Tips for Future Voyagers

Semester at Sea Fall 2012 Voyage Preparations

For Specific Questions, feel free to email me at, but I find that my fellow shipmate, Avery did a great job in answering so many here.

So as you can imagine, preparation for this trip is anything but simple. Just when you think that all you need to do is to purchase your schoolbooks and to pack your bags, you receive yet another email detailing another facet of your preparation, but then again, for me, this only makes the experience that more exciting. It also makes August 23rd seem that much closer. I’ve had a countdown on my laptop for about six months now, and quite frankly, I can’t believe that that date is only 23 days away! For your curious mind’s delight, here is a simplified version of the detailed preparation list sent to us by the Shipboard Institute:

I. MyVoyage

Voyage Forms All items listed below must be submitted in order to board the ship in January.

Medical History Form ␣ Due Friday, August 3, 2012. Please submit directly to MHG

Passport Copy Received ␣ Scan and email a copy (jpg) of the first page of your passport to Make sure you sign your passport!

Passport-­sized Photo ␣ Scan and email a 2×2 passport photo (jpg) to Please do not attempt to crop or resize the photo

Release/Consent, Code of Conduct, FERPA, and UVa Honor Code Forms Submitted electronically.

Updated Transcript ␣ Mail or email a copy of your Spring 2012 Quarter/Semester grades.

Emergency Contact Form ␣ Emergency contact information can be viewed via the My Profile

II. Required Travel Documents

You will not be able to board the ship without a valid passport. Visas. Currently, U.S. and Canadian passport holders will need to obtain visas for entry into Brazil and Ghana.

Yellow Fever Vaccination is required for entry into Ghana and DominicaYou will not be able to board the ship in Halifax without the official Yellow Fever Certificate (a yellow card) or a letter of exemption from your physician indicating the reasons for not having the vaccination.

Immunizations and Malaria Prevention. CDC and international health requirements mandate yellow fever inoculation and strongly suggest malaria prophylaxis.The fall voyage will be entering areas where malaria is likely to be present which could present health risks for you.

III. Port Location

Make hotel and flight reservations. We strongly recommend that you arrive in Halifax, Nova Scotia the day prior to embarkation (August 22, 2012) as the ship will not delay departure to wait for late-­ arriving students. The ship will be docked the Port of Halifax in Nova Scotia, Canada. Check-­in on August 23 will be from 0800 ␣ 1200. Book your return flight from Fort Lauderdale, FL after 1700 on December 7, 2012 due to the time it typically takes to clear U.S. Customs and Immigration.

The MV Explorer will dock at the Port of Halifax in Nova Scotia, Canada. For over 250 years the Port of Halifax has remained a cornerstone of economic activity for the city, the region and the province as a whole.

The MV Explorer will dock at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Located In the heart of Greater Fort Lauderdale and the City of Hollywood, FL, Port Everglades is one of the busiest cruise ports in the world.

IV. Payment Options

Full payment for the fall voyage is due May 25, 2012. An invoice will be mailed to the address listed

your My Profile page -­ invoices are not available online. Program fees vary depending on your cabin type.


Packing List


The following packing list is one compiled from the ISE suggested packing list and one from a previous voyager (edited to include things that I thought were useful and exclude the things not useful):

CLOTHING/ACCESORIES ␣ Underwear ␣ Undershirts ␣ Socks ␣ Shorts ␣ Jeans/Khakis ␣ Skirts (one long one recommended) ␣ T-­shirts (but not too many ␣ you will buy many along the way) ␣ Sweater/Hoody ␣ temperature on the ship is generally COLD. ␣ Jacket (light/medium weight) ␣ Rain gear(coat) ␣ Comfortable shoes (sneakers and sandals) ␣ Sunglasses ␣ Watch ␣ Hat(s)/Visor(s) ␣ Swimwear ␣ Formal wear for the Alumni Ball ␣ Pajamas␣
␣Bras/sports bras␣
␣dressy shoes 
Moccasins: or slippers, ␣ workout/running sneakers – vibrams are great under any conditions!

