Semester at Sea: Study Around the World
98% Rating
(146 Reviews)

Semester at Sea: Study Around the World

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Explore multiple countries around the world while earning up to 15 credits! Each voyage varies in it's destinations, but will definitely provide a wide range of cultures and countries to see. Check the SAS website for lists of past trips and plans for the future ones. Hope you have your sea legs ready!

Spring 2018 Semester Voyage

  • Dates: January 5, 2018 - April 19, 2018
  • 102 Days, 11 Countries, 15 cities, 4 continents

Destinations: (Hawaii) United States, Japan, China, Vietnam, Myanmar (Burma), India, Mauritius, South Africa, Ghana, Morocco

Fall 2018 Semester Voyage

  • Dates: September 9, 2018 - December 23, 2018
  • 106 Days, 11 Countries, 13 cities, 4 continents

Destinations: Germany, Spain, Ghana, South Africa, Mauritius, India, Myanmar (Burma), Vietnam, China, Japan, (Hawaii) United States

Spring 2019 Semester Voyage

  • Dates: January 5, 2019 - April 19, 2019
  • 102 Days, 11 Countries, 15 cities, 4 continents

Destinations: (Hawaii) United States, Japan, China, Vietnam, Myanmar (Burma), India, Mauritius, South Africa, Ghana, Morocco

North America » United States of America » Hawaii
Europe » Spain » Valencia
Africa » Ghana » Accra
Africa » South Africa » Cape Town
Africa » Mauritius
Africa » Morocco » Casablanca
Asia » India » Kochi
Asia » Myanmar
Asia » Vietnam » Ho Chi Minh City
Asia » China » Shanghai
Asia » Japan » Kobe
Program Type
Subject Areas
Art History
Creative Writing
Cultural Studies
English Literature
International Business
Liberal Arts
Marine Biology
Women's Studies
Some Activities
Online Application
Starting Price
Price Details
Our program fees include up to 15 academic credits, housing, buffet style meals, medical insurance, one in-port field trip for each course, and a full-time shipboard residential and student services team. We have full scholarships, service and journalism fellowships, need and merit grants, and skill based work study financial aid awards available. We award $4 million in financial aid each year!

Questions & Answers

Unfortunately, you'll have to wait until you're enrolled at an accredited university / college. Hope that helps!
All courses are taught in English. To help prepare you for in-port experiences, SAS will give you a cheat sheet of common phrases for the local language in each country. Additionally, sometimes brief language sessions are taught by visiting lecturers prior to arrival in each country.
Yes. There is a salad bar and vegetables at every meal. Also their are potatoes that are meat free and typically the pasta and soup served were vegetarian as well. My roommate was vegetarian and had no problem with the options available.

Program Reviews

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Program Reviews (146)

28 years old

Morocco tour, Camel trekking in Sahara Desert during SAS


We were travelling as a group of four (all students) and we were all really excited for our desert trip during SAS, we used Morocco Excursions Company, but not quite sure what to expect. We did the four day trip from Marrakech to Fes and it was fantastic. I would highly recommend doing at least four days as we thought that covering the same distance in three days would be a bit too much driving each day.

In terms of reviewing the trip itself, it couldn't have been any better. The places we saw were absolutely breathtaking – the stunning ksar of Ait Benhaddou, Ouarzazate (the "Hollywood of Morocco"), the Erg Chebbi dunes, the Todra Gorge and many other amazing places. Morocco has such a diverse range of landscapes and we saw so many of them on the Morocco Excursions trip.

The best thing though was the places we stayed on the trip. Although we paid for the budget option, we were really impressed with the quality of accomodation. Our rooms were large and spacious and the breakfast/dinner provided was very good. The locations were incredible though. In Merzouga, we stayed right on the edge of the sand dunes, which was absolutely breathtaking. Whilst dunes are the stereotypical image of the Sahara, they are only found in two places in Morocco and to have them just two hundred metres from your hotel window was so unexpected and a really fantastic experience.

Our guide, Aziz, was friendly, funny and insightful. He was also an excellent driver and over four long days of driving we never once felt unsafe with his driving skills. He definitely made our trip better than it would otherwise have been and his helpfulness and local nous were much appreciate by us all. Likewise, Hassan was really responsive to all of our emails and was very helpful with any questions we had before the trip.

