Enrichment Voyages .. anyone heard of them?

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#1
Hudson, NH
992 Posts
Joined Sep 2007
I just received an advertisement for at 21 day Enrichment Voyage cruise. It sound fabulous - the best of three worlds: Bahamas, Caribbean and South America. Ocean and River. I have always wanted to cruise down the Amazon. and the ad says "2 for 1 - with free air". Amost too good to be true.

But, I have never heard of them and wonder how they compare.

Anyone?
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#2
Lincoln CA USA, 95648
12,739 Posts
Joined Aug 2000
They received some notoriety a couple of months ago when their featured ship, MV Explorer hit an iceberg near Antarctica, and sank!

Some information (including your post) on Google.
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Michael
#3
houston, tx
26 Posts
Joined Jun 2006
this is not the ship in the artic incident, this ship is used primarily for semester at sea school cruises. Apparently this is a new venture to use the ship for regular cruises in between school cruises. I agree this dues look good and I'm trying to research for more info myself. I will post follow up if I find any additonal info. Go to http://www.semesteratsea.org/ for more info
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#5
3 Posts
Joined Feb 2008
The Enrichment Voyages are the former Seminar at Sea program sponsored by Semester at Sea (University of Virginia). Semester at Sea sends college students from all over the US on a 100 day voyage around the world...every fall, spring and summer. The usual trip is at the winter holiday time but now they are trying to make better use of the MV Explorer by offering more opportunites to sail. The ship was built in 2002 for Royal Olympic Cruise lines so it is a beautiful ship. The atmosphere onboard is very relaxed, friendly and enriching. Thus, the new program name...Enrichment Voyages. I have sailed on 10 Seminar at Sea trips and have really enjoyed the experience. When you return to the ship, it's like returning home. The crew and staff are wonderful. Many people sail each time the program offers a trip!
#6
462 Posts
Joined Jul 2006
It is now a year after the original question.
Has anyone been on an Enrichment Voyage?
They have some interesting trips....
#7
pennsylvania
4 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
I am a single mom (age 51) traveling alone with son (age 11). Booking MV Explorer with Enrichment voyages. We are aware there will not be any other children on this trip, OK with that. Never on a cruise before, Anything I should know? Do I need to worry constantly that he is going to fall overboard? Are cabins provided with same basics as hotel rooms? (ie hair dryer, iron?) How likely is motion sickness? We have lower deck inside cabin. Hoping to take advantage of the many "field trips" as we are going for the cultural experience. Any comments on those?
#8
Northern VA
390 Posts
Joined Sep 2007
Originally posted by teachingmom
I am a single mom (age 51) traveling alone with son (age 11). Booking MV Explorer with Enrichment voyages. We are aware there will not be any other children on this trip, OK with that. Never on a cruise before, Anything I should know? Do I need to worry constantly that he is going to fall overboard? Are cabins provided with same basics as hotel rooms? (ie hair dryer, iron?) How likely is motion sickness? We have lower deck inside cabin. Hoping to take advantage of the many "field trips" as we are going for the cultural experience. Any comments on those?
I haven't been on the ship that you just booked but I did survive a trip around the world with the same program (Semester at Sea). The ship is casual, no casino, a large library, and the emphasis is on education (and not partying - although some students may disagree with me). The Enrichment voyages attract people that are more interested in education, culture, history, etc.

No need to worry that he'll fall overboard. Just don't let him dangle off the balcony!

There are no irons in the cabins (fire is the biggest threat on a ship). But, laundry services will probably be available. There might be hair dryers but I'm not sure. There will be soap/shampoo/towels, etc. And, cabin stewards will straighten your cabin/change towels/sheets daily. There is also a gift shop where you can pick up sundries.

Have you been told that there are no other children also booked? I would think that other families would also be interested in this type of voyage.

Weather is always unpredictable. But, as someone who can get easily carsick, I was never once sea sick. Your cabin is on the lower decks so there will be less motion. Just be sure to pack ginger pills (or candy) and possibly bonine. (Dramamine can make you sleepy - but will probably be available onboard at the medical clinic).

