Stephen Arata, Professor, U.Va. Dept. of English

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$3,995 per person, double occupancy, Land Only

$4,658 including flights from New York or Boston
(Includes $363 in airline taxes & departure fees)

Other Gateway Cities are available upon request

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Join Professor Steve Arata as we explore some of the most colorful parts of Ireland, including medieval castles, the majestic Cliffs of Moher, the Aran Islands and the prehistoric Dun Aenghus Fortress, Dublin, Killarney and the Ring of Kerry. Professor Arata will present short talks and local guides will introduce us to the sights we will see.

Program Highlights

  • Visit the Trinity College Library in Dublin and see the 8th century Book of Kells, one of Ireland’s most precious treasures.2014_ireland_pic2
  • Marvel at the ruins of 6th century Clonmacnoise, the most important monastic site in Ireland.
  • Embark on an excursion to the Aran Islands, featuring primitive stone forests, early Christian churches and medieval castles.
  • Tour Kylemore Abbey, a turreted castle built in 1861 which now serves as a boarding school for girls.
  • Stand upon the majestic Cliffs of Moher, flat top mountains that rise some 600 feet from the sea, and enjoy amazing scenery.
  • Enjoy dinner at the home of a warm and welcoming Irish family in the town of Killarney.
  • Experience the Blarney Castle and the infamous Blarney Stone. Kiss the stone and you’ll receive the gift of eloquence!


Stephen Arata, Professor, U.Va. Dept. of English

Stephen Arata is Professor of English at U.Va., where he ph-aratahas taught since 1990. He earned his B.A. and M.A. from the College of William and Mary and his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. The recipient of the Alumni Board of Trustees Teaching Award and the NEH Mayo Distinguished Teaching Fellowship, he teaches a wide range of courses on modern British literature and culture and on the history of the novel. In 1999 he was a Fulbright scholar in India, in 2007 he lectured in the U.Va. seminars in Oxford, England, and in 2011 he sailed as a faculty member on U.Va.’s around-the-world Semester at Sea program. The author of numerous scholarly publications, Steve Arata is currently General Co-Editor of the 39-volume Edinburgh University Press of The Collected Works of Robert Louis Stevenson.


Day 1 - Sunday, October 5

Depart the U.S. for Dublin, Ireland

Early this evening, depart the United States for your flight to Dublin.

Day 2 - Monday, October 6

Arrive in Dublin

You’ll arrive in Dublin today and transfer to our hotel.  The afternoon is at leisure to rest and relax, or to begin exploring near our well-located accommodations on St. Stephen’s Green.  Tonight you meet your Odysseys Unlimited Tour Director and fellow travelers for a briefing on the journey ahead followed by a welcome dinner at a local restaurant.

Accommodations: The Shelbourne Dublin
Meals:  Dinner

Day 3 - Tuesday, October 7


This morning’s tour of Ireland’s capital city includes one of2014_ireland_pic4 the nation’s most precious treasures, housed in Trinity College Library:  the 8th-centuryBook of Kells, considered the finest illuminated manuscript in existence.  The library also contains a masterful collection of other breathtaking illuminated manuscripts.  We also visit St. Patrick’s, the national cathedral of the Church of Ireland, whose religious laws have shaped the lives of the Irish for centuries.  This afternoon is free for independent exploration; possibilities abound, including visiting Dublin Castle or Christ Church Cathedral in the heart of medieval Dublin; sipping a pint at the Guinness Storehouse; shopping along trendy Grafton Street; strolling through St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin’s lovely park immortalized by James Joyce in Ulysses – or paying tribute to Joyce at the museum in his name; or viewing art at the National Gallery or artifacts at the National Museum of Archaeology and History.  After dinner on your own this evening we gather at our hotel to embark on an informal evening walking tour (led by our tour director), passing some of the haunts and hiding places of Ireland’s beloved literary sons.

