Monday, June 29, 2015

The "B" Cruise

Over 200 new cadets and crew arrived exhausted in Belfast early (very early) Thursday morning.  At the airport, we met our buses that took us to the ship by about 01:30 local time to join the remaining cadets and crew. After getting settled on board everyone "hit the hay" to rest for the next 6 weeks. Activity began early when the sun came up as everyone got acclimated to life on the ship.

Maritime arranged for tours of some of the Belfast area attractions on Friday and Saturday.  These included trips to the Giant's Causeway, the Bushmills Distillery and stops at locations used by the TV show "Game of Thrones". Many cadets and crew decided to tour the many sites of Belfast on there own.  A popular destination was the new Titanic Museum complex two docks over from our berthing. Others just shopped in the heart of Belfast's shopping district or refreshed themselves at the City's many restaurants and pubs.

We shoved off about 09:00 on Sunday, mooring for training at the mouth of Belfast harbor until about 19:00.  We are now underway, heading south through the Irish Sea to the Mediterranean and our next port of Split, Croatia.

Rich Delbango
Ship's Librarian 

Monday, June 22, 2015


Update from the ship's librarian, Laurel:

Hello from the port of Belfast! It’s been nothing but a flurry of activity for the last couple of days as we’ve finished off final exams, sent in grades, and prepared for the change-over between cruise A and cruise B. Many of us will be saying goodbye for now to all who will continue on for the full 90-day cruise, heading to Split, Croatia and Cadiz, Spain. We’re jealous of your upcoming adventures and we’ll miss you all until the start of the school year! As for now, Belfast is amazing and there’s been much excitement about having a break here.

Lots of us plan to head to the new Titanic Museum, located in the shipyard where the famous ship was built. The museum, which opened in 2012, charts the history of the world’s most famous ocean liner and tells the story of Belfast as a maritime industrial port. I’ve also heard a cadet or two thinking about taking a ‘black taxi tour,’ which can be arranged through local cabbies. For an agreed upon fee, Belfast cabbies will take visitors on a tour of the city’s historic murals, which began during ‘the troubles’ of the 1970s. During the past decades, peace and political stability have returned and brought with it the positive impact of tourism dollars.

We hope you’ve been enjoying the pictures we’re sending home and plan to send you lots more from cruise A in the coming week! Cadets heading home will be traveling on AirPlanning charter flight (#7611), scheduled to arrive at JFK Terminal 4 at 9:55 am on June 24th. Please remember that it takes at least an hour, on a good day, to clear customs!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Q Books and Gibraltar

We’re headed north along windy the coast of Southern France, crossing the white-capped waves along Bay of Biscay. We’ve had a lovely couple of days of sunshine and some low rolling ever since we left Gibraltar.

Speaking of Gibraltar, I think I may have mentioned how we spent some time “bunkering” there – the shipping term for getting gas. The large fuel tanker took a mere six hours to refuel our little ship, but it was nice to sit and take a look around the bay.  Part of refueling involved sending over some of our crew to the tanker.  Without the aid of pilot boat, we sent them over via a kind of industrial basket hoisted back and forth with a crane. Look out for the pictures of a caged cadet or two!

The other news I have is that it’s currently finals week for the cadets on cruise A. Everyone is working really hard at finishing their “Q” books, where all assignments and homework is logged. We have just three more days until Belfast, Northern Ireland where some of us will head home and the rest will get a much needed break from the daily grind of classes.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Hello from off the coast of Malaga!

Update from the ship's librarian, Laurel:


Hello from off the beautiful coast of southern Spain! We are very close to Malaga, cruising at a slow speed back towards the straits of Gibraltar, where we’ll be “bunkering” (taking on fuel) for the next few days.

I’ve just had the pleasure of visiting the evening watch, where 2nd and 3rd class cadets were busy learning how to plot our ship’s position and course. Under the direction of Mate Amy Luna, the cadets practiced celestial navigation using a variety of equipment and tools. Cell navigation has been important for centuries and remains so to this day. Stars are what guide sailors even now, explained Mate Luna, should the GPS ever go down.

We headed up to the flying bridge, under the stars, where Mate Luna and the cadets pointed out visible bodies like Venus, Mars, and Jupiter. A strong breeze blew as the cadets busied themselves ‘shooting’ the planets and stars that appeared in the fading evening light.

With the help of a sextant – a type of instrument for measuring the altitude of each celestial body – the cadets shot three stars, and notated the timing of each shooting.  With this information, they are then able use spherical trigonometry to obtain a “running fix” and determine the position of our ship and its direction.

Back in the aft chart room, the cadets will next take into account our speed, latitude and longitude to locate our ship on plotting sheets as well as on a master chart.

All this seems rather complicated next to the GPS map in the corner of the room, but we’re happy they are getting lots of practice and learning how to navigate!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Splendid Italy!

Update from the ship's librarian, Laurel:


We’re back at things aboard the ship after a splendid time in Italy!

The welcoming port city of La Spezia was exciting as our first European port stop. It was relaxing to sit in the local parks, or just to walk the streets and sample the local gelato.

To get a further taste of Italy, the largest groups of cadets headed out of La Spezia to Florence (Firenze). In advance of our arrival, the ship had arranged for bus tours to the historic city to see its architectural treasures such as the towering Duomo, the monumental dome at the center of the city. Many cadets returned from these trips with wonderful things to say about the city’s museums as well, where they caught glimpses of masterpieces like Michelangelo’s iconic David sculpture, and toured the Uffizi Gallery, with its vast collection of Renaissance artworks.

Pisa, with it’s famous leaning tower, was also a popular day trip for many who enjoyed just wandering around its historic center which is also the birthplace of Galileo Galilei.

To avoid the crowds, many of us also opted to stay closer to the ship and headed to the five towns of the “Cinque Terre” to the west of the city. The beautiful rugged coastline has a network of hiking trails traversing the countryside, dotted with beaches and picturesque harbors. Many cadets spent at least one day diving from the rocky shore into the blue-green water, and wandering around the towns exploring the narrow walkways and pastel-colored houses. All in all, everyone seems to have enjoyed this much-needed break after so much studying!

The plan for now is to stay in the Mediterranean, where the weather is a tiny bit rainy but the seas remain calm. Check back soon for updates on progress back towards Gibraltar!