One thing I've learned over the past years - put all the clothing you think you need out on the bed - then take away half. Overpacking is the norm!

Your son is so lucky to have such an experience! I wish I could have started when I was 10!

Enjoy!! You will addicted to sailing for the rest of your life!
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S.S. Universe Explorer - Around the World - Spring 2000
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Emerald Princess - Eastern Caribbean - Nov 2009
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Enchantment of the Seas - Bermuda to Boston - April 2012


#9
pennsylvania
4 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
You have no idea how much I appreciate your comment. My son struggles greatly with "standard" academics in school. But he is very bright. (He figured out the public bus system in Mexico in one day at age 10) Anyway, as a former teacher, education and knowledge is VERY important to me. So I never want him to get the feeling that he is "dumb" because he doesn't score well on paper tests. Thus I invest every extra dime in traveling with him. I was thrilled to find this exrichment voyage - what a marvelous opportunity. But traveling alone with a child is a nerve-racking adventure, especially one as independent as he. Nevertheless, we are very excited about this trip.

We will be flying out of DC National Reagan airport, which I have never used before. We are about four hours away. I will stay overnight somewhere in the city. How can I find out if there is long term parking at that airport? I called a couple hotels to see if they offered a stay-and-fly program where I could leave my car for two weeks if I stayed the night before I left and the night I got back. No takers so far.

One other concern, I checked the website for the State Department and it doesn't seem that any immunizations are required for any of the Central American countries we will be visiting. But do you recommend anything other than tetnus? We've already had those.

Thank you SO much for responding.
Vickie
#10
Northern VA
390 Posts
Joined Sep 2007
We had quite a few children on my Semester at Sea trip. Every age from 6 months (yes, someone brought an infant) to 17 years. It was amazing to watch some of the youngsters (ages 9-12) mature so quickly as they experienced such new cultures and places. The life skills they learned were phenomenal (and just as important as standard academics).

Now for some practical stuff. There is long term (economical) parking at Reagan National:

http://www.metwashairports.com/reaga.../parking_rates

For hotels in DC that allow you to park/stay/fly, try this website:

http://www.yourdchotels.com/html/hot...airport-dc.asp

You may also want to check the East Coast Departures boards here on Cruise Critic.

For information on vaccinations, try the CDC Travel website (your physician can also offer help on what is needed):

http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/contentVaccinations.aspx

Please let me know if I can help any further!
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#11
Northern VA
390 Posts
Joined Sep 2007
I found another website that might be useful for the Park/Sleep/Fly:

http://washingtonnational.parksleepfly.com/
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S.S. Universe Explorer - Around the World - Spring 2000
S.S. Universe Explorer - Alaska - Jul 2000
S.S. Universe Explorer - Alaska - May 2001
Carnival Miracle - Western Caribbean - Oct 2006
Diamond Princess - Hawaii - Jan 2008
Carnival Miracle - Western Caribbean - Feb 2009
Carnival Triumph - Canada - Jun 2009
Emerald Princess - Eastern Caribbean - Nov 2009
Golden Princess - Alaska - July 2010
Enchantment of the Seas - Bermuda to Boston - April 2012


#12
Southern California
1 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
Hi! I've been trying to post this review of my experience on the MV Explorer. Haven't gotten the hang of posting yet! However, it's certainly pertinent to your question, so I'm going to copy it here for you. Hope it gives you the information you need.
Sherbie

I’m an experienced traveler; my MV Explorer cruise through the Caribbean and up the Amazon River and back was to be a highlight of my cruising experience. Wrong! These highly-touted Enrichment Voyages are leaving out one very important
fact: the ship, apparently due to its hull design and lack of sufficient stabilizers,
is unstable. If you take this ship, be prepared for MAJOR nonstop ship
movement even in calm seas with no wind. A goodly portion of all our
passengers were seasick. The only relief we got was when we were in port.

