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Semester at Sea Sweethearts

To celebrate Valentine’s Day this year, Semester at Sea wants to share the love. When students embark on their voyage, they expect to create memories of a lifetime with lifelong friends in faraway places. However, for some, their voyage is the beginning of a love story.

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Cole and I met on the Spring 2018 voyage. We made a solid group of ten friends and became inseparable. We traveled all 12 countries together, ate every meal, and hung out in our friends cabins until early hours in the morning most nights. Our memories and experiences are priceless. When our voyage ended early, due to weather, Cole and I traveled London together just as friends. Fast forward one year to our first SAS reunion, where all 10 of us went to Texas for a trip, Cole and I ended up hitting it off. Long story short, two years of long distance dating later, I have moved to California to be living in the same city as him. We thank God for SAS bringing us together as friends and lifelong learners, and we reminisce on those memories often. The last piece of our puzzle is that my roommate on the voyage, Deirdre Logan, and Cole’s roommate, Johnny Chapman, are now engaged and planning a wedding! The four of us are inseparable and still to this day can’t believe the girls from cabin 5004 get to marry the boys from cabin 4036 one day!!! It’s our favorite story to tell. – Cole Ristoff and Sydney Martin, Spring ’18


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I sailed on the spring 2018 voyage and I can truly say it changed my life in every way. I first met Johnny when he came in for the first day of class and I thought he was so cute. He sat right down next to me, and made me belly laugh before the teacher even had a chance to start class. From the moment we met, we were best friends. We experienced all 12 countries together and shared some incredible experiences. We shared our first kiss under a star lit sky in Ha Long Bay, Vietnam. He asked me to be his girlfriend on 7th deck aft, where we spent so many nights just talking until we couldn’t stay awake. I met his parents in Casablanca and he met mine in Berlin. Every night on the ship we’d write each other a letter of love, appreciation, or just something funny. And each day we would drop off the letter to our mailbox in a small Altoids tin. So you imagine my surprise and excitement when after making it work through 2 years of distance and loving him for almost 4 years, Johnny pulls out the Altoids tin and says he has one more note for me to read. Inside the tin read, “Will You Marry Me?” The most storybook aspect of this whole thing is that my roommate, Sydney Martin and Johnny’s roommate, Cole Ristoff are now very much in love after hitting it off post voyage. They are our absolute best friends! Over New Years, we asked them to be our Maid of Honor and Best Man and we are beyond excited to have them stand by our side on our big day! 5004 + 4036 is our life story and I owe all my thanks to Semester at Sea for bringing us all together! – Deirdre Logan and Johnny Chapman, Spring ’18

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Blake (Simon) and I met on the Spring 2007 voyage upon the MV Explorer, which departed the Bahamas on February 4, 2007. We don’t remember exactly the moment we met, but our first photo together was three days into the trip in Puerto Rico. We became the best of friends throughout the voyage, but we lost touch after returning to the states. Seven years later, in the summer of 2014, we reconnected at a mini-reunion in Portland, OR with several of our friends from SAS. It felt like no time had passed between us and…we got married on February 4, 2017 – 10 years to the day from when our trip set sail. We had our daughter – Samantha Annette Simon – on December 14, 2021, with her initials as an homage to the start of the incredible journey that brought us together! – Kathryn and Blake Simon, Spring ’07


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Bryce and I met on the Fall 2014 voyage of Semester at Sea and are going on our 8th year together! We feel so lucky to have met so young and to have seen and experienced so much of this complicated and vast and beautiful world as a team. On Semester at Sea you learn quickly who your travel buddies are– the people who have similar styles but maybe different talents, the people who have something that draws them to adventures that inspire you. We are so lucky to have made lifelong friends and a traveling crew we still travel with today, but are eternally grateful to have found a best friend and life partner in each other. Since Semester at Sea–we’ve moved every single year together to a new place– from New York City to the mountains of Colorado to a stint abroad in Singapore, we haven’t stopped moving. In 2018 we were itching for our next big adventure and thought, “well, we’ve done an incredible journey by sea, what about one by land?” We saved up all of our money and purchased a 1999 Dodge Ram Van that we converted into a home on wheels. Between 2018-2019 we drove from the US to the bottom of South America and took classrooms with us virtually through a program we created called “The Great Untold EDU.” We returned home changed, again. It’s been an incredible journey together, and we feel insanely lucky that this road began on Semester at Sea! – Valerie and Bryce, Fall ’14
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Martha and I both sailed in the Spring of 2017 (SP’17 voyage). We met on the 10th day in Lido Terrace while a group of about 10 people played Pictionary and Mafia; we had an immediate connection that even a friend pointed out. We spent the next few weeks getting to know each other, but it wasn’t until South Africa that I was able to take her out on a proper date as we had both planned our travels already in the previous countries. I invited her on a group trip with my friends to go shark cage diving, bungee jumping and on safari. The last day in South Africa (March 24th) just before the ship pulled away from Cape Town, I officially asked Martha to be my girlfriend and…the rest is history. After SAS, Martha moved to Boston for graduate school, while I stayed in Virginia working and the two year long distance relationship began. Finally, I was able to move to Boston and we lived in the same city for the first time! After two years in Boston, I was accepted to Columbia University for graduate school in New York City and we moved once again! Six months later I proposed and just two weeks ago we set the wedding date for November 5, 2022 in Monterrey, Mexico (where Martha is originally from). We can’t wait to reconnect with our fellow SASers at the wedding, some of whom we haven’t seen since our voyage! We are both so thankful to SAS for not only bringing us together, but for the experiences and friendships we made along the way! – Mitch and Martha, Spring ’17
Thank you to everyone that submitted your SAS Sweetheart story and Happy Valentine’s Day!


¬†We’re currently accepting applications for the Fall 2022 Voyage!





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