Jeff Warner PHOTOGRAPHIC, Golden, Colorado, USA

Saturday, August 13, 2011

T-6 days until Departure!

For those of you who don't yet know, Heidi, the boys and I will spend the next four months going around the world via the Fall 2011 Voyage of Semester at Sea. We depart for Boston in six days, and we are currently packing and getting the house ready; fortunately we have a wonderful house-sitter to look after things while we are gone. Yesterday Heidi finished her last day of work for four months, and her practice (now owned by Boulder Community Hospital) was gracious enough to allow her a leave of absence.

Heidi is an SAS alumni, and she first circumnavigated the globe during the Fall 1988 Voyage aboard the S.S. Universe. After a conversation with a pharmaceutical rep about jobs on SAS voyages for PAs, early this year she decided to apply for the shipboard PA position for the Fall 2011 Voyage. We received word that she got the position back in April, and we've been excitedly anticipating the adventure ever since! In concert with the ship's Physician (who chose her for the job), Heidi will be responsible for the medical care of 700 college students, in addition to faculty, staff and their families. They will have 2+ hours of daily clinics while at sea, and will share both night and port call. I'll be responsible for homeschooling the boys while we are away. Cross your fingers for me!

We leave for Boston next Friday, and will spend two days hanging out with my brother Evan and enjoying Boston. The MV Explorer, the Institute for Shipboard Education's beautiful 800-passenger ship, will be our home for four months. It was built in 2002 and is one of the fastest commercial vessels on the sea, able to cruise at 30+ knots! Although it was originally built as a cruise ship, it has been retrofitted to be a floating university; no casinos or umbrella drinks aboard this ship. Having spent very little time aboard any boat big or small, this will be a fascinating experience for this landlubber.

We will embark in Boston on August 21 en route to Montreal, Quebec, where the students will board. During that time Heidi will be undergoing various orientation and training activities with University of Virginia staff (UVA is the academic sponsor). The boys and I will be heavily involved in a pilot program for The $100 Solution, and will take this time to meet with Dr. Bernie Strenecky, Semester at Sea's International Service Learning Coordinator, who will fortunately be on board for the leg to Montreal. Although The $100 Solution has to date only been integrated into Service Learning courses for college students, Reade and Tate will effectively be test subjects, with the intent being to help adapt the program for school-age children (hopefully for use by faculty/staff dependent children on future voyages, also engaging their classmates back home).

Over the course of the 111 day voyage, we will circumnavigate the earth and visit 14 countries, spending roughly half the time at sea, half in port. Our itinerary:

Montreal, Canada
Casablanca, Morocco
Tema, Ghana
Cape Town, South Africa
Port Louis, Mauritius
Chennai, India
Penang, Malaysia
Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam
Hong Kong/Shanghai, China
Kobe/Yokohama, Japan*
Hilo, Hawaii
Puntarenas, Costa Rica
Panama Canal, Panama
Havana, Cuba
Ft. Lauderdale, FL

To support the learning endeavors of the students on board, SAS arranges in advance dozens of field trips, service visits and homestays in each port as part of the International Field Program, a fundamental aspect of the students' SAS experience. We should find out in a week or so which trips we will be partaking in, and I will endeavor to document our journey and present it here. Both Reade and Tate will be maintaining blogs as a part of their homeschool curriculum, and Heidi has decided to do one as well. You can find them here:

Please feel free to share these links with friends and family whom you feel might be interested, and we'd love it if you'd take the time to comment, ask questions, etc. We will try to update these sites as frequently as possible within the constraints of the rather limited shipboard satellite-based internet service. If you can imagine 800 of your closest friends sharing your home cable internet connection, you can fathom what we're in for.

As this extensive wait period finally comes to a close, we look forward to the next four months with the greatest anticipation. The boys and I can only remotely imagine what adventures lie ahead, while Heidi eagerly envisions the thrill of being able to share the world with her family. What a gift!


  1. Hmmm... I wrote a long letter but I don't know where it went. I lost it when I signed in. Let me know if you got it. Love you guys! Have a safe trip!

  2. Your cats are doing fine. We're looking forward to hearing about your adventures! Love, Mom and James

  3. Looking forward to your brilliant photography!!!

  4. simply amazing. so cool to see
    bill k

  5. Just starting reading and already got choked up over the fact that everyone has their own blog. Your writing is wonderful and I thought I was checking this out just for your photos. Like a great read I will savor this site one entry at a time. Beautiful. Jamie Webb


You must have something to say after reading all that, eh? Please leave a comment! :)