Port of Barcelona: Sep 15 - 16, Port of Valencia: Sep 17 - 18
Bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, and directly above the continent of Africa, and formed in the 15th century, the Kingdom of Spain is a country of diverse history and accomplishment, with significant cultural influence on all surrounding regions. Founded by explorers and well established through conquest, Spain remained a strong empire of the world until the turn of the 19th century. Surviving political unrest in recent history, Spain is now a democratic monarchy with a national parliament and is divided into 17 regions.
Spring 2017 ports of call in Spain include Barcelona and Valencia, and In-Country program options include explorations of the art, culture, and architecture of the two diverse regions. Highlights include overnight trips to Sevilla, Grenada, and Madrid, with opportunities to explore the cathedrals, gardens, palaces, and other cultural sites that reflect Spain’s Moorish and Islamic heritage.
Tema Harbour: Sep 27 - 28, Takoradi Harbour: Sep 29 - 30
Located along the Gold Coast of Africa, on the Gulf of Guinea, Ghana is a country of incredible historical and cultural significance, and vast ecological resources. Settled in the 16th century, Ghana was a key player in the African slave trade, making the infamous Cape Coast Castle and slave dungeons in the country’s capital of Accra significant historical aspects of this destination. The natural beauty of the sub-Saharan country of Ghana can be well appreciated by exploring its Wli Waterfalls, located within one of West Africa’s few-surviving tropical rain forests. The Shai Hills Game Reserve of Ghana is home to the original wildlife of central Africa, including antelope, baboons, monkeys, and many bird species. In the southeastern region of Ghana, Ghana’s hydroelectric Akosombo Dam serves as the origination point for Lake Volta, the world’s largest man-made lake. The people of Ghana and its unique, thriving culture can best be experienced through homestays in local villages. Semester at Sea In-Country programming in Ghana offers opportunities for pre-arranged homestays, treks through the Accra plains and neighboring nature reserves, pottery-making and kente-weaving with villagers. Semester at Sea also offers the opportunity to incorporate service projects at local schools and orphanages into this Ghanaian experience as well as the rare chance to receive a traditional African name in an official naming ceremony.
Port of Cape Town
The southernmost country on the African continent, the Republic of South Africa is surrounded by the Atlantic and Indian Oceans to the west, south, and east, and is bordered by five countries to the north. South Africa’s Cape Town and other port cities were founded by Dutch traders in the mid-1600s, then established and later ruled by the British in the 1800s. Such prosperous natural resources as diamonds and gold, combined with its prime trade location, led to struggles of power and ultimately the formation of the Union of South Africa at the turn of the 19th century, followed by the modern-day Republic of South Africa. After nearly half a century of race and power debates, leaders including Nelson Mandela joined forces to bring an end to apartheid. Semester at Sea has ties with notable leaders of change and religion in South Africa, including Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
Bordering the Indian Ocean, the Bay of Bengal, and the Arabian Sea, the South Asian country of India is one of the oldest civilizations in the world, dating back to 3,000 BC. India is currently one of the largest and most populous countries in the world, and is the point of origin for four of the world’s major religions, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism. Additionally, India comprises the world’s largest democracy and gained its independence in the 1940s under the peaceful leadership of Mahatma Gandhi.
In 1982, India’s Prime Minister Indira Gandhi came aboard the SAS floating campus to address students and faculty as an Interport Lecturer. SAS participants often identify India as the “turning point” of the world voyage. It is a country that takes them out of their comfort zone, challenges their senses, and awakens a sense of beauty and appreciation for humanity that is unparalleled. As part of the SAS in-country program, participants visit the bustling city of Delhi, witness the splendor of the Taj Mahal at dusk, and float down the River Ganges, experiencing a centuries-old religious practice. Pilgrims line the banks of the river at dawn each day to immerse themselves in the holy waters and pray to release their souls from the cycle of rebirth. It is an unforgettable experience, especially when paired with the opportunity to visit the ruins of temples, travel the streets of Varanasi in a rickshaw, and spend a night in Delhi.
