High School on a Ship
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Practical information

On this page we try to help you take care of all the practicalities that go in to attending a travelling high school at sea. Below we’ll share from our experience what you need to think about when it comes to visas, vaccines, packing and much more.

Documents that you will need before you start

  • Academic Reference Form: You'll need this for the application process. Two teachers need to fill out this form before we can schedule an interview with you.
  • Activity Waiver: You will need this form if you wish to scuba dive, surf, kite or wakeboard during your shore leave time.
  • Application form: You will need to fill this out in order to apply. 
  • Authorization form: You will need to fill this out before school starts.
  • Medical form: You will need to have your doctor fill this out before you start the school. Please note that you also need to get your blood type.
  • Parental Consent form: You need this form to enter Portugal if you are under 18 years old. The form need to be notarized. Please see the glossary if you need more information.
  • Swim form: You need to have this form signed by a certified life guard or a swim coach.

Arrival day

Arrival day is when the school starts. Students arrive around mid-day on arrival day (specific time and place will be announced in the Spring), go through intake and get settled in their new home. It is highly recommended that students who need to travel far arrive a day or two in advance to adjust to the time zone.

During intake you will be given a short orientation/tour and a number of intake meetings will occur on a rolling basis. It is the perfect time to unpack, stow gear, complete medical interviews, submit passports, 3 extra photos and a record of vaccination. You should report to the ship earlier in the day to have more time to unpack.

Typically all students muster prior to dinner and receive a brief safety orientation. Shore Leave, if available will occur in groups of 4.


Your home during your time at the school has limited space, and requires that we are frugal with our belongings. So please do not over pack.  Given the space limitations, baggage is restricted to items on the packing list and they must fit into a 70L bag. Students should also bring a medium size back pack for day hikes and excursions.

Aboard the vessel, a small half locker and a foot locker are provided to each student for personal storage space.

Each student must have a laptop and this should be packed in a padded travel cover and placed in the backpack for travel. Students who play the guitar or instruments the same size or smaller are invited to bring them along as additional baggage. These, of course, do not need to fit in the 70 L bag. Please coordinate with other students before bringing musical instruments, and avoid bringing large instruments such as a cello or an upright bass.

The following is a suggested list of things to bring. Please note that there will be ample opportunity to acquire items underway. Make sure that you label your clothes, chargers and other personal items. In general terms; your rain gear should keep you dry (waterproofness above 10,000 mm and 15.000 g/24h/m2), your clothes should dry fast and the clothes should be in cotton of wool.

Clothing Items: 

  • 3 pair of pants (at least one should be fast dry) 
  • 3 Shorts (at least 2 working pair and one should be fast dry). At least one must be grey (Pantone 877C)
  • 1 Swim suit
  • 2 Pajamas or other nightwear 
  • 10 Cotton underwear
  • 10 pair cotton socks and 5 pair wollen socks
  • 1 pair of wollen base layer
  • 1 Warm wool sweater
  • 1 Woolen toque/hat
  • 1 pair grey cotton pants (Pantone 877C) for the uniform
  • When visiting Muslim countries ladies must bring an attire that provide complete coverage of the body, from wrists to ankles.
  • 7 T-shirts/Tank tops.


  • 1 pair comfortable dress shoes for formal occasions where sneakers are inappropriate.
  • 1 pair Cross-training shoes suitable for hiking, aerobics etc. They should dry quickly.
  • Closed-toed Safety Shoes for working on deck or in the rig. Suitable products are manufactured by Shoes for Crews. 
  • 1 pair rain boots (mid-calf in height)
  • 1 pair comfortable footwear for below deck

Sailing gear 

  • 1 Foul Weather Jacket
  • 1 Foul Weather Pants

Other Items 

  • 1 Pillow and 2 pillow cases 
  • 1 Fitted sheet for 90X200 cm bunk
  • 1 Sleeping bag (summer weight, light, compact) 
  • 1 Towel   
  • Toiletries (sufficient for 4 weeks-to be replenished enroute) 
  • Feminine products (2 month supply-to be replenished enroute)
  • Sunscreen lotion/lip balm 
  • Hanging mesh bag (for transporting toiletries to/from shower area)   
  • Mesh bag for laundry
  • Personal medication/prescription medicines 
  • Sunglasses (with strap) 
  • Laptop (require: Microsoft Office Word, Excel & Power Point)
  • Water bottle/travel mug with locking lid
  • Extra eyeglasses, contacts and/or copy of prescription        
  • 3 Homestay gifts (small, inexpensive local gifts from your country)    
  • 3 Passport photos (to be submitted to staff upon arrival)  
  • USB Flash Drive (12 GB) 
  • The Ship has european plugs, so make sure to bring adaptors if necessary.
  • A calculator that is AP approved (for students taking Mathematics, Calculus or Physics). Please see https://apstudent.collegeboard.org/takingtheexam/exam-policies/calculator-policy
  • Laundry soap ( 2 week supply) (to be replenished enroute). 1 laundry cycle per week onboard or laundromat in port.  

