Five Faves: At Sea, In Session

Back-to-school excitement doesn’t have to be wasted on the youth … or on land for that matter!

As the kiddies are prepping for another year of pencils, books, and teacher’s dirty looks, it’s not unusual for us adults to feel a wee bit jealous. Who knew all those years spent sulking at a classroom desk, longing to be a homework-free adult would result in us sulking at a different desk, longing to return to being a comparatively carefree kid?

As always, cruising provides a temporary solution to our adult woes, not only with indulgences that calm our souls, but with activities that scratch those yearn-to-learn itches. Almost every ship offers some sort of learning opportunity, if not an official enrichment program designed specifically for our interests. And some go above and beyond even that, intent on harkening us back to sea to perhaps discover the pursuits that have been calling all along. Here are five of our favorite potential guiding lights:


Accredited with Boston University, Sea Education Association (SEA) focuses on ocean and environmental studies, with SEA Semester programs that include “Colonization to Conservation in the Caribbean,” “Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures & Ecosystems,” and “Marine Biodiversity & Conversation.” SEA utilizes two (U.S. flag–flying) 134-foot brigantines as their research vessels, giving students the finest in firsthand experience and knowledge.

Semester at Sea

For more than 50 years, Semester at Sea has been the at-sea study abroad program that your mind naturally conjures when you think “cruise-ship college.” Up to 15 transferable credits can be earned through Colorado State University (so long as you meet SAS’s Traditional or Non-Traditional student requirements) during a semester aboard MV World Odyssey. For the upcoming Spring 2017 semester, for instance, students will visit Asia, Africa, and Europe while taking integrated courses and experiencing the world outside of ivy-covered brick buildings. There’s also a Lifelong Learning Program for retirees, professionals, or adventurous travelers to study along with the undergraduate students.


Sea|mester balances academic courses with University of South Florida accreditation — such as introductions to marine biology and oceanography — with appropriate technical and vocational training as well, including courses for crewmember and skipper training. Sea|mester schooners take students on voyages ranging from 20- to 90-days (depending on the season) all over world, with local focuses whether you’re in the Mediterranean, the Lesser Antilles, Australia, or anywhere in between.

ClassAfloat_BowspritClass Afloat

Class Afloat prides itself on experiential education at sea and on whatever land it travels to. Curricula range from high school to university and gap year, with each student also participating as crew on the tall ship Gulden Leeuw as well as immersed volunteers in community service projects in Senegal and the Dominican Republic.

University at Sea

More a collection of continuing education seminars than college courses, the University of Sea series is nonetheless a simple way to earn credits in numerous medical and legal fields while experiencing the benefits of a vacation on a variety of mainstream cruise ships and itineraries. Conferences are held throughout the world in Alaska, the Caribbean, Europe, Hawaii, Australia, and Asia.


Rico Bronte

Photos: SEA, Class Afloat

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