Port of Yangon
Burma, also known as Myanmar, has had a tumultuous past. Military authorities within the country have pushed for Myanmar to become the conventional name of the nation-state, although the name Burma is officially recognized by the United States government. Originally under British control as a province of India, it became a self-governing colony in 1937 and gained its independence froth the British Commonwealth in 1948. There has been political and civil unrest since 1990, with the Nobel Prize laureate and main opposition party leader Aung San Suu Kyi being held under house arrest from 1989 to 1995, 2000 to 2002 and 2003 to 2010. Many political reforms were put into place starting in April 2012; the government has released many political prisoners, reduced media censorship and created a more open debate process in Parliament. Now that the political climate has stabilized, Burma is now accessible and safe for travelling. With this access, international enthusiasm for travel in Burma has created new pressures on the infrastructure. Hotel, transportation and other related travel services are in high demand.
Although it is a resource-rich country, its economy has struggled to develop and have suffered from economic sanctions placed on it by the United States, Canada and the European Union due to its political situation. Burma’s 54 million residents share a geographical area slightly smaller than the U.S. state of Texas. Nearly 9 out of 10 Burmese citizens are Buddhist, but there are also small groups of Christians, Muslims and Animists within the country. A total of 135 ethnic minority and/or indigenous populations reside within Burma, each with their own language and customary dress. Well-preserved traditions of the Burmese remain intact despite increasing modernization- it can feel like you’re stepping into another world and time period. Experience one of the greatest wonders of the religious world, its enchanting floating villages and gardens, tea shops, and Buddhist monasteries.
Port of Ho Chi Minh City
Viet Nam, in Southeast Asia, stretches 1,600 kilometers (1,000 miles) north to south, but is only about 40 kilometers (25 miles) wide at its narrowest point near the country’s center. The Red River delta lowlands in the north are separated from the huge Mekong Delta in the south by long, narrow coastal plains backed by the forested Annam highlands. Hanoi, the capital, is the main city on the Red River and Ho Chi Minh City, or Saigon, is the main city on the Mekong. Vietnam also serves as the gateway to Cambodia for our voyagers. The temples of Angkor Wat and the rich history of Phnom Phen are a perennial favorite for students.
Shanghai International Port
A leading region of civilization and culture for thousands of years, China originally outpaced most developing nations in terms of growth and industrialization. At the start of the 20th century, civil unrest and political destruction ensued, and following World War II, the social order was reinstated through the establishment of an autocratic system of government. The modern-day People’s Republic of China has reemerged as a leader in economic output and a collaborator in global exchange. It is the most populous country in the world and is home to a wide range of culture, language, customs and economic levels.
The famous Great Wall of China, which dates back to 206 BC, was constructed over thousands of years by several dynasties and is a highlight of the Semester at Sea In-Country program in China. Other sites of exploration for participants include the Imperial Palace and the Forbidden City in Beijing, Tiananmen Square, the spectacular terracing of Guilin, and the fertile valleys of the Yangtze and Yellow Rivers.
Port of Kobe
The island nation of Japan, located in the Pacific Ocean, east of China, North and South Korea, and Russia, was first documented in the first century AD. The development of the nation was influenced by surrounding countries and cultures as well as periods of isolation, followed by its success in several wars. Currently, Japan is one of the world’s strongest economic powers and is a constitutional monarchy with an emperor and parliament. Despite Japan’s growing global influence in modern technology, it is undeniable that the country’s cultural traditions and customs continue to be practiced.
Semester at Sea participants in Japan have the opportunity to explore the unique aspects of Japan’s economic, philosophic, and religious systems. Visits to monumental historical sites display the country’s war and post-colonial past, while sacred shrines, gardens and volcanic parks leave visitors awestruck with Japan’s natural beauty.