We had a fantastic experience with Morocco Excursions and couldn't recommend them more.

21 years old
Hong Kong

Semester at Sea Spring 2016 -- Wanna do it all over again.


Semester at Sea
Semester at Sea is an overseas exchange program overseen and administered by the nonprofit organization of the Institute of Shipboard Education. The program has a long history of partnership with top US universities in offering students a global comparative education.

Every year, SAS embarks on two voyages which take place either during spring (Spring Voyage - January to April) around the world and autumn (Fall Voyage - September to December) around the Mediterranean and Atlantic Ocean.

Between the two options, I have opt for the Spring 2016 “A Voyage Around the World” which circumnavigates the globe in 102 days, traversing the waters of 12 countries, namely, the US, Mexico, Japan, China, Vietnam, Burma, India, Mauritius, South Africa, Ghana, Morocco and England.

“The World Campus Afloat”—The MV World Odyssey
The MV World Odyssey is the 6th ship to sail with SAS. Meticulous maintenance had been carried out to remodel the German-built luxury cruise liner so as to better accommodate the academic aspect of SAS. With a tonnage of 22,400 and 10 decks, the ship carries approximately 50 faculty staff members, 150 crew members and 600 undergraduate students from all over the world.

How did I study on the ship?
• Academic Structure
The standard SAS course requirements include enrolling for 4 courses, of which one of them must a Global Lens course. The days spent at sea sailing between different countries are normal class days, alternating between Day A and B without breaks. Occasionally, designated “Study Days” are arranged before mid-terms, special activities and finals, providing students either with some downtime to relax or to catch up with schoolwork. This rigorous academic system allows students to complete all 12 credits by the end of the semester and their courses with the equal level of depth and class time compared to on-land campuses, if not more.

Additionally, each course is paired with a Field Lab (a field trip) in one specific country of the professor’s choosing to learn more about local customs. Afterwards, students are expected to put pen to paper a “Field Lab Report” to reflect on the day trip and in what ways did the Lab relate daily textbook concepts and class learnings to a country’s history and practices.

• How do we study on a ship?
To much of my surprise, prior to my departure, I was informed by a 2012 SAS alumni from HKU that Wi-Fi is not available on board. The principal reason for internet restriction is due to SAS’s goal for students to pay greater attention to forming actual human nexuses rather than clinging onto distant, virtual friendships.

Nevertheless, to assist with on-ship and external communication, students are provided with email service (“Seamail”). Given Seamail only authorizes text messages and attachments, it had challenged students like myself to come up with ingenuous methods to stay connected to our families e.g. I attached pictures to Word documents and converted them to PDFs before sending it to my friends and family. Also, the academic platform of Moodle and a public drive were used extensively to turn in assignments, attempt quizzes and share information.

Extracurricular Activities
You may wonder: without internet access and other forms of entertainment, what were our pastimes for 4 months at sea? In fact, as aforementioned, studying had already taken up the majority of time and kept us occupied throughout the day. For the rest of the time, one could work out at the gym to maintain physical fitness, sunbathe or swim in the pool, host or participate in student clubs on board. Here are a few examples of what I did on board:

• The Amazing China Cultural Club

Me and nine other Chinese students on board have co-founded “The Amazing China Cultural Club” to present the intriguing side of Chinese culture to foreign students, prepare them for the possible culture shock before visiting Shanghai and Hong Kong and teach them basic survival Chinese/Cantonese phrases.

Ballroom Dancing Club
Apart from hosting a student-directed club, I was also an active member of the Ballroom Dancing Club. 

Our student instructors have taught us the basics of four latin dances: Cha-Cha-Cha, Rumba and Samba and Tango. As part of club showcase, we have performed a dance number during the Talent Show.

Places Visited: Favorite and Least Preferred Country
Students gathered at San Diego, CA to be bused over to board the ship at Ensenada, Mexico. We ventured out from the Americas, setting sail across the Pacific Ocean to Hawaii and finally, after the longest stretch of 18 days, the MV World Odyssey docked at Japan (Yokohama, Kobe).

