Spring 2024 | Asia, Africa, and Europe Exploration

Family Port

Your Virtual Destination for Resources and Tools for your students’s upcoming voyage. Regardless of language or geographic location, we know Semester at Sea Families are partners in this amazing experience of growing global citizens. 

Familie, família, family, أسرة, familia, obitelj, οικογένεια, aile, familia, family, परिवार, ಕುಟುಂಬದ, കുടുംബം, कुटुंब, परिवार, ପରିବାର, ਪਰਿਵਾਰ, குடும்ப, కుటుంబం, خاندان  

Families as Partners

Our Mission — journeys of discovery that spark bold solutions to global challenges. 

Over the next several months, we look forward to working with voyagers on this amazing journey spanning oceans, countries, and cultures. Families make the experience possible through emotional, financial, and logistical support for many of our voyagers. We’ve gathered information often requested and provided it on this site. 

Our professional staff is available Monday through Friday 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM Mountain Time.  You may reach us at (800) 854-0195 or email familysupport@semesteratsea.org for questions or concerns.

Growing Self Advocacy

Our team works to grow self-advocacy and autonomy skills in our voyagers, especially in the pre-voyage preparation stages. We will almost always insist students are included in individual meetings, emails, and calls. Questions that can not be answered in the portal are handled by our team of professional advisors prior to the voyage. As the voyage embarks, our Voyage Staculty (faculty and staff team) and the Crew join our home office team to create global citizens with greater confidence and self-advocacy.

Looking for Voyage Preparation Information?

Your voyager has access to a very thorough student community portal with all of the pre-voyage preparation information. This includes course information, payment and funding options, travel recommendations, health and safety, technology at sea, field programs, and more! You may your voyager for access to their portal if they haven’t shared it with you. 

Supporting your Student after Embarkation

If your student is struggling during the first few days of the voyage, remind them of the many resources they have available to them. Below are some great questions to ask, depending on their situation:

  • Have you talked to your RD? 
    Resident directors are trained in managing student concerns.
  • Did you check out a student organization? 
    Student orgs are a great way to connect with like-students and find a group of friends.
  • Did you visit the counseling center? 
    There are two professionally trained counselors on the voyage whose goal is to support students!
  • Did you talk with the health team in the clinic? 
    Use these folks as a resource in finding the right nutrition for you.
  • Have you spoken to the Dining Manager or Head Waiter? 
    The on-ship dining team will cater to nearly all dietary restrictions and will do their best to meet dietary preferences.
  • Did you talk to your faculty member? 
    Faculty understand that classes on-board are non-traditional. Try checking in with them.
  • Have you visited the Academic Advisor? 
    This staff member is there to support student academic concerns.
  • Did you talk to your RD? 
  • Have you called Reception?

View all important communications to students and/or emergency contacts below. Feel free to check back here often to learn of any voyage updates.

Creating Global Citizens

Semester at Sea students engage with people of other cultures, learning how they live and what makes them unique. These experiences combined with academic context and a supportive community allow for lasting shifts in perception toward a global worldview.

Semester at Sea offers global comparative education in academic partnership with Colorado State University, integrating comparative experiential study, interdisciplinary coursework, and relevant field classes in multiple countries. Semester at Sea has served as a pioneer in multiple-country, comparative education for more than 50 years. Global comparative education is a form of international study that identifies and connects the world’s peoples, patterns, cultures and traditions. Throughout the semester, disciplines and thematic issues are viewed cross-culturally and from a global perspective.

Course Planning
During the voyage, students select academic courses drawn from 20 – 25 fields of study that are integrated with relevant field classes in up to a dozen countries, allowing for an experiential, comparative education that is truly global. Each student will register for three courses in addition to the required Global Studies course for a total of four courses, or 12 credits. The Academic Calendar can be helpful to see which days students are onboard learning and which days are in-port.
Field Classes
Every course has a required in-country component called a Field Class. Field Classes are one day in duration and are custom developed and facilitated by the teaching faculty. Field Classes bring the learning of the classroom to life and constitute 20% of a student’s grade. You can find information on the Field Class date and location on the course information page.
Field Programs
All voyagers can choose to participate in Semester at Sea-designed trips called Field Programs (registration available on a rolling basis starting in October). Designed with a spirit of discovery and safety in mind, Field Programs maximize resources while providing unique insights, grand adventures, and a lifetime of memories! These programs are an additional cost and partner with local travel and education organizations.
Independent Travel
Outside of SAS-designed Field Classes and Field Programs, voyagers may arrange their own travel within each country. This provides some flexibility with additional exploration options, the ability to set one’s pace, and cost/budget flexibility. It is important to note that the ship is open 24/7 when students are in port allowing voyagers to avoid additional expenses for lodging and meals. We strongly encourage students to travel in groups to maximize safety.
Transfer Credit Success
Our admissions team works closely with students and their home study abroad office to ensure a smooth transfer of credit. Please note that many colleges/universities require that their students obtain prior approval in order to transfer earned credit from Semester at Sea.

