Well, it has come to an end. The Spring 2022 Semester at Sea voyage had to end sometime, and it ended this week. I am writing this from Frankfurt, where Dan, Joe, and I are spending a couple of days before flying home very early Saturday morning.
Some students had shirts printed up on their own: SAS SPRING 2022 – THE COVID CRUISE. It was so much more than that, but that was a defining feature, certainly. Not sure of the final numbers, but about 30% of our voyagers were either quarantined or isolated just before, or during the trip due to COVID. Fortunately, with everybody vaccinated and most people (except for the younger ship kids) boosted too, there were no serious cases. People were put either in isolation cabins, or left behind in various countries (with Semester at Sea staff to take care of them) until they recovered and flew to meet the ship at the next port.
Beyond COVID, we have made so many great memories. Seeing the students deal with the emotions of having to end the voyage and return to “real life” brought home to us how much they truly have gained from this experience. Even with all the challenges (and maybe because of some of them) these students have had the adventure of a lifetime, all while learning and living together in the middle of the ocean.
To end my recounting, I thought I’d share a little bit more about ship life, before outlining some of the highlights of our brief time in Germany. I am not sure if I mentioned this before, but there is a faculty and staff lounge on board. During the day, it is a quiet space to work (like a communal office). Not a bad view while writing or just thinking!
But at night it comes alive as a bar (no students allowed). Here are some of us gathered there on our last night on the ship, having some beverages and watching our last sunset together.
The “ship kids,” the children of faculty and staff, only numbered 5 on this voyage, but they bonded really nicely together. They were a great group, and supported each other in their boredom and annoyance at spending so much time with their parents!
Speaking of ship “kids,” Semester at Sea has a really unique program designed to connect the generations on the voyage. Those people interested in participating are assigned a ship family, who get together for game nights, sometimes meals, sometimes just to chat. We had a great group of “ship children” this time around, and it was so wonderful to get to know them. Here is a photo from our last “cookie night;” all but one of the family was able to attend. Joe isn’t in the main picture because he was the photographer.
One of the final events is convocation. The ship’s students selected two faculty to be convocation speakers for the official graduation ceremony, held for the 64 seniors who completed their university experience on board. I was thrilled to be one of them!
And as we pulled into Bremerhaven Germany, we watched (for the last time) a pilot jump on and off the ship while travelling, to guide us safely into port.
After quite a stressful disembarkation day (two cancelled trains, then an 80 minute delay on our final train) we made it (with SO MUCH LUGGAGE) to Frankfurt. I’ve flown through here before, but never spent any time in the city. It’s a very unique mix of very old style and brand new architecture. Because of the war, most old buildings are actually reconstructions. The contrast between old and new was really striking, and quite interesting.
We had a lovely walk around town, enjoying the spring sunshine, and activating all our allergies!
And, for the final time on this voyage, we saw one more awe-inspiring cathedral. This one had a really unusual organ, with all sorts of angles to it.
To finish up the trip, I thought I would share a very short “one second every day” video that shows the view from my cabin each day we were on the ship. Sometimes in port, mostly at sea. It really shows how incredibly different the ocean can look (and how yucky some ports are). I hope you have enjoyed these posts – I really enjoyed sharing the trip with you all!