courtesy Custom Holidays
Published November 14, 2018
Travelers can stand face to face with an elephant herd, float in the Dead Sea or stare up at the Sistine Chapel on international adventures with Travel Alliance Partners (TAP). The organization’s tour operators carefully craft their international itineraries to ensure that each trip is a life-changing experience.
Groups can explore the world with these readily available international TAP tours.
Passengers cruise through the Tortuguero Canals to see some of Costa Rica’s abundant flora and fauna on Talbot Tours’ Costa Rica tour. Monkeys, sloths, iguanas and a colorful bird population help make Costa Rica one of the most biodiverse countries in the world. Based in San Jose, California, Talbot Tours takes groups to this tropical paradise with the goals of seeing wildlife, admiring stunning vistas and interacting with the local culture.
Over a quarter of Costa Rica is preserved for conservation. This allows guests to easily enjoy the country’s diverse topography, from jungles to volcanoes. Instead of rushing groups from one site to another, this itinerary features shorter drives between overnight stays, with two nights in each outlying area.
The nine-day tour starts with a banana-processing and -packaging plant tour to learn more about one of Costa Rica’s prime products. Other highlights of the tour include visiting the Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge, sampling local flavors at a small bakery and exploring the Monteverde Cloud Forest. There, guests can soar on one of the longest zip lines in Costa Rica or explore the virgin cloud forest on elevated walkways.
The tour ends with a farewell dinner, traditional Costa Rican dancing and toasts with the local drink, Sangre de Bruja.
Holy Land Tour
Visitors walk the same routes as Jesus on the spiritually moving 12-day Holy Land Tour with Ed-Ventures. Based in Rochester, Minnesota, Ed-Ventures runs between four and eight of these tours annually, with itineraries that can be customized for Catholic and Protestant groups.
Groups spend three nights at a kibbutz on the Sea of Galilee. During the day, travelers enjoy a quiet boat ride on the Sea of Galilee, view the 2,000-year-old Jesus Boat and attend a church service on the Mount of Beatitudes, the place where Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount.
Guests also explore Nazareth, float in the Dead Sea and view the surrounding beauty from the top of the Mount of Olives. Travelers often feel emotional while retracing Jesus’ last steps in Jerusalem as the tour moves from the Garden of Gethsemane to the Via Dolorosa and ends at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. The next stop in Bethlehem celebrates Christmas year-round with a visit to the Church of the Nativity and lunch with local Christians.
Ed-Ventures offers an optional three-day extension to Jordan, where visitors enjoy Petra, Mount Nebo and a jeep tour of Wadi Rum. Returning travelers often tell Ed-Ventures staff that they believe they understand more about the Bible and feel closer to God after the trip.
Heart of the British Isles
From London to Edinburgh to Dublin, the 16-day Heart of the British Isles tour reveals the fascinating history and rich culture of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. Image Tours, based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, developed the itinerary with two-night stays in five of the overnight cities for a comprehensive tour of two islands.
Guests immerse themselves in the local culture as they travel, with an English tea in Jedburgh, time to explore historic York and optional themed dinner shows in Scotland, Ireland and England. Other favorite stops include Shakespeare’s Birthplace in Stratford-Upon-Avon, Hadrian’s Wall, Edinburgh’s city tour and the Caernarfon Castle in Wales. For August departures, Image Tours adds the Edinburgh Military Tattoo experience. The spectacle of performing military bands from around the world has become a client favorite.
Once in Ireland, stops at the Kildare National Stud Farm, Dublin and the Ring of Kerry and a sheep dog demonstration showcase aspects of Ireland’s heritage. The trip ends back in England for a tour of charming Bath, mysterious Stonehenge and exciting London.
The itinerary includes free time for guests to meander through small towns, such as Waterford, Ireland, and Cardiff, Wales.
Guides who live in Atlantic Canada share details only locals know during Atlantic Tours’ Atlantic Maritimes programs. These locals know the area’s insider secrets, such as the customary way to eat a lobster. The Dartmouth, Novia Scotia, company is offering an impressive 14 guaranteed departures of the 13-day tour in 2019.