TOILETRIES ␣ Shampoo/Conditioner (dry shampoo)… burt’s bees face wipes x3? ␣ Toothbrush(es), Toothpaste, & Mouthwash ␣ hand sanitizer Deodorant ␣ Razor(s), & Shaving cream/gel ␣ Liquid body soap (bars for weight) ␣ diva cup? Scrub sponge ␣ Comb/brush ␣ Hair products ␣ Contact lenses and supplies (solution( (if applicable) and/or Prescription eyeglasses ␣ Gender specific toiletries ␣laundry and dish soap/febreeze ␣bug spray with deet ␣laundry bag ␣tweezers␣ sea sickness wristband␣Tide to go pen␣Bobby Pins
Clips␣q-tips Autoshut off straghtener ␣Hair elastics ␣Floss
␣Face moisturizer ␣Makeup␣Sun screen
␣Shaving cream: or just get one of those razors with the shaving gel built into it␣Face wash
␣Toothbrush (two, one for travel, one that is stationary in your bathroom)
␣Nail clippers
␣Hair brush


Copy of license of 
Medical documentation/
Documentation of inoculations 
 ␣ Any prescription medication ␣ Sleep Aids : Tylenol PM, Benadryl ␣ Benadryl for allergic reactions, nausea ␣ Pepto Bismol ␣ Imodium ␣ Hand sanitizer ␣ Echinacea, zinc lozenges or other immune boosters (EmergenC or Airborne) ␣ Sunscreen ␣ Bug spray with DEET (non-­aerosol) ␣ Small first-­aid kit with band-­aids ␣ Vitamins/iron
␣Melatonin: awesome for when you can’t sleep, ␣caffeine pills

ELECTRONICS ␣ Travel alarm clock ␣ Camera ␣ Memory cards/film ␣ Flash drive ␣ Laptop (if you are bringing one) ␣ Install and Recovery CDs for all software and operating systems on your laptop ␣ IPOD & Headphones ␣ Small flashlight and batteries ␣Chargers! External hard drive ␣ 
Chargers for all electronics i.e. phone, tablet, camera, pc ␣Extra
 memory cards␣
Cords for computer

FOOD—Cereal, Nuts, Snacks, etc: these kept me alive. Gum, Tea, Crystal Lite, Peanut Butter (The ship has, but it runs out!)

copies of passport photos/extra passport photos
,Visas and copies of them, SAS paperwork, List of emergency contacts, Address book and envelopes

Post its: This will be your text messaging to one another ␣Textbooks: get them sent to the ship from the UVA bookstore or save money and space in your luggage buying them electronically for your computer and/or tablet, sharpies
␣Pens ␣Pencils
␣Cue cards, Highlighters ␣Calculator(means of bartering in countries) ␣scissors ␣Tape: (Will be used to tape your drawers closed during waves) ␣A USB flash-­memory device (thumb drive) ␣Binder separators/paper for school ␣Magnets: I didn’t bring enough. Bring lots of STRONG magnets ␣Duct tape for drawers

MISCELLANEOUS Many items on this list are suggestions from Alumni ␣ Credit/Debit cards -­ Notify the company of your itinerary ␣ Cash -­ A supply of $1 bills is always convenient , Emergency $50.00 in an envelope ␣ Money belt ␣ School supplies -­ Pens/pencils, notebooks, etc. ␣ Magnets -­ Tape is prohibited in cabins and most walls are magnetic. Dry Erase Board with Markers ␣ Use magnets to hang outside your cabin. ␣ Water Bottle ␣ Filtered water is available 24/7 in the Garden Lounge. ␣ Thermos or Mug ␣ Hot water is also available 24/7 in the Garden Lounge. ␣ Laundry Detergent ␣ You may want to wash smaller items in your bathroom sink. /blanket? ␣ Beach towel (hot yoga towel that rolls up into little ball) ␣ Bath towels are provided, but cannot be taken off the ship! ␣ Sleeping bag -­ Not required, but if you want yours, bring it! ␣ Overnight backpack and/or Daypack ␣ Useful for traveling in port. ␣ Small items for people you meet along the way (postcards from your hometown, stickers, coloring books, etc.) ␣ Always ask permission before giving gifts to children. ␣ Journal ␣ Business cards/supplies for networking ␣ An easy way to exchange information with people on the ship and in port. ␣ Musical Instrument and Sheet Music ␣ Guitars and other smaller instruments are allowed as long as they are stored in your cabin. ␣ Quart-­sized plastic bags ␣ Similar to American standards, one quart re-­sealable bags are required for gels and liquids on most flights. Birthday, Valentine, Halloween, or Thanksgiving cards ␣ umbrella␣birthday cards// travel mug(s) ␣travel size flashlight␣.
I kit with a knife, fork, and spoon␣Clothes pins␣DVDs␣ workout DVDs to form group workout classes i.e. Zumba and Insanity