Communicate, Celebrate, Let Go

Plan to have a discussion with your voyager before they leave regarding communication and DO NOT expect or encourage them to communicate with you a lot. The students will be very busy! In addition to their studies and their in-country travel, they will be very involved with a whole new community onboard with many opportunities to get involved and meet new people. The experience while away from home has lots to offer your voyager. Let them go!”

– Teresa, SAS Parent Council President 2022
Strategize Communication

Communicating with loved ones across oceans and time zones brings additional challenges. Your voyager will also be very busy with travel, classes, field programs, and working to form new friendships and relationships through the Semester at Sea community. Here are some tips and common strategies for communicating. 

  • Timing: The Academic Calendar outlines which days the students are on the ship and which days they are in port.
  • Sending Mail to the Ship: Mailing information will be updated here once it is available.
  • Calling the Ship: Family members and friends can call the ship 24-hours a day by dialing the toll-free number: 800-305-9203. The caller will be asked to provide a credit card that will be charged approximately $3.95 per minute. Your call will then be connected directly to your voyager’s cabin. Voyagers can purchase phone cards on the ship to place outgoing phone calls. 
  • Email Communications: The best way to reach a voyager is via their SAS email address which is firstname.lastname.SP24@semesteratsea.org (i.e. jane.doe.SP24@semesteratsea.org)

You can still celebrate birthdays, admissions acceptance, moments of self-advocacy, and other milestones with cakes, massages, nail services, and much more. Please visit our shipboard services page to learn more about options and deadlines. We do not recommend placing any orders until after embarkation.

24-Hour Emergency Crisis Number

If you have a crisis related to your voyager, please call 1-602-693-0839. This is our 24-hour emergency crisis answering service staffed by our team in the U.S. who will work to relay messages and information to our colleagues abroad. This number should be used if your student is in crisis and unable the advocate for themselves.

Contact us with a Concern

A lost passport, an ER visit, or being a victim of theft are all difficult experiences, but not an instance where ISE will automatically notify an emergency contact. We understand families may be concerned and may want some extra care, so please feel free to reach out to connect with our U.S. team. Students are coached to reach out to their ship staculty (professional staff) who can help coordinate immediate support and longer-term academic, medical, and emotional care and resources. 

If you need ISE staff assistance, email familysupport@semesteratsea.org. We will respond within 24 hours during the week and 72 hours over the weekend.

Health & Safety

Over the course of our 60-year history, we’ve continuously refined our health and safety protocols, implemented progressive preventative measures, and developed vital partnerships that enable us to make informed decisions and take quick action when needed.

Medical Care

Medical Care for voyagers includes a combination of services and systems on-ship and within each country. Our ship sails with a medical team who can address urgent medical concerns, similar to a visit to urgent care in the United States. Health Care systems in-port will vary by country and are updated at each pre-port lecture with information about emergency care covered by the CISI travel insurance program

COVID-19 Safety

The health and safety of our voyagers and crew are the most important considerations on any Semester at Sea voyage. We are continually monitoring and adjusting our protocols to comply with best practice guidelines and global recommendations set by the Centers for Disease ControlWorld Health OrganizationU.S. State DepartmentEuropean Medicines AgencyInternational Maritime Organization and the Cruise Line Industry Association.

Health Clearance

Each voyager completes a Health History Form which allows key medical determinations and information to be shared with providers on the ship and, when necessary, in-country providers. Please help us in ensuring all medical history information is shared so that your student voyager can receive accurate and timely care no matter the clinic, country, or condition. In addition to a completed Health History Form, there is also a mental health questionnaire and supplemental forms for any medical or mental health specialists.  

Global Conflicts & Peace

Semester at Sea is a member of the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) and routinely communicates with U.S. State Department officials to avoid potential conflict areas. Global Studies courses, Seminars, In-Port Lectures, and other opportunities provide an opportunity to examine and better understand global conflict and the work many are doing to create peace and change throughout the world.    

Family Events

We hope you’ll engage in one of our virtual events designed to reach families throughout the world. If you are looking to engage through social media, you can like and follow us at our links at the bottom of this page. Our active alumni community also organizes a number of in-person and virtual events which are open to families and future voyagers.

Upcoming Virtual Events

No upcoming events.

