Shipboard Diversity & Inclusion Resources

Shipboard Diversity & Inclusion Programming

Both in and out of the classroom, every voyage is underpinned by holistic programs promoting an inclusive living and learning community for all voyagers. Programming is developed and implemented by our knowledgeable faculty and staff, including one resident director specifically for diversity and inclusion, as well as our amazing students, Lifelong Learners, and esteemed sailing guests.

In recent voyages, this programming, open to all members of the voyage community, has included (but has not been limited to) topics exploring:

  • Gender (men and masculinity, feminist club, myths, roles, gender-based violence, etc.)
  • Privilege, race, and class in a global context
  • Social and political movements for justice (Black Lives Matter, etc.)
  • Understanding and supporting LGBTQIA+ communities
  • Bystander intervention for allies
  • Perspectives and encounters with religion
  • Cultural nights respectfully highlighting local fashion, dance, poetry, etc.
  • Film screenings and discussions (Get Out, Zootopia, TedTalk — Danger of a Single Story, etc.)
  • Conscious Traveler Series: Creating conversation about all of our “Big 8” Identities (ability, age, religion, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, and socioeconomic status)
  • Presentations on issues of local and global importance from sailing guests from our port countries
  • Inclusive language training for faculty and staff (during faculty and staff orientation)

Support Resources

In addition to providing programming on important diversity and inclusion topics open to the entire shipboard community, there are a number of spaces and services available to support voyagers holding various and intersecting identities. 

Race and Ethnicity

While most shipboard clubs and activities are developed and facilitated by participants, we have several traditional affinity groups on every voyage. Each of the groups below collaborates directly with a resident director to organize initial meetings, however, most groups are facilitated by students.

  • Voyagers of Color at Sea
  • Asian/Pacific Islander Student Union
  • Black Student Union
  • Hispanic and Latine Student Union
  • Multiracial Club
  • DEI Committee for Exploring Racial Identities

Nationality and Language

As a global campus, we welcome participants from countries all over the world. Around 15% of our student body is comprised of non-USA passport holders. Resources and other important events include:

  • International Student Union
  • A resident director dedicated to international student support
  • International Culture Night to showcase port country and voyager home country cultures
  • Access to the shipboard writing center

LGBTQIA+ and Gender Identity

Voyagers who identify as LGBTQIA+ as well as allies are welcome and supported on every Semester at Sea voyage.

  • LGBTQIA+ Affinity group
  • *Gender Inclusive Cabins

Gender Identity at Sea

We know that sex is not the same as gender and that neither are binary. SAS, from the point of application, provides voyagers the opportunity to self-identify using their gender identity and pronouns and to provide their chosen name. Pronoun options appear on voyager name tags and door tags. An individual’s identity and pronouns are affirmed and supported on every SAS voyage.

While we can create inclusive spaces within our shipboard community programs, some of the challenges that we encounter as a global program are different timelines and cultural understandings of sex and gender by local and national governments. It is for these reasons, related to customs and immigration, that our passenger identification cards and shipboard and in-country program manifests (name lists) must list a participant’s name and sex as it is assigned on their official passport.

Additionally, while most of the spaces in our shipboard community are not gendered, some public restrooms on the ship are gender-specific (we do not own the current vessel and do not have permission to alter the restrooms.) There are still some single-stall all-gendered restrooms on certain decks, and private restrooms are available in all passenger cabins not far from public areas.

*Gender Inclusive Cabins

Some participants may need specific rooming accommodations to feel safe, supported, and successful on their voyage. Gender-inclusive cabins allow for students to share a cabin regardless of sex or gender.

These cabins support a variety of students and allies who:

  • May feel uncomfortable rooming with members of the same sex
  • Are transgender, transitioning, or gender non-conforming students in their process of discovering their gender identity/expression
  • Have different cultural living expectations
  • Have other gender identities and expressions

There is no designated deck or cabin type for gender-inclusive cabins. Cabin location will be determined on a case-by-case basis. Students in gender-inclusive cabins will share all cabin amenities, including one bathroom.

Our default housing assignment process is to match student roommates of the same sex as assigned on their passport unless gender-inclusive housing is requested. Deposited voyagers may make a request for accommodations in their online portal. Voyagers can also reach out to our Student Life staff to discuss any accommodation requests and feasibility on their preferred voyage.

Gender Inclusive Housing FAQs

Can I request a single room as a gender inclusive assignment?

Due to very limited cabin capacity on the ship, there are no single student cabins available. Students who feel there is a medical need for a single cabin can be connected to the voyage medical team to make this request. Please contact the Director of Student Life at lroth@isevoyages.org to be connected to the medical team.

How will roommate pairings be made?

It is expected that most participants will have a specific individual in mind to live with and mutual roommate requests will be honored when possible, regardless of gender, as long as both parties are requesting the same cabin type. For those interested in a gender inclusive cabin who do not have a specific roommate in mind, please contact the Director of Student Life, Laura Roth, to discuss cabin placement. She can be reached at lroth@isevoyages.org or (970) 491-8806.

