If you love cruises, you will love Semester at Sea.
The program was designed for college students some 40 years ago but for the last 30 or so years, the program has been expanded to include ‘Life Long Learners”, (LLL’s), those of us with a desire to see the world and time on our hands.
Not Your Typical Cruise
Different than a typical cruise, the MV Explorer travels around the world each semester. Being a university ship it will stay in each of the 10 or 12 ports visited each semester generally for five days. In each port participants have from fifteen to thirty or so in-port optional experiences coordinated through Semester at Sea with outstanding local tour operators and guided by one of fifty or so professors with a background in the various countries visited. The in-port experiences may be as extensive as flying from Hong Kong to Beijing to do the Great Wall and Tiananmen Square or staying aboard in Vietnam while doing day trips from Ho Chi Minh City.
The 600 to 700 college students are participating in over 50 classes, including a wide range of interests all accredited to their home university. Classes vary with each voyage but might include, theatre, arts, music, law, geography, religions, political science, digital story telling, international customs and many others.
Life Long Learners may audit any class as long as there is an open seat. I never thought I would enjoy going back to college with people 40 years my junior but it was very exciting and very enriching. Classes today are very different!
Each year there is a reunion voyage and students and LLL’s are included. Usually a 5 or 6-day cruise with amazing scenery, fun adventures and onboard entertainment is outstanding. Last voyage we visited the Turks and Caicos Islands and were treated to an onboard premier of ‘The Soloist’ as a former student was involved in the making of the film and had permission to share it with us before general release.
On a previous Alumni Voyage from New York to Halifax Nova Scotia, Archbishop Desmond Tutu was the honored guest and speaker. Archbishop Tutu has been a frequent participant on other Semester at Sea Voyages. The program attracts dignitaries from around the world as well as a host of international professors and lecturers.
The MV Explorer is a relatively new ship built in 2000 and is described by the Maritime Telecommunications Network as “one of the safest ships afloat”. The MV Explorer is one of the fastest passenger ships on water. As cruise ships go, it is relatively small and intimate with an 84 ft Beam and 590 ft. long. But it has all the amenities of much larger ships. There are two dining rooms, one formal one casual. Several snack bars. A Piano Bar. Beauty Salon, Spa, gym and pool. Passenger capacity is 836 (double basis). Food is wonderful. Cabin service for LLL’s is daily and the stewards are delightful. Many of the ships staff have been with the Semester at Sea program for 10 or 15 years.
The Faculty, Staff and LLL’s lounge with full bar service is on the seventh floor forward and is open all day until about 11PM. Bar service is available only in the evenings. It is a wonderful gathering place where you will meet the most amazing people. Having the opportunity to have casual conversation with the outstanding faculty members and learn of their experiences in the countries on the itinerary is amazing. Equally as amazing are the other Life Long Learners who come from all walks of life. I think one of the things I particularly like is the small number of faculty and LLL’s which gives everyone an opportunity to get to know each other over the 3 month period. You become family and the relationships last the rest of your life.
I have done Semester at Sea full voyage once in 1998, a partial voyage in 2008 and a couple Alumni Weekends and without a doubt it is the most exhilarating, enlightening experience, each time. I plan on doing another full voyage in the next year or so depending on the itinerary and my personal schedule.
The cost is relative to the experience. For an adult sharing a cabin the cost averages $300 a day and includes meals, lectures, classes. A full semester is around 100 days. There are opportunities to do partial voyages based on the voyage and itinerary.
Ideal for Single Women or Men
As a senior single woman I highly recommend this experience. You will feel safe at all times, meet wonderful, interesting, exciting people and see the world in ways no other tour or cruise experience can offer. There have been people 40 and others 90 on my voyages. One of the things most impressive is the staff and students attention to the LLL’s. If they notice someone might need a little assistance, they are right there to lend a hand. The ship does have elevators and handicapped equipped cabins. There is a full medical staff and general surgical facility.
The Semester at Sea website: www.semesteratsea.com is very complete and lists planned itineraries for two years in advance.
Semester at Sea is life changing and worth saving up for!