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Private tour of CERN and luncheon
September 27, 2011 (pre-cruise)
($299 pp)

From the tiniest constituents of matter to the immensity of the cosmos, discover the wonders of science and technology at CERN. Join Bright Horizons for a private pre-cruise, custom, full-day tour of this iconic facility.

Whether you lean toward concept or application there’s much to pique your curiousity. Discover the excitement of fundamental research and get a behind-the-scenes, insider’s look of the world’s largest particle physics laboratory.

pic of Cern Tunnel

Our full day will be led by a CERN physicist. We’ll have an orientation; visit an accelerator and experiment; get a sense of the mechanics of the large hadron collider (LHC); make a refueling stop for lunch; and have time to peruse exhibits and media on the history of CERN and the nature of its work.

The price is $299 and includes lunch at CERN and roundtrip transfers to/from our Geneva hotel. NOTE: CERN charges no entrance fee to visitors.

This trip is limited to 50 people. For questions and hotel pricing, please contact Neil or Theresa, or give us a call at (650) 787-5667.


September 30, 2011 (pre-cruise)
($159 pp)

Vatican City is home to some of the most famous art in the world and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Sistine Chapel alone hosts world famous frescos, including works by Perugino, Domenica Ghirlandaio, Boticelli, Raphael and Fra Angelico as well as the ceiling and Last Judgement by Michelangelo.

Join InSight Cruises for an exclusive, five-hour tour of the Vatican. You will be in a group of no more than ten people plus an expert tour guide. Included with your tour is a “no-lines” entrance pass and headphones for superior listening to our tour guide. Your experience includes a a visit inside the Sistine Chapel, highlights of the Vatican Museums, and a close look at the interior of St. Peter’s Basilica. Your guide will lead you off the beaten track for a trip into the Michelangelo-designed Vatican Dome (you can trek to the top, and gaze down into the church interior, or remain at a cafe on the roof of the Basilica, taking in superb views of Vatican City and Rome).

September 29, 2011 (pre-cruise)

When in Rome, do as the Romans who are astronomy buffs wish they could do—visit to the new digs of the Vatican Observatory and get a privileged look at its world-class meteorite collection. Join Bright Horizons on an optional pre-cruise trip to Castel Gandolfo, Italy on a private insider’s tour of the Observatory’s laboratory, home to a 135 kg collection of 1081 samples, from 469 meteor falls. See a bit of Mars on your Mediterranean trip!

Vatican Observatory

Perhaps almost more intriguing is the Observatory’s library. We’ll browse over the shoulders of giants, seeing historic and antique astronomy books including early editions of Newton, Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, Brahe, Clavius, and Secchi. VO astronomers will brief us on the Vatican’s interest in astronomy and the latest on VO research at Steward Observatory, Mount Graham, Arizona. We’ll lunch on the shores of Lake Albano, an extinct volcano, and linger to enjoy the scenic and historic nature of the Castel Gandolfo area before returning to the bustle of Rome. (This trip is limited to 20 people; gormet lunch included as well as roundtrip transfers to/from our Rome hotels.)

October 6, 2011
($119* pp)

Istanbul is impossible to describe, and has mesmerized travelers for millennia. Layered, amalgamated, flowing. Ancient and modern, secular and sacred. Plunge into Istanbul’s cultural whirlwind with Bright Horizons staff, who have been there, done that. On your itinerary: Hagia Sophia. It was the largest cathedral in the world for a thousand years, then a mosque, now a secular museum (so Istanbul). The Blue Mosque is defined by its 20,000 Iznik tiles. We’ll peruse the sweets, spices, and nuts at the Spice Bazaar (A little hazelnut-pomegranate nougat, perhaps?).


Onward to our learning lab in Turkish hospitality, doing lunch at Topkapi Palace’s former guard house. Then we’ll immerse ourselves in the context and treasures of Topkapi, including the Treasury, Harem, and Holy Relics sections. Risking total sensory overload, we’ll conclude our day at the Istanbul Archaeology Museum.

