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November 15, 2011 12:28 am

Sea Voyager Cruise Ship Gets Mixed Reviews

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On Nov. 1, 244 of the displaced residents of the dangerously moldy Caroline and Prince George’s Halls were finally allowed to move aboard their new home: a small cruise ship named the Sea Voyager, docked right outside Historic St. Mary’s City. Some students welcomed the change, while others reported a tough adjustment to life on the boat.

The new “floating dorm” includes a spacious lounge, which contains a baby grand piano, exercise equipment, and The Love Café, an extension of campus grocery and coffee shop The Daily Grind. A separate but equally large study room, in what is usually the ship’s dining room, is also available for students who do not want to trek to the library. The Resident Assistant office is located in what was the ship’s gift shop. Each bedroom is named after a nautical area, such as “Cape Cod” or “Lake Huron.”

The Sea Voyager sits on the St. Mary’s River next to the 17th Century replica of The Dove, one of the first ships to arrive in St. Mary’s City. (Photo by Justin Foreman)
The Sea Voyager sits on the St. Mary’s River next to the 17th Century replica of The Dove, one of the first ships to arrive in St. Mary’s City. (Photo by Justin Foreman)

According to first-year Jemile Safaraliyeva, “The guest policy is difficult, checking in and out.” Only 294 people are allowed on the Sea Voyager at any one time; given students, faculty, and staff already on the ship, only 28 guests at a time are permitted to board the ship. Public Safety is stationed outside the dock to check residents and guests in and out of the Sea Voyager and keep track of the number of people on board.

Residents faced some unexpected nuisances to boat life. “It’s nice to be on campus, but the crew has safety boat drills two times a day,” said sophomore Sydney Hunter. First-year Jonathan Grossman-Zoha also expressed annoyance with these drills. “The staff uses the intercom in the morning and it wakes me up every day,” he said. “We hear all of it.”

Students had the most issues with the rooming situation on the Sea Voyager. “I have one of the biggest rooms, but others have rooms the size of prison cells,” says Grossman-Zoha. “You can hear every little thing through those walls, making it very hard to fall asleep, no matter what time,” added first-year Willow Smith.

“I like having a private bathroom, but it feels claustrophobic, and I get sea-sick,” said sophomore Lindsey Lepage.  Adding to the bathroom issues, Smith said, “The shower curtain likes to randomly blow in and stick to you.”

The Sea Voyager lacks a full laundry room, so many residents walk to nearby Calvert Hall to do their laundry. “It’s really annoying to share only three sets of washers and dryers among the residents of essentially three residence halls,” said Calvert Hall resident and sophomore Mike Harp.

Other students tried to keep a positive perspective of their new living situation. “We need to remember that this boat wasn’t built to be lived in for long periods of time, usually people are only living here for a week,” said Grossman-Zoha.

“I’ve really gotten to like the boat,” said first-year Andrew Murti. “When compared to a dorm, this is really swanky. I would do it for an extra semester. Walking ten minutes is better than a forty minute bus ride.”

First-year Serra Erbis lived in Waring Commons when she was originally ousted from her dorm, but says “When I found out there was a boat, I left. It sounded really awesome.” Safaraliyeva recognizes the uniqueness of her time on the Sea Voyager. “It’s an experience,” she said. “This is what college is all about, with everything changing so rapidly.”

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