Semester at Sea: Study Around the World

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About

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 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

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!
One thing to add, gap year students can participate in SAS. It also never hurts to call them to check in with your situation and see what's available!
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.

Reviews

98%
based on 152 reviews
  • Academics 7.9
  • Support 9.2
  • Fun 9.2
  • Housing 9.5
  • Safety 9.3
Showing 136 - 150 of 152
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aaronatb
10/10

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 this program
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tnsslosc
10/10

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 this program
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Kae
10/10

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 this program
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Chelsea
10/10

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 this program
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Chelsea
10/10

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 this program
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kaylenleigh
9/10

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 this program
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lydia
10/10

Semester at Sea - Life-Changing Experience

Semester at Sea was incredible. I went on the Summer 2010 voyage, and my only regret is that I did not go for a full semester! SAS is so unique, not only because you get to see the world and take courses on a ship, but there is also an amazing shipboard community. If you want to learn about and visit many different countries, enhance your global perspective, and form relationships that will last a lifetime, Semester at Sea is the program for you! On SAS, students take classes while the ship is at sea and are free to explore and travel while in the different ports. There are also faculty directed trips for course credit.

Semester at Sea is expensive – but completely worth every penny. SAS offers many different forms of financial aid. I was awarded a need based grant, and I had a work-study job on the ship, which I really enjoyed.

Semester at Sea was the best experience of my life. I have not only come away from SAS with a desire to learn more about the world and different cultures, but I have also gained lifelong friendships with people all over the world.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Ross
10/10

Life Changing of Seeing and Meeting People

After traveling the world or going to study abroad, you consider doing more things in life than ever before. Starting with what is around you, friends and family. Being gone for 3 to 5 months did make me miss things back at home, but the friends that i made along the way or even the people that i met once or twice just might be a long life friend. It amazes me how people could not talk to each other even for a brief moment or those who are nervous now because what do you have to lose? I want to meet more people and make more friends. I mean what is the point of traveling the world if you do it alone or even living in your everyday life alone? Enjoy every minute and every breathe of it.

Yes, I recommend this program
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KyleC_USD
9/10

Semester At Sea was amazing!

If you've got an adventurous spirit and like to experience new and unfamiliar things, than this is by far the best study abroad experience available. It may not be for everyone, but the times and encounters I had in the 3 months on the MV Explorer changed my outlook on life and the world forever. I attribute so much of who I am today to the places I went, the people I met, and the pieces of this great earth that I saw.

Yes, I recommend this program
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ktalbot
9/10

SAS is an amazing, global, experience that can't be overlooked

SAS was the perfect study abroad program for me. You could be entirely immersed into a culture for the day and come back to enjoy the comforts of the ship at night without having to worry about food, lodging, or security. Of course, spending the night away from the ship was always a plus and made for some fun adventures.

SAS gave me the opportunity to see not just one country like most study abroad programs, but rather gave me a glimpse of the entire world, literally! It was an amazing experience and I grew tremendously from the many adventures and mishaps I went through. The faculty and staff do a wonderful job not only with academics but also in making sure that you have the experience of a lifetime.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Kay
10/10

A semester beyond anything you could dream

I spent months, years even, planning for and dreaming about my Semester at Sea experience. It ended up being my last semester as an undergraduate student, and boy was it a way to end my college career. No amount of space or time would be enough to capture my experience as a member of the Semester at Sea Spring 2011 voyage community, so what I will say will be as short and direct as I can make it. Semester at Sea will blow your mind, anyone's mind. No matter how many plans you make ahead of time or how many expectations of yourself and others you muster up and how many times they are fulfilled or disappointed, SAS will be a mind-blowing, eye-opening, and all around beautiful experience. I believe that everyone, and I mean everyone, should have the chance to travel and learn in the SAS way, so those of you who can actually make that happen for yourselves, embrace it and do not waste a moment of it. No matter what happens along the way, good, bad or otherwise, SAS will offer you glimpses of people and the world that few are lucky enough to have. Whatever you choose to be involved with aboard the ship, however you choose to travel while in port, and whoever you befriend along the way, you will not regret your experience, rather, when it ends, you will be begging to get back on the MV Explorer and see the world in reverse. Get ready for the experience of a lifetime and many days, weeks and months of wishing you could do it again once it ends.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Bchamps
9/10

SAS: The Good and the Bad

Going on Semester at Sea was definitely one of the best decisions I've ever made in my life. It's such an incredible experience to be able to see the world like this and you make some of the best friends you will ever have. One of the things that I did not like about SAS, however, was that it seemed like about 1/3 of the students on board thought they were on a party boat the whole time and didn't seem to be that open to experiencing the different cultures. Getting black out drunk in every single port (including the countries where drinking really isn't socially accepted) really isn't why I signed up for this program. But there are certainly people that do Semester at Sea that are not like that at all. Despite the not so good qualities.. I wholeheartedly recommend SAS as a study abroad program!

No, I don't recommend this program
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q25
10/10

I made the right choice.

Let me start by saying that SAS isn't perfect for everyone. Alcohol is not allowed on the ship. You can buy a beverage voucher and they'll allow you to have up to two drinks (a glass of wine or a beer) on certain days. The program was perfect for me, and to be honest I wouldn't change anything about it.

Make sure you pick the right classes if you decide to go, as some of the classes are a joke and a lot of busy work. Go for classes that don't sound like BS classes, trust me- they're not what you think they'll be.

On SAS I met so many incredibly awesome people and got to see the world with them. I would definitely do it all over again if I could, and in fact I'm looking into sailing again Summer 2012 (I was on the Spring 2011 voyage).

Good luck.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Courtney
10/10

I love SAS: an amazing, life changing experience!!

I would wake up at 7:15 shower, head down to breakfast(meals get boring quickly but really good when there's french toast)....two classes in a row then lunch then usually movie/nap time then dinner catch up with friends which turns into take over Class room 1 or 2 and have a movie night until 2 or 3 in the morning usually with "How I met your mother"

Yes, I recommend this program
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sasSpring2011
9/10

Not perfect, but definitely worth it

Some people you talk to will say that it was "THE experience of MY LIFE!" and that the friends they made are "the greatest, bestest, most awesomest, perfect friends I could ever have! BFFL!" but take note if the person talking is eagerly foaming at the mouth.

Yes, it was an awesome experience.

Yes, you will explore other countries and cultures.

Yes, your view of the world (and your place in it) will be expanded and greater understood.

Yes, you will make some awesome friends.

But the program isn't perfect, so don't expect to sign up and have everything be sunshine and rainbows. Academically, some of the teachers really suck. Don't assume that just because the teacher is on SAS means they're going to be awesome. Make sure you research the professors before signing up for their classes. Some people were surprised by how much busywork some of the so-called "easy" classes had.

Bottom line, if you want to get off your butt and do something remarkable, this is your chance to push yourself. Stop talking about the life you want and start creating some amazing memories. Paradise waterfalls in Dominica, the view from Table Mountain in South Africa, the fun and low key (and very underrated) Busua Beach in Ghana, not to mention the taxis, trains, buses, boats, rickshaws, and planes you'll travel in along the way.

Stop thinking about it and just do it!

Yes, I recommend this program

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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...