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Largest floating university calls at Port of Mombasa

 World Odyssey at the Port of Mombasa on February 9, 2024. [Kelvin Karani, Standard]

The world’s largest floating university, MV World Odyssey, has docked at the Port of Mombasa for six days.

Former envoy Koki Muli Grignon, who is an onboard lecturer, and Ms Tracy Anyona Obirika, a student, are among the passengers.

It is the longest port stay by a visiting cruise liner at the port’s ultra-modern berth number 1 cruise terminal this year.

The vessel, which had set sail from Cochin in India, came alongside the berth at 7.30am on Friday.

The voyage started in Bangkok, Thailand, and the cruise ship will visit 11 other ports before winding up the journey in Bremerhaven Germany on April 20, 2024.

African ports it will visit include Port Louis in Mauritius, Cape Town in South Africa, Tema and Takoradi in Ghana and Casablanca in Morocco.

According to Mr Alex Gichaga, Commercial manager for Seaforth Shipping, the vessel’s local handling agents, the ship, which is on its third trip to Mombasa after first calling in early last year, has 158 crew members, 89 faculty members and 585 student/passengers.

The oldest passenger on board was a 92-year-old, who disembarked in Cochin, while the youngest who made it to Mombasa was a three-year-old girl.

“This is great news for Kenya as this vessel is likely to come back later in the year and early next year. We are delighted by Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) facilitation on quick clearance,” Gichaga told the media.

Ms Marti Fessenden, executive dean onboard the Semester at Sea, which is under the aegis of the Institute for Shipboard Education, said Mombasa was their first call among the African ports they will dock in.

“Apart from conducting classes onboard, our students will interact with fellow students in local colleges, learn local culture and sample Kenyan wildlife safaris,” she said.

The Semester at Sea programme for students is a multi-country study programme abroad for all students of majors emphasising global comparative study.

Students who disembarked after the vessel docked went for a field programme at the Technical University of Mombasa and Kenyatta University, Mombasa campus, for exchange sessions.

Ms Abigael Smith, a Jamaican staff member, said that she felt at home upon their arrival.

“There are smiles all over. I feel like I’m home here,” she said as she sipped her welcome madafu drink.

KPA Harbour Master Captain Ali Abdille, who represented Managing Director, Capt William Ruto, said they were delighted to receive the vessel and wished the crew and passengers an enjoyable moment.

“With sound marketing campaigns and now a proper terminal infrastructure, we hope to have more cruise ships call at the port,” Capt Abdille said.

Kenya Tourism Board Public Relations Manager Wausi Walya said that the vessel, a regular caller, is a mark of endorsement for Mombasa port as a preferred port of call.

“There is so much to learn by the students here. Mombasa and the Kenyan Coast present ideal learning experience on culture and rich coastal history,” Walya said.

The vessel’s master, Capt Jan Masten, said they were happy with the reception and looked forward to memorable moments.

Mombasa Education Dr Mbwarali Kame said they were happy to receive the visitors.

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