Port of Shanghai
(Shanghai) China presents a spectacular array of historic traditions, stunning landscapes, and magnificent architecture including its vast and iconic Great Wall. Cultural opportunities are endless with the chance to meditate in a Tibetan monastery, converse with Buddhist monks, or practice the Chinese art of Tai Chi at sunrise while overlooking the bustling city of Shanghai.
Ho Chi Minh City
Vietnam, 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 SAS voyagers. The temples of Angkor Wat and the rich history of Phnom Phen are a perennial favorite for students.
Port of Surabaya
Indonesia, country located off the coast of mainland Southeast Asia in the Indian and Pacific oceans. It is an archipelago that lies across the Equator and spans a distance equivalent to one-eighth of Earth’s circumference. Its islands can be grouped into the Greater Sunda Islands of Sumatra (Sumatera), Java (Jawa), the southern extent of Borneo (Kalimantan), and Celebes (Sulawesi); the Lesser Sunda Islands (Nusa Tenggara) of Bali and a chain of islands that runs eastward through Timor; the Moluccas (Maluku) between Celebes and the island of New Guinea; and the western extent of New Guinea (generally known as Papua). The capital, Jakarta, is located near the northwestern coast of Java. In the early 21st century Indonesia was the most populous country in Southeast Asia and the fourth most populous in the world.
Port of Cochin
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.
A small African island nation in the Indian Ocean, Mauritius is a tropical paradise and the wealthiest African nation. The ship will dock in the capital city of Port Louis, home to the mountain known as Le Pouce, first summited by Charles Darwin and well worth the hike for great panoramic views of the island.
Port of Cape Town
Whether hiking Table Mountain for one of the world’s best views, riding horseback on safari, or engaging with local entrepreneurs in Cape Town, students always fall in love with South Africa. Full of adventure and captivating sights, Cape Town offers countless opportunities for cultural and natural exploration. Cape Town is also home to world-renowned social rights activist Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who students just may have the opportunity to meet as he is a member of the Institute for Shipboard Education Board of Trustees… and a big fan of Semester at Sea!
St. Helena (UK)
Port of Jamestown
Saint Helena, island and British overseas territory in the South Atlantic Ocean. It lies about 1,200 miles (1,950 km) west of the southwestern coast of Africa. The island’s population is largely of mixed European (mostly British), South and East Asian, and African descent. English is the only language spoken, and the majority of the people are Anglicans. Jamestown, the only town among the settlements on St. Helena, has about one-sixth of the island’s population. The island was discovered in May 1502 by João da Nova, a Spanish navigator in the service of Portugal.
Port of Salvador
With its 190 million inhabitants, Brazil has the largest population in Latin America and ranks fifth in the world. The majority of people live in the south-central area, which includes the industrial cities of Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Belo Horizonte. Brazil has undergone rapid urban growth; by 2005, 81% of the total population was living in urban areas. This growth aids economic development but also creates serious social, security, environmental, and political problems for major cities. The Brazilian economy’s solid performance during the 2008 financial crisis and its strong and early recovery, including 2010 growth of 7.5%, have contributed to the country’s transition from a regional to a global power. Expected to grow 3.5% in 2011 and 4.0% in 2012, the economy is the world’s seventh-largest and is expected to rise to fifth within the next several years. Brazil is the only Portuguese-speaking nation in the Americas.
Sources: U.S. State Department
Port of Casablanca
In 788, about a century after the Arab conquest of North Africa, a series of Moroccan Muslim dynasties began to rule in Morocco. The Alaouite Dynasty, to which the current Moroccan royal family belongs, dates from the 17th century.
Location: Northern Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, between Algeria and Western Sahara
Size: 446,550 sq km
Population: 33,322,699 (July 2015 est.)
Language(s): Arabic, Tamazight, Tachelhit, Tarifit, French
Port of La Coruna
Spain’s diverse landscape, architecture, art, and cuisine make the country rich in culture and charm. 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.
Semester at Sea ports of call in Spain include Barcelona, Valencia and La Coruna and Valencia, and field 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.
Sources: CIA Factbook, BBC News