August 30, 2011
We Are Cunard
Posted in: Insights Speakers
Dr Seth Gopin
Cunard speakers are a privileged lot. We have a “captive” audience, a wonderful lecture hall, and subjects that run the gamut from astrophysics to my subject of art and architectural history.
My journey as a speaker with Cunard started a decade ago on the Queen Elizabeth 2. As an art historian, a seasoned Rutgers University lecturer, and frustrated actor, I had all the right ingredients. My range of topics cover New York City skyscrapers to Egyptian art and architecture, and this allows me to sign up for Transatlantic crossings as well as segments of the World Cruise.
Generally planning begins six to nine months earlier when we decide on a ship, locale, and topic. The excitement starts when I fly to meet the ship. It is always fun to walk on board and see familiar faces and comfortable surroundings.
The morning show is always fun to tape. Whether it is Wake Up With Ray (or Amanda or Paul), I talk about my lectures and books. En route to New York, I enjoy giving tips about what to see and experience in my vibrant city. I don’t mind admitting that it was lots of fun on board Queen Victoria to be a taster for the Cocktail of the Day and am volunteering gladly to do this again.
As a historian of French Art, I love giving extra talks to the Francophone passengers. Sometimes there are only 10 in the audience but at other times my talk will draw 80 and fill one of the small spaces in Connexions. I have discovered that there are lots of nooks and crannies on the ships where we can gather to look at art or buildings and talk. The French guests are so appreciative of having these special lectures and I am sure they are amused by my American-accented French.
I want to put in a plug for the great technical staff on the ship. The good people in Illuminations, the Royal Court Theatre, and the TV studio work very, very long hours and really go the extra mile (or kilometre) to make sure our lectures run as trouble-free as possible.
For me, the best part of the experience and the reason why I keep coming back are the guests. Whether in my post-lecture “office hours” in the Commodore Club or in the corridors of the ships, I find that the Cunard travellers are engaged, lively, and articulate. I loved meeting the teens who came to chat about architecture, the retired medical doctor who wanted to look at Michelangelo’s David with me from an anatomical viewpoint, and a retired architect who wanted to talk about his total dislike of 1960s modernism. They and my many tablemates have been not only entertaining but also intellectually stimulating. Some have become good friends.
The proof of the pudding is in the eating (and on board Cunard Line we certainly eat wonderfully), and the proof of how much I enjoy lecturing is that I have already started planning my 2012 voyages.