Top trips for 2020

The New Year is almost here. If one of your resolutions for 2020 is to travel more, Arrangements Abroad has journeys for every type of traveler. Here’s a roundup of some of our favorites.

Valencia, Spain

Valencia, Spain

Best cruises for art aficionados: Sail stunning coastlines to experience art treasures in Spain and France during “Mediterranean Masterpieces” (April 16-25). On Belgium, Holland & Van Eyck” (April 30-May 9), call at Ghent, which will be celebrating the “Van Eyck Year” in 2020 with the return of the magnificent Ghent Altarpiece to St. Bavo’s Cathedral. 

Most relaxing river cruise: Immerse yourself in the art, architecture, and history of some of Italy’s most beautiful cities during “Pearls of the Po” (May 9-17). 

Derrick Pitts

Derrick Pitts

Top trip for stargazing: Join Derrick Pitts, Chief Astronomer at the Franklin Institute, to go behind the scenes at the Griffith Observatory, Caltech, and SpaceX on “Science & Innovation in the Golden State: Los Angeles & Pasadena” (May 13-17).

A-list trips for Anglophiles: Discover the rich heritage of England’s architecture, enjoy exclusive events, and stay in stunning historic properties during “English Elegance: Majestic Manors of Bath & Cornwall” (May 12-20).  Or experience the British capital’s icons such as the fabulous Crown Jewels and Kensington Palace outside of public hours during “Met Classics: London” (September 30-October 6). 

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu, Peru

Outstanding tours to see ancient wonders: On “Legends & Landscapes of Peru” (April 20-28), enjoy special access to private collections and archaeological sites. Alternatively, cruise the Mekong aboard the elegant Jahan and discover the UNESCO-designated temple complex of Angkor during “Treasures of Cambodia & Vietnam” (September 24-October 5).  

Incomparable train journeys: Luxuriate in an epic journey from Mongolia to Moscow aboard the exclusive Golden Eagle during “Splendors of Siberia & Mongolia” (July 9-22). Alternatively, experience Japanese hospitality at its most refined during “Journey to the Deep North of Japan: Tokyo to Hokkaido Aboard the Train Suite Shiki-shima” (October 1-12).

Short getaways exploring America: See the best of Newport, Rhode Island before the summer crowds arrive during “Newport, Rhode Island: From the Revolution Through the Gilded Age” (May 17-22). Or, if you prefer a fall escape, discover masterpieces of art and architecture during “Treasures of the Brandywine Valley: Private Estates & Exclusive Collections” (October 4-8).

Top tour for foodies: Attend the annual International Alba White Truffle Fair, meet with a trifulau (truffle hunter), and enjoy a private tour of one of the most celebrated and beautiful wineries in the world during “Hidden Gems of Northern Italy: Castles, Collections & Culture in Milan, Turin & Alba” (November 8-16). 

Best journey for nature lovers:  Experience Iceland’s lava fields, black-sand beaches, majestic waterfalls and more during “Phenomenal Iceland: Contemporary Art & Natural Wonders” (September 8-15). 

Thingvellir National Park, Iceland

Thingvellir National Park, Iceland


Meet Our Talented Team: Dayzjah Thomas


Dayzjah Thomas dancing

We love our interns (and former interns) at Arrangements Abroad. Today we learned more about employee Dayzjah Thomas, who first started out at the company as an intern.

When did you start interning at Arrangements Abroad, and what is your position here? 

I started working at Arrangements Abroad in June of 2018 as a TRAMS/Finance intern right after I graduated from the Alvin Ailey School for Dance. Before Arrangements Abroad, I was working at school for my program director as his assistant. I was referred here by one of my peers, Sophia! I have upgraded to a general Client Services assistant, and now I assist with outreach and administrative duties.

If you are still in school, what are you studying? 

I’m not in school anymore, I’m a freelance dancer! I plan to go back to school for something involving the medical industry or food.

What is your hometown?

I was born in Kansas City, Missouri, but I grew up in Los Angeles, California.

Who would play you in a movie? 

I would love to have Lupita N’yongo play me in a movie. I love how poised and well-spoken she is, not to mention her beauty!

Which city do you most recommend to friends? 

