Meet the MV Explorer: Semester at Sea’s Former Ship

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We’ve been through with our Semester at Sea voyage for six days now—though I gather it’s an experience I will think about daily for years to come, if not the rest of my life—and I have to say I’m quite nostalgic for my floating home. While there are plenty of people around the world who live on cruise ships full time as a profession, it was a new, different—and most importantly—incredibly fun experience for me, and I savored every second above our beloved marine vessel. Many of you asked to see what our digs looked like, so I thought I’d give you a brief walk-through of the MV Explorer; be sure and hang with me until the end for a full video tour.

MV Explorer ship | Semester at Sea | Camels & Chocolate

A few facts about the MV Explorer: She’s 590 feet long, can cruise along at a speedy clip of up to 28 knots (though she tends to average around 20) and can accommodate 836 passengers. Our voyage included around 700 passengers (450 students; 100 Lifelong Learners; 100+ staff, faculty and family members), plus the 200 crew who live on the ship full time (or rather on an eight month-on, two month-off contract basis).

Isn’t she a beauty? There are seven levels (called decks), and while there were elevators at both the bow and stern, I always found myself taking the stairs. (I’m terrified of elevators.)

MV Explorer ship | Semester at Sea | Camels & Chocolate

Four of the decks house passengers. We lived in cabin 5043, which was in a heavily trafficked area between Tymitz Square and the dining room (meaning, it was often very loud). Yes, we slept in separate beds for four months (our furniture was bolted to the floor). But it was totally cozy and perfectly comfortable—plus, for four months, somebody cleaned our cabin and made our beds every day for us…you really can’t beat that.

MV Explorer ship | Semester at Sea | Camels & Chocolate

Tymitz Square on Deck 5 is the ship’s epicenter. It’s also where my office was, as well as the student life/field office desk that I manned a couple hours a day.

MV Explorer ship | Semester at Sea | Camels & Chocolate

Speaking of my office, here’s another glance at the nice space the Field Office occupies. We had two windows offering port views of the ocean—not too shabby!

MV Explorer ship | Semester at Sea | Camels & Chocolate

Our office was connected both to the admin office, where assistant executive dean Laurie (aka The Voice) and Trina set up camp, and the dean of students office, where both Mamta and Kat could often be found. This proximity to such awesome people was often dangerous for my productivity, as more often than not I wanted to be in one of these two offices that weren’t mine socializing with these lovely ladies.

MV Explorer ship | Semester at Sea | Camels & Chocolate

Deck 6 is where many of the communal spaces are located. There’s a Campus Store, which has a variety of Semester at Sea paraphernalia, as well as toiletries and other odds and ends. A whole lot of my paycheck went to this store. (I’m typing this while wearing SAS sweats, a purple SAS sweatshirt and SAS socks.)

MV Explorer ship | Semester at Sea | Camels & Chocolate

There are nine classrooms where the students had class. I can’t say I spent any time inside any of these!

MV Explorer ship | Semester at Sea | Camels & Chocolate

There’s a Piano Lounge and coffee bar where students study and acoustic nights are held, and various nooks and crannies throughout the deck house art exhibits, geodes and the like.

MV Explorer ship | Semester at Sea | Camels & Chocolate

Also on Deck 6, there’s an IT Lab with communal computers and an 8,000-volume Library.

MV Explorer ship | Semester at Sea | Camels & Chocolate

And then there’s the Union, which seats 380 and holds a whole lot more than that on the ground and in the aisles, where many lectures and nighttime activities were held.

MV Explorer ship | Semester at Sea | Camels & ChocolateThere are two dining rooms, the more casual Garden Lounge on Deck 6, which also has an outside dining area, and the Main Dining Room on Deck 5, which is a bit more formal.

MV Explorer ship | Semester at Sea | Camels & Chocolate

Most dinners we ate in the Main Dining Room, but I spent most of my lunches (and some warmer evenings) dining alfresco.

MV Explorer ship | Semester at Sea | Camels & Chocolate

Glazer Lounge is where all the staff and faculty hang out. It’s our “safe space” where we can seek quiet and solace from the rest of the community, as well as (most importantly) have a libation or two at happy hour (5 to 6:30pm) and mingle late night (9pm until the last bar-goer leaves). Not to mention, we get to enjoy the best view in the house!

MV Explorer ship | Semester at Sea | Camels & Chocolate

One nook in particular we claimed early on in the voyage and continued to occupy every day come 5pm.

MV Explorer ship | Semester at Sea | Camels & Chocolate

Many a late-night dance party also took place up in Glazer.

MV Explorer ship | Semester at Sea | Camels & Chocolate

The Pool Deck was one of my favorite places to spend an hour or two away from the office. On most days, there are lounge chairs everywhere for laying out. There’s also a snack bar where you can purchase $2.50 burgers, $5 pizzas and a bevy of other treats.

