A “floating university” operated by a Japan-based NGO focused on peace, human rights, environmental protection and sustainable development pulled into Laem Chabang Port while on a two-month voyage around Asia.
The Ocean Dream, chartered since 2012 by the Peace Boat Organization, opened it decks and rooms to the media April 11, the first of its two days in port.
The 205-meter-long boat weighs in at 32,265 gross tons, has a 7.5-meter draft and is backed by 250 crew and staffers. It carries a maximum 1,422 passengers, but usually sails with 800-1,000.
But the ocean liner is not your typical cruise ship. It is more akin to a floating “university” or “peace village”, educational opportunities and conferences related to global events. The non-governmental organization also has used its ships to provide humanitarian aid at various stops.
The March 8-April 23 voyage, the organization’s 97th since 1983, takes the ship through the western Pacific to eight nations in Southeast Asia and on to China, before returning to Japan. The voyage explores Asia’s colonial past and legacy, as well as its efforts to build more sustainable communities based on the respect for human rights.
On each voyage, guest educators are invited to give lectures about the history, culture and contemporary issues of the countries visited, as well as present on global justice issues including human rights, peace education, the environment and sustainable development.
The guest educators usually include a wide range of university professors, journalists, community activists, artists, musicians, war veterans and young leaders. Passengers can take part in lectures, workshops and discussions, as well as exchange ideas and opinions directly with them, as they sail together around the world.
Of course, it is still a cruise and the Ocean Dream offers swimming pools, Jacuzzis, a gym and sports deck, book corner, coffee shops and sunbathing. Main meals are served at the two restaurants onboard combining Japanese and international cuisine. Internet and phone services via satellite are also available onboard at an extra charge.
After leaving Thailand, the Peace Boat called into Cai Lan, Vietnam and Haikou, China. It next will stop in Kobe and Yokohama, Japan.