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Senior Travel Newsletter: nature, cruise, barging, volunteer vacations.
Senior travel newsletter: nature travel, educational, cultural, volunteer, cruise and barging vacations worldwide.
New stories, April 1, 2014 
TravelWatch: Senior Travel Newsletter.

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1. Semester at Sea's MV Explorer, the world's only floating university, invites up to 70 mature Lifelong Learners to join one of its creative cruise itineraries for a unique educational immersion. Read more.
2. Are you attracted to Southern Africa and want to make a difference in wildlife conservation while working alongside local people? Older international volunteers will love this new opportunity in Botswana, managed by one of the regions most reliable planners.
3. Canada's Rocky Mountains are an iconic draw for visitors from around the world. The view just got better with the May 2014 debut of the Glacier Skywalk in Jasper National Park, the first major attraction in these mountains in fifty years.
4. Exciting travel news on North America's eastern seaboard: a new state-of-the-art cruise-ferry has launched a seasonal option May through October between Maine in the U.S. and Nova Scotia in Canada, joining two popular vacation destinations with just nine hours of sailing, rather than multiple days of driving.
5. Germany is home to 38 UNESCO World Heritage Sites of both cultural and natural importance. The country has declared 2014 the Year of World Heritage, inviting visitors to explore its impressive treasures.

Before planning your next adventure, you may compare accommodation alternatives with sites such as www.trivago.com or use their data base for further information about your destination and read traveler hotel reviews.

Semester at Sea Welcomes Lifelong Learners on 2014 Sailings
Over the past fifty years, Semester at Sea (SAS), www.semesteratsea.org, has been changing the face of global university-level education, cruising to more than 60 countries while touching the lives of 60,000 alumni from 1,700 colleges and universities worldwide. You might think that this unique educational travel opportunity is only for young people who are studying for university credit as well as for enriched career prospects beyond graduation. You would be wrong!
Semester at Sea educational university ship, MV Explorer.
Built in 2002, the MV Explorer is a modern, safe passenger ship complete with a student union, wireless Internet, 9,000 volume library and many amenities you'd find on a land-based campus. The ship functions as both a traveling university and a residential home to more than 2,000 participants on three Semester at Sea voyages per year.
For decades, SAS has welcomed up to 70 Lifelong Learners, mostly retired, to come aboard and enjoy the adventure of sailing on the world's only floating university. They may audit a wide range of stimulating courses without having to write exams or essays. They may also visit fascinating countries on in-depth multi-day educational itineraries (not just a day or a few hours in port!), and enjoy the youthful energy that accompanies each sold-out sailing. You might think that being in the company of university students for two or three months (depending on the length of sailing) would be overkill on a ship that accommodates 830+ people, but again you would be wrong! "Stimulating" and "energizing" are words that Lifelong Learners use most frequently to describe their SAS trip.
Every step of the way, Lifelong Learners are honored and treated to personalized highlights such as access to a dedicated lounge where prestigious university professors teaching on board and special guest lecturers stop by for a pre-dinner drink and an insightful chat about their subject areas. Assigned cabins are also in an area of the ship away from the younger participants. There is a Lifelong Learner coordinator for each sailing, the dedicated go-to person to arrange events and handle whatever problems may arise.
Lecture lounge aboard MV Explorer, the world's only floating university.
Whether scheduled for small state-of-the-art classrooms throughout the ship or in the largest lecture hall/lounge, presentations are always lively and informative.
Lifelong Learners eat their meals cafeteria-style with the students and professors and are encouraged to volunteer as mentors for students who value having an older person in their lives during their shared time on the ship. Many sustained bonds have been forged through this mentoring program.
Itinerary map of 66-day Summer cruise of MV Explorer, the world's only floating university. Itinerary map of 108-day Fall cruise of MV Explorer, the world's only floating university.
The 66-day Summer itinerary focuses on Europe and Scandinavia;
the 108-day Fall itinerary explores Europe and countries
bordering both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.
In 2014, here are two fabulous ways to experience the world with Semester at Sea. First, there is a 66-day summer sailing from June 16 to August 21 explores Europe and Scandinavia. With port stays of three days or more, including a five-day stay in Russia, the MV Explorer will visit 10 countries and 11 cities from Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Scotland to Sweden, Russia and Finland.

