Semester at Sea transforms students into confident citizens of the world. As a parent, you play a critical role in supporting your child’s journey. Welcome aboard.

What Is Semester at Sea?

Semester at Sea is one of the most rewarding and life-changing experiences your child can undertake during their college years. In a single semester aboard the Semester at Sea shipboard classroom, your voyager will visit 10+ countries around the world, gaining unparalleled insight into the complex interplay of world cultures while earning college credit from our renowned, fully-accredited academic partners.

Watch our overview video to learn more.


of voyagers

say SAS was their most significant college experience


of voyagers

spend extended time living abroad after SAS


of voyagers

experience long-term positive impact


of voyagers

go on to work outside the United States

Stay Connected

No matter how far they travel, maintaining a connection to home helps voyagers stay grounded.

Parent and Family Travel

Parent and family trips are a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the world through your voyager’s eyes.

Get Involved

Parents can take an active role in the Semester at Sea community through giving, joining the Parent Council, and more.

Why Semester at Sea?

Global Experience

Unlike traditional study abroad programs, your voyager will gain a comparative understanding of international cultures and the critical issues facing our world.

Academic Benefits

Your child will earn college credits toward their degree while engaging with world-class faculty in an intensive live-learn environment on our ship and in destinations around the world.

Career Enhancement

Semester at Sea offers unique benefits for your child’s post-college job search, from improved leadership skills to an invaluable global perspective on the challenges of tomorrow.

Personal Transformation

Parents of Semester at Sea alumni tell us that their children leave as college students and return as confident citizens of the world, ready to embark on a life of learning and adventure.

Hear From Past Voyagers

Before embarking on my SAS journey I had no idea just how intense college courses would be. I am so grateful that I decided to do this program before entering my first year of college. It really provided me with an idea of what to expect in the fall.

My experiences prepared me for life, not just for college. After SAS, I was academically, socially and emotionally more than ready for college…I realized several aspects of my personality, and during SAS, my true personality showed up, and I was exposed to a whole new spectrum of myself…I loved it so much that I came back for another voyage, and I’m positive that I will sail again in future, not just once, but multiple times. MV Explorer is home for me.

One of the most valuable things I took away from my experience was the relationships I made aboard the MV Explorer, some of which I continue to connect with. They were all current college students, and offered me great advice when I began my freshman orientation during the fall after my summer voyage.

We learned a lot [about] how to live with others who are completely different [from each other] and still have respect and a lot of fun together and still hold our friendship until this day.

On SAS, I had the opportunity to feel a bond and closeness with people with whom I wouldn’t have otherwise had a connection. I learned about their lives, their children’s lives, their daily struggles, their most significant times of joy and began to really care. As I traveled, I became more connected not only to the people I met, but all people everywhere. We are all the same and every human life is important.

Semester at Sea was an investment in myself. Nothing has come close to this transcendent experience. When I got off the ship my parents asked if the high price tag was worth the cost. I told them if it was double and I had to pay for it all myself it would be worth it. Now as the mom to a teenage daughter I joke that she may be on her own for the cost of college, but her Semester at Sea fund is fully funded.

The Semester at Sea Difference

Semester at Sea has been a pioneer and leader in multi-country comparative education for more than 58 years. Unlike traditional study abroad, our focus on global comparative education empowers students to learn about and connect to the world’s peoples, patterns, cultures, and traditions.

Spotlight on Health & Safety

Over the course of our 58+ year history, we’ve always put the health and safety of our program participants, employees, and crew first. We follow a rigorous multi-faceted risk management model that keeps people safe and healthy both onboard the ship and in our multi-country destinations.

Watch our video on health and safety.

Paying for Semester at Sea

We work to make the life-changing experience of SAS accessible to a wide range of students, regardless of financial circumstances. Explore program costs, and the financial aid available to help make your student’s dream of seeing the world a reality.

Frequenty Asked Questions

Our parent community is lively, engaged, and deeply curious. Here are
answers to the questions we hear most from parents like you.

Is the program open to students in all majors?

Yes, students from all majors regularly enroll in Semester at Sea. More than 40 majors are typically represented on any given voyage.

When do voyages fill?

It varies. Voyages typically fill one to four months prior to sailing. We encourage you to submit your application early but please contact our office if you have a last-minute opportunity to join our program for the semester.

Are there payment plans?

