Friday, May 22, 2009

The Ship and Itinerary

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Semester At Sea program let me provide you with a brief overview.  The Semester At Sea program began in 1963 and is described as a “state-of-the-art floating campus…that provides a unique opportunity to create new perspectives and to tap into every individual’s passion for learning and understanding” You can learn more about the program and its history at  In a very simple sense, SAS it is a college on a cruise ship. The program and academics are through The University of Virginia and Fall/Spring voyages require a minimum of 12 credits. Students are in class while at sea and have opportunities for field study excursions while in each port.

I sail August 24 to December 14, 113 days and 11 countries!

My itinerary is as follows:

Norfolk, Virginia. USA – August 24: The staff board and reposition the ship to Canada to meet our students

Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada – August 28: The students board and the journey officially begins

Cadiz, Spain

Casablanca, Morocco

Accra, Ghana

Cape Town, South Africa

Port Louis, Mauritius

Chennai, India

Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam

Hong Kong / Shanghai, China

Yokohama / Kobe, Japan

Honolulu / Hilo, Hawaii, USA

San Diego, California, USA

The journey that I will be on is the 100th voyage so it makes the opportunity that much sweeter.  I am incredibly fortunate to be apart of this experience and hope to share with you as much as I can.  I imagine that points of the journey will be challenging and others rewarding and meaningful beyond words but I hope to do my best in writing about my experience.

The ship (not a boat) is named the MV Explorer, was built in 2002 and is “one of the safest ships afloat” being in the U.S. and international health and safety ratings 99th percentile. Thankfully, with all this pirate activity, the MV Explorer is also one of the fastest passenger ships of its kind in the world! You can tour the ship here

The ship can serve as home to 836 people and travels at a max speed of 28 knots or nearly 30 miles an hour. With 30,000 sq. ft. of outside deck space, 6 passenger decks, 7,500 sq. ft. pool area, three dining decks, plus a faculty and staff lounge (with happy hour every night) I’ll have plenty to explore before the students board. 

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Journey Begins

Welcome to my first entry! Lets begin, last September I submitted my application for Semester At Sea and patiently waited with high hopes. SAS had been a dream job for the past three years after learning about it shortly after I arrived at LMU. After not hearing anything for months and finally getting an e-mail in mid March telling me that they had closed their process I was disappointed and trying to figure out what else I was going to do.  Obviously things worked out, a position reopened and I received an e-mail asking if I was still interested and available for the fall journey. Now, I got this e-mail on March 31st and on April 1st I sent set up an interview for the next day.  To be honest I thought that maybe someone was playing a very cruel April fools trick on me, but I was going to be ready for my 5pm phone interview.

Cut to Thursday, 5:00…5:01... I told myself ‘Patrick, don’t freak out’ 5:05…I checked my e-mail to make sure I had the correct day.  5:08 I my heart started to race, ‘You have got to be kidding me’ I thought.  5:11 the phone rang! Ok here we go!   As I told everyone weeks earlier that I didn’t even get an interview much less the job I felt that had nothing to loose.  I was calm and ready to give it my best shot. It is such a great interview. Dr. B and I had a fun conversation and I felt very comfortable talking with him. Half way through I told him that I thought this whole thing may have been a joke and that his calling late almost sent me in to hysterics. He apologized and laughed at me some more. As the conversation continued he told me that he wanted to move the process along quickly and I told him that he should offer me the position that evening, I would immediately accept and the process would be complete. He appreciated the idea but with a laugh said that he couldn’t move that quickly.  He did mention that if necessary he would be contacting my references when in mid sentence he cut himself off and said, “Patrick, I don’t know why I am trying to be coy with you, tell your supervisor I’m calling her in the morning” With that he said his plan was to be in touch by the following Wednesday.  I only told a few people, as to not set myself up for another disappointment but come Monday night Dr. B gave me a call and offered me a position as one of the eight Living Learning Coordinators on the Fall 2009 journey!

While I don’t set sail until August 24th, there is a lot to do before hand. Visas, inoculations and flight arrangements not to mention figuring out where to live for the summer, as I have to be out of my current apartment June 15th.   But first the fun stuff… the journey and the ship!