An extended cruise on the Danube and the capitals of Central Europe will be among the highlights of the June 2014 tour being organized for alumni and friends of Hope.

                Running June 11-20, the excursion will begin in Prague in the Czech Republic and then head to the Danube, where participants will visit multiple sites while traveling east from Passau, Germany, to Budapest, the twin-city capital of Hungary, aboard the Illumination, flagship of Avalon Waterways, with additional excursions along the way.

                Among other locations in between, the tour will include Salzburg, birthplace of Mozart and home of The Sound of Music;the Benedictine Abbey at Melk; Vienna, connecting with the students participating in the Vienna Summer School; and Bratislava, capital of Slovakia.

                In keeping with the tradition of past alumni tours, the experience will emphasize education, with opportunities not only to enjoy the sights but to learn through seminar presentations and discussion with other participants along the way.  It’s a dimension of the Hope tours that has proven especially popular, as this year’s faculty leader, Dr. Donald Luidens ’69 of the sociology faculty, knows from experience.  He also co-led the 2010 tour, a cruise of the Mediterranean.

                “We asked people why they came on it and virtually everyone said—independently—that what they really wanted was something that provided an educational experience and not just a boat ride,” he said.

                In addition to Dr. Luidens, resources during the tour will include local guides participating at each destination.  There will be a lot to explore, from the centuries that the region was ruled by the House of Habsburg, to the events of World War II and the Cold War era, to the rise of democracy since the fall of the Iron Curtain.

“These areas have 500-600 years of history that are really packed, and what to pick up on is going to be interesting,” Dr. Luidens said.

                Except for the first two nights in Prague, participants’ overnight accommodations will travel with them, eliminating packing and unpacking.  For the duration of the river cruise, they’ll stay in staterooms aboard the Illumination.

                Additional information may be obtained through the Office of Alumni and Parent Relations (, (616) 395-7250, or  online.