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Explore a Semester at Sea


For most of us the notion of having to travel without money seems daunting and it makes sense that an education, which can lead to a rewarding career and financial comfort, makes travelling a pleasure, easier and a lot more interesting.  Studying while you are on your way to your favourite destination and getting there with a certificate or a degree makes a lot of sense then, doesn’t it?

Semester At Sea is a university on board a ship. The MV Explorer is a passenger ship that serves as a university and takes a trip around the world twice a year stopping at several destinations on its voyage.


German Shipbuilders

The ship was built in 2002 by shipbuilders from Germany. A company called Blohm & Voss designed and created this passenger ship for travelling students.  At 590 feet long and weighing in at 25,000 tons it is considered one of the safest passenger ships of its kind in the world and has been rated 99% safe by U.S. and International health and safety ratings.

The ship has 7 decks and can carry a maximum of 836 passengers at a time.  Semester At Sea has been voted the sixth best place to study, following Dublin’s American College, which was voted 5th best.

Student Accommodation

The students and lifelong learners get to reside in cabins while at university and have the option to stay in single cabins, luxurious suites or more economical cabins. The cabins are maintained by the ship’s staff and have been designed to be intimate and informal, but keep it in mind all the cabins tend to be snug. The students will spend most of their time outside their cabins, so this shouldn’t be a problem and for those students who fear cabin fever there are cabins with windows, for a little extra.


This adventurous campus has everything you will find on any land based university and has nine state-of-the-art classrooms with educational resources, a computer lab, a Student Union and access to the University of Virginia’s online resources. The world is never far away and students are connected by the latest technologies with a full-time IT and AV team making sure that the ship’s wireless network is accessible from most public areas.  It also boasts an onboard Intranet for the entire shipboard community.

If you are afraid of getting homesick you can always make calls from phones that allow ship-to-shore calling. The phones are installed in all cabins and students can purchase phone cards for as little as $20 or can join the Wireless Maritime System mobile phone service, using their own mobiles. On top of this, there is a mailing service and post is delivered to your cabin door by stewards.

Students can avail from many modern study aids. There are e-books and can be read on an endless list of devices using software like Calibre to help keep track of downloaded e-books. Mobile phones, iPads, Macs and 3G devices are all usable on board the ship.

Shipboard Crew

The crew and officers on the MV Explorer are employed by a group called V. Group that was formed in 1984 and supply ships with management crews worldwide. They manage almost 900 vessels and have almost 250 clients and look after nearly 1 million passengers a year on the cruise liners they manage. The MV Explorer has an international management crew of roughly 200 professionally trained and licensed officers. To accommodate the many international students, a crew has been selected from more than 20 countries. The ship has a Captain, Staff Captain, Chief Engineer and Hotel Director taking care of the passengers, cabins, food requirements and steering the ship.

The MV Explorer has received numerous endorsements throughout its service.  Gary Foster, one of Sony Picture’s leading producers had this to say about the plans for the Semester at Sea University: “Semester at Sea offers more than a liberal arts education. We have an opportunity to leave a lasting legacy as the MV Explorer becomes a flagship – not only for its environmental impact but even more for environmental studies.”

Green Environment

Semester at Sea’s vision is to create a green ship environment and students are asked to take short showers, recycle, keep the temperatures in the cabins low and turn off lights when not needed. So students embarking on their educational voyage have to change their lifestyles slightly in order to promote the green environment initiative.

The ship has shops where passengers can buy supplies, but it is advisable that you bring your own toiletries, medicines and keep your luggage to a minimal, as there is very little space in the cabins. Parents can also relax when it comes to safety and security.  The ship has strict rules regarding alcohol, drugs, firearms or anything that could endanger students and any illicit items are prohibited.

Costs Involved

So what will it cost you to travel and study at sea? Undergraduate fees for autumn 2015 range between $23,950 and $29,950 and include tuition, board, health insurance, an email account, room and field labs. There will be extra costs involved for flights and overnight embarking. Additional fees include meals in between, phone cards, mail and posting parcels.

The next semester will be underway on the 13th September, 2015 and ends 21st December, 2015.  During the 100 days, students will visit 11 cities in 10 countries. After leaving its starting point in London it makes its way to Italy, Turkey, Greece, Spain, Morocco, Brazil, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, Panama, Costa Rica eventually debarking in San Diego, United States.

Swimming Pool

In between all the hard work, there are many other activities to keep you busy within the hours you need to take a break and relax.  The ship offers a sport’s gym, lounges, bars and piano lounges, a sports court, pool and coffee bistros, a wellness centre and when the days’ classes are over you can always take a book to the pool deck and enjoy the slow moving scenery.  While the high costs and novel way of learning might not appeal to every student, it can provide a fantastic way of seeing many parts of the world, provide the experience of a lifetime and encourage students to learn in a unique way.




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