Lifelong Learning Program

FAQ: Lifelong Learning Program

Do I need a passport? What about visas?

Yes, if you do not already hold a passport, you should apply for one now. If you do have a passport, you should check its expiration date. Your passport needs to be valid for six months beyond the end of the voyage. We advise purchasing the largest passport book available. Specific passport requirements are available for confirmed Lifelong Learners via the voyage prep portal.

Visa requirements vary depending on the countries included on the itinerary. Typically, you will need to secure two or three visas individually. Some of the group visas will be obtained by ISE.

How do I contact your office?

You may email or call (800) 854-0195 if you have additional questions.

Want to talk to a former Lifelong Learner?

The Lifelong Learner Council is a group of dedicated Lifelong Learners who are happy to answer any questions that you might have. Email and we’ll match you with someone immediately!

What is the application process?

You can begin your journey by selecting a voyage, and then choosing a cabin type. Once you’ve made those two important decisions, fill out the online reservation form. Once it’s submitted, you will receive a follow-up email from the Director of Lifelong Learning with instructions on completing an online background check (required of all adult passengers on our voyages). Once that comes back, you’ll need a $2,500 per person deposit to hold your cabin. Once you’ve paid your deposit, you’re confirmed for the voyage! Full payment is due 90 days prior to the start of the voyage.

Is the COVID-19 vaccine required to sail?

Fall 2023: As all ports on our current Fall 2023 itinerary have lifted their COVID vaccination requirements (as of March 2023), voyagers are strongly encouraged, but not required, to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Voyagers who sail without vaccination may be barred by local port authorities should those requirements be reinstated.

Spring 2024: As of March 2023, Semester at Sea requires that all voyagers on the Spring 2024 voyage be vaccinated against COVID-19, as two of the ports on our itinerary continue to require vaccination (Ghana and Kenya). In keeping with those local requirements, voyagers must show evidence of initial vaccination (no boosters required).

As we travel to 10+ ports of call during each voyage, we and our passengers must abide by existing requirements related to testing, vaccination, and more. Please be aware that these may change at any time. As a result, we strongly encourage all voyagers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

The medical team will continue to offer testing to symptomatic voyagers and assist with limiting the spread of all air-borne illness through proactive and reactive measures. While procedures may change, as of Spring 2023, voyagers sickened by COVID-19 receive meal service in their rooms but are allowed to participate in all ship activities (including classes) provided they are cleared by the shipboard medical staff and follow masking protocols during their infectious window.

Can I maintain my business while on the ship?

That depends on what you hope to accomplish while at sea. The internet on-board is fairly reliable but can also go in and out, depending on the ship’s location. The most reliable internet will always be in port, at hotels or restaurants. Generally, you can send and receive emails or text using WhatsApp while on board. However, streaming of any kind is prohibited, which includes services like Netflix, YouTube, Zoom, Pandora, and more.

How do I keep in touch with friends and family at home?

Most Lifelong Learners will send group emails or upload photos and updates to social media websites or apps. Some prefer to keep a written blog, or simply send “check-in” emails to family and friends as needed.

May I audit an undergraduate course for credit?

Unfortunately not. Our Lifelong Learners participate in a course by attending class periods, completing the readings, and participating in the discussions. Lifelong Learners are not expected to take exams or complete assignments or papers.

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.