The 2017-2018 School Year is Underway! First Stop: Porto, Portugal

Posted on 6 October 2017 @ 2:50pm

The 2017-2018 School Year is Underway! First Stop: Porto, Portugal

After more than two weeks spent adjusting to life at sea, ship routines, galley duties, night watches, new classes and scheduling, Class Afloat students arrived in Porto on the morning of September 26th and were thrilled to plant their feet on solid ground.

Welcome to Porto

Situated along the Douro River on Northern Portugal, Porto, or rather its historical core, has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1996. It is the second largest city in Portugal after Lisbon, its old town forming the heart of the city, with beautiful buildings adorned with tiles and sloping, cobbled streets.

Porto, or O Porto, literally means the port. From this name came that of Portugal’s most famous export – port wine, since the city, and in particular the cellars of Vila Nova de Gaia, were responsible for the packaging, transport and export of the fortified wine since the early 18th century.

Students embraced the foggy mornings that gave way to clear skies for the duration of their stay, three of which were entirely devoted to exploring both sides of the Douro River. Running club was in full swing, hitting the pavement bright and early for 6:20am runs, exploring the streets of Porto in a group and waking up alongside the city.

Following an evening of shore leave, students enjoyed a delicious breakfast on board (provided by Class Afloat’s lovely cook Lily & cook’s mate Luke) fueling them for their first full day in Porto:

Day #1: Tour of the City, Tour of the Cellar

To familiarize students with the classical and historical areas of Porto, this year’s first port program was a guided walking tour of the city. Students learned about the 20th Century dictatorship, Porto's first-ever guerrilla marketing campaign and had a chance to visit particular points of interest, including the famous Livaria Lello Bookshop (the inspiration for J.K. Rawling's Harry Potter series), the Jardim de Joao Chagas (and the famous statues of the laughing men within) and the beautiful Tower of Clerigos.

Old Train Station, Porto, Class Afloat

Overlooking the Douro River, Porto, Class Afloat

Walking Tour, Porto, Class Afloat

Students ended the tour along the Ribeira, right across from the ship! Following a day of walking outside, students headed inside for a tour of the Calem Port Cellar, after which they were invited to rest their legs and enjoy an authentic Fado performance by local musicians! Fado is a Portuguese music genre tracing back to the 1920's and, while it has origins in Lisbon, is enjoyed across the country, making it the perfect way to end our first full day at port.

Day #2 and #3: Shore Leave and Sweet Treats

During their shore leave on day two and three of our visit to Porto, many chose to spend some time sampling the local cuisine! Both staff and students indulged in a local dish known as the Francesinha, a Portuguese sandwich made with bread, wet-cured ham, linguica, fresh sausage like chipolata, a variety of steak or roast meat, and topped off with melted cheese and a whole lot of thick tomato and beer sauce.

Bacalhao was another class favourite! Bacalhao is, in fact, the Portuguese word for cod, and, in a culinary context, means that it has been both dried and salted. It is usually served with salad and potatoes cooked in a variety of ways. Needless to say, no one held back when it came to sampling the baked goods – accessible, affordable and sweet, they proved hard to resist and were the snack of choice for all on board.


As our students waved goodbye to Porto, they boarded the Gulden Leeuw with a renewed sense of purpose and community.

During the two weeks that proceeded our first port call in Porto, students spent many hours working to develop a credo that would guide the ideals and standards to which all crew members – students, faculty, and maritime – agree to be held accountable.

After hours of deliberation, our students determined that the Semester One credo will be to SAIL:  Strive. Accept. Inspire, and Laugh.

With this new credo guiding their actions over the next 4-9 months at sea, the crew make their way to Sardinia, Italy, our next port of call. Stay tuned for more updates from the ship!