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New Developments at the Institute for Shipboard Education



May 29, 2014


New Developments at the Institute for Shipboard Education

As you may have read in a recent letter from Institute for Shipboard Education President Les McCabe, significant new business developments are unfolding at ISE.

With major changes in various market conditions, many factors have created a challenging environment for ISE. Semester at Sea enrollment has been affected by the U.S. economic crisis as well as the high cost of higher education. Fuel costs have quadrupled in seven years, and fundraising efforts have unfortunately not kept pace with revenue deficits. Furthermore, the MV Explorer is decreasing in value and ship loan expenses remain high. With these changes, ISE management and Board of Trustees have revisited the ownership of a vessel. As a result, the MV Explorer is now for sale on the open cruise ship market. The intent is to sell the ship with a charter from the new owner, or sell the vessel and charter another ship.

It is important to remember that the ship is not the program. ISE began to lease the MV Explorer in 2004 and purchased it in 2008. Prior to that, ISE had leased ships for 40 years. While it was our home for several years and will remain an important part of ISE history, the sale of the ship will allow ISE to revert back to its original two-voyage business model and focus exclusively on Semester at Sea voyages.

Enrichment Voyages and summer SAS voyages were developed as a result of ship ownership, with a need to operate year-round. These voyages help manage operating costs, but have not been profitable. Thus, ISE has decided to focus exclusively on semester voyages, discontinuing SAS summer and Enrichment Voyages after summer 2014. The opportunity for continuing education will remain through the Lifelong Learning program.

In returning to a two-voyage business model, ISE must also enhance the Semester at Sea program to meet the demands of today’s students and world. Port stays will be extended to provide more time for experiential learning, service projects, and cultural interaction. ISE will focus on signature program development ranging from social entrepreneurship to oceanic research and protection, and more, tackling some of the world’s most pressing issues. Participants will have more opportunity for leadership development, faculty and student research, and internships. These and other changes will allow ISE to deliver a more relevant and impactful experience that fosters true global citizens.

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