DEUTSCHLAND To Join Semester At Sea As WORLD ODYSSEY
Shawn J. Dake
WORLD ODYSSEY, rendering courtesy Semester at Sea
After months of speculation Semester At Sea officially announced on May 26, 2015, that their new floating campus will be the former German-flag ship DEUTSCHLAND. Plans call for it to be renamed WORLD ODYSSEY. After a minor refurbishment over the summer it will make its debut with the Fall Semester voyage commencing September 13, 2015. The new color scheme includes an all white hull with a wide blue stripe at main deck, topped by a white funnel with the circular blue Semester At Sea logo. The DEUTSCHLAND was built in 1998 and measures 22,496 gross tons with dimensions of 575 feet in length and 76 feet in beam. Although both ships are similar in size, the DEUTSCHLAND originally carried only 520 passengers, lowering the capacity over that of the previous ship, EXPLORER, by 312 berths. In her new role, the WORLD ODYSSEY will have 600 total berths. The new ship is among the most luxurious vessels in the world with interiors that are reminiscent of the classic ocean liner era. The Main Lounge for example is two decks in height and sports a massive crystal chandelier hanging from the elegantly painted ceiling. It becomes the sixth floating campus in the 52-year history of Semester At Sea.
DEUTSCHLAND’s main lounge to become the Union for community sessions
WORLD ODYSSEY, rendering courtesy Semester at Sea
Dr. John Tymitz, co-founder of Semester At Sea said “Every shipboard campus has its own unique set of milestones and memories. But the overall Semester At Sea experience and impact has remained unchanged. It’s not easy to say goodbye to our current ship the m.v. EXPLORER; Nor was it the big farewell to the four ships that preceded her. For me personally, it was a sad day to say goodbye to the UNIVERSE as we sailed past it on the Mississippi River. But we carry these ships with us. They are where we created some of our most cherished relationships and memories. The new ship will carry the same meaning for future shipmates …”
WORLD ODYSSEY as if in Oslo, rendering courtesy Semester at Sea
Peter Deilmann Cruises’ DEUTSCHLAND at Corfu in 2009. Photo © Peter Knego
Over the years, Semester At Sea has worked with various shipping lines to charter vessels to serve as their floating campus. These range from the 12,575 gross ton SEVEN SEAS obtained from a Holland America Line subsidiary called Europe-Canada Line. The charter contract was first signed in February, 1963 for the use of this ship as the first modern day vessel of what was then known as “The University Of The Seven Seas.” Initially the program was not accredited or affiliated with any other land-based schools. This was rectified in 1965, when Chapman College in Orange, California began administering the program, renaming it “World Campus Afloat.” For their second ship, they again turned to Holland America Line which by the mid-1960’s was experiencing declining passenger traffic on the North Atlantic. On September 14, 1966, the retired SEVEN SEAS, was replaced by the 1951-built RYNDAM and given over to Europe-Canada Line which was renamed ECL Shipping Company. World Campus Afloat would continue aboard this ship which was almost perfectly designed for the program, with fairly deluxe accommodations for 39 passengers on the Boat Deck in what had previously been the First Class section and much more basic rooms, largely without facilities, for 852 students in the original Tourist Class cabins. After the ambitious but failed dream of having the former Cunard liner QUEEN ELIZABETH sail the world with students as the SEAWISE UNIVERSITY another ship was provided by Orient Overseas Line with the great support of shipowner C.Y. Tung. When those earlier plans went up in smoke, the UNIVERSE CAMPUS (ex BADGER MARINER, ATLANTIC) would take over with the ship leaving Los Angeles on September 4, 1971 for her first cruise as a floating university. She would later have her name shortened to UNIVERSE and go on to become the longest serving ship the program ever had, being engaged in student voyages for a period of 24 years. When it came time to retire the UNIVERSE, the replacement was with a ship nearly as old, but with much more deluxe accommodations. The first Semester At Sea voyage on the UNIVERSE EXPLORER commenced in February, 1996. The ship had been built in 1958 as the BRASIL for Moore-McCormack Lines service to South America as an all first class ship. During its long career it went through many names including VOLENDAM, MONARCH SUN, then back to VOLENDAM, with subsequent renamings to ISLAND SUN, LIBERTE, CANADA STAR, QUEEN OF BERMUDA, and finally ENCHANTED SEAS for Commodore Cruise Lines before joining Semester at Sea as the renamed UNIVERSE EXPLORER. The name saluted both the previous ship and the continuation of passenger cruises under the World Explorer banner which operated to Alaska during the summer between semesters. Commodore Cruise Lines provided the ship on a charter basis with management handled by International Marine Carrier. At 23, 879 gross tons and a length of 617 feet, it was a bigger ship than its predecessor and had better sea-keeping qualities. This ship was retired in the autumn of 2004 and sailed off to Alang, India to be scrapped.
The EXPLORER served Semester At Sea from 2004 until 2015 and was the first ship owned by the educational group. Photo by Shawn J. Dake © 2011.
With the advent of the EXPLORER, Semester At Sea acquired a virtually new ship for the first time. It was only two years old, having been completed in May, 2002 as the OLYMPIA EXPLORER. Although previously operated by Royal Olympia Cruises, after that company’s bankruptcy the ship was chartered from the KfW German mortgage holding bank. In December, 2007 the ship was purchased outright by the Institute For Shipboard Education. It reverted to the bank in May, 2015 and will begin sailing for Celestyal Cruises as the CELESTYAL ODYSSEY this summer.
The long-term goals of the program were summed up by Institute for Shipboard Education (ISE) President T. Kenn Gaither. In a prepared statement he stated, “With this new ship we have also moved from a business model of ownership to chartering. This is a model that will enable our program to prosper well into the future. I am also very pleased to share that a key partner in our future is our outstanding ship management company of 20 years V Ships. We are thrilled to be able to continue our relationship with V Ships crew aboard a new vessel as they are integral to the voyage experience. The WORLD ODYSSEY marks a new chapter for Semester At Sea, a chapter that will allow us to progress. But as we progress we maintain our traditions. The WORLD ODYSSEY will provide the same invaluable voyage experience to new students. Like our 60,000 alumni, our future voyagers are eager to embrace the world around them. Eager to see with new eyes, and eager to make an impact. Our new ship will help us create a new generation of global citizens. Our future is bright and we are excited to embark on this new journey.”
WORLD ODYSSEY Facts and Figures:
- Builder: Howaltswerke Deutsche Werft, Kiel, Germany
- Previous Name: DEUTSCHLAND
- Year Built: 1998
- Flag: Bahamas
- Tonnage: 22,496
- Length: 575 feet (175m)
- Beam: 76 feet (23m)
- Service speed: 21 knots
- Decks: 10
- Classrooms: 9
- Berths: 600
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Shawn J. Dake, freelance travel writer and regular contributor to MaritimeMatters, worked in tourism and cruise industry for over 35 years. A native of Southern California, his first job was as a tour guide aboard the Queen Mary. A frequent lecturer on ship-related topics he has appeared on TV programs. Owner of Oceans Away Cruises & Travel agency, he served as President of the local Chapter of Steamship Historical Society of America. With a love of the sea, he is a veteran of 115 cruises.
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