Although it took a bit to become accustomed to speaking on the main stage of the ship's large theater, the set up was ideal. Three large projection screens made the power point slides easy to see and comprehend and the freedom to walk around the stage with a wireless headset made it ideal. I quickly learned that first day, that the audience enjoyed watching and listening to a presenter that "paced" along the stage without a prepared speech or lecture delivered from a fixed lectern. "Freewheeling" like I do was very much appreciated.
Along with presenting came constant exposure to passengers throughout the day and evenings. Folks were eager to catch me on decks to talk more about both the topics I was presenting as well as current political events. Although the first presentation found the 780 seat theater only a third full, the cruise liner replayed my presentations in a continuous loop on in cabin televisions throughout the day and night. By the second day's presentation on Federalism, the crowd attending grew substantially - as did the face time with fellow passengers on decks (all my books sold out by the second day). Ironically, my last presentation was scheduled on Sunday morning against Church services. Not only did this rile many passengers, but the Church services were held in the theater and I was to be moved to the 280 seat Playhouse. After several complaints that the Playhouse could not seat all those planning to attend, I was hastily rescheduled to present at 3:15 back in the theater. Amazingly, the complaints about the playhouse being too small proved to be true - a very large crowd attended my Sunday and final presentation on current political issues.
I truly enjoyed presenting to large and interested crowds and I really did enjoy the interaction with the passengers. Discussions were had on topics as wide ranging as Brexit (something few Americans really understand) to difficult political issues facing Australia. I also learned the media outside of the United States is also very suspect. One gentleman from Australia made it quite clear why Donald Trump won in America. His claim? Americans no longer can tolerate giving free government jobs to immigrants, free houses and cars - all at the expense of working Americans. Yes, you read that right. Apparently, some of the Australian media have championed Mr. Trump for voicing anti-immigration policies based upon the belief that America is in a death spiral because immigrants take priority over ordinary Americans. When I responded that immigrants are not guaranteed government jobs he scoffed at me. When I asked where he "learned such facts" he informed me it was from the media in Australia. Seems like Far Right Wing media to me. Despite my efforts, I am not sure I was believed that no such conditions exist in America. Another Aussie told me that without Trump, America was going to crash and burn because poverty and joblessness (due to immigrants) is rampant. Again, despite my best efforts, I am unsure he also believed me that the United States economy is doing just fine (I wonder what he felt like seeing San Fransisco for the first time from Pier 27 near a wildly busy Fishermans' Wharf?).
Overall, I found the Australians and Brits far more interested in American History and politics than Americans themselves, and that is a shame. If only Americans would be half as interested in our history and politics as foreigners are, we would elect better representatives and have a more responsive government! As President Thomas Jefferson once wrote; "Educate and inform the whole mass of the people... They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty." Isn't it past time that Americans know more about our history and government than those from other countries? Many thanks to P & O Cruise Lines for giving me the opportunity to present aboard one of their ships. I look forward to continuing to speak on one of their or their sister lines' ships in the future. Now I can refocus on the fun and games being played in Washington again. Have a great week!