October 11, 2011
($105* pp)

Many civilizations have left their mark at Ephesus. It’s a complex and many splendored history, often oversimplified. Bright Horizons pulls together three important aspects of understanding Ephesus which are rarely presented together. Join us! You’ll meander the Marble Road, visit the legendary latrines, check out the Library, and visit the political and commercial centers of the city. A visit to the Terrace Houses will enliven your picture of Roman era Ephesus.


We’ll take a break for Mediterranean cuisine in the Selcuk countryside, and then visit the Ephesus Museum in Selcuk, where finds from the excavation of the city are showcased, and you get a fuller look at local history, from the Lydians to the Byzantines.

October 12, 2011
($135* pp)

The Parthenon and its Acropolis setting are stunning, no doubt about it. They don’t require interpretation, and compose the perfect DIY Athens excursion. On the other hand, visiting the new Acropolis Museum and the National Archaeological Museum with a skilled guide who’s on your wavelength adds immeasurably to the experience. We suggest you join Bright Horizons on a focused trip. You’ll see the Parthenon frieze, exquisite sanctuary relics, and Archaic sculpture at the Acropolis Museum (picture below; as you can see, the museum sits just below the Acropolis).

Acropolis Museum

Lunch, of course, is tucked away at a taverna favored by Athenian families. For dessert, we’ll visit the richest array of Greek antiquities anywhere — at the National Archaeological Museum.

*NOTE: The cost of lunches are not included but we’ll make all of the reservations and provide all transportation.

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CIVITAVECCHIA (ROME) — Saturday, October 1

The first evidence of settlement in the area of Civitavecchia relates to the ancient town of Centocelle, once the port for Ethruria and a rich market centre. Pliny the Younger refers in his writings to Centocelle as the venue of a peace council held by the emperor Trajan.

Centocelle takes its name from the style of village houses, which resembled hives with small cells, and the tiny bays along the coast that enabled ships to come and go. Due to its sheltered surroundings and easy access to the sea, Trajan built his most extravagant villa in the vicinity, mentioned by Pliny. The basic structure of the port first developed by Trajan still remains.

When the port of Ostia at the mouth of the River Tiber became insufficient to handle the maritime traffic to Rome, Civitavecchia took its place. The distinctive shape of the port is attributed to the architect Apollodoro who decorated the original structure with engravings and statues. After the fall of the Roman Empire, Civitavecchia maintained its maritime importance and in a few centuries had become the most important port in the Thyrrenian, competing for supremacy with Pisa and attracting the attention of Turkish pirates.

The port today manages light commercial and passenger traffic to the Thyerrenian islands, while the mediaeval centre of Civitavecchia is still well preserved.

»» Rome Excursion Details »»

KATAKOLON, GREECE — Monday, October 3

Katakolon is a small port founded in the first half of the 19th century and linked to the legendary and nearby Olympia. According to the annals, which describe in detail and with some legend, the birth and history of Olympia, the city is a pastoral site chosen by the king of the gods Zeus to promote his culture among the Greeks.

Olympia, together with Delphi, the city dedicated to Apollo, and Athens represents the most important mythological places in traditional Greece. The Olympic Games originated here and, according to the Hellenic tradition described by the Greek poet Pindar, their origin is in honour of Pelope, a legendary character, after whom the Peloponnese was named. In the beginning the Games were composed of few disciplines, deriving from military arts characterised by loyalty and courage and lasted just one day often interrupted by religious ceremonies.

Subsequently the celebration of the Olympic Games, every four years at the summer solstice, lasted for a few weeks and at this time all conflicts had to be suspended to enable the performance of the games. The ceremony was strict. Women, except for Hera priestesses were not allowed, upon punishment of death. All competitors had to be Greek. The winners (at the time there were no sponsors or money compensation) were awarded by public triumph, they were included in a golden register engraved in stone and a life size statue was erected.

After over 1200 years of continued history, the Olympic Games were stopped in 393 AD by Theodosius I and started again in Athens in 1896 upon initiative of the French Baron Pierre de Coubertin. Life in Olympia takes place around the sacred walls of the Sanctuary where all the temples and religious buildings are situated. Olympia was discovered in 1776, but the most important excavations are recent. Zeus’ temple for instance was entirely brought to light by German archaeologists who succeeded in reconstructing part of the front and side columns collecting the statues of Greek winners, votive offerings and small temples damaged by a series of earthquakes unfortunately frequent in the past.