From then on, we sailed through the waters of many Asian countries: (Shanghai) China, Hong Kong, (Ho Chi Minh City) Vietnam, (Yangon) Burma, (Cochin) India and to (Port Louis) Mauritius, a tiny island nation in the Indian Ocean.

For the third part, we continued with our journey up and around the African continent to (Cape Town) South Africa, (Takoradi, Tema) Ghana and (Casablanca) Morocco before disembarking at (Southampton) England, officially ending our around-the-world endeavor.

• Favorite Country: South Africa
Cape Town (South Africa) was definitely one of the best ports of call I have visited. It was the epitome of both education and new experience. For my Gender and Society class, we got to visit the Blikkiesdorp Township just 30 minutes away from downtown. It was a place where we obtained extensive insight about HIV/AIDS, poverty and crime among the grass-root class as it was plagued with problems as such. This posed as a drastic contrast to the façade of Cape Town’s prosperity, especially when compared to what we have seen at the Waterfront area close to where we docked, a district that radiates a sense of establishment and affluence.

Apart from the knowledge (Apartheid and South Africa’s current development) that this country has to offer, it had also proved itself to be one diverse, thrilling and incredibly hospitable travel destination. To begin with, I have had the privilege to go on an phenomenal safari trip organized by SAS to meet “The Big Five”, skydive out of an airplane at an altitude of 9,000 ft., climbed 3,558 ft. back up the world-renowned Table Mountain and finally, got to sample some of South Africa’s native game meats such as ostrich, kudu (a type of antelope), Springbok (another type of antelope) and warthog (an African wild boar). 

• Least Preferred Country: Ghana
Intriguingly, the other country that I would like to evaluate is also in Africa. Upon my first day arriving in Ghana, I could already sense the economic hardship this country is in from the highly prevalent occurrences of graft.

During our 4-hour drive to and from the Kakum National Park, we stopped at 6 police checkpoints. Every time, our driver would utter an excuse to shake the policemen’s hands and pay them 1 Cedi each time (about HKD$2). On the right shows a discrete snapshot I took of a Ghanaian policeman ordering our taxi driver to pull over before an instance of corruption took place.

The locals have given me such polarized impressions of this country. On one hand, we did receive a lot of warm welcomes and hospitality from students of the University of Ghana as well as from University of Cape Coast. They had magnanimously helped us navigate our way around the cities of Takoradi, Tema and the capital of Accra and provided much valuable information useful in completing our academic research papers.

Yet, on our Field Lab with Introduction to Social Psychology at the Oxford Street Market, unfortunately, most female participants, including myself, had experienced some of the worst cases of sexual harassment over the course of this voyage, usually directed from local street vendors. For me, I was verbally harassed by stall holders as I was about to get on the bus and depart for our ship. It is very commendable that our course instructor, Mikki had tried her very best in shielding us from the vendors’ distasteful comments and unprovoked aggression during the Field Lab and took quick precautions such as swiftly reporting the incidents to the SAS administration and relocated the Lab to a different venue the next day. 

Difficulties and Special Moments
• Preparation

SAS as a sobering and enthralling experience certainly did not occur with ease for me. One cannot believe the mounting pressure the program bestow upon you as there was so many items and so much detail to esteem for such as financial considerations, health and safety, packing and constantly overcoming the obstacles that preparation throws in your way.

As a case in point, the application for visas was indeed a very close call pushing all time limits and effort. As a Hong Kong citizen, I have to complete 3 entry visas and among them, the one for Ghana deemed the most vexing. Since Hong Kong no longer has a Ghana Consulate that process visas for visitors, I had to make contact with the Ghana Embassy in Beijing that redirected me to an honorary consular in Hong Kong. The official gave me his word the visa would be completed in two weeks’ time but it ended up taking three working weeks before I rushed over to collect it in one afternoon and with only 10 minutes left on the clock, dashed off from one end of Wanchai to another towards the India Consulate to apply for the remaining visa.