Accommodations:  The Shelbourne Dublin
Meals:  Breakfast

Day 4 - Wednesday, October 8


We leave Dublin this morning for Galway in the West, considered by some to be the most “Irish” part of this most Irish country.  We stop at the ruins of 6th-century Clonmacnoise, the most important monastic site in Ireland.  Located on the East Side of the River Shannon, the monastery occupied a central position in Ireland.  For that reason, it was the chosen burial place of the Kings of Connaught as well as those of Tara, including Rory O’Connor, the last High King of Ireland.  At one time, it was also the most illustrious school in Europe, predating many universities.  Though destroyed by the English garrison in 1552, the monastery has since been transformed into one of Ireland’s most famous visitors’ centers.  After lunch on your own here, we continue on to Galway, arriving mid-afternoon.  We reach our hotel located in the beautiful countryside village of Bearna outside of Galway City.  The remainder of the afternoon is at leisure, and tonight we enjoy dinner together at the hotel.

Accommodations:  The Twelve Hotel
Meals:  Breakfast, Dinner

Day 5 - Thursday, October 9

Galway/Aran Islands

Today we embark on an excursion by coach and ferry to Inismor, the largest of the fabled Aran Islands off the coast of Ireland, which on a clear day can be seen from the Cliffs of Moher.  Long an inspiration to writers (including John Millington Synge, who wrote The Aran Islands), filmmakers (including Robert O’Flaherty, who made Man of Aran), and artists, the Aran Islands are a place apart; indeed, a place beloved by the Irish and by those who visit.  Sitting across Galway Bay in the midst of the Atlantic, the islands feature primitive stone forests, early Christian churches, and medieval castles – as well as shops, galleries, and restaurants.  An islander imparting local lore leads our tour of the island; we stop at Dun Aenghus Fortress, whose three prehistoric stone walls crown the cliffs of Inismore.  After lunch together in a local restaurant and some free time to explore on our own, we return to the mainland and our Galway hotel late this afternoon.  Tonight, dinner is on your own.

Accommodations:  The Twelve Hotel
Meals:  Breakfast, Lunch

Day 6 - Friday, October 10


For pure atmosphere, few places can compete with the wild and barren landscapes of Connemara, our destination today.  Northwest of Galway City, it’s a patchwork quilt of bogs, valleys, mountains, and glacial lakes, punctuated by a lonely cottage from time to time.  It’s also a favorite for hill walkers, who are attracted to the spare beauty of the landscape.  During our travels we visit one of Ireland’s most beautiful sights:  Kylemore Abbey, a turreted castle in the lush Connemara hills.  Built in 1861 by Mitchell Henry as a gift for his wife, it was purchased in 1920 by the Benedictine Nuns, who set about transforming the crumbling structure into a boarding school for girls, which it remains today.  The tourist revenue generated from the Kylemore Abbey goes towards keeping the school and grounds in good repair; it also has helped to restore the Gothic church here.  We continue on through this rugged region that offers spectacular views of the Twelve Ben Mountains on one side and the pounding sea on the other.  After lunch on your own en route, we continue touring, returning to the Galway hotel late this afternoon.  Tonight we enjoy a dinner together at a local restaurant in Galway town.

Accommodations:  The Twelve Hotel
Meals:  Breakfast, Dinner

Day 7 - Saturday, October 11

Galway/County Clare/Killarney

Another day of scenic beauty is in store as we leave Galway for Killarney, traveling south along the fabled coastline of County Clare.  En route, we stop at one of the most visited sites in Ireland:  the Cliffs of Moher, the majestic flat-topped “mountains” that rise vertically some 600 feet from the sea and stretch for five miles from north to south.  The best views of the terrain can be seen from O’Brien’s Tower, an observation point built in 1835.  On a clear day you may be able to glimpse the Aran Islands and the Twelve Bens, as well as Galway Bay.  We also pass through the Burren, the 116-square mile “rocky place” of craggy gray karst (limestone) formations that stretch endlessly in all directions.  While it’s an incredible sight any time of the year, it’s especially impressive in the spring when the wildflowers bloom.  After stopping at a local restaurant for lunch on your own, we cross by ferry into County Kerry, arriving in the capital city of Killarney late this afternoon.  Surrounded by 25,000-acre Killarney National Park, the city is both charming and vibrant.  This evening we break into small groups and enjoy dinner in the homes of warm and welcoming Irish families (at locally owned farmhouses or bed and breakfasts).

