Reflecting on 5-1/2 Years of Cruise Ship Speaking

It was almost 5-1/2 years ago—July 19, 2012—when I boarded the Celebrity CONSTELLATION in Amsterdam to embark on my very first experience as a cruise ship speaker. Sure, I was a little nervous even though I’d presented to CFOs and CEOs on mega-million dollar engagements before I took early retirement from the high-tech field. I was confident in those meetings; this was a “new gig” for me. As we headed out into the open North Sea on the first full day away, it didn’t help that the waves and the strong wind were tossing the ship about; was I going to be okay? That was in doubt for a while. But I managed to “keep it together” on the stage of the 900-seat Celebrity Theatre, and the guests seemed to enjoy my presentations.

Here I am on the bridge with Captain Nikolaos Frantzis, the Master of the Vessel for the CONSTELLATION. Steve Gayda was the Cruise Director, and I have to say that it was quite the honor to have him as my first CD. I’ve since sailed with Steve several other times on other Celebrity ships in SE Asia, and it’s always been an excellent experience.

You can see a part of the presentation I gave on Opulent St. Petersburg that’s on YouTube by clicking here.

Fast-forwarding from that 12-Night Scandinavia and Russia Cruise, I’ve had the pleasure and privilege of speaking on two dozen more cruises since then, plus I’m already booked on some for this year and for next year.

Frequently I am asked, “What’s your favorite cruise line?” Most people think I’m just being politically correct when I answer, “The one I’m currently on.” But, it’s true. I’ve enjoyed every cruise I’ve been on; the two dozen as a speaker and the eight as a regular guest. Every cruise line (just like every airline, every car manufacturer, every mobile phone brand) has its attributes and features that separate it from the others. Rather than try to give you all the details of every cruise line—I’m sure I’d miss something that you would prefer to know—I’ll list the cruise lines I’ve been on, and you can visit their websites if you’re interested.

In order, I’ve spoken on:

  • Celebrity Cruises:
  • Oceania Cruises:
  • Blount Small Ship Adventures:
  • Princess Cruises:
  • Silversea Cruises:
  • Victory Cruise Lines:

  • I’m booked to speak on two cruises with Viking’s ocean-going ships next year (, and that first cruise is still sixteen months away. More information about the cruises I’ve been on, including all the countries I’ve visited while being on as a speaker, is on my Cruise Ship Speaking page.

    There have been many fun and exciting experiences on the cruises; I wish I could list them all. I can’t do that, so here are a few:

  • The plane from Chicago to Amsterdam (not that first cruise or I might have felt jinxed) was very late taking off, landing in Amsterdam at 1:15 PM. I took a taxi to the ship, boarding at 2:15; the ship sailed at 4:00. That was tight!
  • My wife joined me on a 6-week cruise from New York City to Sydney, Australia—it was the final segment of a 100+ day World Cruise that was mostly Aussies and Kiwis. We had a blast mingling with all of them, especially during Happy Hour. There were so many great sights on that cruise including the Panama Canal, stopping at Easter Island, dropping anchor at Pitcairn Island, a couple stops in French Polynesia, and MORE.
  • Visits to ports and cities in Southeast Asia have been plentiful. Picking the one place with the best food is difficult, but picking the one country with the best food at the best prices is easy—Vietnam The dishes are tasty and inexpensive; awesome! Thailand has the reputation of have the “happiest people,” and we sure saw a lot of them on the visits to Bangkok and Pattaya. It was cloudy and raining the day we went to the Great Wall of China, but we were there, and then we had two nice days after that for more of the sites of Beijing. We took a 45-minute bus ride from the Tianjin port into town (cost 2 Yuan each, or about 30 cents), and we found an Irish pub, serving Guinness, of course. Those are just a few memories from that area.
  • On a British Isles cruise, we stopped at Guernsey in the Channel Islands. We visited the German embankments, including an extensive underground hospital. Our stop in Dublin had us finding an Irish pub (naturally!) where the Guinness beer was completely fresh. We fond another Irish pub in Liverpool, but that was after we had a nice stroll through Beatles Story and then a walk through an outdoor art show where we obtained a couple small mementos. Two great stops in Scotland included a visit to Glasgow and then a train trip to Tain from Invergordon. We toured the Glenmorangie Distillery in Tain, had a “wee dram,” and then napped on the train back to the ship.
  • One of the things I’ve been doing in all my international travels is to collect some of the currency (bills and coins) from the countries I’ve visited. Speaking on the cruise ships has afforded me the opportunity to expand my collection because some of the places might have stayed outside my reach if not for the cruises—such as Russia or Brunei or Malaysia or Slovenia or Montenegro. Some people might even say I’m obsessed with this collection, and they might be right!

    Oh, there have been many more cruise ship speaking highlights: Malta, Istanbul, American Samoa, Curacao, Alaska, Erie Canal, Niagara Falls, Norwegian Fjords, and the list goes on and on.

    Speaking on cruise ships has been such an enjoyable way to travel the world; it’s allowed me to meet interesting people, sample foods and drinks that I’d only read about, see the sights that often make highlight reels. But the absolute best part of these travels has been the ability interact with people all over the world, and seeing that they’re people just like you and me. They were born in a different place; they have different political and religious views; there’s a different set of stimuli that give them pleasure. But the bottom line is that most people I’ve encountered just want to be happy, to be friendly to others, to have a good life, to smile, to have you enjoy their culture.

    I hope as I continue to speak on cruise ships that I will always embrace those same thoughts and values so people see in me what they want me to see in them.

    Happy Travels!

    Stuart Gustafson is America’s International Travel Expert® who speaks on cruise ships, writes novels, sends out a monthly newsletter, is an avid TripAdvisor reviewer, and loves everything about travel. Visit his website at You can also connect with him and other travelers on his International Travel Expert page on Facebook at

    All information and images copyright © 2017 by Stuart Gustafson Productions, LLC. America’s International Travel Expert is a U.S. Registered Trademark of Stuart Gustafson Productions, LLC. Ownership of images and content from other sources remains with those sources or their attributions; no ownership by Stuart Gustafson Productions, LLC, is implied or claimed.

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