The nonprofit tour operator Road Scholar will for the first time operate its own cruise ship rather than send groups on vessels run by existing operators.

Starting in 2020, Road Scholar will have use of the 350-passenger Aegean Odyssey. The arrangement will continue through 2023.

"With exclusive use of the Aegean Odyssey, we are creating the world's first campus at sea for older adults," said James Moses, president and CEO of Road Scholar.

The operator has created 10 itineraries in Europe for the ship, which was launched as a ferry in 1973 and converted to a cruise ship in 1988. It will continue to sail through next year for the cruise line Voyages to Antiquity.

Road Scholar's Aegean Odyssey itineraries will explore Greece, Turkey, Portugal, Italy, Spain and the British Isles and will focus on educational and enrichment travel.

In the past, the company booked groups on a variety of lines, including Ponant, Victory Cruise Line and several river cruise lines. By running its own ship, Road Scholar said its program costs will be 20% to 30% below the cost of comparable commercial cruises, and the operator will be able to offer a choice of activity levels to accommodate the widest possible audience.

Single accommodations will be at a low supplement, and airfare will be included from many departure cities.

Last year more than 13,000 older adults took an enrichment cruise through Road Scholar, the operator reported.

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