The most ancient part of the Sanctuary is dedicated to Hera and it was destroyed and sacked after the prohibition of the pagan cult ordered by Theodosius. The stadium is very impressive, with an audience capacity of up to 45,000. Several votive offerings were found here, and among them Miltiades helmets after Athens victory in Marathon. It is still possible to see the starting and finishing lines of the races in the stadium. All archaeological finds are preserved in the Museum.

»» Katakolon Excursion Details »»

SANTORINI, GREECE — Tuesday, October 4

One of the Cyclades islands, Santorini is a spectacular jewel of the Aegean. Born out of a volcanic eruption in approximately 1500BC, which formed the two islands of Aspronissi and Terrasia, Santorini is a magnificent mixture of dramatic cliffside villages, glorious black sand beaches and ancient treasures. Steep cliffs plunging into a crystalline sea distinguish the west coast, while the east coast is gentler, featuring a fertile plain and delicate bays, with the Profitis Ilias mountains in the background.

Archaeological investigations have shown that the 69 kilometres of coastline of Santorini was probably inhabited in prehistoric times, while the first chronicled civilisation to live on the island were the Phoenicians. Through the centuries the island continued to fall under different rulers, including the Spartans, Athenians, Byzantines and Turks. Commencing in 1967, ongoing excavations near the pink sand beach at Akrotiri have revealed the ruins of ancient Thera, the centre of population on the island before it was destroyed by the volcanic eruption.

Among the extensive remains are ceramics, stone and bronze tools, ornaments and small artworks. A series of frescoes suggest a highly-developed community and some researchers believe it is the site of the mythical lost city of Atlantis.

One of the prettiest spots on the island is the village of Oia, a network of narrow marble-paved alleys, lined with yellow and blue domed houses, and extraordinary views out to sea.

»» Santorini Excursion Details »»

ISTANBUL, TURKEY — Wednesday & Thursday, October 6 & 7

Byzantium, New Rome, Constantinople, Istanbul. Four cities, three empires, a history of over 3000 years of flourishing commerce between east and west. With Rome and Athens, Istanbul has written the most ancient and important history in the Mediterranean and signs of its power are evident in all monuments and remains.

Presently Istanbul is a very modern city, with over six million inhabitants at the same time maintaining its traditions and a deep tie to its roots. The Greeks named it Byzantium, while to the Romans it was the east version of Rome as it was built on seven hills. The emperor Constantine, confronting with the greatness of the city, transformed it into the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire.

The city is divided in two, and is the only city in the world half built in Europe and half in Asia. The Galata Bridge, 1560-metres long joins the two parts and represents to the Turks both east and west and the meeting point of the old and the new. Museums, monuments, mosques, shops and picturesque bazaars, quiet parks, excellent hotels and very good restaurants and a busy night life guarantee entertainment, 24 hours a day.

Saint Sophia Basilica, presently a museum, is an extraordinary example of architecture with marble, metal and precious stones decorating the walls and galleries. The Blue Mosque, (Sultanhamet Mosque) had been conceived to supersede the basilica in beauty. With 6 minarets and its domes, it is one of the most beautiful and popular Islamic religion centres in the world. The Hippodrome was for centuries the core of public life. Of the original structure we can presently admire Theodosius Obelisk, the Serpentine Column in bronze and the brick Obelisk. Topkapi museum is the most important in the city. It contains Turkish ceramics, arms, china, books, miniatures and the treasure with jewels of the emperor, besides the relics of Mohammed, the Islam prophet.

Turkish cuisine is undoubtedly worth mentioning. Specialities include the cerkez tavugu (Circassan chicken), and biber dolmasi (stewed peppers with filling). Cakes are excellent: hanim gobegi (woman belly), and dilber dudagi (lady mouth) are just two examples of a variety of delicious specialities.

