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.


Arrangements Abroad Lecturer Wins Award



In December, Marijeta Bozovic, Assistant Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures at Yale University, was a recipient of Yale’s annual award for outstanding teachers in interdisciplinary fields. This summer she’ll put her talents into action on our popular Baltic cruise, where her talks on the literature of the region will complement lectures from a Metropolitan Museum of Art expert in arms and armor and a Harvard scholar of post-Soviet politics. Pictured above is Stockholm, where travelers will receive an exclusive tour of the Drottningholm Court Theater.

The Baltic’s Amber Coast: St. Petersburg to Copenhagen Aboard Sea Cloud II
July 1 to 12, 2016
With Met curator Pierre Terjanian,
Harvard professor Timothy Colton,
and Yale professor Marijeta Bozovic
Please click to view brochure

Happy Birthday, Sister Ships!


The beloved tall ships Sea Cloud and Sea Cloud II turn a collective 100 years old in 2016, with the grande dame celebrating 85 years and her younger sister, 15. Throughout the year, we offer voyages aboard these lovely ladies, from the Mediterranean to the Baltic Seas and to the Celtic Isles.

Whether you join Sea Cloud in the Adriatic or sail around Sicily aboard Sea Cloud II this fall, you’re in for a thrill! On Saturday, October 22, saluting battery cannon fire will greet the ships when they both arrive in Syracuse, marking their collective centennial. The sisters then sail together to Malta, arriving the next morning. If you join either cruise, you can witness the historic occasion!

Adriatic Odyssey
October 14 to 23, 2016
With lecturer Patrick Bowe,
Met curator Stephan Wolohojian
and Yale Professor Ivo Banac
Please click to view brochure

Splendors of Sicily
October 14 to 23, 2016
With Met curator Wolfram Koeppe
Please click to view brochure

Valencia’s Vibrant Treasures

ceramicValencia, Spain, was founded by the Romans in 138 BC. Today the city is known for innovative architecture, magnificent museums, and colorful ceramics. During an eight-night cruise, see the tiles and vases for which Valencia is famous at the National Ceramics Museum, housed in a palace that dates from the 15th century.

Jewels of the Western Mediterranean
Rome to Malaga Aboard Sea Cloud II
May 11 to 20, 2016
With art historian Frank Dabell
Please click to view brochure

8 Great Reasons to Sign up for Our “Artistic Legacies of the Mediterranean” Cruise this September

This fall, discover the art, architecture, and landscapes of the Western Mediterranean aboard Sea Cloud II. Here are eight great reasons to sign up for this exceptional cruise.

1.)    Barcelona’s Gaudí architecture

Park GuellBegin in lively Barcelona to view the splendidly restored masterpieces of Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí. Born in Reus, Catalonia in 1852, Gaudí received his architectural degree in Barcelona in 1878. Stunning examples of Gaudí’s works in Barcelona include modernist building Casa Batlló, the massive Sagrada Familia basilica, and garden complex Park Güell.

2.)    Sailing on the glamorous Sea Cloud II

SCII side viewExperience the grace and romance of a bygone era of travel aboard Sea Cloud II , christened in 2001. This elegant sailing yacht travels under 30,000 square feet of billowing sails trimmed by hand. Praised by the world’s most discerning travelers and travel writers, Sea Cloud II receives consistent high rankings from Condé Nast Traveler.

3.)    Marseille’s recently opened Musée des Civilisations d’Europe et de la Méditerranée

MarseilleFacing the sea in the Old Port of Marseille, this superb museum opened in 2013, focusing “primarily on the cultures of the Mediterranean, from a comparative and multi-disciplinary perspective, in which Europe and other continents that border the Med will play a major role.” Visitors to the museum praise its amazing architecture, interesting exhibits, and spectacular views.

4.)    Distinguished lecturers

A group of stellar lecturers includes art historian Olivier Bernier, whose previous lectures at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on Spain and France have drawn rave reviews. Also lecturing on board will be a noted architectural historian and landscape designer, Dublin-based Patrick Bowe.