Los Angeles. Beautiful weather anytime!!

Which city would you drop everything to see? 

I would drop everything to go see Tokyo, Japan, or Phuket, Thailand. I studied Mandarin Chinese in high school and fell in love with Asian culture. I’d love to take a food tour!

Which department(s) are you in at Arrangements Abroad? What do you enjoy working on the most?

I work for the Client Services and  Finance departments. Sometimes I assist the Operations & Communications departments as well. I enjoy Trams inputs the most! It’s what I started out doing here first, and it keeps me calm!


Dayzjah Thomas

Do you have any special skills?

DANCE. DANCE. DANCE. (Click here for a YouTube video of Dayzjah dancing.)

What are your three most visited websites or apps?,, and Instagram.

What is something about you that surprises people?

I’m really scared of birds, mostly pigeons, especially when they fly in flocks.

What is one of your favorite trips that you’ve taken? 

When I was younger, we went on a family vacation to the Bahamas via Disney cruise. Best trip ever!

What would your dream trip be? 

Honestly, any Disney vacation still! I loved it so much, and I believe I’d have fun at any age. My dream Arrangements Abroad trip is the Met Buddhism & the Himalayas program. I love learning about spiritual enlightenment and the hotels look amazing.

What are three things you can’t travel without?

Headphones, my Pillow Pet Unie the Unicorn, and socks!

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

My uncle is a famous actor and comedian. You may know him: Norbit, Undercover Brother, Double Take, Malcolm & Eddie….

Interested in finding out more about opportunities, including internships, at Arrangements Abroad? Visit the employment section of our website.


Meet Our Talented Team: Katarina Lopes


Katarina Lopes in one of her favorite cities: Porto, Portugal

Meet Katarina (“Kat”) Lopes, who is is currently an intern in Arrangements Abroad’s marketing and communications department.

  • When did you start interning at Arrangements Abroad, and what is your position here? I started interning at Arrangements Abroad on June 3rd , and I work in the communications department. When I’m at school at Loyola University Maryland, I work for a catering company.
  • What are you studying? I am a marketing major with a minor in environmental and sustainability studies.
  • What is your hometown? My hometown is Union, NJ.
  • What is your favorite travel-related book? The Alchemist. It taught me to pursue my dreams by following what my heart wants, and that every encounter you have will have a lesson for you.
  • Which cities do you most recommend to friends? I have two: Porto and Florence.
  • Is there a city you would drop everything to see? I would love to visit Marrakesh because I think it has a rich culture and I love its architecture.
  • What do you enjoy working on the most for Arrangements Abroad? I like sorting out images from brochures and working with data.
  • Do you have any special skills? Playing volleyball; playing guitar; and speaking three languages. In addition to English, the other languages I speak are Spanish and Portuguese. I also plan on learning Italian, especially when I study abroad in Rome during my spring semester.
  • What are your three most visited websites or favorite apps? Netflix, YouTube, and Instagram.
  • What is something about you that surprises people? I’m a pescatarian.
  • Favorite trips that you’ve taken? Portugal, Grand Cayman, and Paris.
  • What would your dream trip be? To go on a South African safari. I’d also love to visit Australia and Japan.
  • What are three things you can’t travel without? My phone, camera, and a book.
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Kat in Barcelona, Spain

Interested in finding out more about opportunities, including internships, at Arrangements Abroad? Visit the employment section of our website.


Meet Kieran McCarthy Fell

Hiking at Machu Picchu at dawn

Kieran hiking at Machu Picchu at dawn.

Arrangements Abroad has welcomed several new staff members in recent months. For this post, we’d like to introduce you to Kieran McCarthy Fell, who joined our Client Services team.

When did you start working at Arrangements Abroad, and what is your position here?

I started August 6, 2018, and I’ve loved every day so far! I’m a Client Services Coordinator.

What were you doing right before you started working for Arrangements Abroad? 

Panicking about when I would find a job! No, I had just graduated from grad school and come back from a week playing Irish music in the Catskills with friends.

What is your hometown?

Huntington, New York.

Kieran skiing in the Alps

Skiing for the first time ever, in the Austrian Alps! The bunny hill was at the top of Kitzsteinhorn.

Who would play you in a movie?

