Upcoming Trips

Bearcat Explorers experience destinations near and far! Alumni, parents, and friends are invited to join us on the upcoming trips. At any point, feel free to contact the office at 503-370-6430, or email the trip contacts listed below.

2017 Trips

Two Ways to See Cuba - By Land and By Sea!

We are finally going to Cuba! After many years, the time is right to see this hidden gem before it becomes another Caribbean port of call. Due to unusual circumstances, we are offering two trips to Cuba in early 2017! One is a luxury cruise on a beautiful yacht over eight days, and the other is a more economical land tour over 10 days while staying in two hotels. We hope that one of these trips will enable you to see this beautiful island before it changes forever.

cuba mega yacht

Stars of Western Cuba 
January 14-21, 2017

Our original Cuba cruise had to be canceled due to unavailability of the ship. Our tour operator, Go Next, very quickly leased an even nicer ship, the Variety Voyager, with a slightly different itinerary and a date change. This trip will begin in Cienfuegos and end in Havana, with stops at Trinidad, Cayo Largo, Guanahacabibes National Park and Havana. Local tour guides will assure you of learning as much as possible about Cuba and its history and culture.

As you may know, visiting Cuba is not inexpensive. But if you are going to do it, why not enjoy the luxury and intimacy of a beautifully designed mega yacht and a truly distinctive cruising experience, complimentary shore excursions daily, all meals and beverages onboard (including beer and wine with dinner), and a private Go Next reception.

Go Next will help coordinate your air to and from Havana, as well as provide answers to any questions you may have. We expect space to go very quickly, so now is a good time to plan. To deposit (and assure your spot(s), call Tami Page at 952-918-8951 or email her at tpage@gonext.com.

  • Cost: Begins at $5,299 per person double occupancy for lower deck stateroom, plus air between home and Cuba, transfers, visa, and port taxes ($470) and onboard gratuities.
  • Deposit: $950 per person
  • Final payment due: Oct. 14, 2016
  • Activity Level: Light to moderate
  • Group Size: 20-30
  • Trip Host: Jim Booth '64.

Cuba: The People and Culture
January 30 - February 7, 2017

Cuba Cars

This more economical land tour is nevertheless an outstanding itinerary, which will enable you to experience the history, people and culture of this heretofore forbidden land. Vantage Travel is our tour operator and has led small group cultural trips to Cuba since 2006. Their itinerary will ensure that you will see and experience the best that Cuba has to offer, including many interactions with locals from the lively music and arts scene. Highlights will include visits to Finca Vigia (Cuban home of author Ernest Hemingway), Old Town Havana, Cienfuegos, colonial Trinidad, Las Terrazas Eco-Preserve, and the Bay of Pigs and Santeria museums. To deposit and assure your spot(s), call Cheryl at Vantage at 617-878-6119 or csheehan@vantagetravel.com.

  • Cost: $3,999 per person double occupancy, plus air between home and Cuba ($999 from west coast).
  • Single supplement : $699. Discounts for pre-payment and previous Vantage travelers (within last two years) available.
  • Deposit: $500 per person
  • Final Payment Due: October 29, 2016
  • Activity Level: Moderate
  • Group Size: 24
  • Tour Host: Jim Booth '64

For additional information, contact Kim Burris in the Alumni Office (503-370-5304 or kburris@willamette.edu) or Jim Booth ’64 (503-910-3192 or jbooth@willamette.edu).


Tanzania Service & Safari

February 4-14, 2017

Kilimanjaro trip

We are making a special trip to Tanzania, which will feature a wildlife safari and include the opportunity to explore some unique Willamette connections! Our two featured alumni connections are through Carrie O'Callaghan '00 and Ashley Holmer '02.

Our trip operator, Embark Adventures, is offering travelers a once-in-a-lifetime adventure with its safari, which promises a raw and uncensored look at the bush of Africa. Become attached to a litter of lion clubs, witness a herd of wildebeest fleeing from a pursuing leopard and be entertained by the hilarious antics of the meerkat -- all on the same journey!

Our group will also have the opportunity to visit The Mungere School founded by Ashley's nonprofit organization, Red Sweater Project. Located at the base of the Great Rift Valley escarpment, The Mungere School provides children in rural Tanzania the opportunity to access an advanced secondary education. This is an extraordinary opportunity to experience and provide service to a locally-supported education project focusing on sustainable development and the utilization of renewable energies.