5.)    A special before-hours visit to the Matisse Museum in Nice

View the collections at the Matisse Museum during a private tour before opening hours. Situated on the hill of Cimiez, the museum’s collections include the artist’s paintings, drawings, sculptures, engravings, paper cut-outs, and illustrated books, all donated by Matisse and his heirs.

6.)    Performances by local artists

While Sea Cloud II is in Marseille, guests will gather on Lido Deck for dinner and a specially arranged concert of guitar music. During an al fresco dinner in the Isles d’Hyères, travelers will enjoy a performance by colorful folkloric group L’Arbanenco de Giens.

7.)    A private visit to Villa Noailles

Villa Noailles exterior by Claude ValetteLocated in the hills above Hyères, this château cubiste was designed by Robert Mallet-Stevens in 1924 for art patron Vicomte Charles de Noailles. Now a museum with an unusual garden, the villa has many connections to French artistic and literary circles.

8.)    Porquerolles in the Isles d’Hyères

Porquerolles aerial viewSea Cloud II calls at tiny Porquerolles, one of the world’s most protected environments. Known for its beautiful beaches, Porquerolles also has a charming village and dazzling harbor.

To conserve the island’s lovely landscape, strict rules prohibit smoking outside the village and driving automobiles.

About Us:

Academic Arrangements Abroad, a leader in cultural travel since 1977, designs and operates travel programs for sponsoring institutions that include the nation’s top museums and alumni associations.

For more information on the Barcelona to Nice cruise (September 12 to 20, 2014), please contact Sara Kosyk, (212) 514-8921 or

Colorful fishing boats

Amazing Accommodations for Stargazers

Do you love looking at the stars? Luckily, lots of hotels (and certain cruise ships) cater to people who enjoy gazing at the night sky. Here’s a round-up of some of our favorites around the globe.

Elqui Domos in ChileThe Elqui Domos in Chile, surrounded by the peaks of the Andes, has almost no light pollution. This makes it one of the best places in South America for stargazers. The hotel has geodesic dome rooms, which sleep up to four people, as well as observatory rooms, which are wooden cabins with three levels of living space. A brand new observatory has two electronic telescopes, used in Elqui Domos’ astronomy tours. The hotel also offers starlit, guided horseback rides through the arid Elqui Valley.

Located high in the mountains, Italy’s Carlo Magno Hotel Spa has an astronomical observatory that lets guests “peer into the depths of the cosmos.” The resort also offers an “astronomy special” for travelers who are especially passionate about the stars, and “Astronomy week” in September features guided observations and presentations held by top Italian astronomers.

Hawaii is usually associated with the sun rather than the stars, but the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa has a “Tour of the Stars” program led by the resort’s director of astronomy. The rooftop program costs $25 for hotel guests and is limited to 14 stargazers. There’s also a romantic couples version of the astronomy program that features chocolate-covered strawberries and champagne ($40 per person). If you’re not staying at the hotel, you can still participate—it just costs an additional $5 per person.

The Varsity Hotel & Spa in Cambridge, England, has astronomy master classes on different dates throughout the year. Held in the hotel’s rooftop garden, the classes let attendees enjoy unparalleled views of the night sky over Cambridge. Each class, which includes a two-course dinner at the hotel’s restaurant, can be enjoyed by visitors and locals alike and costs £49.

On the shores of Lake Wanaka, New Zealand’s Whare Kea Lodge & Chalet has comfortable rooms, outstanding cuisine and a powerful telescope. An astronomer is available to explain the skies of the Southern Hemisphere.

Host at Tree Pod Dining in ThailandThe Soneva Kiri on the island of Koh Kood in Thailand has a state-of-the-art telescope. Guests can learn about the stars from “hosts trained by professional astronomer Dr. Parag Mahajani.” The resort also has an outdoor cinema, where films are accompanied by nibbles such as homemade popcorn, and treetop dining, where waiters arrive by trapeze to serve dishes.

In Finland, the Hotel Kakslauttanen  has unique glass igloos. Although they don’t offer much privacy, they do give visitors a wonderful opportunity to admire the stars as well as the Northern Lights. The hotel’s wintertime activities include ice-fishing safaris, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing and dog sled adventures.

Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Primland has a powerful Celestron CGE Pro 1400 series telescope in the resort’s Observatory Dome. Guests at the hotel can tour the observatory, and they can schedule presentations with resident astronomers during their stay. Throughout the year, the resort also plans special “star master weekend programs,” which offer a more in-depth look at the night sky.

Sea Cloud II masts at night by Daniel KuklaSome cruise ships also offer great opportunities for admiring the cosmos. “I remember stargazing on the deck of Sea Cloud  in the middle of the Mediterranean,” says Gloria De Luca, Vice President of Communications at Academic Arrangements Abroad. “Pretty amazing as it was a moonless night and most of the deck lights were off. And if a knowledgeable crew member happens to be on board, they will give you a guided tour of the sky.” Luxury sailing yacht Sea Cloud II, pictured above, also offers incredible views of the stars.

Looking for something even more outdoorsy? Check out this great article about hotels where you can slumber directly under the night sky.

Meet Erin Rauch-Sasseen

Erin Rauch-Sasseen started working at Academic Arrangements Abroad in July 2011. Currently, she is a Tour Coordinator for the firm.

What is your hometown?

This is a tough question!  I was born in New York City, but have lived in Holland, California and Missouri. My family currently lives in New Jersey on the shore.

Erin in StockholmCity you most recommend to friends:

When I was in Stockholm last summer everyone was so happy and the long days were just incredible.  I would definitely recommend it to friends.  I’d like to go back again sometime soon!

City you would drop everything to see:

Istanbul continues to have a mystical pull for me.  If given the opportunity, I would be on the first flight out!

Which AAA programs do you enjoy working on the most?

As a Tour Coordinator, I work mostly with our passengers, so I can’t say I really distinguish between the different programs I am coordinating. I do, however, love working on trips to destinations that are completely new to me, like Nepal & Bhutan.  I especially enjoy working with passengers when I know I’m also going to be a Tour Director on the program.  Knowing we will be traveling together makes the interactions even more special.

Special skills:

I’m in a band!  I sing and play guitar and keyboard in a band called Hey Anna.  You can listen to our music here:

Your most visited websites:

New York Magazine, Soundcloud, and Tumblr

Erin in CubaSomething about you that surprises people:

How terrible I am at Karaoke.  I always pick the worst songs!

Three things you can’t travel without:

My camera (film!), my iPhone and headphones.

Who would play you in a movie?

I wouldn’t mind if Emma Stone played me in a movie! My sisters think Judy Dench would play the older version of me.  I would love that.

Erin in HelsinkiNumber of trips you’ve been on:

I have traveled on two AAA trips:

“The Baltic’s Amber Coast: St. Petersburg to Copenhagen” in July 2012 and a trip to Cuba last fall.  I am scheduled to travel on our round-trip Sicily cruise aboard Sea Cloud II in September.  I am really looking forward to it!

Featured Trip — Sicily by Sea: Art Treasures & Ancient Temples, September 21 to 29, 2013

Nat Geo Traveler coverWe’re thrilled that our “Sicily by Sea: Art Treasures & Ancient Temples” tour has been selected as one of National Geographic Traveler’s “50 Tours of a Lifetime”  and is featured in the magazine’s May 2013 issue.

Here are just a few of the highlights of the trip:

Discover Sicily’s antiquities

Explore Sicily’s treasures during a cruise from Valletta, the capital of Malta, to Catania aboard the three-masted sailing yacht Sea Cloud II. Walk through the Greek ruins of Agrigento and Segesta, and on Syracuse’s beautiful Ortygia Island see the cathedral built on the ruins of the Temple of Athena.

50ToursLogoTraveler‘s Margaret Loftus writes, “Adding context are onboard lectures from Temple University art history professor Frank Dabell and National Trust for Historic Preservation horticulturalist Patrick Bowe.”

Experience the thrill of cruising aboard Sea Cloud II as she travels through gentle waters under a full set of billowing sails.

