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 121 - 135 of 146
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Adventure of a Lifetime

Semester at Sea is an absolutely amazing opportunity to see the world and have educational experiences in the classroom at sea with on site activities during port stops. Anyone who has ever taken a journey with this organization can attest these were the best days of their lives! Coursework is interesting and matches the destinations with on-site activity opportunities. Locations visited allow students to broaden their horizons and become a member of the global community. I have no negative comments about this program or experience. Highly recommend!!

How can this program be improved?

Cost is a negative factor, but well worth the expense if you can obtain financial aid or know your future career will allow for easy repayment of the loan.

Yes, I recommend
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Suite Life on Deck (Reallife)

Semester at Sea is the ultimate travel study abroad. You take amazing classes while at sea and have free time in port. While you will have a few small projects to do at a variety of different countries they are never overwhelming and most of them are things you would take in anyway. This is true global education with learning from experiences. The professors are amazing and you spend so much time with them, they become a part of your family. You'll make amazing friendships and have amazing experiences. Yeah the wifis a little spotty, and at times, you might long for land on the longer stretches between countries but a deck side dinner will make you realize what an amazing experience it is. The second you leave you'll be trying to figure out how to go again. Worth every penny.

How can this program be improved?

The ships food is meh. (Port food makes up for this... Indian curry in India, yes please)

Yes, I recommend
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Semester at Sea- Spring 2012

You will leave Semester at Sea without the right words to describe your experiences. You will not have another opportunity quite like this one. Though you may not be fully immersed in one single culture, you will learn a lot about a lot of cultures and develop you own ship culture with your peers on your voyage. This unique group of students will become some of your best friends for life!
The hardest part was getting the paperwork done for visas and your home university. Once you're past that, it's smooth sailing..... (well sometimes!)

How can this program be improved?

Their shipboard run excursions could be improved as well as their funding!

Yes, I recommend
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Experience of a Lifetime

I would (and do) highly recommend this study abroad program to anyone! I had the most amazing time and it opened my eyes to so many new experiences. I never thought I would be comfortable experiencing this journey alone, but I met the most amazing people with the same passion--traveling!

Yes, I recommend
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The World at Your Fingertips

Semester at Sea is an incredible, global comparative study abroad program that allows participants the ability to interact and experience many different countries and cultures all within one semester. While the voyages change a bit each semester, many of the same countries are visited, allowing for feedback and tips from alumni and program staff. For example, my voyage in Spring 2012 left from the Bahamas, then traveled to Dominica, Brazil, Ghana, South Africa, Mauritius, India, Singapore, China (Hong Kong and Shanghai), Japan (Kobe and Yokohama), Hawaii, and ended in San Diego. We spent 1 to 7 days in each country. Students take classes on board the ship while at sea, but have great freedom within each country to explore and do independent travel. This freedom allows you to create your own unique semester at sea experience. While some of the major highlights of each voyage involve the incredible sight-seeing, the truly amazing aspect of this program is being able to interact with different cultures and people all around the world. You also form life-long bonds with your fellow voyagers and develop better friendships than you may have ever had with people back home. The food on the ship can get monotonous, but I always found it perfectly fine (lots of potatoes, pasta, and pork). One other major criticism for the program is the fact that you don't really IMMERSE yourself into any particular country or culture, due to the short duration of time spent in each place. However, this is not the intent of the program; rather, the program puts a higher emphasis on the global comparisons and helping to expand students' minds to think as global citizens. So, if you really only want to focus on one country or culture, this program isn't for you, but if you love to have incredible experiences, see the world and travel, and see multiple countries in one semester, you should sign up! My voyage was truly life-changing and has somewhat defined who I am going forward in my life. My Semester at Sea experience almost always comes up at some point in conversation with new people. It helps make me more marketable in any area of life I choose to pursue, as I have demonstrated that I have an understanding of other cultures from my own and have experienced different ways of thinking only possible through the first-hand interactions that are part of the Semester at Sea program. If you are able to go on a Semester at Sea, the world will truly be at your fingertips.

How can this program be improved?

I honestly cannot think of other major that I would want to change with the program. The only minor area that could be improved is some of the pre-voyage communication, especially in advice, deadlines, etc. While the information is certainly all there, it wasn't always incredibly easy to find all the information that may have been helpful.

Yes, I recommend
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The best thing to happen to far!

