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Taking the Kids on an Enrichment Cruise

Looking for a cool opportunity to learn and experience the world with your children? Take a look at the Institute for Shipboard Education's Enrichment Voyages. These cruise opportunities allow parents and children to travel together, learn about different cultures, and enjoy unique educational opportunities aboard their floating campus at sea.

The University of Virginia's Institute for Shipboard Education (ISE) produces the popular Semester at Sea program, the only study abroad program of its kind in the world. On their ship, the MV Explorer, undergraduates, lifelong learners, faculty and staff learn and live together while traveling around the globe. In addition to the Semester at Sea program, ISE also offers Enrichment Voyages at selected times throughout the year, typically in April/May and December. These Enrichment Voyages are open to participants of all ages, making them an excellent choice for parents and children who would like to learn together.

Enrichment Voyages are 15 days to almost a month in length. Interactive lectures, workshops and pre-port briefings are provided by college professors and other experts. Educational sessions examine the culture, history, indigenous people, literature, music, geology, biology, and current issues of the regions to which the ship travels. In addition, a wide selection of optional Field Programs is offered in each port of call. A 9,000-volume library and computer lab are also available onboard, offering a good environment for children who need to integrate their schoolwork with their cruise experience.

These trips are best for families with children ages 10 and older, according to Lucille Renwick who has worked with and experienced ISE's Enrichment Voyages. "While there are certainly activities on the ship and tour/volunteer opportunities for families with younger children, I think the experience, including lectures, tours, service-volunteer trips, is ideal for children who are pre-teens to teenagers," says Renwick. For families with older children, the voluntourism field trips offered on these voyages also provide a good opportunity for participation by all members of the family.

Families should be aware that passengers on these cruises tend to skew older than on a typical megaliner cruise. Although age ranges vary for each Enrichment Voyage, the majority of the passengers on the cruise in which Lucille Renwick participated where retired and ranged in age from their 60's well into their 90's. That group was also joined by a group of college students in their early 20's who were studying voluntourism and participating in the ship's many programs to allow cruisers to give back while traveling. There was one family onboard with two children ages 10 and older, as well as a number of independent travelers in their late 20's to mid-50's. December voyages may carry more families, as college students and those in high school may be on winter vacation.

ISE's Enrichment Voyages provide an exciting option for homeschooling families to augment their education experiences with a cruise on this floating campus at sea. Itineraries for these Enrichment Voyages take participants to culturally rich, less-traveled ports - so different from the typical large ship cruise. These outstanding travel experiences provide participants with unique opportunities for experiential learning and giving back to others.

For more information on the Institute for Shipboard Education and their Enrichment Voyages, visit http://www.semesteratsea.org.

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