GoAbroad Interview

Kris Stevenson - Captain & Marine Specialist

Having graduated from the University of Southampton, England, with a Masters degree in Oceanography and following a strong family connection to the sea, Kris was naturally inclined towards a life revolving around the Oceans. Kris joined the Sea|mester team in 2009 and currently sails as Captain of the Sea|mester Vessel Argo, a diving instructor, and a member of the marine science faculty.

Teaching Celestial Navigation

Teaching Celestial Navigation

You grew up in the Netherlands, England, and the Middle East, how did you get connected to Sea|mester?

I was born in Rotterdam and spent my formative years growing up in the Netherlands, Portugal, and Dubai before moving to England. I found my way into a role with Sea|mester through their high school sister program, ActionQuest, based in the British Virgin Islands.  

What does a typical day as Sea|mester’s Captain look like?

Facilitating the students to help them effectively run the boat, installing a sense of responsibility and ownership amongst the students, whilst maintaining a sense of pride and accomplishment throughout the crew and prioritizing a work list for the day ahead. 

Dinner with the crew

Dinner - when the whole crew comes together

You’re a certified PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer, and IYT Master of Yachts, do you have plans for any other types of certifications?

I think it’s important to acknowledge there is always room and opportunity to grow and become a more well-rounded staff member by constantly challenging yourself to obtain more certifications. I am always on the lookout for the next course which will allow me better serve Sea|mester in my current role. 

As a PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer, what tips would you give a first time Scuba Diver?

To relax. Diving is infinitely more enjoyable once you conquer the initial fear of breathing in an alien environment, and the best way to get over that fear is to relax. 

You studied abroad at the University of North Carolina, what makes Sea|mester such a unique study abroad program?

Sea|mester most definitely falls under the unique study abroad criteria, purely due to the global nature of our program. Sea|mester offers an individual the opportunity to experience many more diverse cultures and locations in the same ninety-day period than one may expect to come across in a more conventional study abroad environment.

Hiking in Dominica

Hiking with the group in Dominica

As the Captain of the ship, what is the most frequently asked question you receive? What is your response?

Is what we are about the do dangerous? There’s always an element of danger when undertaking an adventure, by the nature of its definition. What we as staff members do incredibly well as Sea|mester is to minimize those inherent dangers associated with sailing oceans, scuba diving, and other elements of the program, providing students with an experience where they feel the adrenaline rush of adventure, but always feel safe. 

You have an Master’s in Oceanography; how does this knowledge help you in your role as Marine Specialist? 

Having a background in some of the classes our students participate in allows me to engage them on many fronts. I really enjoy the multi-faceted environment that Sea|mester provides, and feeling able to educate students in a number of classes offered provides both them and myself with a fulfilling experience

What makes someone a good fit for a Sea|mester voyage?

A prospective student should most definitely be someone who actively seeks to venture outside of their comfort zones. Someone who is looking for an incredible adventure, but is not afraid of the the hard work that comes with such an experience. 

Underway sailing on S/Y Argo

Underway sailing on S/Y Argo

You’ve been with Sea|mester for over five years, what has changed the most since 2009?

Me. I feel that although we are in the business of educating individuals throughout their time on board our vessels, I have learned an incredible amount during these five years from the students themselves allowing me to grow as an individual.

What’s been your biggest accomplishment in your position

Crossing the Indian Ocean twice, a 7’500 nautical mile journey from Singapore to Cape Town.  

What’s makes working for Sea|mester exciting?

The chance to engage with young like minded individuals, watch them grow over a period of 90 days, and open their eyes to some of the hard and soft skills they may not have known they possessed.