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

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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

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Portugal Restaurant Recommendations

panorama of beautiful Porto with traditional boats. PortugalPortugal is known for its five-star cuisine. You may wish to enjoy a meal at leisure at one of these restaurants, which specialize in everything from Portuguese delicacies to Asian fusion.

Lisbon

100 ManeirasRua do Teixeira 35, 1200-459

This intimate eatery serve a nine-course tasting menu of seasonal Portuguese dishes

JNCQUOIAv. da Liberdade 182-184

This fashionable spot offers “timeless artisan food with clever twists”

Olivier Avenida, Rua Júlio César Machado 7

Noted chef Olivier da Costa’s restaurant serves Mediterranean cuisine in a relaxed atmosphere

Yakuza (sushi), Rua da Escola Politécnica 231

Another Olivier da Costa restaurant, Yakuza specializes in sushi, sashimi, and East-West fusion cuisine

Loco (one Michelin star), Rua dos Navegantes 53-B

Alexandre Silva, who won the first Top Chef de Portugal competition, offers two enticing tasting menus

Belcanto (two Michelin stars), Largo de São Carlos 10

In the heart of historic Lisbon, this sophisticated restaurant serves “revisited Portuguese cuisine”

Cervejaria Liberdade, Tivoli Avenida Liberdade

This elegant restaurant specializes in fresh seafood sourced from the Portuguese coastline

GambrinusRua das Portas de Santo Antão 23

This classic spot offers superb seafood and other local specialties in a comfortable setting

Darwin’s CafeAv. de Brasília Ala B

Known for its lovely views of the Tagus River, Darwin’s Cafe serves modern European cuisine

Tapisco, Rua Dom Pedro V 80

Created by chef Henrique Sá Pessoa, cozy Tapisco celebrates both Spanish and Portuguese gastronomy

Porto

Antiqvvm (one Michelin star)Rua de Entre-Quintas 220

Overlooking the Douro River, this lovely restaurant is known for its excellent tasting menu

Cantinho do AvillezRua Mouzinho da Silveira, 166 R/C

This unpretentious place serves exceptional Portuguese cuisine “inspired and influenced by travel”

Cafeína, Rua do Padrão 100

Among Porto’s best restaurants, elegant Cafeína specializes in contemporary European creations

TerraRua do Padrão 103

Split into two floors, Terra is known for top-quality Mediterranean food (upstairs) and sushi (downstairs)

FlowRua da Conceição 63

This relaxed restaurant and bar dishes up Mediterranean specialities, Portuguese favorites, and sushi

OficinaRua de Miguel Bombarda 282

Art and gastronomy mix at Oficina, which serves innovative cuisine in a revamped auto repair shop

For a full list of restaurants in Portugal that have been awarded Michelin stars: http://portugalconfidential.com/2018-michelin-star-restaurants-portugal/

 

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.

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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 Least Stuffy Speaker You’ll Ever Hear

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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 trips@arrangementsabroad.com or 800-221-1944. Have a great Memorial Day weekend!

Meet Our Talented Team: Frank Dabell

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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.

Eight Reasons to Visit Iran in 2016

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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
NOTE ABOUT IRANIAN VISAS:
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 abigail@arrangementsabroad.com.
Academic Arrangements Abroad, together with leading cultural and educational institutions, is proud to offer a diverse portfolio of exceptional trips.
http://www.arrangementsabroad.com/

La Vie en Rose

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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

The King & The Duchess

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This month’s $2 million Sotheby’s auction of the personal belongings of Deborah Cavendish, Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, yielded some interesting information about the late grande dame of Chatsworth House, which we visit on a before-hours tour during our Houses of the English Aristocracy trip this October. Several of the lots contained Elvis Presley memorabilia, including a telephone that rings to the tune of “Jailhouse Rock” and an autographed photo of the King himself. Picturing the Duchess as an Elvis fan might seem surprising, if you didn’t know she was one of the eccentric, creative Mitford sisters.
 

Houses of the English Aristocracy
Northern England & Wales
October 3 to 12, 2016
With art historian Olivier Bernier