Life at Sea

The ship offers a unique living and learning environment.

Life at Sea

The ship offers a unique living and learning environment. Between adjusting to classes, meeting new friends, and tackling global issues, you will discover the joys of shipboard life. You will claim a favorite dining hall, enjoy eating meals with your professors, and set your alarm for sunsets and stargazing nights.

Our ship environment is similar to a small liberal arts campus — the ideal place where students and professors live, work, and socialize together. Semester at Sea’s living-learning community provides a platform for education, discussion, and deep connections all while traveling to new locations.

A Day In the Life at Sea

Who’s On Board?

The Semester at Sea shipboard community is unlike any other. You’ll meet voyagers from colleges, universities, and institutions around the world with whom to explore and become lifelong friends.

What are we looking for in future shipmates?

Being okay with being uncomfortable:

To grow, learn, and see the world from a new perspective is not always easy. At times, you will be uncomfortable. At times, so will everyone else. Reach out if you need support.  

Trying something new:

Be curious, get involved, and attend evening seminars and programs. Take advantage of this amazing opportunity to stretch yourself. Meet new and different people throughout the voyage.

Seeking to understand:

Genuinely listen to others, learn each other’s stories, and recognize the multiple identities and perspectives we each hold.

Who’s sailing on each voyage?


Up to 550 undergraduate, gap year, and recent college graduate students representing majors from 270+ colleges and universities.

Faculty & Staff

Every voyage sails under the leadership of an Executive Dean, Academic Dean, and Dean of Student Life. Semester at Sea attracts nationally renowned, award-winning faculty who are passionate about international education. The staff includes the Field Program, communications, and medical teams. 

Student Life Team

The Dean of Students and a team of resident directors bring the community together and organize extracurricular programming. This team focuses on developing a dynamic and synergistic relationship between academic instruction and co-curricular learning.

Lifelong Learners

The Semester at Sea Lifelong Learning Program provides adult learners, who are 30 years of age or older, with an opportunity to join the SAS academic community. Lifelong learners add a valuable generational element to the shipboard community. They are retirees, professionals on leave, or simply adventurous travelers who desire to study with bright, enthusiastic undergraduate students from around the world.

Interport Lecturers & Students

Interport lecturers are international scholars or professors living abroad who are selected for their deep knowledge of a culture, practice, or field of study. They join a segment of a voyage and participate in intercultural briefings.

Interport students are undergraduates from universities around the world. They contribute to classes and give presentations about their culture.

Captain, Senior Officers, & Crew

The captain and his officers manage ship operations and voyage execution to ensure the safe passage and health of all participants. Many have been a part of Semester at Sea voyages for years. 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.

Learn more about shipboard management and safety at sea.

The MV World Odyssey: Your First and Favorite Port

Alumni often describe their time on the ship as one of the “most remarkable communities” they have experienced, and it’s what they miss the most when the voyage is over. For this reason, the ship is your first port of call. 

Equipped with classrooms, a student union, library, and many of the amenities you’d find on a land-based campus, the ship functions as both a traveling college and residential home to more than 1,200 participants each year.

The ship has been meticulously maintained since construction in Germany in 1998 and underwent routine dry-dock maintenance in 2016 and 2020. The MV World Odyssey is the sixth ship in Semester at Sea’s history.

Take a 360° Tour of the Semester at Sea Ship!

Campus Highlights


Berths to accommodate approximately 600 program participants, some exterior with windows, some interior without.


Nine classrooms, each with technology to support engaged learning.

Library/Academic Success Center

A popular study space on Deck 5, the Academic Success Center is available to help with basic IT and campus network issues or connect with the voyage librarian. There are four computers and a laser printer for academic use.

Anderson Student Union

A large and majestic union with upper and lower level seating that accommodates all students, faculty, staff, and lifelong learners for classes and community sessions.

Reception and Administrative Offices

A welcoming reception desk area with an around-the-clock crew presence as well as the Semester at Sea field program and administrative staff.