My boyfriend claims it would be Anna Kendrick. I’m okay with that. She’s spunky!

What is your favorite travel book?

In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson.

City you most recommend to friends

There are so many amazing places for different interests! Some I’ve raved about are Stockholm, Krakow, Seattle, and Prague. And Alaska’s Glacier Bay area, though I know it’s not a city.

City you would drop everything to see

Of places I’ve been before, Vienna. It definitely has a hold on me. Of cities I haven’t gotten to see yet, I’d go to Istanbul or St. Petersburg in a heartbeat. Also, although they are not cities, I’d love to visit Georgia, Patagonia, and Mongolia. And Antarctica before it’s completely melted away.

What is your favorite thing about working at Arrangements Abroad?

I’m really enjoying the people I get to work with, coworkers and travelers alike. Everyone in the office has been so helpful and patient that I’m looking forward to the day I can help each of them in return. And our travelers are so passionate about seeing the world! That’s something I have great admiration for.

Kieran with flute at the Cliffs of Moher

Kieran with her traditional flute at the Cliffs of Moher.

Do you have any special skills?

Playing traditional Irish music, and I’ve recently discovered I do a pretty okay job of impersonating Janice from Friends.

Your most visited websites

Condé Nast, Facebook (sadly), and everything affiliated with Google (especially Gmail and Google Maps).

Something about you that surprises people.

I’m REALLY not a fan of butterflies! Also I’ve published a research paper.

Three things you can’t travel without 

Some variety of photo-taking device, a list of useful words and phrases in the local language, and something to read on the way.

Number of trips traveled on

None for AA yet, though hopefully someday! So far, I’ve traveled to 17 countries (some more than once), 43 states (some more than once) and Puerto Rico; and the rest of the world is on my bucket list!

A Taste of Summer

Summer house

Baltic Red Houses

June 21st marks the official first day of summer! In addition to traveling on some of Arrangements Abroad’s trips to destinations including the Baltic, staff members are taking vacations to places near and far. Here’s a roundup of some of the locations they’ll explore this summer.

“I’m going to Ecuador for two weeks with my son. The trip will be half business and half vacation.” –-Ute Keyes, Director, Tour Operations & Development 

Morning on the Lost Coast, photo by Wendy Seltzer

Morning on the Lost Coast, photo by Wendy Seltzer

“I’m taking an extended camping trip from San Francisco to Seattle and Lost Coast in between.” –Ethan Long, Client Services Outreach Coordinator

“I am planning to go to Oregon and Los Angeles in July. Oregon is very beautiful in the summer, but I’m most excited to go hiking and support the local businesses in the Columbia Gorge, which is recovering from a devastating wildfire.” –Amy Wilson, Client Services Associate 

“I am going to Montana to ride horses on a dude ranch!”  –Olivia Post, Operations Manager

Tbilisi, Georgia

Tbilisi, Georgia

“I’m traveling to the Republic of Georgia. Will stay in Tbilisi and do some day trips out of the city.” –Christine Echeverri, Client Services Associate 

“For personal travel, I will be going to Maine in August for the first time, to visit Acadia National Park with my family. At the end of this month I am doing a work trip accompanying a small group to Austria. One of the things we are doing is attending a day of performances at Grafenegg.  Should be interesting!” –Erin Balderrama, Vice President, Tour Operations 

Where would you like to travel this summer? For additional information about Arrangements Abroad’s upcoming tours, please visit our website.


Sea Cloud: A Ship with a Story, a Secret, and a Song


Sea Cloud has been called “a ship with a soul.” More than that, she is a ship with a story, a secret, and a song.

SeaCloud_SailingCrew_23Her story has many chapters. The first begins in 1931, when Sea Cloud was built (as the Hussar V) for Edward F. Hutton, a stockbroker and expert yachtsman, and his wife, Marjorie Merriweather Post. At a cost of over a million dollars—more than $15 million in today’s money—this four-masted windjammer was bigger and more spectacular than similar yachts owned by Morgans and Vanderbilts. Measuring 316 feet from bow to stern and with 55,000 feet of sail, Sea Cloud was recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest private sailing yacht in the world.

