Semester at Sea

Semester at Sea

Why choose Semester at Sea?

Semester at Sea is a unique, ship-based, multi-country study abroad experience academically partnered with Colorado State University. In one semester, students will get exposure to 10+ countries across multiple continents while earning 12-15 college credits. Our mission is to take journeys of discovery that spark bold solutions to global challenges. Since 1963, more than 73,000 individuals from 1,700 institutions have traveled to more than 60 countries on Semester at Sea and its predecessor programs.


Semester at Sea

Semester at Sea Scholarships & Financial Aid

Each semester, ISE and SAS offer scholarships, need-based grants, and merit grants to make it possible for more students to set sail and join our living and learning community. An average of 60% of voyagers receive some form of aid and scholarships each voyage. Even students who don't receive financial aid at their home colleges or universities may qualify for funding assistance through Semester at Sea. In addition, many students can apply the aid they receive from their home institution to Semester at Sea.

$500 - $10,000


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Yes, I recommend this program

World Campus Afloat / Semester at Sea

I was a student aboard the old World Campus Afloat program Spring 1975 voyage prior to the renaming to Semester at Sea. SP75 traveled east from Florida and ended in Los Angeles after voyaging for about 25,500 miles, for 107 days and visiting 13 different counties and stopping in 13 different ports. I had one outstanding professor, two very good professors and one who should have never been teaching. Overall, the academics, environment and experience were top notch with the one exception. Accommodations aboard the Ship were not much different than living in the Dorms. As we all learned during the 1st week aboard, tolerance, respect and patience for your fellow shipmates or you didn't survive.

After being off the ship and completing the experience 47 years ago, the experience of this semester still remains a life changing event. It indirectly changed my path for employment, it certainly changed my perspective on how the rest of the world views America and Americans, and it allowed me to view America from the outside looking in with hopes and intent of making America and the World a little better. And I am still in touch / communicate with fellow students from SP75.

  • Academics
  • Multi-cultural exposures
  • Life Changing Experience
  • None
Read my full story
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Yes, I recommend this program

Best cultural and educational experience of my life!

Taking college courses on a ship was unlike any experience I've had and taught me how to be a global citizen.
During my time on Semester at Sea, we traveled to 13 countries and experienced 13 different cultures. During in-country days I participated in organized field classes that allowed me to apply concepts from my courses to actual interactions with local experts and organizations. The information I learned during these in-country experiences will forever have an impact on me and my learning.
Voyage 129 taught me how to be flexible, open-minded, resilient, and globally aware. I am grateful to have been a part of an incredible program and I recommend it to any college student!

  • Multiple countries visited
  • Ship life is the best
  • Meet people from all over the world
  • N/A
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Yes, I recommend this program

A Voyage of Discovery

Semester at Sea had a profound impact on my life. By the time I boarded the MV Explorer, I had been to 15 countries and participated in three study abroad programs, but SAS impressed an intrepid traveler like me. Few programs can compare with SAS: a dozen or so ports of call, 100+ days of sailing and exploring the world, a multitude of classes in a variety of subject areas, a floating campus complete with extracurricular activities, and a global community like no other. While the price is steep, this is an investment in your future that you can't afford to skip. For some, the cost is comparable and, in some cases, less than a semester at some colleges. For others, scholarships, financial aid, and careful budgeting may help as they did for me. It may have taken me a decade to pay off my SAS student loan, but the memories, knowledge, perspective, and friendships I gained are priceless.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
The most surprising thing is that we left India on the day the US initiated war with Iraq. Our departure from India was the beginning of 14 days at sea with no clear destination due to the spread of SARS. We ultimately skipped Hong Kong, China, Vietnam, and Cambodia and added an extra stop in Japan and Seward, Alaska instead. Taking a helicopter ride to hike on a remote glacier was a highlight for me! No matter what is happening in the world, SAS is able to pivot and plan voyages that are safe, responsible, and fun!
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Yes, I recommend this program

The journey is the destination

In 2016, I took the journey of a lifetime. I was able to visit 12 countries and 26 different cities that all made a lasting impact on my education and future endeavors.

If you want to go on a multi-country study abroad program, I highly recommend you take the opportunity and sign up for a semester at sea right now. This 106-day voyage around the world will allow you to discover the history of each location your visit, dive deep into their rich cultures, and expand your knowledge of the world around you. You truly become a traveler and not a tourist.

I will cherish my memories and friendship for the rest of my life. This is really a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and you WON'T regret it.

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
Deciding to take the leap and travel independently to join Semester at sea. I was so nervous and didn't know anyone, but the reward was worth the fear! I wouldn't change it for the world!
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Yes, I recommend this program

Semester at Sea Spring 2010 Voyage

Interesting program model and well-facilitated! Such a unique academic experience to learn about a place in your courses then to arrive there by ship to experience it first-hand. Since time at port can vary from a couple days to a week in each country, one must be intentional about how to spend the time. Shipboard community was strong and the alumni community continues to be too.

This was a fun and enriching journey but if you're looking for an immersive cultural experience, it's not what I would recommend.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
This program is fast-paced with a packed travel and educational schedule. It can be tempting to fill port time with an equally intense itinerary. Don't feel pressure to do everything in the tour book! Take time to rest and to be present with the experience and the host cultures.


