Floating University Acquires Ship

February 7, 2007

The Scholar Ship, the Royal Caribbean subsidiary that offers college students a chance to take their studies to the sea, has leased the 27,670-ton, 730-passenger ship formerly known as the Mona Lisa. The vessel, originally launched some 40 years ago, will be renamed The Scholar Ship. The lease is effective for three years.

The Scholar Ship program, in contrast to the long-running Semester at Sea effort (now operated by the University of Virginia), will differ in offering a curriculum that focuses more on world events than a liberal arts series of studies. Its purpose is to prepare students to join the international workforce through a more experiential, onboard and off, approach; hands-on fields of study range from concentrations in Global Arts and Culture, to Conflict Studies to International Business and Communication.

(Semester at Sea, on the other hand, operates with a strong liberal arts thrust, featuring a range of classes on the arts, humanities, and sciences).

The Scholar Ship entered service in 1966 as the trans-Atlantic liner Kungsholm. The vessel was purchased by P&O in 1978 and operated as Sea Princess and later as Victoria until 2002. That year, P&O sold the ship to Leonardo Shipping; it was chartered to Holiday Kreuzfahrten, a short-lived German cruise line, which called it Mona Lisa. Late in 2006, Holiday Kreuzfahrten dissolved into bankruptcy paving the way for its acquisition by the Scholar Ship.

The Scholar Ship is set to make its maiden voyage from Piraeus in September 2007 with 600 students. Ports include Lisbon, Panama City, Guayaquil, Papeete, Suva, Sydney, Shanghai, Okinawa and Kobe. And for the students out there, applications are still being accepted until April 2007. You can request an application here.

We'll provide you with details of shipboard amenities as they are released.

--by Dan Askin, Editorial Assistant