Health & Safety

Voyage confidently, knowing that we put health and safety first in all we do.


At Semester at Sea and the Institute for Shipboard Education (ISE), the health and safety of program participants, employees, and crew is prioritized above all else through every layer of decision making. Over the course of our 59+ 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.

Health & Safety at Semester at Sea

Multi-faceted Risk Management Across Multiple Industries

Our unique program model combining multi-country study abroad with travel by ship situates us at the confluence of higher education, student travel, and the cruise industry. As a result, our holistic approach to risk mitigation and management includes key partnerships across each industry and integrates each industry’s preferred practices for managing participant health and safety.

Flexible Itineraries and a Safe Floating Home Base

Travel by ship allows for the ability to make real-time changes and agile decision-making to adapt to dynamic world events. Each voyage itinerary has identified Diversion Ports should we need to change an itinerary prior to and/or during a voyage due to weather, political unrest, or other health and safety considerations. These ports are selected based on a number of factors including safety, educational value, and accessibility.

Additionally, no matter where we are in the world, the ship serves as a familiar “home base” for voyagers, where freshly prepared meals, clean drinking water, and highly-trained medical professionals are available 24/7. Semester at Sea partners with VIKAND, the leader in global maritime medical operations and healthcare solutions, to run the medical clinic onboard the MV World Odyssey.

Expert Industry Partners

Semester at Sea contracts with the maritime management company Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM) as the service provider to oversee all vessel operations, crew hiring and training, itinerary planning, and implementation. Through this partnership, Semester at Sea is in compliance with all regulations set forth by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the Maritime Labor Convention, the ship’s flag state, and our insurance provider. Additionally, the ship’s management company works closely with the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) to benchmark best practices with the broader cruise industry.

To assist with routine itinerary planning and incident response, Semester at Sea is a member of the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC), routinely communicates with U.S. State Department officials, and privately contracts Cultural Insurance Services International (CISI) to provide insurance coverage for all voyagers. Through CISI and their contracted partners AXA and Crisis24, Semester at Sea voyagers receive 24/7/365 worldwide assistance services – a resource for everything from a lost passport to coordinating an emergency evacuation. Additionally, these partners provide ISE administrators with regular security and intelligence briefings and medical capability resources for each voyage destination.

Higher Education Partnerships

As an institute of higher education, Semester at Sea works closely with academic partner Colorado State University to share resources and collaborate across all departments. ISE is an active member of The Association of International Educators (NAFSA) and The Forum on Education Abroad.

Hear From Past Voyagers

Headshot of Cameron Barnhardt

I never would have thought I would have traveled the world by ship during a global pandemic, but it was a voyage I will never forget. The faculty, staff, Lifelong Learners and students all became my family. Semester at Sea allowed me to experience cultures I never would have thought I would have experienced in my lifetime. This voyage taught me more than I can even put into words. As a shipboard community, we went through so much. We never knew when we were going to get off of the ship or where we were going to go as our itinerary changed many times. From using sign language with the locals at Noir Restaurant in Vietnam, to my Oceanography class singing, “It’s a Small World” on the back of the ship during one of our last days, Semester at Sea is truly an experience that holds such a special place in my heart and creates such a wonderful community that I am forever grateful for.

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