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Upcoming Semester at Sea Travel to Russia

In the wake of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 tragedy in eastern Ukraine and the Obama administration’s expanded sanctions against Russia, the Institute for Shipboard Education (ISE) continues to closely monitor U.S. relations with and conditions in Russia in advance of this week’s Semester at Sea visit to St. Petersburg. ISE remains in close communication with the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) of the U.S. Department of State as well as other independent sources to receive up-to-the-minute news on travel conditions in St. Petersburg, as well as all Semester at Sea ports of call.

OSAC has assured ISE that there are “no current reports to suggest that security conditions have deteriorated” in St. Petersburg and “no reports to suggest that travel to St. Petersburg should be altered or deterred in light of the ongoing crisis in Ukraine” since the crash of MH17. The U.S. Department of State has not issued any travel warnings in St. Petersburg or any other areas in Russia other than along the Ukrainian border. As a result, Semester at Sea will proceed with the itinerary as planned. ISE has notified the U.S. Consulate General in St. Petersburg of its visit to Russia.

The entire shipboard community will participate in a mandatory diplomatic briefing by a local U.S. diplomat and logistical pre-port session prior to disembarkation in St. Petersburg. ISE has also registered with the U.S. State Department’s Smart Travel Enrollment Program (STEP), which allows U.S. consulate and embassy officials to send alerts and warnings and contact travelers in the event of major security developments or in the case of an emergency situation.

All students participating in the Semester at Sea field program to Moscow will participate in an additional, mandatory briefing prior to their departure. Two faculty and staff members will lead the Moscow trip and 8 additional faculty and staff members will participate. OSAC has assured ISE that conditions in Moscow remain safe and there is no reason to alter or deter travel to Moscow. The U.S. Embassy in Moscow has been notified of the trip to Moscow and provided with a list of all trip participants’ names.

Safety remains the top priority of Semester at Sea, and the shipboard faculty and staff will exercise and encourage extra caution among students in the wake of recent events. The Institute will continue to monitor the situation and adjust the itinerary should conditions change.

Please contact Lauren Judge, Director of Public Affairs at should you have any questions.

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