What do you talk about?

Folks often ask what I do on board ship.  When I tell them I am a Destination Presenter, almost always the immediate follow-up is, “What do you talk about?”

Dah.  The destinations?

To help people get the most out of the destinations we visit, my job is to provide them with information and background about the ports.  Some folks do all the research before they come on a cruise.  They literally arrive with background books they have put together, and others arrive without a clue.  I love doing Panama Canal cruises because the reason why people come on the cruise IS the Panama Canal. So I have standing room only and people sitting in the aisles of the big theater.  I joined the line of people filing out after one such talk and up ahead were two women, both in the upper 60s. and the one said to the other, “I didn’t know the Panama Canal was man-made.”  I’ve had to send people back to their cabins to get changed before leaving the ship explaining patiently why wearing your gold Presidential Rolex watch wasn’t a particularly good idea when walking around Manaus at night.  Or the lady getting off in Morocco dressed in what she might wear to a beach on the Riviera.

There’s so much to talk about: the culture and traditions, the history, religion, art and architecture, food, “must see” tourist sites and places to avoid, not-to-miss cultural experiences, do’s and don’ts and how to stay safe.  Usually,if I’m luxky, I find a couple of off-the-beaten-path, kooky,  but fascinating “rabbit holes” to wander down.

I spent four fantastic months on one of what used to be “the small ships of Princess,” ships that held only 700 people, going back and forth between Fort Lauderdale and Manaus.  Not only were the ports fascinating but we were able to experience the rise of the Amazon from it’s “normal” size through the peak of the flood season.  So I got to talk about the Amazon basin and the vital role it plays in our world basically as an “air conditioner” for the rest of the planet.

A big plus of this itinerary was that we also got to visit French Guiana, home to the notorious French Penal Colony, stopping in the Salvation Islands, and viewing Devil’s Island popularized by the novel “Papillon” and the movie staring a young Dustin Hoffman.

Understand that on board, in the entertainment hierarchy, although the lectures are very important to the guests, they are near the bottom of the barrel in terms of production. The folks who do the staging are much more focused on the big production shows than mere lectures. On most ships the lectures are recorded, #1 for broadcast on cabin TV, and #2 for review by the home office who will determine if you are invited back. I’ll share with you a few talks so you can get the idea. Unfortunately, the recording technology sucks, but you’ll get the idea.

Often I also get to work with the ship videographer making DVDs of the cruises which are then sold to guests. Here are a few clips.