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Monday, January 16, 2012

All Aboard! My Visit to MV Logos Hope

Yesterday, while everyone was having fun in the Sinulog celebrations, I was aboard a ship—the MV Logos Hope—touted as the World’s Largest Floating Bookshop

I first learned about the MV Logos Hope’s impending arrival last December, when I read about it in the local paper.

When the ship finally arrived last Tuesday, I’ve been itching to visit the refitted car ferry. I promised my self not to miss the ship’s visit since I missed out on the previous visits of its sister ship—the MV Doulos. I was also very excited to get a bargain on books sold in the ship. 

The visitor's guide and map.
MV Logos Hope is operated by the German charitable Christian organisation GBA Ships e.V. It is the fourth ship, the only ship currently, operated by the organization and the third ship named Logos, preceded by MV Logos and MV Logos II.  It is twice as big as any previous GBA ship. 

Logos Hope originated in Rendsburg, Germany, in 1973, as the car ferry Gustav Vasa under Lion Ferry AB. For 10 years, she plied a regular route between Malmö, Sweden and Travemünde, Germany, which was later extended to include Rønne, Denmark and Trelleborg, Sweden.

MV Logos Hope as MV Norröna
in the harbor of Torshavn in 1997
In April 1983, the ship was bought by the Faroese ferry company Smyril Line, and renamed Norröna. She sailed from Torshavn, the Faroese capital, to Lerwick in the Shetland Islands, Bergen, Norway, Hanstholm, Denmark and Seyðisfjörður, Iceland during summer. 

In 2003, when Smyril Line delivered a new Norröna, she was renamed Norröna I and was put up for sale. GBA Ships purchased her in March 2004 and officially went in to service as MV Logos Hope in February 2009.

Back to last Sunday, around 3 PM, I decided to check the ship. I took a jeepney, got off at the Cebu Technological University at around 5 PM, and walked to the ports—the traffic was very congested that day and I never got to ride a jeepney until after an hour of waiting.
I reached the docks by foot in 15 to 20 minutes, dodging jeepneys and the heavy crowd. After submitting my bag for the security check at the port entrance, I went to get a ticket. Luckily, the queue for the tickets was not very long. The tickets cost 20 pesos each. Children 12 years old and below can visit the ship for free.

Upon entering the ship, one will feel most welcome with the friendly smiles of the crew—some of them even greeted us good afternoon in Cebuano.

The lifeboat mini-theater.
(Photo by Jee Tee Cee)
Inside the welcome lounge: facing the entrance is the information kiosk; going forward is the ship’s lifeboat mini-theater, where we watched a 2-minute clip introduction about the ship; and across the mini-theater, on the wall, is a timeline of the ships of GBA Ships e.V.

These two would have cost me 400 pesos more  
in the local bookstore.
After the short introduction, we moved going forward to the bookshop, which is behind the lifeboat mini-theater. The ship’s displays include thousands of titles ranging from Christian literature, fiction, general references, children’s books, cookbooks and self-help books, and the Classics. The ship also sells CDs and DVDs, as well as, souvenir mugs, caps, key rings, and flash drives.

It was easy to lose track of time in the ship. In fact, I spent almost 3 hours in the bookshop—I usually stay long in bookstores and libraries—I bask in the presence of books.  I was browsing from one shelf to another—reading, flipping the pages, and looking at the pictures. I was walking around the book fair, checking books from port to starboard. It took me a long time to find the Classics, passed the section a couple of times. When I found the section, I took time to decide which to buy. I couldn’t decide between The Adventures and Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, Ben-Hur, and The Best of Sherlock Holmes. I was originally looking for Charles DickensGreat Expectations but only found Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities.

From the bookstore, beyond the cash desks, I entered the Journey of Life.  In this section of the ship—or maze—one can follow the life of the Prodigal Son.

The Prodigal Son went to the
casino to play some slots.
After journeying through life with the Prodigal Son, I proceeded to the theater. According to the guide that they handed out, the theater is the place where you’ll never know exactly what to expect. Still according to the guide, it is where one can listen to the crew talk about their various jobs in the ship. Too bad I failed to catch the crew, maybe when I re-visit the ship, one of these days, I’d get to listen to them.

Next to the theatre is the ship’s I-Café. The ship’s international café serves cookies, sodas, popcorn, cakes, waffles, and ice cream. The café is also where the visitors get to interact with the crew closely. Kids can hang out in the children’s corner with some of the crew. Other crew members join the visitors in their table.

Chocolate and vanilla ice cream.
The café was fully occupied when I got in. I did not get a seat on the table. I positioned my lonesome in one of the seatless tall tables by the wall. I had ice cream—chocolate and vanilla in one cone—and later found out that the guy at the next table was my Physics lab teacher. I had to go away. I didn’t want to get in to a conversation with my teacher about PhysicsPhysics is a favorite though.

Before getting off the ship, I wanted to watch the mini-show. Sadly, the tickets sold out. I also wanted to go up the ship's bridge. Too bad the bridge is off limits. 

My visit to MV Logos Hope was fun and inspiring—a bit overwhelming. I got to buy two good reads. I got to learn a lot about the ship and the crew and their mission.

The ship's mascot El Capitano.
Inside the ship, I was getting goose bumps. I realized that working as a volunteer aboard Logos Hope is a dream job. Yes, it is.  Who doesn’t want to see the world? The chance to share knowledge and the chance to meet and help people makes the job fulfilling. Trust me, I used to help people solve their problems online and on the phone, I know what fulfilment means. Volunteer work in the ship is different from my previous job—but not very different—both jobs are about helping other people.

I wished I had ways to stay longer in the ship. The ship gave me a similar feel I get, as a kid, when I enter a toy shop or a book store—the I-want-to-live-here feeling. I don’t live in the ship so I had to disembark. I can stow away—no, I can’t. Surely, I’ll visit the ship in the following days. I still have to watch the crew’s mini-show, buy more books, and enjoy MV Logos Hope while it is still quayed up in Cebu. It is the ship’s first ever visit in Cebu and in the Philippines. I hope I get to visit MV Logos Hope the next time it docks in Cebu after traveling the world.