Semester at Sea will start in San Diego for students from around the world

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – More than 600 college students from around the world are gathering in San Diego Tuesday for the start of the Semester at Sea program, which could be the last on the MV Explorer.

The 629 participants from 268 colleges and universities around the world will take buses to Ensenada, Mexico, where they will embark. The voyage is scheduled to end April 29 in Southampton, England.

The itinerary will take them to Hawaii, Japan, China, Vietnam, Singapore, Burma, India, Mauritius, South Africa, Namibia and Morocco.

The Institute for Shipboard Education canceled other stops in Africa because of an outbreak of the Ebola virus, which has killed more than 8,000 people.

Students take a full load of courses from professors from Harvard and Yale universities, the University of Virginia, Beijing Foreign Studies University, the U.S. Naval Academy, and the University of San Diego — among others. USD will field the third-largest contingent of students on board with 20, behind the University of Colorado at Boulder and Virginia.

Among the Semester at Sea class are 88 international students from 40 countries.

The 118th voyage since the program’s start in 1963 comes amid unsettled times for the program. The University of Virginia decided last year it would end its role as the sole academic sponsor.

Also, the institute is trying to sell the MV Explorer after missing loan payments, according to multiple reports. The nonprofit group signed a deal with a German bank in a bid to keep creditors at bay.

In a website posting in November, Lauren Judge of the institute said the agreement keeps the vessel in ISE hands until May 15. If it’s not sold by then, the bank becomes the owner, she said.

The ship, built in 2002 in Germany, is similar to a cruise ship — about 600 feet long with seven decks and passenger capacity of 836.

Judge said the institute is on solid financial footing and looking at four other vessels for future voyages.

Categories: KUSI