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Ready to Apply?

Space is limited and our admissions operate on a rolling basis. Complete your application as soon as you can so as to guarantee a position on the voyage and vessel of your choice.

(scroll down for a link to start an application) 

We just emailed you a list of our upcoming voyages. Keep an eye out.

June 14, 2021

🚨 Update – Availability is becoming limited on upcoming voyages 🚨To increase your chances of securing a spot and make sure you don’t miss out on the voyage of your choice complete these 3 simple steps ASAP:

  1. Pick a voyage that interests you the most.
  2. Submit an application. (only takes 10 minutes)
  3. Call us to make sure everything was correctly completed  👉 1.941.924.2900 (we also love to hear how excited you are and why you think you are a great fit for the experience 😁).

If you aren’t ready to apply yet or have questions please schedule a call with us using the form at the bottom of the page. If you didn’t finish watching the video or want to watch it again you can do so below. 

Ready to Apply?

Space is limited and our admissions operate on a rolling basis. Complete your application as soon as you can to guarantee a position on the voyage and boat of your choice.

Didn't get the email?

As promised you can now explore your future with Sea|mester! Just click on the button below to get access.

First Up: Did You Watch The Video To The End?

It answers our most frequently asked questions and gives you an in-depth behind the scenes preview.

Next Steps: After Watching The Full Video

Follow these steps to chart your own course and embark on the voyage of a lifetime.

Have a Question?

Review our FAQ Section below
or give us a call at 1.941.924.2900 or 👇

Good luck moving ahead and don’t be shy if you need more assistance! We can’t wait to have you aboard!

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Some answers to our most commonly asked questions 🙂

General

Click the plus icon (+) or the question to read the answer!

What is Sea|mester?

Sea|mester is a one-of-a-kind study abroad and gap year program where students live aboard one of our sailing vessels as they learn to sail around the world, scuba dive, and explore new cultures — all for school credit.

How do I apply?

You can apply here

How long have you been running educational programs?

For us, it all started in the mid-1970s when Jim Stoll (founder of the original company) began a high school aboard two large schooners. Twelve years later, with children of his own, Jim moved back ashore to develop motivational programs for young adults. In the mid-eighties he once again headed to the water, to run the teen program ActionQuest. In 1995, Jim was joined by Mike Meighan. A recent oceanography and marine biology graduate, Mike dreamed of creating a truly interactive educational experience. Using the principles of experiential education, Mike developed Sea|mester in 1998.

Over the past 20 years, Sea|mester has operated more than 113,000 student days, issued over 16,000 academic credits, sailed in excess of 250,000 nautical miles and circumnavigated the world four times.

What is the typical age of the students?

Most students are typically either graduating high school or in their sophomore or junior years in college so you can expect ages primarily from 17 through 22. Sometimes we allow students up to 24 depending on circumstance.

Do I need a passport?

As fun as it is being looked at like a full-blown pirate, yes, we try to keep everything above aboard at the customs line by having a valid, up-to-date passport.

Who are the staff members?

Good question! We are a diverse cast of characters, and we come from all different backgrounds – Captains, Marine Engineers, Marine Biologists, Oceanographers. Some of our team came to Sea|mester to study abroad in college and found their way back realizing that their life’s work was here to bring up the next generation. Despite how we all arrived from the disparate places we came from, we can say definitively that we all share a deep desire to reach others, discover new ways and evolve together.

Is there wifi?

The glorious world wide web is available… but only for special occasions like the ship’s daily blog posts to update friends and family.

Don’t panic, it’ll still be there for you when you get back ashore. We just truly believe in the ever-increasingly “rare” opportunity to unplug and allow yourself to connect with your amazing environment and those around you.

Do I need vaccines?

Yes, you will need to ensure that you are up-to-date on all shots and medical requirements before embarking on your trip. 

How do I communicate with home?