Befitting a ship designed for an experienced sailor, Sea Cloud was exceptionally seaworthy. Her steel hull was so strong and moved so steadily that the yacht later served as a battleship during World War II.

SeaCloud_CatA_Cab2_01While E.F. was responsible for designing Sea Cloud’s exterior, Marjorie took care of the ship’s interior. “Luxurious” does not do it justice. Marjorie’s stateroom, decorated à la Louis XVI, was so opulent that when Queen Maud of Norway glimpsed it, she gasped, “You live like a queen, don’t you?”

Indeed, the queen of this “queen of the seas” has her own fascinating story. Marjorie, the only child of C.W. Post, founder of the Postum Cereal Company, had been groomed by her father as a business leader since the age of 10, when she began attending company board meetings. When C.W. passed away in 1914, Marjorie, then 27, took over. Through a series of canny mergers, she transformed Postum into General Foods, the company behind Jell-O, Maxwell House, Birdseye, and other household names.

Sea Cloud 15.-25.August 2010Celebrated for her glamour and style, Marjorie was also renowned for her philanthropy; she gave generous, often anonymous gifts to the Red Cross, Boy Scouts, and other favorite charities. Still, the Huttons worried that their wealth could attract the wrong attention. Thus Marjorie, E.F., and their only child Dina (who later became the movie star Dina Merrill) spent much of the Depression safe in relative isolation aboard Sea Cloud, sailing the world. In 1935 E.F. and Marjorie divorced, and 20 years later, Sea Cloud was sold to Rafael Trujillo, the dictator of the Dominican Republic, who renamed it the Angelita after his daughter.

Therein lies Sea Cloud’s secret: In 1961, Trujillo was assassinated, and his son Ramfis tried to spirit his father’s body away to Europe by hiding it in the ship’s smoking room, along with a rumored $5 million in cash. En route, the ship was intercepted by a Dominican gunboat and forced to turn back. (The smoking room where the body was hidden no longer exists; it was removed to make way for the newer staterooms when Sea Cloud was remodeled.)

And Sea Cloud’s song? If you have ever been lucky enough to sail with the talented Tom Hook aboard as cruise director, you’ve probably heard him perform the classic rock song, “Ripple.” What could be a more fitting soundtrack for a moonlit night aboard this elegant lady?

“Ripple in still water / When there is no pebble tossed / Nor wind to blow…”

To find out more about upcoming cruises aboard Sea Cloud, visit Arrangements Abroad’s website or call us at 212-514-8921



Explore Europe in a whole new way

Bright windmills (1)

This September, Arrangements Abroad offers its very first cruise by luxury barge — a unique exploration of Belgium and Holland. Experience the Low Countries with just 30 fellow travelers on this intimate voyage. Here are nine wonderful reasons to sign up.

Magnifique II1. A seven-night stay aboard Magnifique II.This comfortable barge features a salon, restaurant, bar, and lounge, where you can mingle with fellow passengers from our small group. Relax on the covered sun deck, or watch the passing scenery through large picture windows. Complimentary bicycles are available to use ashore.

2. Exceptional value! Rates start at just $3,995 per person, double occupancy, and include a full program of lectures and excursions as well as airport/pier transfers, onboard meals, beer and wine at dinners, daily guided or self-guided bike tours, and all gratuities aboard and ashore.

3. Lecturer Jim Salzman, visiting professor of environmental law at Harvard University. Jim is one of the world’s leading experts on drinking water, a topic that we don’t often think about but is crucial to human survival. The first 20 people to sign up for the cruise will receive a complimentary copy of his book, Drinking Water: A History.

Bruges (1)

4. Beautiful Bruges, a UNESCO-listed city brimming with sublime architecture and art. Go inside a historic church to see the only sculpture by Michelangelo in the Low Countries (and the only one to leave Italy during his lifetime), or admire the superb collection of Hans Memling paintings in the Hospital of St. John.

5. The windmills of Kinderdijk. These 19 neatly aligned windmills have earned this historic village a UNESCO listing. After your visit, stop at a nearby farm for a specially arranged lunch featuring Dutch specialties.