Istanbul is particularly good for shopping, both in the ancient bazaar and in modern shops, for simple objects and for finely manufactured jewels. The Grand Bazaar, in the old city is beyond all doubts the commercial centre tourists prefer. Its small alleys and stalls present a variety of opportunities: jewels, carpets, particularly Anatolian is the most popular. Copper, onyx and leather objects are also finely handmade as well as typical teapots.

»» Istanbul Excursion Details »»

VARNA, BULGARIA — Friday, October 7

Around the world, vacation resorts on the Black Sea are thought of as the last word in tourist heavens. Perhaps the ultimate example of this is Varna in Bulgaria, an idyllic seaside resort on the western shores of the Black Sea. Comfortably nestled under balmy, sub-tropical skies, this city combines warm ocean waves and sandy beaches with cultural delights from ethnic shops to theaters, religious shrines of every denomination, and rich historical and archaeological treasures. One can barely begin to list the endless delights, all amid warm and friendly people who open their land and their hearts to their visitors.

City landmarks include the Varna Archaeological Museum (home of artifacts of civilization’s first spread into Europe), the Roman Baths, the Battle of Varna Park Museum, the Naval Museum in the Italianate Villa Assareto, and the Museum of Ethnography in an Ottoman-period compound featuring the life of local urban dwellers, fisherfolk, and peasants in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

There are notable old Bulgarian Orthodox temples including the Metropolitan Dormition of the Theotokos Cathedral (of the diocese of Varna and Veliki Preslav), the early 17th-century Theotokos Panagia (built on the site of an earlier church where Ladislaus III was buried), the Saint Athanasius (formerly a Greek metropolitan cathedral) on the site of a razed 10th-century church, the 15th-century Saint Petka Parashkeva Chapel, the Seamen’s Church of Saint Nicholas, the Archangel Michael Chapel, and the Saints Constantine and Helena Church associated with a 14th-century suburban monastery.

Thriving national parks in the Varna region are magnets for hikers and bird watchers.

Tourists, science and nature buffs, food and culture aficionados, and religious pilgrims come from all over the world to savor the satisfactions and revel in the delights of Varna.

»» Varna Excursion Details »»

ODESSA, UKRAINE — Saturday, October 8

Known as the ‘pearl of the Black Sea’, Odessa is a Ukrainian city of two distinct characters. One is of a modern, industrial city port. The other is of a popular beach resort. The port of Odessa has been an important centre of maritime activities since the ancient Greeks developed the region as one of their most flourishing colonies. Thanks to its strategic position as an access point to the sea, Odessa has been subjected to several different regimes during its history including the Mongols, Lithuanians, Poles and Turks.

In 1791, the city was annexed by Russia and under Catherine the Great its commercial port was developed, some of whose original construction still exists. In the early 19th Century, Odessa was proclaimed capital of the ‘New Russia’ territories. Odessa developed close ties with France, evidenced by Alexander I’s appointment of the French Duke of Richelieu as the city’s mayor. Cultural activities in the city developed with the opening of many theatres and arts associations. Odessa was one of the first European cities to have electric light.

As Marxism spread throughout Russia, Odessa entered a crucial period of its history. In 1905 during the Russian Revolution, the city was the location of a famous mutiny by sailors on the battleship Potemkin who were sympathetic to the revolutionary cause. During Stalin’s purges in the 1930s Odessa suffered periods of severe famine and widespread execution of its citizens. Tragedy struck again during World War II, when Odessa was invaded and occupied by Germany.

The present city centre of Odessa includes numerous splendid buildings set amid tree-lined streets. The Opera House is one of the best in Europe, originally created by Mayor Richelieu in the style of the Vienna Opera house. Upensky Cathedral is one of the few Catholic churches left in the Ukraine. Its style is Russian-Byzantine with five domes and a 47-metre high bell tower. Italian architect Boffo designed several of Odessa’s most impressive landmarks, including the Potemkin Steps and the excellent Archaeological Museum.

Shevchenko Park includes a beach, stadium, theatre and the Odessa Fortress, built on the same site as the original, constructed in 1793. A distinctive feature of Odessa is an 800 kilometres network of underground tunnels, ‘catacombs’, which were used by resistance fighters in World War II.