It is indescribable how relieved I was when I finally made it to the India Consulate out of breath, profusely perspiring, with precisely 2 minutes to spare but finally filed all documents in just in time. Nevertheless, I have heard visa stories from my fellow shipmates that completely humbled me: Chinese students were required to apply for 7 visas and even more ludicrous; for Lebanese students, a jaw-dropping number of 10.

Bracing Ourselves for Finals

If you think SAS is an extravagant 102-day lavish vacation around the world with sumptuous food, free-flowing wine and pleasure in all of its forms, you cannot be any more mistaken. As the voyage drew to a close, during the last 2 weeks before the final exams, I had lived a dreaded routine of passing out from exhaustion at 1am and springing back to life at 7am the next morning, meanwhile spending the rest of my waking hours studying, writing and revising. But I am fortunate to say that I have a group of friends that worked hard together with me every day at the Berlin Restaurant to leap over whatever hurdles that came in our way.

How to make use of this experience?
Why should one take part in this costly undertaking? My response to that is: it is a life-changing process that helps to define yourself. Not only does SAS nurture independence more so than any other exchanges as it encourages its students to travel independently in so many different countries. But it also fosters incomparable problem-solving capabilities in due course by allowing them to handling unfamiliar situations e.g. itinerary planning, locating transport and dealing with the most unexpected predicaments one might encounter in entirely foreign cultural backdrops.
The most pivotal calibers that I have sharpened throughout this journey are open-mindedness and adaptability. SAS had trained us prolifically with observing, experiencing, accepting and finally adapting to various cultural differences around the world. These alone, I believe, are traits that will continue to serve me well whatever settings I find myself in in the future.

25 years old
Paulden, Arizona

INCREDIBLE but not always easy.


I have four journals filled with unique stories: praying with a MYANMAR monk, a monkey stealing my dinner in ZIMBABWE, a karaoke battle with locals in MOROCCO, taking an exam while in a PACIFIC storm with 30 foot waves, and I could go on. Semester at Sea is, without a doubt, the ultimate travel experience.

It wasn't always easy. In Myanmar, while walking through valley of 10,000 temples, we stumbled on a factory that utilized child labor. They graciously invited us in and I watched 20 young girls sit around in a room where they worked dawn to dusk, 7 days a week, 365 days a year so that their families could have enough meager food to live. Only a few weeks later I met a Ghanaian school teacher on the street who proudly told me of an ex pupil who was graduating University.

A trip around the world shows you the world and the world is incredible and beautiful and rich but it needs our help. You will not be the same after Semester at Sea. You will be traveled, you will be informed, and you will be more than you were before.

23 years old
University Heights, Ohio
John Carroll University

A voyage of a life time


Semester at sea made me sea the world from different perspectives. Comparing and contrasting the different places we visit every week added a lot to my experience and my knowledge about the world. It broke many of my stereotypes and I can't tell how grateful I am to have been part of the Fall 2015 voyage. Being isolated from the world yet travelling the world is a magical feeling and has been very crucial to teaching me about myself and my shipmates. I highly recommend it.

27 years old
Charlottesville, Virginia
Western Illinois University

My Most Influential Experience


Sailing on a Semester at Sea voyage was the most influential experience of my life. I visited places I only read about, met life-long friends, and gained a global prospective.

Visiting multiple places in one semester and comparing each to each other and to my own county is a very effective learning technique. We were constantly moving, exploring, and discovering new things everyday. Living on a ship and being part of the shipboard community was my favorite part of the entire experience. Eating with a professor and their family is not uncommon and actually encouraged. Everyone on the ship has the desire and passion to learn about the world through experimental learning. I would learn about the Egyptian history in class and the next day, I was at The Pyramids of Giza and looking at the face of The Sphinx.

Most people sign up for a study abroad program to see new places, experience a different culture, or to eat better food - afterwards they realize the most valuable part is the people you meet along the way. For the first time I felt like I found my "tribe". When you travel and live on a relatively small space with a group of people, you become extremely close quickly. It's been almost 6 years since I've sailed and I still consider my Semester at Sea group of friends my best friends.

Overall, Semester at Sea is a way to see a lot of the world in one semester. If you're not sure which country to pick, why choose? With Semester at Sea you can see many countries and be a part of a thriving shipboard community. Be prepared to return with a whole new outlook of the world and an incredible group of people you will call family.