Archive of Webinar Recordings

Finances & Money

Semester at Sea invoicing systems are individualized to each student and contain sensitive information. Each student can access their financial expenses, credits, and updated bills through the Student Portal. Questions about finances can be answered by a Student Services Advisor.

Program Costs & Budgeting Tools

The opportunity to experience college aboard a  floating university is something most of our students and families must include in their financial planning well in advance. As questions arise, we encourage students and their families to connect with their Student Support Advisor for personalized guidance. For an estimated breakdown of costs, please download the voyage budget sheet.

How to Make Payments 

Family members or emergency contacts do not have access to directly make payments as accounts are linked to the online account each student creates to utilize the online portal. Payment options include: 

  • Monthly Payment Plan: Students may break the program fee balance into chunks with more time to pay. Students will enroll in an interest-free payment plan by emailing saspaymentplan@semesteratsea.org. The benefit includes having three additional months to make final payments. More information can be found on the SAS Payment Plan FAQThe deadline to enroll is October 25, 2023.
  • Managing Incidental Costs: During the voyage, students will bill expenses on the ship to an account. Students receive a monthly itemized statement and provide a credit card for mandatory expenses such as fuel surcharges along with incidental expenses like laundry and snacks. Families and voyagers will often need to establish mutual expectations and budgets to manage costs of these incidental expectations.
  • 529 Plans: State 529 plans can generally be used, with approval of the 529 organization, for study abroad. However, they will only release the funds to a Title IV institution so the check has to be sent to our academic partner, Colorado State University (CSU). CSU cannot disburse funds directly to Semester at Sea (SAS), so the process is lengthy and goes like this:
    1. SAS sends an invoice to the 529 company
    2. 529 company sends a check to CSU
    3. CSU receives the check and direct deposits it into the student’s account (you will have to set up a direct deposit with CSU)
    4. The student then pays their bill to SAS directly.

Keep in mind this process can take weeks or months. Students should reach out to financialaid@isevoyages.org as soon as possible when hoping to use 529 funding towards the voyage.

Increasing Access Regardless of Income

Semester at Sea is committed to increasing access to our program to all students regardless of income. Students should work with their advisor to understand their expenses and need, how and when aid like loans and grant transfers, and what opportunities unique to Semester at Sea for which they would qualify.

Additional links which may be helpful:

Semester at Sea Trip Protection Insurance Options

A Semester at Sea voyage represents a major investment for students and parents in both time and money. We want to be certain that parents and students have an opportunity to protect their financial commitment. In an effort to minimize any potential financial loss, Semester at Sea strongly urges that travel insurance is obtained.

Semester at Sea has partnered with Education Insurance Plans to offer study abroad-specific travel insurance to our students and parents. This plan will provide coverage for up to a max of $25,000 (you pick the amount!) toward travel costs and Semester at Sea program fees in case of certain types of cancellations or trip interruptions from our program after our “no refund” payment deadline. These cancellations include medical and mental health withdrawals among other types of cancellations. You can find a sample policy below to review a more comprehensive list of covered cancellations under the base plan. You may enroll in the base plan at any time prior to the voyage, but please be aware that certain coverage options have enrollment cutoff dates.

Below is the timeline for non-recoverable costs leading up to the voyage:

  • Cancel over 90 days prior to the voyage – Full Refund of Program Fee and Deposit (Excluding the $75 Application Fee)
  • Cancel 89-60 days prior to voyage – Lose 25% of program fee and deposit*
  • Cancel 59-45 days prior to voyage – Lose 50% of program fee and deposit*
  • Cancel 44-31 days prior to voyage – Lose 75% of program fee and deposit*
  • Cancel 30 days or less prior to the voyage and after voyage departure – Lose 100% of program fee and deposit*

We urge parents and students to carefully consider this option for your family since Semester at Sea’s program fee is not refundable for any reason (including forced withdrawal for medical and/or mental health reasons) after the semester commences at initial embarkation. Please direct any questions about quoting, enrollment, coverage, etc., to Semester at Sea’s partner Education Insurance Plans and they will assist you. Please call or email them at:

David Galvin – dgalvin@educationinsuranceplans.com
Michael Galvin – mgalvin@educationinsuranceplans.com
Phone: (401) 227-8455

Parents of Gap Year Students

We know that Gap Year students experience the voyage a little differently and Semester at Sea is here to support them from deposit to final disembarkation. 

Please be in touch with us should you have an questions or concerns. Our professional staff is available Monday through Friday 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM Mountain Time. You may reach us at (800) 854-0195 or send us an email.

Recent Voyage News

Questions? We are here to help!

Get in touch to learn more about how you can support your student on the voyage of a lifetime.