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!

Fall 2018 Semester Voyage

  • Dates: September 9, 2018 - December 23, 2018
  • 107 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, Germany

Fall 2019 Semester Voyage

  • Dates: September 9, 2019 - December 23, 2019
  • 106 Days, 11 Countries, 12 Cities, 4 Continents

Destinations: Poland, Kiel Canal Transit, Portugal, Spain, Croatia, Morocco, Ghana, Brazil, Trinidad and Tobago, Panama Canal Transit, Ecuador, Costa Rica, (California) United States

Cape Town
Ho Chi Minh City
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
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

As long as you were enrolled as a full-time student the semester immediately before your voyage, and you have proof of admission to the university you are transferring to (such as an admission letter) after your voyage, then you should be all set!
Unfortunately, you'll have to wait until you're enrolled at an accredited university / college. Hope that helps!
Yes there are options for people with specific dietary restrictions. I had a friend who had some and you just need to let them know before you begin (you can call the ISE/SAS office too). The chefs work with you to determine your needs. Since the ship picks up food along the way, they do their best to accommodate with what they have. Just know going into it that you may be eating a lot of the same...
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.

Program Reviews

based on 146 reviews
  • Academics 7.9
  • Support 9.2
  • Fun 9.2
  • Housing 9.6
  • Safety 9.3
Showing 16 - 30 of 146
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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).

Yes, I recommend
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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.

Yes, I recommend
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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.

No, I don't recommend
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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.

Yes, I recommend
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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.

Yes, I recommend
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Recommended for Everyone

This program changed my life more than anything else I have ever experience. Almost very day at sea is a "school day" but you don't have classes when in port. I would give practically anything to go again.

How can this program be improved?

Food on the ship is mediocre but the voyage makes it well worth it. You can eat AMAZING food in port.

Yes, I recommend
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Semester at Sea - There's no place I'd rather be!

I had the pleasure of attending the Summer '13 trip around the Mediterranean. The program gave me the opportunity to meet people I wouldn't have been able to meet otherwise, and has taught me lessons in life that I hold on to to this day. It was the greatest decision of my life. The classes are fun, the Ship's activities and staff are the best, and the memories the trip created are some that I can recall like I was there yesterday. Don't just think about going on it, actually do it. As Homer put it, "The journey is the thing", and it's a journey that will stay with you forever. Take the opportunity to do the program, because you might regret it if you don't.

Yes, I recommend
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Best Experience of My Life!

I traveled with SAS during the summer of 2013 and it was the best summer of my life! The classes were incredible, the ship was great, the friends I made are forever friends, and the experience was truly once in a lifetime!

Yes, I recommend
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Once In A Lifetime Experience

If you love traveling and don't get motion sickness, you should definitely consider SAS. It was by far the coolest program I have ever, or will ever, be a part of and I would do it over 100 times if I could! You have to be ready for certain things, like eating pasta 3 nights a week, or crossing the Atlantic (12 day trek) on the ship, but all things considered, it's a pretty great living situation, you are on a cruise ship after all! You have total freedom to do whatever you want in port cities and there is never a dull moment. You can travel with different groups of people all the time and still maintain a solid friend group on the ship. So many pros that they outweigh any cons.

How can this program be improved?

I would try to get more food options and a more lenient alcohol policy.

Yes, I recommend
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Once in a Lifetime

Semester at Sea was undoubtedly the best four months of my life and truly a once in a lifetime experience. I had the chance to visit 13 countries in 111 days while taking classes and making lifelong friends & memories. On the Fall 2011 voyage we traveled to Morocco, Ghana, South Africa, Mauritius, India, Malaysia, Vietnam, China, Japan, Hawaii, Costa Rica, and Honduras (changed from Cuba last minute). The diversity of the shipboard community is spectacular, as I was surrounded by people with the same adventurous spirit from all different backgrounds, ages, and countries. You wake up every morning with the world to look forward to and a new country on the horizon. Dreams are turned into reality and even bigger aspirations are formed in the meantime. You learn to live a simple life. Your friends and peers become your family. You forget about technology and focus on the moment. Food isn't the best, but you get used to it - taco nights make up for it. Sleep becomes a lost luxury of the past. The world is such a big & beautiful place and experiencing it firsthand changes you in ways you cannot even imagine. It takes you out of your comfort zone and alters your perspective on everything. Even though at times you will feel helpless about the conditions you come across in underdeveloped countries, you become extremely grateful for what you have and learn how you can give back to those in need. You will be driven and inspired to do wonderful things in the world. A semester abroad in Europe would have been great, but not many people can say they circumnavigated the globe on a ship in a whole semester. The opportunities are endless and the journey is what you make of it!