Accommodations:  Killarney Royal Hotel
Meals:  Breakfast, Dinner

Day 8 - Sunday, October 12


Established as a resort in the mid-eighteenth century, the town of Killarney is quite charming, with small lanes leading to the main street.  You’ll find a variety of cafés, bookshops, pubs, and restaurants in which to poke around and soak up the atmosphere.  We begin our day’s events with a ride from the town center to late 15th-century Ross Castle on a jaunting cart, the horse-drawn carriage with a “Jarvey” (driver) that is Killarney’s traditional form of transport.  Considered a typical example of the stronghold of an Irish Chieftain during the middle ages, Ross Castle boasts a fairy tale setting on the shores of Killarney’s Lower Lake.  Next we travel by boat to Muckross House (c. 1843), a grand Victorian mansion on the shores of Muckross Lake that ranks among Ireland’s top attractions.  Here we get a glimpse into the lives of the landed gentry, who resided in elegantly furnished rooms upstairs while the “help” lived downstairs.  Muckross House’s gardens are as famous as the manor itself, which is surrounded by magnificent views of Killarney’s mountains and lakes.  We see the informal garden’s lush rhododendrons, and the rock garden with its collection of rolling dwarf conifers.  From here we visit the Kerry Folklife Center, located on the manor’s grounds, where artisans create and exhibit fine examples of bookbinding, pottery, and weaving.  There’s time here to explore and enjoy lunch on your own at Muckross House before we return to Killarney mid-afternoon.  Dinner tonight is on our own; Killarney offers a variety of restaurants from which to choose.

Accommodations:  Killarney Royal Hotel
Meals:  Breakfast

Day 9 - Monday, October 13

Killarney/King of Kerry

Today we experience one of Ireland’s most popular attractions:  the stunning mountain and coastal scenery of the Ring of Kerry, a 110-mile route connecting the Dingle, Iveragh, and Beara peninsulas.  If you haven’t yet experienced the Ireland of your imagination, you’ll probably find it here, as our motorcoach follows winding roads through remote landscapes.  This is one of the last bastions of the Gaelic language, and it feels as ancient as time.  We pass a number of monastic ruins en route, as well as some breathtaking vistas from the clifftops.  Numerous villages also dot the landscape here; we stop at one for an Irish sheep dog demonstration, and at another (Waterville, home to world-renowned golf links), for lunch together before heading back to Killarney, arriving late afternoon.  Dinner tonight is at Kate Kearney’s Cottage, a 150-year-old family-run establishment at the entrance to the Gap of Dunloe.

Accommodations:  Killarney Royal Hotel
Meals:  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10 - Tuesday, October 14


We leave Killarney this morning bound for Kilkenny.  Along the way, though, there’s something that every visitor to Ireland must experience:  Blarney Castle and the infamous Blarney Stone.  Built in the 15th century, the castle is now in ruins but is perhaps even more evocative for it.  If you like, you can proceed to the Blarney Stone for a chance to kiss the rock and receive the gift of eloquence.  Be careful – to kiss the stone you have to bend backwards, so only do it if your back is strong!  After our visit here we proceed to one of Ireland’s largest and most famous stores, the Blarney Woollen Mills, which houses an excellent selection of Irish crafts as well as knits and woolens of all kinds.  After lunch on your own in Blarney, we continue on to County Tipperary and the Rock of Cashel, the celebrated – and beloved – archaeological complex dating to 432 CE.  Towering over the surrounding plain, Cashel exudes the mystery and aura of Irish legend, along with the scenic beauty that attracts visitors from near and far.  Late this afternoon we reach Kilkenny and our centrally located hotel, where we dine tonight.

Accommodations:  The Pembroke Hotel
Meals:  Breakfast, Dinner

Day 11 - Wednesday, October 15


Today we discover Kilkenny, a medieval city known as Ireland’s cultural capital.  We tour 12th-century Kilkenny Castle, considered one of the country’s most beautiful; then we embark on an informal walking tour of Kilkenny itself.  We enjoy lunch together at a local restaurant then the remainder of the afternoon and this evening are free for independent exploration.  The center of Ireland’s artisan and handcraft industries, the city offers the Kilkenny Crafts Trail to guide visitors to the best of the jewelers, potters, glassblowers, ceramicists, and wood and ironworkers who live and work here.  Kilkenny also boasts important historic and architectural sites, including ancient monuments, monastic settlements, old country homes, and burial sites.  Dinner tonight is on our own.

