Spotlight on Panama


Centennial Bridge, Panama, Photograph by Adrian Turner

Though it feels like summer is still here, the Old Farmer’s Almanac predicts that the Midwest and Northeast will experience an unusually cold and snowy winter this year. This February, escape the chill during one of our cruises aboard Sea Cloud II and discover fascinating Panama. Here are six great reasons to visit this Central American nation.

  1. Casco Viejo: Founded in 1519 by conquistador Pedro Arias Dávila, Panama was the first European settlement on the Pacific coast of the Americas. Panama City’s historic center, known as the Casco Viejo (“Old Town”), became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. During a walking tour, discover the quarter’s architecture, a blend of French, Spanish, and Early American styles.
  2. Guna Yala: On these more than 350 picture-perfect islands, formerly known as San Blas, the indigenous Guna people maintain their distinctive culture. They are famous for their bright molas, a textile art form that many Guna women wear.
  3. The Panama Canal: Completed in 1914, the American-built Panama Canal stretches 48 miles between the Atlantic and the Pacific. In June 2016, after nearly a decade of construction and more than $5 billion, Panama opened the expansion of this engineering marvel, which more than doubled the canal’s capacity.
  4. The Museum of Biodiversity: The brightly colored structure, which is noted architect Frank Gehry’s first design in Latin America, opened in 2014 after 10 years of construction. The building’s eight exhibition halls delve into the origin of the Panamanian isthmus as well as its impact on the planet’s biodiversity.
  5. Coiba National Park: The isolated islands of this park were once an offshore penal colony, but today they’re home to fish, sea turtles, and sharks, as well as terrestrial animals such as the agouti and howler monkey. Experience Panama’s biodiversity up close at this marine reserve, the country’s largest and accessible only by boat.
  6. All that Jazz: Although you might not associate Central America with jazz, Panama-born composer and pianist Danilo Pérez is aiming to make the country a center for this lively music genre. Travelers on our Panama Canal cruise will enjoy an onboard Latin jazz concert by talented musicians and students from the Danilo Pérez Foundation. You can read more about Pérez in the New York Times.

2017 Cruises Calling in Panama:

With the Trade Winds: Curacao to Colón Aboard Sea Cloud II
February 13 to 21, 2017

With William B. Crow
Managing Museum Educator
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
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Sailing the Panama Canal: Colón to Puntarenas Aboard Sea Cloud II
February 20 to March 3, 2017

With Ronda Kasl
Curator of Latin American Art
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
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Other 2017 Cruises:

Cuba by Sea: Cienfuegos to Santiago Aboard Variety Voyager
February 11 to 18, 2017

With Inés Powell, Educator
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
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Dutch & Flemish Landscapes
Aboard AmaPrima
April 19 to 27, 2017

With Alice Cooney Frelinghuysen, Curator
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
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Waterways of the Tsars: Moscow to St. Petersburg Aboard Volga Dream
June 8 to 17, 2017

With Adam Eaker, Assistant Curator
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
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The Majestic Rhine & Art Basel: Amsterdam to Basel Aboard AmaKristina
June 9 to 17, 2017

With Olivier Bernier, art historian,
author, and lecturer
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
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Art, Empire & Nature: Exploring Ecuador & the Galápagos Aboard Isabela II
July 7 to 15, 2017

With James Doyle, Assistant Curator
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
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Sailing the Baltic’s Amber Coast
Aboard Sea Cloud II
July 19 to 30, 2017

With Ted Hunter, Conservator
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
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Academic Arrangements Abroad offers privileged access to extraordinary places in more than 50 countries. For additional information about upcoming trips, please contact us by email at or by phone at 1-800-221-1944 or 212-514-8921.

Richard Serra’s Afangar

Is this Lewis, Shetland, or Orkney? Nope: It’s the island of Videy, near Reykjavik. And these are not millennia-old monoliths but sculptures erected in 1990 by Richard Serra.

Called Afangar (“Standing Stones”), this is a site-specific installation of nine pairs of basalt columns ranging from nine to 13 feet tall.

Serra was asked to create a public work for Reykjavik but found inspiration in the wild and rugged terrain outside the city. Extracted from a nearby quarry, the stones are carefully positioned in an area of this small (.7 square mile) island, spread out to elicit wandering and viewing from different perspectives in a landscape that includes water, a working harbor, plentiful bird life, tiny beaches, a great expanse of sky, and windswept grass.

Afangar3Scoreand More

Uninhabited since 1943, this island had a population that peaked in 1930 with 138 residents.  With archaeological evidence of settlement dating to circa 900 A.D., Videy has witnessed many changes. Over the years it has housed a monastery, wool mill, printing press, dairy farm, and fish factory. In addition to Afangar, now visitors find one of Iceland’s oldest stone houses (now a café-museum), its second-oldest stone church, and an installation by Yoko Ono called Imagine Peace Tower, a circular monument from which a beam of light sometimes projects into the sky.

Travelers on September’s “Fire & Ice: Iceland Natura” program will visit the tiny, pristine island of Videy. Led by The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Pari Stave, an Icelandic art expert, visitors will discover Serra’s largest landscape project, meet local artists, and marvel at the aurora borealis.

