Alumni Spotlight: Emily Andrews


After graduating from Marianopolis College in the Arts, Literature and Communications program, Emily decided to spend her Gap year on Class Afloat. She has grown up in the rural town of Ste-Agathe-des-Monts with her parents and older sister, Elizabeth. Here, she has found a passion in nature, photography, skiing and writing. But growing up in a small town has inspired her to push boundaries, see the world, discover cultures and embrace discomfort.

Why did you choose this program?

My sister, who's only a year older than I am, did Class Afloat the year before me. Upon her return, I visited the ship that had taken her across the Atlantic Ocean three times in the past nine months. She brought me up to the t'gallant, the highest yard on the mast, and, with the breathtaking view and a beating heart, she asked me if I would pass an opportunity like this one up. The answer was no, most definitely not.

I was not only interested in Class Afloat because of the travel opportunity (22 ports in 20 different countries) or because it is a program that offers authentic sail training, but also because I knew I would meet people with similar interests to mine. I would live with fourty other students from 10 different backgrounds and create unforgettable memories with them. Who could pass it up?

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

The Class Afloat community is so tight knit that alumni are so readily accessible and available to answer questions. That's how I acquired most of my information before beginning my year. Because my sister had completed the experience before I had, she was my most helpful resource and I was ready to go with her help. However, my program provider helped me choose my academic courses for the year. Even though I was a Gap year student, I still had to take two or three online courses with Acadia University. Once I had been enrolled, Class Afloat representatives helped me choose which courses I could take.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Definitely do not expect to be spending a year on a cruise ship. You are going to be working hard all year, doing things you never expected to be doing. We cleaned for an hour every morning, had to fulfill Galley Duty (working in the kitchen), woke up for two hours each night for watch and then completed more watch throughout the day. It isn't an easy year, but it's the most rewarding thing you'll ever do.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

When at sea, your schedule is planned out over a 5 day cycle. Each day, you will have an hour of each of your three courses (or two courses if you're a Gap year student and that's what you choose, but if you take 2 courses, you do four hours of watch per day) and two hours of watch per day. On an average day, you will wake up at 7:20, eat breakfast and then muster (or assemble) at 8. Then you will clean for an hour and at 9, the daily schedule begins. You might have two hours of watch or class, and throughout the day you'll have breaks. At 11:30 there's lunch and then classes start up again at 13:00.

A snack is provided at 15:00. At 18:00, you muster again and then your day is done, unless you have watch from 18-20:00 hours. Dinner is at 18:30, and then there's study hall from 19:00-20:00, which is when your teachers are available to answer questions or you have time to do homework. Afterwards, there is sometimes an activity planned such as a movie showing or a talent show. The five day cycle keeps going until you hit land, where you will have shore leave and get to explore each port. There's no school when you're in port, which is why you don't have "weekends" out at sea.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

I think I was most afraid of losing a year of school back home. It didn't take long before I realized that there was so much more to life than following a conventional schooling pattern. In the adventures I was living every day and the cultures I got to delve into, my anxiety over my education quickly dissipated.