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November 2011

Oxford opens its cloisters to adult students from the UK and abroad

Oxford Christ Church College - Great Tom Quad

ABOVE: The Tom Quad at Christ Church College, Oxford.

We love catchy headlines, and Barbara Gillam of BGPR has written a great example in this year's press release about England's most famous summer school for adults, The Oxford Experience:

"You don't have to be a Rhodes Scholar to go to Oxford."

Normally we don't simply reprint press releases, but Ms. Gillam's description of The Oxford Experience is so compelling that we see no point in writing our own rehashed version:

"Anglophiles, take note: Your college grades don’t matter to The Oxford Experience and you don’t have to be recommended by the Queen. This popular summer program in 'the city of dreaming spires' has no requirements, no tests and no papers. It provides an enjoyable week-long learning vacation at Christ Church, one of the most beautiful and prestigious of Oxford colleges, which was founded by Cardinal Wolsey almost five centuries ago.

"The residential program runs from July 1 to August 11, with each week starting on a Sunday and finishing the following Saturday. The choice of some 60 courses is varied: Castles in Britain; Anglo-American Relations and the Making of Modern Britain; From Rasputin to Putin; Tudor London; History of the English Language; The Beatles, Popular Music and Sixties Britain; The Georgian Home; The Brontës; Oxfordshire Towns; King Arthur and the Dark Ages; Virginia Woolf and her Circle; Wagner’s Ring; The Life and Works of Lewis Carroll; A History of the BBC; and English Country Houses.

"Participants stay in student accommodations—though rooms with private bath are available—and dine in the magnificent Hall, which gained fame in the Harry Potter films.  Three daily meals are included in the price: a full English breakfast, a buffet lunch and a served three-course dinner. 

"Once a week each student is invited to dine on High Table and, on the final night, everyone gathers for champagne in the flowering Cathedral Garden followed by a gala farewell dinner in the Hall.

"Throughout the week there are excursions to stately homes and such, tours of Oxford, pub walks, lectures, croquet and wine in the Masters’ Garden, performances by traditional Morris Dancers and Evensong in the college chapel, which is also the Oxford Cathedral.  At other times participants can enjoy Oxford’s concerts and theater, the college picture gallery, riverside walks in Christ Church Meadow and boating on the Isis (as the Thames is called in Oxford).

"The price of a one-week course—including tuition, accommodations, all meals (except those on excursions) and evening activities—is £1,135, or approximately  US $1,819.  Excursions and private bathrooms are extra.  The deadline for  summer 2012 registration is  May 1, 2012.  For more information go to or write to The Oxford Experience, OUDCE, 1 Wellington Square, Oxford OX1  2JA, U.K."

And now, here are two more photos to whet your appetite for The Oxford Experience. The first shows a student in the Christ Church College Cloisters, while the second is of the college's South Façade:

Christ Church College cloisters - Oxford Universityan

Oxford Christ Church College - South Facade50

Photos: Darrell Godliman.

Silversea Cruises opts for more intimate entertainment

High Cs on Silversea Cruises

ABOVE: The High C's perform operatic and modern classic songs. Left to right: Wendee Bresee, Jovani McCleary, and Anastasia Lange.

Production shows are a staple of cruise-ship entertainment, to the point where they've become a cliché. And let's face it: Compared to a full-fledged theatrical production, the average show on a cruise ship is like a high-school production of Grease with a smaller (albeit more professional) cast.

To their credit, the entertainment planners at Silversea Cruises have decided to ditch the ersatz Broadway approach in favor of a format that's better suited to its intimate, luxurious ships:

Over the next few months, they're rolling out a new "concert-style concept" with classically-trained vocalists and musicians. Musical styles range "from Motown to opera to pop and rock." (Silversea's press release doesn't mention country-western, so Grand Ole Opry fans may need to bring their iPods.)

And get this: If you think luxury cruise ships are stuffy, think again. Silversea's press release describes a show titled "Fabbalicious" that recreates the sound and look of ABBA:

"Designed to get the audience to their feet, singing and dancing along with the cast, the show celebrates what is arguably the most infectious and fun music of our time." 

Silversea's new shows are being produced by Choozi Entertainment, which creates and directs live stage shows around the world.

For more information about the musical themes, producers, and performers, read the Silversea press release.

To learn more about Silversea, its ships, and its European cruise itineraries, visit

We also suggest reading our archived reviews of two Silversea voyages in 2002-2003: a Silver Whisper Mediterranean cruise and a Silver Whisper cruise from Copenhagen to London.

Photo courtesy of Silversea Cruises.