We always maintain a satellite uplink for communications so email can be sent need be, but the vast majority of your time spent bragging how much fun you’re having will be done ashore via international calls.

Do you accommodate students with special needs?

In many cases, yes. While the environment we create is appropriate for most, it is not for everyone. Successful Sea|mester students are in good physical and emotional health and have an interest in immersing themselves fully in our community. Sea|mester students are excited to learn new skills, experience new places and are capable of working positively within a close-knit team even when tired. While it’s natural for new students to be a little nervous before joining our team, prospective students should reconsider if dealing with behavioral, motivational, or rehabilitation issues. If you are unsure whether our adventure is suitable, please enter your name and email on the form at the top of the page and you can call the number on the next page to discuss your needs with us, and we will work towards accommodating them if we can.

Life Aboard

What is a day in the life?

The easy non-answer is to say that no day is the same with Sea|mester so it’s impossible to say. Which is true. But for the sake of helping you envision what your life could be like on Seamester… let’s just say that in general there are two kinds of days —

Passage Days 

These are when we are sailing between ports or to new destinations (like to another continent!) so your time will largely revolve around maintaining the vessel on its course. These days are comprised of several hours of classes, daily duties from the “job wheel” scheduler, regular scheduled 2-4 hour watches, and free time to do as you see fit.

Shore Days

As for shore days we are usually docked or moored near the coast and are typically diving or exploring the new place we’re in. Interspersing fun, land-based jaunts like hiking, tours, and dining out, you will also have class time, boat appreciation, and more of the job wheel. One of the best aspects about Seamester, however, is the unpredictability — so regardless if we’re out at sea or hitting the beach be prepared to carpe that diem.

Do I need sailing/seamanship experience?

No! We welcome sea-challenged folks right alongside those that already have salt water pumping through their veins.

What are some of the activities we do at port/onshore?

Naturally, it depends when and where you are but past students have enjoyed many of the following activities: hiking, bicycling, snorkeling, playing beach volleyball, ziplining, cave spelunking, surfing, wakeboarding, sailing, paddle boarding, paragliding, museum visits, sightseeing tours, shopping, dining out, service projects with local community groups, and many more.

Will I get seasick?

The reality is many do have to deal with it at some point on the trip, but certainly not all. It can affect long-time sea captains and new sailors alike, it really depends on the individual.

Fortunately, there are lots of effective remedies and over-the-counter medications that can help you expedite getting your sea legs. Most usually acclimate within about 36 hours so just hang in there and power through while you keep Charles Darwin in mind when he said, “if it was not for sea sickness the whole world would be sailors.”

What’s the food like? What if I have dietary restrictions?

That’s one of the best parts of boat life, the around-the-clock challenge of providing healthy and delicious meals for 25-plus people three times a day. You can count on a lot of basic ingredients, as well as the occasional meal repeat, but it will all be fresh and nutritious nonetheless. As for dietary restrictions we employ some brilliant culinary minds who know how to innovate and we can definitely make reasonable accommodations.

Can I fish?

You bet! Many of our students enjoy throwing a line off the back while we are underway. Our alumni have caught some impressive size fish of all variety over the years.

Will I have to do chores?

Living on a ship demands regular daily contributions from each member including cooking, cleaning, and performing maintenance checks. “Ship Appreciation” is another session of deep cleaning and maintenance that we perform after extended sail times.

What type of boats do we sail on?

We have three world-class sailing vessels — Argo, Vela, and Ocean Star.

  • Completed in 2006, Argo is a 112-ft two-masted staysail schooner with room for 26 students and 7 staff. We often say she’s a big “little boat” — meaning we designed her to be easy for students to operate. Since our goal is to have students reach the point where they run the vessel, trainability is obviously key. She was also special-built to circumnavigate the globe which likely means an extended sailing across an ocean. 
  • Launched in 2020, Vela is our Argo 2.0 — she’s the same design and capacity with minor improvements. As Argo’s sister ship she will also be faring out on the open ocean.
  • Ocean Star is our old lady, with us since 2000. While she’s also a two-masted schooner,  88 feet long, and can accommodate twenty people, she offers a different kind of experience. Rather than crossing oceans as a focus, her voyages are kept to coastal sailing primarily, and as a result, these programs tend to spend more time exploring ashore and scuba diving.

