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  • Writer's pictureMeghan Pruitt

How Much does Semester at Sea Really Cost???

Updated: Nov 15, 2023

It's no secret that Semester at Sea is one of the most, if not THE most expensive study abroad program out there. I mean you are living on a ship traveling the world so it's going to be costly.

I did tons of research before going on SAS and there aren't too many resources out there that truly break everything down. I kept track of EVERYTHING I spent before the voyage and during.

Today I will be breaking down everything I spent (and estimates for future voyagers) for Semester at Sea. This includes...

-Pre-embarkation costs (visas, immunizations, prescriptions, flights, etc.)

-Program costs

-How much I spent traveling in each country

-On ship expenses

-How much $$ I got in scholarships

-The grand total of how much I spent on SAS

Check out my YouTube video explaining all of these costs here!

I want to preface before getting into the blog that I am sharing this with you all for informative purposes. I hope to help any future sasers prepare for their journey as I give you accurate numbers that one could expect to spend.

Pre-Embarkation Costs

◦ If you decide you want to do Semester at Sea, you must complete the application first. There is an application fee of $75 (as of the Fall 2022 voyage).

◦ Once you are accepted, then you will have to pay a $1,000 deposit to secure your cabin spot. The earlier you pay this the better chance you have at getting whichever cabin you like. This deposit will go towards your total program costs.

◦ You will also have to pay your entire program cost before you embark. I enrolled in a payment plan that allows you to make payments each month up until the voyage begins. This was nice as I had more time to pay in installments instead of all at once. This was a $50 enrollment fee but I received a $250 shipboard credit once on the ship.

These were the costs I paid to sas before the voyage other than tuition and room&board (I will cover this under Program Costs). Now I will cover pre-embarkation costs that are additional expenses.

◦ Next up is Visas. I only had to get two... but this number will vary depending on the voyage. The India one is a lot cheaper than what I paid however I struggled obtaining it on my own so I used Travisa (a travel document service) which made it more expensive.

India Visa- $222

Kenya Visa- $53

Semester at Sea estimates that visas will cost you $750. If you only have a couple of visas I think this number is a little high but again, it depends on the itinerary.

Travel vaccines can be pretty costly! Expect to spend around $200-$300 for a yellow fever vaccine. This was the only required vaccine for my voyage and this is typical for a lot of voyages. I did end up getting two additional shots so my total came out to $675.

Passport: I purchased a new passport before the voyage with 52 pages for $130. SAS recommends to do so since you will get a lot of stamps.

Flights: My voyage embarked in Amsterdam so each voyager must travel to the ship for embarkation. I spent $5 since I used miles to book my flight. But expect to spend up to $1000 for a one-way international flight.

Prescriptions: SAS requires you to get malaria pills if you are going to affected countries. I also got a travelers diarrhea just incase which SAS recommends. This cost me $0 as my insurance covered these costs.

NSCS: I enrolled for the National Society of Collegiate Scholars about two years before my voyage. This company has a scholarship designated to Semester at Sea so I decided to pay the $100 enrollment fee in order to apply for this scholarship. It ended up paying off (see the scholarship section below). But this is not a typical cost for most voyagers!

Field Programs: If you wish to purchase guided travel through Semester at Sea you will pay for this before you embark. I only purchased one for India which I will include in my in country travel expenses.

Textbooks: You will have a textbook for most of your classes however I found free pdfs online for all of mine except for one. I ended up paying $20 for textbooks.

Personal Items: This includes everything you will need to purchase to study abroad for 4 months. Some examples of what I bought were rolling duffles, travel backpack, scrubba, medicines, snacks, etc. This total for me came out to $967.46. I would say this number is on the higher end as I came very prepared lol... this can range from $100-$1000.

This is a picture of everything I bought excluding clothes... as you can see its a lot.

All of these costs total up to: $2,310.04 These costs will vary and it is easy to keep this number low!

Program Costs

You will need to pay tuition, room&board and a fuel fee before you get on the ship to SAS. All of these costs will be reflected on your SAS portal where you can make payments.

Tuition: Everyones tuition is $21,279. Your credits are coming from Colorado State University.

Room/Board: This cost will vary depending on which cabin type you have.