Then in the Fall 2014, Lifelong Learners have another chance to embark on an extraordinary 108-day journey of cultural and educational exploration as the ship sails much of the Atlantic Ocean to 18 cities in 16 countries. This semester, August 23 to December 8, explores a number of European countries before moving south along the African coast to Morocco, Senegal and Ghana, then crossing the Atlantic to Brazil, Cuba and Barbados before participants disembark in Florida.
Costs vary depending on choice of cabin aboard ship. If you are already an alumnus of a Semester at Sea or Enrichment Voyages, you are eligible for major alumni savings on any subsequent journey. If you don't have the time or money to do a complete voyage but you want to sample this unique form of educational immersion, SAS also offers lifelong learners a chance to choose a segment of a longer cruise. MV Explorer is one of the fastest passenger ships of its kind in the world, and it consistently rates at 99% for meeting U.S. and international health and safety ratings.
Images and maps courtesy: Institute for Shipboard Education.
MV Explorer, hosts 830+ educational cruisers per Semester at Sea voyage.
Living and learning on a 25,000-ton traveling campus is what alumni describe as being part of one of "the most remarkable communities" ever encountered.
Calling Volunteers to Botswana!
New Community Greenhouse Project in Botswana seeks international conservation volunteers. Game drives also conduct wildlife surveys with volunteers.
Volunteers, sometimes in tracker seats, participate in game drive wildlife surveys on largely undisturbed, 15,000 hectare Tuli Block. Carol Moen Wing
The African Conservation Experience (ACE), www.conservationafrica.net, has just announced its participation in the Community Greenhouse Project in Botswana with the role of facilitating participation of international conservation volunteers. Offered in May and August, this project represents a practical approach to safeguarding the coexistence of wildlife, habitats and local communities. It is initiated by Legodimo Wilderness, http://legodimo.com, a respected Botswana-based wildlife conservation project.
Tree planting in Botswana with international volunteers.
"Due to human encroachment and man-made fences, elephants are concentrated into certain areas," says Mieke Prinsloo of Legodimo Wilderness. "The most obvious change in vegetation is the disappearance of unique flagship tree species such as Baobab, Marula and many forms of Acacia. The call to action came from the communities around us – a collaboration between conservation and community."
Volunteers are also assigned to constructing the greenhouses and planting indigenous trees. Legodimo Wilderness
Elephant monitoring in Botswana.
In the Tuli block, elephants are prolific, one of the core species monitored by volunteers from various
viewing platforms.
Legodimo Wilderness
The project will involve the local communities of Bobonong and Mathathane in constructing and maintaining two greenhouses, which will grow both endangered tree species and vegetables. Legodimo Wilderness will replant the trees to restore habitat damage by elephants and foster stronger populations of species such as giraffe, which have declined in the area due to a lack of Acacia trees. Vegetables will also be available for consumption by the communities, creating a positive association with conservation.
Volunteer drumming in celebration with local people in Botswana.
The Green House Work Camps culminate in a joyful celebration with the local community. Legodimo Wilderness
For international conservation volunteers interested in this worthwhile project, the dates for the Greenhouse Project are May 12-23, 2014 and August 18-30, 2014. Cost for a 15-day participation in the Greenhouse Project and in the Botswana Wildlife Monitoring Project is US$3,020 including return transfers from Johannesburg airport to Botswana, accommodation, meals and a contribution to the project.
Founded in 1999, ACE has an excellent track record of effectively managing participation of international volunteers. Here is a meaningful holiday with an expert team consisting of zoologists, conservationists and travel professionals. To make inquiries about becoming a volunteer, email: Info@ConservationAfrica.net. While considering this new opportunity, we recommend that you read a richly-illustrated volunteer conservation article in our Travel Article Library, in which ACE and Botswana are front and center.
Unique Glacier Skywalk Unveiled in Jasper National Park
With a May 2014 opening in Jasper National Park, the Glacier Skywalk will give visitors to Canada's Rocky Mountains a fresh way to view one of the most unique eco-systems in the world. As Alberta's newest tourism experience, the Glacier Skywalk is higher in elevation than the Eiffel Tower's upper observation deck by four meters or 13 feet.

