Mar 26, 2020

Class Afloat ProgresoClass Afloat before disembarking in Progreso, Mexico

Every school year comes with its own set of challenges and our community does everything possible to turn these challenges into learning moments. In 2020, we have found ourselves navigating the uncharted waters of a global pandemic that forced us to bring our sailing journey to an abrupt halt in Mexico this week.  

Class Afloat CartagenaAs we have witnessed the COVID-19 pandemic evolve over the past month, our primary objective at Class Afloat has been to allow our students to safely complete their Tall Ship sailing program and academic school year. From early days, the introduction of a comprehensive COVID-19 prevention plan on board our Tall Ship, Gulden Leeuw, allowed us to continue the experiential component of our program without disruption. Isolation being a key asset in the prevention of COVID-19, few environments would have afforded our students the same protection as remaining on board the majestic Tall Ship they called home.

Class Afloat ProgresoIn contrast, changing policies at various ports presented a unique challenge to our program, forcing us to cancel our port visit to Cuba and our long-awaited parent port in Bermuda, where over 100 family members were expected to greet our student crew followed by a leg to Lunenburg NS, home to Class Afloat Head Office.

The Canadian Government announcement on March 16th that closed borders posed new risks to our 28 international crew members. To ensure that every member could make their way home, we made the difficult decision to end the ship-based component of our program at the port of Progreso and this week our 2019-2020 class disembarked the Gulden Leeuw, marking an end to their incredible 7-month sailing adventure, one that carried them to 17 ports in Europe, Africa, South America, the Caribbean and Latin America covering 11,500nm (21,300km) (13,300 miles) – half the distance around the equator. all the students were able to catch flights out and are now safely home.

Arrangements have been made that will enable Class Afloat students to finish up their course work online, thereby completing the academic school year.

Class AfloatOur team of professional mariner crew have remained on board to sail the ship back to the Netherlands. The Gulden Leeuw is fully fuelled and stocked with provisions for a 35-day non-stop sail from Progreso to Amsterdam.

Looking forward, we are excited about the exceptional group of students that have been accepted for admission to join next year’s student crew. While spots remain, our Admission’s Team continues to accept and process applications for our 2020-2021 school year.

David Jones, President, Class Afloat

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