Cyclists pass group of authentic windmills at Kinderdijk UNESCO World Heritage Site, dykes and polder, Holland, The Netherlands

Photo by Tim Graham

6. A tour of the Antwerp City Brewery, in operation for more than 180 years. Learn about the brewing process through an interactive exhibit, followed by a sampling of classic beers and ales, each served in its own unique glass.

7. The Gouda Cheese Market. Chat with vendors and sample their wares at this world-renowned market. This video offers a preview of what your experience will be like.

8. Optional bike tours. Take advantage of the gentle, even terrain of the Low Countries as you pedal through beautiful scenery and along picturesque canals.

9. Het Loo Palace. The former summer residence of the Dutch royal family offers magnificent works of art and symmetrical Baroque gardens, delightful for leisurely strolling.

For details about this enchanting voyage contact Client Services Associate Katie Schorr at the number below or at Download a brochure here.

Meet Elizabeth Viliani

Elizabeth V in Asolo

Elizabeth Viliani at Villa Cipriani in Asolo, Italy

Elizabeth Viliani, Manager, Operations, one of the newest staff members at Arrangements Abroad, says her love of travel was forever fused when she landed a sales job with CIGA Hotels, the Italian luxury hotel company. When CIGA was acquired by Starwood Hotels, Elizabeth added even more amazing properties—including a tented desert resort outside Dubai and a Frank Gehry masterpiece in Rioja, Spain—to her portfolio. When she’s not traveling, you can find Elizabeth walking her dog in Central Park, reading mystery novels, watching classic films, or searching flea markets for vintage jewelry.

Where are you from originally?

Elizabeth eating lasagna in Florence

Elizabeth eating lasagna in Florence, Italy

I grew up in South Jersey near Philly and had a double major in psychology and sociology at Drew University. After college, I moved to New York City, feel in love with the urban lifestyle and have been here ever since. My first job right out of college was at a company placing advertising in the Yellow Pages. This was definitely not for me so when I I had the opportunity to work for a small company representing Italian hotels, I jumped at the chance. I fell in love with travel AND Italy. My next job landed me a sales job at the iconic Italian luxury hotel company CIGA (where I met my Italian husband while on a sales call). Over the next years, a series of acquisitions led to my job at Starwood Hotels where I managed a sales territory selling their luxury brands.

So far, what do you enjoy most about working at Arrangements Abroad?

The small scope of the office. It’s not a huge corporate setting. It isn’t bureaucratic. I enjoy working on the itineraries and learning about new places, and I like the vendor visits. Coming from a corporate environment, it is a nice change. Also, people are interested in cultural travel and not just luxury.

Which city do you most often recommend that your friends visit?

Elizabeth Viliani at Savoy Hotel in London

Elizabeth having tea at the Savoy Hotel in London

There are so many wonderful ones! I guess my two favorite ones to visit are London and Rome. In London, there is a ton to do and great visits outside of the city. Rome has so much history and so many facets. There are hidden components to it even after many visits. I’ve been to Rome at least 15 times.

Which destination would you drop everything to see?

Maybe Peru. I want to see Machu Picchu and Cusco and experience that culture. It sounds fascinating to me.

Do you have any special skills?

I have a good eye for vintage jewelry and know a lot about the history of it. I find jewelry at flea markets and antique shops. I wear something different almost every day.

Which websites do you visit the most?

LinkedIn for connecting to people professionally, eBay for vintage jewelry, and Google for research. I also listen to NPR.

What is something about you that surprises people?

Both sides of my parents’ families were here before the Revolutionary War. Also, both sets of my grandparents are buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

What are three things you can’t travel without?

A warm shawl, sunglasses, and my iPhone.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Elizabeth V Central Park

Elizabeth in Central Park

I have a lovely dog, Pluto. One of my favorite things to do is walk him in Central Park. You meet some very interesting people in the park when you have a dog!

Artists We Love: Maria Cienfuegos

Travelers on our people-to-people Cuba programs sometimes visit the Miramar home of visual artist Maria Cienfuegos, where she showcases her work as well as that of other young artists.  Her artist-run cooperative, dubbed Studio 7 y 60 (or Septima Y Sesenta), has existed since 2010, when Maria and three collaborators decided to use her family’s apartment as a venue to present their creations directly to the public.

maria-cienfuegosMuch of Maria’s art explores the concept of memory. On her website, Maria, who has a background in biology as well as art, writes: “I approach my work from the hybrid sensitivity that arises from the mutual influence of art and science. My photographs emerge from the counterbalance between these two forms of operation, which I regard as complementary. Within this dynamic I am interested in the social/anthropological processes which traverse the categories of thought and image. It is my personal quest to go inside spaces of remembrance and forgetfulness. Photography is my way of not only adding and revealing layers to the process of reminiscence; but also of participating in this cryptic accumulation.”