Amenities are few. The free internet, great library were very good.
The food was quite poor. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are all scheduled; during non-scheduled times there was no food available, except hamburgers for $5 for 1 hour on the pool deck). Food Quality: remember your dorm days at college? This is a notch below
that. Dining room: they tried hard, but meals took forever and quality was fair to mediocre. Desserts were awful. Room Service: minimal, only half sandwiches available. Couldn't even get a soda!
Swimming Pool: laughable. Only filled while in port, because all the water sloshes out when you're at sea. It's tiny. Only has vertical ladder for entry, so anyone with a disability couldn't get in or out. Not heated. No jacuzzis.
Entertainment: mediocre (they tried hard; their internet guru turned out to have a beautiful singing voice, and she entertained a couple of nights).
Lectures: some better than others, all dumbed down a tad to accommodate the wide range of listeners.
Room design:spartan! We had an ocean view room, but what we really viewed was the deck outside where all the people were walking! So unless we were fully clothed &
occupied, we couldn't open our window!
I booked this cruise through Online Vacation Center. They are offering these "Enrichment Voyages" and touting them as "adventurous." They are not explaining the problems with ship motion, and they're glossing right over the quality of the amenities. Our price averaged $200 per day per person. We could have taken a Princess Cruise that had basically the same itinerary at the same time, and that would have been only $100 per day (and obviously would have been a more comfortable trip), but we were already locked in to the MV Explorer.
If you are used to cruising with the major lines, with all the nice amenities and
good stabilizers, I think you'll be very disappointed in this cruise. I don't think anybody with a physical handicap (like needing a walker, or using a cane) should be on this ship because the movement made it difficult and dangerous for them to be up and about. And as far as the "enrichment" goes, most major cruise lines now include guest lecturers who give the same information.
#13
Chatham, ON, Canada
1,134 Posts
Joined Nov 2007
Hi Vickie,
Welcome (to you & your son) to the MV Explorer & the Nassau to Costa Rica cruise in May. We are also on this sailing & very much looking forward to it. I am usually a "big ship" cruiser, & welcome the change that this enrichment voyage will offer. You will read pros & cons concerning this type of cruise, but we are travelling with open minds.
The Semester at Sea site itself will give you lots of details concerning amenities in the stateroom, (yes to hair dryers!), meals, dining rooms, deck plans, etc.
What an incredible opportunity you are offering your son. As you are aware, the "normal" classroom setting does not always work well for all individuals.
On the Roll call section of CC, further down the page & under All Other cruises, you will find a listing for the Roll Call for this particular sailing. It is not very active, but it is alive & we would love to see you there. Thom65 did this cruise last year & said how great it was. He was also able to answer a lot of our questions.
Looking forward to seeing you on the Roll Call board & also onboard the MV Explorer.
Cheers,
Dianne
#14
pennsylvania
4 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
Sherbie: Thanks so much for your posting – it has been difficult to find anyone who has been on the MV Explorer. Seems a little odd since it lists a capacity of 800. But it is my understanding that this is only the second season that the company is taking on “tourists” between semesters at sea.

As I mentioned, we were drawn to this as an enrichment program, not for a typical cruising experience. So I am OK with a tiny cabin and college cafeteria quality food. We are looking at it from the perspective that the ship is our mode of transportation to visit 7 countries in 14 days. It is sort of a mini “mission trip” for us. I have exposed my son to the hardship of life in a backwoods town of central Alaska, the realities of a family living in a tent on the beach in Hawaii because they can’t afford housing, the dire poverty of Appalachia, the homeless in our nation’s capital DC, and the meager existence of a family in a small fishing village of Mexico. Even though we live at the American poverty level for a family of two, I want him to know that we are rich, rich, rich in comparison to a single mom and child in developing countries. My goal is to cultivate a sense of appreciation in him.

