Expand Your World as a Lifelong Learner

Have you ever thought of the world itself as one giant classroom? Many limit their idea of learning to a lecture and a chalkboard when really the opportunity to expand your knowledge of the world around you is best gained through hands-on experience. One of the best ways to enrich your knowledge of the world around you is through exploration. Travel offers a host of benefits beyond simply visiting someplace new. It’s the best way to immerse yourself in new cultures and gain a deep appreciation for things well outside the ordinary. 

Semester at Sea is one of the biggest proponents of enriching knowledge through travel and experience and their Lifelong Learning Program allows adults to continue their education alongside college students spending a semester traveling the globe via cruise ship. The MV World Odyssey, the program’s current ship, is the sixth ship to host the Semester at Sea program and offers a home to over 700 passengers on their journey to the far reaches of the world. 

The first ever Semester at Sea voyage occurred in 1963 and over the next 58 years, the idea of learning outside of the classroom (and on a ship, no less) has exploded in popularity. For more than 75,000 alumni participants, the experience was one they’ll never forget.  

What is Semester at Sea? 

Study abroad programs are popular among college students who are curious about other parts of the world. Semester at Sea is a kind of study abroad program where participants don’t just live in a new part of the world – they live in a new part of the world nearly every day. The ship sails to a number of unique destinations around the world with 3-5 day stops in port where students can explore the local communities. Prior to each disembarkation, lectures and information sessions about each port help educate and inform voyagers about the local culture and customs as well as important safety information.

Students board a cruise ship and spend the next few months circumnavigating the globe learning, growing and gaining an appreciation and understanding of new parts of the world. Students participate in college courses with world-renowned faculty, shipboard activities, educational seminars and field classes off the ship throughout the experience. It’s like a floating college campus but with learning that goes far beyond lectures and homework from the professor. 

Lifelong Learning Program


The world is such a diverse place with almost unlimited possibilities and opportunities to explore, but Semester at Sea doesn’t limit their participants to just college students. The Lifelong Learning Program is an opportunity for those age 30 and older to join the ship community and continue their education about the world alongside the students.

The program is a chance for adults to join in the community onboard the ship and participate in all of the same academic courses, community activities, and in-port field programs. Education is at the forefront of the experience and the program for adults is designed for those with a robust curiosity about the world they live in. 

There’s a daily seminar specifically for Lifelong Learners which explores the culture and history of upcoming ports, student development matters, current events, faculty areas of expertise, and anything else of interest or importance to the journey or current events. 

Lifelong Learners share nearly all aspects of the ship with students including dining areas, the gym, the pool deck and educational spaces. The ship also features a theater, an auditorium and a library to enhance the learning experience. There are several cabin styles to choose from so you can plan your voyage around your needs and budget. Cabins are available to accomodate any arrangement, from the single traveler to a family of four. Included in the booking price is three meals per day, access to the academic coursework, and inclusion in all shipboard activities. 

The ship may be full of students, but there’s plenty of time to enjoy the voyage with your fellow Lifelong Learners. Everyday before 8am, the gym is off limits to students so adults on board can enjoy the equipment at their own pace. After the gym, head over to the outdoor restaurant for breakfast with an ocean view. Then it’s off to classes like Global Studies or Anthropology of Food, both focused on whichever part of the world you’re in that day. After lunch, head to the daily Lifelong Learner meeting and then spend some time in the adults-only lounge with your peers. Other activities include yoga, a trip to the spa, walking the loop on deck 9, catching a movie or perusing the library. The day can be as jam-packed or leisurely as you like.

Lifelong Learners come from a wide variety of backgrounds with one thing in common: a love for travel and educational enrichment. 


Extended Family Program 

Interacting with students is an important aspect of the Lifelong Learner experience. The Extended Family Program offers the opportunity to “adopt” a group of students and serve as a kind of mentor. Being away from family and friends for such a long period can sometimes be a challenge so Lifelong Learners who participate in the Extended Family Program can organize events with their group of students to help them feel more connected to their peers and community on board. Many who participate find the Extended Family Program to be one of their favorite aspects of the trip as it offers the opportunity to curate relationships with a diverse group of curious students. 

Activities include enjoying meals together, hosting game nights or even ice cream socials where students can unwind and share their experiences throughout the voyage. The program has helped many participants establish lifelong friendships which extend well past the journey’s end. 

In Country Experiences 

Hands-on learning is a fundamental part of the overall Semester at Sea program. In-country learning is conducted through sponsored excursions in each port to promote further understanding of each country. Lifelong Learners are invited to participate in excursions led by trusted and insured tour providers, but they’re also welcome to explore each port on their own for an ever more intimate exploration of the country. 

It’s one thing to read about the how the Parthenon on the Acropolis of Athens was dedicated to the Goddess Athena in a text book, it’s quite another to stand underneath the massive marble pediment and gaze firsthand at the ornate marble carvings depicting the passage of a day’s time. It’s knowledge that can’t be taught, only gained through curiosity and an intrepid spirit. 

The benefits of hands-on learning go far beyond the sights. Immersion into another culture educates individuals on the language, the customs and traditions which make it unique. Even the smallest experiences like hailing a Tuk Tuk in Mumbai or walking across a busy intersection in Ho Chi Minh City are building blocks of experience which work to expand the mind and build appreciation for things new and different. 

Semester at Sea and the Lifelong Learning Program have helped countless students and adults fulfil their lust for adventure and curiosity about the world around them. There’s no better way to learn about new cultures and visit some of the most interesting places around the world. If your wanderlust is too strong to ignore, becoming a Lifelong Learner offers an experience that will satisfy even the most intrepid traveler! 

You can request more information about becoming a Lifelong Learner on the Semester at Sea website



This post was sponsored by Semester at Sea