  • I would recommend buying your textbooks beforehand (on your computer and/or tablet) and bringing them, unless you really have a weight problem, have them delivered to your cabin through the University of Virginia bookstore
  • Bring twice as much underwear as you think that you will need.
  • If you play an instrument and/or have a ‘special talent’ tool, consider bringing it! –You can entertain your shipmates and share your talent at the Talent Show/ at the numerous open-mic nights
  • If necessary, bring EXTRA PIERCING JEWELRY; nothing is worse than having a new piercing and not being able to replace a lost piece in port fast enough.
  • Consider bringing a file folder to keep souvenirs like tickets, receipts, etc
  • Bring Duffle bags as your suitcases, which are lighter than suitcases and can be easily condensed and stored under your bed; the ship doesn’t really have too many rules regarding how much you bring.
  • extra blanket/sleeping bag (they have an outdoor sleepover thing and they yell at you if you take the blankets from the cabins)
  • YOUR PILLOW PET... I know you have one. * I would recommend any small travel pillow, animal-themed or not, especially for overnight trips/ long commutes in the different countries
  • SWEATS ON SWEATS ON SWEATS the ship is cold!!! The AC is on 24/7 –bring a few staples of warm clothing, things you would wear for the fall… layers are key! *most people wear yoga pants/other ‘relaxed’ clothing on the ship
  • Water bottle…. This is from some past students I talked to.. They said the water in the room tastes terrible SO bring a large water bottle to fill up in the cafeteria or what ever it is.

– I didn’t have a problem with it, but then again, I’m used to drinking sink water.

  • Backup/disposable camera- consider getting a Gopro or an underwater camera, if planning to do ‘adventury’ things
  • Bring a harddrive! You will be exchanging so many things like movies, photos, videos, TV shows.
  • Make sure you close all the bottles in the shower- the bottles can tip and then next time you shower you wont have anything to use : (
  • If you are feeling adventurous and willing to compromise with brands, you could bring a small bottles of shampoo/toiletries onboard and buy these products in the first country -The same applies with laundry detergent, if you are planning to hand wash your clothes. I handwashed my clothes about three times, but ended up giving in to paying the $6 a bag, which are relatively the size of a medium garbage bag and can be stuffed to the brim.
  • Consider bringing clothes/toiletries that you plan to donate along the way
  • As was said before, Textbooks: get them sent to the ship from the UVA bookstore or save money and space in your luggage buying them electronically for your computer and/or tablet

________ ________ ________


It’s certainly very challenging to imagine everything that you’ll need for four months, considering external factors like weather and/or what activities you will be participating. With that said, as a compulsive over-packer, I have honestly had to repeat the phrase “less is more” to avoid me literally packing my life away. Anyway, this is what it looks like:
1. Necessary Documentation, Including Visas for Brazil and Ghana
2. Absentee Voting Form
3. Clothing
4. Toiletries
5. School Supplies (courtesy of my roommate Bridget Brummer <;;3)
…More School Supplies
6. My Friends’ Contributions to the Children I plan to Serve
…and My Personal Contribution (Minus the Dog 🙂
7. Backpack for Overnight Trips
8. … And it all becomes this:

Don Gogniat’s 10 Travel Tips


Although I’ve been to over 30 countries, I still don’t feel confident enough giving ‘travel tips’, especially considering the people whom I’ve met that have traveled to at least 100, so from someone who does this for a living, here are 10 travel tips that I think can certainly go a long way!