The cuisine of Odessa naturally includes caviar, traditionnally served with brown bread. Vegetable soup is also a favourite dish, the most traditional of which is okroshka, made with cucumber, radish, tomato and smoked meat. A particular speciality of Odessa is ice cream, accompanied by iced vodka.

»» Odessa Excursion Details »»

YALTA, UKRAINE — Sunday, October 9

The city of Yalta on the Black Sea is the Ukraine’s best-known seaside resort and the nearest the country comes to the French Cote d’Azur. The Crimea Mountains shelter Yalta from cold north winds, providing the city and its coastline with a mild climate.

The Greeks were the first to appreciate the beauty of the area, establishing settlements in the 8th Century BC. A lengthy period of Byzantine rule followed, until control of the city fell to the Genoese, who exploited the commercial potential of its port. Yalta then came under Turkish rule, providing protection from Tartar invasions. During the reign of Catherine the Great, the rule of Yalta transferred to Russia.

The Romanovs established their imperial summer residence near Yalta, at Livadia, and the area became a favourite holiday resort for the Russian aristocracy. The city fared well after the Russian Revolution, when Lenin claimed it as the property of the people and made it the most important health treatment centre in the country. In 1945, the former Russian imperial residence was the venue for the Yalta Conference, held between Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin, when Europe was divided into eastern and western blocs.

The elegant buildings of Yalta pay testimony to its past grandeur. The grand mansions now belong to the state and have been turned into hotels and rest homes for the multitudes of people who annually go to Yalta for therapeutic treatment. Livadia, the magnificent summer imperial palace nearby to Yalta, is currently a highly prestigious cardiology centre.

A further major attraction of the area is Alpuka Palace, built to compete with Livadia by an English architect in 1828-1848. The former home of the Count of Voronstov, the governor of Odessa, the north facade is in Tudor mediaeval style, and the south facade is a copy of the Alhambra in Granada.

A speciality of Yalta’s cuisine is chebureki, minced meat fried in oil, eaten with the fingers. Traditional dishes include fish, caviar, chicken Kiev, roast lamb and beef shashlik. Iced vodka is highly recommended.

»» Yalta Excursion Details »»

KUSADASI (EPHESUS), TURKEY — Tuesday, October 11

Kusadasi, which means “bird island,” is set in a superb gulf known for its sparkling water, broad sandy beaches, and large marina. The city has managed to retain a certain earthiness while doing a brisk trade in Turkish carpets and leather goods to visitors. The town’s old quarter is a picturesque maze of winding streets and houses adorned with flowers and birdcages. In the center stands a 17th-century caravanserai, now converted into a hotel. The resort is also gateway to important sites of archaeological and religious interest.

Ionian Greeks settled this part of Asia Minor as early as the 10th-century B.C. They founded cities around the finest natural harbors in the Mediterranean, and Kusadasi became an important commercial zone.

A visit to Ephesus will put you in touch with some of this area’s most stunning ancient ruins. There is an Odeon, or small theater, with a capacity of 1,400. It was also used for public meetings of the city council. The Magnesian Gate and Town Hall are near at hand.

The impressive Library of Celsus stands at the foot of the main street. Its stately two level facade is being carefully restored. The interior walls were designed to display 12,000 scrolls in niches, which protected them from the humidity.

The Temples of Domitian and Hadrian are impressive, and the Great Theater (which is still in use) seats 25,000 spectators.

Harbor Street — also known as the Arcadian Way — connected the port district with the center of town. Beautiful colonnades on both sides and marble pavement made a dazzling first impression on visiting dignitaries. It was one of the rare ancient streets to be lit by lamps at night.

Some distance away, you can see the ruins of the massive Temple of Artemis, which was several times larger than the Parthenon. There had been temples here as early as the 7th century B.C.; this one was completed about 430.

Even in its abandoned state, Ephesus remains an awe-inspiring city, in an amazing setting. The Ionians lived well and wisely. Even those who live in great luxury today must tip their hats to these imaginative people.

