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corinthian-iiCruisecritic.com has published a review of a recent Travel Dynamics International cruise taken by user pisque, who joined us for a journey from Rome to Istanbul aboard the Corinthian II.

Here are some excerpts:

Travel Dynamics International has it all together. This is small-ship cruising designed for a full intellectual barrage. No casino and night club fru-fru….just a great immersion into the world of ancient artifacts and thought.

We heard about this trip via an opera association. It had all the places we wanted to see, a full lecture format, and we wanted to try a smaller vessel….we were amply rewarded…

Fellow passengers were fascinating. Some were experts in Greco-Roman history, others ran the gamut from financial tycoons to physicists…

Local excursions were terrific, with local guides at each port, commodious buses, with two lunches at local places included, with one in Sicily being exceptional, and another in Santorini being adequate.

The staff put together a dinner by candlelight in Ephesus, with local cuisine equal to the ships great dinning room, together with a string ensemble providing music…This was a night to remember.

Disembarkation and transfers were handled with aplomb. We opted for a two night extension in Istanbul. The Hotel was luxurious, and again the tour buses and guide were outstanding.

I would not hesitate to book a cruise with this company in the future.

Read the full review here.

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corinthian-ii

Corinthian II is a thoroughly comfortable ship with a relaxed house-party atmosphere—no formalities—configured for a discerning crowd who expect the best.”

From Ships&Cruises.com:

Travel Dynamics’ flagship Corinthian II offers an intimate luxury onboard with a high level of educational opportunities that include full days of exploring ashore, in whatever waters the ship is cruising—which is mostly in the Mediterranean. The Corinthian II was originally built in 1992 for the now-defunct Renaissance Cruises, sailing under several names. In 2005, following an extensive refurbishment, she entered service for Travel Dynamics.

This spring, I traveled on a ten-day, seven-country voyage from Cadiz, Spain to Piraeus, Greece with calls in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Sicily, and Crete along the way. While the ship offers a high standard of expedition cruising she actually represents more of a crossover travel experience for her guests— from expedition cruising to educational travel.

Easy on and Easy off . . .
One of the charms of Corinthian II’s small scale and her limited passenger list is the ease of slipping onboard and settling down in your cabin. The ship’s accommodations are spread over five levels —connected with an elevator—and are more spacious than the “good” grade on a superliner. (more…)

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As promised, Conde Nast Traveler is now featuring its superb article on TDI’s Antarctica trip, “Love in a Cold Climate,” on its website. Click above for the full text. Just the thing to chill you out on this steamy New York evening.

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We challenge the coldest heart to remain unwarmed by the above video.

In honor of Independence Day (and faithfully honoring the great American tradition of selling things by linking them to Independence Day) we are delighted to remind you of our marvelous voyage America’s Historic Atlantic Shores in September ’09, which sails to Portland, Newport, Annapolis, Yorktown, Colonial Williamsburg, Charleston, Savannah, and West Palm Beach.

But that, really, is incidental to two remarkable articles we’ve found, which will bring you reflective smiles during your barbeque tomorrow. The first is a book review of The Road to Monticello by Keven Hayes, which considers “Thomas Jefferson, gentleman scholar.” Hayes, a professor at the University of Oklahoma, reminds us that the Declaration of Independence didn’t appear spontaneously from Jefferson’s head like Athena from Zeus’s noggin. Our ginger-haired third President was a bibliomaniac, an astoundingly voracious reader and book collector — a vast, prodigious talent when the art of buying books meant more than a search on Amazon.com.

As a novice lawyer in Williamsburg, Virginia‘s capital, in the 1760s, Jefferson could only obtain books through the local newspaper, the Virginia Gazette, whose owner imported them from Europe. Even in this Colonial backwater, however, he was able to obtain the two-volume folio of Guiccardini’s history of Italy, a masterpiece of Renaissance historiography. It is a vivid demonstration of the international reach of the Republic of Letters. For an educated man with money and the right contacts, the Atlantic Ocean was no barrier to book-buying.

Still, for Jefferson to get the books he wanted, in the right format and at the right price, required work. Whenever he visited a new city, Mr. Hayes shows, Jefferson made a beeline for the bookshops. He knew all the booksellers in Philadelphia and New York, and made contacts with dealers in England, Germany, and France. During his time in Paris, Jefferson recalled, “I devoted every afternoon I was disengaged, for a summer or two, in examining all the principal bookstores, turning over every book with my own hand, and putting by everything which related to America, and indeed whatever was rare and valuable in every science.”

Now this, we attest, is what a real Presidential Library should look like.

…the sheer number and variety of titles that Jefferson devoured. As a law student, he read “Coke upon Littleton,” the classic treatise on English law; as a novice farmer, he studied Jethro Tull’s standard guide, “Horse-Hoeing Husbandry”; in his leisure hours, he read the melancholy poetry of Ossian, which enjoyed a vogue in the 1760s. As a legislator in Virginia, and later at the Continental Congress, Jefferson made use of treatises on natural law — Grotius’s “De Jure Belli ac Pacis,” Pufendorf’s “Law of Nature and Nations” — whose concepts are reflected in the Declaration of Independence. While drafting the Virginia Statue for Religious Freedom, which he considered one of his proudest accomplishments, Jefferson read Milton’s “Reason of Church-Government” and Shaftesbury’s “Letter Concerning Enthusiasm.”

