Professor Brian Ford has been on 50 cruises and has no intention of stopping. He tells us how he first got into cruising and why he loves it so much

Professor Brian Ford is Cruise Crazy
This is Chichen Itza, in the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico, on a week-long cruise on Saga Rose round the Caribbean.

My first cruise was more than 30 years ago aboard Cunard’s QE2, when my wife Jan and I first travelled with her (a voyage by sea is by far the best way to cross the Atlantic) and Cunard became the first company to invite me to join them as a guest speaker.

I started lecturing on board 10 years ago when the Cunard agent rang to say they were planning a literary festival, and asked if I would like to be their guest speaker. Since then I have spoken on 25 different ships around the world.

Professor Brian Ford aboard Fred Olsens Braemar
Here I am on board Fred. Olsen’s Braemar with master ventriloquist Steve Hewlett and Jasper the Parrot.

The reason I enjoy it so much is because cars with visitors don’t pull up outside, the phone doesn’t keep ringing, children don’t rifle my wallet, I don’t have to dash to London or Cambridge – so I can write and reflect, yet wake up with different places to explore.

Cruise ships are also the definitive party environment and provide the  perfect setting to commemorate a major occasion. Jan and I celebrated her birthday on a wonderful cruise aboard Fred. Olsen’s Braemar across the Caribbean and up the Amazon to Manaus in 2002.

Professor Brian Ford in Amazon
Deep in the Amazon jungle, a two-toed sloth hangs from a branch and slowly surveys its surroundings (I’m on the right!).

All my cruises are working cruises – I don’t do any for leisure. Book signing sessions are a wonderful way of creating an individual link with passengers and I have greatly enjoyed meeting people and finding out about their lives.

I rarely have anything that corresponds to ‘holiday’ – and if so, it’s for less than a week. There’s too much to do!

My favourite ship was the QE2, which in the old days offered a matchless experience, though we have also selected inexpensive cruise ships – and the food and service is remarkably good. It’s variety I like.

Professor Brian Ford on Queen Victoria
On the Cunard ship Queen Victoria Jan and I were celebrating the spirit of the Venice carnival in 2009.

Brian’s Top 10 Destinations

1. British Virgin Islands – unspoiled, and the sea is full of life for diving trips

2. Greenland – fascinating ecology, remarkable plant life, highly unusual destination

3. Langkawi Island – grab a local driver and head off for the day; dynamic, friendly and lively Malaysian people

4. Baltic Cities – a new country every day, rich in cultural change, a civilised spectrum of societies

5. Amazon River – such astonishing wildlife and pristine,  unforgettable people living a life of tribulation

6. Great Britain – a neglected itinerary for many, but sailing into familiar cities is a revelation

7. Antarctica – bursting with wildlife and a dramatic landscape

8. Shanghai – it’s never the same place twice. Such a breathless pace of development

9. Bay of Islands – such an attractive and homely part of New Zealand

10. Yokohama – jumping off point for so many Japanese cities

Read the full feature about Brian’s travels in the February/March 2012 issue of Cruise International (see preview below)

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