We will also be joined on this trip by alumni from Occidental College providing the fun opportunity to build intercollegiate connections! 

Day 1 - Arrive
Day 2-5 - Red Sweater Project
Day 6 - Tarangire National Park
Day 7-8 - Central Serengeti
Day 9 - Ngorongoro Region
Day 10 - Ngorongoro Crater and Departure

Complete itinerary and details here.

Travelers will have the option of adding additional days for a special guided climb up Mount Kilimanjaro! Stay in Tanzania Feb. 15-24 for this special adventure.

Feb. 15 - Climb preparation/rest day
Feb. 16 - Climb Start
Feb. 22 - Summit
Feb. 24 - Departure

Cost: $3450 (additional $3,395 for climb)
Deposit: $500 (non-refundable) due 90 days prior to trip

If you're interested in participating and would like more information, please contact Kim Burris, Willamette Assistant Director of Alumni and Parent Relations.


Croatia & Pearls of the Adriatic Coast

May 18 - June 1, 2017

Croatia cruise

Croatia and the Adriatic Coast have become a prime destination for travelers because of their natural beauty and history. Now we can experience both on a Vantage trip that will be one of the best we have done. In addition to 3 nights each in luxury hotels in Zagreb and Opatija, the highlight of this trip will be a seven-night cruise along the gorgeous Adriatic Coast in the 27-passenger yacht, the five-star La Perla. We have reserved the yacht just for Willamette alumni and friends, so contact the Alumni Office now to save your spot(s)! There are still two cabins available!

Vantage Deluxe Travel will be our tour operator for this trip. They offer a pre-pay discount of up to 12% (if pay by Feb.18, 2016); 10% if pre-pay by May 18, 2016; and a reduced % thereafter. Thus, this trip not only boasts a tremendous itinerary, but also a great value. You can take advantage of pre-payment  discounts by contacting Cheryl at 617-878-6119. She can also take care of air arrangements. Outstanding pre (Montenegro) and post (Lake Bled, Slovenia) extensions are available.

For additional information, contact Kim Burris in the Alumni Office (503-370-6430 or kburris@willamette.edu) or Jim Booth ’64 (503-910-3192 or jbooth@willamette.edu)

  • Cost: Begins at $3,799 per person double occupancy, not including air or port charges. Two-for-one airfare is available! Pre-extension to Montenegro $749 (3 days) and post-extension to Lake Bled, Solvenia $999 (4 days). Air is $1,274 from West Coast.
  • Deposit: $500 per person
  • Final payment due: Feb. 18, 2017
  • Activity Level: Light to moderate
  • Group Size: 27
  • Trip Host: Jim Booth '64

Solar Eclipse at Willamette

August 19 - 21, 2017

eclipse logo

On Aug. 21, 2017, a total solar eclipse will be visible from the continental United States for the first time since 1979. And at Willamette, we'll have a front row seat to one of the most incredible and elusive sights our planet has to offer. See a NASA visualization of the eclipse's path here.

We invite you to join President Steve Thorsett and fellow alumni for a viewing of this rare natural phenomenon as part of a special weekend experience and Willamette's year-long 175th birthday celebration. You'll get to enjoy three days alongside WU friends, a tour of Willamette Valley wineries, a VIP dinner with President Thorsett, educational activities with NASA scientists, and a premier spot to observe "The Great American Eclipse" in totality at precisely 10:17 a.m. PST. See the complete itinerary here.

There are two ways to experience the eclipse at Willamette (see below).

Package 1 includes:

  • 2-nights lodging in the residential halls on campus (Aug. 19-20)
  • Saturday evening pub talk
  • VIP wine tour and dinner with President Thorsett
  • Eclipse activities and viewing event
  • $485 per person - double occupancy
  • $570 per person - single occupancy

Package 2 includes:

  • 3-night stay at The Grand Hotel in Salem (Aug. 18-20)
  • Saturday evening pub talk
  • VIP wine tour and dinner with President Thorsett
  • Eclipse activities and viewing
  • $1,042 per person - double occupancy
  • $1,795 per person - single occupancy
  • Rooms at the Grand are available until Feb. 25

Hotels across the state are already sold out for the weekend and space at Willamette is limited, so book your trip now! You won't want to miss the sight of a lifetime! Register for this trip online here!

For additional information, contact Kim Burris in the Alumni Office (503-370-6430 or kburris@willamette.edu).


