Health and Safety - Our # 1 Priority

Our #1 Priority

#1 Priority: Participant Health and Safety

Above all else, the health and safety of program participants, employees and crew is the highest priority for all of our planning decisions.

Health and Safety Strategies

Semester at Sea has over 50 years of experience in global education travel. Since 1963, more than 60,000 students have participated in our unique study abroad program on over 125 voyages.

Our traveling campus, the MV World Odyssey, is professionally managed and consistently receives high scores on U.S Public Health and Coast Guard vessel inspections.

In-country, we work with established and reputable travel and tour agents in more than 50 countries. On each voyage, we provide close to 300 in-country programs that have over 5000 total participants.

In most cases, our faculty and staff have international travel experience. They serve as liaisons on our field classes and programs, providing program knowledge and additional assistance to the in-country guides. In port, there are four staff members on-call (Duty Dean, Resident Director, Doctor, Mental Health Counsellor) for any situation that needs attention (medical, psychological, general assistance, crisis, etc.)

We invite you to learn more about our number one priority: the health, safety, and security of all of our program participants.

About Health, Safety, and Security

Semester at Sea’s health, safety, and security strategies are aimed at assessing potential threats and avoiding situations and uncertainties that could be detrimental to the health and well-being of our participants. We work closely with of our key health and safety partners and available resources to carefully plan voyage itineraries and in-country programs.

Semester at Sea continuously assesses risk factors for traveling and studying abroad. Our long history and the collective experience of our senior management team and partners enable us to have a clear understanding of potential risks and the appropriate steps need to mitigate those risks.


Semester at Sea has partnered with SAFEY Emergency System to provide voyagers with an app for their voyage to participants informed of critical incidents and connected in the case of an emergency.

The SAFEY app will allow voyagers to:

  • Receive alerts and text messages regarding any high-level threats or security events currently happening in while in country, and advice on what to do. Less critical events will appear in the app and via phone notifications.
  • Call or send an SOS to a Semester at Sea administrators’ emergency number, showing your exact location.
  • Contact local police, ambulance services, or Semester at Sea administrators, from any country in the world.
  • Allow Semester at Sea to locate voyagers during an emergency and communicate directly with them via phone or text.





Onboard Awareness

Semester at Sea places a high priority on educating our participants about risk and how to avoid and mitigate risk.  A sampling of our onboard awareness programs and activities include:

  • Participant Orientation – Upon embarkation, participants attend a mandatory 12 hour orientation. Part of that orientation includes a one hour health, safety, and security awareness session conducted by the Captain and the Executive Dean.
  • Pre-Port Briefings – The evening prior to the arrival in each country, Participants attend a mandatory pre-port briefing. Information on in-country health, safety, and security is shared, along with various arrival and in-country program logistics.
  • Green Sheets – Participants receive a one page document to carry with then in port providing port and ship logistics and critical contact information in case of an emergency.
  • Diplomatic Briefings – As part of our sustained relationship with the U.S. State Department, Semester at Sea sometimes invites diplomats and consular officials to sail from the previous port or to meet with the shipboard community upon the ship’s arrival to port. Diplomats provide participants with briefings on health, safety, and security information.
  • Safety at Sea/Lifeboat Drills – Pursuant to international laws that govern safety a sea, Participants are required to take part in safety/lifeboat drills approximately once a month.
  • In-Cabin Health, Safety, and Security Information – Prominently located in each cabin is a binder with health, safety, and security information and a door sticker with safety evacuation information.
  • Targeted Programming – Staff provide programs on a relevant range of health, safety and security topics during optional seminars that supplement and enhance students experience and safety onboard and in port.
  • Daily Awareness – The Program uses multiple forms of media to regularly and routinely communicate health, safety, and security information to participants:
    • The daily-at-sea online newsletter (known as the “Deans Memo”) lists health, safety, and security tips and reminders, including notices from the Captain.
    • Twice daily-at-sea public address announcements highlight safety tips and reminders.
    • The ship’s closed-circuit TV system continuously rotates health, safety, and security information and tips to cabin televisions.

Employee Training

Semester at Sea employees involved with program planning regularly participate in health and safety training offered through the U.S. State Department and other internationally focused associations and experts. Senior administrators as well as faculty and staff hired for each voyage undergo health and safety training commensurate with their role on the voyage.

Medical Emergency Insurance

All Participants are automatically enrolled in insurance coverage for medical emergencies and evacuation. This coverage is provided by Cultural Insurance Services International (CISI), one of our key health, safety, and security  partners.  The policy offers the following:

  • Medical and evacuation insurance for all participants
  • Assessment of medical facilities in each country
  • Itinerary-specific medical evacuation plan
  • Advice, resources and support to the onboard medical team
  • 24/7 Emergency Response Center

The policy supplements any coverage that a participant might already have. Do not cancel your primary insurance coverage for the voyage. If a Semester at Sea participant does not have primary health insurance coverage, the policy acts as primary insurance. Coverage commences upon arrival to the ship for embarkation and concludes upon disembarkation at the end of the voyage.

Crisis Management Planning

Semester at Sea has a Crisis Management Plan in the event of an emergency. The plan provides a set of incident-specific response procedures and protocols for both the shipboard and Fort Collins, CO-based crisis management teams. These resources include:

  • Onboard Medical Clinic staffed with two physicians and three nurses
  • Onboard Mental Health Center staffed with two mental health professionals
  • Emergency contact information for medical team, Voyage deans, U.S. Embassy, and other key services that are provided to students upon arrival in every port
  • 24/7 Emergency Response Team at the Semester at Sea main office
  • 24/7 Emergency Response Team at the Ship
  • 24/7 Medical Response from the AXA Crisis Response
  • 24/7 Security Information  from OSAC and IjET Security

Commitment to Ongoing Evaluation and Continuous Improvement

The Semester at Sea health, safety, and security strategies are continuously evaluated in consultation with key partners. Improvements are made regularly to adapt to the changing needs of our program. After major incidents, a post-crisis review is conducted to determine ways in which the incident might have been avoided or better managed.

Crime and Incident Reporting

As a third-party study abroad provider, Semester at Sea is not subject to Clery Act crime reporting requirements. Nonetheless, Semester at Sea meets or exceeds many of the Clery Act requirements. Our international shipboard campus, the MV World Odyssey, is subject to the health and safety provisions of SOLAS (International Convention for Safety of Life at Sea) and the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2010. For example, the Captain must report certain types of crimes directly to the Federal Bureau of Investigation as well as other reporting bodies.