This Enrichment Voyage was the first for some, the third for others, a reunion stand-in for SAS alumni, a family vacation, a major birthday celebration, a major anniversary celebration, an escape to warm weather, a desire to learn a little something while relaxing, a chance to unwind. Whichever the voyage, whatever the reason for coming on the voyage, people disembarked from the MV Explorer truly feeling a little bit more enriched. Here are some reflections from travelers on the Passages & Exchanges 2013 Voyage.
This is my first Enrichment Voyage. My daughter, Rasa Vella, did Semester at Sea in either 1999 or 2000 and my other daughter went to the Univ. of Pittsburgh. So, [SAS] has kind of been a part of our orbit for a long, long time. Rasa was on staff of the Summer 2007 voyage. She’s been saying ‘Let’s do this. It’s so fun.’ And so, here we are. I didn’t realize how absolutely fascinating and exciting and thrilling—and I’m talking about a peak life experience—it was going through the Panama Canal. I think some of that was due to Capt. Puckett because he prepped us so beautifully. And I was also reading David McCullough’s Book “The Path between 2 Oceans” at the time.
Ed: We’ve sailed on commercial cruise lines and one of the things that stands out here is the number of people who are eager to go in and listen to a lecture or jump in to a workshop. The attitude here versus a commercial cruise line is ‘I’m on vacation and I want to learn something.’ One of the takeaways I encountered was in Tracy Ehlers lecture when she said ‘You can be a tourist, you can be a traveler, you can explore’ and then she went on to explain the difference. And it really raised a lot of questions in my mind about how people travel today.
Barbara: One of the things I’ve done has been the meditation in the morning with Bhante. I’ve really enjoyed that. It’s been something I’ve wanted to do for a long time and I was very excited when I saw he was going on board. It’s been very good and something I hope I can continue. …I think there’s a higher percentage of travelers and explorers on this ship than there are on traditional cruise ships. We noticed that there were more people in ports going off and doing things on their own and getting away from the port.
It’s been amazing. I love meeting new people so that has been fantastic. I love going to countries I’ve never been to. The excursions have been really inspiring; I hiked a volcano and went on a Canopy Tour in Costa Rica. The community on the ship, I feel like I’m going to keep in touch with a lot of people. It’s been really refreshing.
I got an opportunity to study abroad for a full semester but I didn’t feel ready to do something that big and I thought that this [voyage] was perfect because you get an introduction to so many places in a short period of time; I thought it was perfect. The biggest surprise for me on this voyage is that I haven’t gotten lost or left behind in the countries that we’ve visited. Because we’ve been exploring on our own and that was different for me because I like safety and organization and having things planned out, but I’ve found that it can be very exciting to venture out when you’re with a group and you’re still safe at the same time but to me just exploring is OK.
It’s pretty exciting to be here and it’s a learning experience so I’m having a great time. I’ve had an opportunity to sit in on a lot of the lectures, which have been very enriching. I’ve also made a lot of friends. I had this preconceived notion that morehouse students were the youngest people on board and the only people of color and that was not the case so that was nice to see other people of color traveling on this trip.
My aunt and uncle sailed on the May  voyage and said how much they enjoyed it. My mother turned 80 this year so we wanted to do something special for her so we kind of all came on it together to come on the voyage. There are 13 of us on here all together. It’s been nice and low-key for my mom. And I love it too. I’ve enjoyed the lectures. I’ve learned things. And my kids were really surprised by the Panama Canal, so they’ve enjoyed it.
Krystle: There is a wide demographic here. It’s nice to meet some of the college students and some of the older people as well. But what’s been really nice is that everyone is here to learn and everybody’s interested in things that are going on in the world. I’ve just become more aware of what we do as tourists and our impact on the world. How important tourism is for some countries, some of the good things that we take to them and some of the bad things. I was really surprised with the lectures that were offered, some very interesting topics. We’ve learned a lot about ourselves through the self-empowerment workshops. We’ve learned a lor about every port that we’ve been to. Everything’s been interesting.
Cindy: I really enjoyed the field trips; it’s really informative to see what’s out there to see what these countries are really like instead of from a map or TV or a book. It’s really good to see it first hand. It’s our first time visiting any of these countries.
This has been a really wonderful time for us. The children have enjoyed themselves with the art workshops and the lectures and I think now they understand more why I have talked so much about Semester at Sea and why I liked it so much. Maybe some of them will come as scholars one day.
Karin: This is my third voyage. I said in 2011 and on the May 2013 [voyage] to the Baltic. I come back because I love the sea and I really get intellectually stimulated. It’s a wonderful combination of activities and lectures and it’s been a nice break from teaching and time to have a comfortable pace with good healing sessions and good lecture sessions.
Elise: I sailed on the May  voyage. This [voyage] has been very nice. I love being at sea and I love the lectures. I really enjoyed Shelley’s lectures and Dr. Clarkson. I certainly would come back and I’ve been thinking now about doing a semester.
Nancy: My friend, Gina, told me about this voyage. She’s a member of Friendship Force so I joined Friendship Force and signed up and it’s been wonderful. I’m so impressed by how well everything is done and how well everything is thought out. I find just the goodwill and the open hearts of all of the staff so wonderful and the lectures are so great. There’s just a high caliber of teaching and a real breadth and depth of lectures and workshops offered. If someone didn’t find something they were interested in I don’t know where they’re looking. It’s been so good I’ve already signed up for the Iron & Ice [voyage].
My mom lives in New York and I live in L.A. and we were trying to think of what we should do for Christmas and we thought this would be a nice way to spend the holidays together. So, I came with my mom and my friend who also did Semester at Sea. I’ve been traveling with a friend and we’ve tried to see all that you could possibly see or do in almost every port that we’ve visited on the voyage. It’s been fun. I’d love to have more time in the ports, but the tours we did in Costa Rica were great because of the tour guide. And we did do about everything that you possibly could in many of the ports.
I signed up for this voyage at the end of the voyage last year. But I don’t have any cartilage left in my knees so it’s very painful to walk. When I sailed on the last voyage last year I had a lot of problems getting around and I missed a lot of stuff. I went to the Galapagos Islands and I couldn’t go to the Charles Darwin station because I just couldn’t walk anymore. And I thought I need an alternate idea. I called ahead to see if bicycles could go on. This is folds up and goes in my suitcase and I can carry it by hand. And it’s been great for me to get around all of the ports and even from the port to the taxis and then in the cities. It’s helped make this voyage even better than I expected because I can really enjoy getting around in the ports. That along with what you have on the ship has made this a really good time for me.