Lifelong Learners

The Semester at Sea Lifelong Learning Program invites adventurous adult travelers to grow, experience, and explore on our academic voyages.

Program Overview

Traveling as a Semester at Sea Lifelong Learner provides adult learners 30 years of age or older with an opportunity to join the SAS academic community. Lifelong Learners add a valuable generational element to the Semester at Sea shipboard community. They are retirees, professionals on leave, or simply adventurous travelers who desire to study with bright, enthusiastic undergraduate students from around the world. Semester at Sea is a travel experience designed for curious learners who want to push beyond the tourist paradigm and experience the heart of cultures around the world.

Application Deadlines

Fall 2024 Voyage:

Rolling Deadline; will accept applications until cabins are full.

Spring 2025 Voyage:

Rolling Deadline; will accept applications until cabins are full.

See the World
Lifelong Learners have the opportunity to join the Semester at Sea student voyages and travel to 10-12 countries in 105 days. Explore unique destinations while continuing your education at sea. Full and partial voyages are available with a variety of cabin styles to meet every traveler’s needs.
Further Your Education
Lifelong Learners participate in courses taught by world-renowned faculty. You have the option to select courses that are in line with your previous education or work experience, or you may decide to explore a completely new discipline.
Explore at Your Leisure
While in port, Lifelong Learners have the option to participate in Semester at Sea-designed experiences called Field Programs, which are co-curricular in-country experiences built on strong relationships with local partners. Alternatively, you may prefer to travel independently or with small groups of fellow voyagers.
Travel in Style
Built in 1998, the MV World Odyssey is the definition of old-world luxury. The ship boasts 10 decks, three dining rooms, a large auditorium, and various outdoor spaces ideal for relaxation. Most Lifelong Learners live on Deck 8 alongside other non-student adult passengers.
Health and Wellness
Take advantage of the on-ship workout facilities, salon, and spa on days when you need a pick-me-up. Rest assured knowing that there is a medical clinic on the ship, along with three or more medical professionals available to you in case of an emergency or even a minor health concern.
Sail With Your Family
Did you know that some Lifelong Learners bring their children or grandchildren on the voyage? Lifelong Learner kids ages 5-17 participate in the Dependent Children’s Program with children of faculty and staff. Why limit their education to the classroom when they can learn about being a global citizen through travel?
Extended Family Program
Most Lifelong Learners choose to participate in the Extended Family Program and “adopt” a small group of student voyagers. Lifelong Learners serve as mentors and advice-givers and support the students throughout the voyage. This is often the most impactful aspect of the voyage for Lifelong Learners.

What’s included

Accommodation and Travel

Lifelong Learner cabins are typically located on Deck 8 alongside other non-student cabins. We have a variety of cabin options to meet every traveler’s needs. Enjoy transportation to multiple unique destinations throughout your voyage.

All Meals Aboard the Ship

Three meals per day are included in your voyage fee, even when the ship is in port. Vegetarian options are available at every meal, and other dietary restrictions are generally accommodated. A late evening snack is also available most nights at sea.

Shipboard Amenities

Access to ship amenities includes the gym, pool, fine dining*, spa*, salon*, and more! Baseline crew gratuities ($2 per day) are also included in your voyage fee.
*Expenses vary depending on the type of service.

Academic Courses

Access to academic courses is included for all Lifelong Learners and those sailing the full voyage may participate in a corresponding Field Class. Field Classes are instructor-led, experiential programs that are uniquely designed to bring course concepts to life.

Comprehensive Travel Health Insurance

All participants are automatically enrolled in a comprehensive travel health insurance plan for the voyage through Cultural Insurance Services International (CISI). This includes access to the shipboard medical clinic, mental health center, and in-port emergencies.

Email Account and Starter Internet Package

The MV World Odyssey is equipped with internet access for all voyagers. Lifelong Learners are given the Starter 50 internet package, which includes a specified allotment of megabytes per day. Upgraded packages can be purchased at a discount pre-voyage or throughout the voyage at full price.

Fuel Fee

The anticipated fuel fee based on our initial cost projections is included in your voyage fee. However, Semester at Sea reserves the right to add an additional charge or refund a portion of the fuel fee with notice given no later than 30 days prior to departure. Expenses are subject to change depending on global cost fluctuations.

Lifelong Learner Voyage Coordinator

Lifelong Learners have access to on-ship support through the Lifelong Learner and Advancement Coordinator. This hired staff role sails the entire voyage to facilitate the daily Lifelong Learner meeting, plan social events, and support all of the Lifelong Learners as needed.

Additional Lifelong Learner Expenses:

  • Overnight stay prior to embarkation
  • Flights to and from the ship
  • Travel visas
  • Field Programs
  • Textbooks
  • Any appropriate vaccinations
  • Between-meal food and beverages while onboard
  • Laundry
  • Independent travel
  • Port Services Fees (if applicable)
  • Fuel surcharge (if applicable)

Traveling as a Spotlight Voyager on Semester at Sea is a wonderful way to get a taste of the Semester at Sea experience without committing to the full 100-day voyage. Lifelong Learners meet daily for voyage-specific educational seminars, share meals and cocktail conversations, join clubs, exercise groups and are able to attend classes with students as space permits. There is never a lack of thought-provoking activity to engage you during your Spotlight no matter whether it is 10 days, two weeks, or longer. You will swiftly be swept up by all of the educational and cross-cultural opportunities that will cross your path and provide endless fodder for future study and exploration.

