Tuesday, July 26, 2016


Update from Jannette:

July 25, 2016

Sailing the Atlantic

So, our tour of the Mediterranean has come to a close. Yesterday, we passed through the Straits of Gibraltar and into the Atlantic Ocean. The views were amazing and the sailing was smooth. Many ships could be seen surrounding the area and in the background stood the imposing sight of the Rock of Gibraltar. A few of us were able to get cell phone signals which the cadets and crew took advantage to say hi to friends and family back home.

Classes and studying have been in full swing with many cadets spending their off hours in the library availing themselves of the many resources available there. In Malta, we took on some cadets from our neighbor, Kings Point Merchant Marine Academy. Of course, the watch schedules had to be adjusted but other than that, the Kings Point cadets have made a smooth transition to life aboard the Empire State. Yesterday, we had our first Sunday at Sea Barbecue with the new arrivals and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. The ice cream sundae bar was a smash.  Thanks go out to the terrific Chartwells crew!

We are now heading home across the Atlantic. We still have many exercises and studying to do and navigating the waters of the Atlantic will be a new challenge for the many cadets who came aboard in Dublin for Cruise B. In a few days, we will be near the Azores where many drills and exercises will take place and perhaps we will see some more amazing views.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Helicopters, Wind and the Blue Lagoon

July 19, 2016 SST 2016 Update from Jannette:

            It has been incredibly busy here on the Empire State. The search and rescue drills continued with a very impressive helicopter rescue drill. The Spanish equivalent to our Coast Guard was kind enough to help us out by flying their rescue helicopter and crew out to the Empire State to perform the drill. Everyone was very excited and even those of us not participating in the drill were eager to go out on the sun deck and watch the dramatic “rescue”.

            Last week, the wind picked up quite a bit in the Mediterranean Sea and the Empire State started taking some rather large rolls! Even some of our seasoned officers and crew commented on the rocking, though of course they were quite adept at handling the swells. A few of us newbies, however, needed to visit the excellent staff in Sick Bay for a little help managing some seasickness! The wind even delayed our arrival into Malta since the pilot boat was having a hard time meeting us due to the large swells. Eventually, we were able to dock at Valletta, Malta late in the evening on July 15 with all of us excited to begin our adventures there.

            Valletta is a striking walled city located on a beautiful island in the Mediterranean. Malta has played a major role in many of the historic European wars including the Napoleon Wars, WWI and WWII. It even withstood a massive siege by the Ottoman Empire in 1565. The history of Malta is very rich and historical sites abound including forts, castles, museums and prehistoric temples dating back to 3600 B.C.

While some of us decided to immerse ourselves in the history and culture of Malta, others were more interested in experiencing the amazing outdoor adventures available on the Maltese Islands. There were intriguing sea cliffs and caves to explore. Many of us opted to participate in snorkeling and scuba diving trips to the many shipwrecks located around the islands. One of the most popular outings was to the Blue Lagoon located on Comino, a small island just north of Malta. A boat trip took many of the cadets and crew over to this tiny island with one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. The water there was so blue it seemed a bit unreal. Many of us enjoyed relaxing and swimming in this little slice of paradise!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Photos from SST 2016 Cruise B

Jannette has sent images for your enjoyment:

So long Barcelona!

July 11, 2016 Update from Jannette:

So long Barcelona!

What a lovely time we had. Our days were packed with sun, beaches, gorgeous buildings, fascinating museums and lots of tapas!

While some of us chose to spend our time in Barcelona relaxing on the beach, others decided to brave the heat and explore the city sights. Strolling down La Rambla, the long pedestrian boulevard in the Gothic Quarter of the city was a wonderful way to take in the energy and culture of Barcelona. It is filled with open air cafes, street performers, kiosks and art.  A tour of La Sagraga Família, Antoni Gaudí's famous basilica, is truly a sight to see with its intricately carved facades and soaring bell towers.

Some of us got out of the city to tour some of the nearby sites as well. Montserrat Mountain was a favorite destination for many. It is a lovely cliff like mountain where tourists can explore an ancient Benedictine monastery and basilica as well as hike the many scenic mountain trails offering amazing views of the valley below.  The quaint city of Girona was another popular outing. Many of us had fun roaming around its winding, cobblestone streets to see the famous Gothic cathedral, roman ruins and Arabian baths.

Unfortunately, we had to say goodbye to Barcelona yesterday and continue on our adventure around the Mediterranean. So, it is back to classes and studying for the next few days as we head to Malta to make more amazing memories!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Sun, barbeques and baby sea turtles.

Update from Jannette:

July 5, 2016

Sun, barbecues and baby sea turtles!

 Everything has been running very smoothly on the Empire State for the past week. We entered the sapphire blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea a few days ago and oh my, how beautiful it has been! The sky is blue, the breeze is soft and the sea is calm!

We are spending a few days in the training area near Mallorca, Spain to practice maneuvering the ship as well as safety and rescue drills. Everyone has been working hard and enjoying our time at sea. There have been sightings of dolphins, porpoises, whales and yes, even baby sea turtles. On July 6, we will be docking in Barcelona.    We are all looking forward to exploring Spain!

Yesterday, we had our Fourth of July barbecue out on the sun deck with the Mediterranean Sea and Spain as our backdrop! The wonderful Chartwells folks went above and beyond to provide us with a sumptuous feast of steaks, burgers, hot dogs, corn on the cob, root beer floats and cotton candy for dessert! Music played,  the sun shone and our merriment continued well into the evening!

 Hope everyone at home enjoyed the long three day holiday weekend. Up next Barcelona!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Dublin...then off we go!

6/27/2016 Update from Ship's Librarian, Jannette D'Esposito:

Cheers Mates!

Hi everyone! My name is Jannette D’Esposito and I am taking over as Ship’s Librarian for the second half of SST 2016. Those of us flying over for the second half made it to the ship safe and sound late on June 22.  After some much needed rest and food, we all went off to explore Dublin, Ireland.

The Temple Bar area of Dublin was very popular for shopping and great traditional Irish fare like fish and chips, shepherd’s pie and of course Guinness! The Guinness Factory was another popular stop especially the Gravity Bar located on the top level. Many cadets ventured out of Dublin to take in the wonderful views of the countryside. Castles were explored, hiking trails were hiked and some went off to see the Game of Thrones filming sights. We all had a wonderful time!

On Sunday June 26, we set sail and started our day with a rather rainy drill to help us prepare for any type of emergency. Now it is time for classes and studying as we make our way to the Mediterranean Sea. Check back soon for more updates and photos.