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June 10, 2004

Semester at Sea Launching new Ship This Summer

This summer’s Semester at Sea voyage will be the first aboard the Explorer.

The ship was launched in 2002 as the Olympia Explorer by Royal Olympic Cruises, which went out of business in March. The ship will replace the S.S. Universe Explorer, SAS’s primary “floating campus” since 1996.

The Explorer is bigger, faster, newer and better-equipped than the Universe Explorer, which went into service in 1953 as the last American-built passenger steamship. The Explorer can house up to 685 students, 40 more than the Universe Explorer.

At 24,300 tons and 590 feet in length, the new ship has about one-third more space for classrooms, labs, the library and other campus facilities than the Universe Explorer. Built by Blohm & Voss in Germany, the Explorer is billed as the fastest passenger ship in the world, with a peak cruising speed of 30 knots.

“The new ship operates with good fuel efficiency at 22-23 knots, compared with the Universe Explorer’s fuel-efficient cruising speed of 16-17 knots,” said Julian Asenjo, associate director for enrollment management of the Institute for Shipboard Education, which administers SAS out of offices in the William Pitt Union. According to Asenjo, greater speed will enable SAS to reach a geographically wider range of ports during a single voyage.

“The fact that this ship is only two years old is another great advantage,” he added. “Traveling 26,000 miles at a pop [during an around-the-world voyage] really takes its toll on an older ship.”

This summer’s voyage will be the 84th in the history of SAS, which has been academically sponsored by Pitt since 1981.
– Bruce Steele

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