On August 13, 2017, under a hot summer sun, Peace Boat set sail from Yokohama to embark on its 95th Global Voyage. The ship, the Ocean Dream, will pass through the Suez and Panama Canals as it travels around the world visiting 23 ports in 19 countries across Asia, Europe, and North America. It will finish its voyage 104 days later, on November 25th, taking port at Kobe. A departure ceremony was held in the early afternoon on departure day, and happy excited faces were everywhere as friends and loved ones of those aboard lined up along Osambashi Port to wave goodbye and hold up signs and banners wishing them a safe journey. Participants on top the ship danced, cheered, and threw rainbow streamers as the engines powered up; strong wings flew the streamers high into the air and they danced colorfully through the August haze.
This voyage welcomes its most international group of participants yet, with over 200 from outside of Japan making their way onto the ship. To accommodate the international community on board is Peace Boat's largest group of volunteer Communication Coordinators yet, totalling 24, who will assist participants in understanding the wide variety of events, lectures, and classes on board while taking the opportunity to hone their own interpretation and translation skills. Thirty guest educators from all over the world will join the voyage, working with participants and providing education about a diverse range of topics including peace activism, marine conservation, gender policy, sushi-making, and hula dance. The participants range in age from one to 95, and a Montessori education programme for children two through six will allow the children to actively participate in the international environment.
Kimura Nozomi, the ship's Language Support Team Coordinator, opened the departure ceremony wearing a beautiful orange and white kimono, with a speech inspiring excitement for the voyage ahead. His Excellency Saul Arana Castellon, Nicaragua's ambassador to Japan, extended an early welcome to participants, crew, and staff. The Ocean Dream will visit his home country when it docks at Corinto from October 29 to 30, 2017. He also expressed his country's commitment to nuclear disarmament and his hopes for a world free of nuclear weapons. The Captain of the ship, Anders Andersson, gave a speech praying for safe travels, and numerous participants took the stage to express the strong emotions felt just before their circumnavigation of the globe began.
Finally, Voyage Director Tanaka Yosuke gave a toast from the deck, expressing his bright expectations for the upcoming voyage and confirming Peace Boat's continued commitment to assist in worldwide efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Joking that "Peace Boat will once again prove that the world is round," he held his champagne glass high into the air and called out the Japanese toast, "Kampai!" The ship sets sail for its next destination, Kobe, its last stop before leaving Japan for Xiamen, China.