On a recent journey to Havana, we captured these images of the artist and her studio space. Find out more about her artist-run space, Studio 7 y 60, here.You can also read an article about the studio on Cuban Art News.

To find out more about Academic Arrangements Abroad, one of the pioneers in offering legal travel to Cuba, visit our website. Since 1999, we have helped thousands of Americans discover the rich history and culture of this once-inaccessible nation.

Our president, Jim Friedlander, who has traveled to Cuba more than 50 times, has also created the Havana Heritage Foundation, which is dedicated to protecting and preserving the architecture and culture of Havana.  For more information or to make a tax-deductible contribution, click here.

Eight Reasons to Visit Iran in 2016


Discover the ancient wonders and modern complexities of Iran, home to 7,000 years of civilization, when you experience “Iconic Iran: A Journey Through Persia,” from October 20 to November 5, 2016. This trip of a lifetime features the landmarks of Tehran, Shiraz, and Isfahan (which Condé Nast Traveler describes as “a beautiful city of ancient mosques with elaborate mosaics”), as well as Persepolis and several less-visited destinations.

Here are just a few reasons to explore Iran with Academic Arrangements Abroad this fall:

1.) Nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Iran has an impressive list of 19 World Heritage Sites. On this program, visit nine of them, including the Golestan Palace Complex in Tehran and Isfahan’s spectacular Friday Mosque and Imam Square. At Pasargadae and Persepolis, explore the vast ruins of the palaces of the great kings Cyrus and Darius, and venture to the lesser-known sites at Bisotun, Choga Zanbil, and Shustar.

Met curator Christopher Lightfoot

Met curator Christopher Lightfoot

2.) Lecturer Christopher Lightfoot
Travel through millennia with this curator in the Department of Greek and Roman Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. A scholar of ancient history, Dr. Lightfoot has an in-depth knowledge of the Achaemenid, Parthian, and Sassanian periods in Iran.

3.) The museums of Tehran
Admire dazzling collections at the National Museum, the newly reopened Islamic Era Museum, and the spectacular Jewels Museum.

tour guide Bahman Zenhari

Tour guide Bahman Zenhari

4.) A superb guide
Our experienced guide, Bahman Zenhari, has been leading tours for Arrangements Abroad since 2010. He and his colleagues work hard to make sure travelers experience the country to its fullest, whether this means sharing their knowledge of Iran’s history or buying local delicacies for you to try.

Persian treats, photo by Sara Kosyk

Persian treats, photo by Sara Kosyk

5.) Amazing Persian cuisine
Iran’s cuisine features fluffy bread baked in clay ovens, fabulous ice cream, and rice dishes decorated with a rainbow of spices, fruits, and nuts. Our meals are often in local restaurants, in order to sample traditional dishes, which vary regionally.

Sunny Tehran

Tehran skyline

6.) Beautiful and diverse landscapes
Pass through scenic landscapes including dramatic snow-capped mountains, striking desert regions, and lush valleys. Admire the colorful gardens at city parks and palaces.

7.) Shopping in historic bazaars
Stroll through Shiraz’s colorful Vakil Bazaar, where almost 200 merchants sell spices, clothing, carpets, and more. In Isfahan, visit the vast Qeisarieh Bazaar, with time to browse the hundreds of shops displaying arts, antiques, and handicrafts.

Download Brochure
Because applying for an Iranian visa is a lengthy process, we ask that all reservations for this October program be confirmed no later than June 15, 2016.

To find out more about this extraordinary journey or to reserve a place, please call Abigail Graszl at 212-514-8921, extension 38, or 800-221-1944, or email her at
Academic Arrangements Abroad, together with leading cultural and educational institutions, is proud to offer a diverse portfolio of exceptional trips.