Today is my birthday. As I reflect on past experiences, I realize that the greatest gift I have ever received was the chance to travel around the world with Semester At Sea. It literally changed my life in a way so comprehensive that it's not explainable with mere words. SAS is a mentality, it's a perception, and it's a sense of purpose. It's the best thing to happen in my life so far.

There is nothing like it elsewhere in the world. Your eyes are opened up to a multitude of experiences that make you a more insightful and caring person...a person that is on track to change the world in very big ways.

I're on a freaking ship! It's a community full of people that you study, sleep, eat, play, travel, (and definitely stink, as we did in Brazil) with. It's the pinnacle of any travel adventurer.

But the even more amazing thing is is that it doesn't have to be the end, and it certainly hasn't been for me. It's the greatest foundation of a life well traveled, and a life that is prepared to take on the world's myriad challenges.

How can this program be improved?

I think SAS has already improved since I've been on my voyage. I just wish I could go again.

Yes, I recommend
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Best Experience of my life

I studied abroad on semester at sea's spring 2012 voyage around the world. I can not say enough good things about the program. It exposes you to various cultures, ethnicities, backgrounds, and unmatched experiences that you will not find on any other study abroad program. We travelled from the Bahamas to Dominica, Brazil, Ghana, South Africa, Mauritius, India, Singapore, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Mainland China, Japan, Hawaii, and debarked in San Diego, California. In what other study abroad program can you wake up to some place new every single day, while living on board a cruise ship for 4 months? I have seen more and done more than most people will do in their entire lives, thanks to Semester at Sea. GO SAS!

How can this program be improved?

I wish we had more time to spend in the ports. 5-8 days in each port was definitely not enough time. But as we gained experience, we managed our time and fit as much as possible in our short port stays.

Yes, I recommend
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SAS Has Been the Best Decision of My Life Thus Far

Semester At Sea is truly an amazing program. I think nearly every person that has done a voyage (whether a student, professor, or other faculty member) can say that SAS has changed or greatly impacted their life. This program is worth every penny. Also keep in mind that the Institute for Shipboard Education (ISE) is very generous when it comes to awarding students scholarships and grants for SAS. If you don't think you can afford the program, apply anyway! You never know what might happen...

As someone who was studying International Affairs during my undergrad, I wanted to do a study abroad program that would give me a better perspective of the entire world - not just one country. I had already studied abroad twice, but I wanted a more worldly view. I felt like Semester At Sea was the only way I could obtain this perspective while finishing my bachelor's degree, and I was definitely right. Although I'm not an expert in any of the countries I traveled to during my voyage (and am not an expert in the countries I studied abroad in either), I feel like I have a better understanding of the world as a whole.

A Semester At Sea voyage is really what people make of it. I've heard some people criticize the program and say that SAS students don't learn anything. I would absolutely disagree with this. I think some people are more likely to immerse themselves in other cultures more so than others. If you go abroad, I would challenge you to immerse yourself as much as possible. I think some people took academics more seriously (such as myself) than others. Your SAS journey really is what you make of it, but I DO think there are a few things that inevitably come with sailing on SAS. The voyage will change the way you perceive the world around you, and you will learn more about yourself than you ever thought possible.

Yes, I recommend
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SAS changed my life

Living with amazing college students from all over the USA, learning from professors who have great passion, seeing so much of the world - what more could you ask for! If you have an adventurous spirit, this is the place for you. I saw so much and met great friends and really tasted the life of travel and adventure and I have never turned back - still living overseas now, currently in Switzerland!

Yes, I recommend
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Semester At Sea - A Global Perspective

I was a college senior, who had never left the country. I had dreamed of studying abroad but couldn't figure out - of all the countries in the world - where I wanted to go. Enter Semester at Sea. A unique opportunity where you live on a cruise ship converted into a university campus and circumnavigate the globe while taking classes from some of the world's most distinguished professors, interacting with ambassadors, and foreign dignitaries (Desmund Tutu spend the entire voyage on our ship), and stopping at over 13 different countries along the way. The experience gave me a truly global perspective, one that I had never had before. (Along with a heavy dose of wanderlust.) I cannot think of a better experience for someone who wants to see the world, and change your life.

Yes, I recommend
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Semester at Sea - the best time of my life!

I attended the Semester at Sea program through the University of Virginia. It was, BY FAR, the best time of my life. The professors, ship staff, and fellow students made the program a complete life changing experience. I would do it over again 100 times if I could, and I recommend that every undergraduate consider applying for the program!