    Each of our vessels offers different sailing experiences — so make sure you fill out the form next to this video to gain access to pricing and itineraries.
How much time is spent onboard the ship versus on land?

Again, this depends largely on the trip you choose. If you’re aboard Ocean Star and island-hopping about in the Caribbean you can expect perhaps a 2:1 land-to-sea experience. If you choose an itinerary with a transoceanic journey you can reasonably expect that ratio to shift to more ocean time. Considering what you want to achieve and what your preferences are in this regard will be crucial to factor in when choosing the right Seamester for you.

What are some of the activities we do onboard?

Basically your time aboard is all about juggling required ship duties, scheduled watches, classes, meals, study time, and free time. Sounds boring? Not a chance!

Each day offers unique challenges and opportunities so expect to be fishing one day, playing card games the next, or having a dance-off on another. The Squeeze is also a daily practice in gratitude where we hold each others’ hands in a group and have student-led discussions to help one another appreciate what we have learned, who we are with, and how best to live a meaningful and rich life.

What is the bathroom situation?

There is one shared “marine head” for students. While it is tight and requires some practice before you get the hang of it you will definitely find that it adds a lot to the authentic seafaring experience. 

How often can I go scuba diving?

Our programs range anywhere from 20 to 90 days so this is the main factor in how many dives you can do. Generally, you can expect anywhere from fifteen to thirty dives.

What if I am already scuba certified?

That’s great! Then you can level up with a more advanced scuba course all the way up to Dive Master.

Where do we stay when we’re in port?

You will stay on the ship in your bunk when we are moored in a harbor or docked at a slip.

Can I bring my laptop and devices?

Of course — but the real question is… how often will you need them? Aside from using them for your classes you probably won’t use them for anything more than taking pictures. 

What do I need to pack?

We will provide you a voyage-specific packing after you are accepted to the program. 

Just remember your bunk space is shared with whatever you bring so it’s best to pack as minimally as you’re comfortable with.

Academics

Students studying on the stren
Students studying on the stren
What certifications can I earn?

Based on your experience, we teach these courses for sailing to earn the following certificates…

  • International Crew 
  • VHF Operator
  • Navigation Master
  • Master of Yachts 200 Ton Offshore Theory

As for scuba, we offer the following PADI certifications…

  • Open Water Diver
  • Advanced Open Water Diver
  • Rescue Diver
  • Divemaster
  • Emergency First Response
How many credits are available? Will they be accepted at my school?

Seamester is accredited with the University of South Florida by the Commission on College of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools — meaning we issue official transcripts upon completion for future transfer. Depending on your schedule and itinerary you can earn 12 or more credits each semester with each course earning 3 credits. The core curriculum includes:

  • Nautical Science
  • Marine Biology
  • Oceanography
  • Student Leadership Development

As each student’s academic needs and university system vary, we strongly encourage everyone to inquire into their study abroad or registrar’s office to ensure transferability. If that seems daunting, no sweat, just reach out to us and we’ll take the first step to figure out how Seamester can work for you and your academic goals.

How do classes work?

Just like any other institution — only our classes take place aboard a sailboat or in the water in some of the most incredible locations in the world.

Are there office hours?

Always. Literally day or night, feel free to talk with one of our instructors who are readily available for one-on-one assistance.

How much class time is there each day?

This varies depending on numerous factors but each class is typically 45 minutes to two hours with an hour of ancillary study time allotted.

What is the student to staff ratio?

Though it varies on each voyage we try to maintain, on average, one staff member for every five students so every lesson you take feels personalized and tailored to bringing out the best in you.

