SAS Participants on deck as ship leaves Dubrovnik, Croatia

Admission FAQ

When should I apply?

Semester at Sea operates on a rolling admissions basis, meaning there are no application deadlines for specific semesters. However, it is recommended that you begin the application process 12 months before the semester in which you would like to participate. Students will be asked to provide an updated academic record at the conclusion of the semester prior to their participation. Applications will continue to be accepted until approximately one month before the start of the voyage.

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.

What are my chances of gaining admission?

If you are in good academic standing and have a good record with regard to behavior on your home campus, you will be given every consideration. Your transcript, disciplinary clearance and essay provide you with the opportunity to demonstrate your potential for academic success aboard the voyage. The Institute for Shipboard Education operates with the philosophy that all undergraduate students should study abroad. We will work with you to help make it possible.

Do I have to apply for a specific semester?

Yes, however, you can transfer your application to a different voyage without reapplying. You will be required to provide updated transcripts, and an updated disciplinary clearance form, in order to be considered for admission to the later voyage.

How long will it take to hear about my admission?

Once the Institute has received your completed application, including the transcript and disciplinary clearance, you will receive a reply in 1-2 weeks. It is advisable to follow up to verify that all components of your application have been received.

I am a first semester Freshman. How do I submit my academic record?

You should follow the Gap Year application process for admission to your voyage. After you complete your first term in college, send us your undergraduate transcript and your status will change to a traditional undergraduate student. 

When should I submit the $1,000 deposit to reserve a space?

As soon as you are academically admitted. The deposit is applied against the tuition and fees for the semester. It is refundable up to 90 days prior to the start of the semester should you decide that you are unable to attend.  You can also transfer your deposit to reserve space on a future voyage.  

When do voyages fill?

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

If I am on a waiting list, what are my chances of getting a space?

Spaces regularly open as students change plans. Many students from the waiting list are accommodated. However, it is impossible to estimate how many students will be able to receive a space or how long it will take. Students on the waitlist are encouraged to consider alternative study abroad programs and establish a date by which they need to make a decision. Students may also opt to transfer to future voyages.

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 semester in which you enroll. Visa requirements vary depending on the countries included on the itinerary. Typically, students need to secure two or three visas individually, with the remainder group visas obtained by ISE. Detailed information will be mailed in a packet after the student has submitted the deposit.

What if I need to cancel from the program?

The Institute for Shipboard Education’s payment and cancellation policy specifies the refund structure for those students that must cancel their plans to sail. Below, you will find the refund structure:

Prior to fall and spring departures, all funds received on a participant’s account are refundable until the 90-day payment due date for the voyage. Cancellations following the 90-day payment due date will automatically result in a charge of $1,000 regardless of name change or cabin resale, and the following fees will apply:

  • Cancellation up to and including 90 days prior to the voyage – full refund to participant
  • If cancelled 89-60 days prior to voyage – 25% of program fee
  • If cancelled 59-45 days prior to voyage – 50% of program fee
  • If cancelled 44-31 days prior to voyage – 75% of program fee
  • If cancelled 30 days prior to the voyage and after voyage departure – 100% of program fee

Can there be a fuel surcharge?

Semester at Sea, like any company, sets up a yearly budget based largely on estimates of fixed costs with some room for variation.  During the past several years we have been impacted directly just as everyone in the travel industry in general and the maritime industry in particular have been with significant overall increases in our fuel prices. Depending on each port’s regulatory and environmental requirements, we have to consider at least three different types and grades of fuel, each with significantly different “at the pump” price points.  Political unrest in certain parts of the world, as well as periodic natural disasters, have contributed to increasing and unpredictable volatility as well, which in turn lends to overall instability and unpredictability in fuel prices.

Fuel charges now run approximately 25% or more of our overall cost structure, up considerably from what we were experiencing just a few short years ago.  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. However, it becomes 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 advance of sailing, the Institute for Shipboard Education 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 $85 per barrel. Historically this cost has been up to $9 per person per day, but may vary due to the volatility of the market.  These incurred costs include not only what is expected to be paid “at the pump” 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 “at the pump” became volatile.  Such surcharges when enacted are necessary to help offset a portion of the total excess fuel costs that exceed this $85 per barrel.