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Institute for Shipboard Education Unveils New Shipboard Campus for Semester at Sea


The Institute for Shipboard Education (ISE), parent organization to globally renowned study abroad program Semester at Sea, has secured a new shipboard campus—its sixth in the program’s storied 51-year history. The new ship, like its predecessors, will serve as a traveling home and campus that brings approximately 600 undergraduate students to the farthest reaches of the globe every semester, giving deeper meaning to education, experiential learning, and community.

This August, the program’s new vessel will be renamed the World Odyssey for her role as the Semester at Sea campus. Currently named the Deutschland, she has been meticulously maintained since her construction in Germany in 1998 and will undergo routine dry-dock maintenance this summer. The World Odyssey meets the International Maritime Organization’s SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea), U.S. Coast Guard, and U.S. Public Health requirements, as well as all other statutory standards to operate throughout the world.

“The World Odyssey marks a new chapter for Semester at Sea—a chapter that will allow us to progress, but maintain our traditions,” said T. Kenn Gaither, ISE President and CEO. “We will continue to provide an invaluable experience to new students, who, like our 60,000 alumni, are eager to embrace the world around them, see with new eyes, and make an impact. The World Odyssey will help us educate a new generation of global citizens.”

The ship has a similar feel to a college or university with her architecture and design, and meets all SAS requirements including safety, program features, and efficiencies. Offering the necessary qualities of a Semester at Sea shipboard campus, some of the World Odyssey’s features include:

  • Nine classrooms, each with state-of-the-art technology to support engaged learning;
  • A library with built-in book stacks and computers with internet access;
  • A reception desk area with around-the-clock crew presence as well as the Semester at Sea field program and administrative staff;
  • A large union with upper and lower level seating that will accommodate all students, faculty, staff, and lifelong learners for community sessions;
  • Fitness spaces including an indoor gym with large windows, free-weights, weight machines, and cardiovascular equipment; and a spacious sun deck for recreational activities;
  • A deck nine alfresco grill and restaurant nearby the outdoor pool, providing a relaxed community dining area; and
  • Approximately 600 program participant cabins, some exterior with windows, some interior without.

“The World Odyssey is well equipped to facilitate a vibrant living-learning community in the Semester at Sea tradition,” said Michael Zoll, Vice President of Student Life for ISE. “She will offer a rich new perspective into our commitment to global comparative education.”

In this campus transition, ISE will continue its critical 20-year partnership with maritime management company, V. Ships, which has provided the officers and crew to manage the program’s vessel, and remain integral to the voyage experience. The University of Virginia will also continue as academic sponsor not to extend beyond May 2016. The program’s next academic sponsor will be announced shortly.

In May 2014, the Institute and its European banks structured an agreement to facilitate the sale of the program’s previous ship, the MV Explorer, at the conclusion of the Spring 2015 Semester at Sea voyage. This agreement allowed ISE to gain a release and waiver of any and all financial obligations relative to the ship. The arrangement concluded in a formal transaction completed April 30, 2015, completely relieving ISE of any financial burdens related to the Explorer.

“In reverting to our former business model of leasing a ship and launching two semester voyages per year, ISE is on solid financial ground and in a position to prosper well into the future,” said ISE Chief Financial Officer Larry Grant.

The ship will embark on its first Semester at Sea voyage on September 13 in Southampton, England. The 100-day voyage will visit 13 cities in 11 countries, transit the Panama Canal, and conclude in San Diego, California.

“The World Odyssey symbolizes our program’s bright future,” said Gaither. “We have spent the last year carefully considering ships in the marketplace that would suit the very specific needs of Semester at Sea. The World Odyssey accommodates our program perfectly, and we are excited to embark on our first voyage with her this September.”

For more information regarding the new Semester at Sea shipboard campus, visit:

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