We successfully crossed the Atlantic Ocean for the second time and arrived in London! We arrived two days early at Canary Wharf, so we had one school day with an evening of shore leave and a full day of shore leave extra. All of the students were very excited to have one more day of shore leave to explore the city.
On our first day, many took the tube, the underground, to the center of London. With my specific group, we walked around Westminster, and saw Big Ben and the eye of London. Then we found ourselves in Greenpark next to the Buckingham Palace. We arrived just in time to see the changing of guards, which was very impressive. The ceremony started with the King’s Guard’s Orchestra leading the way across the Royal Mall road to St. James Palace. They were then followed by Kings’ Guards on horses, on bicycle, and on foot while holding machine guns in their hands.
Picture of the gates of Buckingham palace on the first day of the port. You can see the detailed put into the Lion and the Unicorn on the symbol itself.
The guards were dressed in a red uniform and fluffy hats, while the officers wore fancier uniforms with pins, broches, and patches all over them. As they marched on, the crowd was getting bigger and bigger and the guards were now being watched by hundreds of people. When they arrived, the King’s Guards holding the machine guns changed places with the other ones. The music of the trumpets and drums were loud, as was the crowd, as they finished the ceremony. When the song ended, the people became silent as the guards went into the building and the crowd began to return to their normal Sunday afternoon.
The next day was our port program, which was a scavenger hunt around the city. All the students divided themselves into 16 different groups. Every single group had a list of 80 places, things or actions to do in the city. So, our shipboard director gave us an unlimited Oyster card (giving us access to all forms of public transportation) for the day and a curfew for the hunt, and we were off. With my team, we first went to Mayfair where we found the number 1 phone box and the Piccadilly Royal Academy. We then continued walking around and saw a street dancer and because one of our tasks was to interact with street entertainers, we started dancing with him. People kept stopping and watching us having fun and not caring about what everyone else was thinking. After 3 minutes of dancing with the guy, we had accumulated a big crowd of people that were joining in, and it became a big party, the highlight of my day.
The statue in the middle of Trafalgar Square in front of the National Portrait Museum. You can also see on the side the view of a double red bus, typical of London.
Afterwards, we went to Covent Market where we walked through stands filled with the most random things such as jewellery to food, forks to postcards, and knives to wooden boxes. As our last stop, we went to Trafalgar Square to visit the National Portrait Museum. We then left the square to go to the eye of London for the end of our scavenger hunt, where one of our first semester student, Thomas Steip was waiting for us. We met up with some of the other students and went out with him to Chinatown, bought some fortune cookies, and ate them all in a typical red double bus. A great day for the books.
On our other port program day, we volunteered at the Canal and River Trust Organisation whose goal it is to maintain the dock and also the environment of the whole area of Canary Wharf. We helped them rust bust, paint old fences, and sand bollards off the dock area.
This port was important for some of the students because their family members were there. Alumni students came to visit the boat and we had an open house. People saw many shows including The Cursed Child, Mamma Mia, Women in Black, Hamilton, Phantom of the Opera, and even Drake! Also because of those shows, we had a curfew of 12 AM, which many of the student crew enjoyed because we wouldn’t have to worry about being late or missing anything that was at night.