Traveling isn’t just about going to new places, it’s about diving into different cultures and making lasting memories, as all Friendship Force members understand. However, for some members, travel can seem daunting, whether due to mobility issues, age-related concerns, or simply a preference for a slower, more relaxed adventure. Cruise programs can offer a perfect solution, as members discovered when Friendship Force launched its first cruise program, Celebration At Sea, in 2017. That program evolved into what we now know as the Friendship Force Festival At Sea – a fantastic way to explore the world and connect with people without the stress and limitations often associated with traditional travel. The upcoming Festival At Sea: The Classical World, hitting Greece, Montenegro, Croatia, and Italy, promises another exciting adventure.


“I really enjoy Festival at Sea journeys and I try to go every time they are offered. I get to see friends from previous FF journeys in a relaxing atmosphere on the ship. I can explore areas of the world that are beautiful and interesting. I benefit from engaging with the CEO and FFI staff. It truly seems like getting together with family on a grand adventure.” – Chris Duval, participating for the third time this August.


The Festival At Sea (FAS) makes travel easy. Members can relax as they sail to different spots, waking up in a different destination most mornings. Food, entertainment, talks, workshops, and activities are all close by, so it’s a stress-free adventure for all ages and abilities. And even if you’re not into going ashore, you can still enjoy the views from the ship and the fabulous onboard facilities without feeling like you’re missing out.

“I consider FAS like a moving forum, where members can talk together about various FF topics. I first joined FAS in 2018 and was so delighted to confirm that whether we were at sea or on land, we were all FF members and friends. I had joined the Festival at Sea 2019 as well. I had some wonderful encounters and unforgettable memories. Now I am looking forward to new FAS encounters on the Oosterdam ship this summer!” – Kingo Fujita, Japan

Cruise ships are designed for comfort and accessibility with spacious cabins, accessible bathrooms, and ramps for those who need them. They also adhere to strict safety protocols to ensure the well-being of their guests. From trained medical staff to state-of-the-art safety equipment, the ships can handle any situation, providing peace of mind for travelers and their loved ones back home.

But here’s the big question: Can a Festival At Sea be as fulfilling as a typical Friendship Force homestay? Where does the mission come into play?

These are important questions, easily answered by those in the know.

“My wife and I found the FAS experience to be an enriching one since we were able in a contained space and short time to promote peace and friendship in different ways from the usual journey experiences.” – Gary Mitchner, USA


Marilyn Peterson, who’s been on the Festival At Sea three times, also weighs in:

“One of the reasons I like FAS experiences so much is that we spend time “living together” for a week or more, renewing friendships with those we haven’t seen in some time, and making new FF friends. And while this certainly contributes to breaking down those divisive barriers, a cruise affords yet another kind of “immersion” opportunity. On all of the Festivals I have participated in, we have met people who were not FF members and enjoyed connecting with them. Talking with others outside of FF, is how we get the word out about our mission and how we promote peace. And while making such friendships, you are learning about other cultures. It’s a win-win adventure!”


Debbie Powell, FFI’s FAS Director, echoes this sentiment, noting that alongside the FF-organized workshops and activities, there are plenty of chances to interact with other passengers from diverse backgrounds. She recalls encountering a group of strangers in a games room: 

“Two Pictionary rounds later, I’d made new Dutch and Japanese friends and stayed drinking tea with them as we chatted about Friendship Force. I kept bumping into them around the ship and was invited to join them for breakfast. There’s such a warm and welcoming atmosphere onboard, every interaction feels like meeting an old friend”.

Cruise ships are certainly large, but they are far from impersonal. Rather, they are vibrant, multicultural communities where bonds are formed and memories are shared – much like Friendship Force’s own global network.


To inquire about Friendship Force’s cruise programs, including the August 2024 Festival At Sea: The Classical World through Greece, Croatia, Montenegro and Italy, contact Friendship Force at [email protected]


About Friendship Force International

Friendship Force International (FFI) is a cultural exchange organization that has brought people from all over the world of all ages, cultures, and nationalities together for almost 50 years. With a mission of promoting global understanding across the barriers that separate people, FFI has an extensive program of international exchanges many of which have a key homestay component that allows ambassadors to share a home, meals, conversation and everyday experiences. Through these unique experiences, people become friends, seeing beyond governments and borders into the heart of a country and its people. Almost one million people have participated in Friendship Force programs since the organization was founded in 1977 by Wayne Smith and introduced by U.S. President Jimmy Carter. Friendship Force has more than 300 chartered clubs and programs in more than 60 countries on six continents, with more than 18,000 members worldwide. For additional information, visit


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