Will others know that I am in a gender inclusive cabin?

The primary purpose of gender inclusive cabins is to provide support to students who need or request accommodations due to gender identity and expression. Semester at Sea will not ask for more information than is required to meet students’ needs. Disclosed private information is confidential and will only be shared with those who have a need to know.

If I am assigned to a gender inclusive cabin and no longer want that option, can I change?

If you requested to live in a gender inclusive cabin and want to opt out of this option before the voyage begins, please contact Laura Roth at lroth@isevoyages.org to discuss options. If you want to request a cabin change after the voyage has begun, you need to work with the Dean of Student Life on the voyage. Please know there is a standard cabin freeze period of at least two weeks at the beginning of each voyage. During this period, there will be no cabin changes. If a roommate leaves the cabin, Semester at Sea may not be able to continue to designate this cabin as gender inclusive and someone of the same gender identity as noted on their passport may be placed in the cabin.

Religion and Spirituality

Voyagers from all religious backgrounds are welcome and supported on all Semester at Sea voyages. Each voyage, in coordination with a resident director for wellness and spirituality, organizes a non-denominational religious club. Voyagers may also choose to start other specific religious groups. Our floating campus does not have a mass, chapel, or temple on board, nor any ordained religious officials. However, groups may reserve public spaces as needed. Previous student-generated religious groups have included but are not limited to:

  • Young Life Bible Study
  • Jewish Voyagers / Kahal
  • Muslim Student Association
  • Christian Fellowship


Physical Disabilities

Despite the unique challenges navigating a shipboard and varying in-port environments, disabilities are not inherent barriers to studying on Semester at Sea. SAS has supported voyagers with a variety of disabilities within our academic program and shipboard community on many voyages. Flexibility and adaptability are pivotal to our voyage success.

We continue to explore ways to support students with disabilities within our unique shipboard environment and consider accommodation requests on an individual, case-by-case basis. We partner closely with Colorado State University Student Disability Center in this endeavor.

  • SAS has been able to support deaf/hard-of-hearing students and students with limited mobility on recent voyages.
  • Service animals may be accommodated on a case-by-case basis. (We cannot accommodate emotional support animals.) It is the voyager’s responsibility to research and complete all country-specific regulations relative to the animal for each country and supply proof of compliance before embarkation. The voyager is responsible for all service animal care. In lieu of a service animal, voyagers may be permitted to bring a caregiver.
  • There is one wheelchair-accessible cabin on the ship at this time.

Learning Accommodations

Semester at Sea provides academic accommodations for students with diagnosed learning disabilities. If a participant wishes to request accommodations, the student should request that the appropriate office at their institution email a letter of approved accommodations to the contact listed in the voyage prep portal.

Participants should submit these materials as soon as possible, but no later than the deadline reflected in the voyage preparation portal. Requests for accommodations submitted after this deadline will be reviewed but may be declined if found unreasonable due to time constraints. Some accommodations require more lead time to provide on the ship than they would on a land-based campus.

First-Generation Students

We are continuing to look for resources and programming to support first-generation students and their families as they prepare for their upcoming study abroad voyage.

  • First-Generation Student Support & Affinity Group

Mental Wellness Support

Every voyage, the Student Life team designs, implements, and evaluates prevention, education, and wellness programs and services. These activities are created to advance the health of the entire shipboard community and foster a strong student learning environment. On recent voyages, activities have included but have not been limited to:

  • Peer health educator organizations
  • Activities to disseminate health-related information (nutrition and healthy eating, alcohol and/or drug abuse, stress management, time management, overcoming homesickness, etc.)
  • Games, contests, and group fitness classes to further health education and healthy lifestyles

Mental Health Care

Each Semester at Sea voyage community has two licensed clinical psychologists responsible for coordinating, implementing, and evaluating total mental health care and education for all voyagers. This includes diagnostic assessment and short-term clinical therapy in all areas of mental health. Voyage psychologists execute educational programming and outreach to the shipboard community and are contributors to pre-port briefings. Counseling is available by appointment.

Voyage psychologists also facilitate onboard support groups for a range of needs including but not limited to: addiction, alcohol and/or drug abuse, sexual assault survivors, and disordered eating, among others (Friends of Bill W. meetings, etc.).

Dietary Accommodations

The dining halls on board the MV World Odyssey are buffet-style and have a variety of dietary accommodations for each meal, including vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free options. Each dish has a sign posted above indicating if it contains any dairy, nuts, or wheat/gluten. While this information may be sufficient for those with light allergies or sensitivities, it should not serve as the only resource for those with severe food allergies.

For those with any medically diagnosed dietary restrictions, please speak with a dining room steward so they can properly prepare meals.

What it is like being vegan or gluten-free on Semester at Sea?


For any additional questions or to discuss special accommodations related to gender-inclusive housing, disability or mobility, religious accommodations for academic schedules, mental health support, etc.:

  • Deposited voyagers may make a request for accommodations in their online portal.
  • Contact SAS Student Life staff to discuss any accommodation requests and feasibility on the intended voyage.

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