And so we are going on this adventure primarily for the field excursions, which brings me to my questions for someone who has been there. Does one book those onboard? They have not yet given me any option to do so ahead of time. The two locations that we absolutely don’t want to miss are the Batania Foundation orphanage & school in Nicaragua and the Embera Indian Village in Panama. Did you visit either of those? Comments? For fun we hope to zip-line (which we have done before), horseback riding, visit some Maya ruins, possibly some canoeing or kayaking. What was your experience with any of that? I want to go cave tubing in Belize, but my son is hesitant about that. Tell us about any shore excursions that you did.

He was very disappointed over your comment about the swimming pool. From the picture of the ship it looks like the pool is only the size of backyard family pool. Is that so? And do I understand you correctly – they drain the pool every day while sailing???? The days we are at sea are precisely the days we want to spend by the pool. Can one swim at night? When CAN one use the pool?

Was there anything you thought “Gee, I wish I had brought ______ along on this trip!”

We are doing the return half of the cruise, starting in Costa Rica and sailing back to Fort Lauderdale. The airport in CR seems to be a couple hours from the port city of Puntarenas – did someone from the ship meet you at the airport? The website says the trip includes airport to ship transport, but the booking agent wasn’t sure if that meant someone would actually be there to meet us. How did you find your way?



Ontdi: I am not very computer-savy. I will try to find my way to the rollcall area on this site. I think I will be getting on the ship when you get off.




Thanks for any and all info....this is a learning process for me.



Vickie
#15
Chatham, ON, Canada
1,134 Posts
Joined Nov 2007
Vickie,

Yes you will be getting on just as we are getting off the ship.
What awesome life learning experiences you are offering your son too.
We received our shore excursion information recently, so I'm sure yours will arrive shortly. It sounds as if they prefer the booking be done "preboarding". Then what space is left over will be offered for sale after you are on the ship.
Good luck to you & happy cruising!

Dianne
#16
Baltimore, MD
16 Posts
Joined Mar 2006
I'll be on the Cost Rica to Fort Lauderdale leg also with my DW and DD. Based on YouTube videos, the pool is in use at sea. Here is one example:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bIHnB19Inhc

It probably depends on how rough the seas are. The ship does have stablizers, but being a smaller ship, it will be affected more by rough water.
#17
64 Posts
Joined Dec 2006
Hello, I have been on two voyages with the Explorer enrichment series: Mayaland and the Amazon. I have done the cave tubing in Belize, you will love it. If you are doing the Panama Canal, take the excursion to the Nature Center and Monkey Island. On both voyages we received a list of the shore excursions about a month before sailing and got them in quickly, even so, some were fully booked. I found most of the lecturers to be very interesting and knowledgable. Some less so, just like school. I highly recommend the resident artist, Ceil Duke, her classes are phenomenal. I took our 14 year old grandson to the Amazon, he loved it. As for the Explorer, she is older and not as steady as the newer, bigger ship. The pool was an issue, it was closed at odd times, sometimes at night or during sea days, not very consistent. The food is dorm food, filling and healthy but not gourmet. The library is wonderful. This is a teaching ship, do not expect a regular cruise experience. You will meet interesting people and go to wonderful places. Wyatt and I had a great time.
#18
tampa, fl
161 Posts
Joined Feb 2007
i was on this cruise last year and thoroughly enjoyed it. am returning this year for the puntaranous to ft. lauderdale trip thru the canal. the stabilizers work fine and the food is average....not gourmet....but plenty of it. the staff and crew are wonderful and the enrichment experience is a nice change from the mainstream cruise experience. i recommend you take your son cave tubing, zip lining and to the embera indian tour. also, i am going on the "go with gus" humanitarian tour in guatemala that has been noted by many as the besat tour ever. it`s not offered by the cruise, but gus has a website and a booth at the cruise terminal. hope to meet you in may.

frank
#19
99 Posts
Joined Nov 2007
Is there anyone else out there who can sell/discount this cruise?
I'd like to go on the 5/22 Passage to Panama with Enrichment Voyages.