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Shipboard 101

Life at Sea

Maritime Culture

As part of living on a ship, maritime culture is deeply ingrained in the Semester at Sea program. It is important you understand basic language, terminology and the culture of what it like to be a part of this community.


Ship, not Boat

Our MV World Odyssey is a one-of-a-kind vessel that hosts our students, faculty, staff and crew members as we journey around the globe. It is important to us that we refer to the ship as such and not as a ‘boat’, seeing as the ship has qualities, amenities and resources that are not offered on a traditional boat.

Voyage, not Cruise

Our academics, experiential learning opportunities and Colorado State University partnership reflect our continued efforts to ensure that Semester at Sea students partake on a study abroad opportunity unlike any other program. For this reason, we refer to the extent of the trip as a Voyage, rather than a cruise.

Travelers, not Tourists

One of Semester at Sea’s program goals is to produce globalized citizens who are continuously aware of international populations long after their voyage has ended. While sailing, our students are exposed to some of the most diverse regions, populations, cultures and languages, thus making them true travelers.

Cabins, not Rooms

The space that you will be sleeping, studying and hanging out in is called your cabin. This terminology is in place for the same reasons that we refer to it as a ship rather than boat.


Shipmate is an endearing term for your fellow Semester at Sea voyagers. Your community of shipmates will shape your Semester at Sea experience and we expect shipmates to look out for one another. The term is also an important way to identify yourself within the Semester at Sea community.

Embarkation Day

Embarkation Day is the day you will arrive and board the ship for the first time. You will spend the day exploring the ship, finding your cabin, meeting roommates and adjusting yourself to your new home. Check your voyage pages for details surrounding Embarkation Day logistics.

Nautical Directional Terms

  • Port: term used to describe the left side of ship
  • Starboard: term used to describe the right side of ship
  • Forward/bow: term used to describe the front of ship
  • Aft.: term used to describe the back of ship

At Sea/ In-Port

Rather than days of the week, we generally refer to days while voyaging as either at sea or in-port. Days at sea are when the ship is en route to the next destination. While at sea, you will take courses, engage in seminars and lectures, do class work, and create life long bonds with fellow students. Days in-port are when the ship is stationed for an extended period of time before traveling to the next country. In-port days are your opportunity to experience the culture, food and lifestyle of local populations.

Academics – A & B Days

Each day that the ship is at sea, classes are divided into A or B days, which alternate. Days at sea are best used to complete readings and course work.

Field Classes

As part of your course curriculum, these required, in country classes provide you the opportunity to merge classroom learned concepts to experiences in the real world.

In-Country Programs

Optional In-Country Programs give you the opportunity to engage with locals, see major sites or participate in a unique learning opportunity while in port. For a full list of planned In-Country Programs, visit your specific voyage’s page.

Independent Travel

If you choose not to participate with In-Country Programs, the time spent in port is up to you. Whether you want to wander a new city, eat new food and explore a culture on your own terms, it is important to keep in mind that Semester at Sea is not responsible for any third-party planned travel expeditions.

Shipboard Culture

The Ship is your Home

Not only is the ship your method of travel for the next few months, it is also your home. While in port, the ship is always available for you to eat, sleep, plan or reflect. It is valuable to know that you always have a safe place to come home to after your in country travels.


While on board meals are included in your tuition. Meals are served buffet style at specific times of each day. There are also snack bars and a grill with food and drink items available for purchase 24/7.


The amount of access you will have to technology at sea is limited and it is important to set realistic expectations. Internet is available, but is slow and costly. You will be given a free email address as well as certain approved free sites for your coursework. Most students find the lack of technology to be an increasingly enjoyable aspect of a voyage.

Flexibility & the Right Mentality

Now that you know some of the basics, it’s also important to have the right mentality for a voyage around the world. Flexibility is a key component to handling the often stressful situations you may encounter as the ship sails from port to port and as you explore new territory. Having an open and engaging mentality will help you make the most of your Semester at Sea experience.


Most alumni will tell you to take half of what you think you need. Its important to be prepared for most situations, for your classes, but also to be away from loved ones. Packing is an individual task, but take a look at our packing list to get some ideas for what you might need.