Yes, I recommend
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Trip of a Lifetime

Semester at Sea was my favorite semester of college. Life on the ship is about academics and socializing with other students. You take classes and attend guest lectures. They bring in speakers from all areas of expertise such as CIA personnel and former ambassadors. Life off the ship is about experiencing the various cultures with the locals. Smoking hookah with Turks in Istanbul was an amazing experience. In addition to individual travel, students attend field labs depending on the class they take. I took a Gender Politics class, and we met with a Moroccan feminist organization and visited an illegal women's shelter. I still keep in contact with other SASers and visit them even though they live all over the world.

How can this program be improved?

Semester at Sea is very expensive.

Yes, I recommend
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A Life-Defining Experience

The semester was the most challenging, yet rewarding, most exciting, most frightening, and most eye opening experience of my life. Imagine waking up in the middle of the ocean, going to the most interesting classes you've ever taken. You then eat lunch, listen to an announcement about daily activities and the current depth and temperature of the ocean, head to class or study, and hang out with your new best friends the rest of the night. You even get a free snack time later.

How can this program be improved?

This program is too expensive, but it is worth the cost.

Yes, I recommend
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Best part of college

if you love to travel do semester at sea! I loved this program, loved the people, loved the ship, and had one of the best experiences of my life. You learn so much about how to travel and become a seasoned traveler in just a few months. Perfect for college aged students

How can this program be improved?

I was not crazy about a few of the ports but that depends on what voyage you pick.

Yes, I recommend
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The greatest experience I have ever had!

I love to travel, so I was excited at the prospect of a study abroad program that would allow me to visit many different countries in a short amount of time, rather than just immersing myself in one country.

The Semester at Sea experience is one of a kind - not many people can say they lived on a ship for months while taking classes and seeing the world! In the classes I took, the course work often related to the countries we were visiting, which made the lessons more applicable and relevant. I would say the only difficulty I sometimes found was keeping up with the reading in the course work, just because there were so many other things to do in port and around the ship, and there never seemed to be enough hours in the day.

But I think my biggest takeaway from Semester at Sea are the wealth of friendships and memories that I made that summer. The shipboard community becomes incredibly close because you're surrounded by the same people all of the time and going through this amazing journey together. And not only did I form strong friendships with students, but I was able to get to know professors, staff, and their families, too.

I would definitely recommend Semester at Sea to anyone looking for a phenomenal study abroad experience. All I can really say is: do it! You won't regret it!

How can this program be improved?

I believe in the fall and spring semesters of Semester at Sea, students have their classes every other day. I voyaged in Summer 2013, and because of the short time frame, we had class every day. This led to some difficulty in keeping up with the course work because there was no one-day buffer between class days to be able to catch up on work if you were behind.

Yes, I recommend
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Semester at Sea is more than a study abroad program

Semester at Sea is more than a study abroad program; it's the first chapter of a new life, a new way to look at the world and the people who inhabit it. At its core, the program boasts the promotion of an international education in which cultural exchange, adventure, and formal education merge to provide a uniquely enriching experience abroad. Unbeknownst to the program however, alumni would disagree. The breadth of impact attributed to moments and experiences abroad with Semester at Sea are innumerable, immeasurable and frankly, unbelievable. The program spans a mere four months of a student's life, yet its influence is resolute. Lifelong friendships are unavoidable.

Dreams are fulfilled, and replaced with new bigger ones. Visions of change are realized. A short visit to the Wikipedia page for Semester at Sea will illuminate a small few of the achievements made by notable alumni. The truth is that Semester at Sea turns dreamers into believers, and believers into achievers. If you want to visit a few countries, take some pictures, and then return to the life you left at home, Semester at Sea is not for you. If, however, you want to see the world for what it truly is, and never be the same again as a result, sign up now for the voyage of your life.

Yes, I recommend

About Semester at Sea

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...