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Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Douglas W. Johnson

I spent 107 days on World Campus Afloat, Spring 1975 voyage. Departing from Fort Lauderdale, ending in Los Angeles. Went to Morocco, Ivory Coast, Ghana, South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Sri Lanka, India, Malaysia, Philippines, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

A now retired Environmental Scientist, spent 45 years cleaning up oil spills, Superfund sites, hazardous waste sites, household hazardous waste from during post-hurricane, flood and fire events.


Why did you choose this program?

I wanted to travel outside the United States while in college. World Campus Afloat (WCA), now Semester at Sea gave me the opportunity to visit 12 different countries in 4 months while attending school.

It gave me an opportunity to look and experience numerous different cultures, religions and people while completing some of the hardest course work I had as an undergraduate.

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

In 1975, WCA was academically sponsored by Chapman College (now University). It was considered an intra-school transfer from the "home" campus to WCA and back.

I was a political science and geology double major student at the time. This voyage provided direct insight and experiences in both my academic studies areas.

Chapman College didn't give me any direct assistance, it was up to me to request the transfer, maintain my grades and to complete the requirements of the program.

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

You will be overwhelmed with new sights, smells, cultures, religions, and people. Write a daily journal, it will help you process what you experienced and understand the intangible gifts that you receive from participating in this opportunity.

Take Frisbees, balloons, and hard candy, the local little kids you will meet will be a lot of entertainment.

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

While on board the ship, classes everyday with the exception of an occasional Sunday off. While in port, no classes but expect to participate in In-Port Practicas. I averaged one to two per port. They are part of the learning experience. You are required to take 12 to 16 units. I took 14.5. Three classes every day with the 4th class every other day. Then you spend another three to four hours everyday and on Sunday's studying and writing.

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 had no "fears", but lots of apprehensions. Simply put, this was the first time I was totally responsible for my actions. There was no parachute to rescue me if I screwed up. When traveling with girls, I took on the added responsibility of looking out for someone else. It is is safe to say I grew up a lot during these four months. You can say this was a coming of age experience. Also, crammed into a ship with 600 other people you mostly just met is a learning experience in patience, respect, adapting. If you couldn't learn these three things in the first couple of days of a hundred plus day voyage, you were pretty much left out.

Write and answer your own question.

Rule one, keep all your senses in max absorption mode. You will see, smell, hear, and feel many new things. Show respect for those with different beliefs, customs, religions, and cultures. Don't be selfish. But most of all; be respectful.

Also, if you think this is a 4 month party, Don't waste your time and money and more over, don't become a burden or distraction on those that are truly trying to learn something to make a difference in themselves and hopefully others.

I would have gladly seen those that thought the four months as a floating party would have been left somewhere, mostly from the first port of departure.

I would do this again in a heart beat too. It is on my bucket list to redo.

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Karla Correll

Job Title
Assistant Director of Admission
Karla sailed on Semester at Sea Summer 2010 as a student for University of Colorado - Boulder. In 2012, she started in admissions at the Institute for Shipboard Education.

What is your favorite travel memory?

How do you pick a favorite travel memory???

I have endless stories that I could talk about for days, but I will never forget a homestay in Turkey, where the family I stayed with opened their home to me and taught me all about their lives, customs, and culture. The mother in the house was just learning English and we sat over long dinners telling stories of our lives, families, and travels and we would pause every once in awhile to ask her son to translate a few words for each other. It was an amazing experience that I truly felt I was part of someone's life on the other side of the world from me and is something I will never forget.

Which destination is most underrated? Conversely, which is most overrated?

I don't believe in overrated or underrated countries purely because everyone sees places differently, but I do believe that what you put into it is what you get out if it. If you just look at the surface of a country and don't get to know the history, or the culture, or the geography, you are missing out on a huge part of the place you are seeing. Some of the places I enjoyed traveling to the most were the countries I least expected and really had amazing histories, cultures, and friendly people.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

Passion and deep institutional knowledge are the biggest factors in the success of Semester at Sea. Most, if not all, of the ISE/Semester at Sea staff are alumni of the program and know how life changing it can be and that passion is put in each day they work there.

Each and every employee believes in the program and the mission of Semester at Sea, and that ships can carry more than cargo, they can carry ideas. They believe that for over 50 years, Semester at Sea has taught students that the world is their classroom and helped students turn into global citizens.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

At any job, just like any opportunity, you have the ability to get out as much as you put in. I have been very fortunate to be surrounded by hard working people that encourage going above and beyond and allowing for creative and new solutions. With the world changing and technology improving every day, it creates unique challenges, but also great opportunities to get more done from other locations or change something to work more efficiently. With easier and faster access to all corners of the world, the opportunities are endless.

What unique qualities does your company possess?

Semester at Sea is unique in so many ways, but the employees unwavering passion and dedication to the program are unique to any other company I have ever seen. The ability to travel to the ship for embarkation and disembarkation is also very unique. Many companies you do not get to meet their students or customers.

With Semester at Sea, you get to work with the students from admission, preparation, watch them succeed on the voyage, and see them hold their head high as they walk off the ship at the end of a life changing semester. There is nothing more rewarding than that.

Professional Associations

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