Over the years we have answered thousands of questions. Here are the answers to some of the most common ones.
Students join us from all levels of the university system and from a wide variety of majors. Our crews are co-ed and are comprised of pre-matriculate students all the way up through juniors and seniors. Typically, crews in the past have been in the 17-23 age group. While most of our students come from the United States, we often have representatives from Europe, Canada, South America and even Asia on the crew.
We are learning from everything we do aboard but you can expect an average of 10 to 12 hours a week to be dedicated to "lecture" time for the courses we teach on the 80+ day programs and 6-8 hours a week during 40-day voyages. Our 20-day voyages are focused solely on Basic Seamanship and thus require about 3-4 hours a week of formal meeting time with the rest of the learning being done underway.
No previous experience is necessary to join a Sea|mester Voyage. The experience of sailing across major oceans, scuba diving world renowned reef systems and discovering destinations like the British Virgin Islands, the Galapagos, Tahiti, Australia and Thailand is as accessible to beginners as it is to the most seasoned sailor or diver!
Students who join us on all but the 20-day voyages can expect to earn the PADI Open Water certification and those on a Caribbean voyage may well achieve their PADI Advanced Open Water certification as well. On the longer voyages, we may also have the ability to do a number of PADI Specialty courses. On our 80+ day voyages, depending on the interest onboard, we have also been able to offer the PADI Rescue Diver course. If you are currently a certified Rescue Diver, are at least 18 yrs of age and are ready to take the next step, you may work towards the PADI Divemaster certification.
Please note that while scuba diving during our Caribbean Voyages is guaranteed, our Global Voyages will vary in terms of the extent of scuba diving possible. If you are looking for a program that carries a strong scuba component, then a Caribbean Voyage should be your clear choice.
A lot of this has to do with you as a person... your interests, likes and goals. Caribbean Voyages include far more coastal and near coastal sailing. As a result, we are likely to visit a wider range of islands than we would during a Global Voyage. Additionally, scuba diving during our Caribbean Voyages is guaranteed, so if you are looking for a program that carries a strong scuba component, then a Caribbean Voyage should be your clear choice.
In contrast, our Global Voyages offer the opportunity to cross major oceans and see parts of the world that few get to visit. If you are a keen sailor and/or are interested in building on your skills in this area, then no other program will allow you to log as many sea miles at the helm. While we try to incorporate as much scuba into these programs as we can, weather, local regulations and time restraints can often be preclusive to achieving a wide range of certifications.
Occasionally, students select to join Sea|mester for two voyages, thus completing a whole academic year with us. Whether enrolling for a Caribbean and Global voyage or staying aboard S/Y Argo for two consecutive Global Voyages, each experience will be unique due to the diversity of geographical locations, academic courses and, naturally, the team with whom you will be exploring.
While we guard the privacy of our alumni, 95% of them volunteer to act as references for new, interested students. Upon request, we will be happy to pass along names of past shipmates who are of a similar age and have participated in the same voyage that you are considering. Please contact us to request references.
During the course of all our voyages, students will work towards certifications while taking the Basic Seamanship course. Students will be trained and tested in both the IYT International Crew and IYT Navigation Master certification levels. Achieving the levels of IYT Radio Operator, IYT International Watchkeeper and IYT Master of Yachts 200 Ton Offshore Theory is possible, depending upon the voyage length as well as the academic course selection that a student has made.
In spite of the higher cost, Sea|mester uses the finest vessels available. We do not charter our vessels, both S/Y Argo and S/Y Ocean Star are owned and operated by Sea|mester. Safety, quality and "trainability" come first in our choice of yachts and equipment.
For more information on our yachts, please visit the Vessels section of the website.
Our sailing schedules are designed specifically to reduce the likelihood that hurricanes and tropical disturbances will interrupt our voyages. During tropical cyclone seasons we diligently monitor both long and short-term forecasts to assure that we have time, if necessary, to adjust our schedule to have our vessels and crew in safe haven well before any active tropical weather.
Sea|mester provides almost all equipment necessary for our activities. This includes all scuba diving equipment (except for wetsuits, if needed). We will send a clothing list of general items to bring and information on spending money needed for shore side purchases. For those selecting a Global Program, the largest expense is likely to be a set of good quality foul weather gear. We do require that all participants join DAN (the Divers Alert Network) for their membership benefits. Those enrolling in certain scuba courses are required to purchase the necessary PADI books and materials for their use after the program (est. $35 per book).
The easy answer is that there is no typical day. During the first week to ten days of the voyage, the schedule is driven by getting everyone feeling comfortable with the basic concepts of sailing and vessel operation. The schedule also includes completing the first couple of lectures in each academic course. Once this introductory section is complete, the goal is to allow the students to begin to take the responsibility of scheduling the course contact time around the vessel itineraries and pre-scheduled group activities. From this point on, each following week's schedule is written during a group meeting that allows everyone to be invested in the outcome.
Some weeks involve more passage-making while others may revolve around a shore-based service project, scuba diving, hiking, touring, or shore leave. Please refer to the blog entries on our website, which were written by the students aboard to chronicle their experience in past Sea|mester programs.
No, but if you choose to bring your laptop with a wireless card, there is a high likelihood that you'll get a signal in many of the ports and harbors. Additionally, internet cafes ashore are becoming more and more widespread and economical in all the places we visit, so your next best option is to have a remote email service such as Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo.
Tobacco products (defined as cigarettes, cigars, pipes, snuff, chewing tobacco and gum) as well as E-cigarettes are prohibited aboard any of our vessels, including yachts, dinghies, kayaks and windsurfers. Tobacco products and E-cigarettes are also prohibited in any vehicle that is owned or leased by Sea|mester. Tobacco product and E-cigarette usage is allowed on regular shore leave although no shore leave for that specific reason will be granted by the staff if it should conflict with other program activities such as meal times, classes, group activities or designated study times.
There is a fair chance that at some point in the program you may become seasick. Most students who are prone to motion sickness feel it in the first days of the voyage or on the first longer passage. In all but a very few cases, students get their "sea legs" and never experience it again.
If you are concerned about motion sickness, there are a number of over the counter and prescription medications available in addition to natural remedies noted for reducing or eliminating sea sickness. While we do not endorse any one product, feel free to call our office for a personal recommendation from one of our staff members.
We do not discourage family members from visiting the program, but the time spent together would be very minimal. Due to our weather and activity-based schedule, it is very hard to predict just where the boats will be at any given time.