Yes, I recommend
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Most Surreal Experience of My Life

Whenever I look back to my program on Semester at Sea, I have to remind myself that it actually DID happen. The combination of traveling the world, living on a ship, taking intellectually challenging courses, and being surrounded by a supportive community was almost too good to be true... almost. Somehow, Semester at Sea became one of the most definitive life experiences I could have ever had.

To get to the sad-but-true parts out of the way: first, it's pretty expensive. Although the value is second-to-none (think of going on a cruise for 3.5 months, plus the cost of a full course load of tuition, plus what it would cost to get to 10+ countries on your own, and SAS pays for itself 1,000 times over), the actual cost is substantial. I was able to raise the funds through a lot of hard work, but another thing I did not consider in advance was that the socio-economic status of a many of the students was above what I was used to and the shipboard community was not as diverse as my home institution in the U.S. I consider this a bit of a drawback, and I sometimes I had a difficult time relating to my peers. Some students won’t even notice this and it’s actually probably a reality in many study abroad programs, but for some students who really appreciate diversity you might notice this. Next, it was difficult to stay in touch with friends and family back home. I observed that students who were juniors and seniors on the program handled this much better than those who were sophomores (I never encountered any freshmen) and I was glad I already had some established independence so it made separation easier.

Now, to the good stuff (and most of it is GOOD):

Before we even departed, Semester at Sea advised us how to get visas, gave us options for field programs, and thorough descriptions of courses. I traveled to the program completely by myself and didn't know anyone else who was going, but Semester at Sea helped me feel comfortable with the unknown that lied before me. Whereas many people traveled with their parents, friends, or families before embarkation, I went to the Bahamas on my own to meet up with the voyage and I was completely fine with it because of the pre-departure advice SAS offered.

In my situation, my courses were a mix between challenging and easy. I was one of the few students who stuck through the infamous Global Studies course (required of all students, but too difficult to take attendance for 700 people so many ended up skipping) and I actually liked what I learned—I’m kind of a nerd, sue me. For other classes, some of the professors were really amazing at creating course curriculum that complemented where we were traveling on our voyage and it was some of the most interactive learning experiences I have ever had. On the other hand, some professors of mine were also just as excited to be on Semester at Sea as me, and it was somewhat evident that their lesson planning was lacking while they focused on other things. In the end I was grateful that some of my courses were easy; even as a really good student, I had a hard time balancing all the course work with the overall experience. It was difficult to do homework where there wasn't always a quiet place to "hide" and study and research was sometimes a nightmare (when I was on the voyage, we had strict internet restrictions) and the on-ship library only went so far. There was also the several aspects of time to adjust to that weren’t standard: at sea you attended classes, at port you had an open schedule; we didn't have weekends, we had new countries. Instead of schoolwork we often wanted to take the time to plan what we were going to be doing with our friends in the next destination. Additionally, my voyage (Spring 2008) went eastward around the world, which meant we lost an hour every few nights as we crossed time zones. I didn't get enough sleep in college when I had 24 hour days, so imagine how tired I was when days would last only twenty-three hours! In the end, I was so grateful I only took 12 credit hours, even though back home I was used to 15 or so credits in a semester.

Before each new destination, we were given information about customs, money conversions, etiquette, recommended places, safety & emergency procedures, and more. Semester at Sea worked with local tour operators for added field trips (sometimes they were incorporated into a class) or you could go travel on your own. The only restrictions were international travel (at least for my voyage—we didn’t go to Europe or anything) but otherwise students could travel anywhere nationwide while the ship was docked. I personally stayed close to the ship most of the time to keep within a budget, but you don’t necessarily have to travel anywhere to find great museums, bars, beaches, mountaintops, coffee shops, and new friends. I could talk for days about all the different countries, but given that voyages vary and there are plenty of guidebooks to read, I’ll speak more to life on the ship. Daily meals are prepared on board, and even in port you can always come back to the ship for lunch or sleep in your cabin if you’re on a budget (although the meals did get repetitive after a while and “Taco Day” is infamous”). There were cabin stewards who straightened up your room every day (you’re expected to tip) and the crew were some of the nicest people hailing from around the world—many became good friends of ours. The staff members and professors are all carefully selected and all are amazing and brought something to the shipboard community. Activities were planned, professors would give bonus lectures or seminars, people would teach yoga or dance classes—it really was up to the students, faculty, staff, and family members to make what they wanted out of the experience. One of the coolest aspects of the ship is how close-knit of a community it became and it’s something that can’t really be recreated anywhere else. There’s a unique sort of bond you form with 700 people sailing around the world together. Before I went on Semester at Sea and I would interact with alums of the program I thought they were all ridiculous in their obsession about the program it was over, but now I get it; you have to somewhat be indoctrinated into that way of thinking. There really is nothing like Semester at Sea, and there’s only so much anyone can say before you just have to experience for yourself.