1. Never let your age get larger than the number of countries you have explored.

2. Keep your feet on the ground
• walking lets you interact

3. It’s all about people
• Unless you need to be recharged and then maybe it’s all about nature

4. The more you know, the more interesting it is.
• Learn the language and study the country before

5. Find the essence of a country or place; dip a postcard in it and mail it home to yourself.

6. Take time to really enjoy the smell of the roses.

7. Meet people with a smile (both ways).

8. Listen with your ears and your heart; walk a distance in their shoes.

9. Slow down; sit on a park bench for one hour and just look around.

10. From travel, learn and practice kindness and humility.

HOW TO BE ‘SHIPSTER’: SAS Dos and Don’ts


  • Try to burn the memories into your mind not your memory card!
  • Blog about the food
  • Pack snacks, blanket,
  • Bring a camera or a device with a camera like a phone with you everywhere
  • If you’re not already, become acquainted with military time
  • Please follow the rules and don’t get caught with weed or any other drugs in your system!!! 6 out of the 12 people who were randomly tested, caught with drugs in their system, and were put on probation on our voyage; some sacrificed the rest of their voyage because of it.
  • Bring a converter with you on your overnight trips…or you’ll be camera/phone/ and/or computer less for that time!
  • If you have a Mac, back it up and turn it off at sea…like it did mine and a few others, if it’s on sleep/hibernate and not completely shut off, the rocking of the ship may cause the harddrive in your computer to crash.
  • If a DSLR is your only recording device, consider packing a smaller camera/phone for expeditions dangerous for such a large camera/for nights out
  • The monthly safety drills require you to wear close-toed shoes and long sleeve shirts, so don’t forget to pack them!
  • Consider finding out how far the ship is from where your ultimate destination in each port is, as your proximity to the ship will, in many ways, determine your ‘survival budget’, your needs for food/housing/ and whether or not you spend money on commuting with cabs or can walk or take trains to/from the ship
  • Before leaving a country/ common currency zone, make sure to transfer back all of your money back into your account or to use it all up, as exchange rates can vary greatly from country to country depending on the currency being exchanged.
  • Take more videos- Consider making a video for your family/friends when you return of compiled pictures and videos from your journey; if a picture is worth a thousand words, imagine hundreds of images compiled in a 10 minute video?
  • Make sure to get all your friends in the group pictures- don’t be afraid to ask others to take the picture for you!
  • From a previous voyager, which I agree with: “when I went, I literally planned NOTHING in advance…. I didn’t even look into a lot of the countries until we learned about them in Global Studies, so if you’re going to wing it completely, you will do just fine, promise.” –Feel free to disregard any/all of the tips provided above… this trip is your unique journey, so make it yours, and do what you feel is best for you!

More Blogs!

Smokestack Pics-1324

Want more information on SAS and inside scoops on what happends before, during, and after a voyage? Check out the following blogs from my Fall ’12 voyage!

What to do in Rio de Janeiro:

My cousins, embarking on what I can assure will be an amazing vacation to Rio, asked me to send them suggestions of what to do in this beautiful place, so here it is!


1. Go to Corcovado Mountain- where the Jesus statue is

2. Parasail off one of the mountains (I believe it’s Corcovado) onto the beach/ go on a helicopter tour of the City– you’ll see the Jesus statue, among other things

3. Go to Sugar Loaf — sunrise/sunset — AMAZING VIEW!

4. Have an Acai slushy/ice cream thing — I love it with banana and granola!

5. Try to get to a soccer game (even if you hate soccer– the atmosphere is great! -people dancing all over the place — no drinks inside though!)


7. Have a Caipirinha! -WARNING: will get you drunk in no time (even if you’re not a lightweight like me!)

8. Go to the markets on Sunday — especially the one in Copacabana!

9. Don’t be afraid to speak Spanish– most of them understand you!

10. Go to El Selaron Stairs– Created from Tiles from all over the world!



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s