Suite Life on Deck in real life: How much does it cost?

This is the first of a multiple article series about Semester at Sea. In this article, I will go over the cost of this semester-long sea excursion.

Semester at Sea is a study abroad program managed by the Institute for Shipboard Education, with the current academic sponsor being Colorado State University. In this program, you as the student will spend an entire semester on a cruise ship traveling to at least 10 different countries, all while taking college courses. I first found out about Semester at Sea over the summer of 2020, while browsing my YouTube recommended page. Many people began vlogging their time on their voyage between 2017 and 2019, and the videos became increasingly popular over quarantine.

The biggest caveat of participating in Semester at Sea is the cost. This program can cost almost the same price as an entire year at a n6ormal university.

But what exactly does the high price tag cover? Let’s take a look at the program fees for the upcoming voyage, happening in the fall of this year. To start, prices will vary based on what cabin style you choose, with the “Ocean Double Outside” being the most expensive, and the “Adventure Double Inside” being the least expensive, but more on cabins later. Included in the program fees are the tuition, any meals on the ship, room and board, the fuel fee, travel health insurance, any academic field classes that occur, and on ship advice and assistance. Other things you will have to cover out of pocket are airfare fees, visas, any personal field programs you decide to participate in, immunization costs, application fees, books, and local transportation.

On the website, like any college website, you can find a cost calculator to help gauge the cost of the excursion. Also on the website, you can find the tentative voyage budget for whichever voyage you want to participate in. So on the fall 2022 voyage budget, it says that the lowest price for this voyage is $35,624, including the out of pocket costs detailed previously. This price can go up or down depending on how you choose to budget your money and whether or not you are eligible for one of the many scholarships and grants that are offered.

More on financial aid: according to the Semester at Sea website, 60% of voyagers receive some sort of financial aid. So if cost is something you are worried about, there are a multitude of ways to help offset the costs. There are both need-based and merit-based grants, scholarships for HBCU and HACU students (Historically Black College/University and Hispanic Serving Institution), scholarships for international students, and many more. There are also federal loans that are available if you complete the FAFSA.

What many people try to understand is the value of the program. Semester at Sea focuses on students finishing the semester with a newfound love and understanding for the greater world around them.

The experiences that these individuals have while traveling on the ship are something that most people would not be able to have while traveling on their own. For instance, being out of the country and seeing other Semester at Sea participants invokes a sense of community while being in a foreign environment. Also, travelling with people your own age who you’ve become friends with–thanks to proximity and close quarters–makes the $35,000 price tag more than worth it.