We do not offer payment plans for the Parent and Family Trips at this time. Full payment is required upon registering for the trip. You may use a credit card or mail a check (specific payment details are listed in each trip).

What is the cancellation and refund policy?

All cancellations or transfer requests must be mailed, emailed, or faxed by the participant on or before the posted cancellation deadline for the voyage. The Institute for Shipboard Education’s payment and cancellation policy specifies the refund structure for those participants that must cancel their plans to sail.

The Institute for Shipboard Education’s payment and cancellation policy for all voyages is as follows:
Prior to fall and spring departures, refund of all payments, with the exception of the application fee (not applicable to Lifelong Learners), will be made for written cancellations or transfers received no later than the 90-day payment due date before the beginning of the voyage. Cancellations received after the 90-day payment due date before the start of the voyage will automatically result in forfeiture of the deposit made at the time of confirmation of acceptance in the Program. Refund amount is based on cancellation date:

Cancellation up to and including 90 days prior to the voyage – full refund to participant
If cancelled 89-60 days prior to voyage – 75% of program fee is refundable*
If cancelled 59-45 days prior to voyage – 50% of program fee is refundable*
If cancelled 44-31 days prior to voyage – 25% of program fee is refundable*
If cancelled 30 days prior to the voyage and after voyage departure – voyage fee is fully nonrefundable*
After voyage departure, no refund will be made to a Participant who voluntarily withdraws from the program or who must withdraw from the program due to any violation of the Standards of Conduct. No refund of any kind will be made if the Participant must interrupt the semester due to a medical or psychological illness.

A note for Spotlight (partial) Voyages: the refund schedule and deposit information listed above is the same as if you were sailing the full voyage. For example, full payment for the voyage is due 90 days prior to the beginning of the voyage, not 90 days prior to when you board the ship. Please contact for more information.

What should I pack?

Each trip will have different needs, but the golden rule of traveling is to always pack light for more freedom and less hassle. Often times we are taking an in-country flight or transferring hotels, so packing light and bringing smaller luggage is highly encouraged to make it a stress-free experience. It’s recommended to bring sunscreen, hat, layered clothing, sneakers, camera and chargers/converters. As always, leave expensive jewelry and flashy items at home – safety first.

Can there be a fuel surcharge?

Semester at Sea, like any company, sets up a yearly budget based largely on estimates of fixed and variable costs with some room for variation. We are directly impacted from time to time just as everyone is in the travel industry and the maritime industry in particular, with periodic and significant overall increases in our fuel prices. Depending on each port’s regulatory and environmental requirements, we have to consider at least two different types and grades of fuel, each with significantly different price points. Political unrest in certain parts of the world, as well as periodic natural disasters, also can contribute to increasing and unpredictable volatility as well, which in turn lends to overall instability and unpredictability in fuel prices. Fuel charges remain a material component of our overall cost structure. We make every effort to contain fuel costs through enhanced itinerary planning (which we conduct one to two years in advance), and through the use of standard advance fuel purchase commitment arrangements when appropriate. However, it is impossible for us to accurately predict what we might pay for fuel per voyage, port-to-port. Like airlines and major shipping companies, we regrettably must offset these higher costs from time to time with additional fuel surcharges.

In order to facilitate your financial planning, we may invoice you with a “fuel fee,” which at the time is our best indication of what our final “fuel surcharge” is expected to be. In advance of sailing, Semester at Sea may enact a fuel supplement surcharge for all participants, in the event that the average price for the blended types of fuel and related costs during the voyage is expected to exceed a certain budgetary threshold in pricing per metric ton, the amount of which will be offset by advance fuel fee billings/payments. These incurred costs include not only what is expected to be paid in various ports, but also include additional costs for fuel contracts entered into. These fuel contracts are intended to cushion the financial impact if future fuel prices became volatile.  Such surcharges when enacted are necessary to offset the total excess fuel costs that exceed this budget threshold. For more information please review our fuel surcharge policy.

Recent News

  • Fall 2025 Announcements
    Semester at Sea announces the Fall 2025 Voyage itinerary
    Read More
  • Spring 2024 Spring 2024
    Each voyage is life-changing and challenging, including this one.
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  • Fall 2024 Spring 2025 Announcements
    Semester at Sea Day at CSU
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Ready for Your Student to Set Sail?

Get in touch to learn more about how you can support your student on the voyage of a lifetime.