Seminar at Sea 2024 FAQ

Q: Do I need to have my Covid vaccine and booster updates to participate in this BAS tour? 

A: Yes, you do have to be fully vaccinated and up to date with your Covid vaccines to go on this Caribbean Cruise with the BAR. This BAR policy is designed to help protect the health and safety of you, your family, the other Seminar at Sea members, BAS staff, the ship staff, and all the other passengers on board the ship.

Q: Do I need a valid passport and visas to enter various ports and islands while I am on the BAS Seminar at Sea? 

A: Yes, you will need a valid passport to enter the various island nations that you will visit on this cruise. A “valid passport” means that the passport must not expire until 6 months after the cruise ends. Your passport expiration date must not be before July 14, 2024, otherwise, you will need to renew your passport with the U.S. State Department, or the equivalent department or ministry in your home country. If you don’t have a passport, you could also use your driver’s license plus your birth certificate.

Q: How much walking will we do on this cruise? 

A: You will need to able to get onto the ship, and around the ship. There are elevators on this ship, but some ship passages are narrow. This means if you have a walker or wheelchair, you should have a spouse, a friend or other relative to help you move around the ship. If you wish to explore the islands (Dominican Republic, British Virgin Islands, U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Bahamas), you will need to be able to get around on bumpy streets and sidewalks, sand and dis-embark and re-embark onto the ship.

Q: How do I get to Port Canaveral, Florida to board the NCL Escape?

A: First, you must fly into Orlando Airport, Florida. Then, look for the “GoPort” bus that takes you to the Port Canaveral docks where all the cruise ships are located. The bus fare is $29.99 per person each way. The shuttle ride takes approximately 45 minutes to an hour, so, leave plenty of time to get off the airplane, collect your luggage, and catch the shuttle bus. Shuttle buses leave from Orlando Airport to Port Canaveral from 10 am until 12:30 am. However, you will need to prebook your ride on GoPort buses, if you plan to use their services. Meet this bus in the A terminal on level 1 near the car rentals.

You may also catch a taxi, Lyft or Uber to the port.

Q: How do I purchase my flight to Orlando, Florida?

A: BAS will not arrange flights for you. So, you can purchase your own airline tickets online via Expedia, Orbitz or another reputable travel company, or get your tickets through your own travel agent. Another option is to use Prime Travel to purchase your airline tickets, and their number is: 201-825-1600. Prime Travel’s website:  Be sure to mention your arrival date of January 6 to embark on the NCL Escape, and your departure date of January 13, 2024.

Q: When should we arrive in Orlando? 

A: You should arrive at Orlando Airport with plenty of time to dis-embark the plane, collect your luggage, get to the bus stop for Port Canaveral, and leave an hour to ride to the Port, and to get to the NCL Escape to board on time. 4:00 pm on January 6, 2024 is when the ship departs Port Canaveral. However, the Norwegian Cruise Lines wants you there 2-3 hours early to process all the passengers through their check-in and security, so that means 2:00 pm arrival at the port on January 6, 2024. Considering this early afternoon boarding time, you could get to Orlando on January 5, and stay overnight in a hotel in Orlando or Port Canaveral. Of course, if you stay overnight (on January 5) in an Orlando hotel, that hotel expense and the hotel booking will be your responsibility.

NOTE: Remember, the ship will not wait around for late passengers. The Escape leaves the docks at 4:00 pm on January 6, with or without you.

Q: When will we arrive at the dock in Port Canaveral to dis-embark and fly home?

A: The NCL Escape is scheduled to arrive on January 13 at 7:00 am into the docks at Port Canaveral, but the crew needs time before they let the passengers disembark. That means it is 10:00 am to disembark on January 13, 2024 at Port Canaveral, Florida. So, please book your flight home for that day from Orlando Airport taking that into account. Make sure that you leave enough time to collect your luggage, get to the bus stop and ride 45 minutes to an hour to the airport. Remember to also leave time for checking in your luggage at the airline counter, passing through security and getting to your boarding gate on time for the airline staff to seat all the passengers.

Q: What if I want to fly to Orlando earlier than January 6, or leave Orlando after the tour is complete on January 13?  

A: You may fly to Orlando before the tour starts, and/or stay later in Orlando (or Florida) if you like. You are responsible for all of your expenses outside of the BAS Seminar at Sea cruise: any hotel costs, food costs, transportation costs, tour costs, guide fees, and any travel costs before the tour starts or after it is complete. BAS will not arrange pre-tour or post-tour adventures; that is your sole responsibility.  

Q: If I do fly into Orlando early, where should I meet the NCL Escape?  