Visitors breathe in the salty air as they view the unspoiled vistas and charming fishing villages of Novia Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. One of the first tour experiences is a cruise on Shediac Bay aboard a lobster boat. Passengers learn about the fishing industry while watching it operating firsthand before they savor a lobster meal.
Next, groups visit the Bay of Fundy, where the world’s highest tides created the flowerpot-shaped formations at Hopewell Rocks. The tour goes on to alternate natural activities like whale-watching and cultural experiences at picturesque towns such as St. Andrews by-the-Sea, New Brunswick.
At Lunenburg, renowned for fleets of fishing schooners, groups walk through a remarkable preserved colonial settlement. Book lovers adore the visit to the Green Gables Heritage Site at Prince Edward Island, which inspired Lucy Maud Montgomery’s classic “Anne of Green Gables” books.
Grand Tour of Italy
Groups use all their senses on Durgan Travel Service’s Grand Tour of Italy. They smell freshly cooked pasta dishes, listen to hushed sounds of awe in cathedrals and view lovely medieval towns from Venice to Capri.
Based in Stoneham, Massachusetts, Durgan Travel Service attributes the success of the Grand Tour of Italy to its including most of the sightseeing and food costs in the price. The tour covers a lot of ground, using hotels in Tuscany, Rome and Sorrento to serve as a base for touring the surrounding areas.
The 10-night trip begins with a full-day guided tour of Florence, including the Academia Museum, the home of Michelangelo’s “David.” Next, the group ventures to Venice to walk the narrow, historic streets and learn the history of the city at Doge’s Palace.
After touring some of Tuscany’s medieval towns, guests explore ancient Rome with tours of the Colosseum and the Pantheon. Guides explain the art treasures inside the Vatican Museums, St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel. Pompeii, the Amalfi Drive and the beautiful isle of Capri also captivate visitors.
Tanzania and the Great Migration Safari
“Serengeti” means “endless plains” in the native Maasai language. Groups see the expansive landscape of the Serengeti on CTN Travel’s Tanzania and the Great Migration Safari. Based in Midland, North Carolina, CTN Travel has customized many of these 12-day tours for clients, including several bank groups over the last few years.
Each of the safari vans seats six or seven people, so every traveler gets a window seat. At Lake Manyara National Park, the tour begins with a game drive to see some of the park’s famed elephant herds and tree-climbing lions.
Afterward, groups arrive in Olduvai Gorge where Mary Leakey found the remains of early prehistoric humans and the oldest known human footprints in Africa. Once in the Serengeti, the real show begins with thousands of migrating wildebeests, Cape buffaloes and zebras grazing across the landscape.
Guests can connect with the warmhearted locals during visits to a coffee plantation, a local school and a Maasai village. The Ngorogoro Crater stands out to many travelers for its incredible wildlife population and views of the extinct volcano. Pink flamingos, hyenas and the “big five” —lions, elephants, rhinos, buffaloes and leopards — frequently appear for tourists there.
The vibrant blue waters of the Adriatic Sea beckon travelers to the historic and stunning coastal cities of Croatia. Guests stroll the country’s cobblestone streets and walk in the footsteps of the ancients on Custom Holiday’s small-ship cruise that holds 36 passengers.
The Allen Park, Michigan, tour company says this experience is more like a yacht tour than a cruise because of the intimate atmosphere on board and the ability to sail right into port. The tour works well as a multigenerational adventure for families.
The trip begins in Porec, then travels to the romantic town of Rovinj. From there, passengers sail to Brijuni National Park, Pula, Zadar, Krka National Park, Split and Hvar. Each of these Old World cities offers opportunities to explore and discover centuries of local history. Passengers can even jump into the clear Adriatic Sea with a swimming stop on a small island.
The tour continues to Korcula, a walled city believed to be the birthplace of Marco Polo. The final stop, Dubrovnik, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the “Pearl of the Adriatic.”
The price of the cruise includes all excursions. Each explores the local area and gives a glimpse into a culture that is a mix of Italian art and Slovak heritage.