Accommodations:  The Pembroke Hotel
Meals:  Breakfast, Lunch

Day 12 - Thursday, October 16


Heading back to Dublin this morning today we stop in Tully, County Kildare, to visit the National Stud Farm, where we see stables as well as the paddocks, foaling unit, saddlery, forge, and the museum that comprise this center of Ireland’s horse racing industry.  Mid-afternoon we reach our hotel; the balance of the afternoon is at leisure.  Tonight we celebrate our adventure over a farewell dinner at the hotel.

AccommodationsFinnstown Country House Hotel
Meals:  Breakfast, Dinner

Day 13 - Friday, October 17

Depart for U.S.

After breakfast, transfer to the Dublin airport for your return flights to the United States.

Meals:  Breakfast

Optional Post-Tour Extension to Northern Ireland
October 17-20, 2014

Day 13Friday (10/17)
Depart Dublin/Arrive Belfast
This morning we transfer by motorcoach to Belfast, Northern Ireland.  Upon arrival in this historic capital city, we embark on a brief city tour before checking into our hotel, where we dine tonight.

Accommodations: The Fitzwilliam Hotel
Meals:  Breakfast, Dinner

Day 14Saturday (10/18)
County Antrim
Our exploration begins today with a full-day tour of County Antrim, located in the northeastern region of Northern Ireland.  Our first stop:  Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge, the bridge formerly frequented by salmon fisherman and now used for tourism walks to view the beautiful panoramic views of Larrybane Island and Sheep Island seen in the distance.  Next we visit Bushmill’s Distillery, the world’s oldest, where we enjoy lunch followed by a tour to learn how single malt Irish whiskey is made.  This afternoon we travel to Giant’s Causeway, one of Ireland’s most popular attractions and a UNESCO World Heritage site of some 40,000 interlocking basalt columns at the water’s edge.  Here we see rare views of isolated ruins and hexagonal rocks formed centuries ago by flowing lava, as well as kelp walls and shoreline fields that fisherman have used for many generations.  We return to the hotel late this afternoon and dine there this evening.

Accommodations: The Fitzwilliam Hotel
Meals:  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 15Sunday (10/19)
Mid-morning we depart our hotel en route to Dublin, traveling along Ard’s Peninsula, the site of several World War II airfields.  Our first stop is the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum where we witness the re-creation of traditional life in an early 20th-century Northern Ireland town.  We watch as artisans and tradespeople engage in lace making, spinning, weaving, wood turning, and other common trades.  We also tour the largest transport collection in Ireland, with carriages, cars, fighter planes, and an exhibit on the ill-fated R.M.S. Titanic, which was built at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast.  After continuing further along Ard’s Peninsula we then board a ferry for the brief ride across the scenic fjords of Strangford Lough, popular with fishermen, canoeists, and kayakers.  Then we continue the drive to Dublin, arriving late afternoon.  After checking in at our airport hotel, we enjoy time at leisure before dinner together this evening.

Accommodations: Radisson Blu Hotel Dublin Airport
Meals:  Breakfast, Dinner

Day 16Monday (10/20)
Depart Dublin for U.S.
You’ll depart Dublin this morning on your return flight to the U.S.

Meals: Breakfast


Main Tour

The Shelbourne Dublin
Well-located right on St. Stephen’s Green in the heart of Dublin city center, the Shelbourne Dublin offers easy access to shopping on Grafton Street and to Dublin’s many cultural attractions, including St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Trinity College.  The hotel, built in 1824, offers restaurant, bar, and lounge; fitness center; Internet access; and laundry and dry cleaning services.  Air-conditioned guest rooms have private bath with hair dryer, mini-bar, TV, and phone.

The Twelve Hotel
Opened in 2007, the boutique-style Twelve Hotel sits on the west coast of Ireland just a short drive from Galway City and its many shops, restaurants, and pubs.  This 48-room hotel combines classic Irish culture with many up-to-date amenities including a restaurant, bar, lounge, Internet access, laundry and dry cleaning services, and wellness center.  Each air-conditioned guest room comes with private bath with hair dryer, in-room safe, wet-bar, TV, and phone.

