The Keno brothers, Esposito, Fanning, MacNeil and Lehrer in collage with the ship.

Love bait: They're the PBS stars aboard a deluxe cruise from Athens. (Image: Current.)

Fundraisers join prospects, PBS stars on cruise from Athens

Originally published in Current, Feb. 9, 2004
By Karen Everhart

Paying fares that qualify them to be major donors, hundreds of public TV viewers and contributors will cruise the Mediterranean in November, hobnobbing with PBS journalists, hosts of how-to programs and some very personable fundraising people.

The 10-day PTV at Sea tour is a new twist on fundraising trips offered for years by some big-city stations. The operator and public TV stations are marketing the cruise to wealthy folks who have an affinity for PBS and, according to their research, will pay big money for unique travel experiences.

A couple sharing Seven Seas Voyager's least expensive cabin will pay $13,000, says Kevin Corcoran, president of Artful Travelers, a Seattle-based company operating the tour with Radisson Cruise Lines. With an early booking, two passengers can reserve the master suite for $35,710.

"There's a touch of snob appeal to this,” says Corcoran. For the prices passengers pay, they’ll expect nothing less than the luxurious accommodations of the Voyager, a new 350-suite vessel with four restaurants and a private balcony for every cabin. The extra-special something that cinches the sale is access to popular public TV personalities, he says.
“People can pay the same for other cruises but they won't have this experience," Corcoran adds.

On board or in romantic ports of call, passengers can talk public affairs with NewsHour co-creators Jim Lehrer and Robert MacNeil or hear about investigative exploits from Frontline Senior Executive Producer David Fanning. The Keno brothers of Antiques Roadshow may preside over a treasure hunt in Rome, and Ciao Italia host Mary Anne Esposito plans to lead excursions in Italy. Corcoran hopes to add a musician to round out the cast.

The talent won’t receive appearance fees but will travel free.
PBS stations that promote the tour will receive a $500 commission for each cabin sold to people in their service areas. If 10 of a station's viewers book passage, a station rep can claim a free cabin.

“The station development officer on board will establish relationships that they couldn’t get anywhere else, and the donor will have an affinity for the station well beyond what they had before,” explains Rick Lore, PBS director of on-air fundraising and auctions. The tour operator will also donate 20 cabins to be sold during stations' auctions.

Nearly 50 stations are promoting the tour.

When Artful Travelers and PBS unveiled the tour package at the PBS Development Conference last fall, the voyage was to begin from a port in Istanbul. But after two major bombings in the city late last year, planners switched ports.
The cruise sets off from Athens Nov. 12 for the Turkish port of Kusadasi and then the Greek islands. On Nov. 17, Voyager reaches its first Italian port, Sorrento. After stops in Rome and Monte Carlo, the cruise ends in Barcelona Nov. 21.

Ifill, Venza, Rehm to lure fans
for cruises of Europe, islands

Unpublished item prepared for Current, Feb. 19, 2008

Washington journalists Gwen Ifill and Diane Rehm and pubTV producers Ric Burns, Jac Venza and Burt Wolf will meet a stratum of their audiences this year on ocean and river cruises that raise funds for stations.

Ifill, host of WETA’s Washington Week, will moderate a journalists’ panel on a Regent Seven Seas Cruises excursion from Southeast ports to Bermuda and the Bahamas in April, along with her panelists — political reporters from the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and ABC News. Burns, a PBS documentarian, and Venza, the retired chief of Great Performances, will discuss their pubTV work on a Regent journey around the Mediterranean.

Rehm, the NPR-syndicated talk host at Washington’s WAMU, will be a shipboard attraction on a 16-day cruise of Europe’s Rhine, Maine and Danube rivers, arranged by Cross-Culture Journeys of Amherst, Mass. The trip, priced at $5,195 including airfare from Washington, D.C., begins Sept. 16 in Budapest and ends Oct. 1 in Amsterdam.  

Wolf, host of American Public Television series including Travel & Traditions, is inviting viewers of New Jersey’s NJN to join him for an Avalon Waterways cruise of the Rhine, from Amsterdam to Basel, Switzerland, April 19-27. On the trip, Wolf will shoot a special edition of the show. Wolf offers tickets for the nine-day cruise ranging from $2,689 to $3,788.

Web page posted Feb. 11, 2004
Copyright 2008 by Current Publishing Committee


Some stations have been organizing overseas tours for their members for years.


Ifill, Venza, Rehm to lure fans
for cruises of Europe, islands, 2008.


The tour organizer's website for "PTV at Sea."


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