A: If you do fly in early, you will need to get yourself to the Port Canaveral dock (where the NCL Escape is located) at or before 2:00 pm on January 6th to board the ship. The NCL Escape will not wait for late passengers.

Q: If I am traveling alone, is there an additional cost to have a single room? 

A: Yes, there is an additional cost for a single room. It is called the Single Supplementary Charge on the registration form, and it costs: $3,295.00 for a single balcony room, or $2,625.00 for a single interior room (no window). This is the way that most cruise lines charge solo passengers.

Q: What is the Norwegian Cruise Lines Escape like? 

A: Here is the link to the information about the Escape:

Q; What is included in the cruise on the ship?

A: This is what is included in your Seminar at Sea cruise fees: all six lectures, your room, taxes and port fees, breakfast, lunch and dinner at any of the 3 regular buffet restaurants, as well as coffee, tea, water, and soft drinks served during the buffet meals. Onboard shows are free, but you will need to make show reservations through Norwegian Cruise Lines on September 8, 2023.

Q: What is not included on the cruise?

A: What is not included: airline tickets to and from Orlando, shuttle bus service to and from Orlando Airport to the docks at Port Canaveral, all alcoholic drinks (and other types of drinks not served with the meals at the buffet restaurants), all specialty restaurants, tips, Wi-Fi, and shore excursions. All these services must be arranged by and bought by you (the tour members). All on the ship “extras” (alcoholic drinks, Wi-Fi, specialty restaurants, tips, shore excursions, etc.) will be arranged with the ship’s crew, and paid to the Norwegian Cruise Lines. The BAS staff and the professors will not arrange any of these extra shipboard expenses or your travel arrangements.

Q: How many suitcases or bags may I bring?

A: You may bring 2 bags/suitcases per person and a carry-on bag onto the ship.

Q: Who will be lecturing on this Seminar at Sea? 

A: Professors Chris Rollston and Eric Cline (both well-known biblical archaeology scholars at George Washington University) will be your lecturers. They will each present 3 lectures of about 1 hour each during the voyage. They will present on these 6 topics:

Eric Cline’s lectures:

1. “In the Shadow of the Ruined Palaces”: New Thoughts on the Rise of Israel, Judah, Edom, and Moab

2. “King of the Land of Carchemish”: Who Were the Hittites of the Bible?

3. “Conqueror of All Lands, Avenger of Assyria”: Israel and Judah in the Crosshairs of the Neo-Assyrian Empire

Christopher Rollston’s lectures:

1. “The Earliest Hebrew Inscriptions: The 9th and 8th Century BCE in Archaeological Realia”

2. “Making a Good ‘Impression’: Seals, Scribes, and Prophets in the World of Ancient Israel”

3. “Pious Forgeries: Some of the Best Inscriptional Forgeries of Modern Times”

Q: What is the weather like in January in the Caribbean? 

A: Daily average highs are around 78 to 82 degrees F., and average nightly lows are around 63 to 72 degrees depending on where you are in the Caribbean. The average rainfall is between 1.6 inches to 3 inches for January. The average rainy days vary quite a bit from 8 rainy days to 16 rainy days depending on which island the ship is sailing near.

Q: What should I wear? 

A: Comfortable sandals and shoes are recommended. A sunhat and sunscreen are recommended gear for the Caribbean on sunny days. In addition, a waterproof jacket will be very useful for rainy, windy or cooler weather. Layers of clothes are useful for traveling in the Caribbean at sea in January. The tour will also be going to many places where you can get in the sea, so please bring swimwear (if you plan to get in the water). No dressy clothes are needed on the Escape. You will not need a fancy dress or a suit to go to dinner, just tee shirts and pants or a skirt are fine.

Q: Do I need travel insurance? 

A: We strongly recommend it. We suggest that you get travel insurance that covers: if your flight if it is canceled or changed by the airline, if you need to cancel or change your flight, any lost luggage, any medical costs, any emergency flight for medical or other reasons, and your insurance should cover the hotel costs if your flight is delayed out, or if your transfer flight is delayed. We recommend Travel Insurance Select, but feel free to go to any other reputable travel insurance company. Your home or car insurance company or your credit card company may offer travel insurance, too.

Q: If a problem arises on the cruise, who do I talk to about it? 

A: If you have any issues or concerns on the cruise, please tell the BAS representative first, and they will help you find more assistance if necessary. 

Q: If I want to schedule excursions on the islands, who do I talk to?

A: Please contact the NCL staff on board the Escape to arrange island day trips.

Q: If I have other questions, who do I contact? 

A: Please contact Peter Megginson, the BAS Travel/Study Manager at: [email protected] or call me at 202-364-3300 ext. 424 between 9 am to 5 pm Mon-Fri. (Eastern Time-USA).