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Professor Diane Holt's Semester at Sea: Update 3

Centre for Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Studies

Update III - Spain. The view from my cabin.

Valencia was the location of the first international conference I ever attended - 25 years ago! So I was delighted to return. The port was located near the beach promenade and where the Formula 1 track had been. The city has a fabulous public transport network, amazing architecture, great restaurants and the spectacular Museum of the Arts and Sciences with the largest oceanarium in Europe. I particularly enjoyed visiting behind the scenes to the Turtle rehabilitation hospital.

The jewel in the crown though is the massive green park that runs through the centre of the city for about 7km. After the devastating floods in the 1950s the river was rerouted and the old river bed became, not a motorway, but a park. This long, narrow greenway transforms the City. In addition I was able to visit the largest underground river in Europe travelling down it by boat (avoiding the bats and the low ceilings), and also visit the town and Castle of Xátiva – both about an hour outside the city.

One of the key take-aways in Valencia and the other nearby visits was the use of high quality interpretative and educational materials to get messages across to multiple audiences. I saw some amazing examples of interactive media, such as the large screens with interactive quizzes, clever ways of communicating key issues with displays and the more traditional maps and information boards.

I also booked into a local beach hotel where I could enjoy excellent Wi-Fi to finish writing up a paper, as well as eat fabulous paella (which was born in Valencia!)
On the final day I got a few sniffles – so I duly tested myself and was negative.

Unfortunately by the next day my ‘cold’ had worsened and my negative test became a positive. There us a protocol on the ship for when this happens. We are generally encouraged to wear a mask anyway and certainly if you start displaying a cold. But once you are confirmed Flu or Covid positive you go into isolation for 5 days.

So my sea leg from Spain to Croatia was dominated by two things. The first has been the restriction to the cabin for 5 days, which given I have a lovely window and meals delivered, has not been too much of a challenge. Lots of working in my PJs and chilling out.

The second key event was much more dramatic. On the first day at sea post Valencia a voyager noticed a distress flare from a small boat in the distance. The Captain was notified, the ship altered course and we discovered a disabled small boat adrift. I first realised it as I had my window open and could hear whistling. When I looked out I could see the boat signally by waving and blowing a whistle. As we got closer we could see the passengers – it seemed to be about 12 men, 2 women and baby on board. The local coastguard was informed and our ship stopped its engines and waited a short distance from the small craft until their help arrived. Our lifeboats were prepared for deployment if the situation had deteriorated before the rescue craft could arrive. After about an hour a rescue ship sent from Majorca arrived, our engines were restarted and we returned to our voyage to Croatia. It is one thing to hear about migration across the Mediterranean but another to see this in person.

Next stop – Croatia.

Professor Diane Holt, Management Dept, Leeds University Business School. October 2022