"Adventure" Double Bunk (2 ppl)- $4,045

"Discovery Triple" Inside (3 ppl) - $4,045

"Discovery Double" Inside (2 ppl) - $7,045

"Ocean Triple" Outside (3 ppl) - $7,045

"Ocean Double" Outisde (2 ppl) - $10,045

As you can see these prices vary a lot. If you want to secure a cheaper cabin then I recommend applying and paying your deposit as early as possible since the cheaper cabins fill up the quickest.

Fuel Fee: The original fuel fee for my voyage was $1,550. This varies depending on the itinerary for your voyage. We had an additional fuel surcharge which we paid during the voyage (I will cover this on my shipboard expenses).

The total program costs for my voyage varied from $26,874-$32,874. I paid the highest amount since I had an ocean double cabin. Make sure to check on the Semester at Sea website for your specific voyage to get accurate pricing.

In Country Travel Expenses

This is probably my most asked question, and for good reason. Semester at Sea does not have too much information on how much to expect to spend while you're in port. Luckily, I wrote down every single cost I had while in each country!


Accommodation- I stayed in an Airbnb in Lisbon for two nights for $70.

Food/Drinks- $85.25

Excursions/Tours- We took a couple of tuktuk & golf cart tours of Lisbon and Sintra for $33.

Souvenirs/Gifts- $38.25

Transportation- We walked a lot but took a few trains and Uber's to get from one city to another for $20.25.

Clothes- $12

Total: $258.80


Accommodation- I don't have an exact amount for accommodations since I booked an all inclusive tour that included this in the price. This total price is listed under excursions.

Food/Drinks- Lunches were not included in the tour so I paid a total of $57.90 for 6 days.

Excursions/Tours- We booked a tour with Viajeen Maurrecos for a total of $263.66 which included a jeep and camel ride through the sand dunes.

Souvenirs/Gifts- $19.50

Transportation- $0

Clothes- $30

Total: $374.16


Accommodation- We booked an apartment in Barcelona for 3 nights for $128.16.

Food/Drinks- $68.80

Excursions/Tours- $46.26

Souvenirs/Gifts- $40.12

Transportation- I spent $127.88 for 6 days in Spain on a bus ride from Valencia to Barcelona and lots of ubers in Barcelona.

Clothes- $97.88

Total: $509


Accommodation- We stayed in a hotel for 1 night in Split for $24 each.

Food/Drinks- $97.20

Excursions/Tours- $154.86

Souvenirs/Gifts- $79.29

Transportation- $60.51

Clothes- $0

Total: $416.66


Accommodation- I stayed in Christina's Cave House in Santorini for 2 nights for $89.76.

Food/Drinks- $69.40

Excursions/Tours- I went on a Santorini volcano & hot springs tour as well as a Santorini Island tour for a total of $122.25.

Souvenirs/Gifts- $96.90

Transportation- I took a flight to Santorini on RyanAir as well as ubers around Athens and Santorini for $129.23

Clothes- $33.90

Total: $541.44


Accommodation- I stayed in an Airbnb in Paphos for 3 nights for $70.65

Food/Drinks- $48.35

Excursions/Tours- I went parasailing in Paphos for $42.97

Souvenirs/Gifts- $73.72

Transportation- $22

Clothes- $0

Total: $257.69


Accommodation- I don't have an exact amount for accommodations since I booked an all inclusive tour that included this in the price. This total price is listed under excursions.

Food/Drinks- $29.53

Excursions/Tours- I had an all inclusive tour through Jordan Drive Tribe for $626.53.

Souvenirs/Gifts- $89.59

Transportation- $18.80

Clothes- $5

Total: $778


Accommodation- I don't have an exact amount for accommodations since I booked an all inclusive tour that included this in the price. This total price is listed under excursions.

Food/Drinks- $8.84

Excursions/Tours- $540

Souvenirs/Gifts- $80.75

Transportation- $8

Clothes- $0

Total: $637.60


Accommodation- I don't have an exact amount for accommodations since I booked an all inclusive tour through Semester at Sea. This total price is listed under excursions.

Food/Drinks- $3.63

Excursions/Tours- I booked a 3 day 2 night tour through Semester at Sea for $712. The total including other tours was $749.85.

Souvenirs/Gifts- $100

Transportation- $4

Clothes- $0

Total: $889.74


Accommodation- We had a hotel for one night for $50 each

Food/Drinks- $41.15

Excursions/Tours- $0

Souvenirs/Gifts- $17.98

Transportation- $32.88

Clothes- $0

Total: $141.96

Wow that is a lot of numbers! The amount spent in country will vary from person to person. I would say a good average for people that want to stay in hotels, airbnbs, etc and travel to different cities is $500 per country. This is for independent travel!