MV Explorer ship | Semester at Sea | Camels & Chocolate

The pool isn’t huge, but big enough to jump in and cool off during those steamy, hot days off the coast of Southeast Asia.

MV Explorer ship | Semester at Sea | Camels & Chocolate

I also spent a good amount of time on the basketball/volleyball/dodgeball/every-ball court, where the intramurals all took place.

MV Explorer ship | Semester at Sea | Camels & ChocolateThroughout the voyage, many tours are given to the bridge to see where all the magic happens. On the last week of the voyage, I finally went on one myself.

MV Explorer ship | Semester at Sea | Camels & Chocolate

You even get to sit on the captain’s chair and wear his hat!

MV Explorer ship | Semester at Sea | Camels & Chocolate

And it’s cool checking out all the navigational equipment and learning how the ship operates.

MV Explorer ship | Semester at Sea | Camels & Chocolate

There are multiple viewing platforms on decks 5, 6 and 7 from which passengers can admire the scenery.

MV Explorer ship | Semester at Sea | Camels & Chocolate

And while there is no landing pad on the ship, she’s fully capable of helicopter rescues, too. One passenger had an emergency the day before we docked in Fort Lauderdale, so the Coast Guard flew in (literally) and performed a medical evacuation while the ship sped along (apparently, we had to pick up speed for this to happen, as the ship rocks less the faster it moves).

MV Explorer ship | Semester at Sea | Camels & Chocolate

SVV snapped a few shots of the rescue. It was a bit surreal looking out your window and seeing a chopper hovering just above the ship.

MV Explorer ship | Semester at Sea | Camels & Chocolate

And because this might be the most awesome thing to come out of our voyage—and because the videographer, Andrew Centofante, is a multimedia god (and just all-around nice guy)—you must click and watch this video of our ship-wide lip dub, appropriately titled SEADUB, which we did all in one take without practice.

I can’t watch this video without getting all teary over the experiences the 700 of us shared these past four months, and I doubt there will ever be a time when this isn’t the case. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at Andrew’s vision and what it took to pull this off.

COMMENTS
  • December 18, 2011

    That video is the most awesome thing I have seen in a while! It sounds like you guys had a fantastic adventure! What an amazing opportunity!

  • December 18, 2011

    Thank you for sharing this experience with us. I am glad that I found your site at the beginning of the year and followed you since. It was awesome meeting Scott and yourself while you were in Tokyo. I loved hearing both of you talk about the experiences you were having with SAS.
    I have to say that your posts, images and videos have really highlighted the program and made myself and several others interested in it. Being on a Navy ship the past two years, I never thought I’d say I wanted to take another long cruise, but I see a lot of benefits in that program.
    I hope that despite their youth, many of the students realize the importance of the mission they were on and how positive travel helps how the world sees us all.
    It’s been a great year of travel for you and Scott and I’m happy to have enjoyed it from my corners of the world. Happy holidays!

    • December 18, 2011
      Kristin

      I was never into cruising before–not that this was a cruise; they are very quick to say “it’s not a cruise, it’s a voyage”–however now I’m totally addicting to traveling by ship and hope to do much more of it in the years to come. Particularly, as I finally found a way to cure my ever-present seasickness: scopolamine patches.

      (And I, too, am so glad you “found” us and that we got to meet in Japan–just the first meet-up of many to come!)

  • December 18, 2011

    Amazing video – I just loved the SEADUB! I’m a little nostalgic… for your trip! Feel like you took us all along with you – what a ride =)

    • December 18, 2011
      Kristin

      I know! It’s weird to think that even if I ever get the good fortune to go again, it will never be the same as it will be a totally different cast of characters, line-up of countries, etc. Luckily, I have hundreds of gigs of photos and videos to keep these memories alive!

  • December 18, 2011

    Amazing! The video got me all teary as well. What an incredible journey; thanks for brining us along.

    • December 18, 2011
      Kristin

      And thank you for following! =)

  • December 18, 2011
    Briel K.

    What a great video! I got a bit misty eyed and I don’t even know any of the people so I can’t imagine how you feel watching it. 🙂

  • December 18, 2011

    That video was AMAZING!! I was getting teary eyed near the end too. What an experience that certainly must have been. I may just have to show this to my grade six students to show them the options they have. So cool!

  • December 19, 2011

    This has been an amazing journey and I’m really glad to have gone along. I might even think of a cruise/voyage someday.

  • December 19, 2011

    Holy shit, I’m pretty sure that ship is bigger than my college campus was. I love how it’s cozy and enormous at the same time!

  • December 19, 2011

    Amazing video! Made me nostalgic for a weird combination of my college campus in Brooklyn and the Mediterranean cruise I took this summer….

  • December 19, 2011
    Catalina

    Beautiful! I had to open up the Semester At Sea website to see how to go :). And I loved seeing my flag (Argentina) waved quite a lot.

