In-Country: Wonder Awaits

Our Program

Experiential education lies at the heart of Semester at Sea. On each voyage, participants visit 10-15 different destinations, each providing unique opportunities to bring the learning of the classroom to life.

Time in-country comprises approximately 40% of the voyage and plays an important role in the academic experience. Semester at Sea provides a variety of programs and resources to help ensure participants maximize their time in-country. To learn more about the destinations we visit, please visit the voyage home pages.

Classroom Earth

Academics in the Field: Each course has one required 8-hour Field Class that takes place usually on the first, second, or last day in one of the destinations. Field Classes are designed by the professors to apply concepts learned in the classroom to the field through meetings and activities with local experts and organizations. 

Meaningful Travel: When students are not in Field Classes, they have the option of participating in SAS-designed In-country Programs or to travel independently. 

Field Classes

A year before the voyage departs, the SAS home office staff works closely with each professor to select a port that aligns well with their course content. Once identified, an eight hour in-country experience known as a Field Class is designed in order to provide a truly experiential day of learning to connect classroom to in-country content. Field Classes and their respective assignments are a required part of each course and constitute approximately 20 percent of a student’s grade, as well as 20 percent of the course’s required contact hours.

  • Students register for their courses and their Field Classes at the same time.
  • Participation in a Field Class is limited to those students enrolled in the companion course.
  • The cost of required Field Classes IS included in voyage tuition.
  • Participation in In-country Programs or independent travel must be planned around Field Classes.

For more information about Field Classes, visit the “courses” section within each voyage.

SAS In-country Programs

SAS In-country Programs are optional experiences ranging in duration from half-day excursions to multi-day expeditions.

In addition to providing engaging learning opportunities, all In-country Programs bring to life the historic, political, socioeconomic, and cultural aspects of each host country and facilitate meaningful engagement with local residents. Many of the programs provide unique experiences that would be difficult to arrange on your own and usually include service projects, overnight stays with families, university student exchanges, overnight trips to major historic and cultural attractions, as well as visits to local businesses, government facilities, schools, and NGOs.

  • In-country Program fees are NOT included in voyage tuition.
  • In-country Program registration usually opens about a week after course registration (approx. 3-4 months prior to voyage departure). Participants register and pay for programs using MyPassport. Many In-country day Programs do not have a registration deadline and participants can continue to register after the voyage starts. However, many overnight programs (especially those requiring flight reservations) do have deadlines. Most programs have a maximum capacity and some sell-out quickly, so booking early is recommended.
  • Participation in In-country Programs or independent travel must be planned around Field Classes.

To see each destination’s In-country Program offerings, visit the “In-country Programs” section within each voyage.

Independent Travel

Independent travel can provide exciting opportunities for participants to discover new places on their own. Whether exploring a city or historical site, or meeting new friends, participants can discover their own opportunities to learn and grow. While traveling independently, participants should be aware of health, safety, and security issues, and are advised to practice responsible tourism when working with non-SAS tour operators.

Since SAS cannot monitor the independent travel of each participant, we emphasize risks to be avoided and provides tips to stay healthy and safe while in-country. And of course, all participants are welcome to return to the ship at any day or hour while in-country.


Benefits of SAS In-country Programs:

Participate in Responsible Tourism

Traveling in a responsible and sustainable way is challenging to do on your own. It takes dedication, time, energy, and resources to do so mindfully. Not all tourism is created equal; some can actually cause harm to host communities and ecosystems. SAS employs a team of people to build relationships on the ground in each destination and to design programs that take this into consideration. We aim to minimize the negative impacts of tourism on the environment and maximize the positive contributions our program can make to local communities.

Transform a "Cool Trip" into a Life-Changing Experience

Semester at Sea In-country Programs are designed to deepen the travel experience and exponentially increase learning and impact. We do this through:

  • Intentional itinerary and activity design
  • Off-the-beaten-path activities in nontraditional locations
  • Facilitated processing of the experience
  • Utilizing the expertise of ship faculty and staff and local guides
  • Meaningful interactions and cross-cultural exchange opportunities
  • Opportunities to give-back through volunteer and service work
  • Investing in long-standing relationships and partnerships with local Universities, NGOs, and tour operators

Travel with Trusted Providers and Guides

All SAS In-country Programs are carefully planned in close collaboration with trust-worthy providers that have been carefully vetted and are among the most reputable in the industry. These providers are fully insured, use well-maintained transportation equipment, hire qualified drivers and guides, and prioritize accommodations and food establishments that provide an enriching experience while considering safety.  All providers have crisis response plans and are in direct contact with ship management should any problems arise. In addition to contracted local guides, an SAS Trip Liaison (usually a faculty or staff member) accompanies every In-country Program.

Be Aware of Risks of Independent and Third-Party Travel. Please consider the following:

  • Semester at Sea cannot be held responsible for any independently planned trips.
  • Be prepared with a health, safety, and emergency plan. Be sure to research potential providers thoroughly.
  • The student code of conduct applies to official SAS trips as well as independent travel.
  • Thoroughly compare SAS In-country Program costs with other vendors. Unless otherwise indicated, In-country Programs include all transportation, meals, accommodations, licensed guides, admission fees to various sites, airport transfers, and gratuities.