The Skywalk is the first major attraction to be developed within these Mountain National Parks in over 50 years. Situated minutes from the Icefields Parkway, recognized as one of the top 10 drives in the world, it is approximately one hour from Jasper and two and a half hours from Banff.
Alberta Canadian Rockies Glacier Skywalk opening in May 2014.
The Glacier Skywalk hovers 280 meters (918 ft) between land and sky surrounded by stunning mountains and glacial vistas.
A 30-meter glass floored observation deck located a dizzying 280 meters/918 feet over the Sunwapta Valley offers a bird's eye view of ice-capped mountain peaks, glacier formed valleys and rare wildlife. Six interpretive stations are placed along the Discovery Trail highlighting the unique environmental aspects of the glacial valley. The attraction is 100% barrier free, accessible to all abilities.

Even while this project was still on the drawing board, it was winning prestigious design awards and no doubt more will follow as the Glacier Skywalk is unveiled. This is an exciting new direction for Brewster Travel Canada, www.brewster.ca, one of Western Canada's longest standing travel companiess.
Alberta Canadian Rockies Glacier Skywalk in Jasper National Park.
Guests take in the stunning views of Sunwapta Valley and Sunwapta Falls.
Alberta Canadian Rockies Glacier Skywalk.
A close-up look at the Glacier Skywalk's glass-floor platform extending over the cliff edge and hovering 280 meters above Sunwapta Valley.
For complete Glacier Skywalk information, visit www.glacierskywalk.ca. Hours of operation vary seasonally; for hours and rates visit this web page. To learn about all there is to do in the picturesque town of Jasper and Jasper National Park, check out the feature article in our Travel Article Library and visit the Jasper Tourism website.
Images courtesy of Brewster Travel Canada.
New Nova Star Cruise-Ferry between Maine and Nova Scotia
After a long interruption of ferry service, travelers between the Canadian province of Nova Scotia and the U.S. New England states will now be able to enjoy their journey aboard the Nova Star. Beginning a daily service on May 15, round-trip cruise ferry service will link Yarmouth, Nova Scotia and Portland, Maine with the introduction of a brand new vessel loaded with options to pass the time on the nine-hour journey.

With a casino, three restaurants, including fine dining and a sumptuous buffet, a theater and conference center for live entertainment, plus a spa, art gallery, children's play area and more, Nova Star will provide a wealth of onboard amenities for passengers to enjoy during the voyage … all in US dollars.
Nova Star cruise-ferry begins sailing between Nova Scotia and the U.S. New England states.
Nova Star ferry has undergone rigorous sea trials before crossing the Pacific Ocean from its construction shipyard in Singapore, half a world away.
When it is time to rest, passengers may relax in the comfort of an assigned recliner seat, from $19 to $39 per chair, or in one of 162 private cabins that can accommodate up to four travelers, starting at $49 in the saver season and $89 during the summer season between June 12 and September 8.

