Below is a listing of sample port stops historically made during SEA Semester programs.
SEA travels to locations that are relatively unseen, untouched, and unspoiled. We seek out ports where the cruise ships don't go, and visit beyond the boundaries of resorts. Most importantly, our students arrive in port as mariners and scientists; not as tourists.
Frequently, port stops include organized guided learning experiences to help our students reach more remote destinations. However, students also have the opportunity to explore on their own.
In some locations, a long history of SEA Semester visits has resulted in close friendships within the local community. The arrival of an SEA vessel often gives way to a soccer game with local students, or a ship's tour for the local residents.
The sovereign, island nation of Grenada, located in the southeastern Caribbean Sea at 12°03′N x 61°45′W, is made up of the main island of Grenada and six smaller islands. The islands are volcanic in origin, and there is a currently active undersea volcano between the north shore of Grenada and the island of Carriacou. The island of Grenada, with an area of 131 sq. miles, is quite mountainous, with the peak of Mount St. Catherine reaching 2,756 feet.
Grenada is also known as the Spice Isle because it is a leading producer of several spices including cinnamon, ginger and cloves. The island is also one of the world's leading producers of nutmeg.
Grenada is also a popular diving and snorkeling destination in the Caribbean. The near-shore coral reefs provide close access to protected underwater dive and snorkel sites. There is a strong effort to protect reef biodiversity, with government restrictions on fishing seasons and locations of boat anchorage sites.
St. George's on Grenada is the port in the nation most frequently visited by SEA Semester. Students visiting may have the opportunity to visit the local markets in search of spices, sample nutmeg ice cream, or visit a spice farm. There are also opportunities to visit waterfalls, hike through the rainforest, and swim. Class C-231, Ocean Exploration, recently paid Grenada a visit. Read their blog posts from Nov. 9th - Nov. 13th!
Would you like to visit Grenada? Now is your chance!
Bermuda is made up of a group of islands in the North Atlantic Ocean. It is located about 600 nautical miles east of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina and 600 nautical miles south of Woods Hole, Massachusetts. Due to its position in the Gulf Stream, temperatures in Bermuda remain in the mid-70s for most of the year.
First colonized in the early 17th century when a ship called the Sea Venture was wrecked upon its shores, the country is the oldest remaining overseas territory of Britain. Throughout history, the island’s economy has been supported by cedar box and salt exports, shipbuilding, and, today, financial services and tourism.
English is Bermuda’s official language, thanks to its very strong British influences. The islands are known for beautiful, pink sand beaches and crystal clear blue waters, as well as for “Bermuda Shorts,” which is the pairing of shorts with knee socks.
SEA students traditionally visit St. George’s on the northeastern corner of the island, which is the oldest continually inhabited British town in the New World. St. George’s was also the capital of Bermuda until 1815, when it was moved to Hamilton.
Bermuda is currently home to several different groups making an effort to classify part of the North Atlantic Ocean a conservation area. Recently, during their time on board the ship, students in the Marine Biodiversity & Conservation program visited Bermuda to learn more about these efforts first hand. Learn more by reading C-241's blog posts from May 30th - June 5th.
Samana, Dominican Republic
Samana, located in the northwestern part of the Dominican Republic and on the northern coast of Samana Bay, is one of the port stops students may make on voyages sailing in the Caribbean. The city is surrounded by a short, steep mountain range called the Sierra de Samana and is a top tourism destination in the country. The city is also an important center for whale-watching tours as Samana Bay and nearby Silver Bank are the winter homes of the North Atlantic Humpback whale.
While in port, students may have the opportunity to visit plantations on which bananas, pineapples, ginger, and many other tropical fruits are grown, and to explore the mangroves and caves of the region's National Park. The students on C-244 paid a visit to Samana, Dominican Republic from Dec. 5th through Dec. 8th, 2012. Read about their experience in port!
Do you want to check out Samana, Dominican Republic? SEA Semester: Colonization to Conservation in the Caribbean is one of progams that has stopped there.
Nuku Hiva, The Marquesas Islands
Nuku Hiva is the largest of the Marquesas Islands of French Polynesia. During a port stop on the island, students participating in Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures & Ecosystems (SPICE) often have the opportunity to see local dancers perform a haka (a traditional dance), and paddle an outrigger canoe. Students also have the opportunity to perform archaeological surveys of the remains of past civilzations on the island. At its peak the island was home to about 20,000 people. Today the 130-square mile volcanic island, located around 8°55’S x 140°06’W, is home to about 2,800 people. S-245 visited Nuka Hiva during the port stop from February 14th-18th, 2013. Read about their adventures!
Interested in joining the next SEA Semester: Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures & Ecosystems (SPICE) voyage?
Christmas Island (Kiribati)
Located in the Pacific Ocean just north of the Equator at 1° 52′ 0″ N x 157° 24′ 0″ W Christmas Island is a raised coral atoll that is part of the Republic of Kiribati (pronounced Kee-ruh-bas). The entire island is a wildlife sanctuary, and is well known for bird watching and surfing.
SEA Semester students often visit the island on cruise tracks between Hawaii and Tahiti. On the Island students are treated to a formal welcome at a local school. The welcome includes traditional dances and music, and allows students to engage with the local community. The students of S-244, Oceans & Climate, were on Christmas Island from Nov 28th - Dec. 2nd 2012. Read about that experience!
Want to join the next SEA Semester: Oceans & Climate class?
Located in the Northern Pacific Ocean about halfway between the Hawaiian Islands and American Samoa, Palmyra Atoll is an incorporated territory of the United States. An atoll is an island made of coral that circles a lagoon either partially or completely.
Palmyra was first sighted by sailors at least in recorded history in 1798, but it was not until 1802 when people first landed on the atoll, when a US flagship, the Palmyra, was wrecked upon it. At the time it was uninhabited. In 1859 the island was claimed for the American Guano Company under the Guano Islands Act, an act giving U.S. citizens the right to claim islands rich in guano deposits. This act was ironic as there was no guano on the island. During WWII the atoll was used as a Naval Air Station.
Today the permanent population of the island is about 15 individuals made up of scientists, staff, and volunteers from The Nature Conservancy, and representatives from U.S. Fish & Wildlife. Typically, students enrolled in a spring Pacific track SEA Semester program are able to visit this unique part of the world.
Port Antonio, Jamaica
Port Antonio, Jamaica’s third largest port, is located on the northeastern coast of the island. The once sleepy coastal town underwent a boom in the late 1800s when it became a major port for the banana and coconut trade. Over the next several decades the city also became a destination for tourists when ships returning from transporting bananas to North American brought passengers back.
Visiting the town allows students to experience the lively marketplace where produce, meat, and fish are sold as well as textiles and wood workings. Hiking through the Blue Mountains surrounding the town, students are able to get a look at subsistence and cash crop agriculture of today’s Jamaica, including bananas and coconuts. Moore Town, a Maroon community just outside of Port Antonio, is another field trip option for students.
Ra'iatea is one of the Society Islands of French Polynesia located about 160 miles northwest of the island of Tahiti and 2600 miles south of Hawai'i at 16° 43.8’ S x 151° 26.5’ W. The island shares a lagoon with the neaby island of Tahaa.