Harry’s Ramblings Cruise Ship Lecturing
The procedure to become a cruise ship lecturer is very selective, but somehow I have managed to become one, taking from December 2018 to June 2019.
It started with research. I wanted to be taken on by Carnival Group, which runs P&O and Cunard ships, so Googled in relevant words until I found what I thought to be the correct department. They receive many enquiries of this nature, so are well used to directing enquiries correctly. A form was e-mailed, not complicated, but designed to weed out those less confident. This included a section for references from two people who had heard me perform as a public speaker.
They did also request a video of me performing, which I suspect not that many complete, as it is costly. A good friend who is a professional video photographer recorded me, then edited down to five minutes, paying him for his services.
My theme is ‘They Made Us Laugh’, on great British comedians.
Within weeks I had received an invitation to an audition day at company headquarters in Southampton.
There were ten of us, with varying degrees of interesting topics. We were greeted warmly, guided to large audition room, having been previously warned that laptop would be provided, but a power point presentation was an essential pre-requisite.
We were each allocated thirty minutes, twenty for the presentation followed by ten Q and A. We were warned not to over-run, discipline essential as if accepted on board then not allowed to take more than allotted time of forty five minutes.
Before starting, we were warned that colleagues from various Carnival departments would be popping in and out throughout the day, as some speakers had topics that were potentially more interesting to specific ships, so don’t be concerned if people walked in and out during our talks, just like on board a ship.
Running order was on notice board, I was number four. The first person was a man who had been a celebrity photographer in the 1960s with The Beatles. He had returned to London locations years later to repeat snaps without them, turning into a couple of good selling books. He came across well, good initial standard. Number two had been the general in charge of British army in desert war of 1990. Again interesting, but I found his talk to be the start of a theme for the day. Maybe okay for two talks, but how to extend into more?
Number three was an ex-policeman who was in charge of a regional child protection force when suffering severe abuse. I severely doubted the topic as suitable for a holiday cruise, especially as he explained with photos the unpleasant aspects. Yes, I know it happens, but as a ship lecture was a non-starter.
Then it was me. I had prepared my talk about Tommy Cooper, lots of researched anecdotes such as stories about his renowned meanness, alcohol making a large part of his life, and ending with me singing his 1961 song ‘Don’t Jump Off The Roof, Dad.’
Number five was another photographer, this one black and white portraits, name-dropping lots of people he had snapped. Quite interesting. He had a London appointment, so wasn’t there for the afternoon.
After a snack lunch it was the most interesting one of the lot. This lady was a quiz question verifier for shows such as Mastermind, Fifteen to One, and Pointless. No power point, but I really enjoyed her talk, would have hired her on the spot.
Number seven was an ex-policeman from Scotland Yard, a fingerprint expert, but it was somewhat dull and not a topic I could see with potential to be expanded.
Number eight was another snapper, this time wildlife. I just could not get on with him, found him to be a boring speaker full of himself, not his subject. It was all me, me, me, this is where I have been, these are the animals/birds/scenes/fish I have taken photos of, he wondered why he had been invited to that day because he was so busy he probably wouldn’t have time to go on a cruise in any case. Big head.
Number nine was a strange one. He was ex-SAS, been in charge of one of the teams relieving the Iranian Embassy as well as other military exploits, I really liked him as a man, came across well, just wondered about the limitations of his topic.
Number ten had previously been allocated a higher number in the running order, but wanted to re-write her talk during the lunch interval. Her three times great grand mother in the 1850s had come from India, writing a recipe book. The speaker was almost fawned over by most present, but I couldn’t see why. Okay, she takes small groups on trips back to where granny lived, earns a very good living writing Indian recipe books, but it was lost on me.
Then it was Q and A with the Cunard and P&O booking staff. The conceited photographer wanted to know how much warning he would be given, as he was ‘so busy’. Others were more interested in mundane areas, such as world cruises. Lecturers would be flown to join the ship, then flown back later. Some cruises were seven to fourteen days duration, out of Southampton. One way to New York meant seven days at sea, with quite a few lecturers giving three talks each.
I was the only one who hadn’t given their talk about themselves. I was the only one with a wide range of talks on one topic, so they could be extended into a longer cruise. I was the only one who sang.
They told us that we were hear back within a week, this was on the Friday, by Wednesday lunch time I had two offers of different cruises. My next article will be all about the first one.