Launching a cultural hub in this West African xommunity.
ATHENS, GREECE – In December, Variety Cruises relaunches its West Africa itineraries, sailing the region for the first time since the pandemic. The company will be celebrating its return to Africa with the inauguration of The Rose Museum, adjacent to the Lamin Koto School in The Gambia which they helped build in 2011. Always eyeing “A Better World at Sea” and on land through its philanthropic arm Variety Cares, Variety strives to uphold the foundation’s three-pronged mission to deliver Education for All, Clean Oceans for All, and Gender Equality for All.
West Africa itineraries
The two eight-day itineraries are return trips from either Dakar or Banzul through the Rivers of Gambia and Senegal. On a small boat with a maximum guest capacity of 44 guests, travelers get the chance to Go Deeper within the destination, exploring the local culture and customs. Cruisers, on board the 177 feet Harmony G, experience outstanding wildlife viewing along the West Africa coast and upstream the Gambia River, while discovering the waterways of Senegal and Gambia with visits to a Sine Saloum Delta, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and a birdwatcher’s paradise, Djiffere fishing village, the River Gambia National Park, through the Wassu mysterious stone circles which is another UNESCO World Heritage site, and Bao Bolong Wetland Reserve.
The Rose Museum
In a once-in-a-lifetime moment, the inauguration of The Rose Museum will take place on the sixth day of the seven-day Rivers of West Africa Cruise, December 23, 2023.
Committed to always leaving a positive impact in all their destinations, and to immersing travelers in the local communities, Variety Cruises decided to expand the Lamin Koto School the company built in 2011 with The Rose Museum. Designed by Athens-based ADD Architecture Studio, the museum transforms an abandoned building into a cultural hub that will further boost the local community. ROSE stands for Real Objects Spread Education, but the museum also owes its name to its founder, the late Triantafyllos Venetopoulos – the second generation to helm Variety Cruises – whose first name means “rose” in Greek. The Rose Museum, which will provide independently driven electricity and connectivity, will be a community gathering place, with an open-door policy for all. It is dedicated to the exploration of the world beyond its walls.
nside those walls, the museum is filled with one-of-a-kind artifacts thanks to a newly established collaboration with the venerable Explorers Club and partnerships with other prominent individuals, such as spiritual leader Deepak Chopra, NBA record holder Giannis Antetokounmpo, CEO of Open AI Sam Altam, and Kweku Mandela, Nelson Mandela’s grandson, among others. A carefully crafted curation including personalized videos from the donors, will be displayed on a rotating basis. Richard Garriott, the president of the Explorers Club explains, “We were inspired to join forces with Variety Cruises to work towards our goals to promote scientific exploration of land, sea, air, and space through research and education, and our projects are geared towards achieving that mission.”
The program includes:
Space Exploration: Allowing for space exploration, the Explorers Club has donated a NASA spacecraft and a series of meteorites and original astronaut badges.
Spirituality & Wellness: Deepak Chopra opens the door to spirituality and wellness for all visitors to The Rose Museum, with a personalized book detailing the rules that lead to personal success and advancement.
Competitive Sports: Representing the world of competitive sports, the renowned Greek-Nigerian NBA record holder Giannis Atentokounmpo will be gifting a pair of basketball sneakers along with a personalized note.
Artificial Intelligence: Setting the local children forth to the future of artificial intelligence are exhibits on Chat GPT Technology powered by AI, paired with explanatory videos by Sam Atman, CEO of Open AI.
Art & Philanthropy: Expanding the world of art and philanthropy further, Variety Cruises has invited Audrey Hepburn’s granddaughter Emma Hepburn Ferrer to display a portrait photography and videos, shot in the style of the Inside Out, a participatory platform that helps individuals and communities to make a statement for what they stand for, by displaying large-scale black and white portraits in public spaces.
Emancipation History: Nelson Mandela’s grandson Kweku Mandela will be sharing an inspiring video on emancipation history dedicated to the children of the museum.
Variety’s CEO Filippos Venetopoulos observed, “We strive to create a cultural exchange between our guests and the communities we visit, permitting our guests to Go Deeper into the destinations with carefully crafted excursions and events, and are incredibly grateful to all donors and all patrons for their generosity and support in helping us truly go deeper with our adventures by small boat.”
Attendees celebrating the occasion include Richard Garriott, President of the Explorers Club, who will be cutting the ribbon, and Filippos Venetopoulos, CEO of Variety Cruises.
The Lamin Koto Shool
In 2011, honoring Variety Cruises’s groundbreaking itineraries in the rivers of West Africa, Variety Cruises launched the Lamin Koto School in The Gambia, which they have continuously supported throughout the years, in a bid for it to serve as a prototype for education in the region. After discussion with the local communities, and under the leadership of the late Lakis Venetopoulos, Variety launched the community-run school in order to make education more accessible to remote areas and enrich living conditions while respecting local traditions. The company has continued to support the school ever since maintaining the legacy that Venetopoulos started.
The year 2019 brought the inauguration of a new building, with Variety Cruises supporters Tony and Tiffany Reiner and Marco Maranghello in attendance. In 2020, a new well was installed to bring clean water to the village of Lamin Koto and its surroundings. In 2020, Variety Cares partnered with Inside Out to raise awareness, build community, and support education and clean water in the area. Although West Africa itineraries were put on hold during the Covid pandemic, the Lamin Koto School remained in the hearts and minds of the Variety Cruises family, and the school continued to thrive with their support.
Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.