Enchanting Ireland

Killarney Royal Hotel
Owned and managed by the Scally family for three generations, the Killarney Royal Hotel stands in the heart of Killarney and just minutes from the Outlet Center.  This boutique-style hotel offers a restaurant, bar, bistro, Internet access, laundry and dry cleaning services, and safe deposit boxes.  Air-conditioned guest rooms have private bath with hair dryer, TV, and phone.

The Pembroke Hotel
Located at the top of High Street, Kilkenny’s primary shopping district, The Pembroke Hotel offers beautiful views of the city and of neighboring Kilkenny Castle.  With its marble façade and tinted glass windows, the newly built hotel resembles a traditional Irish hotel enhanced with contemporary facilities including a restaurant, bar, lounge, Internet access, laundry and dry cleaning services, fitness center, and indoor pool with spa.  The 74 air-conditioned rooms have private bath with hair dryer, in-room safe, mini-bar, TV, and phone.

Finnstown Country House Hotel

This charming 82 guest room hotel is situated in a tranquil setting of 45 acres of mature gardens and conveniently located outside Dublin’s city center, a short drive from the airport. The hotel has a restaurant, coffee shop, lounge, and steam room. Air-conditioned guest rooms have private bath with hair dryer, in-room safe, coffee and tea maker, TV, phone, and internet access.

Post Tour Option Meals and Hotels
4 Breakfasts; 1 Lunch; 3 Dinners

The Fitzwilliam Hotel
Well-located in the heart of Belfast on Great Victoria Street, the 131-room Fitzwilliam Hotel Belfast offers easy access to many cultural attractions including the Grand Opera House, the Ulster Museum, and the Botanical Gardens.  This classic-style hotel, opened in 2009, boasts a Michelin-starred restaurant, as well as a bar, fitness center, Internet access, laundry and dry cleaning services, and elevators.  Air-conditioned guest rooms have private bath with hair dryer, mini-bar, TV, and phone.

Carlton Hotel Dublin Airport
Adjacent to the Dublin airport with complimentary 24-hour shuttle service, the contemporary Carlton Hotel Dublin Airport offers a variety of amenities including a rooftop restaurant, bistro, bar, Internet access, laundry and dry cleaning services, and fitness center.  The 100 air-conditioned guest rooms offer private bath with hair dryer, tea- and coffee-making facilities, in-room safe, TV, and phone.


Breakfast: 11 meals; Lunch: 3 meals; Dinner: 7 meals

Program Fees

$3,995 per person, double occupancy, land only.  See air inclusive price below.

A limited number of single rooms are available for a supplement of $895 to the per person, double occupancy rates.

Price includes:

  • Exclusive departure for the University of Virginia Cavalier Travels
  • Small group size limited to 22 guests
  • Round-trip air transportation from listed cities if air included option is selected
  • 11 nights’ accommodations in listed properties
  • 21 meals: 11 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 7 dinners
  • Extensive sightseeing as described in day-by-day itinerary, including all entrance fees
  • Services of a dedicated Odysseys Unlimited Tour Director
  • Private motorcoach transportation throughout the trip
  • Luggage handling for one bag per person
  • Gratuities for local guides, dining room servers, airport and hotel porters, and all drivers

 Does not include:

  • Airline taxes and departure fees (listed as separate item on invoice)
  • Airport transfer if not choosing the air-inclusive package
  • Gratuities for the Tour Director (left to individual discretion)

$4,658 per person, double occupancy with economy-class roundtrip airfare from New York or Boston. (Includes $363 airline taxes & departure fees, which will be listed listed on the invoice)

 A limited number of single rooms are available for a supplement of $895 to the per person, double occupancy rates.
In addition to the inclusions noted in the land-only pricing, air-inclusive price includes:

  • Round-trip air transportation from listed cities if air included option is selected
  • Airport transfers
  • Airline taxes and departure fees will be listed as separate item on invoice

Post-tour Extension to Northern Ireland: $995 per person, double occupancy. Single supplement of $195.  A minimum number of participants is necessary for the extension to run.

General Terms & Conditions

Please read this information carefully, as a payment of a $500 deposit per person represents your acceptance of the following Terms and Conditions.

Payment Schedule: A deposit of $500 per person confirms your reservation. The balance of your invoice is due 95 days (July 2, 2014) before departure.

