Most of us relish the opportunity to talk about our favorite subject, whether it’s history, a destination that we love, or a card game. We bend the ears of our friends and family any chance we get. And we launch into a prepared monologue whenever a stranger shows the least bit of interest. But it might surprise you to know that you can use your knowledge of a subject to score expensive cruises for yourself and a guest for next to nothing by becoming a cruise-ship speaker and presenter.
As a cruise-ship speaker, you can enjoy all the privileges that a regular passenger enjoys without the sky-high prices. All you have to do in exchange is talk about a subject you love for 45 minutes to an hour, two to five times per cruise.
Carol Williams, who gives talks on her favorite card game, bridge, says that the best thing about presenting onboard is the cost savings: “I had all the freedom of a full-paying passenger while sailing at a greatly reduced rate.”
“I love being at sea, and any way I can get there works for me,” says Peter Mandel, onboard speaker and author of multiple children’s books. “Working onboard was a very good experience, in part because of the various passengers I got to know along the way. Everything that was on the daily ship’s calendar was on mine. I tried out the spa. I played shuffleboard. I went to lectures given by others, shows, magician acts, art auctions, the casino, and more. I loved hanging out in the onboard bars and chatting with the crew and passengers.”
Demo Simis, comedian and DJ, has been presenting onboard cruise ships for over 30 years and has loved his last three decades at sea. “It’s great to make passengers laugh and leave the events with a happy feeling.”
If you are retired (or near retirement), speaking and presenting on topics of your choice might be the best way to explore new ports of call around the world. Tim Castle, a past cruise director and now recruitment specialist, says, “The average age of an onboard speaker is 50 to 65+.”
Speaking and lecturing on a cruise ship is not just a job for university professors and celebrities. These are roles that are open to anyone that has a desire to share their knowledge and expertise on topics that they have a passion for. If you are a social butterfly, are humorous, and have a love of presenting in front of large audiences, then this gig is for you. It’s one of the cheapest ways to visit some of the most popular cruising destinations in the world, including the Caribbean, the Mexican Riviera, Alaska, the Mediterranean, the Baltic Sea, the South Pacific (including New Zealand and Australia), South America, South Africa, and Antarctica.
Cruise lectures can cover a wide variety of subjects, such as arts and crafts, bridge instruction, creative writing, computers/technology, culinary skills, dance basics, extreme couponing, feng shui, forensics/CSI, gardening, hoarding, home improvement, identity theft, interior design, music, and countless more. Basically, if you can dream it, you can land a position presenting about it onboard a cruise ship.
Doug Jones, also a past cruise director and current CEO of Sixth Star Entertainment, says: “People on a vacation want to hear about topics that are light-hearted and interesting. We (as a cruise ship lecturer agency) have always followed what is hot in popular culture.
“For example, CSI and forensic science are popular because of the number of TV shows that portray them.” Candidates with knowledge on these types of topics are always in high demand.
Doug says that cruise-line requests for speakers and lecturers is only continuing to rise. “These boats have gotten really big. They have more and more guests onboard now, which leads to an increased demand for good speakers.”
To get discounts on cruises, presenters exchange their expertise for a low-cost vacation cruise for two, only having to commit to a few talks per cruise (depending on the cruise company you’re with). Speakers typically do not receive any pay for their services or supplies. However, you and your guest will receive an amazing cruise experience for a nominal daily fee (which is often paid to your hiring agency) of about $50 to $100 a day. According to Cruise Market Watch, the average cost of a cruise per passenger per day in 2018 was $212.80. That means that a seven-day cruise for two would cost almost $3,000, while as a speaker it would cost you just $350 to $700. These are huge savings for just a few hours of speaking per trip.
The arrangement includes onboard passenger status, a passenger cabin, a room steward (who will clean your cabin each day), and dining room meals, for you and your guest, provided free of charge.
“It’s like staying and dining in a fine hotel,” adds Peter, “…a hotel that floats.”