Health & Safety At Sea

We maintain the strictest standards to ensure the health and safety of all voyagers aboard the MV World Odyssey.


Semester at Sea’s shipboard college, the MV World Odyssey, is a modern ocean-going vessel maintained to the highest standards and compliant with all international maritime laws and regulations. While at sea, voyagers have access to many of the same resources they are accustomed to on a land campus. The ship’s crew and the SAS leadership and support staff are all trained to ensure the safety, comfort, and mental and physical health of all aboard. In addition, voyagers are expected to adhere to a code of behavior that promotes respect and safe decision making.

Ship Safety

The ship is operated by a team of ~150 crew and officers who each have position-specific certifications and thorough training. The ship’s state-of-the-art navigation and weather-forecasting resources allow for not only safe passage but also prioritize passenger comfort by navigating around weather systems whenever possible. The weather forecasting tools used onboard are far more advanced than what the public has access to and provide advance notice to the captain and officers to be able to effectively avoid most severe weather systems. The MV World Odyssey is held accountable to all international regulations and guidelines that protect passengers’ health and safety. For example:

Adherence and compliance with all port state control health inspection regulations and requirements (Port state control is the inspection of foreign ships in national ports to verify that the condition of the ship and its equipment complies with the requirements of international conventions and that the ship is manned and operated in compliance with these rules.).

Compliance with the International Maritime Organization, the Maritime Labour Convention, and all flag-state and insurance provider requirements (e.g. maintenance inspection and replacement schedules, crew working hours, crew training, personal protection equipment requirements of crew, type of fuel, environmentally-responsible disposal of waste, food safety guidelines, etc.).

Routine health and safety best practices include the routine deep cleaning and disinfecting of all public areas, access to hand sanitizer at entrances to all dining facilities, limiting the potential of bacterial growth and insect concerns by prohibiting food items be removed from dining areas, and the routine cleaning of cabins and bathrooms.

The World Odyssey meets the International Maritime Organization’s SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea) requirements, including requirements for lifeboats, rescue boats, and life jackets for every soul on board. All passengers are required to participate in routine lifeboat drills at embarkation and approximately once a month throughout the voyage. The crew has additional routine emergency-preparedness drills that rehearse responses for various unlikely emergencies including but not limited to fire, medical emergency, mechanical failure, and passenger overboard.

Shipboard Officers and Crew

ISE contracts with the maritime management company Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM) as the service provider to hire the officers and crew to manage the program’s vessel.

Jan Christiansen
Jan Christiansen

Jan Christiansen is a Captain and Mariner Pilot with 10+ years’ experience  in the shipping industry, renowned for exemplary leadership, team management, and communication skills. Holding an impressive array of maritime qualifications, including STCW Master Unlimited and ISM Auditor, this seasoned professional has navigated diverse roles, from commanding containerships worldwide to piloting vessels through challenging waters like the Kiel Canal. With a foundation in Electrical Engineering, his dedication extends beyond the sea. Christiansen’s commitment to maritime excellence is reflected in his continual learning and dedication to safety. In his free time, Christiansen likes to keep active by traveling, taking part in water sports like sailing and waterskiing.

  • Education
    • STCW Master Unlimited • STCW GOC Unlimited • STCW95 Basic Safety, Advance Fire, Rescue Boats, SSO. • Polar Code • ISM Auditor • MRM all courses (Swedish Club Part 1-3) • Manned Model Course for Ship handling • Train the Trainer • Various other maritime Courses
Alican Öncül
Staff Captain
Alican Öncül
Staff Captain

Alican Öncül is an adventurous, highly motivated, seasoned Master Mariner with 15 years of sea experience, renowned for exceptional performance under pressure. Adept at dynamic leadership, quick decision-making, and strict adherence to regulations. He specializes in passenger ship safety, navigating polar regions, and compliance with ISM, SOLAS, and ISPS standards. Collaborative experience with Flag State, Classification Societies, US Coast Guard, and Port State Control. Versatile background includes bulk cargo, cruise, luxury mega yachts, expedition, and luxury cruise ships. Alican is eager to contribute leadership and excellence in a company that values continuous improvement.

  • Education
    • Istanbul Technical University • Master License (II/2 Unlimited) • Yacht Master (Unlimited) • GMDSS GOC • STCW Basic Safety
Panos Stathopoulos
Chief Engineer
Panos Stathopoulos
Chief Engineer

Chief Panos was born and raised in Piraeus, Greece. Coming from a seafaring family, it’s no surprise that he chose the same path. His first sea voyage came at 17 years of age, and on a summer break from school he worked as an engine wiper in a cargo ship for three months. He is a self-confessed mechanical junkie and the smell & sound of the ship’s engines after this trip hit him hard.

Chief Panos joined the Semester at Sea in October 2019 to fulfill his dream to circumnavigate the globe in a single voyage. When not at sea, Chief Panos lives with his wife, two children and their dog in the suburbs of Athens, Greece. Chief Panos loves traveling around Greece and is an avid motorcycle enthusiast. He is often found at the beach riding the Aegean waves on his favorite Stand Up Paddle.

