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.
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.)
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.)
There are nine classrooms where the students had class. I can’t say I spent any time inside any of these!
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.
Also on Deck 6, there’s an IT Lab with communal computers and an 8,000-volume Library.
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.
There 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.
Most dinners we ate in the Main Dining Room, but I spent most of my lunches (and some warmer evenings) dining alfresco.
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!
One nook in particular we claimed early on in the voyage and continued to occupy every day come 5pm.
Many a late-night dance party also took place up in Glazer.
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.
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.
I also spent a good amount of time on the basketball/volleyball/dodgeball/every-ball court, where the intramurals all took place.
Throughout 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.
You even get to sit on the captain’s chair and wear his hat!
And it’s cool checking out all the navigational equipment and learning how the ship operates.
There are multiple viewing platforms on decks 5, 6 and 7 from which passengers can admire the scenery.
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).
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.
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.