Group IST, known for pioneering in-depth cultural exploration to waterborne venues including Cuba, launches a new concept in experiential travel on small ships. Group IST, under its new brand, Group IST Small Ship Voyages, introduces 2017/ 2018 content-rich land and sea itineraries in seven iconic destinations. All sail on well-appointed yachts to marquee and boutique ports of call.
Life-enriching journeys for the inquisitive mind – Group IST—International Specialty Travel–combines its cruise expertise with cultural touring to explore the true identity of a destination. Itineraries are carefully crafted to engage with the locals and their heritage, led by experts in the field. Shore excursions are choreographed to balance sightseeing and leisure time. These small-ship journeys offer boutique-size yachts that dock close to the destination, visiting hidden harbors and little known ports far from the tourist radar. Ships carry from 12 to 70 guests, creating an intimate setting for soft adventure cruising.
Offering a welcoming atmosphere, the yacht vacation is also ideal for the solo traveler. The crowd-free environment fosters socializing whether at the bar, open seating dining or during excursions. Each yacht is an intimate onboard community of like-minded people. Well known for its one-to-two crew-to-passenger ratio, Group IST’s staff is always available to accommodate special requirements of all their guests.
Group IST chefs source food from local and regional farms and wineries when available. The commitment to cultural authenticity extends to the freshly prepared meals, a reflection of a region’s traditions, climate, and people. Group IST focuses on engagement with locals to enrich the guests’ gastronomic and cultural experience.
Michael Goren, Group IST CEO said, “the launch of the Small Ship Voyages concept is a natural outgrowth of Group IST’s expertise in people to people travel and the special delights of small ship cruising including entering ports and harbors not accessible to large cruise ships.” Goren added, “In fact many passengers who normally would book a large ocean going vessel are now seeking a more intimate small ship cruise experience.”
Program offerings span the globe from The Adriatic, cruising the historic Dalmatian Coast and Montenegro; Glories of Spain and Portugal cruise; Unveil the Mysteries of Iceland cruise; Jewels of the Cyclades, Athens and the Greek isles; The Beauty and Culture of Cuba; and the Seychelles, combined with Dubai or a Kenya safari.
2017-2018 Itineraries: Land and Sea Highlights
The Adriatic – Beginning in Zagreb, this 14-day itinerary explores medieval cities, walled fortresses, and UNESCO World Heritage sites. Forage for truffles in the hills of Istria and visit Dubrovnik’s impressive city walls and Old Town. Embark on the 50-passenger Panorama for a breathtaking sail past fairytale castles and small islands only reachable by small ships.
Glories of Spain and Portugal –a 10-day program combining Madrid or Barcelona plus Lisbon–with cruising on the Panorama II, a 36-cabin, two-masted motorized yacht. From grand UNESCO sites to Moorish castles, this itinerary covers the treasures of Andalucía and Estoril. Explore the caves of Gibraltar and end in Sintra at the Pena Palace perched on one of the highest peaks in the area.
Unveil the Mysteries of Iceland –Board the 34-guest Callisto for 8 days exploring the Golden Circle, Iceland’s three famous geological landmarks. Lava fields, steaming mud pools, and geysers are reminders of the island nation’s geothermal activity. Visit a restored fisherman’s hut in Isafjordur, a port dating back to the 16th century, and the quaint fishing village of Siglufjordur, close to the Arctic Circle.
Sail the Greek Isles: Jewels of the Cyclades – The treasures of ancient Greece and its islands are showcased in this up-close and personal 10-day itinerary. Explore the glories of Athens before boarding the 50-passenger Galileo for a spectacular 7-day cruise through the Cyclades. Visit Santorini’s black beaches, walk the archaeological site of Delos, and overnight on the jetsetter paradise, Mykonos.
Seychelles with Dubai– A new 11-day itinerary, beginning in the shopping mecca of Dubai, explores the ancient souks and architectural wonders of this modern metropolis. Fly to the Seychelles and transfer to the 44-passenger Pegasus motor yacht for a 7-night cruise. Sail exotic islands from Mahe to Moyenne to birdwatch or to swim, snorkel and dive in the clearest waters of the world.
Seychelles with a Wildlife Safari in Kenya —Explore two sides of the African continent on this 10-day adventure. Travel through Kenya’s Rift Valley and explore the famous Maasai Mara Reserve, home of giraffe, lions, rhinos, elephants, and leopards. Fly to the Seychelles for a 5-day cruise aboard the 44-passenger Pegasus motor yacht. Discover extraordinary underwater life and Aride Island, one of the world’s most important nature reserves.
The Beauty and Culture of Cuba— Engage with locals on this content-rich 8-day journey. Fly to Havana and experience the music, architecture, and art of this vibrant Caribbean capital before boarding the 48-passenger Panorama or Panorama II sailing yachts, or the 71-passenger Variety Voyager motor yacht. Each people-to-people itinerary travels beyond Havana with highlights including the colonial city of Trinidad, tobacco farms in Vinales and historic Cienfuegos.
The Group IST Small Ship Voyages passion remains unchanged since 1968: an alchemy that blends enriching oneself educationally and exploring the true identity of a destination, while enjoying the comforts and unique benefits of a small ship sailing the seas.
For more information, visit http://www.groupistsmallshipvoyages.com