Our four Semester at Sea voyages as Lifelong Learners have been life-changing events for our whole family. Being part of an incredible living-learning community for 100 days all over the world has provided us with priceless quality time as a family and instilled our two boys with a love of and comfort with international travel. We can wholeheartedly recommend Semester at Sea for young and old.

I’m just thankful that I’ve lived long enough to, climb to the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa—marvel at the Taj Mahal in India—climb the Great Wall of China—almost slide down the inside of the Great Pyramid in Egypt—watch the penguins in Antarctic and swing on a vine in the Amazon with a group of Semester at Sea students…I will travel and marvel at beautiful places and people around the world, look for new friends, send cards to my family and five great grandchildren, hoping it will instill in them the desire to meet and mingle with the rest of the world.

My journey on the Fall 2019 Semester at Sea voyage was a once in a lifetime experience. As a Lifelong Learner, I had the opportunity to participate in and enjoy all the activities on and off the ship. I especially value the friendships I built with many students on the ship, and I fully expect that we will continue our bonds into the future.

Our journey with the wonderful people of SAS on the fateful Spring 2020 Voyage – even with all the pandemic concerns, and the itinerary and port changes – was still enormously stimulating, enjoyable, and eye-opening! We made lifelong friends, lifelong memories, and gained all sorts of insights and knowledge from the people and places we visited, and from the world-class faculty, staff, students, and our fellow Lifelong Learners!

Semester at Sea is indeed a voyage of a lifetime. The passion and professionalism of the staff, the faculty, and the crew are undeniable. I will always remember the places we visited, but more importantly, the people I met, especially the students whose unbridled enthusiasm and energy were contagious.

Upcoming Voyages

Fall 2024

Fall 2024

September 09 — December 22

Ghana Hong Kong India Mauritius Morocco Netherlands Portugal South Africa Thailand Vietnam

Spring 2025

Spring 2025

January 05 — April 20

Germany Ghana India Kenya Malaysia Morocco Mozambique South Africa Spain Thailand Vietnam

Frequently Asked Questions

Everything you need to know about joining Semester at Sea as a Lifelong Learner.

Can I maintain my business while on the ship?

That depends on what you hope to accomplish while at sea. The internet on-board is fairly reliable but can also go in and out, depending on the ship’s location. The most reliable internet will always be in port, at hotels or restaurants. Generally, you can send and receive emails or text using WhatsApp while on board. However, streaming of any kind is prohibited, which includes services like Netflix, YouTube, Zoom, Pandora, and more.

Are there discounts for alumni?

At this time, we offer a Loyalty Award to alumni (of any kind) who are sailing a full voyage as a Lifelong Learner. Read more.

Can I sail with my family?

Yes! Many families sail together on Semester at Sea to experience a nontraditional travel opportunity. We have a variety of cabin options, including large suites for families with young children, or cabins across the hall from each other should you need a little separation. Contact us to discuss your particular situation.

Can there be a fuel surcharge?

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.

Living & Learning Aboard a Ship

The Semester at Sea voyage is not a cruise! Our ship becomes a floating college campus where you will live, eat, and study with up to 550 undergraduate college students and up to 100 faculty, staff, and family members. In addition, there are 180 multi-national crew members who add to this diverse shipboard community.

Make It Your Voyage

Many Lifelong Learners choose to sail for the full voyage to get the richest experience. However, traveling for 3-1/2 months may not be an option for everyone! We also offer partial voyages called Spotlight Voyages. Spotlight Voyagers join for a defined amount of time, generally 30-45 days. Spotlight Voyagers integrate into the shipboard community and participate in academic courses, community activities, and in-port Field Programs.

Earn a $500 Loyalty Award!

Semester at Sea is grateful for returning voyagers and is pleased to offer a loyalty award to alumni sailing as Lifelong Learners. If you are an upcoming full-voyage Lifelong Learner who has previously sailed a full summer, fall, or spring voyage in any capacity, you will receive a $500 shipboard credit* upon boarding the ship!

Who’s Eligible?

The loyalty award is available for alumni who sailed on a full summer, fall, or spring voyage, and who sailed as a:

  • Student
  • Lifelong Learner
  • Faculty
  • Staff
  • Dependent/family member

Alumni who have only sailed on an Enrichment Voyage, Maymester, Reunion/Homecoming voyage, or any of the Forum on Global Engagement voyages are not eligible for a loyalty award. Partial voyagers (interport lecturers, visitors, etc.) are also not eligible.

How to Apply

Lifelong Learners should notify the Director of Lifelong Learning upon reservation in order to confirm their previous participation on a voyage. This offer is not available to Spotlight Voyagers.

*Please note that there is a maximum of $1,000 shipboard credit per cabin, and any unused credit at the end of the voyage will be invalid.

*The Loyalty Award is available for eligible Lifelong Learner participants only, and may not be used for alumni sailing again as student voyagers.

Recent News

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  • Spring 2024 Alumni
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Take the first step on the journey of a lifetime.