How can this program be improved?

The program could benefit from providing resources and support after the students disembark. The experience is so powerful and life-changing, I know I would have appreciated a place where I could connect with past alumni or be more informed about opportunities to connect with my local alumni chapter.

23 years old
Chicago, Illinois

World Traveler


Imagine traveling the world with newfound friends on a ship sailing around the world. This is by far the most significant and eye-opening experience of the world. Semester at Sea takes you to legendary cities around the world; St. Petersburg, Paris, DUBLIN, Havana, Casablanca, with the ease of sailing. When stopped at port the students are allowed to travel to anywhere they wish; provided that they have the means and logistics to make it back to the ship. What is unique is that Semester at Sea provides teaching and college courses on the ship itself. Complete with overhead projectors this ship is a floating classroom lead by the most prostegious faculty members worldwide. The staff is very friendly and welcoming. They are going through the same experience as the students; traveling the world!

The nights spent lying on the beach at night looking at thousands of stars on the sands of Lagos, Portugal with friends and camel trek riding through the Sahara desert to meet the Nomads will forever remain the most amazing experience of my life. Semester at Sea provides many avenues for scholarships. They themselves help you out A LOT. As long as they see that you are serious and willing to put in work, they will do their best to provide you with the funds to achieve this dream to travel the world.

How can this program be improved?

The food! My goodness everything was carbs carbs carbs. Pasta is the staple subsidy for us college students and will be disgusted after a month of eating it. Nonetheless the food is always fresh; just wish there's more variety. A small price to pay to see the world.

23 years old
Flagstaff, Arizona
Northern Arizona University

Semester at Sea Sp '15


SAS gave me ability to go to countries I never thought I would reach, and helped me determine who I want to be as a traveler and global citizen. It taught me how to be culturally sensitive, not only for places that are unfamiliar, but also for the place I call home. I was able to form friendships with people that were different from me in many ways, and create a bond I didn't realize could exist in only four months. Plus the wide range of emotions from the laughter to the tears resulted in the most growth I have experienced in my 5 semesters of college.

How can this program be improved?

The only thing that would be better was if it was a whole year!

30 years old
Washington, DC
James Madison University

Semester at Sea is the best decision you'll ever make


Just do it. Four months on a ship that goes around the world?! When else will you have a chance to do something so cool? Every day is something new and exciting! You get the chance to meet people from all over the U.S. and all over the world. The professors teach super interesting courses in a wealth of different subject areas. The food is terrible (or was when I did it), but bring food with you and buy stuff in ports and you'll be fine. Go on as many excursions as possible, as they often get you further away from the port then would be feasible on your own. They can also help you get visas to secondary countries, because you can't leave the country on your own- you must be on an excursion.

23 years old
Los Angeles, CA
University of Southern California

Most Amazing Experience of My Life


I would recommend this program to any individual that has a passion to travel and see the world. The experiences I had on Semester at Sea opened my eyes to the possibilities that life has to offer as well as gave me insight into new cultures. This program also challenged me to step out of comfort zone and explore places I have never even heard of. I made the most amazing, lifelong friends on my voyage and loved every second of my time on the MV Explorer.

25 years old
Austin, Texas
University of Texas- Austin

The best 4 months of my life


This was an epic experience and I had some of the best times of my life while on this study abroad program. It was eye-opening, inspiring, exciting and made me see the world in a different light. I would highly recommend this program to anyone!

24 years old
Beverly, Massachusetts
Ohio University

Semester at Sea: The Best Decision I've Ever Made


While traveling to 13 different countries in 4 months is incredible in itself, it is the unique shipboard community of Semester at Sea that makes it one of a kind. I will never forget the ship cutting the lights in the middle of the Indian Ocean so the on-board astronomy professor could captivate us with the legends and stories of ancient gods and goddesses, all while underneath a captivating night sky that words will never truly describe. There's no feeling like being in the middle of the ocean with the nearest humans hundreds of miles away, and the stars are just the beginning.

How can this program be improved?

The price is the obvious setback for most potential SASers but it is to be expected when the cost of tuition, multi-country travel and fuel is considered. If I could truly change one thing, then I would want to find a way to reduce this somehow, or find sources to provide more students with bigger financial aid packages.