And this doesn’t even scratch the surface: Jefferson read constantly, copiously, in many languages. (He even designed a rotating bookstand that allowed him to consult five books at a time.) Naturally, as an Enlightenment philosophe in good standing, he knew French long before he was posted to France as America’s ambassador. He also read Italian and Spanish, which he taught his daughters using “Don Quixote” as a textbook.

Like most Virginia planters, Jefferson studied Latin and Greek as a boy; unlike most, he actually learned them, and used them for the rest of his life. Studying the marginalia in Jefferson’s law books, Mr. Hayes discovered apposite quotations from Herodotus and Euripides, in the original. Much more unusually, however, Jefferson was also a student of Anglo-Saxon. At a time when the language of “Beowulf” had not yet entered the college curriculum, Mr. Hayes writes, Jefferson’s “sizable collection of Anglo-Saxon books included nearly all of the important studies of the language.” He studied the Bible in polyglot editions that included Hebrew and Aramaic; he read the first translations of Indian and Persian literature, just then appearing in English. To amuse himself in retirement, Jefferson even bought Robert Morison’s “Dialogues and Detached Sentences in the Chinese Language, With a Free and Verbal Translation in English.”

It’s an extraordinary read, and shows us the life of Thomas Jefferson’s mind — his biographia literaria — the vast range of knowledge which informed the mind that formed our country.

Meanwhile, in the Washington Post, George F. Will does a fine job reminding us July 4, 1776 is something of an arbitrary date to define “The American Revolution.” On May 19, 1775, for example, the citizens of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina were up in outrage, if not yet in arms, about the Vestry and Marriage Acts of 1769. These acts levied fines upon Presbyterian ministers who were marrying colonials — because, of course, any deviance from the Anglican Church just wasn’t cricket. The county convention was just about to figure out what do do when the news (FINALLY!) arrived from Lexington and Concord.  On May 20, 1775, Mecklenburg’s convention declared:

We the citizens of Mecklenburg County do hereby dissolve the political bands which have connected us to the mother country. . . . We do hereby declare ourselves a free and independent people . . . to the maintenance of which independence, we solemnly pledge to each other our mutual cooperation, our lives, our fortunes, and our most sacred honor.

Sound familiar? Thomas Jefferson’s voracious reading apparently encompassed this this missive from Mecklenburg, too

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We are absolutely thrilled to tell you that Condé Nast Traveler features, in its July 2008 issue, a MAJOR seven-page article on a voyage to Antarctica with Travel Dynamics International aboard the Corinthian II. The piece, entitled “Love in a Cold Climate,” should be available online in about a week, so in deference to that esteemed publication, we won’t reprint the entirety of it here — and we strongly suggest that you leap to your nearest newsstand to check out the rapturous photos, enthusiastic guests, and tremendous experiences from writer Sue Helpern’s adventure — but we can relay that the article takes an excellent vantage point of observing Antarctica with reference to the effects of global warming. Ms. Helpern devotes much praise to Corinthian II and Travel Dynamics International’s staff. Here’s a glimpse:

A former Peace Corps volunteer and a graduate of Columbia University, Frick has been leading trips for a company called Travel Dynamics [International] for fifteen years. This is his twenty-fifth trip to Antarctica. He has been around long enough, and is savvy enough, to know that one unseasonably long summer, or two or even three, do not make a trend. But because Travel Dynamics specializes in what can be called intellectual adventures–arranging trips for the Yale Alumni Association or the Smithsonian, for instance, that bring naturalists and historians and experts of every stripe along for the ride–Frick is up on the science, too. That is what makes warm days like this one, and the image of four seals huddled on a shrinking mat of snow, seem like visions of the future. For here is the cruel paradox: Antarctica, which is as physically removed from human civilization as it is possible to be, is experiencing climate change more rapidly than any other place on earth.

Oh yes, there’s more. Much more. If you want a sublime sample of what a TDI trip is like, click here —> (more…)

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detail of the AlhambraNewsweek reports:

‘One new trend has been to combine a luxury cruise with a pilgrimage. In March, Travel Dynamics International hosted a 12-day cruise to Spain and Morocco, titled “Coexistence of Cultures and Faiths.” Passengers attended lectures on the interaction of the three monotheistic faiths, led by a rabbi, a minister and an imam. “People came with their own religious identities,” says Feisal Abdul Rauf, one of the guest speakers. “But everyone was genuinely interested in how the relationship among faiths is a give-and-take.” They also explored Moroccan sites that revealed how the three religions collaborated to create a sophisticated 16th-century society. That’s the kind of pilgrimage the world could use more of these days.’

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…and Mary McDowell of CruiseMates.com delivers an enthusiastic report about this lovely ship.

” This is how it was told to me: For her 27th birthday, a Greek woman named Clelia received the mother of all presents from her wealthy father: a luxury yacht. The young woman named the yacht after herself, and uses the ship for entertaining her friends. But since even the wealthy can’t spend all their time partying, the yacht is often up for charter. And that is how mere mortals like me are able to book passage on her.

Originally built as a Renaissance ship, the Clelia II was re-configured and refurbished for its new owner, offering more and larger suites and fewer cabins. It’s a nifty, fun little ship, where life is casual and laid back. She is mostly chartered by upscale museums, universities and similar institutions, so her passengers tend to be well-traveled and well-read. They are also affluent individuals who have been-there, done-that types. Our particular trip was run by Travel Dynamics International of New York, which has been doing this sort of travel for a very long time, and does it extremely well.”

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