Amy Kotkin has been developing educational programs for the Smithsonian Institution since 1974 and is Director of Smithsonian Journeys. Here, she shares her thoughts and recommendations for travel in 2012, as we launch our new travel season.
Q. Every year Smithsonian Journeys adds new destinations. What are some of the highlights for 2012?
Amy Kotkin visits with an artist in Turkey.
A. Just when we think we’ve been everywhere – a new destination beckons. Or, we “re-imagine” existing destinations by looking at them in novel ways. Always “looking around the corner” at what’s next is truly invigorating for our staff. For 2012, we’ll offer a cruise to Southern Spain and Morocco on the elegant small ship Corinthian II. While we know that there was significant cross-cultural fertilization between these two regions going back before the middle ages, the opportunity to see how this is reflected in the art and architecture of Spain and Morocco is simply dazzling, as well as thought-provoking! Speaking of cruising, we’ll also be offering our first in-depth cruise to Crete! We’ll encircle the island on the gem-like yacht Callisto (with only 34 guests), stopping at charming small towns, ancient ruins including the magnificent Minoan palace at Knossos, Byzantine chapels. Two new holiday trips will also make their debut in 2012! Christmas in Vienna and Prague promises festive performances, special access tours and fine food. Jane Austen’s Christmas features time-honored English holiday traditions.
Q. What are your most popular destinations?
A. Wow! So many come to mind. But if I had to identify the top three just in terms of enduring interest over many years, Turkey, China and Peru top the charts for because of their amazing cultural treasures. Having been with Smithsonian travelers when they first beheld the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, China’s Great Wall and Machu Picchu, I can tell you that these are truly magnificent, moving experiences. Of course Egypt is on nearly everyone’s “life list,” and we are happy to have resumed our expert-led trips there. For natural history – Alaska, Galapagos, Tanzania and the Amazon are “the classics.” Interest in these incredible destinations never wanes.
Q. Early Booking Savings! Why do you and so many other companies encourage early bookings? Are there really deals to be had or is it just a gimmick?
A. No! They are not a gimmick! It is always worthwhile for Smithsonian and our tour operators to fill our tours long in advance. That way, reservations for hotels, meals, special tours, and excursions can be locked down early and assure us of the best services possible. Confirming all tour details several months before departure is well worth our while, and therefore, we are happy to encourage early bookings by giving you the incentive to do so. Ultimately, early booking is in everyone’s best interests. You get a better price and we are able to assure an optimal tour! Be sure to take a look at our early booking incentives featured on our website under Special Offers.
Amy will be back next week to answer more of your questions.
Have a question for Amy? Send her a note at EmailAmy@SmithsonianJourneys.org.