Optional Items

  • Musical Instruments
  • Waterproof wristwatch
  • Snorkeling gear
  • Disposable Underwater Camera / GoPro
  • Tablet  / IPad
  • Small sewing kit
  • Journal book (bound)
  • Small rig knife / multitool

A+ World Academy has different uniforms for different situations. In general the uniform is practical and appropriate for work. The following is the correct use of the A+ Uniform:

  • At sea (voluntary use): Navy A+ tshirt  
  • Arrival and departure day (mandatory): Navy A+ tshirt  and grey shorts or pants.
  • Field studies: Navy A+ Polo and grey shorts or pants
  • Graduation: Semi-formal with blue cap and gown.

Details on how to order the uniform follow in the spring.

Parent ports

Parent Ports are scheduled twice a year; usually following exams in December and March. During these ports, no field studies program is planned and parents are welcomed to sign their children off the ship and spend time with them. Students will not have to report back to the ship until the specified time set by the school. Parents are invited to schedule parent teacher conferences in which they will have a chance to talk to each teacher individually about their child’s development in the classroom – and the onboard community.

Shipboard Language

Life onboard an international school that sails around the world presents unique opportunities to learn new languages and improve the ones you already know. Usually there will be students, teachers and crew that speaks English, Spanish, French, German, Cantonese, Mandarin as well as other less spoken languages such as Scandinavian and Polish. The common language is English. This is the language of instruction, and maritime command. It is also the social languages in groups larger than two people in order to create a sense of community and encourage inclusion.


Please consult your family doctor, local health clinic or centre for tropical diseases regarding protection against diseases that may be contracted in some of the countries listed on our itinerary.  There may be variations from one student to another depending on medical history, previous vaccinations and the recommendations of your health professional.  Discuss your plan with and follow the directions of your own doctor.

We have a list of suggested vaccines based on experience and on the recommendation of the Vaccination office in Norway. We ask that you make your own informed decision in dialogue with your doctor and local vaccination office.  Please do note that some vaccinations require multiple inoculations, sometimes a few weeks apart, so do not leave this until the last minute. Please also note that some vaccines are required in order to enter certain countries and areas. Medications can be brought on board to be administered by the ship’s medical officer. These medications will be under lock and key and accessed only by the Medical officer and the Captain.  All vaccinations should be recorded in an “International Certification of Vaccination” which must be brought with you on board. Please inform A+ World Academy of any changes to your medical status since the submission of your medical report.

When visiting your family doctor (or health clinic) be sure to:

  • Bring a copy of the itinerary and inform him / her that we will spend 3-5 days in each port.

Inform him / her that most nights will be spent on board, although, there may be an occasional night spent off the ship (camping/home stay).

It is highly recommended that students take the following vaccines as they may have implication on your opporunity to enter certain countries.

  • Yellow fever
  • Hepatitis A and B
  • Typhoid
  • Meningitis

Students may also consider vaccines against diahrea and malaria tablets. For the ports outside of Europe, it is essential that the students protect themselves with mosquito spray. All students should consult medical professionals in order to recieve good information and guidance.


Securing the correct visas is your own responsibility. You will receive assistance in researching what visas will be required, but we urge you to consult embassies to ensure that you have obtained the correct visa. When inquiring about visas please explain the nature of the A+ Academy programme, i.e., an educational programme aboard a tall ship, sailing worldwide. Requirements may vary if you clear customs and immigration onboard a ship, so be sure to mention it. The best sources of confirmation are the consulates and embassies.

Remember that it can take up to one month to obtain a single visa, therefore, do not leave this important requirement to the end. Always check the window of eligibility for visas, as some may only be obtained not more than 90 days before arrival.

Please contact the Admissions department if you need documentation of travel in order to obtain a visa.

Parental consent forms
Some countries, such as Portugal, require a parental consent form for all minors entering the country. By signing the form, parents authorize the school to act as their child’s guardian during their stay in the country. Please note that the form must be notarized (for example at a court house) and should preferably contain an apostille. The student must bring the original copy with them.

Visas to European countries
Most European countries are members of the Schengen cooperation and you will be able to visit all Schengen countries with a single entry or a multiple entry Schengen visa. We recommend obtaining multiple entry. Please check that the relevant port is a member of the Schengen area.

Visas to the USA.
For admission to the US, students will require a tourist or business visa (B1/B2). If you are a citizen of a country that is part of the US Visa Waiver program you will not need to obtain the usual B1/B2 visa. Instead you can apply for an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) by using this link. Your local contact will in this case be the port authorities.