Sea Cloud IILife aboard Sea Cloud II has no comparison. The ship’s friendly staff, luxurious accommodations and fine dining create an onboard ambiance of relaxed elegance. Sailing romantics will love watching the 32,150 square feet of sails being set by hand.

Enjoy a reception at a baroque palazzo by special invitation.

After discovering Syracuse, one of the most important cities in antiquity, visit one of the loveliest of Sicily’s baroque townhouses, the palazzo Beneventano. Baron Beneventano will welcome us for a tour and refreshments.

Palatine Chapel MosaicAdmire the golden mosaics in the Palace of the Norman Kings.

Dock in the Sicilian capital of Palermo for a visit to the 12th-century Palatine Chapel in the Palace of the Norman Kings. Described by Guy de Maupassant as “the most surprising religious jewel ever dreamt of,” the chapel is known for its extraordinary mosaics.

Other highlights of the program include viewing Caravaggio’s The Burial of St. Lucy in Syracuse and visiting the magnificent Norman cathedral in Monreale. Optional extensions in Malta and Taormina are offered.

Can’t join us for the 2013 cruise? Academic Arrangements Abroad is offering “Sicily by Sea” again in 2014.

Fabulous Food

During a recent journey to Cuba with The Metropolitan Museum of Art, travelers had the opportunity to partake in Project Paladar. Part of the 11th Havana Biennial, this collaboration matched 10 American cooks, primarily from New York, with 10 Cuban chefs in a restaurant built specially for the occasion. A recent article in the New York Times describes this remarkable event.

Project Paladar is just one of the unique culinary events that travelers might experience on a trip with Academic Arrangements Abroad.  During one of our travel programs, you might dine in a private palazzo, eat lunch at a Michelin-starred restaurant in an out-of-the-way village, discover the oldest cafe in Paris, or feast under a Bedouin tent.

We asked staff members at Academic Arrangements Abroad for some of their dining adventures and recommendations around the world.

Here’s what they had to say:

“In the beautiful resort town of Careyes, Mexico, the polo club provides a wonderful way to interact with locals in a casual environment,” recalls writer Stasha Healy, “and there’s a small restaurant at the polo field that’s tucked away, not obvious at all. I had a wonderful dinner there once, outside at a simple wooden table, under hanging lanterns. The crowd – which included polo players – was lively from a well-played match. The food was hearty and delicious – grilled meats and the like.”

In Stellenbosch, outside of Cape Town, Stasha tried wild boar carpaccio. “It was delicious,” she says. “Not something you see on many menus. I also tried ostrich and kudu in South Africa but was not overly impressed by either.”Oia, Santorini, Greece

Vice President of Communications Gloria De Luca remembers a special meal she had in Greece: “The grilled tentacle of a freshly caught octopus was a memorable birthday lunch on the island of Santorini. We were at a seaside taverna on a small fishing port, a local fisherman had just brought around his morning catch and the taverna owner threw it on the grill… A little chewy, but so tasty—and with cold retsina to wash it down, it was a meal I’ll never forget!”

Other staff members are also adventuresome eaters.

“I tried a fried spider in Cambodia in Skuon, this little village where we had a bus stop,” says Tour Operations Manager Marisa Swope. “The spiders are considered a delicacy. I just tried the leg, which was fried and crunchy. I definitely wouldn’t have known it was a spider leg if my eyes were closed! The taste was less memorable than the young Cambodian girl who sold me the spider and used the transaction as an opportunity to practice her English.”

Carrot Parthenon aboard Sea CloudIn Nairobi, Kenya, Director of Operations Deborah Tarr noshed on grilled warthog, which she describes as “quite delicious.”

General Counsel Liz Irwin was served live parboiled fish in China, and tour director Eleni Papachristou sampled silk worm in Thailand.

“But if we are talking about memorable meals, I think most of us would agree that any feast on Sea Cloud is worth remembering,” Eleni adds. “They’re really creative and scrumptious meals.  And don’t let me forget the absolutely to-die-for teatime crepes with homemade ice cream.”

What are some unforgettable meals that you’ve had while traveling?