We basked in those unstructured, don’t-need-to-be-anywhere-or-do-anything days at sea on our recent transatlantic repositioning cruise, spending much of our time as the photo reflects.
We didn’t carry the daily program with us, as did many, to assure that no activity or event would be missed.
We were so laid back that sometimes we didn’t make it to the few we planned to attend. We had one exception to our lackadaisical lifestyle . . .
Niki Sepsas, a Smithsonian Journeys lecturer and one of the three speakers on board the Constellation.
In 2011 Smithsonian Journeys expanded its presence on Celebrity ships with speakers presenting enrichment lectures on 99 cruises traveling in Bermuda, the Holy Land, the Mediterranean, the Panama Canal, the Antarctica and crossing the Atlantic.
Cruise ship lecturers generally fall into two categories. Those like Niki; destination speakers whose topics are travel focused on regions the ship is visiting, its history, politics, culture and arts or those related to cruising, and maritime history, including pirates, Vikings, Phoenicians, or Christopher Columbus and other early day mariners.
Our other two speakers focused on aviation and cloth; those Enrichment or special interest speakers who talk about topics passengers may find interesting. Needless to say, our interest was in travel.
Entertainment and Enrichment
In introducing Niki Sepsas, a 31-year-veteran tour guide and freelance writer, who hails from Birmingham, Alabama, our Cruise Director Sue Denning told the hundreds of us gathered in the ship’s theatre, “It is very important not only to feed and entertain you, but to enrich you as well.”
And enriched we were! Each day Niki offered an enormous amount of information using PowerPoint presentations filled with facts and photos.
Absorbing so much information about topics like “Gods from the East – The Sword and The Cross” and “Indigenous People of the New World” almost overloaded our laid-back brains.
Okay, so true confession:
I’ve always wanted to be one of those speakers. . .well, at least until they start talking and then I think, “How can they possibly know so much about so many places?!” It was a question, I decided to ask Niki over coffee one day . . .
“It takes about a month to put together a show with the research and then putting together the images,” he explained, adding that he’s got some 200 in his portfolio.
And as the world changes, so do the presentations. Take Madeira, for example. His talk about that island was scrapped when Portuguese strikers prevented our stop there. Instead, he switched topics as quickly as the ship switched ports. And I might add, his “Gibraltar: Rock at the End of the World” was one of our favorite presentations.
His enthusiasm for travel was contagious. Our fellow cruisers gathered around him after presentations to continue the conversation. Doesn’t surprise us at all that he’s been booked by several high-end cruise lines well into 2012. (He’s already done 23 cruises in nine months. ) Did I mention that in his non-cruise life he’s still leading tours in the U.S. and far distant destinations? And that in his 'free' time he still writes?
I've decided I'll quit fantasizing about being a speaker, I think I make a much better audience member.
Note: Niki has also written a novel, “Song of the Gypsy” (2003) set in his parent’s homeland, Greece’s Peloponnese. Take a look at it – it’s on the Amazon carousel on our home page (subscribers need to click the link to get back to the homepage). And as with all books there, if you buy any of them we earn a few cents -- we have earned to date, $1.24!
If want Niki to speak to your group or organization, his contact information is on his web site: www.nikiwrites.com