We caught up with the legendary explorer and author at the launch of Scenic Eclipse, and he told us about his favourite destinations
The expedition that meant the most to me was the one that lasted 26 years, looking for the lost city of Ubar in Arabia, because it took so long when we did find it in 1991. We made eight major expeditions into the desert to search for it over that period.
I’ve been very lucky but I’ve had a couple of bad shocks climbing on the north face of the Eiger in Switzerland. Then I remember being dropped off by a helicopter in the middle of a featureless desert with a small film team. We realised we were going off into a war situation and that if the helicopter was shot down we’d die of thirst. That was a slow fear.
My first ever experience on a ship was when I was one years old. During the war in 1945, my family got moved by my South African grandmother back to her home. We sailed on the Union-Castle Line and it went from Southampton to Cape Town and back. Then 11 or 12 years later we came back on the same line and we stopped off at Madeira before we arrived.
If guests on board Scenic Eclipse sail north for the Northern Lights, there are wonderful sights there. With a little luck they might see bears. It’s a well-worth expedition into a beautiful part of nature that is pretty unpolluted, both in the Arctic and the Antarctic.
The last books that I’ve read were about Hannibal and Alexander the Great because I was writing a book about people who were armed and dangerous over the centuries.
My advice for those going on an expedition cruise would be to take very good camera equipment. It’s worth spending a little bit extra to make sure that you’ve got the best. Also clothing: layers of different clothing. And very good sunglasses. They should also pack very good boots that aren’t too tight.
I’m not very musical at all, but I like the occasional tune. I don’t like beat or rock. The most “with it” I’ve ever got is Abba.
For expeditions, we choose our crew members based on whether they are good natured,
even when under stress, not egotistical or sarcastic by nature, and if they are good at getting rid of the weak voice in their head that comes in to say, ‘I can’t keep this up’.
Launching in August 2018, Scenic Eclipse will embark on its maiden voyage from Athens to Venice before sailing to the rest of the world including the Arctic (0808 149 5977; scenic.co.uk).