    • December 21, 2011
      Kristin

      Ahhh you should totally go! I don’t think we had any Argentinean representation on our voyage. That clearly needs to change =)

  • December 19, 2011

    I want to know what you are dancing to.

    • December 19, 2011
      Kristin

      If I had to guess, I would say it’s probably Lady Gaga. We were on a big Gaga kick these past few months (just wait until you see the talent show routine…).

  • December 19, 2011
    Lauren

    I didn’t even go on the trip and that video made me teary. It’s been so fun to watch you go on this journey! My former boss and several of my current and former colleagues have served as Resident Directors (we all work in Residence Life – no shock, I’m sure) on recentish voyages and speak with the same nostalgia that you do. Can’t wait to share this video with them!

    Welcome home!

    • December 19, 2011
      Kristin

      Oh, that’s so fun! The student life/LLC team (that’s what they called them this voyage…next, I think they’re going back to calling them RDs) was awesome. Are you considering joining the SAS ranks, as well??

      • December 19, 2011
        Lauren

        I’d love to give it a whirl at some point. I’ve had an interest in SAS since I was 19 and there was a season of Road Rules aboard the ship. My partner works in theatre casting and wouldn’t be able to get away to join me, which I think would be tough for us. I don’t think that NYU would let me take a leave of absence for a semester, either, so it would have to be if I were in between jobs. Definitely a life list kind of dream for now!

  • December 19, 2011

    That video is so fantastic! The coordination of that many people and moving parts is really impressive. And what a great video for SAS to have on hand if anyone is on the fence about going!

    • December 21, 2011
      Kristin

      I am still blown away that they managed one continuous take of a 10-minute-long dub and finished where they were supposed to be at the exact moment. The photographer actually pushed the videographer through the ship on a wheelchair for speed as well as to make the shots more fluid!

  • December 19, 2011

    Wow! What an awesome video! I got teary eyes watching it and I wasn’t even on the ship or know anyone there. This is definitely one of my favorite trip from you by far!

    • December 19, 2011
      Kristin

      Thank you, Amy! I’m hoping it’s just the first of many voyages I get to do over my lifetime (*fingers crossed*).

  • December 19, 2011
    spency

    Nice post, your actually a NINJA_photographer
    however…..
    Is that a uncredited disco SAWfoto I spy
    :),

    • December 19, 2011
      Kristin

      Ha which one? Trina and me cutting a rug? it was on my camera so I just assumed Scott took it…

      • December 19, 2011
        Kristin

        That said, I’m totally waiting (patiently…hrm) for some SAWfoto-branded Gaga photos to do a talent show post! 😉

    • December 20, 2011
      SVV

      Ya, which one dude?

  • December 19, 2011

    Amazing in every possible way (the boat, this post, that video, the last several months of your life and corresponding posts and videos, etc.). I can’t wait to see what adventures you have next!

    xox

  • December 19, 2011

    What an amazing life experience. I’ve never been on any kind of large ship like this. Great pics, thanks for sharing.

    • December 21, 2011
      Kristin

      The funny thing is it’s actually considered a “small” ship (at least in terms of cruise ships). It accommodates 836 passengers, whereas many of these cruise ships now hold up to 8,000! I can’t even imagine. But I think the M/V Explorer is absolutely perfect in terms of size and amenities for a RTW voyage.

  • December 20, 2011

    Woah — that seemed to go by really quickly! What a truly amazing experience … I’m sure you will never forget it! And who knows – you may find yourself on board another ship, traveling for months again … you never know! But for now: welcome back to the States 🙂

    • December 21, 2011
      Kristin

      There’s no “may” about it…how about more like “definitely?” But yes, it did go by rather quickly, huh? =)

  • December 26, 2011

    Truly incredible! I wish that I had done this when I was in Uni.

  • December 27, 2011

    What an amazing experience!!

  • April 26, 2014

    Wow! What an awesome images, I got weepy eyes viewing it and I wasn’t even on the ship or know anybody there. This is unquestionably one of my most loved excursion from you without a doubt!

  • May 1, 2014

    Wonderful post..!! What an incredible life expertise. I’ve ne’er been on any quite giant ship like this. Great pics, thanks for sharing.

  • May 31, 2014

    Wow! What Associate in Nursing awing video! I got tearful eyes observation it and that i wasn’t even on the ship or grasp anyone there. this is often undoubtedly one amongst my favorite trip from you by far!

  • May 31, 2014

    I never thought I’d say I wanted to require another long cruise, however I see legion benefits in this program.

  • May 31, 2018
    CANBERK

    Wow, this was a real nostalgia, good times on vessel while working as 3rd Officer. It was my 3rd ship, so sad that she’s gone.

    • June 4, 2018

      That’s so awesome! I worked four voyages on the MV Explorer and really miss that ship.

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