Frequently Asked Questions
Learn more about payments, program costs, and financial aid for Semester at Sea.
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.
Semester at Sea is committed to making the voyage possible for all students. If you are considering cancellation, confirmed voyagers must book a meeting with their Student Services Advisor via the link below. Only the confirmed participant (not parents/legal guardians) may submit a cancellation request.
The Institute for Shipboard Education’s payment and cancellation policy is as follows:
- Cancel over 90 days prior to the voyage – Full Refund of Program Fee and Deposit (Excluding the $75 Application Fee)
- Cancel 89-60 days prior to voyage – Lose 25% of program fee and deposit*
- Cancel 59-45 days prior to voyage – Lose 50% of program fee and deposit*
- Cancel 44-31 days prior to voyage – Lose 75% of program fee and deposit*
- Cancel 30 days or less prior to the voyage and after voyage departure – Lose 100% of program fee and deposit*
After departure no refund will be made to a Participant who voluntarily withdraws from the program or who must withdraw from the program due to any violation of the Standards of Conduct. No refund of any kind will be made if the Participant must interrupt the semester due to a medical or psychological illness.
If a participant’s departure or dismissal from the program requires a return or reduction of applicable federal or institutional aid or loans, the student is responsible for the program fees that were covered by these funds.
*Students may opt to transfer their deposit to a future voyage up until the payment deadline for their current voyage. The deposit will then remain 100% refundable until the payment deadline for the new voyage. Transfer requests made after the payment deadline become non-refundable.
*If your home institution cancels study abroad for the semester of your planned voyage after the payment deadline, you may transfer to a future voyage or request a refund with no penalty. You will need to submit official documentation from your home institution verifying the cancellation is in effect for all students at your school and is not related to a specific individual.
In order to confirm your intent to participate for the upcoming term, you must submit your $1,000 deposit online. Cabin space is not guaranteed solely upon admission. Deposits are accepted by check (payable to “Institute for Shipboard Education” Mail to: Institute for Shipboard Education, P.O. Box 842945, Dallas, TX 75284-2945) or by credit card (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover). The deposit is not a supplemental expense and will be your first payment toward the total cost of the program.
The entire balance of the program cost is due 90 days prior to sailing (excluding participants enrolled in the Semester at Sea payment plan). Students anticipating financial aid should plan to provide documentation of approval from aid source(s) indicating details of the disbursement to ISE. Necessary forms are provided to students. Documentation of any financial aid that is to be credited to a student’s account (such as Stafford loans or Parent PLUS loans) must be submitted to ISE by the payment deadline. Participants who have not made arrangements for full payment by the due date may forfeit enrollment in the program.
NOTE: The $1,000 deposit is refundable until the 90-day payment deadline. Deposits are refundable past the 90-day deadline for waitlisted participants only. Participants confirmed into cabins from the waitlist will have two weeks to make full payment.
If students place their deposit after the advertised final payment/cancellation deadline for their voyage, they will have 21 days (3 weeks) to make payment in full, provide proof of deferred payment due to home institution aid (financial aid notification form), or request a full refund of the deposit.
A penalty of $250 may be assessed on outstanding accounts after the due date. Participants enrolling with the ISE payment plan and those receiving documented pending financial aid will not be charged a late fee.