»» Ephesus Excursion Details »»

PIRAEUS (ATHENS), GREECE — Wednesday & Thursday, October 12 & 13

The cradle of Greek civilization, Athens today is a bustling, frenetic, modern city with six million inhabitants, one third of the total population of Greece. The port of Athens, Piraeus, is very much an integral part of the city.

Although Athens is a huge, sprawling city, much of its political, historical and administrative life is concentrated in a small area including Syntagma (Constitution) Square, the Acropolis and Omonia Square.

According to Greek mythology, the establishment of Athens was the result of a dispute between the goddess of wisdom Athena and her fellow gods, under which the city was given as a peace offering. In historical terms, the city was founded by the Phoenicians at least 2,000 years before Christ. The founding fathers of democracy, Athenians had many times to go into battle to defend their freedom and built up a mighty military strength.

As the leading cultural influence in the Mediterranean region for centuries, Athens attracted considerable opposition as well as admiration. Its intellectual dominance over the Mediterranean began to wane with the establishment of the Byzantine Empire, eventually leading to the city being virtually deserted and almost destroyed by Saracens in the 12th Century. By the time the Turks gained control of Athens in the 15th Century, its population had dwindled to only a few thousand inhabitants. Between 400BC and 1400AD Athens had been raided, sacked, and burnt at least 30 times.

Gradually Athens was rebuilt and by the end of the 19th Century its fortunes had greatly improved, culminating in the revival of the Olympic Games in 1896. The next period of sustained development came after World War II with aggressive industrialisation and maritime enterprise.

The historical attractions of Athens are world-renowned. The Acropolis, overlooking the city of Athens from the top of a rocky hillside, is the dominant monument of ancient Greece, the site of the first temple dedicated to the goddess Athena and the stunning Parthenon. Among the magnificent ruins of the Acropolis, and the fascinating artefacts of the Acropolis Museum, the ancient civilisation surrounding the Parthenon, Herod Atticaus Odeon, Dionysus Theatre, Muses Hill, the Agora, Hephaestus Temple and the Apostles Church come to life. In addition to its magnificent ancient monuments, Athens has much to offer the visitor, including colourful street markets and shops. Plus, of course, delicious Greek food such as the speciality meze and desserts including baklava.

Not far from Athens is one of greatest engineering feats of mankind, the Corinth Canal. The canal, which is cut out of solid rock, is a little over 6km in length, 21 metres wide and some 79 metres high, with a water depth of eight metres. Such was the complexity of its construction that the canal was started by Nero in 66AD but only completed in 1893.

»» Athens Excursion Details »»


“Every year around Oct. 8th, Earth passes through a minefield of dusty debris from Comet Giacobini-Zinner, source of the annual Draconid meteor shower. On Oct. 8, 2011, Earth will have a near head-on collision with a tendril of dust, setting off a strong outburst of as many as 750 meteors per hour. People in Europe, Africa and the Middle East will have a front-row seat for what could be the strongest shower since the Leonid storms a decade ago.” From


Mark Bailey, Ph.D.
Michael Benton, Ph.D.
James Gillies, Ph.D.
(not shown)
Lawrence Krauss, Ph.D.
Mohamed Noor, Ph.D.
John Steele, Ph.D.
Michael Wysession, Ph.D.


Speakers have confirmed their intent to participate; however, scheduling conflicts may arise.



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Cruise prices vary from $1,899 for an Interior Stateroom to $5,299 for a Deluxe Suite, per person. (Cruise pricing is subject to change. InSight Cruises will generally match the cruise pricing offered at the Holland America website at the time of booking.) For those attending our PROGRAM, there is a $1,475 fee. For detailed information and pictures of our ship and the cabins, please visit CABIN & SHIP INFO page. Additional per-person fees include: government taxes and fees ($167), a $100 booking fee, and gratuities are $11 per day. All prices and fees are detailed on the BOOK NOW page.

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The conference fee is $1,475 and includes all 27 seminars below. With two partial exceptions, classes only take place when we’re at sea, between 8:30am and 7:30pm.








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