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

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

Kayaking the San Juans

July 21 - 23, 2017

San Juans

Enjoy breathtaking views of Washington's majestic San Juan Islands, incredible wildlife sightings and the company of fellow Bearcat explorers on this three-day kayaking and camping adventure. We'll be visiting especially scenic parts of the islands, learning about the area's natural history and have time to relax on shore with wonderful evening meals (and a little wine) following each day on the water. Our route is also specifically designed to take the group through known whale watching territory, so keep your eyes peeled for orcas!

Our host, Discovery Sea Kayaks, will provide a guide who will not only lead the tour and educate the group, but who will also prepare all meals and freshly brewed coffee each morning. Discovery will also provide comfortable fiberglass two-person kayaks, sleeping bags, tents, hearty and healthy meals (based on responses to a questionnaire) and other camping gear. See all that's included in the gear list here.

For additional information, click here and log in with the code, "willamette," or contact Kim Burris in the Alumni Office (503-370-6430 or kburris@willamette.edu).

  • Cost: $500 per person
  • 3 days kayaking, 2 nights camping
  • Kayak, gear and meals included (complete gear list)
  • Must be 16 or older to participate
  • Group Size: 22
  • Trip Host: Discovery Sea Kayaks
  • Register online! (code: willamette, pick date July 21)

Solar Eclipse at Willamette (Sold out!)

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

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!”

This trip is limited to 30 travelers. 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 Max
  • 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.
  • Deposit: $800
  • Final payment due: June 15, 2017
  • Activity Level: Light to moderate
  • Group Size: 30
  • Trip Host: Jim Booth '64

Shakespeare on a Budget

October 21, 2017


Join alumni, current students and theater professor Bobby Brewer-Wallin at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland for two extraordinary plays at an unbeatable price. Professor Brewer will give a brief talk on play themes, costumes and scene design, and explain how all the elements come together to create magic on the stage. A catered group lunch is also included as part of the package.

Play synopses:

"Shakespeare in Love"
Poor Will is stuck. He’s overdue with his new play—a half-baked mess called Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate’s Daughter—and he’s having a colossal case of writer’s block. His patrons want a comedy, but he hungers for something more. . .more. . .well, even he can’t come up with the word. Then he meets Viola, a smart beauty who loves his work and ignites his creative flame. But Viola has a secret, and Romeo is turning out to be anything but a laugh fest. Christopher Liam Moore directs this adaptation of the Academy Award–winning screenplay, a witty, romantic feast with music.

"Julius Caeser" (directed by Willamette theater alumna Shana Cooper '99)
War hero Julius Caesar is a marked man. Adoring commoners want to make him king, but those higher up the Roman political ladder worry and scheme. On a stormy night full of alarming sights and ominous portents, Brutus and Cassius reach an unthinkable conclusion: Caesar must die so the Republic can live. Yet death doesn’t stop Caesar, whose influence and ghost live on, tormenting his assassins and threatening the republican ideal they murdered him for. Shakespeare’s political thriller shows what happens to powerbrokers—honorable and not—when their motives and means lead to unexpected consequences they cannot control.

We're also offering a special add-on event on Friday, Oct. 20 for those craving even more great theatre! Come down to Ashland a night before our outing at the Shakespeare Festival for a lovely multiple-course dinner and a production of "Baskerville" at the Oregon Cabaret Theatre.

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

  • Cost: $100 for main Shakespeare Festival package (2 plays, theatre talks and lunch); and $68 for add-on at Oregon Cabaret (multi-course dinner and play)
  • Festival itinerary and registration
  • Group Size: 30
  • Trip Host: Professor Bobby Brewer-Wallin

2018 Trips

Tanzania Safari & Service

February 1-14, 2018

tanzania zebras

For the second straight year, we are headed to Tanzania for a special trip that will feature a wildlife safari and a rewarding service project at The Mungere School.

Thanks to Carrie O'Callaghan '00, our wonderful connection at Embark Exploration Company, we're able to offer travelers a once-in-a-lifetime adventure with the tour operator's signature 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! We'll be exploring several exotic and beautiful areas, including the Serengeti National Park, the Tarangire National Park and the legendary Ngorongoro Crater.

