Floating varsity with 800 tourists docks in Mombasa
There was a carnival mood in Mombasa following the arrival of cruise liner—MV World Odyssey, a state-of-the-art floating university, which docked at the Port of Mombasa yesterday morning carrying 800 tourists on its maiden voyage to Africa.
This is the first call to Mombasa after a two-year hiatus occasioned by Covid-19 which led to suspension of cruise activities by cruise lines globally.
Tourism Cabinet Secretary Penninah Malonza said the arrival of the ship is a clear sign that tourism is now recovering from Covid-19 crisis.
“I think the last time we received a cruise ship here was in 2018. So this is a positive sign for tourism because the visitors will be here for five days,” the CS said after welcoming the tourists.
Malonza said the government had lined up elaborate strategies to market Kenya and increase its visibility in the tourism source markets.
“We are just settling after transition and then here we are receiving a cruise ship. This is a great start. We are confident because we have seen tourism picking. Already most hotels in Mombasa have received holiday bookings ahead of December festivities,” the CS told journalists at the Port’s cruise ship terminal yesterday.
Kenya Port Authority acting Managing Director John Mwangemi described the arrival of World Odyssey to the Kenyan coast as a positive nod and “an affirmation of our country as a premier tourism destination and hub due to the varied fascinating experiences ‘Magical Kenya’ has to offer.”
“World Odyssey will remain in Mombasa for the next five days of which the passengers will get an opportunity to tour and sample some of our tourist sites like the Fort Jesus, Haller Park, and the Tsavo National Park. The Port of Mombasa is also expecting to receive more cruise vessels early next year as the industry slowly recovers,” said Mwangemi.
Coastal and marine tourism, Mwangemi said, remains one of the fastest-growing sectors in the world economy, contributing significantly to economic development of our country adding that cruise tourism is one of the most dynamic sectors that is international and has leveraged on the shipping and maritime industry to expand.
Constructed in Germany in 1998, MV World Odyssey is literally a floating learning institution. The multi-storey passenger cruise operates the world’s floating campus, an academic voyage for students commonly known as Semester at Sea.
Semester at sea
The 800 tourists who arrived in Mombasa yesterday include 500 students of various nationalities with 90 per cent of them being from the USA, about 100 lecturers and 180 crew members.
“We are so happy to be in Kenya and I am sure all passengers are happy. After Kenya we will go to Mumbai in India, the final destination is Dubai, then we change students we come all the way back to Mombasa in January 29, 2023 and we will stay for five days then we head to Europe until April 21, 2023 when all the students will disembark,” said the Ship’s Captain, Petros Poulakis who has operated the vessel since 2021.
The Semester at Sea started its journey in Amsterdam, the Netherlands on September 9, 2022 and has cruised to Lisbon-Portugal, Casablanca Morocco, Valencia-Spain, Dubrovnik-Croatia, Piraeus-Greece, Limassol-Cyprus, Aqaba in Jordan and now Mombasa-Kenya
With a visit to Kenya, the passengers will also be learning about Kenya as part of their semester studies.
“The trip has been really great, Semester at sea is really a great programme. We are taking university classes while going around the whole world. We just visited Europe and now we are in Kenya…I love Kenya because of the diverse culture and all the people are super nice, the nature is beautiful. I will spend my time with my dad who lives in Samburu East, Kenya,” Eva Gerald, a Marine Biology student from Flanders, Belgium.
The ship has a similar feel to a college or university with the architecture and design. It is designed with Cabin berths to accommodate approximately 600 programme participants, some exterior with windows, some interior without.
Just like in any higher learning institution, it has a reception and administrative offices on board, where there is a welcoming reception desk area with around-the-clock crew presence as well as the Semester at Sea field programme and administrative staff.
The vessel has nine classrooms, each with state-of-the-art technology to support engaged learning plus a fitness space including an indoor gym with free weights, weight machines and cardiovascular equipment.
Outside features a spacious sun deck for recreational activities, including a basketball/ volleyball court.
At deck nine, there is an outdoor pool where passengers can enjoy swimming.