Health & Safety While at Sea
Semester at Sea’s shipboard campus, the MV World Odyssey, is a modern ocean-going vessel maintained to the highest standards and compliant with all international maritime laws and regulations. While at sea, voyagers have access to many of the same resources they are accustomed to on a land campus. Our robust living-learning environment includes: a team of teaching faculty and academic support staff (including support for learning accommodations); a student life team (including Resident Directors who live on the same decks as students); a health team (including medical and mental health professionals); and various health and wellness resources such as exercise equipment, group fitness classes, salon and spa services, and various student-led Affinity Groups and clubs (e.g. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex Association/Allies, Black Student Union, etc.).
Ship Safety Measures
The ship is operated by a team of ~150 crew and officers who each have position-specific certifications and thorough training. The MV World Odyssey meets the International Maritime Organization’s SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea) requirements, including requirements for life boats, rescue boats and life jackets for every soul onboard.
Expectations of Voyagers
Creating a thriving and safe living-learning community requires buy-in and participation from all voyagers. Semester at Sea has a set of Voyage Community Values everyone is held accountable to as well as a Code of Conduct that is strictly enforced.
The ship is equipped with various resources to support voyager’s physical and mental health including a modern clinic among the most advanced medical facilities available on ocean-going vessels today.
The ship is operated by a team of ~150 crew and officers who each have position-specific certifications and thorough training. The ship’s state-of-the-art navigation and weather-forecasting resources allow for not only safe passage but also prioritize passenger comfort by navigating around weather systems whenever possible. The weather forecasting tools used onboard are far more advanced than what the public has access to and provide advance notice to the Captain and Officers to be able to effectively avoid most severe weather systems. The MV World Odyssey is held accountable to all international regulations and guidelines that protect passenger’s health and safety. For example:
- Adherence and compliance with all port state control health inspection regulations and requirements (Port state control is the inspection of foreign ships in national ports to verify that the condition of the ship and its equipment complies with the requirements of international conventions and that the ship is manned and operated in compliance with these rules.)
- Compliance with the International Maritime Organization, the Maritime Labour Convention, and all flag-state and insurance provider requirements. (e.g. maintenance inspection and replacement schedules, crew working hours, crew training, personal protection equipment requirements of crew, type of fuel, environmentally-responsible disposal of waste, food safety guidelines, etc.)
- Routine health and safety best practices include: the routine deep cleaning and disinfecting of all public areas, access to hand sanitizer at entrances to all dining facilities, limit the potential of bacterial growth and insect concerns by prohibiting food items be removed from dining areas and the routine cleaning of cabins and bathrooms.
The World Odyssey meets the International Maritime Organization’s SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea) requirements, including requirements for lifeboats, rescue boats and life jackets for every soul onboard. All passengers are required to participate in routine lifeboat drills at embarkation and approximately once a month throughout the voyage. The crew has additional routine emergency-preparedness drills that rehearse responses for various unlikely emergencies including (but not limited to): fire, medical emergency, mechanical failure, and passenger overboard.
Semester at Sea has zero-tolerance for the use or possession of illegal substances. The ship security conducts random and targeted testing for illegal substances as well as random and targeted cabin inspections. Those in violation of these policies are subject to disciplinary sanction, up to and including program expulsion.
Excessive or inappropriate use of alcohol use among college students is a recognized concern on all college campuses, including on Semester at Sea. While on the ship, voyagers’ access to alcohol is controlled and is available only on designated dates and times (not every day) and limited to no more than two drinks (beer or wine only; Available to those 18 and over while the ship is in international waters.) Semester at Sea places great emphasis on education through a dedicated alcohol-awareness orientation at the start of the voyage and the Student Life professionals provide ongoing targeted programming, similar to a land campus. Intoxication (at sea or in-country) is a violation of the code of conduct and can lead to disciplinary sanctions, including dismissal from the program.
Learn more in the Voyager’s Handbook.
The health clinic onboard the MV World Odyssey is among the most advanced medical facilities available on ocean-going vessels today. Voyage medical staff are U.S.-licensed health professionals. Personnel include at a minimum:
- A board-certified program physician
- A board-certified program physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner
- A certified ship’s physician
- Two certified ship’s nurses
The on-board clinic receives patients—at no cost–every day both at sea and in port. A member of the medical team is on-call 24/7 in case of emergencies. There is a minimal cost for any medicine they may be prescribed by the on ship medical team. The ship’s crew also includes a crew doctor and a two crew nurses who are available to administer care to voyage participants. The medical team responds to the routine and emergent health conditions of Semester at Sea participants and provides educational programming and outreach to the shipboard community as contributors to Pre-port briefings.
Participants requiring medication should plan to bring enough to last the entire voyage. Prescriptions usually cannot be filled in overseas pharmacies. Please work with your physician and/or pharmacist to arrange for dispensation of the correct amount of necessary medications. Some medications require controlled dispensation (Ritalin, etc.) and may require participants to share their Semester at Sea itinerary and program fee invoice with their physician and pharmacist. Our on-board health professionals will collect your medications upon check-in at the port of embarkation and then dispense the medication according to the schedule required by U.S. law.
On each voyage, Semester at Sea employs, as part of the medical team, two licensed mental health counselors responsible for coordinating, implementing, and evaluating total mental health care and education for all passengers. This includes diagnostic assessment and short term clinical therapy in all areas of mental health. In addition to facilitating on-board support groups (e.g. alcohol abuse, eating disorders, etc.), voyage mental health professionals prepare educational programming and outreach to the shipboard community and are contributors to pre-port briefings. Counseling is available by appointment.
Participants may use strength-training equipment, free weights, aerobic equipment (e.g. stationary bikes, elliptical machines, cross-trainers, etc.) in the fitness facilities. The sports court, an outdoor basketball/volleyball court, is available for pick-up games on all days at sea and in port, weather permitting. Participant led fitness classes are also often available during the voyage, typically including yoga, Pilates and cross fit.
Three meals a day and a late-night snack are served aboard the MV World Odyssey included as part of standard program fees (including while the ship is in port.) Meals are served in two separate dining rooms buffet-style (same food in each dining room.) A wide variety of both Western and international cooking generally satisfies most dietary preferences. Vegetarian, vegan and gluten and dairy-free diets can be easily managed without specific requests for accommodation. However, given the nature of the program, it is impossible to 100% guarantee there will be no cross-contamination of common allergens (nuts, dairy, eggs, gluten, soy, and shellfish are all routinely served onboard.) Participants with severe allergies should discuss this with their doctor and reach out to Semester at Sea to discuss options in advance of the voyage.