The romance of traveling by ship is legendary — the wind in your hair and the world spread in front of you. But for us, voyages allow us to create immersive experiences in the world’s grandest ports to discover treasured cultures and rich local histories. Traveling by ship allows us to create educational adventures that appeal to a diverse array of interests, all while linking the destinations of the world in seamless fashion. We create learning adventures around the world on hundreds of ships of all kinds — riverboats, yachts, expedition vessels, small ships and ocean liners — and these 10 vessels are at the head of the class when it comes to learning and the onboard experience.

1. Aegean Odyssey

With room for 350 passengers, the Aegean Odyssey has the amenities and comfort of an ocean liner, but the nimbleness to navigate the smaller, harder-to-reach ports. From the ship's variety of comfortable cabins and amenities to a well-stocked library and an onboard lounge perfect for attending expert-led lectures, this ship is truly the ideal vessel for Road Scholar's exceptional learning adventures. We love it so much, in fact, that we created a special new collection of itineraries on our floating campus!

See our voyages aboard the Aegean Odyssey →

2. Croisi Symphonie

The Symphonie is, in our opinion, the best riverboat in the Croisi fleet. Built in 1997 and renovated in 2017, this elegant vessel accommodates up to 106 passengers in 55 cabins. On top of your cultural explorations on land, you’ll enjoy a particularly delectable experience back on board as well, thanks to the Symphonie’s French chef. Join us in 2020 for a Road Scholar-exclusive educational itinerary from Prague to Budapest on the Danube River, details coming soon!

3. Lindblad’s Sea Lion

What we love most about learning adventures aboard the comfortable Sea Lion is the fact that we’re learning alongside some of the finest experts and naturalists available. What’s more, expeditions on board the Sea Lion have flexible schedules determined by weather, sea conditions and wildlife, so they’re ideal for observing nature up close. We reserved this entire small ship to observe the whales of Baja, Mexico, during their mating season with expert expedition leaders for a truly remarkable wildlife experience.

See our voyages aboard Lindblad ships →

4. Variety Callisto

The Greek Isles have a magic all their own, but sailing the sapphire waters of the Aegean and Adriatic aboard the Variety Callisto is another experience entirely. On board a boutique yacht with a mere 17 cabins, Road Scholar participants are transported to enchanted ports of call that offer an authentic, immersive educational experience with our local experts.

See Grecian Voyage: Discover the Wonders of the Aegean →

5. Toum Teav

Built in 2001 and refurbished in 2013, the CF Mekong’s Toum Teav sails the Mekong River in Cambodia and Vietnam from Siem Reap to Ho Chi Minh City. Because it has only 10 cabins, you are truly able to experience life along the Mekong amid the intimacy of a small group. Enjoy the open-air dining room serving local and Vietnamese cuisine, as well as the onboard library stocked with classic literature. There is no better way to learn about life along one of the world’s iconic rivers.

See Angkor Wat and the Mekong River: Life Along the Mekong in Cambodia and Vietnam →

6. Antarctica XX1’s Ocean Nova

For those who long to step foot on the elusive seventh continent but are nervous about longer periods of sailing over the rougher waters of the Drake Passage, we have the educational adventure for you! Enjoy a rare flight over the Drake Passage that brings you to an Antarctic base, where the expedition vessel Ocean Nova sits ready to deliver you to a world of gleaming fjords, unique wildlife and pristine waters. With the capacity for 68 Road Scholars, the Ocean Nova’s ice-strengthened hull and glass observation deck make it ideally suited for expedition travel in Antarctica.

See Mission to Antarctica: Fly to an Icy World of Discovery →

7. Baranoff Dream

Purposely built to navigate the narrow fjords and shallow coves of coastal Alaska, Alaskan Dream Cruises’ Baranof Dream accommodates 49 Road Scholars in a small group setting along one of the world’s most spectacular natural landscapes. When on board, Road Scholars explore by sea kayak or watercraft in the company of experts in their field. What’s more, this vessel is perfect for exploring and learning about Alaska with your loved ones — join us on a special Family adventure designed to thrill Road Scholars of all ages!

See Alaska’s Wild and Historic Inside Passage With Your Family →

8. American Duchess

Life moves a little slower along the charmed Mississippi, and there is no better way to experience and learn about it than aboard the American Queen Steamboat Company’s American Duchess. The first all-suite paddle wheeler to sail a U.S. river, this luxurious vessel can carry up to 166 Road Scholars and allows you to fully envelop yourself in the charisma of the South in lavish fashion.

See Steamboat Adventure: Voyage the Length of the Mississippi →

9. Crystal Serenity

Sail around the world in style onboard Crystal Cruise Line’s Crystal Serenity. With one of the highest ratios of space-per-guest at sea, the Crystal Serenity is a spectacular setting to learn about the seven seas with superb dining experiences and Road Scholar-exclusive, expert-led excursions in ports around the world. Next year, the Crystal Serenity will be our home for our 2020 World Academy program, an incredible 106-day learning adventure filled with magnificent destinations and discoveries.

See Road Scholar World Academy: Around-the-World in Style →

10. Victory 1

Carved into the earth nearly 15,000 years, America’s Great Lakes are as storied a waterway as any. These unspoiled bodies of water deserve a vessel willing to delve deep into the heritage, history and natural wonders that surrounds them — and that’s just what the Victory 1 does. With space for fewer than 200 participants and a fantastic array of comfortable public areas, there’s no better way to learn about and soak in the pristine beauty of these five majestic lakes.

See Voyage to All Five Great Lakes: A Small Ship Adventure→


About the Author
JoAnn Bell, Senior Vice President of Program Development, develops and manages more than 5,500 learning adventures in 150 countries and 50 states. JoAnn's extensive travel industry experience informs her expert insight on everything from where to find the world's most charming streets to must-see hidden gems across the globe.


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