Photo courtesy of 3scoreandmore

The Hippest Spot in Havana


History is on the move and Cuba’s capital is no longer a prisoner of the past. A recent New York Times feature on Cuba noted that El Cocinero restaurant, where our January travelers to Havana will enjoy dinner, “makes Brooklyn look as cool as a suburban Ikea.” After sampling the empanadas and hot crab dip at this cooking-oil-factory-turned-hipster-haven, you can wander next door to the Fábrica de Arte Cubano (Cuban Art Factory), which the Times called “a mix of CBGB, Art Basel Miami, a community center, a coffee shop, a bar (or two or three), and a bomb shelter.” Who could resist?

The Art & Architecture of Havana
January 14 – 21, 2017

With Stephanie Herdrich, Assistant Research Curator at The Metropolitan Museum of Art





The Least Stuffy Speaker You’ll Ever Hear


Sandra Jackson-Dumont

Don’t miss the chance to travel to Cuba this fall with Sandra Jackson-Dumont of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Sandra, who leads The Met’s education programs, is known for her refreshingly non-academic lectures, which use pop culture elements like music and movement to engage non-traditional audiences. (Her signature “Teens Take The Met” events consistently draw thousands of young people — with no eye-rolling.) Even if you’ve been to Cuba with us before, Sandra’s approach will open a new window onto this intriguing Caribbean island. Watch her talk about Soul Train and impostor syndrome and learn more about the trip.

Travel with The Met . . . and Arrangements Abroad!


Venice, Grand Canal

This week, we had a big request from our flagship client, The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Web copy and images for 9 upcoming Travel with the Met programs to Venice (pictured above), Berlin, Iran, Cuba (2 programs by land, 1 by sea), Portugal & Spain, Burma & Indonesia, and Morocco.

Thanks to a coordinated effort between our Operations, Sales, and Communications teams, we managed to meet The Met’s tight deadline. Now that it’s done and we can relax a bit, we thought a photo-driven blog post might be nice for a Friday afternoon. Here are some places we’ll be taking travelers in 2017 on the aforementioned trips:

Bagan temples

Bagan pagodas

Bagan, Burma (Myanmar) is known as “the city of a thousand pagodas.” But those are just the ones that are left–there used to be thousands more!


Fishermen in Cienfuegos. Photo by Alistair Kitchen.

We’ve been taking groups to Cuba by land since 1999, and now we’re offering a unique cruise of the country’s less-developed southern coast, from Cienfuegos to Santiago. Think rugged mountains, pristine beaches, picture-perfect colonial architecture … and all the pleasures of an intimate luxury yacht. For more on this exciting program, click here.

Merida_Spain_by_Juan Antonio F. Segal

Merida, Spain. Photo by Juan Antonio F. Segal.

Maybe you’ve been to Portugal or Spain, but have you ever been to Alentejo (pronounced “A-len-TAY-zho”)? Or Extremadura (“Es-tray-ma-DOO-ra”)? These off-the-beaten-path regions of Portugal and Spain, which border each other, offer cultural influences from Celtic to Roman to Moorish to French. Mérida, former capital of the Roman province of Lusitania, is just one of five UNESCO World Heritage Sites visited on this program.

Vakil mosque, Shiraz, Iran

Vakil mosque, Shiraz, Iran

Like Cuba, Iran is a favorite destination for Met travelers, but next year we’re doing something new: “Undiscovered Iran,” led by The Met’s head curator for the Department of Islamic Art. The program begins in northeastern Iran at Mashad, the country’s holiest city, and goes to Nishan (to see the tomb of Omar “A loaf of bread, a jug of wine, and thou” Khayyam), Kashan, Tehran, Isfahan, Shiraz, Pasargadae, and Persepolis.

For more information about any of these trips, contact us at or 800-221-1944. Have a great Memorial Day weekend!

Meet Our Talented Team: Frank Dabell


The son of a French mother and British father, Frank is a distinguished scholar of Italian art who lives in Rome, where he teaches art history for Philadelphia’s Temple University program. His expertise in the Italian Renaissance will greatly enhance our Jewels of the Western Mediterranean cruise, sailing May 11. In September, Frank will take landlubbers off the beaten path to lesser-visited, historically rich towns in Lombardy and Piedmont.

Meet Our Talented Team: Patrick Bowe


One of our most popular lecturers, Patrick “Paddy” Bowe is a Dublin-based landscape designer and architectural historian whose dry Irish wit and approachable manner have endeared him to hundreds of travelers over the years. Hear his riveting talks on local flora (he makes even weeds interesting!) on our Jewels of the Western Mediterranean, Adriatic Odyssey, and Castles & Collections of the Celtic Isles cruises.



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.

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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.

La Vie en Rose


Image by Cathy Farber

Experience the French Riviera during a two-night stay in the heart of Nice, just a short walk from the famous flower market. During a free evening, you may wish to enjoy dinner at one of the delightful restaurants along the Old Port. Then embark AmaDagio for a scenic seven-night cruise to Lyon, France’s gourmet food capital. Highlights on this voyage include a wine tasting in Châteauneuf-du-Pape; a tour of Avignon’s impressive Papal Palace; and a private concert in the Orangerie at 17th-century Château de Cormatin.

The Romantic Rhône
Arles to Lyon Aboard AmaDagio
September 20 to 30, 2016
With art historian Olivier Bernier, opera expert Arthur Kaplan, and Yale professor Anna Zayaruznaya

Please click to view brochure