Physical and mental health are the cornerstones of a successful voyage. Fitness spaces include an indoor gym with free weights, weight machines, and cardiovascular equipment. The outside features a spacious sun deck for recreational activities such as yoga and a basketball/ volleyball court.


A lovely, outdoor pool located on Deck 9 is used for exercise and relaxation.

Dining Halls

There are two dining halls on board, and three meals a day are included in your program fees, even when the ship is in port. There are also three snack bars and a grill where snacks and smoothies can be purchased.

Wellness Center

Relax on board by spending some time at the Wellness Center. Review the spa menu.

Snapshot of Daily Life

The rhythm of the voyage dictates life on the ship. It is atypical from an academic semester on a land-based campus. Rather than days of the week, we generally refer to days as either at sea or in-port.

In-Port Days

Generally, the ship is docked in a country for 4–6 days. In-port days are filled with activities, including fieldwork and pre-arranged programs, or you can plan your own travel. The ship is always your home base, and you are welcome to sleep in your cabin or eat a meal on board.

Sea Days

Classes meet nearly every day the ship is at sea sailing to a new destination. This includes Saturdays and Sundays. While at sea, you will take courses, complete class assignments, and engage in a wide variety of student-driven clubs and activities in the evenings. Each day that the ship is at sea, classes are divided into A or B days, which alternate.

Between extra-curricular activities, evening seminars, student groups, exercise, studying, reflection, and shipboard traditions, your days will be packed with things to do.

The Student Life Team will host an activities fair within the first few days, and if you don’t see a club you are interested in, you can always start a new one and find students with similar passions and social identities.

Extracurricular Activities include:
  • Intramural tournaments (basketball, ping pong, volleyball, soccer, etc. )
  • Group exercise (dance, yoga, Pilates, step aerobics, kickboxing, martial arts, etc.)
  • Game clubs (chess, scrabble, Apples to Apples, etc.)
  • Musical groups (a capella, bands, orchestra, etc.)
  • Dance groups (salsa, tap, merengue, step, capoeira, etc.)
  • Theater groups (including putting on plays for the shipboard community)
  • Foreign language practice (Italian, Chinese, Spanish, Japanese, etc.)
  • Sea Council
  • Coffee House
  • Self-help groups
  • Spiritual and religious services and discussion groups
  • LGBTQIA+ groups
  • Students of Color
  • Model UN
  • Environmental Club
  • International Student Association
  • Muslim Student Group
  • Asian Students Club
  • Fraternity & Sorority (Greek) Club

Technology at Sea

The shipboard network provides access to resources needed for courses and submitting assignments. There is a basic file-sharing system, print management, learning management system, direct messaging/discussion platform, and intranet information site. Internet access is provided but with restrictions. While aboard the ship, do not rely on the Internet to access remote files, videos, and other resources.

Our floating college has wireless available in most areas of the ship that allows access to the ship’s intranet and Internet portal. Voyagers can access the ship’s free intranet (files and functions that are located on servers on the ship), including the library’s online catalog, from their personal devices such as laptops and smartphones.

The MV World Odyssey is equipped with a satellite dish that allows Internet access while at sea in most parts of the world. This access is shared with the entire ship and is limited compared to what most voyagers are used to. The amount of bandwidth can vary based on a variety of factors. Please be flexible and understand that we provide as much bandwidth as possible.

Specific information regarding free email account setup and Internet pricing is made available to confirmed voyage participants during the voyage preparation period via the participant portal.

Hear From Past Voyagers

Headshot of Nick Hayden

Life at Sea on Semester at Sea’s MV World Odyssey was one of the best parts of the trip that I feel doesn’t get discussed enough prior to the voyage. The ship truly becomes both your home and the friends you make on the ship will last far longer than any other part of the voyage experience. While living on a ship definitely has its challenges, I always jump at the opportunity to return to it whenever I have the chance, because it truly is a special place.

Ready to Set Sail?

Take the first step on the journey of a lifetime.