CASTINE, Maine — Students and crew aboard Maine Maritime Academy’s training ship will visit ports in Bermuda, Curacao and the southern U.S. during the two-month cruise that begins in early May.

Each spring, more than 200 MMA students as well as dozens of officers and crew members sail the 500-foot State of Maine to foreign and domestic ports as part of the academy’s training and licensing programs. Approximately 240 students are expected to participate this year.

The training cruise, which begins May 8 in Castine, is slated to visit the following ports: Galveston, Texas, May 18-21; Wilemstad, Curacao, June 1-4; St. Georges, Bermuda, June 11-14; and Charleston, S.C., June 22-25.

Before returning to Castine on June 30, the ship will stop in Searsport to pick up parents of upperclass students so parents can observe the students in action during the final leg of the cruise.

A former oceanographic research vessel for the U.S. Navy, the State of Maine measures 500 feet long and weighs approximately 16,000 tons. The current vessel, which was converted into a training ship for MMA in 1997, is the fourth ship to bear the name State of Maine.

The annual cruise typically involves freshmen and juniors, with the latter running much of the day-to-day operations of the ship under the supervision of the professional officers and crew. Sophomores at MMA are assigned to merchant ships to gain at-sea experience.

During the cruise, the students and crew will launch several small, unmanned sailboats that are used by school and community groups to study ocean wind and current passages. This is MMA’s sixth consecutive year participating in the program organized by Belfast-based Educational Passages.

The State of Maine is commanded by Capt. Leslie B. Eadie III, a 1976 MMA graduate.

Last year’s cruise visited ports in Malta, Italy, Ireland and Virginia. Past training cruise destinations have included Aruba, Brazil, Belgium, Estonia, France, Germany, Great Britain, Iceland, Poland, Russia and Spain.

The public can monitor the progress of the MMA training cruise through MMA’s “Follow the Voyage” online ship-tracking program, available at