What is Life on a Ship Really Like? Semester at Sea

Standard post class activity on deck, can't complain!

I am sure that many of you are wondering what life is like living on a ship. Some would compare it to Suite Life on Deck (Disney Channel reference), but honestly it is BETTER!

Life on Semester at Sea is awesome. The ship is over 500 feet long and there is plenty to do while onboard.

I am taking 4 classes while on the ship. We take our classes when we are traveling from country to country and then when we are in port we are free of class…like a little spring break every week or so šŸ™‚ can’t complain! There are multiple classrooms on the ship, we have one library (the largest floating library in the world), one computer lab, 2 dining areas, and a few lounges to do work/play the piano/play cards/hang out with friends. We also have a pool deck, which consists of a small (very, very small) pool, a snack bar, a ping-pong table, a small gym, and a lot of open area to lay out and get some sun.

Economy room - triple ensuite

I signed up for economy rooming (the cheapest option), so I am in a triple on the 4th deck. We have one set of bunk-beds and then a single bed. Nothing will ever compare to your comfortable bed at home, but these beds aren’t THAT bad. The rooms are very tiny, but you don’t spend much time in them at all, so that hasn’t bothered me. We have an outside room, so we have a huge window and a great view of the ocean, a major plus! We also have a bathroom in our room which is very convenient. Our room gets cleaned every few days and we get fresh towels every other day. The staff does a great job of taking care of us!
The staff does our laundry for us. It costs $6 per bag and the bags are small, so a lot of people end up washing their clothes in the sink and hanging them up to dry. There are specific laundry days for each deck, but they are not that spread out, so you can usually get your laundry done when you need it.

Dinning hall aboard Semester at Sea

As far as meals go, the food is not the best, but what do you expect from a dining-hall-like atmosphere? The best meal is definitely breakfast. Breakfast is from 7:30am-8:30am, it is very early, but I have 8am classes, so it all works out. They always have fresh fruit for breakfast, yogurt, sausage, pancakes, french toast, pastries, etc. They serve a lot of pasta, potatoes, and pork. But, they also have a salad bar, soup, and the classic- PB&J sandwiches. The pool deck also serves hamburgers, hotdogs, pizza, ice cream, etc. This is all at an additional cost, but sometimes it is worth it to grab a $2.50 burger if you are sick of the dining hall food. Lunch is from 11:30-1:30 and dinner is from 5:30-7:30. We also get snack at 10pm every night. If you are hungry between meals then you can always get food at the piano bar or the pool bar, they have everything from sour skittles to ramen noodles, but once again, that is all additional money.

Now for something that I am sure everyone is interested in learning about: the drink policy. Every night at dinner each student is allowed 2 drinks (the options are beer or wine, and they are $3.50 each). Then there are specific nights that are designated as ‘pub nights.’ Pub nights take place on the 7th deck, where the pool bar is, and you can get an additional 3 drinks at pub night. Once again, drinks are all additional costs which is a bummer and the size of the wine glass might as well be the size of a shot glass…definitely not worth $3.50! But besides from drinking the ship does hold many game nights and fun activities to keep you occupied (I have learned how to make paper cranes!)

So one of the downsides of the ship…sea sickness. I have not gotten sick at all and I have not been taking any medicine, so I am one of the lucky few. A lot of people end up getting sea sick, but we have a doctor on the ship and he can prescribe you medicine. There are certain parts of the voyage that are worse than others and certain parts of the ship (front vs. back) that get more rocky. You never really know if you are going to get sick or not; one of my friends ran out of our exam and threw up, but I haven’t had a problem yet (knock on wood)…so you never really know.


Eating dinner and watching the sunset, what a life!

Overall, life on the ship is great! Not as fun as when we are in port, but taking classes in the middle of the ocean is pretty neat! During lunch one day I looked out the window and saw dolphins and a whale…I bet you don’t get that at your home university!

It is a weird concept to think that we are floating around the world taking classes, traveling, and learning, but I LOVE IT!


Submitted by Theresa, Abroad101 Global Ambassador on Semester At Sea