Jon Fleming is a Travel and Destination Lecturer who has worked with a number of cruise lines including Silversea, Azamara Club Cruises and Celebrity Cruises. We caught up with Jon to ask him a few questions about his cruising experiences.
1. What was your first cruising experience?
My first ever cruise was a 9-day Round The British Isles cruise with Fred Olsen in 2005. At the time I thought it was the most luxurious and decadent experience ever – as I’ve moved my way up the cruise levels since then, things have only got more luxurious. From that first experience, I was hooked.
2. What inspired you to take a cruise?
I had finished with full-time working in marketing in London and had decided to travel full-time (or as much as I could afford!). I had become aware of the cruising world through my father who had taught bridge on ships, so I thought that Destination Lecturing was a perfect combination of my experience of studying history at university, going into marketing, and then my love of travel.
3. How has cruising changed since your first one?
Overall, as more and more cruise lines have started up, I’d say that the cruise lines have all become ever more cost conscious over the years, so that the number of things that used to be included are getting eroded. However, at the same time that this has been happening, as a lecturer I’ve personally been moving up the luxury levels, from Fred Olsen, to Saga, to Celebrity, to Azamara, and now to Silversea, so for me, things have only got more lavish.
4. Where do you see cruising in 20 years time?
It’s difficult to say, but as more and more people go cruising, as repeat passengers they’re going to want to visit new and different destinations, which means that certain lines may want to concentrate on visiting more exotic or off-the-beaten track ports. Overall, I think that cruise lines will need to specialise more and more to differentiate themselves from the competition.
5. What is your favourite cruising region?
There are so many wonderful regions out there – I love the Pacific, India, South East Asia, South America – but, from a historical point of view, I love the Baltic region because there are so many fascinating capital cities to visit in such close proximity to each other (even if the weather’s not always great).
6. What is your most memorable cruising experience?
The place that I’ve been most excited about sailing into was Easter Island on the Saga World Cruise in 2008 – I really had to pinch myself to think that I’d finally got there. It’s such a mysterious and remote place with an incredibly fascinating story, plus the fact that so many calls there have to be cancelled because of the weather, it makes you feel really blessed to get in.
7. What are the most important aspects to a good cruising experience?
For me, it’s all about the destinations – if everyone has loved the places we’ve been to, it gives the ship a real buzz and creates great stories around the dinner tables. Of course, the incredible staff onboard makes a huge difference to the whole experience – whatever ship I’ve been on, I’ve never had a bad experience.
8. Do you have ‘sea legs’ or are you susceptible to motion sickness?
On my first ever cruise we had some fairly rough seas in the Irish Sea and I suffered pretty badly. At the time, I wasn’t sure that cruising was for me; however, things have got better and better the more cruising I do. Having said that, if there’s a storm on the day I embark, I can feel pretty green; although by the end of a four month world cruise I can take most seas.
9. Is there a ship that you have yet to sail on but yearn to do so?
I’ve been very spoilt over the years, enjoying life on big ships and small ships. One day, if it were possible, I’d like to cruise on The World, just to see what it was like – people I know who’ve travelled on it, say that it’s a very different experience.
10. Do you have a cruising ‘bucket list’?
Even though I’ve cruised for 10 years solid, doing about 1,500 days at sea in that time, there’s still plenty of places I’d still like to visit (plus plenty that I’m looking forward to visiting again!). A big ambition is to spend a couple of weeks cruising around the Galapagos Islands.
11. Are you a fan of ‘select restaurants’?
The main restaurants on ships are so good that we dine in them most of the time. On the occasions when we do eat in the speciality restaurants, I must say that Silversea’s “Le Champagne” restaurant is always spectacular.
12. What is your favourite restaurant at sea?
I love the main restaurant on Silversea’s Silver Whisper, especially on the World Cruise, when you get to know so many of the other passengers and the crew really get to know your preferences. It’s like eating in a private dining club with so many of your friends.
13. What is your ‘top tip’ for a first time cruiser?
For me, cruising is all about the destinations, so my tip is to do a bit of research on the ports before you leave so that you know which places you need to do a tour and which ones you want to explore on your own. And always, always go to the Destination Lectures!
14. You have worked as a travel lecturer on cruise ships can you explain what that involves?
As a Destination Lecturer, your job is to give a (hopefully entertaining) 45-minute lecture on each port that the ship visits, to give the geographical, historical and cultural background to each place, giving a flavour of what it’s like to visit, and to tell people the top sights to see. So far, I have lectured on over 400 destinations in over 100 different countries.
In return, I travel (with my wife) as a Guest Lecturer, which means that you aren’t crew and are assigned a Guest Suite; although you are never entirely “off-duty” because the passengers often have questions about the upcoming ports at any time of the day or night. As a sociable person who loves history and travel, and who has now fallen in love with cruising, I can’t think of any better way to spend my time!
You can see more from Jon at his two personal sites: