Monday, May 19, 2014

Shore Leave - Kristiansand, Norway

Our last port of the semester, hard to believe that this journey is over!  Sorlandet hadn’t been back to Norway for three years so her homecoming was pretty big.  We came in flying a huge Norwegian flag, dressing the yards, singing sea shanties and looking our finest.  

Over the last months a lot of work had gone into getting Sorlandet looking her best for this moment – goal achieved!  Once we were alongside the students all gathered on deck and sang Leave her Johnny to the crowd of parents and others gathered on the dock. It was pretty emotional, the beginning of our goodbyes to each other and the ship.

As the last port, Kristiansand was host to graduation for the students. The entire crew was able to attend the ceremony (thanks to some oncoming crew who offered to start a day early to stay with the ship) and it was a great look back at an amazing year.  In the moment all this sailing around the world living on a tall ship seems completely normal but listening to stories and seeing photos from the past year really made me realise what a unique and special experience this is.  It also reflected the growth of everyone on board, especially the students, who have done and learned and experienced so much over these past 9 months. There were many awards to be given and many deserving people to receive them.

The crew went in uniform and although the galley department had the choice of wearing “blues” or normal, but dressy, clothes I went with wearing blues partially to be part of the group but mostly for warmth! (Pants and wool sweater vs. summer dress when it’s 10°C)

There was a reception after the ceremony and a crew party after that.  The students were officially done and headed out to an island for their after grad party.  The maritime and academic crew took over the banjer and enjoyed take-out bought with the profits from Slapps.  Jess and I enjoyed not cooking and being able to eat at the same time as everyone else!

Once grad was over, although the meals kept happening we only had a couple more to do and the rest of our time was busy with packing, cleaning and tying up loose ends before we left the ship.  The two of us (Jess and I) got a hotel room together and spend another couple nights in Norway before heading on to further adventures.

There aren’t a lot of big sights in Kristiansand so we enjoyed some much needed down time (3 episodes of Downton Abbey before lunch!), a few more visits with crewmates, looking around town and a hike through a park, just behind the art centre where the grad ceremony took place.

Next up/what I am currently doing: stop in France to visit a friend before flying home to the ones I love.

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