The journey around the world onboard Peace Boat's 90th Global Voyage has begun. The Ocean Dream, Peace Boat's chartered vessel, departed from Yokohama on December 17, amid cheers from groups of friends, family and wellwishers who had come to see off the departure. Over the next 105 days, the ship will traverse the southern hemisphere, visiting 20 different ports, more than any previous southern voyage. From Asia, the ship will make its way west to Africa, and from there further west again to South America. Just as the explorer Magellan did 493 years ago, Peace Boat will navigate around the Latin American continent and through the fjords, and on to the islands of the Pacific. The first stop will be Okinawa in the south of Japan, and the last will be Majuro, the capital of the Marshall Islands, which Peace Boat will be visiting for the first time. One of the highlights of the voyage will be the ship's call to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, during the largest festival in South America, Rio's Carnival.
Every Peace Boat journey has a theme. The theme chosen for the 90th voyage is "connections: shared experiences to shape the future". "As we travel around the world, there will be many opportunities to meet people in the various ports of call and exchange ideas, opinions, laughter and perhaps tears. Making connections between people that go beyond borders and notions of nationality identity is one of Peace Boat's main aims", explained Ichizuka Aiko, the International Director of the 90th Voyage. According to her, the connections are not limited exclusively to encounters in port. "The diversity of those presently onboard and those who will join us along the way is a great asset to the voyage, which I am confident will enrich this truly wonderful experience for everyone", she said. 800 participants from more than ten different countries are travelling onboard the Ocean Dream; the youngest is just two years old and the eldest is 92. For 340 of those participants this is not their first time participating in a Peace Boat voyage;, some are onboard for the 7th, 8th or even 12th time. The participants are joined by Peace Boat staff including an international team of volunteer English and Spanish language teachers and interpreters.
Peace Boat staff members Fujikawa Fumika and Daniel Read lead the departure ceremony on a chilly but sunny day. One of the first people to speak with the participants and the people who came to say goodbye to the ship was the captain of the vessel, Captain Viktor Alimov. "You will have the opportunity to see many different countries and cities. Meet people of different nations and finally you will find out how beautiful is to return home after such a long journey", he told everyone. Next to the microphone was the Minister of the Argentinian Embassy in Japan, Felipe Alejandro Gardella. In February, Peace Boat will stop in Buenos Aires and Ushuaia. Minister Gardella encouraged everyone to get to know his country and emphasized the voyage's large cultural contribution. "I am sure that this voyage will be another great success for Peace Boat and I cannot wait to hear all the stories when the participants will come back to Japan", he said.
A large number of guest educators from Japan and around the world will be joining Peace Boat's 90th Global Voyage, including professors, journalists, architects, musicians, peace activists, astronomers, social creators, environmentalists and dancers. One of the first onboard is Makishi Yoshikazu, an Okinawan activist and architect. "The first port of call of this voyage is my hometown of Naha. People are still protesting against the construction of a new naval base there. These protests continue among people of all generations. I hope many people onboard the ship today will learn about the situation and will join us in these protests in the future", he said.