St. Olaf College | News

Cruising with St. Olaf helps Oles stay globally engaged

In addition to offering more than 120 international or domestic off-campus study programs for current students, St. Olaf College also offers about 12 programs per year to alumni, families, and friends.

These Alumni & Family Travel programs — led by current and retired faculty and hosted by campus leaders — enable Oles to explore and learn in new corners of the world. And several of the upcoming programs will travel to those corners by ship.

The National Geographic Sea Lion takes travelers to the Golfo Dulce in Costa Rica.

“There are now more kinds of cruises beyond open ocean, like river cruising — an intimate, relaxing way to reach off-the-beaten path destinations that large cruise ships can’t get to — and expeditions that get you up close and personal to flora and fauna in far-flung places,” says Director of Alumni & Family Travel Heidi Quiram. “Expeditions are staffed by naturalists, photographers, and other experts to give you in-depth insight into a region.”

These are not, she emphasizes, your father’s cruise. These programs offer travelers an active, educational, enriching experience — with the benefit of visiting multiple destinations while unpacking only once.

With a modern approach, these cruises also offer hands-on workshops such as cooking classes, or on-board cultural activities like local beer tastings and folk dance performances. Some offer differently-themed, concurrent shore excursions so that travelers can feed their specific passion, whether it be a biking tour of a national park, a pub crawl, or an architectural city tour.

Travelers on the St. Olaf Alumni and Family Travel program “Baja California and the Sea of Cortez: Among the Great Whales,” led by Professor Emeritus of Biology Ted Johnson and retired medical technologist Michelle Johnson, really did get up close to the great whales. Program participants, including Russ ’72 and Beth Wiersma P’01, ’05, ’05, traveled on the National Geographic Sea Lion in February and March 2018, one of many modern cruise options offering adventure and learning opportunities.

“We have participated in two National Geographic expeditions and one Hike, Bike, and Barge river cruise,” say Russ ’72 and Beth Wiersma P’01, ’05, ’05. “All three cruises were small ships/barge with less than 60 passengers each. The staff was friendly, attuned to your individual needs, and very informative. They all loved their job. All the trips were active, with hiking, biking, kayaking, swimming, paddle boarding, and, on one occasion, horseback riding on the beach and trails. We were always learning new things and lectures were presented each day.”

Russ ’72 and Beth Wiersma P’01, ’05, ’05

Beth Wiersma adds, “Since the passenger number was small, we were able to get to know everyone and felt like a family throughout the cruise and even when returning home and keeping in touch.”

St. Olaf is offering three kinds of cruises in 2019 and 2020:

Majestic Vistas: Around Italy’s Boot

A cruise aboard Oceania’s Marina, a ship combining warmth and intimacy with the finest service and amenities, plus plenty of on-board experiences such as a hands-on cooking school at sea, artist’s loft, spa, and educational lectures. Shore excursions introduce travelers to ancient cities with their impressive architecture and stunning landscapes.

Exploring Alaska’s Coastal Wilderness

Led by Professor Emeritus of Biology Ted Johnson and retired medical technologist Michelle Johnson this cruise partners with Lindblad Expeditions to take travelers on the National Geographic Quest. Every day is active and engaging, with the chance to hike, kayak, and ride landing craft to otherwise inaccessible shores. Travelers will encounter abundant wildlife and benefit from the teachings of veteran naturalists, a certified photo instructor, and an undersea specialist, as well as hearing what previous participants have affectionately dubbed “Ted’s Talks.”

Holland and Belgium

In April 2020, travelers will spend seven nights aboard the Scenic Pearl. This all-inclusive Rhine River cruise will be led by President David R. Anderson ‘74 and Priscilla Paton. More information will be available in Spring 2019.

Southern Grandeur: Holiday Markets

With six nights aboard The American Queen in December 2020, travelers will enjoy this luxury Mississippi River cruise departing from New Orleans. It will include a one-night pre-cruise hotel stay and complimentary hop-on/hop-off shore excursions. More information will be available in Fall 2019.

To be a part of this Ole travel community, click on the links above for Italy and Alaska or browse all Alumni and Family Travel destinations.