Truthfully, I have sat here and racked my brains. I don't think I would ever want to change a thing about Semester at Sea. It changed my life.

22 years old
Madison, WI
University of Wisconsin- Madison

Learning about other cultures enriches our own lives.


It is incredibly fun to travel the world, on a ship, with over 600 students from around the world. Every day is a new adventure, both in the ship and in ports. Most of the time we did not speak the native language of a country and it was very hard to communicate, but we were always able to figure out a way to express our feelings and needs in each country.
We were a group of six friends in Myanmar and we had the opportunity to get in touch with relatives of my aunt's friend. They were three and they took us sightseeing, took us out for dinner, and they invited us to the pool at their condo. It was a beautiful experience because we got to connect with locals and see their life styles. We were able to ask any questions and they were also interested in learning about our culture.
Even though we had never heard about each others, we did not make plans ahead, and we are from different continents and have different likes and dislikes, we had a great time, and it was a very valuable and enriching experience I will always remember.

How can this program be improved?

It would be great if the program was cheaper for students. I know SAS always tries to get more funding to give out more scholarships to students, so it would be great if more alumni, schools and programs can contribute to make many more students achieve their dream of going on Semester at Sea.

23 years old
Knoxville, Tennessee
University of Tennessee- Knoxville

Semester at Sea Summer 2014


An incredible summer, visited 9 different countries around Europe all while living on a ship with other college students. The classes were well structured and the teachers excellent, but the real fun was being able to explore different countries and cultures with people who had been complete strangers just days before. I still stay in constant contact with several of the friends I made on the trip, and it has allowed me opportunities to travel all around the United States to visit them in the last couple years. I could not possibly recommend semester at sea more highly than anything to a student interested in travel.

How can this program be improved?

Better food, but there were very few complaints

27 years old
Denver, Colorado
Metropolitan State University of Denver

Semester At Sea: Exceptionally Unique


Semester at Sea really was an exceptionally unique experience. I was convinced that if I didn't study abroad in college I would be missing out on a huge opportunity, but I was having difficulty deciding on just one country to go to. I was initially attracted to the idea that Semester at Sea traveled to multiple countries but that was just the beginning of its uniqueness. I found a "home afloat" in my ship accommodations which gave me a comfortable home base to decompress and familiarity that became so important to my mental health among all the new locations and culture shock. Semester at Sea took its time in picking the best of the best staff and faculty, so my education came from people I would normally not of had the opportunity to learn from. An overall theme of sustainability gave us a global lens to view all our lessons and experiences through, and something very applicable to take home and unique to put on my resume. Finally the in-country excursions set up by the program were absolutely once in a life time experiences I wouldn't find anywhere else, such as canyoning through the mountains in Spain, seal watching on rib boats in Sweden, and kayaking through the Fjords in Norway. If you are on the fence about doing this program I hope my review has convinced you to go. This is something you don't want to miss out on.

How can this program be improved?

I was very saddened to hear that Semester at Sea is no longer offering Summer semesters. The summer semester was so appealing to me because I had obligations at home that couldn't be left for longer than the two and half months I was gone for. The summer semester was also a more affordable option than the spring or fall semester which was also very appealing because this program is certainly on the pricey side. I didn't have my parents to help me with finances, I had a job that was important to hold on to, and a family that I had already built a home with so the summer semester was my only realistic option. Bring back the summer semester SAS!