New York Theater Tour

October 1-7, 2017

New York Theater Tour

Travel to the Big Apple and join fellow Willamette alumni for an unforgettable experience touring the city's legendary theater scene. Along with a six-night stay at the Kimberly Hotel in midtown Manhattan, travelers will enjoy five exceptional shows (four on Broadway and one Off-Broadway), including the universally-acclaimed smash Hamilton! With tickets selling for up to $1,000 online for this show alone, the front row mezzanine seats we have for this cultural phenomenon give this trip more than enough bang for your buckespecially since you'll also be part of five post-performance discussions, five meet-the-artist roundtables and a private tour of the best art galleries in New York's chic Chelsea district. On top of all that, the trip also includes daily breakfasts, a welcome and farewell dinner and a private coach to take you to and from shows and events. This experience is truly a theater lover's dream!

This trip is operated and hosted by Insider Cultural Tours and its founder James Ryan, an award-winning playwright, screenwriter and film director with plenty of knowledge and expertise in the art of theater. The former chair of the playwriting department at the Actors Studio Drama School, Mr. Ryan has taught at Rutgers University, Columbia University and NYU. 

What people are saying about ICT and host James Ryan:

  • "The New York Theater Tour is a trip not to be missed. I've worked with Jim Ryan for several years and he delivers excellence year after year. Join us for an unforgettable trip!" - Tyler Reich '06, Associate Vice President for University Relations
  • “Thanks again for a thoroughly enjoyable week. The logistics were seamless; the theater, nothing
    short of stellar; and the guests, impressive. I also was pleased to get to know the group."
  • “You handled everything with grace and we couldn't have had anyone better. Thank you for the
    best trip to New York I have ever had and this was my eighth time!”
  • “Everything was so well planned – the shows, the timing, the hotel, the transportation AND the
    company, etc. Bravo James R!”

You may contact Kim Burris in the Alumni Office (503-370-6430 or kburris@willamette.edu) for more information. Click here for a more detailed itinerary

  • Cost: $4,369 per person double occupancy. Airfare is not included.
  • Deposit: $1,000
  • Final payment due: July 25, 2017
  • Plays: Hamilton tickets included, other plays will be determined 90-100 days before departure.
  • Activity Level: Moderate
  • Group Size: 30
  • Trip Host: Insider Cultural Tours founder and award-winning playwright James Ryan.

Photo: "Southern Manhattan from the Empire State Building at dusk" by Rubén Moreno Montoliu via Flickr


Historic Harbors of New England & Canada

October 3-13, 2017

Canada cruise

This will be the perfect time of year to visit cities along the East Coast of New England and Canada--fall colors will be spectacular! This will also be a rare opportunity to enjoy a six-star cruising experience. The 1000-passenger Crystal Serenity is truly one of the finest ships afloat, having been extensively renovated in 2013. The theme of this cruise, Historic Harbors, will be highlighted by visits to the harbors of New York; Newport, Rhode Island; Boston; Portland and Bar Harbor, Maine; Halifax and Sydney, Nova Scotia; and Quebec City. Optional tours, free shuttle service to town centers and onboard lectures will enhance your educational experience. The Crystal cruise experience is highlighted by complimentary gratuities for housekeeping, bar and dining; complimentary wines and premium spirits throughout the ship; and many other complimentary services including yoga and pilates instruction, golf clinics/lessons, premium ice cream, yogurt and smoothie bar, enrichment programs and access to specialty restaurants.

AHI will be our tour operator and will provide an experienced Travel Director throughout the trip. They are also very flexible in helping to arrange air if you would like to go to New York early or stay later in Quebec City or Montreal. Incidentally, our first-ever NYC Theater trip starts on October 1 (see above), so you can go a couple of days early to see a play. Call Kim (503-370-6430) if you are interested in this option. To deposit or get more information, feel free to contact AHI’s customer service person for this trip, Renee, at 800-680-4244, ext. 4539 or rokzesik@ahitravel.com.

You may also contact Kim Burris in the Alumni Office (503-370-6430 or kburris@willamette.edu) or Jim Booth ’64 (503-910-3192 or jbooth@willamette.edu)

  • Cost: Begins at $3,035 per person double occupancy, plus air to New York and from Quebec City or Montreal, plus taxes, fees, and port charges. $250 discount per person available until Feb. 9, 2017
  • Deposit: $800
  • Final payment due: July 3, 2017
  • Activity Level: Light to moderate
  • Group Size: 30
  • Trip Host: Jim Booth '64

Additional trips are currently being planned! Stay Tuned!