An NPN Study Break


The days are warmer and longer and you’re in the mood for an activity that would be fun and relaxing, one that would take you out of the office while still benefiting your career as a professional or businessowner. If your preference is an Afro-centric peer environment, a National Professionals Network educational seminar aboard a luxury cruise ship is an option.


As popular as cyberlearning may be these days, study at sea programs such as those offered by NPN are as packed today as they were when introduced decades ago. Repeat cruisers account for the majority of the clientele. Each year since its founding in 1992, NPN Education at Sea has hosted “floating forums” that combine daytime continuing education sessions with evening concerts, custom tours and other special events. Billed as “Sailing to Success” and led by professionals in disciplines from medicine, law and wealth management to academia, media, lifestyle coaching and leadership development, the seminars are accredited by historically Black Howard University. Attendees earn Continuing Medical Education (CME), Continuing Legal Education (CLE), or Continuing Education Units (CEUs).


The goal, NPN says on its website,, is to “to share unique business and professional expertise, while networking and vacationing in extraordinary environments.” Registrations are done on the site.


“This is cutting-edge development with respect to Black professionals in this country,” said Kwesi Mfume, former president and CEO of the NAACP, who participated in last year’s 20th anniversary of NPN’s Leadership Summit & Music Festival at Sea.


Barbara Williams-Skinner, president of Skinner Leadership Institute, who also joined the anniversary cruise, said: “Most of all, the quality of the programming and the planning is really a powerful way of bringing together people across generations, different backgrounds that will have lasting friendships. It will help us in the work we do for our community in a very credible way.”


The comments by Mfume and Williams-Skinner were video recorded for NPN.


This year, NPN inaugurates an annual China Leadership Summit & Music Festival at Sea cruise, taking place June 14 to 25, with Viking River Cruises. Ports of call are Beijing, Yangtze, Shanghai and Hong Kong, with visits on land to The Great Wall, the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. Participants stay in five-star hotels on land. Limited to just 256 participants, about half the number on the typical NPN cruise, the cruise has already sold out, but a waiting list on the NPN website was still open when this edition of TNJ went to press.


William Tedford, M.D., president and CEO of NPN Education at Sea and Entertainment at Sea, explained to TNJ in an email from China that 256 was “the full capacity of the Viking Emerald, which is a river boat.”


NPN offers a Caribbean cruise later in the summer — the 2013 Bahamas Leadership Summit & Music Festival at Sea, July 4 – 12, where children 17 and under cruise free. The trip is already sold out and the waitlist is closed. The 2014 Africa Leadership Summit & Music Festival at Sea cruise of southern Africa, Feb. 17 – 27, is also sold out, but the waitlist was still open at presstime. The cruise stops at ports in South Africa and Mozambique, with an optional two-night post-cruise land conference in Johannesburg, South Africa.


Next year’s 2014 Southern Caribbean Leadership Summit & Music Festival at Sea, from July 26 to Aug. 2, was still open at presstime. It stops at ports in Puerto Rico, St. Maarten, St. Kitts, Antigua, St. Lucia and Barbados.