23 years old
Hilo, Hawaii
University of Hawaii- Hilo

My Family in India


I met so many beautiful people in India. One of those people was my tuk tuk driver. He made me and my friends feel comfortable and safe from the moment we went into his tuk tuk and who knew we would end up such great friends. He took us anywhere we wanted. We went to shops where we bought spices and a sari. After I bought my sari and went to another shop he told us he would be right back and when he came back he had a string of jasmine flowers that he put in my hair making me look like a beautiful Indian princess. I loved it, at that moment he felt like my father and although I come from somewhere on the other side of the world we had a connection and I trusted him. After I bought and immediately wore my sari we went to get some local Indian food. At this restaurant the waiters helped us order the foods we must try not he menu and we did. While we waited for our food I looked up and noticed an older Indian woman looking at me and smiling. I smiled back and she pointed to her sari and then at mine and gave me a thumbs up gesture. This was another amazing moment for me. This older Indian woman just approved my Indian outfit which meant more to me than just looking good. I felt that with her approval I was culturally acceptable and didn’t look like a tourist wearing an Indian outfit because it was cool. I was falling in love with India, the people, the culture, and soon enough the food. When the food came I was awestruck. It was amazing! So amazing that we ordered another plate of it. It was some type of masala but it was so different than the ones in the United States. After eating our driver asked us if we wanted henna tattoos and when we said yes he explained to us about his mother in laws where they can do it for us. This day was getting better and better. We got to the house and immediately neighborhood children and aunties came over. They were so nice and reminded me of my family back home. They wanted to make my hair, give me chips, and tea. It was one of the most memorable moments for me. We sat down and they started doing henna’s on us. While they did henna’s they were talking and asking us questions all while laughing because most of the time we had no idea what they were saying. Although there was a language barrier our body language and laughter was more than sufficient. We stayed there until the sun was going down. We had so much fun that they invited us to a Hindu celebration in Kerala where there would be food, elephants, music, and fireworks. That was an automatic yes! Our driver took us back to the ship where we showered and got ready then came back out and went with our driver to the event. It was a unique experience. We were the only people not from India at that event especially because most of the Semester At Sea students were at the Taj Mah Hall. As we walked through the crowds with our driver all eyes were on us. It was different but I knew our driver had our backs and he reminded me so much hot my father that I knew if anything would happen he would step in. It was amazing. We watched the elephants all dressed up march through the area with loud music, It was so exciting to witness for the first time. After we met up with his family and watched the fireworks together. I loved being with this family. We loved them so much that we pretty much went with the same driver everyday where we went to his families house about 2 more times. I am so thankful that I met a wonderful tuk tuk driver who I built a relationship with. He was more than our driver he was our father, bodyguard, and friend. After the last day in India when we had to say our goodbyes I got his mailing address and I am currently working on a package to send to him and his family with toys for his kids, books, and pictures of our time in India. One day I will make it back to India and reunite with this amazing family.

How can this program be improved?

It should be longer.

23 years old
Virginia Beach, VA
University of Virginia

Life-changing Experience


Semester at Sea was by far the best experience of my life thus far. It's been over a year and a half since I embarked on my Summer voyage, but I still bother my friends and family with stories and allusions back to the trip. Honestly, I don't even know where to begin the praise. Instead of telling any specific story that won't fully capture my experience I will describe what I was thinking the day I arrived back in the US after the voyage: I wasn't sure how I could acclimate back to my normal life after experiencing so much in such a small amount of time. I came out of the trip with friends from not just all over the country, but also the world. I learned more in those 66 days then I ever could have expected. Not only were my classes intellectually stimulating and fun, but I also got to apply what I was learning to the countries I was visiting. Whether I was discussing the possibility of Scotland voting for its independence with locals at a highland festival and writing about it in my Economics of the European Union class or learning how to start and run a franchise from the head of franchising for all of the Hard Rock Cafes in Scandanavia. I learned how to travel in a smarter, cheaper and safer way. Lastly, I never stopped having fun. I got to surf in San Sebastian, eat dinner elevated above all of Helsinki, Finland with Dinner in the Sky, watch the US play Portugal in the World Cup while in Lisbon, and sit on the edge of massive cliffs on Aran Island off of Ireland (to name a few of my favorite memories). All in all it was the trip of my life and I will forever recommend the trip to anyone interested.

How can this program be improved?

The food could have been better on the ship, but food can only be but so good for college kids on a massive ship (so I don't really have a problem with it).

