Last but not least, we know it's sometimes difficult to hear your guide while wandering through an archaeological site, so we provide closed-circuit headsets to everyone on board so you can be sure to experience everything we offer. I hope you'll consider us, because for so many people, the experience we provide is so wonderful, the phrase "This is the best trip we have ever taken" is something we hear a lot. There are many luxury small-ship cruise operators around, but no one else gives you all this - for just about the same price as a "normal" small-ship cruise. I look forward to seeing you on board.
For additional information on Travel Dynamics International programs, go to www.TravelDynamicsInternational.com or call (800)257-5767.