Yes, I recommend
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A Living Story

One Field Trip that I went on in Japan represents an extremely profound memory during my time on Semester at Sea. On the second day in Kobe, I went to Hiroshima with my International Relations class. When we arrived in the city, our guide told us that the people of Hiroshima don’t have any resonating feelings or attitudes towards anti-Americanism, but just hope and prayers for world peace and understanding. As a developing world citizen, this inspired my commitment towards learning how to appreciate different perspectives and cultures; it also helped me shed any ethnocentric views that I had about World War II and allowed me to go into the day with a totally open mind.
After a full day of touring the memorial museum, the monuments, and the t-shaped bridge that was the atomic bomb’s target location, the students, faculty and I were completely emotionally and spiritually drained. The memorial museum displayed informative photographs that helped explain World War II and shed light to foreigners on how the atomic bomb devastatingly destroyed Hiroshima’s people, culture and infrastructure. It was difficult to read through the sections describing the Untied States’ justification for dropping the atomic bomb and why Hiroshima was the target location. Even though I didn’t feel any bitterness towards me from the local people because I am American, I felt a need to show the Japanese, who were around me, how moved and touched I was by their suffering. I hoped that they would consider me a global citizen part of a united teamwork, rather than an American student who is just studying for school.
When I got on the bullet train that evening to travel back to Kobe, I sat down in my seat and within five minutes an elderly Japanese woman came and sat down right next to me; I learned later that her name was Kekune. We exchanged smiles and had our own two seats together, isolated from the bustling of the other passengers around us. Right away I could tell that she didn’t speak a lick of English, and I thought that maybe we could communicate through writing words and drawing pictures in my journal. As I was flipping through the book, she saw the stamps from the Hiroshima Museum that I had pressed onto one of the pages earlier that day. She started pointing to the stamps and tried so hard to tell me something.
After an hour train ride, body language, drawings, and a translator to help us communicate, I found out that she was thirteen living in Hiroshima when the bomb dropped. Both of her parents were killed the day of. She spent two days after the bomb dropped looking for her parents’ corpses; officials finally found them and delivered them to her. She suffered a lot of radiation sickness and so did her siblings, whom she raised herself after that day. She showed me her survivor booklet, which we had seen at the museum earlier that day and that all survivors carry with them at all times. Now, she is a widow with two children, one of them named Hiroshima.
This experience was incredibly meaningful. The energy between us was so powerful, despite the language barrier. After a full day of learning the importance of becoming a global citizen and caring for the cultures and economies outside of America, and then sitting next to a survivor of that source, instilled the values of worldwide compassion, understanding and learning into me. I was provided with a living example of the need to push us out of our comfort zones at home and learn how to make our own contribution towards making the world a better place.

Yes, I recommend
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Experience of a Lifetime!

I was a member of the Fall 2008 voyage and even 3 years later I think daily of my time aboard the ship. Not only will you get a chance to see the world, you will meet the most incredible people both on the ship and in port. The shipboard environment encourages openness and promotes an environment where learning is exciting.

The faculty is diverse and their teaching styles will not appeal to everyone as they all come from different universities. However, if you do find a professor you like, the ship provides an opportunity to connect with them on a level you wont get at any university. Eating dinner with faculty ever night is a great way to score amazing recommendation letters and incredible advice on succeeding in academia.

Yes, I recommend
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The Best Three Weeks Known To Man

I went on a Semester at Sea Pre-College program as a part of an enrichment voyage in December 2010. It was a three week voyage leaving from Mexico and journeying through the Panama Canal, ending in Fort Lauderdale. I had an absolutely amazing time on the voyage, so much so that I describe it as some of the best days of my life. Not only did I experience the world and other countries, I also made some amazing friends and learned so much! I can only imagine what a semester journey would do for me. I would recommend any form of this program to anyone, because it truly is amazing. It may be pricy, but in my opinion is worth every penny! You will not regret it.

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...