Do I get to choose what I do outside of class time?

Yes and no. While there are certainly non-optional duties required of you to ensure a pleasant and productive experience for everyone, there is plenty of time that is open and unscheduled. In general, you are largely left to your own devices to manage your own schedule as you see fit (but know that with Seamester there’s always something you could be doing to help out with if you so choose).

Are there finals?

You bet! Disappointing?

Perhaps until you realize that to “cram” for that last big test you’ll be basking topside in the sun or reviewing material underwater as you scuba dive over a coral reef teeming with shoals of exotic fish.

Risk Management

Is it safe?

It is imperative we’re transparent about the challenges of sailing — any program that 100% guarantees safety is selling you a bill of goods. That said, we do everything possible to manage risk and remain fully prepared for any scenario. We make sure to implement the best gear and equipment, employ the best and brightest in the industry, and train rigorously. All of our vessels are carefully maintained and inspected regularly by Brittain’s premiere nautical and ocean-going monitor. We also are proud to be partnered with an international emergency response firm, and you can rest easy knowing that we are always with a satellite uplink and radio communications.

How are you handling Covid-19?

We are very optimistic that we will continue to be able to run voyages on all three of our vessels.

That said, we recognize that governments, as well as local and international agencies around the world, are making many of these decisions for us (DOS and CDC Travel Advisories, Closed Borders, Forced Quarantine, etc.), so we are monitoring these directives while moving forward with our programs.

The travel, training, certification and service components of our programs add complexity which takes a lot of organization, preplanning, and expenditure. With enrollment on our programs being limited, we plan to connect with each student that applies. 

What if there is some unforeseen emergency?

We work with International SOS and MedAire to provide integrated emergency services for the remote environments we travel in. These are US-based companies with an international footprint. Through a single point of contact, our Membership extends us world-class medical advice, security services, and evacuation coordination anywhere in the world so we are prepared for any and all scenarios at passage and ashore.

Tuition

How much does it cost?

Great question. It depends on numerous factors but the main one is – which voyage you choose. Explore different voyages here.

Read the scholarship FAQ below for more info.

Are scholarships available? What are other financing options?

Absolutely! On average 1 out of 3 students who apply receive scholarships. 🔥

We offer scholarships up to 40% of your total voyage cost (unfortunately, we cannot offer more.) Please know that offers are based on need and determined on a case-by-case basis. If you have special circumstances regarding your financial needs please let us know in your application essay for us to take into consideration. We can work with your school officers to help navigate your specific situation.

*We also accept any of your existing private grants, GI bills, 529 plans, and more. 

What costs are covered by tuition?

The individual pricing of each voyage will be provided in a follow-up email, but each will include the following: 

  • Sea|mester academic instruction for the applicable courses offered during that voyage
  • University of South Florida (USF) academic credit for all academic classes offered during the program.
  • Full room and board
  • All group excursions, field trips and destination-focused educational experiences
  • Non-professional sailing instruction and certification costs
  • Non-professional scuba instruction and certification costs for programs longer than 20 days
What costs are not covered by tuition?

Though each voyage necessitates certain schedules, here are some other expenditures to consider:

  • Travel costs to and from the program
  • Certain equipment expenses such as foul weather jacket, bibs and boots as well as a mask, fins, and snorkel
  • Personal spending money
  • Required International SOS and MedAire membership & emergency evacuation insurance
  • Other insurance (Medical and/or Travel Protection)
  • PADI scuba diving books and materials fee
  • Scuba diving fee (only applicable on 20-day voyages)
Will you issue refunds if outside circumstances cause a voyage to be cancelled?

Yes. If we cancel a program, we will work with students to select one of the following options:

  • Switch to a different Sea|mester voyage.

OR

  • Issue a refund for any deposit and tuition payments made to Sea|mester.
Speak to a Program Expert!
(1-941-924-2900)

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