The field programs through Semester at Sea will cost you a lot more than if you were to book independently. I highly suggest independent travel as you can customize your tours and choose who you go with.

The total amount I spent traveling for all of the countries is: $4,295.75. You will find people that have a similar budget as you and similar travel styles on the ship so don't worry!

On Ship Expenses

Your expenses while on the ship are up to you for the most part. Everyones bills will vary depending on how much you spend at the snackbar, the bookstore, spa, etc.

The food in the dining halls during meal times are included in your program costs. You can purchase snacks and more food at the Pool Bar or the library. These additional expenses is where your monthly ship bills can really add up.

Here is a picture of the pool bar menu (as of the Fall 2022 voyage).

The bookstore has all of the SAS merch and extra toiletries you may need. The merch is fairly priced and good quality. The sweatshirts cost around $32 USD and a SAS blanket $35. This is also where you can purchase your world map that everyone signs at the end of the voyage.

My monthly bills: My voyage was a little bit different since we had an additional fuel surcharge. About a month before the voyage, SAS notified us that we will have to pay an additional $975 in fuel since gas prices had risen. We paid this on our monthly ship statements in addition to a $30 covid fee every month.

Month 1 Bill: $77.96

Month 2 Bill: $331.99

Month 3 Bill: $387.95

Month 4 Bill: $383.49

Total: $1,181.39

Without the fuel surcharge my total for ship expenses would have been $206.39. I would say this is on the lower end as I waited until about half of the voyage to start purchasing anything from the snack bars (highly recommend this if you want to save money).

The fuel surcharge was divided up per day which came out to about $9.26 per day. On a normal voyage this I do not think the fuel surcharge is this high?? And it could be added on during the voyage due to wind speed. My month 1 bill was lower than the others as I received a $250 shipboard credit (mentioned in the beginning of the blog).

How Much I Received in Scholarships

I received a couple of scholarships through SAS and some through my university as well. Here is what I received:

From Semester at Sea:

Communication Student Assistant "Student Vlogger"- $4,000. There are several student assistant jobs on the ship that receive this same amount. Anyone can apply for these positions however you can only apply for one so pick wisely. Most assistants will work 2 hours per day on the ship but for mine we created social media content for Semester at Sea's platforms.

Merit Grant- I received a merit grant of $1,200. Anyone can apply to this one as well.

Need Based Grant- I received a need based grant of $500.

Those are all of the scholarships I received directly through SAS. I did receive one additional scholarship that is listed on the Semester at Sea website, which was the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. You have to be a member of this society which has a $100 one time membership fee. They award four $5,000 scholarships and two $10,000 scholarship specifically for Semester at Sea voyagers.

National Society of Collegiate Scholars: I was selected for a $10,000 scholarship.

From Texas Tech University:

TTU Presidential Scholarship- I receive a $2,000 scholarship per semester from Texas Tech due to my gpa. This was able to be applied for Semester at Sea as well since TTU is affiliated with SAS. Check with your home university to see how your scholarships or financial aid will transfer for study abroad.

Study Abroad Competitive Scholarship- My home university also offers a scholarship fund specifically for study abroad students. I had to write essays and get letters of recommendations from my professors and I received $9,000 from this scholarship.

The total amount I received in scholarships is $26,700. This was obviously a huge help that covered a lot of my program costs. I spent lots of time writing essays and applying to all scholarships that I qualified for!

Flight Home:

I booked my flight back home from Dubai through Emirates which cost me $856!

How Much I Spent on Semester at Sea

Now the real question is how much was all of this? There are a lot of additional expenses that can add up.

The grand total of how much I spent on Semester at Sea is... $15,834.64! Now if I would not have applied for any scholarships the total would have been a lot more... $42,484. This is why applying for any and all scholarships is so important!

I would say on average expect to pay at least around $35,000 for SAS with no scholarships. This is a daunting number but it is very possible to get the cost down.

I started saving for Semester at Sea well in advance and I would recommend doing so as well. A big way to save money is by sleeping on the ship in port and not overspending at the pool bar (I know its hard)!

And remember you will find the right type of people to travel with that works for you. :)


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