Transatlantic Crossings: All At Sea In The World Of Enlightenment (Lectures and learning on-board).
This is the 3rd in a series of observations and thoughts that I have about taking a Transatlantic Crossing with Cunard. They were all written and posted while I was on-board a Winter Crossing on the stunning Queen Mary 2. This article is somewhat more up-beat after I started this series with the topics of seasickness and why Cunard are so vigilant about the risk of a breakout of the Norovirus! With the benefit of hindsight not two of the most welcoming and vibrant of topics I could have started with…
This article is about “Transatlantic Crossings: All At Sea In The World Of Enlightenment (Lectures and learning on-board)”.
This area is one of the aspects of doing a Transatlantic Crossing on Cunard Queen Mary 2 that I always really relish and enjoy. While you are on a Crossing with 7 days at sea, life slows down and you actually have time to go and learn things about things that you never knew would interest you. But always do. Due to the mass of multiple TV channels and the internet, we now have a huge mass and flow of information constantly bombarding us. So to cope, we either rely on our own personal screening mechanisms, or on “personalisation” tools online that help us organise and receive information in a more filtered way. This means that we can fall into the trap of just exposing ourselves and focusing on things we know we like, or are highly interested in.
That is why I always love the Enlightenment Program that Cunard have on-board during a crossing. It makes me explore new topics and learning. They call it the Cunard Insights Program.
Cunard’s Insights Program will always have a collection of 4 or 5 experts from a diverse range of disciplines and backgrounds who, in return for the journey rather than payment usually, give 3 or 4 lectures each over the 7 days. Cunard record them so if you can attend them in person, you can watch them on your in room TV after the event. This is also helpful as many speakers run their talks as a series on one topic. So, for example on this Crossing I learnt about the history of skyscrapers in New York split by time period.
To illustrate how diverse the topics can be, on this Crossing are the following backgrounds of speakers and names:
- Chief White House Correspondent (Ken Walsh)
- True Crime Expert (Ian Brown) – spoke about the crime families like The Krays.
- Historian and Travel Writer (Ted Scull) – spoke about Cunard history and Cunard Queens.
- Art Historian (Seth Gopin) – spoke about skyscrapers in New York.
The talks happen every day, with 2 or 3 each day, usually around 10/ 10.30 am, 11.15 am and 3.30 pm.
What I love about this program is the following:
- Speakers: You know that the speakers will be entertaining, as Cunard have used them many times before, and they book speakers who they know can pitch and engage the large cross section of passengers thrown at them. You are unlikely to have a poor speaker. You almost never see people leaving sessions, suggesting the speakers are engaging the passengers.
- Content. They are usually linked to travel, politics and associated aspects, and so have appeal for most on the Crossing. Especially to me.
- Anecdotes, personal and very visual. Every talk tends to be made up of anecdotes and sound byte style presentations, so easy to digest and follow. They always are very visual, with great images – and assume this is a style that Cunard ensures is used to add to the engagement. I noted that they usually very personal, and so about things the individual has done personally. So even the history of the Cunard Queens I attended today by the well known maritime writer Ted Scully, was focused on the ships he has travelled on since a boy and uses many of his and friends images.
- Exposes topics and areas I may not usually read about or follow. They are 45 minutes long and so not a huge amount of time, and give a great overview. Most have books on the same topic for sale with book signings if they really interest you.
- No time for questions. There is no Q&A, though most speakers will happily chat if you bump into them in the ship, hold book signings and some will hold sessions where anyone can go and chat to them after the talk in one of the lounges.
Celebrity Guest Question and Answer Session
Cunard usually will also have a celebrity guest on-board who will do Q&A sessions. On this Crossing is the actress Celia Imrie. In the past, celebrities have included people as diverse as the broadcaster Sir David Frost and the Film Director Michael Winner.
As time slows on a Crossing, you have the time to explore new topics within the Cunard Enlightenment program. It is a feature of the Crossings that many attend. If you go on a Crossing, make sure you check it out.
Transatlantic Crossings Observations: Other articles in this series:
- The Ocean in Motion. Seasickness Tips.
- Keeping Norovirus Away. Handwashing and Gel.
- Food on a Crossing. A guide to 24 hour eating.
- The typical passenger profile on a Crossing.