Our service project will be led by the Red Sweater Project, a non-profit founded by Ashley Holmer '02 that provides children in rural Tanzania with the opportunity to access an advanced secondary education at its Mungere School. 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. While the exact nature of this year's project has yet to be determined, alumni had a blast last year planting fruit trees while connecting with the children, and lent some much needed hands to improving the school's sanitation conditions.

The trip's itinerary includes lodging, meals, park fees, government taxes, transfers to and from Kilimanjaro Airport, an English-speaking guide and more. See the complete itinerary here.

A special thanks goes to our alumni connections, Carrie O'Callaghan '00 and Ashley Holmer '02, for helping organize this incredible trip.

For additional information, contact Kim Burris in the Alumni Office (503-370-5304 or kburris@willamette.edu) and join a special conference call led by Ashley Holmer and safari expert Robin Felix on Tuesday, May 23 at 8:00 p.m. PT. To join the call, click here or dial in using +1 (571) 317-3122 and the access code 950-824-389.

  • Estimated Cost: $4200 for double occupancy
  • Single Supplement: $435
  • Complete Itinerary
  • Activity Level: Moderate to Active
  • Group Size: 6-12
  • Tour Hosts: Embark Exploration Company and Red Sweater Project

Antarctica, the Falklands & Cape Horn

February 25 - March 16, 2018


This will be a very special opportunity (and price!) to see some of the most spectacular scenery on earth! Alumni and friends will be treated to the amazing beauty of the Chilean Fjords, Tierra del Fuego, the Beagle Channel, Cape Horn and four days in Antarctica before finishing on the Falkland Islands (great for bird-watching) and Montevideo, Uruguay (a rising tourist destination). Most of our time will be spent aboard the MS Midnatsol, a state-of-the-art cruise ship built especially for this part of the world.

Our tour operator, Vantage, has selected the optimal time of year to visit this part of the world. It has also assembled the best possible value package for a trip of this magnitude. We have been given the 2016 price for a 2018 trip! In addition, Vantage offers a pre-payment discount of 10% if paid by Feb. 25, 2017. If you have any desire to see the "Seventh Continent" in your lifetime, this is likely the best opportunity and value you will see. And sharing this experience with other Willamette alumni and friends will make it even more memorable. A post-trip extension of six nights in Santiago, Chile and Easter Island is also available.

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).

  • Cost: Begins at $7,999 per person double occupancy plus air ($1,399 from Portland; $1,049 from Seattle; and $949 from San Francisco and Los Angeles). A 10% pre-payment discount is available if paid by Feb. 25, 2017; lower discount thereafter.
  • Single supplement: $699. Discounts for pre-payment and previous Vantage travelers (within last two years) available.
  • Deposit: $500 per person
  • Final Payment Due: Nov. 25, 2017
  • Activity Level: Moderate to Active
  • Group Size: 20
  • Tour Host: Jim Booth '64

Heart of the Canadian Rockies: Banff, Jasper & Lake Louise

September 1-8, 2018

canada rockies

We are pleased to offer a return to the spectacular Canadian Rockies (we last went in 2007), a region known for its glimmering icefields, soaring peaks and beautiful lakeside forests. This extraordinary trip will feature rafting, kayaking, gondola rides, a snow coach ride on the Athabasca Glacier and other great options for everyone in the family. The packed itinerary also boasts scenic adventures — including seven sightseeing excursions and cultural discoveries — but it will still be manageable for all age groups and for working people, as the trip covers just one work week (Saturday to Saturday). If you have not seen the exquisite beauty of Banff, Lake Louise, Jasper and the Columbia Icefield, this would be an opportunity you won't want to miss, especially with the camaraderie of Willamette alumni and friends.

While costs for North America tours have risen recently, travelers can offset this by taking advantage of the pre-payment discount of 10% offered by Vantage, our tour operator. There are further discounts for alumni who have traveled with Vantage in the last two years. The trip begins and ends in Calgary, so transportation costs will also be low.

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).

  • Cost: $4,299 per person double occupancy plus air ($499 from Seattle; $599 from Portland; $699 from major California airports). A 10% pre-payment discount is available if paid by Sept. 1, 2017; declining discount thereafter. At least one FREE single supplement available. Three-day post extension available in Calgary for $359 per person.
  • Deposit: $500 per person
  • Final Payment Due: June 1, 2018
  • Activity Level: Moderate
  • Group Size: 26
  • Tour Host: Jim Booth '64

Additional trips are currently being planned! Stay Tuned!