Friday, May 16, 2014

Tales from a Transatlantic Cruise

I just returned from giving a series of lectures on a Celebrity Cruise Lines transatlantic cruise.  The ship started in Miami and stopped in NYC, Halifax (Nova Scotia), Cork (Ireland) and Harwich (England).  What an interesting experience!  With a couple thousand people on board, it was like living in a small town for 13 days.  I met people from all over the world and had a series of stimulating conversations, especially after my talks, and I sold many copies of my book Rising Son: A Father and Son's Bike Adventure across Japan.  There were over 500 people in the audience for each presentation, and my talks were replayed over and over on a dedicated TV channel.  Strangers on the ship often introduced themselves and started chatting about my most recent talk.  Great way to meet people.

My first presentation was entitled, "Tales from a Family Adventurer."  One guy joked, "What is that, a bunch of pics of your kids in Disney World?"  After I gave the talk, in which I shared stories and lessons learned from cycling thousands of miles through Japan, Iceland, Europe and the U.S. with my young children, he came up to me and said, "Wow.  You blew me away."  Very cool.  

My second lecture, "Lessons from Lewis & Clark," mixed in history, science, nature and adventure.  I quizzed the audience on their knowledge of this famous early 1800's U.S. expedition, in which President Jefferson sent a group of men to find an all water route from St. Louis to the Pacific Ocean.  The men barely survived, produced some incredible journals about the experience, and set the stage for westward expansion.  My questions included: What was the name of Sacagawea's baby? (Answer: Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, named by the French fur trapper who bought her.  Yes, bought her.  So much for women's rights.)  What were some of the animals Meriwether Lewis "discovered" (in quotes, because the Native Americans had known about these animals for thousands of years), etc.

My third talk was, "If You Have a Body, You're an Athlete," based on a quote by Bill Bowerman, the co-founder of Nike.  The Q&A after this talk was the longest and most intense of the cruise.  I offered tips for maintaining an athletic body at any age, which seemed to resonate well with the audience.

I never thought of myself as a "cruise person."  I prefer roughing it in a tent in the wilderness with my family.  But now I understand the appeal.  Life on board was very comfortable.  The sunrises and sunsets out on the open ocean were surreal.  The night sky was profoundly moving.  And the social life on board was stimulating.  Don't be surprised if you see another blog post some time soon about my next cruise! 

Here are a few pics.

Our ship, the Celebrity Infinity

Sailing away from NYC

Sunset over the Verrazano Narrows Bridge

Moon and sunset at sea

Selfie during one of my talks

The audience

Screen shot from the cruise TV channel

Walking around Cork, Ireland.  It felt good to walk on dry land for a bit.

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