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Students and faculty who participated in the 2013 WIU Disney Cruise Study Abroad program. The course is offered through the WIU Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Administration.
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WIU's Disney Cruise Study Abroad faculty-led 2015 course, "Introduction to the Cruise Industry" (RPTA 450S), is set for January 3-10, 2015. The course offers an experiential learning opportunity aboard a Disney cruise ship in the Caribbean, with Cozumel, Mexico, as one of the ports of call on the 2015 trip.
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Disney Cruise Course Interest Meetings Set for March 3, 19; 2015 Cruise Course Will Dock in Cozumel, Mexico

February 27, 2014

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Editor's Note: The application deadline for the "Introduction to the Cruise Industry" course offered in 2015 has been extended through Monday, April 14. Contact Rachel Smith at or Minsun Doh at for more information.

MACOMB, IL – Next January, Western Illinois University students will, once again, have the opportunity to see the inside workings of the cruise line industry. WIU Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Administration (RPTA) faculty members Rachel Smith and Minsun Doh will again lead the course, "Introduction to the Cruise Industry" (RPTA 450S), January 3-10, 2015. The course offers an experiential learning opportunity aboard a Disney cruise ship in the Caribbean, with Cozumel, Mexico, as one of the ports of call on the 2015 trip, Smith said.

Upcoming interest meetings about the cruise industry study abroad course—for RPTA students, as well as students studying in other major programs at Western—are scheduled for noon-1 p.m., Monday, March 3 in Currens Hall 204 and from 3-4 p.m. Wednesday, March 19 in the University Union Board Room.

"This course was successfully offered in January 2013, with ports of call in Nassau, Bahamas, and Disney's private island at Castaway Key," Smith noted. "The class is designed to help students explore one of the fastest-growing sectors of tourism industry and to acquaint them with the process of operating a cruise ship. Some of the topics to be covered in class include: who cruises and why; anatomy of a cruise ship; the cruise experience; who's who in cruising; the pre-, post- and off-ship cruise experience; geography of cruising; selling cruises; and cruise marketing. It will also cover current issues and trends in the cruise industry, including safety, security and health; environmental management; accessibility as well as working with a diverse population and regulatory organizations."

According to Smith, eligible students can enroll in the Fall 2014 RPTA 450S (the "S" stands for "short-term study abroad") course to receive either two or three hours of credit. The cost of the program (excluding tuition), she noted, will be approximately $1,500-1,800 per person (depending on how many students enroll in the course).

In addition to the time spent in the course on the cruise, enrolled students will attend four pre-travel class meetings (November 6, 13, 20 and December 4, from 4-6 p.m. making it flexible to fit around students' course schedules) and one post-course meeting (4-6 p.m. January 22, 2015).

Julie Terstriep—who works at WIU Campus Recreation and recently completed her master's degree in RPTA—was one of the students who took advantage of this unique learning opportunity when the course was offered in 2013. She said the daily assignments literally provided a world of opportunity to learn.

"In the Bahamas, we visited the Atlantis resort and saw what it was like to be tourist there, as well as how the staff there worked to provide services. There were many different nationalities represented there, which demonstrated the need to understand how to work with a diverse population," Terstriep said.

"The daily assignments that Julie referred to will also be a part of the 2015 course with ports in Cozumel and Castaway Cay," Smith added. "Assignments include exposure to culture, cruise staff and excursions. Students can select from shore excursions, such as scuba diving, parasailing, stingray experiences, exploring Mayan ruins, eco-tourist water park tours and more," she said. "The idea is for the students to participate in excursions and experience what it is like for the tourists to be involved in the total cruise experience."

Smith explained students are also required to attend a class meeting every day, which typically includes a speaker or a tour.

"This type of course enables students to learn by seeing (taking the tours), listening and talking (to instructors, guest speakers, tourists and local residents) and feeling (experiencing the excursions and programs on board) how the cruise is run first hand," she noted.

The application deadline for the "Introduction to the Cruise Industry" course offered in 2015 is April 7, and a deposit of $700 is due by May 2 (with the final payment due by September 15). By May 2, interested students will need to have their medical clearance paperwork on file in Western's Office of Study Abroad, have uploaded passport proof and have paid the $45 application fee.

"All this information will also be covered in the upcoming interest meetings in March, as well," Smith added.

To apply for the upcoming course online, visit

To see photos from the 2013 WIU Disney Cruise faculty-led study abroad course, see

For more information, contact Smith at or Doh at Learn more about WIU's study abroad programs at

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