Southampton, we hardly knew ‘ya
After a holiday week touring in Henley-on-Thames, Wales and London, on Wednesday my good friend Trish chauffeured me to Southampton on the southern coast of the United Kingdom, where she and I and a sizeable cohort of my future faculty and staff peers overnighted.
Our contemporary hotel looked out over the Westgate, a stone remnant of the coastal city’s historical protective walls.
Some 120 Pilgrims, including Miles Standish, having stopped in Southampton for supplies, left through the Westgate on a mid-August day in 1620, also headed across the Atlantic.
Today, just across Southampton’s M3 highway and roundabout adjacent to the Westgate, lie a string of modern shipping piers and docks.
On our way to one of the terminals to board the MV Explorer Thursday, we passed the Queen Mary 2, which had docked that morning.
The Pilgrims needed three months to make their way to the Massachusetts colony. The Queen Mary 2 regularly crosses the Atlantic in just seven days.
Given our name and mission—Semester at Sea—we are purposely taking a many times longer (and a safer) route than the Pilgrims. It will return us to the States in a little less than four months.
This evening, making steady progress at 14-plus nautical miles per hour, we are off the western coast of Denmark. All we could see at dinner were gray-green waves. Fortunately, those same waves were flat enough to allow a dozen faculty and staff to form a yoga circle in the forward lounge on the 7th deck. We all appreciated the great stretch after our long days of meetings and greetings.
Our nearly 600 students are onboard; classes start tomorrow.
We’re officially on our way now.