St. Mary's students move into cruise ship today

The students will live on the Sea Voyager until at least December. (Photo: WJLA)

Saint Mary's college students moved onto a cruise ship near campus Tuesday because of a mold outbreak in their dorms.

About 250 students were evacuated after a mold outbreak in two dorm buildings, officials said.

"We thought it was a joke. We thought it was crazy. Apparently the sailing team knew about it a little earlier than everybody else because it was the sailing team's
coach that actually got the ship,” said Caitlin Whiteis, one of the displaced students.

Damp conditions from Hurricane Irene and persistent rains are to blame for the mold, college officials said.

The college has been housing students in hotels, but officials said housing them on the Sea Voyager will cost about the same. The 300-foot cruise ship will be docked at a pier near campus on the St. Mary's River off the Potomac River.

The school was spending $20,000 a day to keep students in the hotels. Chip Jackson of the school said using the ship also means students will be closer to campus.

"The hotels are all 30 or 40 minutes away,” he said, “highly disruptive for students to be off campus that way.”

At first students weren't crazy about having to move out of the hotel.
"We were all really frustrated but then we realized it was on campus, less of a commute and it's a cruise ship so it's kind of exciting,” said Charlotte Mecklenburg.

The rooms are small but come with housekeepng. The dining rooms will be study areas. The ship's gift store is now the management office.

“We get to live on a cruise ship which is something that no one else can really say they've done their first year of college so I think that's pretty cool,” said Giselle Keating.

Students are expected to live on the ship through the end of their semester in December.

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