21 years old
Washington DC
University of Colorado- Boulder

Traveling Big and Small


There is something to be said for having almost 700 other travel mates. Semester at Sea gave me the opportunity to find any one to travel with, or no one. Being in port, surrounded by a foreign country there was a safety net of a community around us. I could always find a fellow SAS-er if I needed to. One time in Vietnam I had found myself on an island get away in ha long bay, which turned out to be an Aussie filled booze cruise of havoc. Not my scene. I had to leave early the next morning to catch my flight so with less than 50 dollars worth of Vietnamese dong I had to find my way, 5 hours from Ha long bay to Hanoi. Along the way I would face hard ships, like that one cab driver that almost assaulted me, but when ever it was most needed a familiar face from the ship would pop out of no where and bring a deep sigh of relief to me. I am grateful for the experiences I could have while traveling to such a diverse number of ports, but also the people I met along the way. Semester at Sea aloud me to have all of the self discovery, independence and adventure that comes with solo travel but also the connectedness and community of our ship.

How can this program be improved?

The ship did have its issues. Some issues that we faced are facing many land colleges campuses as well. A sweeping wave of uber political correctness and extremely hostile anger towards proclaimed dominate cultures. I my self being a white male felt there was a lot of anger towards me strictly for being a white male. The staff did little to address this and even stoked the flames of this anger with inappropriate rhetoric. Also the staff at times took their rolls too liberally and scandals, such as having our Dean sleep with the married wife of a professor, did not contribute to a healthy and trustworthy environment.

24 years old
McLean, Virginia
University of Virginia

A Semester of Sea and making the most out of that Semester


To speak frankly, this was not my most influential or most rewarding experience abroad. That is not to say that I did not benefit from this or did not learn a lot. I am the kind of person that prefers to be immersed in one place as opposed to sampling several different countries in a whirlwind kind of fashion. Three to seven days is not nearly enough time to get to understand a place, a culture, to get used to hearing a foreign language, or to accustom oneself to the cadence of a different place in the world. As a result, I made sure that I made the most of my time in each country. I still made my best efforts to meet locals, to see as much as I can, and to use my senses to get a general idea of a new place. I was touched by the numerous encounters I had with hospitable locals in various countries of the world, I just wish I could have stayed in one spot to return the favor or to delve deeper into understanding where they are from and who they are. That was my experience with Semester at Sea.

29 years old
Orinda, CA
Chapman University

SAS Sets a Course for Global Citizenship


Deciding to sail with Semester at Sea as a junior in college was one of the most important decisions of my life. I highly recommend it for anyone who is looking to study abroad on a global scale.

The experience of SAS is cyclical yet it also has forward momentum. Several days at sea will be followed by 4-5 days in port. Sea days are highly structured with classes and pre-port presentations that prepare you for the upcoming country visit. Days on land are unstructured and can be spent on program-sponsored or self-arranged activities. There are countless opportunities to connect with local people and projects, and to explore the natural beauty of each country. Even though our time in each port was brief, the overall experience of Semester at Sea was rich, impactful, and complete - more than the sum of its parts.

Semester at Sea gave me a glimpse of what it means to be a global citizen. It provided me with a unique platform for exploring the world and understanding the relationships between cultures. If you approach your voyage in a conscientious and open way, it will provide you with a truly global perspective and a lifetime of inspiration!

(I mainly documented my experience through audio recordings rather than pictures and video. You can listen to a musical collage of my favorite recordings here: )

How can this program be improved?

There is a missed opportunity for guided reflection by the ship's community leaders. Post-country reflection is usually done through casual conversation or solo writing, and I wish that there had been more intentional community building through discussion and reflection after each country. I've heard that some voyages do include guided reflection activities, but this is dependent on the individual voyage staff and not standardized across voyages.

23 years old
Greeley, Colorado
University of Northern Colorado

The ship that became family in just 4 months


The best part about SAS was the community on the ship. The people were so amazing. It was so fun to be able to share with them and have open conversations about anything and everything. Everyone was so friendly and excited to learn about the world and other peoples cultures and points of view. That was the most amazing part of the trip for me. I learned just as much about myself as I did the world while traveling around it. It was a trip of discovery and way too much fun!

How can this program be improved?

It honestly was perfect to me. I wouldn't change a single thing.

About The Provider


Semester at Sea began at Chapman University in the 60s, but the program was called “University of the Seven Seas.” On that first voyage, 275 students set sail for 22 ports around the world aboard the MS Seven Seas to begin a tradition of shipboard