Not Included in Tour Price: Airfare when purchasing a land only package; costs of passports and visas; personal expenses such as beverages, laundry, room service, and meals not specified; airport transfers when purchasing a land only package; communication charges; optional sightseeing; gratuities to your Odysseys Unlimited Tour Director, which are at your discretion (suggested gratuity: $10-$15 per day per traveler); travel protection insurance. Additional baggage fees may apply and are subject to change at any time. You should confirm directly with your airline prior to departure.

Cancellation and Refunds: If you must cancel your trip, the effective date of cancellation will be upon our receipt of your written notification. Refunds for cancellations are subject to the following per person charges: Cancel 95 days or more before departure: $200 charge; Cancel 94-65 days before departure: 25% of tour price; Cancel 64-45 days before departure: 50% of tour price; Cancel 44-30 days before departure: 75% of tour price; Cancel 29-0 days before departure: No refund. If a guest makes any changes between 94 and 30 days prior to departure, Odysseys Unlimited, Inc. will apply a $100 per person administrative fee, in addition to any fees or penalties imposed by third parties. Changes are subject to availability and cannot be guaranteed. If your reservation changes from double occupancy to single occupancy for any reason, you will be charged the single supplement. No changes are allowed within 30 days of departure.

Upon reservation you must provide your full legal name as it appears on your passport, your date of birth and gender. In the event an airline ticket is issued with incorrect information you have provided, you will be responsible for charges associated with the ticket’s reissue.

Responsibility: The liability of the University of Virginia, as sponsor, and Odysseys Unlimited, Inc., as tour operator, is strictly limited. The University of Virginia and Odysseys Unlimited, Inc. purchase transportation, hotel accommodations, restaurant and other services from independent suppliers not under our control. We serve only as agents for these suppliers in securing tour arrangements, and therefore will not accept responsibility for wrongful, negligent, or arbitrary acts or omissions of these independent contractors, their employees, agents, servants or representatives. The University of Virginia and Odysseys Unlimited, Inc. are not liable for injury, damage, loss, accident, or delay that may be caused by events not within our control, including without limitation, acts of terrorism, war, strikes, the defect of any vehicle, or the negligence or default of any third party. All coupons, receipts, and tickets issued are subject to the terms and conditions specified by the air carriers, cruise line, and other independent suppliers. We will make every effort to operate our tours as planned, but we reserve the right to make itinerary changes as necessary. If unforeseen circumstances require us to change a hotel, we will select alternative accommodations of the same or better quality. If you choose to make your own air arrangements, Odysseys Unlimited, Inc. shall not have any liability for any loss resulting from cancellation of this tour or changes in this tour.

Health and Medical Issues: We request that you be in fairly good health to participate in an Odysseys Unlimited tour. There is a considerable amount of walking, and you must be able to get on and off motorcoaches on your own. If you require the use of a wheelchair or have other personal needs, you must be accompanied by a companion who will assist you. We reserve the right to remove anyone whose physical or mental condition, in our opinion, compromises the operation of the tour or detracts from the enjoyment or safety of the other passengers. In that event, Odysseys Unlimited and the University of Virginia assume no financial responsibility for any unused portion of the tour.

Air Transportation – Important Information: Odysseys Unlimited, Inc. includes in its tour price round-trip economy air from designated gateway cities and contracts with those airlines they feel provide the level of service, routings, and value necessary for your entire trip. While another airline may offer a more direct connection, it may be at a price unavailable at the lower group rates. You will receive your preliminary air scheduled approximately 2 ½ months prior to departure. Please note that seat assignments on your international flight are usually done at airport check-in. Odysseys Unlimited is unable to guarantee any seat assignments. Due to the nature of tour operator tickets, other restrictions apply, including but not limited to, frequent flyer mileage accrual, stopovers, alternate travel dates, upgrades, and airline taxes and departure fees. If you prefer to make your own travel arrangements, land only is available on most tours. Since international and domestic air schedules are subject to change at any time, we recommend that if you choose to make your own airline reservation, you do not purchase non-refundable tickets or those with high penalties for changes. If you choose to make your own air arrangements, Odysseys Unlimited, Inc. shall not have any liability for any loss resulting from cancellation of this tour or changes in this tour.