  • Education
    Merchant Marine Academy of Aspropyrgos
Rumen Fudulov
Chief Engineer
Rumen Fudulov
Chief Engineer

Chief Rumen was born in 1972 in Dobrich, a small town near the Black Sea Coast.His parents had a very nice small summer house on the coast, where they would spend sunny weekends. It was at this house that Rumen would watch big ships pass by and had one question in his mind, “How [does that] big thing move without sails?” Rumen and his older brother would race around the coast on boats. In 2005 Rumen joined the MV Explorer and SAS program as Second Engineer. In 2012 Rumen took over the Chief Engineer position and continues work on Semester at Sea’s current ship, the World Odyssey.

Chief Rumen enjoys traveling, photography, playing football with his son, and sometimes gardening. When at home, he spends time with friends and colleagues, and discusses political events and local issues.

  • Education
    Naval Academy (Engineering Profile)

Shipboard Leadership and Support Staff

Our robust living-learning environment includes a team of teaching faculty and academic support staff (including support for learning accommodations); a student life team (including Resident Directors who live on the same decks as students); a health team (including medical and mental health professionals); and various health and wellness resources, such as exercise equipment, group fitness classes, salon and spa services, and various student-led Affinity Groups and clubs (e.g. LGBTQIA++; Race/Ethnicity Groups; Religious Support Services; Agnostic, Atheist, and Humanist Group; 12 Step Programs; International Students, etc.).

Voyage Leadership Team

This team comprises professionals from academic affairs and student affairs, as well as operations and medical personnel. Together this team leads the voyage with support and collaboration from the ISE home office. This Voyage Leadership Team participates in a comprehensive training program with ISE for nearly one year in advance of the semester.

Faculty, Academic Support Staff, and Mental Health Experts

All faculty and staff (around 50 faculty/staff each semester) are experienced professionals in their respective fields and are trained in the unique aspects of our shipboard campus in the months leading up to the voyage and during an intensive in-person training in the days prior to participant embarkation. Additionally, Semester at Sea hires and trains a full student life team and medical and mental health professionals.

Participant Behavior

Semester at Sea has zero tolerance for the use or possession of illegal substances. The ship security conducts random and targeted testing for illegal substances as well as random and targeted cabin inspections. Those in violation of these policies are subject to disciplinary sanctions, up to and including program expulsion.

Excessive or inappropriate use of alcohol among college students is a recognized concern on all college campuses, including on Semester at Sea. While on the ship, voyagers’ access to alcohol is controlled and is available only on designated dates and times (not every day) and limited to no more than two drinks (beer or wine only; available to those 18 and over while the ship is in international waters). Semester at Sea places great emphasis on education through a dedicated alcohol-awareness orientation at the start of the voyage, and the Student Life professionals provide ongoing targeted programming, similar to a land campus. Intoxication (at sea or in-country) is a violation of the code of conduct and can lead to disciplinary sanctions, including dismissal from the program.

Medical Clinic

The health clinic on board the MV World Odyssey is among the most advanced medical facilities available on ocean-going vessels today. Voyage medical staff are U.S.-licensed health professionals. Personnel include at a minimum:

  • A board-certified program physician
  • A board-certified program physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner
  • A certified ship’s physician
  • Two certified ship’s nurses

The on-board clinic receives shipboard patients at no cost every day both at sea and in port. A member of the medical team is on-call 24/7 in case of emergencies. There is a minimal cost for any medicine prescribed by the on-ship medical team. The ship’s crew also includes a crew doctor and two crew nurses who are available to administer care to voyage participants. The medical team responds to the routine and emergent health conditions of Semester at Sea participants and provides educational programming and outreach to the shipboard community as contributors to Pre-port briefings.


Participants requiring medication should plan to bring enough to last the entire voyage. Prescriptions usually cannot be filled in overseas pharmacies. Please work with your physician and/or pharmacist to arrange for dispensation of the correct amount of necessary medications. Some medications require controlled dispensation (Ritalin, etc.) and may require participants to share their Semester at Sea itinerary and program fee invoice with their physician and pharmacist. Our on-board health professionals will collect your medications upon check-in at the port of embarkation and then dispense the medication according to the schedule required by U.S. law.

Mental Health Resources

On each voyage, Semester at Sea employs, as part of the medical team, two licensed mental health counselors responsible for coordinating, implementing, and evaluating total mental health care and education for all passengers. This includes diagnostic assessment and short-term clinical therapy in all areas of mental health. In addition to facilitating on-board support groups (e.g. alcohol abuse, eating disorders, etc.), voyage mental health professionals prepare educational programming and outreach to the shipboard community and are contributors to pre-port briefings. Counseling is available by appointment.

Physical Health & Fitness

Participants may use strength-training equipment, free weights, and aerobic equipment (e.g. stationary bikes, elliptical machines, cross-trainers, etc.) in the fitness facilities. The sports court, an outdoor basketball/volleyball court, is available for pick-up games on all days at sea and in port, weather permitting. Participant-led fitness classes are also often available during the voyage, typically including yoga, Pilates, and CrossFit.

Food and Dietary Concerns

Three meals a day and a late-night snack are served aboard the MV World Odyssey and included as part of standard program fees (including while the ship is in port.) Meals are served in two separate dining rooms buffet-style (same food in each dining room). A wide variety of cuisines generally satisfies most dietary preferences. Vegetarian, vegan, gluten, and dairy-free diets can be easily managed without specific requests for accommodation. However, given the nature of the program, it is impossible to 100% guarantee there will be no cross-contamination of common allergens (nuts, dairy, eggs, gluten, soy, and shellfish are all routinely served on board). Participants with severe allergies should discuss this with their doctor and reach out to Semester at Sea to discuss options in advance of the voyage.

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