Student safety

Providing Support to Students

Semester at Sea provides a variety of resources and support services for our participants.



Inoculation requirements may be imposed by the governments of some of the countries on the voyage itinerary. From voyage to voyage, yellow fever inoculation is often required for entry to some of the ports on our itinerary. Malaria is also endemic in many areas visited on Semester at Sea, though potential exposure will vary for each participant depending upon individual travel plans. Participants should contact the CDC ( or their physician directly; ISE cannot advise on the prescription of inoculations or be held responsible for unannounced health requirement changes.


Participants requiring medication should plan to bring enough to last the entire voyage. Prescriptions cannot be filled in overseas pharmacies. Please work with your physician and/or pharmacist to arrange for dispensation of the necessary medications.

Some medications require controlled dispensation (Ritalin, etc.). Please document your Semester at Sea plans with your physician and pharmacist. This usually includes a copy of the itinerary and a statement of your account or invoice paid in full. Our on-board health professionals [link to HTML anchor below] 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.

Dietary Needs and Restrictions

Three meals a day are served aboard the MV Explorer; service is buffet style. A wide variety of both Western and international cooking generally satisfies most dietary preferences. Vegetarian and vegan diets are easily observed, and many other dietary needs and restrictions can be accommodated. Once on board, students requiring specialized diets should meet with the Food and Beverage Manager to discuss their particular situation.


The Institute for Shipboard Education is committed to providing opportunities in international studies for qualified participants with special needs. For more on this, see Participants with Disabilities.

During the Voyage

Premium Health Insurance Coverage

A premium travel health insurance policy is provided to all students and lifelong learners as part of their program fee. The policy offers the following:

  • $100,000 in emergency sickness and accident medical coverage
  • $10,000 sports coverage
  • Emergency dental
  • Emergency accident and sickness evacuation
  • Repatriation

The policy supplements any coverage that a participant or lifelong learner might already have. If a Semester at Sea participant does not have primary health insurance coverage, the policy acts as primary insurance. Coverage commences upon arrival to the ship for embarkation and concludes upon disembarkation at the end of the voyage.

Medical Clinic

The health clinic on board the MV Explorer is among the most advanced medical facilities available on ocean-going vessels today. Voyage medical staff are U.S.-licensed health professionals.

  • A board-certified physician
  • A physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner
  • A registered nurse

The on-board clinic receives patients every day both at sea and in port. A member of the medical team is on-call 24/7 in case of emergencies. The ship’s crew also includes a crew doctor and a crew nurse 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 educative programming and outreach to the shipboard community. Prior to every port, they present a medical briefing with best practices and advice for prevention of maladies common to travelers and visitors to the upcoming country.

Mental Health Care

On each voyage, Semester at Sea deploys two licensed clinical psychologists 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 execute educative programming and outreach to the shipboard community and are contributors to pre-port briefings. Counseling is available by appointment.

Physical Health

Participants may use strength-training equipment, free weights, aerobic equipment (e.g. stationary bikes, elliptical machines, cross-trainers, etc.) in the fitness facilities on Decks 6 and 7. Miller Sports Court, an outdoor basketball/volleyball court, is available for pick-up games on all days at sea and in port, weather permitting. Other fitness and recreational venues include ping-pong tables and a swimming pool.

Our shipboard campus is just like any other campus when it comes to intramurals. Working within the limitations of a shipboard environment, intramural teams and leagues form every voyage in such sporting endeavors as ping-pong. Yoga, pilates, and aerobics are also offered on-board if there is sufficient demand from members of the shipboard community.

Two staff members in particular are charged with developing programming and promoting healthy activity in the community:

  • Recreational RD
  • Health Promotion and Education RD

As part of their duties, these Resident Directors focus not only on building communities within their residential areas on the ship, they support health and wellness on Semester at Sea through educative outreach and recreational programs.