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Life at Sea

A Premier Global Program Since 1963

For over 50 years Semester at Sea has sailed over 100 voyages visiting more than 60 countries with students from 300 colleges world wide. Our more than 60,000 alumni agree that Semester at Sea has a tradition of education excellence and hope that you can join our family.

The History of Shipboard Education

Inspired by a one-time voyage led in 1926 by James Edwin Lough of New York University, William Hughes, California businessman and visionary, gave life to the idea of “shipboard education” for college students. He planned what would be the very first voyage of Semester at Sea, then known as the University of the Seven Seas, in 1963.

It is the legacy of our founders, the enthusiasm of our dedicated legion of alumni and the continued passion of those presently working for the program that allow Semester at Sea to create life-altering experiences for all who sail.

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The History of Shipboard Education
ISE Leadership

Founders Week

On October 22, 1963, the first voyage of Semester at Sea, aboard the University of Seven Seas, sailed out of New York City. On behalf of the Institute for Shipboard Education and Semester at Sea we invite you to join your fellow Semester at Sea, World Campus Afloat, and University of Seven Seas shipmates around the world in celebrating those who sailed before us and the legacy of more than 50 years of shipboard education!

Join SAS alumni, future voyagers, parents, and friends to celebrate SAS Founders Week at events across the United States. Prospective students and their families are invited to attend to learn more about Semester at Sea.

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Alumni Events

Alma Mater

As a tribute to Max Brandt, respected ethnomusicologist and Chief Academic Officer Emeritus, the composition of our alma mater is Semester at Sea’s newest tradition. Listen to “Off to Sea-The World” while viewing the History and Timeline or simply read the lyrics.

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Lyrics to Alma Mater

Ships can carry more than cargo, they can carry ideas.”

-C.Y. Tung, co-founder of the Institute for Shipboard Education

SAS Traditions

A number of traditional shipboard-wide activities–with a several-decade history–occur on each Semester at Sea voyage. These events are open to the entire shipboard community and all are encouraged to participate.

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SAS Traditions

Neptune Day

Dating back to 1926, the transition from pollywog to shellback forms one of Semester at Sea’s most memorable traditions. Each time the MV World Odyssey crosses the equator for the first time during a voyage, festivities ensue in which pay homage to King Neptune by kissing a fish, showering in “guts,” and shaving their heads.

Sea Olympics

The Olympics are fun, zany, competitive team games where participants —organized into “seas” — compete against each other to gain points. This event is one of the largest and most actively participated events of the voyage.  It is open to every member of the shipboard community including the faculty and staff, dependent families and life-long learners. The event takes place over the course of a day, and events can include synchronized swimming, rock paper scissors competition, trivia and sporting events.

Alumni Ball

As each voyage nears its conclusion, the Alumni Ball Committee (in conjunction with the Student Ambassadors and voyage staff) coordinate the Alumni Ball. This semi-formal and often themed event brings the community together and gives proper forum for much necessary reflection. It is a celebration of the progression from students to alumni of Semester at Sea.

Shipboard Auction

This event is a fundraiser for the shipboard drive, which provides funding for Semester at Sea’s community and service learning projects, student scholarships, etc. All shipboard participants are invited to auction items of interest in the live auction, silent auction or raffle.

Talent Shows

A wonderful display of shipboard talent, this show encompasses acts that range from vocalists to comedians, and instrumentalists to poets. Talent Show/Open Mic night is generally scheduled midway through a voyage. All shipboard participants are encouraged to contribute to this event by sharing their talents or just attending the event. The ship’s crew usually has a separate Crew Talent Show.