One-way fares aboard the 161-meter/528-foot cruise ferry range from $79 to $129 for adults and $39 to $64 for children five to 12 years of age, depending on the date of travel. Children under five will travel free all season long. Passengers can walk onboard the Nova Star, or bring their own transportation, at rates from $129 to $179 for autos, $49 to $89 for motorcycles, and $16 to $22 for bicycles, depending on the season.
Nova Star cruise-ferry offers private cabins or 254 assigned recliner seats during the 9 hour journey.
As a comfortable alternative for those not wishing to book a cabin, Nova Star features 254 assigned recliner seats.
Special combination rates that include round-trip passenger fare, plus a cabin and auto transportation both ways, range from $299 to $449 per person based on double occupancy. More details about passenger fares, including discounts for seniors and military personnel, are available at www.NovaStarCruises.com. There is also an online reservation system for advanced bookings.
Nova Star dining room.
Seafood and other specialties of the regional cuisine from Nova Scotia and New England are on Nova Star's restaurant menus.
"Even in the summer season, a couple could travel from Boston to Halifax and back for under $1,000. And that includes $100 in gas for the driving," says Owen John, VP of Sales & Marketing. "Taking the ferry compares very favorably with driving, but Nova Star wins hands down on the relax and enjoy front." Nova Star leaves Portland each evening at 8 p.m. and arrive in Yarmouth at 7 a.m. the next morning. The ship departs two hours later to arrive back in Portland at 5 p.m. local time. In future, Nova Star Cruises will offer this cruise ferry service from May 1 to early November. The company estimates that more than 100,000 passengers will step aboard the Nova Star in the first year of operation.
Images courtesy of Nova Star Cruises.
Nova Star cruise-ferry uses the latest technology to maximize operating efficiency and stability.
Nova Star was built using the latest technology to maximize operating efficiency and stability.
Germany Declares 2014 the Year Of UNESCO World Heritage It's the 25th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall too!
Two thousand years of history have left behind a wonderful legacy in Germany, silent yet eloquent witnesses to magnificent cultural achievements and protected natural phenomena. Many of Germany's most impressive architectural monuments, historical towns, significant industrial sites and distinctive natural landscapes – 38 in total – have been deemed to be of international historical importance by UNESCO. Every visit to a UNESCO World Heritage site is a journey back in time to a shared cultural history or a celebration of Nature's sustainable treasures.
Speyer Cathedral is one of 38 UNESCO World Heritage Sites throughout Germany.
Founded in 1030, Speyer Cathedral in Rhineland-Palatinate was added to Germany's WHS list in 1981 as "a major monument of Romanesque art in the German Empire". Karl Hofmann
The most recent Quality Monitor survey of the German tourism industry showed that 41% of visitors from abroad chose Germany because of its sightseeing opportunities. Cultural and natural heritage are among the major draws, so this year, the tourism office will be making its 38 UNESCO sites the focus of travel marketing activities.
Left: Declared a World Heritage Site in 1994, the Völklingen Ironworks in Saarland is an anchor point of the European Route of Industrial Heritage.
Franz Mörscher

Right: In 1999 UNESCO added Eisenach's Wartburg Castle to the WHS list as an "Outstanding Monument of the Feudal Period in Central Europe."
Hans Peter Merten
Volklingen Ironworks is one of 38 UNESCO World Heritage Sites throughout Germany. Wartburg Castle is one of 38 UNESCO World Heritage Sites throughout Germany.
Raising the international profile of this side of Germany and promoting cultural tourism region by region are 2014 goals. Themes have been organized to give visitors a clear idea of what UNESCO World Heritage Sites to consider: Historical Town Centers, Architecture & Design, Nature, Gardens & Landscapes, Industrial Heritage, Castles & Palaces, Cultural & Spiritual Heritage, and finally, Churches & Abbeys.

In addition, a dedicated microsite (www.germany.travel/unesco) has been developed to give users access to an interactive map, a picture gallery of all German's UNESCO sites, event listings and and more. A smartphone app, 'Welterbe' (world heritage) is also available.
Hainich National Park is one of 38 UNESCO World Heritage Sites throughout Germany.
Hainich National Park in Thuringia is part of the WHS Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and the Ancient Beech Forests of Germany. This treetop walk is spectacular. Rüdiger Biehl
For those interested in exploring UNESCO sites with ease, eight scenic routes have been created with various themes, taking travelers from Bremen to Berlin on the Natural wonders and proud cities tour or from Hannover to Frankfurt on the Earthly treasure and architecture tour, to name a few.

As another major milestone for the country, 2014 marks 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Now there's an occasion to mark!

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